Thursday, May 27, 2010

Me on American Idol

Last night wrapped up another season of American Idol. It was the culmination of a process that started probably last summer or fall with thousands upon thousands of people auditioning for their one shot at fame and fortune.

Idol has been going on 10 seasons now and in that time I have gone from being in the age-appropriate bracket to audition to now being no longer eligible. But it made me wonder, really, could I have been a contestant on American Idol?

If this show had been around when I was in high school, I don’t think there is any question that I would’ve auditioned. I think me and all my friends would have gone to the closest audition locale and camped out if need be to audition. I think I can honestly say that that time represented the height of my singing confidence…maybe a few years beyond like 21-23 somewhere in that range. This is not to say that I am not confident in my ability now, it’s just that sometimes when you are that young you still don’t know what you can’t do, and that’s a good thing.

So, here’s what my audition would’ve looked like in, let’s say, anywhere between 1998-2002 (I understand it started in 02, but had it been around when I was younger…you get what I’m saying, just go with it) :

Me: “Hi my name is Andrew and I’m going to be singing ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ by Oasis. “

Randy: “I don’t know dog…I’m not sure the Brit-pop is really your thing man…it was good, not great. It was just alright for me”

Paula (still on the show): “I thought it was just marvelous, I could really tell that you really didn’t want the person you were singing to, to look back in anger.”

My internal dialogue: “Right, well, I just like Oasis.”

Guest Judge Rob Thomas: “I think you did good man, I think you’ve got a good sound, you just need to work on your wardrobe.”

Simon: “Frankly Andrew (pronounced ON-drew) I thought it was a bit boring and forgettable. I mean, you’ve got a decent voice, but what else is there? This is something you might see at a high school senior solo night or something..."

Randy: “Alright, Simon yes or no?”
Simon: “It’s a no from me.”
Randy: “Rob Thomas…?”
Rob Thomas: “Yeah man, I’m going to give you another chance.”
Randy: “Paula Abdul…?”
Paula: “A million percent YES!…”
Simon: “Then it all comes down to you Randy…”
Randy: “I don’t know dog…”
Me: “Come on Randy; give me one more chance…”
Randy: “Alright, it’s a yes from me, WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD!”
So there you have it, I think I was good enough to make it to Hollywood, but not much beyond that. While I think I can carry a tune pretty well, and it was good enough to sell about 30 Tapes of the infamous band Tandem, I don’t think I’d have the range or the chops to hang with the idol hopefuls in Hollywood…particularly the group numbers. My response would be… “Wait, we have to dance? Nobody said anything about dancing.” Plus, my song choices probably wouldn’t have been to Simon or Randy’s musical proclivities…James Taylor, Oasis, Counting Crows, the Wallflowers, the Beach Boys etc…

Oh well, the best part about never auditioning is being able to sit back on my couch and say, “oh yeah, I’m totally better than any of these clowns.”

As for Seacrest, I bet he would’ve liked me…

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Farewell to LOST

Six years ago, when LOST started, I was a bachelor fresh out of college looking to make my way in this world as a temp. Several “real” jobs, and six years later, I am a married father of two, and as the LOST journey comes to and end, I feel like in many ways my own is just beginning. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t view this show as life-changing or life-altering. It’s a TV show, so you have to have some perspective there, but, I do feel in a lot of ways like I have taken part in something that at the very least, won’t soon be repeated and I feel that I owe it a proper send off.

The reviews for the finale have come in mixed. They range from “this changed the way I view the afterlife” to “I can’t believe I wasted six years on this nonsense.” To each his or her own, I suppose. The one thing I find puzzling on some level about the dissatisfied fraction of viewers is that this is a sci-fi and faith based show…and you expected all the answers? That’s not realistic. Heck, that’s not even reality,! Life so rarely delivers effortless answers. Some of the greatest movies ever made, books ever written, or stories ever told leave a lot up to the imagination. Some people don’t like that, but for me, I like the fact that the door was left open just enough for us to come up with answers and resolutions in our own minds as to what really happened. To me, that’s a winner…especially living in the “real” adult world where the use of ones imagination isn’t often encouraged but rather, we are to do our jobs, go through our routine’s and return and repeat. Cogs in the wheel.

The one thing that LOST did really well, or should I say the writers of LOST did really well over the last 6 years was that it changed the perspective of the show on the viewer and required the viewer to see things through a different lens. Some walked away frustrated with the final season because they looked at the end and said “oh, so they were all dead anyway, that’s dumb.” No, they weren’t and no it’s not dumb. In any show, when you are given new information, you have to reevaluate from the point on where you learn the new info. You can’t just apply it to where you’re at and reach your conclusions. That’s kind of silly. You can learn a lot by simply paying attention! LOST writers and producers kept people guessing for a reason. I suspect that if you go back and watch the entire show, knowing what the end-game is, you’ll probably pick up on subtle hints that were dropped throughout and now that you are viewing it through the proper lens, you might find that you like it a little better. Then again you might not, that’s your choice…your, free will (if you will!)

In the end the show was about redemption and it was about the relationships that you build in life and the importance of holding on to those relationships. It also focused on the power of choices. You can choose one path or you can choose another, but either way, you choose. I’ll admit, I’m not nearly as good a friend, brother, or son as I probably have been in the past. Life gets in the way, we all move on. Some of the characters received a grand redemption on the show and others received theirs in very subtle ways. So too goes the pattern of our lives. We have our ups and we have our downs, but in the end, it still comes down to people, particularly the ones we surround ourselves with and how we treat them. Hanging on to grudges and negative feelings don’t help us progress, in fact, quite the opposite, they become an albatross that we have to overcome but only can do so once we are ready to face that challenge and make that choice. For each person, it comes in its own place and its own time.

Did LOST change my world view? Nope. It just reminded me that I needed to make sure I maintained perspective, which I often struggle with. So, farewell Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, Ben, Locke and the rest of you! It has been one heck of a ride.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Office Refrigerator

If our world is ever invaded by another species, they won’t be from another planet or solar system…nope, they’ll be home grown, in our office refrigerators!

It seems that no matter where you go, the story is always the same. The road to a non-smelly office refrigerator is paved with good intentions and yummy leftovers, but we never get there. Why? Because food is abandoned, left to fester both labeled and unlabeled for days, weeks, months, and yes, probably years before anything is done.

I’m sure nobody means to forget about that half an egg-salad sandwich that they leave in the fridge for a month, it just happens…but it does happen. In offices all across America, leftovers are brought in daily, presumably for lunch consumption. For some, the routine never changes, you come in, you leave your lunch, you pick it up round noon-time, you eat and you return the next day and repeat. But for others, the process is not nearly as easy. Two questions immediately jump to mind here. First, what made you think that an egg-salad sandwich would be good as a left over…or in some cases a first-over to begin with? Second, how does one just forget his or her lunch? I mean, it’s almost like the people who just leave their luggage on the conveyer at the airport. Where the heck are those people? One day, sure, I get that…maybe even two. But I can’t imagine that someone would put something in a refrigerator and then just forget they put it there…what kind of sense does that make? What about the next time you put something in…you might see it or at the very least, have your memory jogged. I gotta tell you, it nearly sounds intentional, like food terrorism.

At a previous employer, the refrigerator was to be “cleaned out” on the first day of every month, yet surprisingly, on the second day of the month; the fridge looked just as full and smelled just as gross as it did on the last day of the previous month. Curious isn’t it? Not only that, but whenever we would have corporate lunches, there would usually be an excess of leftovers, which is fine, BUT, someone has to take responsibility for those items…you can’t just leave them in there wily nilly…they don’t just get up and walk into the trash can themselves. (Although if you wait long enough, they might.)

Then there’s the things people leave in the office fridge. Let’s be honest with each other for a second here folks, are you really going to go back and eat that mushy apple, banana, half empty (or full for the optimists) carton of yogurt, or non-covered “works” slice of pizza? From the refrigerators I’ve seen, the answer is a resounding “no!” One time, a buddy of mine and I threw a way in MAY a carton of milk from FEBRUARY. Now again folks…milk isn’t wine okay? It doesn’t get better with age…in fact, the opposite happens. It gets worse, AND it stinks. One time, a power outage forced a complete dump off all the fridges in the office. Best thing that ever happened to that place (besides me).
Then there is the issue of the lunch container. I’ll make this brief. Folks, it’s called a cooler for a reason, you put a couple of those ice things in it and you are golden. What you don’t need to do is take your tailgate-sized cooler and place it in the fridge for several hours, restricting the space for the non-cooler folks, you know, the considerate ones. If you do that, you need to take some kind of cooler 101 class and you probably need a good whack on the noggin.

Finally, we come to the issue of theft. I firmly believe that just as much as you remember what you put in the fridge, you also remember what you didn’t put in the fridge. Over the years I have had two or three of those healthy choice lunches stolen out of the office fridge. I’ve also had my labeled butter swiped occasionally…and I may have even had the thief actually tell me I was running low. Most recently, I left a sealed Diet Dr. Pepper in one of the fridges in my office accidentally right before I took some time off to be with my family and our new addition. Soda is fine you see, because it is sealed and doesn’t stink with age! When I came back, it was gonzo. Again, how do you open a fridge, see something in there, know you didn’t put it in there, and take it? How does that work? “Boy, I sure am thirsty, hey! Look at this! A free diet DP! Eureka!” I did not leave a note, but I wanted to. If you are ever in a situation like that, I suggest leaving one like this:

Coming soon: The Office Bathroom

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Movie Taser

After a long hiatus, my wife and I finally returned to the movie theater to see Iron Man 2. I can’t even remember the last time I went to see a movie, maybe Avatar, who knows, not important.

As I was sitting there waiting for the show to start, I noticed a rather obnoxious group of teenagers in the back making snarky comments. Now, to be fair, they only talked during the previews and did not do anything to disrupt the movie. However, there is never a dull moment in my mind when the wheels are spinning and their yapping gave me a great idea; The Movie Taser.

I’ve had some experience working security at an NBA arena and I can tell you that we guards were, for the most part, are not really equipped to handle an unruly fan. In fact, perhaps I’ll share my top moments as a security guard on this blog…but that is for another day. The point is, if someone really wanted to challenge us, we wouldn’t have much recourse in the moment. The same holds true for movie ushers. They walk in with their little orange flash light, adjust the air or the sound, and if people are talking and what have you, they ask them to keep it down. Most of these ushers are like 17-18, tops and just don’t have the authority to throw out a gabbing group of teens. So, why not tase them? It wouldn’t have to be the full shock you get from a normal taser, just a little something to subdue them and allow them, and others to enjoy the show. Simple, yet remarkably effective.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I too, was one of these teens. But here’s the difference…we were funny! Our comments were always well-timed and appropriate. None of this constant yapping about nothing in particular…no, for us, it was an art form, not an annoyance. I can’t speak for the “old people” in the theaters we were in, but we were never not once asked to be quiet or to leave. So, I rest my case.

Some will argue that the potential is there for more “Don’t Tase Me Bro!” incidents in the middle of a theater. That is why I suggest we go the extra step and insert a mini taser into each chair. An usher can observe from above and anyone who causes a stir gets a little zap. No causing a scene, no anger, nothing like that, just a little shock to subdue the chatterbox in the back.

Moviegoers will thank me later once this catches on.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The HOV Conundrum

If I haven’t beaten my readers over the head with it enough already, let me just say, I am on the road a lot. I have a very long commute to and from work every day. I would say I’m in the car somewhere in between 17-20 hours a week. I feel like I am a long-haul truck driver in a 2003 Corolla…but all I’m hauling is myself (a challenge some mornings, especially towards the end of a long week) Being on the road so much has allowed me to not only observe the driving habits of others and comment, but also to question how valuable my time truly is. Is it worth say, $125?

Herein lies the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) conundrum. Most days, I find myself sitting in traffic on East-bound 66 heading into work and watching the cars in the HOV lanes just zoom right by me…and it makes me wonder what it is worth to me to get to work or more importantly home a little faster. I figure that if I used the HOV, I could shave anywhere from 15-25 minutes off my drive (in ideal circumstances). That’s a good amount of time.

Given these thoughts, I decided to take a look at what it might cost me to do this if I were caught. The breakdown goes like so:

  • First offense $125
  • Second offense: $250 plus 3 points on your driving record
  • Third offense: $500 plus 3 points on your driving record
  • Fourth offense: $1,000 plus 3 points on your driving record
    (Source: vdot)
Now, after poking around the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) website, I came across some outstanding Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about violating the HOV lanes. My favorite was this one: “I’m pregnant, do I count as one people or two?” Awesome.
Despite the fact that the odds of getting caught are probably in my favor, I think I’ll take a safer approach and go shopping for a mannequin to ride along with me to work so I can sail into work in the HOV lane undetected.


One more observation from the road before I end this post; I am a very patient person, I really am. I don’t get road rage much, I’m not a terribly aggressive driver, I go fast but not too fast and mostly importantly, I would really like to get where I am going without other people getting in the way. Yes, that means you light blue Sentra that treated the speed bump like it was 7 feet tall…but I digress.
My lone requirement of other drivers is thus: If you cannot beat a semi, a bus, a U-Haul, or any kind of large sized slow vehicle off the line or in a 10 mile stretch, you should not be on the road, period. End of discussion. If the garbage or mailman is consistently beating you off the line and is flying by you on the road, it’s time to turn in your license, get a motorized scooter and live out your days causing traffic jams at wall mart. This way, I’ll never see you, because I hate going to Wal-Mart. See? It’s a win/win for both of us. /end rant.

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster is a maniac?” – George Carlin

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

88,888 Miles

Just as I was getting home from work, the odometer clicked to a big milestone for my car. 88,888 miles on the nose. That is a lot of miles on my car. I have put every single mile on that car. I test drove it on a Friday night and bought it on a Saturday morning. I have owned that car now since 2004 and it is still a great car. It started off as my cool bachelor-mobile, and now it is filled with sippy cups, fruit snacks, and random other things from my kids...funny how times change.

So here's to my car, 88,888 miles and still going strong. Look for my next milestone post a 99,999.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Time For a Mustache?

As the now proud and hard working father of two, I’ve noticed a number of changes in my life. For one, I’ve found more and more pink in my world than there as ever been, and I am getting very adept at the orienteering talents of Dora the explorer as well as getting good at anticipating the movements of her nemesis Swiper.
Some of the more manly colors I see like grey have only found their way into my hair as I stress about taking care of my crew of women. Something has to change. It might be time for a mid-life, or in my case, early life crisis! It might be time, for a mustache!

I seem to recall when I was growing up many of the kids fathers I was aware of had mustaches…it was the fatherly thing to do. Hey, my dad had one, and even a beard for a good long while, so why not me?

I’m sure that an argument could be made against this, noting that a mustache is really more of a Magnum P.I. type thing to do…


…or perhaps would better suit a silent actor.
But I ask, how dignified does news anchor Ron Burgundy look with his nose tickler? How about local favorites Jim Vance or Leon Harris? And I answer; dignified, fatherly, cool, that’s how they look. This is how I could look.


I can hear the haters already saying, “Andrew, don’t embarrass yourself, you probably couldn’t grow one if you tried.” Rest assured, I’ve heard your complaints loud and clear and believe me, if I didn’t have the support of many, I wouldn’t even be going down this road. No no, not my spouse or my daughters. I mean the American Mustache Institute. Established to help with facial hair advocacy, the AMI supports those Americans who choose to have a mustache not be discriminated against. This is a cause I could get behind.

As a mustached American, I could also be entitled to a tax benefit: “The STACHE Act offers incentives for people of Mustached American heritage in the form of a $250 deduction for expenditures for mustache grooming supplies in the determination of Adjusted Gross Income.” So you see, it is not only my duty as a husband and father to grow a mustache, but it is my duty as a tax-paying patriotic American to grow a mustache.

I could even be president some day…