Archive for the ‘Parody’ Category


The Grammy’s — The Gen X Perspective

January 31, 2010

I can’t help myself.  I’m watching the Grammy’s, and it is such a self-congratulatory clown fest, I gotta blog moment to moment:

8:00 p.m. EST — Undeniable proof that Lady Gaga is a drama club nerd who woke up 4 years ago and thought “I know what will make me famous . .. . I’ll wear a thong and 9″ inch heels and HUUUUGGGGGEEEE shoulder pads.”  Yep, we’re all impressed Lady.  Oh, by the way, I had to switch the channel when they threw Lady into a cauldron.  My daughter was still in the room.  When I flipped back, Gaga was doing a “return from the dead” duet with Sir Elton John.  They are both covered in soot and, apparently, back from the dead.  Elton John covered in soot? Hey, Elton:  You’re a Sir, dammit, don’t let some flash in the pan make you agree to any costume change that includes covering yourself in dirt.  Take it from Madonna: Dirty = okay.  Dirt = desperate.  Got it?

8:13 — Beyonce’s “All The Single Ladies” wins Song of the Year.  Appropriate coming from a woman dating the most Powerful Man in the Universe.  No, not Massachusetts Senator-elect and former centerfold Scott Brown.  I mean Jay-Z.  He’ll remain the most powerful man in the world until 50-Cent cashes in the rest of his Vitamin Water stock in 3 months.  Enjoy the time, Jay.  By the way, I love “Crazy in Love” by Jay-Z and Beyonce because they really ARE crazy in love.

8:15  Green Day performs with a broadway cast.  Who would have thought 3 chords would last them over 15 years?  Enjoy it, Billie Joe, Billie Bob and Billie Bill — there’s no way you’ll see the pearly gates of heaven.  You’ve obviously made a deal with the devil to gain any sort of popularity.  And, just to set things straight:  You’re not British, are you, Billie Joe?  You’re from, like, Charlotte, right?  Start singing like it.  It’s never too late to let that Southern accent shine.  Also, this is quite a bold move to perform with Broadway actors who have no money in the bank and 10 times m0re talent than you.  Bold move, to say the least. 

8:23  Commercial for CBS’s Monday night line-up.  Really?  35 year-old nerds and Charlie Sheen are actually funny?

8:25  Josh Duamel presenting.  Somebody tell Josh-y that his wife is in the building.  That should help him keep his hands to himself. 

8:26 Taylor Swift just won her first Grammy of the night.  Nice work, Kanye.  Before you stepped up to the plate she was only moderately successful.  Thanks to you, she is every girl’s hero now. Please, Taylor, please:  thank Kanye in your acceptance speech.  You owe him big time.

8:27 The Mentalist Simon Baker presenting.  Oooohhh — he wears funky glasses and her STILL looks handsome.  Shame on you, Austin Powers.

8:28 Beyonce performing.  Man, is it windy in there.  She’s decked out with the Bomb Squad from Public Enemy.  Did she get permission from Chuck D to skip their performance at Northern Lights to do the Grammy’s? 

8:30 Beyonce’s gone from screaming her own song to screaming “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morrissette.  Proving, once and for all, that Alanis’ music rules the world with an iron fist.  The only time I looked up from my computer was when she switched to “You Outghta Know”, and thought:  now THIS sounds good.  Alanis Morrissette:  enlightened, running the marathon, and writing music that kicks ass 15 years after release.  Nice.

8:34  They just promised that “Robert Downey, Jr. will be bringing out Jamie Fox, T-Pain and Slash . . .” otherwise known as ‘One Big Mess.'”  T-Pain.  T-Pain?  Come on.  You should only be allowed to call yourself that if your first album is entitled “Painful.”   I just checked Wikipedia.  His first album wasn’t entitled “Painful”, it was called “Rappa Ternt Sanga.”  That means “Rapper Turned Singer.”  It took me 5 minutes to figure out the translation.  So, in other words, not Painful, but definitely painful.

8:40  Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and now Pink.  I’m sensing a pattern.  Yes, they’re all women.  But I’m looking slightly beyond the obvious.  Every song is this:  “I’m strong.  I’m confident.  I’m passionate about the fact that I can’t forgive you.  And I’m singing soulfully about it.  And even more soulfully about it.  Now I’m screaming.  Look at me!  Now I’m really screaming!!  [A guitar solo and some awkward high-heeled dancing]  I’m soulful.  The End.”

Wait — that’s  not Pink!  It’s the Virgin Mary in a long white robe and hood.  Wait again.  Plunging neckline.  That can’t be the Virgin Mary.  Maybe it’s Princess Lea.  But, Carrie Fisher can’t sing.  Wait — sher just de-robed.  Definitely NOT the Virgin Mary.  Looks like Pink with Blonde hair and the body of an East German swimmer.  Pink’s now she’s spinning in the air, basically naked.  Sopping wet.  With three naked gold people hanging over her.  Is this a song or a gold medal performance in trapeze?

8:46  Keith Urban presenting.  For the un-initiated:  Urban is Australian.  He’s an Australian Country Western singer. Read that again.  Confused yet?  Me too.

8:47  Best New Artist:  The Zach Brown Band.  Who?  Oh . . . . .  that guy. Zach, right?  I didn’t know the pudgy guy from The Hangover even had a band.  Good for him, because the “I’m disgusting and yet you gotta love me anyway” act was getting old.  Good for you, Zach — way to have a back-up plan.

8:54 AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW  YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!  The Black Eyed Peas are performing.  Or, as I call them, “”The Hooker, the B-Grade Wyclef Jean, the c-Grade Jermain Dupree and the Realllly Scary Guy With Long Straight Hair.”  This music is hilarious.  Every single BEP song sounds like it was written and recorded by two high school kids messing around on their Garage Band program on their Apple computer for 10 minutes.  The only difference is that, when the high school kids throw the crap away, the BEP’s send it to Sony Records.

The Black Eyed Peas.  Everyone treats them with such reverence, like they’re music royalty.  Listen up:  the Black Eyed Peas are the Village People of the 2k10. Everyone’s got that, right?  Guaranteed:  they’ll be the best punchline at every wedding starting in 2021.  You know how you danced your face off when YMCA came on at your buddy’s wedding in 2001?  That’s how the kids will react to the BEP’s in ten years.

9:07  Someone else is performing.  I honestly don’t know who it is.  I looked down, and I missed who these people are.  It looks like Lance Bass singing with one of the finalists from American Idol.  Sounds good.

9:09  Best Comedy Album category.  The one I’ve been waiting for.  Come on Punch In The Face.   Come on.  I can feel it.  This is my year.  My video has 139 hits on  Surely that’s enough momentum to put me over the top.  And the winner is . . .  Stephen Colbert!!  Corporate America’s answer to the question “hey, do you have a sense of humor?”  Great. 

9:18 Record of the Year Category.  Note:  Ringo Starr looks fantastic.   The winner is:  The Kings of Leon.  Finally, some dudes on stage.  And the song is killer. 

9:20 Robert Downey, Jr is presenting.  How is this guy not dead or really, really old?  He looks great.  Hold on . . .  RD, Jr is making a theatrical funny.  He’s announcing an opera.  Oh wait — it’s funny-man turned waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too serious actor Jamie Foxx.  He’s has dramatic Kanye-level voice effects on, and their’s only one problem with that:  Foxx can really sing.  The effects are supposed to be reserved for guys who can’t sing.  Wait another minute — now I know why he has the effects on the mic:  it’s because the lyrics are awful.  It’s just several 40 year-old men screaming “Blame it on the alcohol.”  Maybe the Black Eyed Peas should be more comfortable than I previously thought. 

9:26  Just a few minutes left to vote for the song Bon Jovi will play later in the show.  Can we all agree to have them play  “Cherry Pie”?  Oh wait — that was Warrant.  Actually, that’d be great.  Let’s all write in for “Cherry Pie.”

9:32  Best Rock Album.  Nominees include Dave Matthews.  He’s considered rock?  I thought he was folksy bluegrass.  And the winner is . . . Green Day.  They look very normal.  Too normal.  So normal that Billie Joe starts to panic at the end (“Oh no. Everyone’s gonna know I’m just a regular guy”), so he blurts out: “and I’m gonna go have shots with the Kings of Leon!!”  No you won’t.  You’ll be tucking your kids into bed while the Kings of Leon are doing . . . what really cool rock dudes do.  I have no idea what that would be.  But it will definitely be things that neither I nor Billie Joe can witness or relate to.

9:34  Zach from the Hangover is on stage singing America the Beautiful.  I didn’t know he wrote that.  Incredible.

9:35  Zach’s playing with Moses from the Bible!!!  Cool . . . but I always thought Moses was more of a jazz guy. 

9:36  Whoa!  Zach from the Hangover is really going at it on the Gui- tar to a stunned audience.  Hey, Zach, don’t feel bad if the audience isn’t feeling you.  This isn’t the Milwaukee Waterfront Festival.  It’s the Grammy’s. 

9:48  A washed-up Stevie Nicks sounding much better than Taylor Swift in another painful duet.  Taylor:  Text Kanye and have him jump on stage to stop this train wreck before it costs you another 3 Grammy’s tonight. 

9:52 Lionel Richie!!  He’s only won 4 Grammy’s?  That Cannot Be Right.  Lionel rules!  Plus, he officially looks younger and better than he ever did in the Dancing on the Ceiling years. 

9:53  Get your 3-D glasses out.  We’re gonna see Michael Jackson in 3-D!!  Here to sing an MJ tribute are . . . . A Whole Bunch of Random People!!  Where were we supposed to get the glasses?  The Optometrist’s office?  Our local 7-11?  I didn’t get the memo.  Why doesn’t anyone every tell me anything?  Did they come in a bottle of Pepsi? Dammit.  I’m never gonna enjoy this without my 3-D specs.  And who has 3-D specs just lying around?  Sure, Potsy and Ralph Malph, but that’s about it. 

 10:08  Sheryl Crow is on stage.  Eat your heart out, Lance Armstrong. 

10:09  Bon Jovi!!!  Forget Jon.  I see Tico.  Go Tico!  Drum your little heart out, Tico!  Go Tico Go!!

10:10  First time I laughed out loud tonight:  Just look at Sambora’s hair. No wonder it didn’t work out with Heather Locklear.  No self-respecting Pantene spokeswoman can hang with a dude with hair like that.  With the bangs, he looks like a date to the Junior Prom. 

10:13  Menage-a-mic!  Gretchen, Jon and Ritchie just shared the mic.  I thought only Springsteen, his new wife and the guy from the Soprano’s could pull the menage-a-mic!  But — No.

10:14  The fans want Bon Jovi to play Living on a Prayer!  Of course we do.  It’s called music.  We used to hear it all the time in the ’90’s. It was an incredible. 

10:16  Mos Def is the coolest man in the world.  Period.  I’m going out to buy the jacket and the tie to try to be more Mos-Def-ish.

10:17  Rap Collaboration category.  In other words the “Big Old Mess” category.  And the Winner is . . . Kanye West.  That was easy.  He performed in every song nominated, so it was kind of a lock. 

10:18  The show will continue . . . but I’m going to bed.  Tell me how the rest of it went tomorrow.


ITT Technical Institute — Punch In The Face

June 18, 2009

I had such great expectations for me.  I really did.  Me was a great guy. Full of spunk and verve, and a bod to match.  Maybe not so much the bod part . . . but you get the point.  But then I see those guys in the ITT Technical Institute commercials, and I realize that I’ve gone wrong somewhere.  These guys get a 9-month certificate in computer diagonostics, and they’re living the dream.  You’ve seen the commercials.  These guys are winning stuffed animals at carnivals. They’re riding 4-wheelers through the woods and flying remote controlled airplanes with their sons.  Most impressively, their wives make grand and sweeping statements about them that can’t possibly be true:

ITT TECH GRADUATE’S WIFE:  “After attending ITT Tech, Gerald has become the kindest, most compassionate and — at the same time — most driven and successful man that ever walked the planet.”

Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about the life oasis that is ITT Tech?  I’d love to win a prize at a carnival.  Dirt biking in the woods looks like a blast.  I could fly a remote airplane, I think . . .

Oh, what’s the point?  Why should I even dare to dream an impossible dream?  Some people got it, and some don’t.  I guess me . . . just . . . . don’t . . . got . . . it.  Wait a minute, I just connected my Wii to the television.  Maybe I do have the elusive “it” factor.  Somebody get me an ITT Tech application.  I’ll be living the dream in no time.


Gen X’s Top Ten Pump Up Jams (of All Time)

May 6, 2009

Here it is, Generation X.  Our Top Ten Pump Up Jams.  These are the songs that rocked the bleechers of every high school pep rally from 1987 to 1995.  There is no dispute to this list — it was definitively complied by through market research — i.e., my veiled recollection of the past — and several heated debates with my cat, Estelle.  So, after much debate and a cat fight or two, here is the final list:

10)  The Final Countdown, Europe — the only thing prettier than leader singer Joey Tempsett was his angelic voice.  C’mon, you know you love it.

9)  Good Vibrations, Mahkie Mahk and the Funky Bunch— Don’t hate, and don’t lie.  When they boomed this in the high school pep rally in ’91, you were feeling it — I don’t care who you were, or who you thought you were , you wanted to be Mahky Mahk doing arm curls with cinder blocks in an abandoned warehouse. 

8)  Ice, Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice — Say what you want, and I can hear the groans now.  The bottom line is, Queen rules, and Ice had a moment — a moment he’s ridden for the past 18 years.  ‘Nuff said.

7)  Turn This Mutha Out, MC Hammer —  Hammer’s gotta make the list.  I know you thought I’d go with “U Can’t Touch This”, but — pound for pound — “Turn This Mutha Out” was a much better pump-up song and, after all, that’s what this list is all about.   Go ahead, youtube it — it’s nice.

6)  Everybody Dance Now, C+C Music Factory— Another, “what the hell was that?” music collaboration from the early ’90’s — a singer that looked like Jody Watley, but wasn’t.  A rapper/ body builder who looked like a pump-up Rico Suave.  I didn’t get it, and yet we all got it at the same time. 

5)  Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J — LL was the original one-man star MC who had absolutely no issue telling the world how great — or, bad — he was.  Think of every rap song you’ve heard in the past 20 years — every MC telling you how great they are — that sorta “props to me” attitude started with LL and, let’s face it, very few have done it better.

4)  Thunderstruck, AC/DC — The first time I heard AC/DC, I was 8. My older brother played Back in Black for me, and I had nightmares for two weeks.  Even today, when I conjure up an image of the actual Devil, it is some variation of Angus Young in horns.  When I heard Thunderstruck 9 years later, I was still scared . . . but this time I liked it.  You’ve been Thunderstruck? We’ve all been Thunderstruck.

3)  Pump Up The Volume, M.A.R.S.— I don’t even know what this song was.  Was it rap?  Sorta, with Rakim’s voice repeating “Pump Up The Volume.  Pump Up The Volume. Dance – dance.”  Was it house music?  Was it Gregorian Chanting?  Who knows.  But it was killer.  I’m pretty sure the group “M.A.R.S.” was fromMars and US satellites picked the song up from with elaborate soundwaves.

2)  Sabotage, Beastie Boys—  The story goes that this song was purely an instrumental until AdRock (Adam Horowitz) walked into the studio and just “had” the lyrics.  And that, my friends, is how history was made.  Paranoia (“I can’t stand it.  I know you planned it. I’m gonna set it straight this Watergate . . .”) is a tremendous motivator.

1)  Welcome to the Jungle, Guns-n-Roses —  If I was scared of AC/DC, I was reallyscared of Guns-n-Roses.  Axl Rose looked like a Pantene model, and I was pretty sure Slash was anthropologically categorized as a Wookie.  It didn’t matter.  Welcome to the Jungle was the purest form of adrenaline that shook our high school gyms.


Parade Magazine’s Top Ten Worst Dictator List — Punch In The Face

April 11, 2009

It’s finally here!  The annual Parade Magazine “Top Ten Worst Dictator” List!  The fact that Parade undertakes this Herculean effort every year and (presumably) has sources consistently investigating this List, is remarkable in several regards. 

First, it is an incredible presumption on behalf of Parade’s editors that — in a single issue — they can: 1) tell you what the former stars from Touched By An Angel are doing now; 2) publish James Brady’s recent love-fest interview with the “fascinating and remarkable” (his words) Kate Hudson; and 3) assess the world’s worst dictators.  Wow.  Talk about the triple threat of publishing:  ownership of meaningless Hollywood drivel; exposure of inside information on Hollywood’s A-List stars (according to Mr. Brady, the lovely Ms. Hudson does not like to wear sandals at the beach . . . can you believe it?); and non-stop patrol over the most vicious and oppressive human beings on the planet.  Just think — all of the above AND those exclusive advertisements for the collection of unbreakable decorative Christmas plates. 

Second, who are the editors of Parade to think they can completely and accurately assess the world’s dictators?  If it was Al Jazeera’s list — I’m paying attention.  But Parade?  I need them to reveal their journalistic process before I even think about taking the List seriously.  For example, if they explain that they use their internship program to perform an in-depth analysis of each of the world’s dictators, I’ll start to give them more credit for their list.  I can just imagine the real-time reports from the interns back to HQ:

Spencer the Intern [having just finished his sophomore year at NYU, he’s now huddled in a cave in Myanmar whispering into his cell phone to his contact at Parade]:  Oh god.  It is awful.  General Shwe has been whipping an infidel for the past 4 days.  It is absolutely terrible.  He’s just been whipping away for the last 90 hours.  I’m physically sick . . . 

Parade Editor:  What hand is he using?

Spencer [confused]:  What hand is he using?

Parade Editor:  Right.  Is the General using his left hand or his right hand to hit the infidel?

Spencer [waiting and checking for the next strike]:  Uh . . . left, I think.

Parade Editor:  Left?  Oh, that’s nothing.  He’s right-handed, so we only count his right-handed punches on the evil-meter.  Call me back when he starts using his right . . .

Spencer:  Uh . . . sure, I guess.  Can we talk for a second about my internship assignment? . . .

Parade Editor [interrupting]:  Look, Spence, I’m very busy here. I have to edit James Brady’ s latest interview with Kenneth Branaugh. Did you know he’s British?  I thought he was from Boston.  I tell ya . . . I learn something new every day.

Spencer [pleading]:  Can you can call the American Embassy in Thailand?  I think General Shwe and his men might be on to me . . .

Parade Editor:  Oh, come on.  You’re just being paranoid.  You’re wearing the military uniform we gave you, right?

Spencer [hesitating]:  Uh . . . right . . .

Parade Boss:  So what’s the problem?


Parade Boss [half-listening]:  What? Your connection’s breaking up.  Look, call me back next week when you have another update . . .

Third, I wonder what it’s like for those dictators who don’t make Parade’s Top Ten list.  I can see them heading into their meeting room the morning after Parade’s List comes out.  All of their henchmen are real quiet:

Dictator:  Fellas, what’s up?

Second in Command (“SC”):  Sir, we all saw Parade’s List and . . . we’re sorry you didn’t make it. 

Dictator [interrupting]:  Guys, guys — settle down.  I don’t even pay attention to that list.  It means nothing to me . . .

SC:  It’s just that, after you didn’t make last year’s list, you went into a two-week depression . . .

Dictator [laughing incredulously]:  Depression?  Guys, we’ve been over this.  I wasn’t depressed.  I had the flu.  Now, come on.  I’ve told you before and I’m telling you now:  the work we do isn’t about any Top Ten List.  It’s about the oppression and fear we drive into our people.  Right?

SC and the rest of the Oppression Gang [begrudgingly]:  Right.

Dictator [clapping his hands]:  Exactly.  Now let’s get back to work.  Where’s the video camera?  We’re supposed to film segment 7 of our “Downfall of the West” series today.  Can someone hand me a pre-dated New York Times? We’re gonna make this look official, people.

Then, when the Dictator returns to his private chambers that evening, he finally acknowledges to his wife how disappointed he is that he was not chosen for Parade’s list:

Dictator [reviewing the List and pointing to one of the dictators on the list]:  He carries out public hangings? So do I!  I was hanging people in public 20 years ago.  Public hangings are so 1989.  How about a little originality, Mr. Top Ten!  I’m waayy past public hangings.  I poison my people’s food supply from relief organizations.  That is how I roll in the ’09!

Wife [rubbing Dictator’s back and speaking in a soft hush]:  It’s okay, baby.  The people of your country know how awful you are.  You are truly a horrific human being.  Probably the worst man alive.

Dictator [feeling a little reassured]:  You’re not just saying that?

Wife:  No!  Not at all.  You are a terrible, vicious ruler.  In fact, I often wonder how I came to befall the fate of being married to such a terrible man.

Dictator [glancing up at his wife lovingly]: Thanks.  You always know how to cheer me up.

Finally, isn’t Parade playing with fire just by publishing the List?  If I worked at Parade, I’d be concerned that one of the disappointed dictators would spend the next twelve months terrorizing me and the rest of the Parade staff just to prove a point.  You know — show them who’s really bad.


What’s Your Punch In The Face?

April 5, 2009

You’ve heard the things that give me a Punch In the Face (“PITF”) .  Missed it?  Have a listen here:


But, here’s the deal:  You’ve only heard myPITF.  I wanna hear yourPITF.  PITF isn’t mine — it’s ours, and I want you to insert your own lyrics for PITF that apply to you — your frustrations with life and being a (c’mon . . . admit it) full-fledged, card-carrying adult.  Favorite sports team keeps making poor decisions? Maybe that’s your PITF.  Meddling in-laws?  PITF.  Pop quiz in school?  PITF.  You get the idea, now start writing.  There’s a PITF for all of us.


Men’s Health Magazine & Lance Armstrong — Punch In The Face

April 1, 2009

Got my Men’s Health Magazine in the mail the other day.  That’s right — I got a subscription.  I love Men’s Health because it has the same three articles every month:  “Belly Off in 19 Days!”; “How to Manage Your Boss”; and “What She Really Wants From You”.  “What She Really Wants . . .”  contains alleged “quotes” from the beautiful women of America:

“I love it when Derek and I watch football all day on Sunday — even the post-game interviews and the endless stream of highlight shows.  My favorite part of the day is when he ignores all of my questions and screams into his Bluetooth at his old college roommate/ bookie.”  — Sarah G., Seattle, WA

Sarah G. from Seattle.  I’m pretty sure “Sarah G. from Seattle, WA” is really “Richie V., Emmaus, PA” — this semester’s intern at Men’s Health.  At any rate, I like having several Men’s Health’s around the house in case — just in case — I ever get a life.  Then, that urban Style Guide and the article on how to win a bar fight will (finally) both come in handy. 

With all of the potential good Men’s Health can offer (if I ever get in a bar fight, I now know that I should try to turn away from the punch — thanks Men’s Health!), sometimes it can go a little far — and I think they just did.  The Men’s Health cover boy for last month is Lance Armstrong, and the heading states “Crush Stress and Strip Away Fat with Lance Armstrong’s Exclusive Success Formula.”  No offense to Men’s Health and Richie the Intern, but I don’t need to read about Lance’s Exclusive Success Formula for crushing stress — I think I got it down:

1)  Demonstrate a consistent pattern of abandoning all relationship-based responsibilities when things “just aren’t working out”; and

2)  Exercise 11 hours a day. 

Yup — that’s all you gotta do, fellas.  And believe me — following those 2 steps DOES “crush stress.”  I tried them both one Saturday when my wife took the kids to the in-laws.  Well . . . I didn’t really exercise for 11 hours that day, but I did run a mile on the treadmill in the basement in a 1-piece spandex suit, so I’m pretty sure I got a big enough flavor of good ole’ Lancie’s Exclusive Stress-Crush Formula.  And let me tell you . . . I crushed stress that day.  The problem is, it’s really hard to follow Lancie’s formula with — ya know — real responsibilities and — ya know — a job.  Maybe Men’s Health could write a stress-crushing formula for men with a — what’s that word?  Oh yes — a conscience.


Running a 5K Road Race — Punch In the Face

March 5, 2009

I’m trying to get back to my fighting weight.  Problem is, I haven’t been in a fight since before the Roller Skating Party in the Fifth Grade.  So now I have to lose 150 pounds in time for beach season.  It’s gonna be rough. 


So I’ve started running.  I have one goal when I’m running and only one goal:  to stop.  That way, when I go for a run, I run as fast as I can for as long as I can, so I can get back to sitting around the house doing nothing. 


In a rush of testosterone and physical optimism, I decided to run a 5K road race.  Nothing like an incredibly barbaric activity to shock my body (back) into shape.  Plus I don’t mean to brag, but I ran a little in high school . . . Freshman Cross Country Champ.  Bishop Gibbons High School.  Big Ten Conference.  That’s right — I know what I’m doing.  I also had a secret weapon:  at the end of the race, I’d start to yell “AISH!” with each breath.  I’d really AISH it out.  It was my Call of the Wild that would intimidate the competition and propel me to victory.  


I showed up at the 5K road race ready to race.  Just one problem:  I’m not Cross Country Champ.  I haven’t seen him for a long, long time.  As I walked up to the starting line, the darnedest thing happened:  Cross Country Champ appeared out of nowhere and started walking next to me.  Before I know it, we’re in step with each other — and he got right into my head:


Cross Country Champ [looking around at the Competition]:  What a joke.  I’m gonna kick some A-$-$ (aka A-double dollar signs) today.


Me:  Listen, kid.  You haven’t been around for a while — more than 20 years.  I know you were great – you were the best. But that was a long time ago.  Let me handle this for now – we’re just gonna take it nice and easy.


Cross Country Champ:  [Ignoring Me] Huh?  [bouncing up and down like a caged animal] I don’t like that guy over there. Who does he think he is?  We’re taking him down.  [shouting] Hey – You.  Yeah you.  Gibbons is in the House!  You hear that? [cheering] G-I-B-B-O-N-S that’s the way we spell success. Go Gibbons.  Go! Go! Go Gibbons! 


Me: [shaking my head and trying to lead the Cross Country Champ away from a sure physical confrontation]


Freshman Cross Country Champ:  And who’s this guy over here?  I think he’s giving me the eye . . . [to another runner]  We’ll settle this on the course!  If you can keep up . . . [back to Me]  I’m sorry.  Were you saying something?


Me:  Forget it.  Let’s just not die.


Freshman Cross Country Champ Guy leads me up to the front of the starting line and . . .


BANG!  We’re off. 


Cross Country Champ takes us out of the shoot like Tom Cruise running through the airport in . . . every one of his movies.  We’re 30 steps into the race, and I’m already spent.  In full-out panic mode, I start to “AISH” it out.  It appears to have little impact on my present competition.  After that, I pretty much blacked out.  I vaguely remember telling some guy who passed me to “go get ‘em  . . . for all of us” but, even now, I don’t know what that means.  Or what it could mean . . .  


After the race, having regained consciousness, I was leaning over a post-race table of snacks — bananas, muffins and PowerBars — and I had one final thought before being re-checked by the EMT’s:  if I’m too weak to unwrap the PowerBar package, how am I ever going to get the power inside me?