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Archive for April, 2008

No Taco Bell Tax!

I’ve just about had it. They tax beer, they tax gas, they tax cheap motel rooms, not that I’ve ever been in one. I’m just saying …

But this is just too much. New Jersey lawmakers are considering taxing fast food.

Calling it a “sin” tax is barebones slander, plain and simple. People in this country have a God-given right to kill themselves with grease. Taxing fast food (Taco Bell) might mean I would no longer have enough money to pay all those gas taxes. If we live in a country where the government involves itself with my purchase of a yummy chalupa, we might as well have a uniform-wearing dictator with a funny mustache.

If this scheme hatches in New Jersey, I’m rounding up as many freedom fighters as I can and heading east. We’ll dress like Indians, find a harbor – they have harbors in New Jersey, right? – and fill the water with bean burritos (because they’re a lot cheaper than, say, nachos bellgrande or a Mexican pizza). Someone has to draw a line in the sand, and that line is us … or something. 

Posted on Wednesday, April 30th, 2008
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Reach for the Boston

I hate it when I hit the wall at work. Translation: I hate it when I devour big meat raviolis for lunch and suddenly feel too full. Then I don’t feel like working and would much rather lay down under my desk and fall unconscious … which is never out of the realm of possibility, I assure you.

What’s even worse is knowing I can’t do that, because I have too much work. But you know what’s even worse than that?

That’s right — when the only thing that will bring me out of my semi-coma is Boston.

Sure, it’s a little embarrassing when you’re a music snob and the only band out of hundreds on the iPod that will motivate you to work writes lyrics like “Baby, it’s a party and nobody cares what we’re doin’ there. Baby, it’s a party as long as you’re there. It’s a party, party, party!”

Humans are best when they mature to the point of realizing their own limitations. And the fact is, I still air-jam to Boston. There … I said it. I freakin’ love that goofy ’70s spaceship.

Dear God … someone help me.

Posted on Monday, April 28th, 2008
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Let’s Hear It For Old Men No Longer On Crack

Check out this inspirational story about a 53-year-old, former drug addict, who’s about to start his first college baseball game.

Kind of makes me feel stupid for quitting my co-ed softball team because I’m getting too old to play against guys in their 20s … who hit the ball 190 miles an hour. At me. And it hurts …

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2008
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Sweet Mother of Miley …

Miley Cyrus is going to be worth $1 billion by the end of the year!?

Will someone please discover my 6-year-old? She sings, she dances, and she’s adorable. Her father, who also once had a heinous and embarrassing haircut, is available to star as her real-life father in any high-paying, ratings-garnering television show as well.

Oh  and we’re available for personal appearances. Well, every other weekend.

Picture of Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus posters in New York City by Flickr user (steveisaacs) under Creative Commons attribution license

Posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2008
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The War On Squirrels

I may have to wave a white flag in my struggle against the pure evil of squirrels. I’ve proven myself to be a less-than-worthy soldier.

The foul little man-eating beasts have been a thorn in humanity’s side for centuries. I’ve never actually killed one, but figured I would never hesitate, especially if friends or family were in danger of being eaten. But I think I’ve mellowed with age (code for “I’m losing my nerve and am afraid of hurting things for fear my karma will be polluted, which will either keep me out of heaven or doom me to live my next existence as some sort of blind slug”).

So I’m driving to work this morning, racing down the hill into Ygnacio Valley Road when I see a squirrel that’s been run over. Ok, fine – happens all the time, just another casualty of being a naked tree denizen too low on the evolutionary totem pole to fight, much less understand, the human automobile. Usually squirrel carcasses are pretty flat, indicating the hairy beast went to squirrel hell relatively quickly and painlessly.

“But … wait. Oh God, it’s moving. And it’s not just the tail. The whole thing is rolling around in the street. It’s little legs are kicking…”

Dear God, what a sight. My natural inclination was to swerve, which I immediately regretted, not because I didn’t want to end the poor little guy’s suffering (notice how quickly they go from “man-eating menace” to “poor little guys”), but because I lack the spine to actually kill anything. I mean anything. I picked up three worms off the sidewalk and found the nearest patch of dirt this morning. No, I regretted it because the thing was suffering.

I dragged my guilt into work where, of course, I was greeted by the guy at the next desk … Gary Bogue, the friend and protector of all beasts. I told Gary my story and his eyes bored into me for a second. I knew what he was thinking.

“So, I probably should’ve gone back and put it out of its misery,” I mumbled.

Gary shrugged. “Do that and it might take off a finger.”

“I mean with my car. It would probably be the right thing to do…”

“Yeah,” said Gary, still staring at me.

“Will it make my tires messy,” I asked, immediately feeling insensitive.

“Nah,” said Gary. “It comes right off.” 

“GOD$%#@*&,” I thought. I’m not actually going to do this am I? “&%$#…yeah, OK, FINE.”

I went back to my car, drove all the way back up the hill and flipped a U-turn. I dreaded the next mile. “Good God, I hope this thing is already dead,” I said to myself. I wondered if I was actually man enough to kill something to stop its suffering. I decided I had to.

“There it is,” I said, approaching it, remember how he was rolling around before. He wasn’t rolling anymore. “Thank God,” I said, immediately sort of regretting that once I saw how it’s head, for lack of a better term, had exploded.

I got back to the office and sat down. Silence. I turned to see the Bogue eyes boring into me.

“So…?” he asked.

“Somebody already flattened it,” I said, relieved.

“Good,” said Beastmaster Bogue.

I hate stupid squirrels.

Picture of squirrel by Flickr user jimbowen0306 under Creative Commons attribution license

Posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008
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Miley Cyrus Writing Memoirs????

Just when I thought the the marketing machine would be winding down, once I found myself buying my kid a Miley Cyrus microscope, whoopie cushion and dog leash, now comes today’s stunning and rather disturbing news.

Miley Cyrus – who was born after MTV was already ruined  – is writing her memoirs.

Memoirs. She’s 15. She can’t even drive yet.  I have underwear older than her. What can she possibly write about? How hard it was growing up with her father’s money and haircut? And can you imagine, if she’s really writing them, how readable can it be with all those ”OMGs” and “LOLs” in the text?

Granted, I hadn’t been interviewed by Barbara Walters when I was 15 (she did stalk me for a while, however, when I was 25). But had I, or many suburban kids for that matter, written a memoir, it would’ve gone something like this:

“In my opinion, KISS should’ve never taken their make-up off. David Lee Roth should be president. My mom this one time wouldn’t let me go see Motley Crue at the Pavilion, so I totally hate her. I will never, ever treat my children like that. Because I’m going to be a rock star, and I’ll never let my mom into my mansion. She’ll cry. Ha. I once rode a Moped over my neighbor’s front lawn. I have a girlfriend who totally loves me and would be with me forever … if I wasn’t going to be a rock star who totally went on tour and stuff. I’m going to be rich, never weigh more than 170 pounds, and chicks will always dig me. I can’t wait to get a job at a pizza parlor so i can, like, totally eat free pizza all the time.”

Then again, that’s really not so different than what I’d put in a memoir at age 40. But anyway, back to this idea of Miley Montana Britney Hayley Cyrus writing a memoir.

Disney included the following in a statement Tuesday, presumably with a straight face, allegedly quoting Miley:

“I’m so excited to let fans in on how important my relationship with my family is to me.”

Shouldn’t that say “I’m excited to let fans in on how important my current earning potential is to my family, and to have yet one more fairly worthless product to pawn off on you, the public, thus increasing my family’s, and Disney’s, earnings.”

Who wants to read that? I mean, it’s not like she’s Drew Barrymore at 15. Now that’s a story worth telling. Miley Cyrus isn’t even on drugs yet.

Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
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More on Banks

Tomorrow will be a great day, as I’m going in for financial surgery. I’m amputating my bank, and I can’t wait.

(WARNING: Following is a personal rant containing very little humor or social significance. Thus, bad grammar and spelling may be an issue. Because it’s the work of an angry man lacking restraint or the money to eat anywhere other than Taco Bell. Which, if you think about the institutional yumminess of a chicken fiesta burrito, isn’t so bad after all. Nevertheless …)

I wrote a column last week about my beloved (not really) bank of 23 years, questioning their tactics. Maybe I’ve come to believe that this corporate giant really doesn’t have my best interests at heart. I didn’t actually name them, but the implication was clear.

I’ve since been hit with four non-sufficient fund fees, at $35 a pop, the timing of which was questionable at best.

Now I’m not saying that the Bank of Amerigo (notice how I carefully didn’t actually name them) is out to get me, nor would it honestly care what one customer – a silly little newspaper columnist – would think about them. But that’s exactly the point. They don’t care about what any of their regular-guy-with-a-food-stain-on-his-shirt customers think; at least if the phone conversation I had a few minutes ago with a robot named “William” is a good indicator.  I ended up calling him a couple other names by the end of our conversation, but for now we’ll call him “William.” After he pointed out to me why he believed my transactions went awry, I mentioned to him that the Bank (of Amerigo) explained to me a completely different method of timing deposits and checks last year.

Back and forth we went until I made the idiotic attempt at appealing to William’s humanity. I explained not only did the timing of the transactions seem weird (you know, when they flip a coin to see whether your deposit or your checks go through first), but that it’s not the best of financial times for any of us right now, and perhaps I could get a bit of compassion, since I’d basically kept this bank afloat for the past two decades with fees garnered by my stupid mistakes.

Near silence. All I could hear was the starch further stiffening William’s collar.  

Then I told William that if he didn’t at least throw me a small bone, or stop sounding like a recording, I would end my association with his greedy … er, I mean… fine law-abiding employer, as of tomorrow morning. William responded by saying the following, and I’m not making this up.

“Great. Thank you for calling Bank of (Amerigo) and I hope you have a great day.”

I can hope, but in no way assume, that William stayed on the phone for most of the next 15 seconds to hear most of my screaming profanities.

Maybe, as usual, I really did make the dumb mistake. I probably only have myself to blame. But the programmed cheeriness with which Bank of (Amerigo) met the revelation I was closing my account was a clear indicator that, in lousy financial times, large banks mostly just care about how they can stick the guy with no leverage. Yeah, I know: What am I thinking, expecting a major financial institution to care about anyone’s troubles during tough times, when we live a in captalistic and opportunistic society?

But then stop teling us you care, you rotten pond scum. May your children be born smelling of bad cheese.

Oh, and my girlfriend is quitting you too, And, unlike me, she actually has big-earning potential.

Tomorrow, what’s left of my money goes into my credit union, where I know the people behind the desk (who have real faces and don’t talk like perky, stepford robots). I was scared to go with the little guy, but being as I am a little guy, it now seems to make sense.

Though costing me $140, this whole fiasco was probably a good thing. I was still hesitant to leave my big shiney corporate bank that plays soothing music through its commercials while assuring us that they care. It’s like debating whether to leave your signicant other, only to find them fraternizing with your toothless, unshowered neighbor. The decision pretty much makes itself at that point.

Photo of Bank of America hater by Flickr user Betsssssy under Creative Commons attribution license

Posted on Sunday, April 20th, 2008
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What’s REALLY happening between Clinton and Obama

You know people have too much time on their hands when they start painstakingly putting together video parodies of video parodies.

This one is worth it. Please click and discover what’s really going on between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.

And thanks to my oldest kid for sending me this. I’m glad she’s away at college, having nothing better to do than find this stuff.

Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008
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6,666,666,666

Apparently, the world’s population will hit 6,666,666,666 on May 10.

That’s pretty rock.

They have should have Iron Maiden play at the Statue of Liberty that night or something.

Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008
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Taxes Are The Best!

Good God I hate today. They should hand out anti-anxiety pills with your tax forms every year.  

Correct me if I’m wrong – which obviously never happens – but didn’t the Founding Fathers create the United States of America because they hated taxes?

Well, taxation without representation. I don’t feel very represented right now. That might not be the whole story, but I’m a bit bitter today. The bad news is that I’m trying to file an extension which, for me, is as confusing as doing the taxes, especially when you try to file electronically, but you have to sign the form. At least that’s what the state wants me to do. That’s right after they say on their website that California residents have automatic extension periods. Unless you owe money. Or are geting a rebate. Then you don’t.

Both Federal and State tax extensions ask how much money you’re supposed to pay for 2007 on the extension form. Which, if I knew, would preclude me from filing an extension.  I’m not even sure if I can spell “extension.” Now I’m thinking it might be “extention.” Now I’m far too angry to look it up. 

The good news is that I’m ahead of the game. I have something like 13 hours to get this done. Then I’ll celebrate by finding an accountant to beat up.

EXCITING TAX UPDATE! I just found a way out of my quandry. I got my mom to do my taxes for me over the phone. I highly recommend anyone in the same situation to immediately call their mothers, who, like, totally know things. They can help you figure it out. I still have to file an extension, but they can totally help you with that too.

I’m still going to go out tonight and find an accountant to kick the snot out of. Because now I’m angry because I know I have to pay a bunch of money to the government. Isn’t it funny how, the older you get, the more you (shudder, gag) understand angry Republicans?

Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
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