Author: somechum

Prancing with the (loosely-defined) Stars

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It was Kurt Warner who first lured me into considering what I’ve happily managed to avoid for a whopping 10 seasons.

When I heard that my rags-to-riches football hero (and hero at large) would be joining the cast of “Dancing with the Stars,” I knew it might be worth a view. Then after I discovered the melting-pot-of-a-cast also included such luminaries as Bristol Palin, David Hasselhoff and the 76-year-old Carol Brady (host of The Florence Henderson Show on the Retirement Living channel), I knew I was down for the count.

So after enduring two hours of fancy – and not-so-fancy – footwork, I offer some heartfelt, snarky commentary:  

Audrina Patridge (and Tony):
She may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but this reality-show diva sure looked like a million bucks in her warm-up gear. Her final costume choice and disco moves, however, created an unfortunate Saturday Night Fever vibe.

Kurt Warner (and Anna):
I don’t think the Viennese Waltz was conceived as a vehicle for a stock-boy-turned-quarterback – even if he has a charming boy-next-door smile.

Kyle Massey (and Lacey):
He looks like a pudgy school crossing guard, and dances similarly. But his partner…VA VA VA VOOM!

Rick Fox (and Cheryl):
This big galoot of an LA Laker really tried his darndest, and some of his moves were OK. But the height difference was hard to overcome.

Margaret Cho (and Louis):
Madame Butterfly meets The Lorax (and that’s just a description of Margaret).

Brandy (and Maks):
I think I may have witnessed the stiffest black woman ever.

Bristol Palin (and Mark):
Mama wasn’t in the audience, which is probably why Bristol moved like a true-blue hussy.

Florence Henderson (and Corky):
Little Miss Potty Mouth tried a bit too hard to convince the crowd she’s MUCH racier than Mrs. Brady ever was. Her numerous facelifts give her a decided advantage in the smile department.

Michael Bolton (and Chelsea):
I’m just grateful he didn’t sing.

“The Situation” (and Karina):
Mr. Abs of Steel has got some serious ’80s rhythm.

Jennifer Grey (and Derek):
She looks nothing like she looked in Dirty Dancing, but turned in a dramatic performance dedicated to her late co-star Patrick Swayze.

David Hasselhoff (and Kim):
Even cheesier than I had hoped it would be.

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Pictured (from top): two faces of Kurt Warner, floozy-next-door Bristol Palin, 76-year-old sex kitten Florence Henderson and the ever-limber David Hasselhoff. The season’s first cast-off will be revealed on live TV Tuesday night.
 


 

Savoring My Two Days of Transition

Funemployment

I am a man “in transition,” perched on the skinny platform between my old job and my new one.

I’m trying hard to enjoy this rare moment in time when I’ve got absolutely no deadlines to meet, no commitments to fulfill, and no projects to feel guilty about neglecting.

You might wonder why I didn’t build in a bit more cushion between my gigs. You wouldn’t be alone in asking that question — I’ve been called everything from a workaholic to an idiot.

The truth is, I wanted to honor my commitments to my previous employer while holding off the eager beavers at my future one for as long as possible.

So here I sit, savoring my wonderful Saturday and Sunday in transition. Unemployment never felt so sweet.

Relaxing

Omit Needless Egos.

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With all due respect to Mr. Strunk and Mr. White for their profound contributions to vigorous writing, I’d like to propose an essential corollary to their now-legendary commandment to “Omit Needless Words.”

This one has the potential to restore the joy — and sanity – of many a PR person by enabling us to do our jobs without the need to dance, flail, tiptoe around or walk on eggshells.

My proposed addendum to Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style: Omit Needless Egos.

Three simple words; one out-of-control dilemma.

Who’s ready to join me in calling for the eradication of over-inflated egos in the workplace — wherever they may reside???

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I Went Postal (and it wasn’t pretty)

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Saturday morning, I paid a rare visit to my local post office — and gained some telling insight into the troubled institution known as the U.S. Postal Service. 

I went there to overnight a cashier’s check to a friend who needed it by Monday.

Not familiar with the process, I picked up what resembled a FedEx envelope and accompanying label. After filling out the label and adhering it to the envelope (as instructed), I got in line to pay for my transaction.

As I stepped up to the counter, an uber-serious Asian male took one look at the label and scolded me.

“Wrong envelope,” he said matter-of-factly.

The clerk then began trying to pry off the label I had so meticulously stuck to the envelope.

“Which envelope should I have used?” I asked sheepishly.

“Blue one,” he replied, grabbing a nearly identical-looking envelope from behind his counter. I noticed the blue-trimmed envelope was labeled “Express,” whereas my red-trimmed one was labeled “Priority.” Such an obvious distinction…

“Is there a reason why there aren’t any blue envelopes in the rack?” I asked in a pseudo-innocent tone.

“More expensive for customers,” he said.

Which didn’t really answer my question, of course, but did give me some perspective on the convoluted logic of our beloved USPS. 

Unable to successfully remove my label from the envelope, he asked if I minded completing another one. I gave him a well-earned eye roll, grabbed the new label and envelope, and retreated to the waiting area to repeat the addressing process.

I still can’t comprehend the logic of hiding the “more expensive” envelopes from public view. Not only does it fly in the face of basic customer service, but one might assume the “more expensive” envelopes also carried with them “more profit” to the U.S. Postal Service (an institution that has publicly acknowledged it’s losing billions of dollars).

No matter. The Express envelope is now jetting cross-country, and I learned an important lesson or two about Going Postal (sans violence).

The unfortunate reality is that this whole incident probably won’t even be possible in the near future, as Saturday services are likely to evaporate.

Why, you ask?

“More expensive.”

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What Your Donut Tendencies Reveal

Donut

I’ve come to realize there are really only two kinds of people in the world: the glazers and the freestylers.

Glazers are laser-focused on donuts of the classic glazed variety. When bringing a dozen treats to the office, for example, you can be sure they’ll come armed with a box of absolutely uniform dough rings. Conversely, the freestylers like to mix it up a bit – a few crullers here, a jelly or two there, and a bunch of cream-filled confections to fill in the gaps. Variety is the spice of their life.

What’s most telling to me about these divergent donut tendencies is how they illuminate the true essence of what each camp values most: consistency or variety.

(Who needs a tired-old Myers-Briggs questionnaire when the Krispy-Kreme index will cut to the core of one’s very being?)

In case you’re wondering, I’m a definite freestyler. No question about it. I can’t begin to fathom why someone would want to limit her choices to a single (however delectable) variety. Don’t get me wrong, I can savor greasy glazed donuts as much as the next guy, but I just can’t resist being beckoned by the colors…the flavors…the fillings…the sprinkles…the shapes…did I mention the flavors?

Any glazers out there who want to make a compelling case for their worldview?

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[B – O – R – I – N – G]

 

SomeChum’s a Bum!

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One Halloween, sometime in the mid-‘70s, I distinctly remember wanting to dress up as a bum.

Not a “bum” as in “derriere” or “backside.” A “bum” as in “disgusting derelict who doesn’t bathe and wanders the streets without purpose or value to society.”

Nothing like aiming high in life.

I’m not quite sure if bums were the trendy costume of the day or if I just didn’t feel like imitating Joe Namath or some other overhyped sports hero. All I know is that I wanted to transform myself into a dirty, nasty man. And that’s what I became – complete with scraggly beard (created by mom’s eyebrow pencil); baggy, strategically torn clothes (courtesy of dad’s ready-to-go-to-Goodwill wardrobe pieces); and a bindle (fashioned from a kerchief tied to the end of a long stick).

In retrospect, it must’ve been a pretty sweet deal for my folks. There was no overpriced costume to buy, and the entire ensemble could be jerry-rigged from common household items. Three cheers for the low-maintenance son!

I’m sure my parents’ biggest concern was that my dream costume didn’t foretell some longer-term career aspiration.

Of course, living in our upper-middle-class neighborhood in a small-town suburb of a modestly sized city, we knew no actual bums. They weren’t welcome at the grocery store, didn’t appear at the post office and never showed up at the town library.

It would be many years before “bums” were rebranded as “homeless persons” – and brought to the forefront as real individuals who didn’t just exist in Dickens novels.

I’m guessing there won’t be many bums making an appearance this Halloween.

That’s probably a good thing.

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A photo depiction of my parents’ worst nightmare.

 

From the Mouths of Cartoon Heroes

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All I really need to know, I didn’t learn in kindergarten. I learned it on the floor of my den, propped in front of my family’s 25-inch Zenith color TV.

That’s where I came face-to-face with some of the most amusing, quotable, practical advice. Here are some favorite quips from a few of my childhood icons/heroes:

   “Where’s your get up and go? It just got up and went.” 
          – Fred Flinstone

   “Freddy Flinstone, You’re all heart and a yard wide.”
          – Wilma Flinstone

   “What a doll. She’s got everything. Too bad all girls aren’t like her. Oh well, somebody’s got to be in the PTA.”
          – George Jetson

   “For one brief moment today I thought I was winning in the game of life. But there was a flag on the play.”
          – Charlie Brown

   “Boy, you cover about as much as a flapper’s skirt in a high wind.”
          – Foghorn Leghorn 

   “You’re dithpicable.”
          – Daffy Duck

   “If you live to be 100, I want to live to be 100 minus one day so I never have to live one day without you.”
          – Winnie the Pooh

   “What’s the point of going out, we’re just going to end up back here anyway?”
          – Homer Simpson (viewed on a slightly more sophisticated TV)

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Eat, Pray, Run for the Hills

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Before I launch into my mini-tirade against the new movie Eat Pray Love, I must come clean and admit I haven’t seen – nor do I plan on seeing – the film. Haven’t cracked the spine of the book either.

Given that admission, you might conclude I have no right criticizing it. You would be absolutely correct in that assertion.

Still, I hate the film.

Make no mistake, I’ve got nothing against eating, praying OR loving. Do all three, in fact (though the latter one is a bit rustier than the others…)

I’m also a fan of Julia Roberts as an actress. She kicked butt in Erin Brockovich — and Pretty Woman still ranks as one of my mom’s all-time favorites of the modern era.

So why my disdain for the movie?

It all boils down to something I call the “sap factor.” I’ll assume the term is fairly self-explanatory…

Some have surmised that my scorn for so-called chick flicks is because, deep-down, I’m afraid that one of them might actually pierce through my exoskeleton and unleash a torrent of girlie emotions. I’ll admit, the thought has crossed my mind.

Worse yet, I could discover that I actually enjoy these sap-fests, resulting in immediate evisceration of my masculinity.

YIKES.

To avoid these frightening outcomes, I have pledged to steer clear of Eat Pray Love, as well as any of the following films:

Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail (Meg Ryan should’ve just retired after When Harry Met Sally)

Fried Green Tomatoes (not the least bit appetizing)

Steel Magnolias (way too much high-priced estrogen in this one)

Dirty Dancing (the greatest tribute to the late Patrick Swayze would be to expunge this one from his resume)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (can’t we just meet for lunch at Chipotle?)

An Affair to Remember (I keep getting this confused with the new John Edwards biopic)

Gone with the Wind (I’ve heard it’s like 12 hours long, although there’s apparently a scene when a girl gets thrown from a horse)

Hope Floats (but bombs sink)

Waiting to Exhale (an apt description of me while being forced to endure this atrocity)

Like Water for Chocolate (a.k.a. Like Ipecac for Cyanide

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Got Baggage?

GSN (the network formerly known as Game Show Network) has lured me with its latest salacious-pleasure-of-a-dating-show: Baggage.

Hosted by the strangely endearing Jerry Springer, this program gives three potential suitors a platform for earning a date with an opposite-sex protagonist. But rather than strutting their stuff to woo the potential date, each contestant is required to reveal his/her liabilities. One by one, they open up small, medium and large bags (corresponding to the size of the “baggage” within):

– “I’ve been required to complete anger management classes.”

– “My longest relationship lasted three weeks.”

– “I like to go to strip clubs.”

– “I’ve been abducted by aliens.”

One guy even admitted he had a small penis on national TV (his transparency earned him a swift elimination – accompanied by a lifetime of ridicule from friends and family).

After the three contestants are pared down to one, the protagonist must disclose a piece of personal baggage, leaving the last one standing with the final decision of whether that baggage is a deal-breaker. Oh, the intrigue!

So why am I drawn to this ridiculous show, you ask?

  • Because I live vicariously through the contestants, having no baggage of my own? [stop snickering]
  • Because it sure beats watching the latest drama between Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin? [truly]
  • Because I am a game show junkie whose viewing resume includes The Dating Game, Love Connection, Studs, Blind Date and The Bachelorette? [I’ll never tell]
  • Because my third wife controls the remote? [AS IF!]

The real reason: because baggage was meant to be shared. 

Luggage

Got luggage? Lots.

There’s Magic in the Mashup

Michael Jackson, meet Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. You’re going to make beautiful music together – whether you like it or not.

I am a huge fan of the musical mash-up (a.k.a. “forced duet”). I’m particularly drawn to the blending of artists from completely different generations and genres. These seemingly ridiculous pairings are the ones that can generate the most magic.

That’s true outside the musical realm as well. Innovation springs from the intersection of disparate stuff. A familiar example is Cirque du Soleil, a mashup of the circus and the theater that has spawned a completely new artistic category.

Inspiring as Cirque is, the most exciting mashup potential resides in odd collaborations that lead to solutions for the most pressing of human problems. Cures for diseases. Environmental fixes. An end to poverty.

A recent pairing of two competing cancer drugs led to a 100 percent response rate. Just imagine what innovations could arise if we continue breaking down the (manmade) barriers to stretch our minds – and our humanity.

Mash it up, people!