Look, you don't have to tell me St. Cloud is culturally insulated. Our version of diversity is featuring both Swedes and Norwegians. And California is a much richer melting pot. I get it.
NOTE: This headline is in no way intended to imply that any of the guests attending the event to which I'm about to refer could or should be assigned to any "D List." I don't judge. I'm just alluding to the rumor that Kathy Griffin was going to show up…and how that very concept scared the crap out of my poor boss.
So I just got back from a few days in Los Angeles. You'll hear all about it cuz I'm probably going to milk this trip for a bunch of posts since the bulk of my day-to-day existence is boring like watching the bonus features on the DVD from season one of Numbers. (Hey, Mister. Are you calling a non-threateningly cute genius who solves crimes through math boring? Yes. Yes I am.)
Big picture, Corinne and I were there for work. Creative Memories has been working with Nancy O'Dell (former co-host of Access Hollywood, current co-host of Your OWN Show…). She just finished writing a book about how important scrapbook albums can be in raising happy, self-confident kids. I edited it and Corinne was the art director on the project. I'm not going to make any jokes about that (and not just because it could cost me my job) because I really do think that's pretty darned cool. She totally lives this stuff. If you were to cut Nancy O'Dell – and, let me be clear, I am in no way suggesting that you do – she would bleed fade-resistant, bleed-resistant (okay, that doesn't make any sense dumbshit) ink in any of six lovely jewel-tone colors.
The main event of the trip was the book launch party at the insanely swanky SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. Now, I've never been to a Hollywood book launch party, so in my mind I had the event bracketed somewhere between:
An Academy Awards Red Carpet Arrivals Show
The Hamster Party we threw in our sophomore dorm floor study lounge where everyone brought a newspaper to shred and throw on the floor
I knew it was going to be something in between those two, coolnesswise.
So here are a few highlights.
Booze: Open bar with wine and beer. I thought this was a good thing, but I was wrong. It became a GREAT thing when I asked the bartender what they had for beer. "Um…Let's see… Bud, Miller Lite, Coors Light…and this Long Hammer IPA from RedHook."
Free RedHooks? Score! (Although it is a little awkward to approach the bar and ask, "Excuse me, do you have a Long Hammer back there?") Bacchus was protecting me from getting out of hand (which is good, because I was working and representing my company) by making sure that most of my bottles were tipped over by co-workers. And I couldn't even get up in anyone's face because all their titles started with "Vice President of". The bottles that didn't get spilled were mostly snatched prematurely by overeager waiters. No biggie. Still tasty.
Brushes with fame: The nicest famous person I met that night was Jeff Probst from Survivor. Wow. Just a really nice guy. And, when I explained that my son was such a fan that I had to switch my regular visitation night with my kids from Wednesday to Thursday this fall (because Quinn and his mom love to watch Survivor together), he got all excited about writing a note and signing an autograph for them.
The famous person I was most excited about meeting that night was Alison Sweeney. Corinne and I are huge avid Biggest Loser fans. She was nice, but seemed just a little distracted and standoffish. Nothing wrong with that when you're talking to some creepy guy you don't know. The only reason I even mention it is because it made her reaction that much more dramatic when I mentioned Jesse. "What?! How do you know Jesse? I love that guy!"
Then I had to admit that my connection was pretty weak. "Um…this guy we work with used to be his college roommate."
[Ali's look says, "You've got to be fucking kidding me. That's it?" But the only sound is the awkward pause.]
"But the guy at work, he sits, like, right next to me… And Brady – that's the guy's name – Brady's a really good guy… Seems like Jesse's probably a really good guy too… I'll bet I'd really like him… If I ever actually met him… Did I mention I went to that same college?… Only that was a lot earlier than Jesse and Brady… And Brady's the guy I work with… Really nearby…"
At that point I went looking for another Long Hammer. Cuz my hammer was feeling particularly short.
More details from the trip to come!
My friend Tammy had her 40th birthday this month. (Sorry Tammy.) And, in the massive groundswell of celebretory goodwill that rose up surrounding the event, I found myself volunteering to "decorate her desk" with mocked-up AARP cards.
This is a testament to Tammy's awesomeness, because you can ask around – I'm not generally a desk decorator.
At any rate, in the process of having Corinne mock up the AARP cards, we determined that merely decorating a desk with red and white cards is really friggin' boring. So we decided to liven it up a bit. I decided to write the letter that would have accompanied Tammy's new AARP card. I had fun with it. Thought you might get a kick out of it. So here's what it said:
Friday, 8 October, 2010
Sunset Acres Retirement Commune
40 Theendofthe Road
Rice, MN 56367
Dear Mrs. Moore,
Congratulations and welcome to the other side of the hill. It is now my privilege to initiate you into our little secret society – the AARP.
Attached, please find your membership card. With it, you’ll unlock a world of benefits including, but not limited to…
• Drug discounts. We’re all constantly baked. That’s why some of us sometimes seem a little flighty. Every one of us is stoned to the gills. Except that prick Andy Rooney. He’s stone-cold sober because none of us can stand the son of a bitch. So we never sent him his letter. And now that friggin’ tool is out there shuffling around, thinking he’s so much smarter and more clear headed than the rest of us – when really he’s just the only asshole who didn’t get invited to the party. (You don’t know Andy, do you? If you do, don’t tell him, okay?) Flash this card at your pharmacy. One of our faithful legions of “pharmacists” will hook you up.
• Free love. Your card also gets you access to any of our full on, raging, no-holds-barred sex parties, held weekly at any currently functioning Ember’s location. Your safety word is:
• Low-cost Ensure. With your card, you can get a 20% discount on any size purchase of Ensure. Now that you’re old, we can let you in on THAT little secret too. Ensure is totally kick-ass. The taste is some kind of crazy combination of dark chocolate and buffalo wings – which sounds nasty but is, honest to God, the most fantastic thing you will ever put past your taste buds. Plus, it’s fortified with some insane amount of whatever hormone it is that’s released during orgasm.
A couple of old guys discovered the formula a few years ago and realized that, if children ever discovered it, we’d never get any. (And, if college kids ever found out how well it mixes with vodka, we’d alter society irreparably.) So we decided to incorporate it into our secret society and brand it with advertising that would guarantee no one under 40 would ever THINK of touching it.
Wait, there’s more! Visit our website at http://www.ifartdust.com and find out about these valuable benefits:
• Instant membership in any local mall-walking group
• A free pair of fashionable reading glasses
• A free framed lithograph of the Serenity Prayer
• Cutsies in line at Old Country Buffet
So what are you waiting for? Jump on in! Just don’t break a hip.
Hezekiah E. Posselthwaite
New Membership Director
American Association of Retired Persons
So I wrote it and showed it to her team…who proceeded to get a little nervous. What if someone gets offended? What if HR comes by and reads it? What if Tammy doesn't like it?
So I figured I'd better write a disclaimer. And I did.
The letter decorating this desk contains adult language and themes of a mature (or, more accurately, immature) nature. It is intended as a satirical commentary on the nature of aging as we celebrate Tammy’s 40th birthday.
If you are likely to become offended by such references you are strongly encouraged to avert your gaze and NOT READ IT.
The type is set in a moderate 12 pt. size so as to accommodate Tammy’s aging eyes while not appearing so large as to unduly broadcast its potentially distasteful message.
If, despite this warning, you read the letter and find yourself feeling uncomfortable and in need of someone to blame, it sure as heck wasn’t Tammy. Or Janet. Or Jill. Or Tracy. They have plausible deniability. And Corinne just formatted the letter. (That’s why it looks so awesome.)
I’d say let’s blame Brady.
And I posted the disclaimer prominently above Tammy's desk, which was thoroughly plastered with sheets of AARP cards and the above letter. (Keep checking your file cabinet Tammy. You're going to be stumbling into those little gems for quite awhile.)
See the real deal here:
(Corinne and I talking about…stuff, and watching TV)
Corinne: Does that make you mad?
Me: I dunno.
Corinne: You don't look mad.
Me: Nope. I s'pose not.
Corinne: Could you get that mad?
Me: I dunno.
Corinne: Show me. Let me see your mad face.
Me: Um…okay. Here goes.
Me: All right, how's this?
Me: Angry? Here's angry.
Me: Yeah, I guess not. I got nothing.
Jesus, I’m a waste of a keyboard.
Here I am, walking a daily gauntlet of emasculating humiliation, bathed in shame because I’m not writing a book. And not only am I not writing a book, I haven’t even started a book. Not only have I not started a book, I can’t even consistently fill this blog.
This week has been a terrible exercise in self-flagellation. My frayed and lacerated psyche lays bare as I struggle with simple starter questions like, “Well…What kind of writer are you?”
It just got worse.
Claudia: I just wrote a book!
Claudia: Yeah, I took all my cartoons I’ve been drawing tonight and put them together into a book. Do you have a stapler?
Claudia: That’s okay. I’ll staple it at school tomorrow. Check out this page. See this coconut up in the tree? He says, “How do I get down?!?!” And then this other coconut down on the ground? He says, “? I dunno, I just sat that and fell.” Isn’t that awesome?
Claudia: Yeah. Okay, I’m gonna have a snack. Seeya!
And away she went. Her self-assigned book project finished. She doesn’t care that it’s currently held together with tape. She doesn’t care that no two consecutive pages make sense together. She doesn’t even care that the rest of the world will probably find it about as funny as a Pauly Shore / Carrot Top poetry slam.
She decided to do it. She did something that made her happy. She moved on.
That is the essence of genius. That’s Claudia.
On the evening of Friday, June 16, 1994, my friend Scott Hyland stopped by the house. I don't remember if it was an unannounced drop in or just a quickly planned visit. I just remember it turned into a fantastic evening filled with good conversation, laughter, music and a couple of beers. And at the end of the evening, I was very glad he'd come.
The next day I was even more glad.
Because, for those of you who don't remember, June 16, 1994, was the evening when Al Cowlings drove his friend Orenthal James Simpson very slowly around the greater Los Angeles area for about two hours, followed by about 20 police cars and the eyeballs of every sad loser in the world who didn't have anything better to do on a Friday night than watch "breaking news" on TV.
If Scott hadn't come by, I'm pretty sure I would have been one of those losers. So thank you, God, for presenting better offers.
Last night was a similar deal. Some friends had a get together. Corinne (my completely insane wife…but that's a different story) and I attended and enjoyed a wonderful evening of talking, laughing, eating, drinking and enjoying weather that can't accurately be described as fall.
And one of the key advantages of this particular gathering on this particular evening was that it included no baseball fans. So it saved me the weeping anguish (or, even worse, resigned apathy) of watching this.
I just need to let go. I need to revise my expectations and clarify what baseball should mean to me. I should define the value that I find in baseball and eliminate the excesses that can evidently only lead to heartache.
Moving forward, baseball to me will be:
I won't have any October expectations from Minnesota baseball in the future. I won't. I can't.
So thank you, Gina and Eric, for offering me a distraction last night. And thank you, Twins, for helping to make my summer great…but my fall miserable. (Don't you know that last part is supposed to be the Vikings' job?)
I'm awfully glad I went through school on an Army ROTC scholarship. Not so much for the push-ups. Or for the getting out of bed at 5 a.m. more days than I would have liked. And not really for the part about having to wear the uniform around campus on Wednesdays. Oh, and it sure as hell wasn't the part about getting bossed around by swaggering, buzz-cut, douche bag seniors compensating for their sexual frustrations with pathetic little power trips…
What was I talking about?
Oh yeah, I'm really glad I went to St. John's on an ROTC scholarship. And one big reason why I'm glad is because they used to kick my ass out of the dorms (and out of the bars) and into the woods around campus. In my four years of college, I spent a ton of time running around in those woods. And if it weren't for ROTC, I don't think I would have gone out there at all.
Every time I visit campus these days – like this past Saturday – I look around and realize how tragic that would have been. What a beautiful campus. And what a waste it would have been to spend my whole time there in buildings.
Corinne and I drag (all or some of) the kids out there every year around this time to go for a walk in the woods, check out the fall colors, and take some pictures. I could try and describe it to you, but that would be an intimidating writing challenge and it sounds like a pain in the ass. Plus, nothing I could write would be as cool as the pictures Corinne and her trusty Nikon got.
Check 'em out!