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Welcome to Hip

As a trend-setter (What? I move. People follow. I like David Crowder and Shane Barnard before anyone's heard of them. They blow up. I watch 24, the world follows. No, JACK BAUER follows. I made ELVIS famous.) I sometimes sit back and wonder "What is the world thinking?" The Olsen twins for instance. Why did they take over the world? Why is "The Surreal Life" still on tv? Is Starbucks coffee really that much better? Worth that much more? It all tastes like piping hot bitterness to me.

Other times I wonder what will be next. I like to predict the next big thing. The new "in." I wish I would've predicted that Starbucks would take over the world, for instance. I'd be a genius. Instead I'm predicting a Republican-controlled Congress in the mid-term elections. So my guesses aren't always square on the money. But I don't let that keep me down...

I was thinking today about the health benefits of Sunflower Seeds. I have no factual evidence to back these claims up, but I'll propose them as confidently as if I did.

-I think they can't be fattening. They're way too small. Strawberry seeds aren't fattening. Sunflower seeds aren't THAT much bigger.

-It's also SO MUCH WORK to eat them. Unless you EAT the shells. But even then your body's gonna be working to digest those, so either way you're working up a sweat if not an appetite. It's like crab legs or corn on the cob. The calories you burn working for the food makes them low-fat. Probably negative fat.

-In all that effort, your mouth gets tired. Like chewing gum, your mouth and mind--not your stomach--feel like you've eaten a hearty meal. Really you've only eaten birdseed.

-And in all that effort, your mouth gets STRONGER! Heads up, Channing Tatum. You're not the only one with a jaw as sturdy as an ox anymore. I'm sure that's how oxen get their strong jaws. Sunflower seeds. Chew, chew, spit. Repeat. Voila.

-I've seen potato chips made with sunflower seed oil. I have no clue what that means. But it sounds healthy. More than transfat and vegetable oil. Tally another mark under "healthy" for the sunflower seed. Note: I've never tried these. Just seen the bags.

-Birds eat them. Birds aren't fat. Except turkeys. And they aren't eating sunflower seeds. There aren't turkeys roaming the plains of Kansas. Maybe that's the key to winged flight. Light, hearty, low-fat meals of protein.

On the downside...

-All that work only temporarily fools your mind into not being hungry. My stomach has kicked in loud and clear, reminding me that all I've eaten today is trail mix minus the m&m's.

-My mouth is STILL tired. I want to sip my next meal through a straw. I don't recommend spending a whole day chewing. We're not horses.

Or billy-goats.

-On the mouth topic and not being animals, a beak really would make this easier. Or a gullet so I could just shovel them down shells and all. But that would negate some of the perks. Like calorie-burning and mind-tricks and oxen-sturdy jaws.

-They're cheap. This is only a downside because all healthy food is expensive. So they might not be healthy after all. I mean, except for skim milk, which should be illegal (it's just water with white dye in it!), anything that doesn't clog your arteries or risk causing an immediate stroke or heart attack costs you your 2nd kidney. Or 1st spleen.

Overall consensus: Eat sunflower. It's the new "in." It's trendy, it's healthy, and it's even affordable.

Welcome to hip.



So we went to Taiho, Japanese cuisine at its highest price. My meal with WATER was $32 and change. Lucrative business. If I come into some big cash one day, I could see buying a Japanese Steakhouse. Name it something cool. Konichiwa. However you spell it. Or maybe “32 and change” in Japanese. That way it’s right there in the name of the restaurant exactly how much I’ll be ripping you for.

The only thing is finding the manpower. And not just any Joe Buck. You’ve got to have the Japanese cook. I’ve been twice, not here, but just around, where the cooks weren’t authentic. I guess it’s as stringent as Hooters and Flight Attendants. Japanese restaurants know it when they see it. You don’t see black men as Hooters girls—I hope, anyway. You don’t see fat flight attendants, and you don’t see white guys cooking at Japanese restaurants. It’s just not authentic. And I just realized you NEVER see women cooks either. I guess the girls that wanted to be Japanese cooks are now Hooters girls. Good for them.

Back to those two inauthentic cooks I had. One was Mexican. The other called himself an “Indian Redneck,” and proceeded to debut his country music tour right there at Ju-Jitsu’s. I’m not trying to discriminate against non-Japanese cooks, but who thought a cowboy Indian singing Willie Nelson while chopping dinner was a good idea? Who did HE know? That’d be like Yo-Yo Ma replacing Alex Trebeck on Jeopardy. Something about it just doesn’t quite say “Welcome to Japan. Yes, I know what I’m doing.”

But see that’s what I want. A cultural experience. The Japanese cook, preferably without a knack for Hank Williams Jr. The waitress that never smiles. The chopsticks with or without the rubberbands to make them work. The hostess that doesn’t even speak English. Lindsay The Ranew made the reservation for us last Friday. I showed up first and mentioned we had reservations. The hostess asked the name, I said “Lindsay or Ranew” and she studied the virtually empty reservation book for a moment. She then looked up as excitedly as if she’d solved that morning’s sudoku, pointed at the name she'd scribbled down, and said, “Ah, yes. Wyndsey.”

Nothing helps break stereotypes like reaffirming them.

I think I’d have an option though. For the customers’ sakes, and the cooks’. Well and all of us really. For those that don’t want the complete “Japanese Immersion,” for a dollar or two less, you now pay $30 and change, and can have the Un-entertaining, less death-defying, stare-into-space option. As in, “We know you’ve been to Japanese restaurants before, so if you just want your food without the commotion, no ‘choo-choo’ or volcano or ‘bad chicken’ comments or tossing-the-scalding-hot-shrimp-at-some-unsuspecting-Joe-Buck’s-face routine, then you can order the ‘Sukiyaki Steak Express’ or ‘Quicken Hibachi Chicken.’” No more Japanese versions of Show and Tell. It's an option I would most often select. And as the owner, I'd want to charge less for this feature because you’re not getting a full production of spinning eggs and fireballs, but it seems like the demand would be so great that it would require the higher price. And if more people are choosing the quicker option, more people are able to come in and out, and thus the turnover is better. It’s the brilliant business move, hands down.

I went with my friend one time, just me and her and a 12 person table. Well me and her and the empty 12 person table and the cook. Who STILL performed his show. A mite awkward. And a lot of effort. We’re trying to have conversation, and he’s trying to make us laugh or clap or cry or some emotion we’re apparently not showing enough of. Like McDonald’s with a full theater production of how they defrosted your processed Blueberry Chicken McMuffin and then deep-fried it in French fry grease and smothered it in a percent lifetime value of sodium and then lit it on fire for entertainment’s sake. You don’t need all that. No narratives. No presentations. No worries. Just you, your friend, and your little piece of heaven in a heart attack. Or stroke. Thoughtless, effortless, mind-numbingly simple meals.

For $32 and change.


Spy Dreams

Sorry for the gap between writings. I've been busy. Being Un-retired. Yes, Early Retirement is over for this season. I got a job.

A story for your entertainment...
(Based on a "true" story)

When I woke up this morning I was more mad than I've been in a LONG time. It wasn't true. It didn't really happen. I had one of the most realistic and fantastic dreams in my YOUNG life. Realistic like standing in front of a toilet and peeing the bed because you thought you were really in front of the toilet. THAT real. As fantastic as superhero comics are, as adventurous as little boys' daydreams. THAT is how fantastic this was.

For some reason I was in a school. It had a big opening in the front. Like a cafeteria. Tables for lunch. But it was early evening. And a ton of kids were sitting on the tops of the tables watching tvs. Some 50 yards away was the nearest teacher, except she was also a receptionist. I walked through the front doors past the children; I imagine they're 3rd and 4th graders. They looked away from the cartoon for a quick glance, realized I'm not that exciting, and returned to laughing and staring at the tvs. Some laughed at me. A few were curious. Still others gave the "whatchoo doin hur" look. But most paid me no attention.

Except the receptionist/teacher.

She stopped me in my untucked, yellow polo shirt and board shorts. "Excuse me, sir. I know you're with the Secret Service. I can tell by your outfit that you're supposed to blend in with the kids. But you'll want to go that way. Ms. Adrian Fletcher will be speaking in the auditorium." I instinctively lifted my left pointer and middle fingers to my left ear and mumbled something into the inside of my right wrist. I nodded. And walked away.

The rest of the dream is pointless. Kind of anti-climactic, really. But the point remains. I was a spy. Or at least to the receptionist/teacher lady. Well not really a "spy" per se. A Secret Service Agent. Well I mean, being the President would have been the BEST dream ever. But Bodyguard to the President still looks good on the resume. Admirable. Noble. Loyal. A few rungs down the ladder, but still. Basically, I was the man. Never mind that the only reason the old lady/teacher/receptionist lady knew I was a Secret Service Agent was because I was dressed like a 3rd grader, or that the person needing protection from the Secret Service was the President's brother's daughter and her family. Not quite the President's personal bodyguard, I realize. But the fantasy remains: for a brief moment, albeit in my Subconscious, I was as hard as Jack Bauer.

Thanks, Sub-conscience. Nothing rewards my diehard devotion to or relentless pursuit of Jack Bauer and all things heroic like starring in my sleep as the mistaken, 3rd-grade-look-alike-bodyguard of some guy's GRANDNIECES.

It's not even a word.


A Triple Crown of Sorts

I feel like my last few posts, while funny, have perhaps come across as whiny or impatient. So here's some happy news. Or thoughts. Or hopes. Or dreams. And they're all sports-related.

The Cardinals won the World Series. Rock on. I'm several months late, I know. But this doesn't diminish my excitement.

The Chiefs made the playoffs. Unbelievable, really. Everything that they needed to happen, did, and so they got in. I hate the Broncos. So to see them blow the playoffs like that, and then to have the Chiefs make it. Tis Sweet. I'm ready for them to go all the way now.

The Magic are doing well this year. They're fun to watch. It's great getting to see them on TV for a change. SO great, really. Even better in person. I've gone several times already. And it feels like home when I go. More than any place I've been in awhile. Weird, I know. But it's sentimental. Or something. The smells. Like the one-two punch of beer and urine in the bathroom after the game. Or the smell of nachos and hotdogs. The sounds. Like that of the Magic announcer 15 years later, with his booming voice only slightly less forceful. The sounds of sneakers squeaking and balls bouncing. The action. The annoying people in front of you that won't sit down. Or the drunk people behind you that yell incessant vulgarities. The cheering. I can cheer. Like a fan. A die hard fan. Not some distant psycho living in Mississippi rooting for a no-name team in Cenral Florida. There was a fat man at the games when I was little that would grab this huge Magic banner or flag and run around the whole arena during timeouts at the ends of games when it was really close and the crowd needed to be loud. I saw him the other night. The only die-harder fan than me. The fat man. And judging by his size and the Magic's poor recent history, he's slimmed down quite a bit. And so we keep cheering. Me and the fat man. For years it's probably been the two of us. He, here. Me, there. In Mississippi. But this year is brighter. I'm home. And with our powers combined, the Magic are poised to have a season they haven't experienced since 1995 or 96. My last Magic games. This year they started as the best team in the league; then they chilled a bit. They're getting their groove back. They'll be tough this year and will be for years to come. Dwight Howard's predicting a championship this year. Looks like it's not just me and the fat man anymore...

That would make it a Triple Crown for me. The teams I love never win. I mean the Yankees. But the Cardinals before they had McGwire, back when they had Ozzie. That was my team. The Chiefs before they had Joe Montana and Marcus Allen, back when they had Steve DeBerg. They were my team. And the Magic. Oh, the Magic. They toy with my heart more than January Jones or Scarlett Johannson. 1995. The NBA Finals. I still wake up in cold sweats.

This sports year has already been historic for me with the Cardinals win. But how much more so when Kansas City and Orlando win their championships.

I mean if Boston can win a World Series, I can win a Triple Crown.


Holey Jeans!

Just a quick anecdote.

I ripped my jeans today. Not an intentional ravaging of my clothes to fit in either. I reached into the back seat and heard a rip. Nervously, I rearranged to see where the rift occurred. At first I was relieved, as my two friends were with me; the tear was not in the most contoured part of the pants-the posterior. Whew. But then I grew irritated; it was my dress jeans. My one GOOD pair of jeans. The kind you wear with a coat. And they ripped in the knee. How fat do you have to be to rip your jeans IN THE KNEE? Too fat, I see now. They tried to reassure me that it's the cool thing now. Jeans with rips and tears, holes, patches and weirdly colored seams. But not good jeans. Not expensive jeans. Not dress jeans. I already have two pair that do that. One accidentally, much the same as these new fashion jeans, and the other I gave in and bought distressed. Or ransacked. Whatever they call it nowadays.

Three ragged pairs of jeans is too many. At least for me. It's one too many.