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Mike Calahan: International Man of History – Teaser

The Showdown

If you’re not familiar with the name Mike Calahan, you’re probably living on a free-floating sheet of ice somewhere in the Arctic Circle.  And if that’s the case, call your local cable company, get the Wi-Fi hooked up, and tune in next Tuesday for an opportunity to dive helmet-head first into the genetically-enhanced grey matter of the author behind the blog, B.L.O.G.  

It’s a bit redundant, I know.  But that’s exactly what makes him a literary genius.

I originally booked Mike for a luxurious, all-inclusive stay here at the Chowderhead Headquarters for last weekend, but unfortunately, he was already committed to some hairspray convention out in Tucson.  We’re now set to square off this weekend for a one-on-one showdown.

Designer brand mouse.  Collared shirts and ties.  The sleekest pair of black frame glasses west of the Mississippi…

I might be in over my head.

See you Tuesday.

- Honor thy comb and thy hair gel, Chowderheads \m/

**If you have questions that you’d like me to ask Mike, drop a line in the comments and I’ll be sure to work ‘em in.

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5 Notorious Lines That I Always Get Stuck Waiting In

Maybe it’s the Yankee in me, but I absolutely hate waiting in lines.  See, I have this uncanny, superhuman, x-men-like ability to subconsciously locate and endure the absolute worst possible line in the history of checkout lines wherever I go.  Someone please contact Guinness.  It’s world record wait.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Tip:  if you ever happen across me standing in line someplace, even if you really wanna talk to me or get my autograph or something like that, don’t do it.  I’ll mail you an autographed picture of my bare buttocks – whatever you want – just do yourself a favor: go stand in the next checkout line over.  Even if its twenty senior citizens deep.  Trust me.

Here’s a brief list of typical scenarios that I face on a regular basis:

DSC_0999_LR

“Hey Coach, I don’t feel so good.”

Dairy Queen

Baseball Team:  sextuple (seven) scoop hot fudge brownie boat with sprinkles, half-fat caramel chocolate-mocha frappe drizzle, every single nut known to the Dominican Republic, freeze-dried watermelon rind puree, cat liver, fucking onions, and whatever else you got, lady.  After three bites, the kid doesn’t like it or throws it up all over the floor, or on my sweet tennis shoes, and it goes in the garbage.  What a surprise… Continue reading

Think Happy Thoughts and Try Not to Hurl on the Plane

I picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue...

I picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue…

Alright, so dig this, I’m going on a solo flight in a couple of days and I’m wiggin’ out.

I’m not all that big on flying, so I’ve been spending a lot time in the fetal position, whimpering like a sissy.  I thought this might be sort of therapeutic for me, ya know?  Write it out, Chowderhead, just write it out…

See, I’m not one of those people that’s afraid of crashing and dying.  Honestly, I can think of much worse ways of expiring, like, for instance, being eaten by Hannibal Lecter.  That would suck much more than a really brief, but really fun, roller coaster ride into the ocean.

Maybe I shouldn’t tempt fate…

What I am afraid of is all of the ridiculous scenarios that I create in my mind before I even set foot on the plane.  Consequently, (I like that word) for the past week and a half I’ve been chain-smoking and building a collection of virtual self-help books, which now rivals the Library of Congress.  At the moment, I’m working on a chapter in one of my anxiety miracle cure books called, “how to stop worrying about spraying projectile vomit all over the guy in the seat next to you.”

That would be one of those ridiculous scenarios.  Not that it wouldn’t be possible I guess, but I haven’t tossed my cookies since I was an infant.  That is of course if you don’t count that one time when I went to that Lebanese restaurant after a night of heavy drinking a few years back.  But that was only like a violent vurp – not really full on hurl.

In any case, I realize now that not only do I have this longstanding phobia of just about everything, but a particularly bad phobia of all things vomit.  God I hate that word.  They actually have a name for it too: emetephobia.  Gnarly!

Don't call me Shirley...

What’s your sign? Do you have kids? What do you do for a living? Have you ever had a prostate exam? I really like airplane peanuts. What time is it in Amersterdam? Oh, and don’t call me Shirley.

Emetephobiais what self-help guru’s refer to as an “Irrational fear.”  I would have to agree, it is irrational, because chances are likely that I’m not really going to give two shits about the guy sitting next to me for a number of reasons:

1.). He might be an armrest-stealer.
2.) He might be a talker, which means kiss my Yatzy Addict Tournament goodbye.
3.) He could be a projectile vomiter, which would do absolutely nothing to help me rid myself of emetephobia.

I hope he’s just an armrest-stealer…

I’m rambling now.  Shut up, man.  Does this give me a free pass for slacking on reading everyone’s stuff?  I’m acting like such an attention whore right now, I know.  Please tell me to stick a sock in it and man up.

Oh, and I still don’t have a clue what I’m gonna name this blog, not that it’s all that important, but you know,  The Artist Formerly Known as My Right to Bitch is gonna be a really hard one to plug to random strangers on the plane: “Hey, you should read my blog, it’s called…wait, do you have about five minutes to spare?”

Ok, bye.

Louisiana or bust…

…Say what?

-Happy Blogging\m/

Failing at Fotoshop

I’m not proud to admit it, but I’m still floundering away at The University of Microsoft Paint.  

If you’re not familiar with it, MS Paint is a watered-down photo editing program that comes standard with every PC.  The only thing it’s useful for is drawing a perfect circle, square, or trapezoid, then filling it with a primary color.  Basically, it’s one step above an Etch-o-Sketch.  

Since I’m in a giving mood today, I thought I’d give all you graphic artist snobs an opportunity to point and laugh at some of my crudely-edited pictures from the past.  Up until now, none of them have seen the light of day.  The tour you’re about to take should give you an idea of what I’m working with here.

In short, my graphic design skills are about four feet shy of a slam dunk.

Behold…

Exhibit A.

When Suze Speaks You Will Listen

I’m a wizard at blacking out teeth.  Lucky for me, Suze Orman is already missing one.  The caption saved this one.  The sketchy-looking thought bubble did not.  Grade D+

…Exhibit B

When Suze Speaks You Will Listen (2)

The caption saved this one too.  Grade:  D

…Exhibit C

Mike Phleps

What began as a Chariots of Fire-inspired tribute to Michael Phelps, ended in a craptastic horn sympony of wet farts being lit on fire.  I blew this on so many levels.  First off, I butchered the name.  Phleps?  C’mon man.  Secondly, the Olympic Rings look like they just got off some Woodstock hippie bus after eating a handful of brown LSD.  Needless to say, this one didn’t bring home the gold — or any medal for that matter — just a raging case of genital herpes.  Grade:  F

…Exhibit D

Slam Dunking Pat Robertson

This one’s actually believable — all things considered.  In case you’re wondering, that’s Pat Robertson‘s head about to get slamma jamma’d by MJ.  Grade:  C-

…Exhibit E

Flo Nose Best

Where was I going with this one…This was actually an old piece from my graphic design portfolio.  People who interviewed me described it as being preposterouslaughable, and harmful to pregnant women.  One guy even called a couple weeks after the interview to tell me he’d gone sterile after looking at it.  Liar.  Needless to say, my computer drawing career never panned out.  Now that I look at it again, I can see where they’re coming from.  You did’t have to be a dick about it.  Sheesh.  Grade:  F

…Exhibit F

Capitol Building Wtf

Wait for it…

…Exhibit G

George W Planking

and boom goes the dynamite.  This one gets high marks for originality of content.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure The Enquirer is gonna fork over any loot for this Photoshop hack-job.  A Kindergartner could do a better job of cutting and pasting.  Look at Bush — he looks terrified.  I’ll bet this won’t be the first time G-Dub’s had a low mark stamped next to his name.  Grade:  D+

…Exhibit H

Sara Jessica Parker

The shading is spot on in this one, but I kinda goofed on Sara Jessica Parker’s hair.  Oh, and I totally forgot that she doesn’t eat carbs anymore.  Sorry chicky, this ain’t gonna help straighten out the long face —->  Grade:  D-

…Exhibit G:  *G-Money*

2 Fly 4 You

Here’s an exception.  Not much wrong with this one.  Except for the fried egg in Becca’s hair.  It was supposed to be a daisy.  Whatever.  If you print this out, don’t try using it at Walmart.  They just busted someone recently who was trying to score change for a million dollar bill.  True story.  It’s obvious that Walmart invests heavily in counterfeit and fraud prevention.  But who would wanna get rid of something with that pretty face on it?  Grade:  A+

…Exhibit H

Gary Busey

Gary Busey is so grouchy around the paparazzi.  I think he has a sugar problem.  Or a coke habit.  Probably both.  By the way, fake blood is hard to do on MS Paint.  It looks like cartoon barbecue sauce.  Someone give this man a rabies shot.  Stat.  Grade:  D – 

…Exhibit I

I'm a Toker not a Scholar

More pickin’ on Bush.  Wait.  That came out wrong.  Nevermind.  If you’ve never seen the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off then you’re probably scratching your wig right now.  Congratulations!  You’re the only person on the planet that hasn’t seen it.  The bong in the photo looks sort of believable, I guess.  And it’s patriotic too!  Who am I kidding.  It all sucks.  Grade:  D+

…Exhibit J

Dr Oz Commercial Not

I can’t imagine his monthly dry cleaning bill.  Actually, who cares about that.  I’m sending a Christmas card to the owner of the shop.  What a saint for handling all those poopy pants.  Grade: C

…Exhibit K 

David Dixon Tribute Sort of

I even screwed up my tribute to David Dixon.  Wait, is that his name or his nemesis?  Either way, you make it look easy, my friend.  Grade:  F

End of Tour.  

I hope nobody went sterile. 

*****

If you guys didn’t think this totally sucked, let me know.  I have a lot more Fotoshop Fails in the dumpster out back.  I could do a weekly bit called something corny like, “Fotoshop Fridays?”  Meh.  I’ll work on a title…

Oh, and check out the Post of the Week by Alien Red Queen.  Nicely written, Ms Lady.

-Happy Blogging \m/  

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Strategic Car Buying 101

Author’s Note:  I’d like to apologize for any mistreatment and/or agony  caused by the profuse usage of capital letters during Sergeant Gunnery’s boot camp tirade.  Sadly, the Sarge couldn’t make it today because he is now a semi-permanent fixture on my garage ceiling — courtesy of eight rolls of duct tape.  Hoo-ah. 

If there were a scientific method for measuring and ranking all the things that suck in this world, car shopping would probably fall somewhere between getting shot in the groin  with a potato-launcher, and dealing with a bout of moderate to severe Seafood Poisoning.

Unfortunately, owning a car is a necessity for people like me, and every few years I find myself in the same pinch at the local motor mall.

Shown here:  Ron Wiestromski aka "Big Cheddar".  Either him, or Danny Devito.  I can't tell.

Shown here: Ron Wiestromski aka “Big Cheddar” or Danny Devito. I can’t tell.

Looking for a car isn’t the hard part.  In essence, it’s actually not all that different from putting a fridge on layaway.  The part that makes it less desirable than a spud to the hangers is when any of the following semi-fictional bullshit-artists enter the equation:

  • Jerry Flannigan aka “The Dice Man
  • Ron Wystromski aka “Big Cheddar”
  • Dick McGiven aka “The Shark”
  • Ed O’Mallory aka “Fast Eddie”

From that point on it’s nothing but a high-pressure hassle.

Walking through a car dealership is like hiking through the desert with a piece of rotting meat tied to your back.  From the moment I pull into a lot, there’s always some greasy sales buzzard wanting to shake my hand before I can put my foot on the blacktop.  After introductions, I’m getting forcefully shoved past the econo-car section of the lot, and tossed into a pile of Corvettes, Cadillacs and Monster Trucks.

Meanwhile, there sits a tiny, imaginary man in my head, behind a xylophone, frantically playing an ambiguous tune.  It’s a circus melody that perfectly captures the stress and confusion of the moment.

Many people feel the same way about the whole experience as I do.  However, they go about preparing for it the wrong way.  Most folks look to generic buying guides like Consumer Reports or the Suze Orman Show for tips and strategies on how to buy a car.  This advice is shoddy, at best.  Neither of these pop-resources highlight that being approached by a haggling salesman is an Act of War.

If you wanna avoid the runaround and get the most bang for your buck, car shopping requires a tactical, military-like approach.  Hopefully you’ve already completed Tuesday’s Basic Training.  You’re gonna need it.   

Let me break it down by operation.  

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Operation 1:  Reconnaissance

Begin by surveying the dealership for a few days with a pair of binoculars from across the street.  Behind a bush. Determine which day is staffed with the fewest amount of Sales Pests.  Identify a breach area.  Keep a log sheet of your observations.  Take pictures if you can, and carry an infrared lens.

I'll bet you can suck a golf ball through a garden hose, Pile!

Sarge, you gotta chill out with the Capital Letters. I have very sensitive readers…

Operation 2: Infiltrate the Enemy Establishment

After the surveillance operation, enter the lot at the identified breach area, and park as far away from the sales office as possible.  Stealth is key.  Use the vehicles in the lot to shield yourself.  Stay low to the ground.  Remember to camouflage:  sweat pants and a dirty T-shirt with a Budweiser logo on it.  You’ll be hard to spot if you look poor.

Operation 3:  Create a Tactical Diversion

You will eventually be targeted.  Remain calm.  The key at this stage is to create a Tactical Diversion that will delay and/or weaken the offensive strategy of the oncoming insurgent.  Note:  the following tactics are battle-tested, but may lead to a brief jail stint if executed poorly.

 Choose from the following list of Diversions based on your scenario:

  • Parking Lot Tag – When the Sales Pest has captured you for introductions, immediately initiate a game of parking lot tag by firmly tapping him on the chest and yelling out:”Tag, you’re it!”  If he doesn’t give chase, insult his mother.
  • Cops and Robbers (or Cowboys and Indians) – This tactic is also childish.  But who gives a fuck.  Integrate a lot of somersaults and barrel rolls on the pavement into your evasive routine.
  • Panic Button Hand Grenade – Request a set of keys for a vehicle.  Once you receive the keypad, hit the panic alarm button and launch it grenade-style deep within the enemy compound.
  • No Speaky English – If you’re not confident in executing any of the above tactics, use language as a sales barrier.

Operation 4:  Identify Target Vehicle

While your Sales Pest is trying to catch his breath, and/or bent over a car, puking his lungs out, survey the enemy compound and identify the target vehicle for a test drive.  Make sure it’s a Ford.  And make sure it’s not Gold or Burgundy.

Operation 5:  Highway Storm

After you’ve targeted a vehicle to test drive, request the keys.  Bring your Salesperson.  If he politely declines, try softening him up by applying reverse sales tactics: place your hand on his shoulder and ask about his beer league softball career.

After he’s in the vehicle and buckled up, put the pedal to the metal.  Really open up the engine during your test drive.  Do things to the target vehicle that you wouldn’t do with your current vehicle; brake torquing, neutral slamming, red-lining – get a feel for the beast.

If the salesman shits the seat, Abort Mission.

Operation 6:  Negotiate Hostage Situation

At this stage, a hostage situation could mean one of two things:

1.). You’ve landed yourself in the sales office and are negotiating the price of a car.

2.). You’ve landed yourself in jail and are negotiating the terms of your release with a lawyer through a piece of bulletproof glass.

We’ll concentrate on the first one.

This is your opportunity to put the hammer down.  At this point, the enemy should be showing signs of Post Traumatic StressUse these symptoms to your advantage.  Make a lot of sudden, jerky movements, and drop things on the floor, like a stapler, to create loud noises.  If that doesn’t work, try a computer monitor.  This will keep the enemy in a vulnerable, defensive state of mind.

If executed properly, he’ll do whatever it takes to get you the fuck out of his office.  When he’s cowering, immediately submit a low-ball offer on the Target Vehicle.  Hold eye contact.  After he prints a contract at the newly negotiated (low-ball) price, illegibly sign on the dotted line.  Do not shake hands, and do not turn your back to him while exiting the cell.  Before fully carrying out your exit plan, bark.  Like a dog.  Do it with passion and fury.

While he’s under the desk, make your break at full sprint.

Eat my Pants, Suze Orman.  

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What’s the battle plan when you go car shopping?  Please share your funny stories!

-Happy Blogging, Private First Class \m/