A letter to another devoted friend

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:

We've spent so many years together, and I feel like I know every part of you. I feel your gentle curves, your rough edges, and sometimes I can even tell you're feeling extra sensitive today. But mostly, I'm just glad I have you with me, because without you, Teeth, how could I chew my food, or open difficult packaging, or bite my nails?

Yes, there are many things to love about you, Teeth. For instance, you're so cute when you get cold and make that little chattering noise. And you know the ladies always get a laugh. Of course, then you help me be more attractive by showing everyone how white and clean you are. Do I ponder whether or not your love for being white is a little racist? Sure I do, but in the end, I'm okay with it if you are.

Despite all the good times though, Teeth, we've had some tough times, too. Remember that summer, back in high school? Of course you do. God, there was so much blood. And I was so worried about you; of course, you must have been much more worried than me, weren't you, Teeth? But we fought through the pain of the surgery, and the separation anxiety of being without your brothers, the wisdom teeth. It was agony for awhile, but we were there for each other then just like we always will be. And it helps knowing that I got to keep the remains of those little wisdom teeth. (Or at least I think I still have them, stashed in that box in my closet... no wait, they're in the filing cabinet... wait, that can't be right...)

Our special times together at morning and at night, me brushing you softly and you feeling great and clean... well, those are some of my best memories of us together. One of my favorite things about you, Teeth, is how you keep that extra buildup of food and junk in between lower right molars 6 & 7. You know that I always feel like I've uncovered an amazing treasure when I dig out a fingernail-sized chunk of carrot during flossing, and knowing that about me shows me that you care.

So, for all those reasons and more, Teeth, let's stick together forever. Or at least until I'm really old and I have to replace you with new, fake teeth. Sorry in advance for that.

Don't Put an "End" to Your Anger

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
Click... and she's gone. I hung up the phone with righteous indignation, but sadly, nobody could tell. After all, how can you press a button angrily?

Thus, after a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided I want a flip phone. It’s not the convenience or smaller size I seek. No, it’s the ability to snap it shut with an audible "CLAP."

Part of the appeal of land lines is that back in the day of home telephones, if I was justifiably incensed with the person on the other line, I could slam the phone down with a flourish, cursing the heavens in my rage. And if I was really on edge, I could pick it up and slam it down a few more times.

Now, imagine we're in the world of cellular phones (I shouldn't think this would take too much imagination) and you want to express your fury at your calling partner. How will they ever know they've upset you if you just push the "End" button with malice in your heart and in your button-pushing thumb?

Okay, sure, the person on the other line can't actually hear a difference in hang-up methods, you say. Well, I say it doesn't matter. Can the person in the 18-wheeler that just cut you off on the higway hear you when you insult his mother? No, probably not, but that's not the point. The point is let the anger flow out, let the juice loose, so to speak. Cursing out an ignorant driver and vehemently hanging up a telephone both achieve that purpose.

So here's where we bring it full circle. Since land lines are going the way of Betamax and HD DVD, we will have no choice but to be using cell phones in the coming years. And since many cell phones only have "Send" and "End" buttons, trying to express your rage through pressing extra hard on the "End" button just won't do.

No, the flip phone is different. You can snap that baby shut as hard as you like, and it gives off more satisfying "CLAPs" the harder it shuts. And possibly the best part is that nobody knows it’s happening except you. This is the passive aggressive person’s answer to irritating phone calls, and I love it. And let's be honest: we all know that the person on the other line, even if they can't hear, knows what's happening, and is crying themselves to sleep at night because of it.

Well, I like to think so at least.

In case you didn't know, you look hideous

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
“Wow, you look terrible.”

“Are you okay? You don’t look so hot.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything, but you do look pretty awful.”

Thanks everyone. Tell me how you really feel.

Have you ever noticed how, when you tell someone you are not feeling well, no matter if they don’t even know you at all, you’ll inevitably hear one of those phrases? Why is that?

I’ve always found it odd that people feel like they can pick on someone just for having a cold. Except between mortal enemies or best friends, you don’t often hear one person tell another directly to their face, “Oh my goodness, you don’t look good at all.” Is this an evolutionary thing? Do we prey on the ill and the weakened because our instincts drive us to do so?

Perhaps this is just an excuse. Maybe these comments have been brewing in the minds of others, and once those words come out of your mouth—“Yeah, I think I’m coming down with something,”—it’s just a matter of time before someone tells you “Yeah, I can tell. You look like hell.” And maybe that’s just something the person has wanted to tell you for a long time, and now, in your time of illness, they can get away with it scot-free.

So what can you do? I say be grateful. Thank the germs that infested your body for allowing your friends and acquaintances to finally get some angst off their chest. Because let’s face it, when you’re all better, you’re both going to pretend like it never happened. And if you still feel raw about it, just wait and hope their time to be sick comes soon. To speed up the process, you can even “accidentally” sneeze or cough on them.

Then, when it happens, enjoy it. “Hey! Are you sick? Because your appearance is downright appalling!”

Selfish Hippies in the late Jurassic period

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
We could learn something from the dinosaurs. Well, something besides how best to eat a human in two bites.

I was in the Natural History Museum in Mesa, AZ, not far from Phoenix, and I saw something peculiar. Actually, I saw more than one peculiar thing, but I’m not even going to get started on feathered dinosaurs. No, the peculiar thing I saw was a description of a stegosaurus that said the plates on their back were thought to soak up heat in the cold seasons and give off heat in the warm seasons to help regulate the body temperature. And even though this idea is apparently heavily debated in the scientific community, it got me thinking.

If the dinosaurs were using solar energy, couldn’t we be using it, too?

Ever since I got a solar-powered calculator for school many years ago, I’ve always wondered why we couldn’t use the same technology to power our cars or our houses or our world. Since then, I’ve realized some of that may be flights of fancy: after all, if you are working outside and some clouds come in, with a calculator all you would lose is the ability to do big-numbered math problems, but with a solar-powered car, when the solar power goes away you may be stuck out in the middle of Middle America, with no civilization within a thousand miles.

But the idea is still sound. I still don’t understand why people are getting government funding for these “biofuels” like ethanol when we could spend a few extra bucks today to make a fleet of electric cars, then another few bucks to cover every rooftop in any sunny city with solar panels so that we could have power to charge those electric cars. Heck, we could even just cover a bunch of the desert with solar panels. That exact idea was suggested on an episode of The West Wing a few years back. The only major problem was manufacturing enough solar panels. Bust out a good tax incentive and I’m sure we’d see plenty of innovation and rapid manufacturing.

The main point behind all of this business is that I don’t get why we’re freaking out about saving the world and conserving energy when we’ve got a sun that’s crazy hot and that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, constantly providing enough energy to power the country, or the world. Let the government go a little bit deeper into debt today and we’ll be reaping the rewards in cashmoney savings for years.

Do we really want to be looked at as stupider than the dinosaurs or Transformers? Let’s take a cue from the solar-powered stegosaurus, start thinking large scheme and long term, and keep saving money while saving the world.

PS Happy Earth Day, everybody.

At this point, I'm basically famous

My company, SkyWest Airlines, did a feature on me for the March/April edition of SkyWest Magazine, their inflight magazine. Although they got a little mixed up on some of the details, they got the main idea correct: I'm awesome.

From Clips
Now playing in a seatback near you.
I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
Having a bad day? Feeling frustrated? Can’t wait for the weekend to arrive? Have I got a solution for you: take a moment, right now, and laugh at France.

Go ahead. Do it. It’s okay, I promise. Everyone else has already started.

Can’t do it? Well, let me help you out. We all remember good old Zinedine Zidane, the French footballer (a.k.a. soccer player) who headbutted an Italian player in the 2006 World Cup finals, got kicked out and consequently probably lost the game for France. In case you don’t remember, here’s a video:

And here’s a game you can play. Even better, he almost got away with it, if not for those darned TV camera machines.

Laughing yet? No? How about this: after helping invent the word “disco,” the French are trying to bring into the mainstream a new dance called “Tecktonik.” There are even websites that will teach you how to dance like this, though I’m not sure if they help you look ridiculous enough to be taken seriously by the Tecktons.

You’re still not feeling silly? Not even a giggle? What if I were to tell you that the president of France’s new wife just had her nude picture sold at an auction. And it was a charity auction. And the money raised from it is being refused by the charity. I don’t know about you, but I always find it funny when anyone with an internet connection can look at embarrassing photos of powerful people. I find it really, really funny. (Seriously. Just ask my college roommate, who came home on more than one occasion to find a nude photo of the governator on his computer wallpaper.)

So enjoy your day. And if you know any French people, be sure to thank them for the chuckle.

My first experience with time travel

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:

Right after he asked me the question, a cold chill ran from my neck all the way down my spine. I felt scared and excited in a way I haven’t felt since I tried sashimi for the first time. Heck, I wasn’t even that scared or excited then either.

My friend looked at me expectantly, waiting for me to answer his question. Visions of Star Wars flashed across my inner vision, stormtroopers and giant robots and little furry Ewoks shooting at each other with blasters, getting hit with horizontal lines of red light and dying left and right. And then, after a moment, I thought, “That sounds like fun.”

So I answered him: “Yes, let’s go play laser tag.” And that’s when I realized my life in the present had abruptly turned into the world of the future.

* * *

From friends and colleagues I’ve spoken to, it seems everyone has one of these experiences: one day you see or experience something that up until then you thought only existed in science fiction, and you feel like you’ve suddenly been tossed like a shot-put, landing 50 years ahead of the current year on the space-time continuum.

For me, that experience has happened several times, but the first, and therefore the one I remember most clearly, was when I discovered we could actually play tag with laser guns, all for only $20 per half hour. Even the name of the laser tag arena, Q-Zar, sounded like some kind of futuristic alien palace.

Everything about the game felt more like going to battle on Mars in the year 2078 than shooting light at nerds who didn’t have dates on a Saturday night. From the team briefing at the beginning to the mission of destroying the other team’s base, I felt caught in a war that wasn’t begun by me and wouldn’t end with my lasered demise. And when those 30 minutes of gut-twisting excitement and anxiety were over, we turned in our guns and vests and ended our tour of duty, but there was now an unspoken camaraderie between we few, we band of brothers.

Since my first laser tag experience, I’ve had a few other occasions where I felt sure the future had arrived: my discovery of the Internet, Y2K, and the first time I saw The Matrix. None of these have effected me as much as my first brush with the future: laser tag.

The Selfish Hippie realizes that Canada isn't so bad

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
For all the flack Canada gets, it's actually a pretty cool country.

The most recent news to come out of the "great beyond" is about money, and was rousing enough to stir this selfish hippie into writing something to get the word out. It's a topic that has weighed on me for several months now, ever since I cleaned out and organized my room. It's something that nearly every civilized country with similar currency has already taken care of, and like usual, for this progressive movement we're at the back of the pack.

It's the penny, and it makes hardly any cents, and absolutely no sense.

Canada is trying to become the next country to do away with the penny, instead just rounding prices to the nearest five cents. Before anybody starts shouting about how we'll be getting screwed out of pennies on the dollar, think about this. You might buy a hamburger for $2.98 with tax. Rounded up, it's $3, costing you an extra two cents. However, perhaps after your hamburger, you buy a milkshake for $1.97. This time, the price is rounded down to the nearest five cents to $1.95, so you save two cents. So, on average, you wouldn't lose any money and you wouldn't gain any.

It makes cents/sense. (And don't worry, I'll only make that joke a couple more times.)

I'm not the only one that thinks this; far from it. Besides several bloggers and newspersons ranting, many countries have abolished their one cent pieces because they cost more to make than they are actually worth. Consequently, there's the risk of people melting the coins down and selling the material and turning about a 170% profit. For some more information on the debate over whether or not to trash the coin, check out the wikipedia article, particularly the portion about other countries that have done away with small change.

Of course, you all know why I'm in favor of getting rid of the penny. Not only does it free up some time, energy and money for the government, as well as use fewer resources manufacturing pennies, which I would then hope (perhaps naively) they use productively in a way that benefits me somehow, but it simplifies my life and frees up a few hours every couple months that would normally be spent rolling my pennies and depositing them at the bank. Although, to be honest, I do feel that rolling coins can be a somewhat zen experience.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone to use your common sense/cents. Use your pennies as much as possible. Nobody seems to like pennies, so when you get some, keep them in your pocket, and use them the next chance you get. Push those nasty little coppers off on someone else, saving yourself time, energy and money.

After all, that's what the selfish hippie is all about: saving money while saving the world.

RIP Great TV, dead and bloodied and dying along the way

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:

"Katie," he says, so softly it almost comes out as a whisper, but just loudly enough to wake her. And just as he vanishes, her eyes open wide, taking in all the incredible sight of a living, breathing person disappearing into thin air.

And so ends the series "Journeyman," which was not as cheesy as I made it sound but which ran for a whole 13 episodes before the hacks at NBC pulled the plug on yet another great, promising new show.

I understand that TV is a business, that stations need advertisers to pay for the shows on the air, and that if there aren't enough viewers and aren't good enough ratings, advertisers won't pay high enough prices to support the show continuing to run. I get it. I'm a capitalist, after all (though I'm also a selfish hippie, and no, those two things don't contradict each other). What I don't understand is that if TV stations are so cash-strapped that they can't even give a promising show that had a healthy supply of buzz about it, why are they still staging gimmicks like giving guest appearances to washed up spastics like Britney Spears or useless sex video stars like Paris Hilton?

Okay, sure, two guest appearances by these "celebrities" probably aren't costing the networks much because Brit and Paris want to somehow remove the stains from their tarnished dignity and image. Still, it's not the specific costs that matter as much as the poor decisions that lead to actually giving these people money to make a sitcom less funny. Let's like if I paid some illiterate sixth grader a couple bucks to write a post on here about the housing bubble and the Dow Jones; sure, it'd be funny for about two seconds as we all laughed at the kid for being an idiot, but it definitely would not be worth my $2.

So to extend the metaphor, if we hadn't given all of the sixth-grade man-children with the single digit IQs huge chunks of cash, perhaps we would still be enjoying high-end television programming and we wouldn't have such brain-meltingly bad shows like "The Hills," "Laguna Beach," or pretty much anything on Bravo.

With that in mind, here's a few shows that have been pulled off the air in recent years that, had the network execs been slightly less idiotic, perhaps could have and definitely should have been saved.

  • Smith - Ray Liotta was excellent in this heist drama that looked, sounded and felt like it was a major motion picture playing one week at a time. I guess it cost a lot of money to create that look and feel, because this one only lasted three episodes.
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Okay sure, Aaron Sorkin got lost in his own head a little bit with this hourlong dramedy about the inner workings of a sketch comedy show, but it was still better than 90% of TV.
...and my all time favorite show ever in the world...
  • Sports Night - Before Sorkin focused on the pretentious inner workings of a sketch comedy show, he did a two season run focused on the inner workings of a Sportscenter-esque show. This program was clever in some parts and downright hilarious in all others, but it also had more heart and emotion than most hourlong dramas, all packed into a half hour and paced within an inch of its life.
What shows were your favorites that have gotten trashed before they had a chance to shine?

Me and Mis Modelos de Bikini

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
Sweet Lady Fortune, oh how I love thee. And Hugo Salgado, you're pretty cool too.

After a long day at the office, walking home with a splitting headache and trying to pronounce "Ich wohne mit mein Mann hier" in the bitter cold (I'm learning German with audiotapes), I walked into my apartment complex and checked the mail. And hidden beneath the bills, Pennysaver and other junk mail lay a gift from the hispanic Gods: the Sports Illustrated Latino Swimsuit Edition.

Let me explain to you something. For almost a year now since I moved into my apartment, my roommates and I have received all sorts of mail addressed to previous residents of our humble abode. In fact, if we desired, we could probably have a healthy identity theft ring going just by opening all the misdirected mail. However, being upstanding young citizens, we send it back with a "Return to Sender" and go about the rest of our days as normal. That includes the issue of SI Latino we received last June, but apparently the good folks at Sports Illustrated disagreed with our assessment that Hugo no longer lived here, and decided to continue sending us their magazine anyway.

My roommates and I all dabble in a little Spanish (or "un poco EspaƱol," si quieres), so we would usually leaf through the pages of each issue and then leave it on the coffee table so that to the outside observer we might appear more multi-cultural. However, this mail mistake has not paid off quite so handsomely until today, when I pulled the issue out of the box and found Daniella Sarahyba inviting me to gaze upon her "cuerpo maravilloso."

Sadly, from my brief glances, it seems SI Latino lags far behind Sports Illustrated in terms of swimsuit issues. Where SI regular devotes nearly an entire issue to scantily clad sex objects... er, swimwear models, SI Latino has just six pages, thrown in at the back of the magazine almost as an afterthought.

Nevertheless, whether this answers any questions about cultural differences between readers of SI Latino (presumably, latinos) and readers of SI regular is not my concern. After all, we're not in the business of answering big questions, we're in the business of misusing big words.
I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
I don't mind admitting that I have a pretty healthy belief and respect for science and technology. Some people even think I give these things too much merit when I say that by the time I'm old, I won't have to worry about most of the major diseases plaguing us today—stuff like AIDS, Alzheimer's, etc. Or they tell me I'm being absurd when I say that technology will allow me to have one small Tylenol-sized pill in my ear that acts as my music device, my cell phone, my TV and almost any other portable device we use, and will be completely controlled by thoughts.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. After all, apparently they've already cured cancer.

I come quickly to the point. For those who hadn't heard, scientists are creating something called a Large Hadron Collider, which is basically the Aston Martin of particle accelerators. They're thinking that once it's all done, they'll find the "missing link" to create a unifying scientific theory of physics, and they'll probably even be able to make black holes and study them in a controlled environment. Essentially, this will go a long way towards delivering the future I'm expecting. That is, if we don't screw it up for ourselves.

And here come the bad guys to do just that. In fact, my favorite news article comes with this appealing headline: "Particle accelerator project sued on fears it will destroy the planet." In terms of headlines, how can you get much better than that?

These particle-accelerating wildmen seem to think this thing is perfectly safe, and as far as I'm concerned, their opinion is the only one that matters to me. After all, if they make a big matter-sucking black hole, they'll be the first ones sucked in, so that's pretty good motivation not to screw up.

Legalese and the Slaughter of Men

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
When you hear the word "slaughter," what image comes to mind?

For me, it's cows—a steady procession of beef walking into a slaughterhouse, where something happens that involves sharp instruments and lots and lots of blood and results in my being able to order a 12 oz. rib-eye at Black Angus. I highly doubt I'm the only one that thinks of this when the word is heard.

This is the reason I'm confused about the legal term "manslaughter." Though some people think it's a silly word because it sounds like a combination of "mans" and "laughter," I think it's an absurd word the way it's currently used in our legal system. Manslaughter is either the voluntary or involuntary killing of a human, but without intent or malice, whereas murder involves intent or malice. So, murder is clearly the worse crime. But tell me, just by looking at and hearing the words murder and manslaughter, which one sounds worse?

(Admittedly, since the Merriam-Webster woman's voice is more soothing, manslaughter sounds kind of nice, but just bear with me anyway.)

Manslaughter evokes the same image as the cows, only instead of beef heading to their death, it's a line of dudes on a conveyor, chatting about the Packers game or debating the merits of Kobe vs. Lebron, all while moving slowly toward a big shiny metal machine that will kill them efficiently and without holding up the line. I personally think that sounds much worse than murder.

With this in mind, I propose a name change, and I have several possible replacement names to consider:
  • The Big Whoopsie - This would take the place of involuntary manslaughter, because essentially that's what it is: someone was doing something stupid and someone else died because of it. That's not just a whoopsie, that's a Big Whoopsie.

  • The 'Oh Shit, Man' - This would take the place of voluntary manslaughter, which is usually a crime of passion or the result of being provoked. This name comes from the phrase that would most likely be uttered after the crime has been committed by the person who committed the crime, when he or she realizes what just happened. For example: "Wait, did I just kill that guy? Oh Shit, Man."
Whether or not this knocks any sense into the heads of any of the people who have the power to change this sort of thing, the main point I hope everyone takes away from this is that the legal term "manslaughter" is an incredibly misused big word. And while we may enjoy misusing big words on a blog, there's no room for that sort of silliness in a court room.

3 Tips, Tricks and Tirades of the Selfish Hippie

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
This week’s installment is a mish-mash of timely tips, tricks and tirades. Read on with the knowledge that none of these are related to each other, other than that they help one “be green.”


As you may be aware, every few months I like to go through the rooms of my living space and organize and get rid of all the junk. A lot of it I usually find I can sell for modest prices, much of it can be reused or repurposed, and a large amount goes right in the trash. The rest is given away, either to Goodwill, the library, or friends/family/acquaintances/mortal enemies. Starting March 17, though, I have one more place to get rid of my junk: send it to the government!

Free pre-paid envelopes make it easy for me to send old electronics, ink cartridges, etc far away from my now-uncluttered home. This gets my old useless crap out of my line of vision and into the hands of people who can actually do something with it. And considering the circumstances of California, Los Angeles, and the entire country these days, we might as well give the government something worthwhile to spend their time on, since they don’t seem to be doing anything important right now anyway.


Since we seem to be in mid-recession right now, and since layoffs and bankruptcies are happening left and right, now is as good a time as any to offer a way to get some free cashmoney. After all, the “green” in “going green” doesn’t just mean “good for the Earth.” In this case, it means “Good for your collection of greenbacks.”

There’s a new way to send money online called Revolution Money Exchange. It’s totally legit—in fact, read about it in USA Today. As a promotion until April 15, the company is giving away $25 just for signing up. I received mine instantly and already transferred it to my checking account. Plus, if you refer people to the site, you receive an additional $10. So if you want some free money, click the button below. That’s $30 free for 10 minutes of your time. Not too shabs, I don’t think. (Believe me, I'm more skeptical than most when it comes to this stuff, but I've already had a chance to waste my $30 on booze and women, so why shouldn't you have that chance?)

And, in true hippie spirit, this lessens the use of paper money and paper checks, saving a couple trees in the process.
Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange


Finally, a short tirade. Probably millions of people from all sorts of countries participated in Earth Hour this past Saturday, where they all turned off all the lights and electricity from 8pm-9pm in an effort to save some power. While I applaud the innovative thinking and I realize it clearly helped cut power, this still seems like putting a band aid on a stab wound. Instead of turning your lights off for an hour, we should be focusing on not using as many lights on a regular basis.

When you leave a room, turn the light off, even if you think someone else will be coming in there in just a minute. If you need a reading light, turn off the main room light when you turn on the reading light. My general rule of thumb is anytime I want to use a light, I make sure to turn off another one somewhere first. Remember it this way: “Turn one off before you turn one on.” And that’s not even counting all the other ways you can cut power.

Sure, a band aid will help a little bit with a stab wound, but you’d be much better off with stitches and some antiseptic. So please, instead of this Earth Hour idiocy, let’s work on continuous improvement. And if you find yourself slacking, just remember the selfish hippie motto: “Save Money While Saving the World.”
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