TWO BUCK CHUCK

19 May

If you are a wine snob, you’re probably not going to want to read this. You’ve been warned. This is your first and only warning. 

You can’t beat Charles Shaw. It just can’t be done. For $1.99, I can get a bottle of wine that’s drinkable, thank you very much (that’s the best I could come up with, but for $1.99, it’s good enough). Sure, you go ahead and drink some pretty-good $20 bottle of whatever pinot strikes your fancy at the moment. While you’re doing that, I’ll just drink 10 bottles of Chuck. In the end, I absolutely guarantee that I’ll be having a better time than you are.

Working for a tech startup, I have a keen appreciation for efficiency of capital. In fact, I’d argue that the precise moment where a company stops being an agile, innovative enterprise, and instead becomes a standard, run-of-the-mill, decaying behemoth, is when it stops caring about that. As a cultural value, it is everything that’s wrong with modern corporatism, and it’s the kind of shit that makes some asshole at some scumbag insurance company hire 20 prostitutes to ‘reward’ its top salesmen. I don’t know if this says a lot about me, but “wow, that’s just disgusting” was my second thought after seeing that headline. My first thought was “and they passed that cost on to the consumer?? That’s ridiculous, if I was a customer I would switch on principle, because that is an insanely inefficient use of my capital!”

I dare you to chug this

Wine of the gods

You know who did understand efficiency of capital? My grandfather. He lived with us for years, and he always bought those massive jugs of Carlo Rossi’s Paisano. He always had at least one of them hanging around, and I eventually got around to asking him why, exactly, he bought it. His answer? “Because I’m old. It all tastes like grape juice to me, so might as well get the cheap stuff.”  He was a man who understood. That, I think, is why I am proud to drink the cheap stuff.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Thor and I benefited just a little from his purchasing habits. One of the first times we drank together (I think the very first was when my older cousins taught us both to shotgun beers: they were excellent role models), our weapon of choice was a jug of Paisano. My grandfather wasn’t around, and neither, for that matter, was my dad. We were probably about 15 at this point, and I don’t think either of us had any real idea how to drink. In fact, I know that we didn’t, because if we’d had any idea at all WTF we were doing, we probably would have realized that chugging wine is a terrible idea. Honestly, this story doesn’t get too incredibly interesting from here: Thor did try to walk up the hill to visit a friend of ours, only to fall over, realize that a 10 degree incline was more than he could handle, and give up like a champ. Mostly, though, I just remember the hangover. Now, I’m very familiar with hangovers. To “farrell” a drink is to mix it so absurdly strong that it is undrinkable to everyone but me, after all. Regardless, I gotta admit that that’s the most hung over I’ve ever been.  Damn, though, that was an efficient hangover.

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Why it still astounds me that Thor is a teacher

19 May

On the surface, it should come as no great surprise that Thor became a teacher. For starters, between the two of us, we had three teachers for parents. It pretty much runs in the blood, especially for him, and he has the whole intelligent/respectable/hardworking/presence thing down. If, through some unfortunate chain of events, I somehow ended up with a child one day, I could only hope that the brat would have teachers of his caliber. So please, don’t take what I’m about to say the wrong way.

Thor being a teacher will always be disconcerting to me, to put it nicely. The reason why, of course, is that he absolutely tortured teachers back in our day. To be fair, he had an uncanny knack for singling out shitty teachers to harass, but seeing it in action really was something else. Part of it was because, if he gave the impression that he wasn’t trying particularly hard… well, it was because he really wasn’t. If there was a hypothetical list of people who got a 5 on their AP English Literature exams without ever actually reading any of the books in the class curriculum, it would a) be a very short list, and b) have his name on it.

In hindsight, what really stands out is how his tactics evolved over time. In elementary school, I recall him being overbearingly exuberant. It wasn’t that he had a problem with learning–he clearly enjoyed it, in fact–so much as he had a problem with remaining still and silent for more than a few seconds at a time. At the same time, he was a good student, he was genuinely curious about the subject matter, and he didn’t have a mean bone in his body, so our teachers didn’t have much choice but to like him.

By middle school, all of these qualities still remained, and were supplemented by a highly developed sense of sarcasm. This development would prove crucial, as pretty everything that we did to mess with our teachers over those few years revolved around it. The first victim was probably our 70-something sixth grade science teacher, who, after being challenged on his ability to do so, attempted to jump from a standstill onto a desk. He actually came pretty close to succeeding, but since this was kind of a pass/fail endeavor, it ended with him laying flat on his back while a roomful of 11 year-olds laughed at him. There was also the severely mentally unstable math substitute, whose authority we persistently questioned and undermined until we finally made her cry.

But the crowning achievement, of course, came in the form of our 7th grade algebra teacher. There were plenty of reasons not to like the guy, starting with the fact that he came into class every day reeking of booze and clearly hung over. Needless to say, Thor made short work of him. I’m not even entirely sure what prompted the beleaguered teacher to act as he did, but the end result was a unilateral ban on Thor entering his class room. Mind you, Thor was still a student in that math class; he simply had to remain on the bench outside while the rest of us came in and ‘learned’. Our parents responded by hiring an algebra tutor, who quickly concluded that we didn’t actually need tutoring, because we’d essentially said “fuck that guy” and just learned it straight from the book. That was the worst grade that I ever received in class (by a solid two letter grades), but nowadays I look back at it as a badge of honor. After all, we’re successful, highly motivated people who happened to get D’s in algebra. He, on the other hand, is still a miserable alcoholic who is universally loathed by everyone who’s ever been done the disservice of having to know him.

Compared to that, the high school years were actually pretty mild. I could tell a hundred stories, but they would all revolve around the same theme: even knowing that Thor hadn’t bothered to familiarize himself with the subject matter, teachers still ended up having to give him A’s because he’s just about the most convincing and elaborate BSer you’ll ever meet. I also slacked, but at least I had the decency to lie about it. Thor couldn’t even be bothered to do that.

And now, he is a history teacher. I’m sure that he is a fanastic one, at that. As the ultimate BSer, I’m sure that there isn’t a trick in the book that he’s not familiar with. He’s knowledgeable, personable, and pretty much unbullshittable, and isn’t that exactly what you’d want in a teacher? But still, even knowing that, it just feels somehow wrong that my old partner in crime joined the other side.

Second Things Second: Why Should You Care?

17 May

       Now that Capt. Farrell has established what we are doing here, I would like to take my turn, and explain just why you should care.  It really boils down to this: You may love us or you may not, but you will be entertained, amused, shocked, aghast, defiant, and strangely intrigued – not always all at once, but you never know.  Also, Capt. Farrell, having never seen How I Met Your Mother, is the real-life Barney Stinson – it is scary, uncanny, far less p.c., and far more entertaining.

     While not giving too much away, we are from a small town in New England, and while I reside on the east coast, Capt. Farrell has gone all west coast on me, though thankfully he is still sans botox.  I work in education, and you will from time to time find gems of wisdom from my students on the blog, and Capt. Farrell is involved in e-commerce.  I am married, and Capt. Farrell’s situation is nothing if not self-explanatory after his first post.  Aside from that, we share a love of all teams from Boston, and a hatred of the Yankees.  If we were to have a common manifesto, or a credo of beleif, it would read something as follows:

We affirm that Tom Brady (despite the flowing locks and tears on ESPN) is the epitome of man;

It is ok to swear in public as long as it is followed by a member of the Yankees name – for example: %(*)& A-Rod

No word should ever end in “-ing” – that’s too much flippin’ work.  (This works especially well if in reference to the above) as in:  %$&#in’ A-Rod.

Bill Belichick should run for President in 2016, when Brady retires (though we don’t agree on much politically, we’d both vote for him)

Brady should replace Belichick when he retires in 2016

You get the idea…

We will talk about other things, like relationships, economics, idiots, politicians, books, movies, and of course, why the name Thorgeous is beyond fantastic.  More to come soon….

Problems That Are Their Own Solutions: Trepanning

17 May
Yes, seriously. People did this.

People did this back in the stupid ages

Recently, we decided that the problems that face the world can be more or less divided into two categories: those that solve themselves, and those that don’t. The latter category is the one that gets all of the attention, which makes enough sense. They, after all, are the problems that persist throughout time, making everyone’s life difficult with no end in sight. They require neither introduction nor further attention.

So instead of beating a series of dead horses, we’ve decided to draw our loyal readers’ attention to that other category: Problems that Solve Themselves. These are issues that, in chemistry terms, are endothermic. In human terms, they’re simply too stupid to live on.

Which brings us to the first topic: trepanning. I could describe it to you, but instead I’ll just point to the picture to the left. See that picture? People used to do that. Seriously.  Go ahead and click on it, and it’ll take you right to Wikipedia, which is about as ironclad as sources get on the web.

Why did people do it? Apparently to increase oxygen flow to the brain or something like that, and apparently it’s still done in rare, medically valid cases to treat intracranial diseases (this second group is the exception to everything that I have to say on the matter from this point forward).

The real answer, of course, is: who the hell cares? I genuinely couldn’t care less why perfectly healthy people once thought that drilling holes in their skulls sounded like a good idea. All that matters is that it would have required such uncompromising stupidity that harsh and unforgiving punishment may have actually been warranted. But even I, as cruel a bastard as I am,  would have come up with a punishment far short of “having a hole drilled in your skull”.

So thank you, everyone-who-thought-trepanning-was-a-good-idea. Thank you for lobotomizing yourselves, and thereby improving the world by hastening your departure from it. Your (clearly indirect) descendants owe you a debt of gratitude.

Note: for future installments, we’ll at least try to come up with things more current and/or not-obvious than this. Think of this as a warm up.

First things first: what are we doing here?

17 May

That’s a fair question. Rather than giving a rambling, circular explanation for something that we haven’t figured out in the first place, I’ll take you right to the conversation that prompted this whole thing.

We were discussing relationships. Specifically, my philosophy on them was called into question, and rightly so. Call it fantastic, cruel, or anything in between, the bottom line is that it’s downright entertaining for everyone except the poor woman who convinces herself that I am a worthwhile companion. See, I have two rules:

1) All relationships are a competition. Pretty self-explanatory, I’d think, but it’s mostly a statement on the nature of relationships: they’re fundamentally ‘up or out’*.

*A term that I first heard when I was interviewing with consulting firms, which meant that you were periodically either promoted or fired. Staying put just wasn’t an option, kind of like how sharks can’t stop swimming or something. 

What this means is that, as both of you grow, become closer, etc. etc., your relationship evolves. If history has taught me anything, it is that this inevitably means that one of you will get sick and tired of the other one (Thor is married, so he might go ahead and disagree here). As a result, my goal in every relationship is to get tired of her before she gets tired of me. Which leads directly to my second point:

2) Never like her more than she likes you. What I just detailed in the above paragraph can easily be represented as a balance of power. The balance must always be stacked in your favor, and rule #2 is how I rig the game. Like Floyd Mayweather Jr., or the lion who isolates the weak gazelle, I understand that the key to going undefeated is always picking unworthy opponents. As long as you like her less than she likes you, and she knows that that is the case, you just can’t lose. Seriously. I’ve tried to lose, and you really can’t.

So maybe it seems counterintuitive that, when I find myself liking a woman too much, I immediately and preemptively sabotage it and move on. In reality, though, that’s just foresight and discipline at work.

================

All of this can be perfectly summed up by a conversation that I recounted to Thor earlier today. A couple years back, I was talking to a girl who I had something not-all-that-serious with, and I mentioned that the greatest con that women had ever pulled on men was convincing us that they were doing us a favor by agreeing to have sex. Why should something that everyone enjoys immensely be used as a bargaining chip? That’s like me telling her to go make two delicious sandwiches, and as a reward she can eat one. It makes no sense, and it’s actually pretty sexist when you think about it.

She, of course, countered that it was because women are more selective than men and aren’t as sexually high-maintenance. After admonishing her for upholding the sexist myths of a patriarchal society (they really hate when you do that), I cut to the core of the matter.

“Basically,” I proclaimed, “that whole premise is bullshit. I can go longer without sex than you can, and you know it.” For a second after that, it was as if the air had been sucked straight out of the room.  Amidst the eerie silence, I could tell that I had stumbled upon something big. It was all that she could do to stammer an unconvincing rebuttal to my challenge, feebly claiming that she could outlast me. But that wasn’t enough. There was blood in the water, and I was on the attack (two shark metaphors in one post = I am on a roll).

“Really?” I sneered, overcome with what I’m sure was insufferable cockiness. I had already won; this was just my coup de grace. “Have you forgotten that I’m a nerd? Not-having-sex is my specialty. While you were off hooking up whenever you wanted to, I was sitting around with my buddies drinking Mountain Dew, reading comic books, playing video games, and trying to figure out why I couldn’t get laid*. You have the nerve to think that you can take this challenge onto my home turf, on my terms, and beat me? Not a chance.”

*in hindsight, it’s no great mystery.

And that was the end of it. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that I would have won. I had called a bluff that was as old as time itself, and let’s be honest: that’s a dangerous game. Revolutionary thinkers are rarely accepted in their time; it is their lot to be rejected and shunned by their peers, and appreciated only generations later, in hindsight. Still, I sometimes absentmindedly wonder if women spend time hoping that men will never collectively realize what I had put to words. How much would the dynamics of relationships change if everyone understood that sex was neither a favor nor a bartering tool?

Alas, I don’t think that we will ever know.