Yeah, I’m Only Three Inches…From The Ground!

Bang Me.

I typically don’t like to rant and complain about things that don’t amount to an entertaining punchline, but I just can’t resist sharing my recent home buying experiences with you. I’m flabbergasted, terrified and have no better recourse than to laugh and hold on tight. Pay attention, however, because you are probably indirectly responsible for my optimism.

Here’s how much it’s costing me and the Missus to move into our new house.

1. Down payment for mortgage – $8600.
2. Earnest money – $400.
3. Home inspection fee – $250.
4. Home buyer clause buy-out fee – $965.
5. Stray closing costs – $100.
6. Moving fees – $500.

Bear in mind that this is all expected to be paid by the end of April, a scant 29 days from now.
It also doesn’t include condo fees, additional taxes, repairs and anything that has anything to do with the actual settling into our new home. Nope, this is all paid in advance for the privilege of owning a home. For those keeping score, that’s almost $11,000 out-of-pocket before we even get to see what we’ll need to put into the home itself.

Wow. Damn. I wasn’t exactly prepared for that.

If you think that award-winning blogger and author, Ryan J. Zeinert, is the type of person that would have eleven grand just laying around in the savings account for this sort of occasion, I appreciate your high regard of me. You’d be wrong, though. In fact, on a bet, I think I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that I knew who had that sort of money ready to go. How in the hell do people afford homes? Just getting into this house is going to bankrupt me.

I was getting worried, certain that there was no way that I could scrap this kind of cash together in such a short time. Even if I drained every account I had, eleven thousand dollars is a lot of money, and I just didn’t think I was in a position to make it work. I started to think that maybe we just weren’t ready to make the jump into home ownership. The month-to-month was more than tolerable, but this initial cash purge was a whole lot for one young couple to muster so quickly.

After a lengthy discussion, marathon number crunching and check writing, it was determined that we were still over two thousand dollars short in covering our overhead expenses. The Missus turned to me, looked a little dejected and said, ‘what are we going to do?

But just then, I remembered something. Something beautiful. Something wonderful. The book!

Goddamn it, I wrote a book last year! A good one, too! Not only that, but I’ve been putting every cent of the profits into a savings account that I tried my hardest to forget about every day. For every freelance writing gig or sold book, I’d throw the checks and cash into the savings account and vanish the thought from my mind. Spending money earned through writing seemed wrong to me, and I figured there would come a day when I would feel deserving enough to enjoy it.

Well guess what, bitches? Today is that day. Admittedly, it didn’t take very long.

So, to a large amount of folks out there that purchased a copy of 65 Poor Life Decisions and wondered how I spent your heard-earned cash, I want to let you know that you are partially responsible for me and my wife purchasing our first home, and I cannot thank you enough.

How cool is that?

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

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I Bought A Freaking House.

I Bought A Freaking House.

My original plan for the month of April was to begin work on my second book.

Instead, me and the Missus went ahead and purchased our first condominium.

Needless to say, any serious work on the next book has been pushed to Summer.

Sound off in the comments section, give us some good advice and enjoy your day.

I’m So Glad That You Exist.

1. The Impossibles/Ultimate Fakebook – Globe Theater, Milwaukee – 2000
2. Green Day/Superdrag – Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee – 1997
3. Arcade Fire/Final Fantasy – First Avenue, Minneapolis – 2005
4. Weezer/Ozma – The Rave, Milwaukee – 2001
5. Saves The Day/Ash – Congress Theater, Chicago – 2004

(#6 would be pretty much anything that ever happened at the Concert Cafe in Green Bay. I kept it mainstream because nobody cares about bands that they don’t know about.)

So, the time has come to bust out your lists in the comments section. Let the CDP faithful know:

1. A band that you absolutely still need to see.
2. A former band that you wish you could see.
3. Your favorite concert of all-time.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

The Freedom Of Press Will Make You Tap Out.

You know you’ve made it when the nutcases start bothering you for no good reason.

Two years ago, I published ‘The Worst Album Covers Of All Time,’ a classic CDP pop culture piece and still one of the most popular humor essays I’ve ever written. In said hilarious essay, I spotlight an album by Level 14 Master Ninja, Reverend Mike Crain, titled ‘Karatist Preacher’ or ‘God’s Power,’ depending on how you chose to read it.

Takin' It To The House! GOD'S House!

This particular album cover came in at #8 on the countdown; a fair showing considering the soul-crushing terror I experienced upon viewing the bulk of these records. The accompanying witty commentary for this cover was as follows:

“Mike Crain is a triple threat. Not only is he a singer as well as a man of the cloth, he’s also a black belt! That’s more than I can claim, so I can’t bust on this guy too much. Say what you will, but when was the last time you saw a preacher smashing bricks with his palms in church? Maybe if there were more guys like Mike Crain around, I’d go to church more often. You know what? This might actually be the best album cover ever.”

“The power of Christ compells you…to break these bricks of Satan! Yaaahhh!”

All things considered, I was pretty easy on Mr. Crain. In fact, I quite like this album cover. Compared to such abominations as Heino, Manowar and DJ Dave ‘The Turntable Slave,’ Mike Crain might as well be Paul McCartney with nunchucks.

Time passes. Seasons change. Boys become men. Two years pass.

Just yesterday, I open my CDP inbox to find a message titled ‘Mike Crain.’ I figured it was a spam message, as I had completely forgotten anyone by that name existed. The e-mail was written by someone who was not Mr. Karatist Preacher, but still delusional and a bit wonky nonetheless. As follows:

Sir,

I just want to let you know, that ALL of these pages are being viewed by Mike Crain’s attorneys and that you need to take down this information. Mike Crain is a very sick man. You need to information off that page. That album has a copyright on it and you are in violation of that copyright, no matter where you live. We are warning all of the people who have these album covers posted to remove them. You have 30 days to get it off of the internet or we will make you take it off and you will be charged for using a picture that has a copyright. It’s about a $35,000.00 fine if you want to pay it. You do not have permission to use this picture.

Thank You.

Psalm 130:5
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

So….yeah. I didn’t change a word of it, but I did withhold the name for fear of further legal litigations. He’s a ‘sick man?’ Is he dying, or merely a pedophile? I haven’t yet figured that line out. If he is dying, I offer nothing but my deepest sympathies to the Crain family. If he’s a sexual predator, then he can rot in hell for all I care.

If he’s both, then I remain conflicted and silent on the matter.

Furthermore, where did the $35,000 fine come from? Had I actually been in violation of copyright law, 35 grand would be a steal!

Instantly, this stank of buffoonery and religious bullying. I knew that whomever this person was simply had far too much time on their hands, too much medication in their cabinets and knew absolutely nothing about the legal system and Fair Comment Copyright Laws. I even consulted one of the many attorneys I know about my legal rights, and we both laughed heartily whilst smoking a Cuban cigar.

A quick Google search shows that this image is on at least 771 other websites in connection with ‘Worst Album Cover’ lists of their own. This includes major nationwide newspaper franchises as well. Fair Comment Law allows me to use the image as a member of the press to review a particular piece of media in my own personal voice and opinion. There is no copyright on the album itself, the image was lifted from another website entirely and falls completely outside anything that would be considered slander or libel.

Freedom of Press strikes again, bitches! Look it up; the law is awesome!

Look, if there’s two things I’ve learned from my time spent studying music business in college, it’s that the right amount of cocaine will get you into any party, and when it comes to law, I know exactly what I’m talking about. You attempted to rob a gun store with a switchblade. You picked the wrong guy’s ass to blow smoke up.

So, needless to say, I win. Times a million. I’ve removed maybe three things from the CDP in the last four years, and that’s already three too many, if you ask me. However, since I am a fair man, I will offer the sender of the e-mail and Mr. Crain’s representative an ultimatum.

To properly convey how serious I am, here’s a picture of me wearing a blazer.

Blaze On!

I, Ryan Zeinert, creative mastermind behind the Communist Dance Party, published author, award winner, funniest blogger in Wisconsin and MINI Cooper owner, will hereby remove the photograph of the ‘Karatist Preacher’ album cover under one of two conditions:

1. I receive a professionally-written statement from Mr. Crain’s personal attorney, citing exactly what copyright laws I am violating. OR

2. Mr. Crain beats me in a Mixed-Martial Arts match. You pick the time and location.

I believe you’ll find this to be a fair deal. I look forward to not hearing from you, as any further correspondence on the matter will not even be opened by yours truly. Find someone else to bother; I have jokes to write.

TOMORROW: THE CDP GOES TO JAIL!

Twenties On Top, Fifties On Bottom.

EEEEEEEYYYYYYYY!!!!!
(“Looking for Lost Monday? Well, suck it!”)

Due to Easter and other extenuating circumstances, this week’s Lost Monday will arrive…never. I have a book to start writing, I’m looking at houses with my real estate agent damn near every night and I’m needed at public gatherings on Wednesday and Thursday. Real life beckons for the time being, and it just isn’t going to work out this time around.

Please use the comments section as a way to discuss last week’s episode, along with the second half of Season 4. I’ll get you started with some topics of interest:

Rousseau and Karl got capped, Widmore and Benjamin are both trying to keep the island a secret for different reasons, Tom is gayer than Canadian money and Michael sucks so much at life that he can’t even end it properly. Satisfied?

In NCAA Tournament news, ten of my Sweet 16 picks are still alive, along with all of my Elite 8. That being said, I’m resting comfortably at the rock bottom of my office pool for some inexplicable reason. Why do I throw $5 at this thing every year? I’m letting the cats pick my 2009 bracket, mark my words.

Wisconsin looks to reach another Final Four, and Duke continues to suck a gravy boat full of ass. All is well. Spring is here.

Why So Sad, Panda Bear?
(“Another book I have to pretend to like? This makes me pouty.”)

As mentioned last week (in the CDPeons Facebook Group, which you should all be joining for multiple reasons), I will be devoting the month of April to break ground on my second book. I aim to have it all wrapped up by the end of the year, but things are bound to change on a moment’s notice. The CDP will remain updated on a semi-weekly basis, as it would pain me to leave you all alone in the chilly Blogosphere like that. I’m not that sort of man.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your Monday.

You Have No Idea What ‘Having No Idea’ Means.

You Don't, You Know.

When I was an criminally underweight Freshman in high school, there was this girl that I spent a large amount of time with, we’ll call her ‘Margaret.’ My friendship with Margaret was solid and rare; we cheated off of each others’ tests, we exchanged idiotic notes throughout the school day and advised each other through short-term relationships, crushes and obsessions. It was a pretty decent and worthwhile arrangement; one of those situations where everyone naturally assumed that we were a couple, and we would just nod and play along, certain that our platonic agreement was cooler and stronger.

Now that I’m older, I know for a fact that platonic relationships are impossible. You cannot be friends with someone of the opposite or desired gender without wanting to sleep with them in some capacity.

So, as these stories go, our solid friendship was to be short-lived, thanks in part to the contents of my pants. I eventually fell hard for Margaret, far outside the reaches of what a strong friendship could provide, and felt it necessary to destroy the good thing we had going for the chance at a more physical and advanced form of bodily communication. I knew going in that it was sabotage, but something had to give. I couldn’t look at her anymore without wanting to tell her. I couldn’t hear another story about a bad date without begging her to let me make things right. I couldn’t even eat or listen to the radio. Surely, a friendship this strong would only be strengthened by this revelation, right?

I actually believed that. I also listened to Marilyn Manson, so… yeah.

As detailed in the classic CDP essay, ‘No Scents Whatsoever,’ my attempt to cross into this forbidden territory was tragically shot down by what could be accurately described as a gaffe of Shakespearean proportions. Margaret turned me down in the most unexpected way possible, our friendship hit the wall and I almost ended up getting arrested for indecent exposure.

‘No Scents Whatsoever’ is also featured in 65 Poor Life Decisions, which you should order right now. In fact, you should read that essay in order to get all caught up. Go on, I’ll wait.

Ready?

‘No Scents Whatsoever’ only told the funny part of the story, though. The ‘let’s all laugh at the poor kid who whizzed everything down his leg at the football game’ part. What happened the next day was far more interesting, deep and somewhat damaging.

Upon returning to school, I knew I had to do something, say something, to hopefully justify my actions and attempt to get things with Margaret back to the way they once were. We almost instantly ran into each other; the once-simple transitions and conversation now awkwardly vacant. We both had some serious explaining to do.

ME – “Hey. We should probably talk.”

MARGARET – “Hey. I know.”

ME – “Look, I’m sorry for messing everything up by trying to mine something that wasn’t there. I didn’t think it through, and I know it’s going to be impossible to go back to the way things were, but…”

Margaret cut me off.

MARGARET – “I just…I can’t go out with you right now. I’m really sorry.”

The tone in her voice suggested that she wasn’t necessary believing the words she was saying. This conflicted me, but more than anything, it pissed me off.

ME (still frustrated and embarrassed) – “Well, why the hell not? Because I know your secrets? Because my jaw clicks all loud when I eat? Because I wear the same stupid cologne that your dad wears? Why can’t this work?”

MARGARET (incredulous and saddened) – “Ryan, I can’t go out with you because you don’t believe in God.”

My eyes got wide, and I shut down. Right there, in the middle of a crowded high school hallway, the two of us hit a moral and emotional crossroads that was still probably years out of our league to correctly tackle. Somehow, through our several months of wonderful friendship and happiness, we never allowed a massive topic like religion butt in and ruin the party with its polarizing attitude and smug grin. However, this was clearly an issue that Margaret took seriously. Seriously enough to turn down a relationship with someone close to her.

MARGARET – “I…I just can’t do it. I’m sorry. It’s not like I don’t want to…I just can’t.”

I didn’t know what to say. Part of me wanted to beg her to shake it off and give this oily heathen a chance. Part of me wanted to hold her and praise her for being so deeply rooted and mature in her faith. Yet another part of me wanted to know how she was so sure I was an Atheist. I had never mentioned my beliefs to her explicitly; I’m assuming she simply took a cue from all my terrible jokes and constant mocking of organized religion. Either way, she jumped the gun.

If you asked me if I believe in God right now, I’d say ‘not really.’ Had you asked me at the age of 14, however, I probably would have said yes. In any case, how do you respond to a statement like that? It’s not like Margaret told me she disliked my haircut, or that I listened to terrible music. I couldn’t remedy the situation by saying ‘I’ll try harder next time!’ or ‘I can learn!’ This was serious. An issue of faith that had no room for a guy like me. I could be her friend, we could even grow to love each other as friends, but she would never be mine unless one of us drastically changed their spiritual views.

I was dumbfounded. I had reached the Boss Level with no cheat codes. It was over.

ME – “Are we going to be….okay?”

MARGARET – “Yeah, we’re cool. We just can’t…you know.”

ME – “Yeah, I know…I think.”

Wow. All that stuff I did for her to show that I was quality best friend and boyfriend material wasn’t even close to cutting it. She didn’t need someone who was willing to borrow her a shirt after a lunchroom food fight covered her own with pineapple juice. She didn’t need someone that bought her an ice cream cone every day after school. She needed someone to pray with. Someone to attend church with. Someone to court her. A jock or preppie guy was the usual sort of challenge I was used to overcoming when it came to women, but this?

Jesus Christ, why didn’t any of this come up earlier?

As previously stated, I knew I wasn’t possessing the mental facilities to properly re-evaluate my entire stance on spirituality during my Freshman year. If you need proof of my immaturity, know that at the time of the argument, I was wearing a shirt that said ’69’ on it. All I knew was that I wanted to go out with her, and this new roadblock driven between the two of us wouldn’t go away until our friendship was completely off the rails. I had to do something to keep Margaret close, protect our bond, slap God directly in the face and prove to everyone that I was able to go to the next level for her.

For most women, this would be a show of gratitude; like meeting her parents or ceasing communication with ex-girlfriends. For Margaret, this meant church.

And I was in.

There was a teen-centered church service that Margaret liked to go to every Wednesday night in the city. It was one of those places where the minister wore blue jeans, boasted a goatee and desperately attempted to phrase the words of Jesus in a way that apathetic teens would understand and care about. Decent music was played. Coffee was sold. Candles were lit in the darkened, small conference area, and I was there with Margaret, wondering just how far I’d go to prove a point or see her in her bra.

I tapped my feet and hands simultaneously under the table, trying to ward off a panic attack as claustraphobia and religious anxiety sank in. I looked over at Margaret, who was saying hello to friends and placing her order.

MARGARET – “Coffee?”

ME – “Uh, no. I don’t drink coffee.”

MARGARET – “Wow, I had no idea!”

I thought to myself, “You clearly have no idea what ‘having no idea’ means. I’m sitting here, waiting for Mr. Biblepants McGee up there to start blowing smoke up my ass about the paradise of accepting God’s love, when all I really want is yours.”

Instead, I just said:

ME – “Well, you learn something new every day. I’ll take a bottle of non-blessed water, please.”

MARGARET – “Oh, you’re hilarious.”

Fun Fact for you. I was raised Catholic. Catholic mass, for those out of the loop, is basically an hour-long punishment every Sunday morning. You show up, exclaim to the world that you’re a worthless and flawed human being, beg forgiveness and give thanks to God for allowing you to live. At the age of 14, this was the only religion I knew, and I was preparing for more of the same as I chewed my nails to the marrowbone and wondered if this was all really worth it.

I’ve done a lot of things to win the affection of women. I’ve written beautiful songs and poems. I’ve driven hundreds of miles and talked for hours on end. I’ve spent money I didn’t have for gifts I didn’t understand. I even got punched in the face a couple times. But none of that compared to the uncharted, uncomfortable waters I was wading into. I peeled the wrapper off of my water bottle and the service began.

Of course, the night went well. The pastor did a good job of reminding me that Jesus was a fairly amazing guy, and no matter what I believe concerning my mortal soul in the hereafter, it wouldn’t hurt to try to remember some of the interesting teachings and words of the Big J. Same goes for other visionaries, like Buddha or even Martin Luther King. That, I could honestly handle, and even now as an adult, I hold a certain amount of faith in the words of prophets, just not the way they are perverted, twisted and used as a weapon by some of his closest followers.

I feel the same way when an e-mail floats around that was incorrectly attributed to George Carlin or Kurt Vonnegut. Stop disgracing the name, people!

Throughout the night, I was on my best behavior. I bowed my head when everyone else did. I shredded my napkin to bits when I got bored. Each time I heard something that I wanted to dispute with every fiber of my cynical and humanistic being, I just looked over at Margaret and thought about what I’d be missing out on by being an asshole. “Get your mind right,” I reassured myself. “It’s for the greater good.”

I ended up going back to the church with her for most of the Summer after my Freshman year. Our friendship bloomed back into the rare and wonderful thing it used to be, and we both settled into the harsh realization that we’re better friends than lovers. By the time Summer was over, we were both seeing other people, and we were happier for it.

I’m glad that I was pushed out of my comfort zone, even if it was for all the wrong reasons. I knew that she knew, too, and she made a point to let me know that she appreciated it. We both knew that I’d never be the guy to complete a successful courtship. The guy to save his virginity until marriage. The guy that voluntarily gave his time to organized religion for any reason other than a friend’s companionship. At the end of the day, we both emerged a little smarter, a little further apart, and a little more aware that we were absolutely horrible for each other. When Sophomore year started, we were too busy and preoccupied to speak to each other.

Six years later, while I was working at the hardware store, Margaret walked in. We exchanged a few words and e-mail addresses, with the mutual promise that we wouldn’t lose touch with each other again. That was the last time we spoke.