Tangent: Conflicted


To the girl standing in front of me at the rock concert: I am hopelessly confused.

Everything I’ve learned about feminism seems to stand in diametrical opposition to the message you are delivering via booty-short.

And yet, I have to admit that you present a compelling argument.


The Truth about Capital Punishment

I’m living proof that capital punishment is an effective deterrent. If it weren’t for the death penalty, I would have personally racked up a body count in the mid-thousands by now.

The electric chair is the only thing standing between me and sweet, sweet murder. Every day, literally dozens of idiots are spared the horrible demise they so richly deserve by the unspoken threat of Old Sparky.

They know who they are.

Quiznos lady who sabotaged my tuna melt with unrequested jalapenos, you can thank Gregg v. Georgia for your ongoing ability to draw breath.

Guy at work who won’t shut up about environmental sustainability, I suggest you join the Republican Party because those heartless conservative bastards with their tough-on-crime platform are responsible for your continued existence. I consider myself reasonably liberal, but if the Supreme Court ever backtracks on capital punishment, expect to be hanging from a noose made of biodegradable hemp before sundown.

Mechanic who’s charging me $1,000 for a clutch repair, you are a rapist, pure and simple. You know it and I know it. Let’s end this farce. You are on my list.

Steve Jobs, you know what you’ve done. I would kill you slowly.

I’m resisting these urges as best I can, holding back as a result of abject pussiness. I do not want to ride the lightning. But if the above people were eliminated, my workday would be tolerable, my bank account would be in the black, and my sandwiches would be more delicious.

So tempting.

The Truth about Vampires

Americans are confused. Thanks to a clever Hollywood marketing campaign, the average citizen can no longer distinguish between a badass vampire and a whiny, effeminate emo reject from The OC.

I sympathize. As the Venn diagram illustrates, some vampires possess both badass and non-badass qualities. For instance, Blacula is simultaneously an embarrassing 1970s blaxploitation stereotype and a badass motherfucker à la Pulp Fiction-era Sam Jackson.

Similarly, “The Lost Boys” is tough to call. Most of the vampires have mullets and look like extras from a Poison video, but Keifer Sutherland is pure badass.

Here are some quick rules of thumb for determining a vampire’s badassness:

Any vampire with “Count” before his name is at least partially badass. A feudal title = vampire royalty. Thus Count Chocula, despite shilling for a sugary breakfast cereal, gets honorable mention just by virtue of his name.

Any cross between animal and vampire is awesome. Bunnicula is a badass, period. (Actually, any rabbit-something hybrid is instantly cool. I’m looking at you, Jackalope.)

On the opposite end of the spectrum…I don’t even know where to start.

Dear Twilight author: have some respect for the legend, you hack. Vampires don’t go to fucking high school. They do not glisten in sunlight.

Oh, and they don’t do the nasty. I realize HBO is all about sexing it up for the ratings, but necrophilia has got to be some kind of line. Apparently the FCC is too busy worrying about nipple slips to notice that corpses are regularly banging each other on late-night cable.

I’ll make a bold statement: I’d rather sit through Eddie Murphy’s “Vampire in Brooklyn” ten times than watch another episode of True Blood or the umpteenth installment of Twilight.

I’m done with vampires. Hollywood ruined them. The only time I want to see a vampire is on Halloween, when it’s an excuse for hot chicks to make themselves all sexy-like.

From now on, unless it looks like this:


…I’m over it.

Tangent: Aww.

Is there anything in the world more heartwarming than two ugly people in love? There’s just something so undeniably pure about it. He’s not a boy-toy, she’s not a trophy wife. There are no ulterior motives. It’s real, authentic romance.

We’ll all lose our looks eventually, and that process of gradual uglification spells doom for relationships based on superficial qualities. But if you’re one of the lucky few that skipped the slow physical decline of aging and jumped right to ugly…well, you’ve got a real shot at happiness.

At least, that’s my take on it. But I’m a romantic.

Tangent: Neutered

That’s how I feel, lately.

Here’s a list of things I’m motivated to do these days:

Play basketball

…and here are the things I won’t do unless someone forces me:

Everything else.

It wasn’t always like this. In college I was an Academic Terminator; I could not be stopped. I maintained a 3.97 cumulative GPA, completed papers weeks ahead of schedule, studied during summer vacations.

Post-graduation, same story. I worked two jobs, played guitar in a band on the weekends, jogged every morning. I wrote a book. The finished product might have sucked, who knows, I’m biased. But hey, I finished a fucking 350 page novel. That shit is hard.

So what happened?

I got lazy. Don’t judge me.

In college, if I wanted to buy something, I had to work for it. And since I was an hourly employee supplementing my income with tips, the amount of beer/porn I could afford to consume was directly tied to how hard and long I worked.

I’m salaried now, which means that no matter how hard I work I’ll end up with the same damn paycheck every week. A paycheck that isn’t huge, but covers my expenses with enough left over for all the stupid crap I want to buy.

In college I had something(s) to prove. I wanted to show that I was smart, marketable, popular. I don’t have those motivations now. I’m comfortable. I have enough friends, and I can’t stand most people anyway. Women haven’t been a problem (well, they’ve been a problem–oh Christ have they been a problem–but getting them hasn’t been a problem).

I’m fresh out of motivation. Neutered.

I need a goal. Something to feel passionately about. An enemy, maybe. Or a quest, like Lord of the Rings.

Suggestions? Looking for a fight? A metaphorical or literal slap in the face might be just what the doctor ordered.

Bring it.

Tangent: Ruined

Hitler ruined the square mustache. No matter how desperately you want one, it’s officially off limits. Post WWII, a handsome postage-stamp of hair smack in the middle of a man’s upper lip is a major fashion faux pas.

Thanks a lot, Hitler. Before you came along, the square soup-strainer was a perfectly respectable fashion statement, and in no way associated with genocide. Charlie Chaplin was rocking one in silent movies; dignified gentlemen in bowler hats were sporting them in saloons. Back in the early 1900s, any average Joe on the street could get away with a luxurious patch of topside whisker hair.

The Holocaust changed everything. Not only did it result in the murder of six million Jews, it completely decimated the square stache. And also the name “Hitler,” incidentally. You can’t name your kid Hitler these days…it just doesn’t go over. There are no little Hitler Smiths or Julie Hitlers running around middleschool playgrounds.


But to be fair to Hitler, he isn’t the only public figure guilty of destroying a pop-culture trend. For instance, William Hung completely ruined “She Bangs.” Although, if we’re being honest, that song pretty much ruined itself. Still, it will forever be associated with a socially clueless and possibly epileptic Asian man.

Other notable cases:

1. Geico ruined geckos. I can’t even look at a lizard without imagining it standing on its stupid hind legs, pitching insurance in an adorable Aussie accent. And don’t even get me started on those fucking cavemen.

2. That fat guy in Blues Traveler came really close to ruining the harmonica. He’s talented, but damn…I still experience instant shrinkage every time I hear a harmonica solo.

3. Samuel L. Jackson ruined snakes on planes. You can’t bring a snake on a plane these days without some jackass telling you to get your motherfucking snake off the motherfucking plane. Rude.

4. Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez ruined big lips and thick asses, respectively. If you happen to have either of those features, someone is going to refer to them as “Jolie Lips” or “J-Lo Ass.” How can a celebrity call dibs on a body part? Fat lips and asses have been around since the beginning of time. Note to celebrities: we want our body parts back.

The Truth about Regrets

Those people who say they have no regrets in life, I envy them. But I also suspect they’re lying.

If you don’t have regrets, you haven’t lived very long. You know who doesn’t have regrets? A five-year-old. Except for maybe a five-year-old who likes to play with daddy’s gun or drink the stuff under the sink…but that type of kid only has time for like a minute or two of regret, tops.

Young people don’t have regrets because they haven’t yet had the opportunity to truly fuck up in spectacular fashion. It isn’t until you move out of your parents’ place and get a girlfriend / wife / husband / children that you can finally start making the kind of cataclysmic errors that shatter your own life and the lives of those you love.

I have regrets. I’m not talking about mistakes that made me a better person in the long run or made me who I am today or any of that happy bullshit. I’m talking about boneheaded fuckups that screwed people over, and that I’d do anything to take back.

Ignore the silver-lining crowd; some mistakes are disastrous. Whoever coined the phrase, “Anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” should be forced to swallow his own balls. Having balls in your throat doesn’t make you stronger, it makes you a guy with throat-balls. Let’s see how much stronger you feel while gargling your own testicles, smartass.

The “only makes you stronger” cliché refers to mental toughness, and is the kind of feeble bullshit that we tell newly-minted paraplegics to make them feel better while they’re still in the hospital. Nobody’s buying it. I’ll take full mobility over mental toughness any day.

I’m happy with my life, but sometimes I wonder. Simple little decisions can have monumental consequences. Think of the times you should have gone right instead of left, should have listened to advice, should have pulled out.

If I could do it all over again, I’d do it all differently. From my high school haircut to just about every decision I made in college. I’d drink tea instead of coffee, wear black instead of white. All of it.

If you have the hookup for a time machine, let me know. We’ll go back a decade or two. I’ll talk Younger You out of that ill-advised emo makeup if you’ll hold Teenage Me down and cut my hair…

Tangent: WTF, Figures of Speech Edition

Figures of speech mystify me. Cases in point:

1. Break A Leg

Not cool, theater people. I realize the phrase is meant to be ironic, but still. When your girlfriend is boarding an airplane you don’t yell, “Crash and burn, bitch!” So don’t go wishing me bodily harm when I’m about to get my theater on.

2. The Shit Is About To Hit The Fan

Was there actually a fan-related shit-throwing incident that inspired this saying? Because if there was, I want details. I’m fascinated.

Unless monkeys were involved. I hate monkeys. And come to think of it, they probably were, considering the feces-throwing theme.

Regardless, this one makes sense. If you’re minding your own business and some dude starts throwing shit at a fan, that’s bad news. Nothing good can come of that. It’s best to gather your stuff and leave quietly.

3. In A Jiffy

I totally figured this one out. Thanks, Google! A jiffy is an actual thing: a short but indeterminant length of time.

Except, I think we need to assign a specific duration to a jiffy. Predictability is the whole reason for keeping track of time in the first place.

I want to know how many jiffies I work in a day. I want to accumulate my PTO in jiffies. When I loan people money, I want to tell them that if they don’t pay me back in 700 jiffies I’m going to break their fucking kneecaps.

Also, I just like saying “jiffy.”

The Truth about Extreme Sports

Phobia: an intense and persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, animals, or people. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared stimulus.

I used to think I suffered from phobias, but now I know better.

My fears are reasonable. I’m not claustrophobic, I just have a natural aversion to being buried alive. I’m not arachnophobic, I’ve just accepted the fact that spiders are evil sacks of venom that must be destroyed. And I’m not scared of heights…I’m scared of falling. Or more specifically, of landing.


Fears are useful survival tools. They keep us from doing the kind of stupid shit you see on the Discovery Channel.

It’s time to stop pretending that people who take outrageous risks for profit or attention are heroic. Flying to a destination via plane is a reasonable activity; leaping out of that plane and entrusting your life to a backpack is not. As a matter of policy I won’t participate in any sport in which the only goal is to not die. Success in football = scoring touchdowns. Success in skydiving = remaining intact.

Likewise, fishing is a reasonable activity; skidding around on icy boat-decks while dodging steel cages and the occasional sub-zero tidal wave, not so much. Ice truckers and arctic crab fishermen aren’t brave, they’re batshit crazy.

It doesn’t take guts or skill to intentionally put yourself in harm’s way. Any idiot can do that. But it takes guts to tell your friends to back off when they try to testosterone-check you into skydiving or spelunking or otherwise risking your life just to look like a badass. The road to hell is paved with skydiving badasses. Literally. They’re splattered everywhere.


I don’t consider myself a huge pussy, but I do apply a risk/benefit analysis to dangerous situations. Potential benefit of jumping out of a plane? Adrenaline rush. Downside? Dismemberment. Not a tough choice. I tend to avoid excessive risk-taking, whether it involves spiders or sub-prime mortgages.

But look, I don’t mean to preach. If you want to skydive, be my guest. Darwinism always wins in the end…

The Truth about Love

Love should be a controlled substance.

On the list of addictions, it’s right up there with cocaine and heroin. It’s more habit-forming than any drug, more virulent than any disease.

Capitol Hill is focused on regulating the financial industry, but where are the regulations on unchecked emotion? People under the influence of love make horrible decisions. They lie, cheat, and steal just to get a fix. I’ve lost more friends to love than to any other drug or illness combined.

The symptoms of love addiction are easy to spot. Cold sweats. Irrational behavior. You never know what a man who’s all hopped up on love is capable of doing. He might suddenly show up in a collared Hollister shirt, listening to John Mayer on a pink iPod shuffle with “For my Pooky Bear” engraved on the back. He might consider squandering his entire life-savings on a piece of metal with a rock attached.

Speaking of which, let me give you a piece of advice: if it doesn’t have at least one-hundred horsepower, it’s not worth twenty grand. Anything that could potentially get lost down a drain shouldn’t cost more than a buck-ninety-nine, tops. Two words: cubic zirconium.

Why can’t we just like each other? What’s wrong with Like? Till Death Do Us Part is outdated. Let’s do away with cumbersome marriages and enter into sane, reasonable Affection Pacts. New vows:

I promise to like you for the rest of my life, or at least until that thing you do with your mouth when you talk starts to get really annoying.

I vow to sex you up frequently in order to experience pleasurable orgasms and also to procreate.

I promise not to get all pissy when you want to watch the food network / football / Oprah / porn.

When we can no longer tolerate the sight of each other, I promise to leave quietly without keying your car or traumatizing our offspring.

See? Reasonable. FWB is the new married.

Get on that, government. I want to see tighter love-regulations debated on the Senate floor, stat. Goldman Sachs can wait. If we get a move on, we can push bipartisan anti-love legislation through the House by next Valentine’s Day.

I voted for you, bitches. Don’t let me down.