CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #1.


#1 – ‘Lost Friday – Season 6.’

(Originally published 2/5-5/28/10.)

(Note: For the five years I wrote it, Lost Friday made the CDP significantly more popular than any of my personal essays, and I’ve begrudgingly accepted that. It was a lot of fun, and I hope you enjoyed it.)


The final Lost Friday is upon us.

There are two big things I want to mention before I dig into the final recap. First and foremost, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has followed along with Lost Friday for the last five years. Since 2004, the CDP has earned a reputation for personal essays, pop culture nostalgia and Mix-Tape trades, and amongst all of that, we still had time to recap about 100 episodes of my favorite television show, and the fact that you all came along for the ride has been a lot of fun.

Lost Friday was a labor of love, but it was also a lot of work. I’d estimate that I’ve lost about 1000 hours of much-needed sleep since my first recap, and the cost of my massive Photobucket account runs me about $80 a year. Hundreds of Photoshopped and uploaded images. Thousands of jokes. Millions of words. Some days were harder than others, but I’ve sincerely enjoyed every minute of it. At the end of every season, I tried to quit, only to receive dozens of e-mails and comments telling me to come back for one more year. That’s a really nice thing to do for a guy, and I’ve always appreciated every nice thing said about Lost Friday. Nothing makes me happier than when someone tells me how funny they thought something I wrote was; the fact that I got to be obsessive over Lost, mercilessly mock it and get people laughing to boot? Bliss.

For those of you who visit the CDP solely for Lost Friday, let me remind you that Lost Friday only constituted less than 10% of what the CDP has to offer. I’m a published author currently working on Book #2, and I strongly encourage you to dig around and stay awhile. Subsequently, for those of you who are CDP fans that never cared for Lost, then I can imagine this is a good day for you. You’ll once again have me all to yourself starting in June.

So once again, thank you. I hope you enjoyed Lost Friday.

The second thing I wanted to mention was the finale of Lost itself. You would think that for an Atheist that focuses on the minutiae of…well…everything, the finale would have been a supreme letdown for me. What about the significance of the Numbers? What about Walt? Why did Dharma keep getting food drops in 2004?

However, once I realized the main theme of the show (characters, redemption and faith), the superficial stuff just didn’t matter anymore. Had I gotten a scientific conclusion over a spiritual one, I doubt I would have been half as fulfilled, even if I got twice the answers. I loved the final act of the show, I loved the final act on the Island, and I thought it was as perfect a finale as we could have asked for. We’ve seen some spectacular episodes, and we’ve seen some trash (not much, but some), and I feel that ‘The End’ is arguably as good as the series ever was.

Jack Shephard was never my favorite character; not even in my Top 5, quite frankly. However, this show was centered around him, and thus the finale was centered around him, and boy did they deliver. By the end of the series, Matthew Fox was holding his own with some of the best actors and actresses on television, and in the final scenes of ‘The End,’ it was impossible to not be proud of the guy for what he’d done. You want to talk about redemption.

So yes, I liked the finale. Loved it, even. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Enough grandstanding and pansy talk, let’s start recapping the Series Finale with the final Thick & Meatyever!


Flash-Sideways Timeline: Outside The Church

While Kate waits in Hurley’s Camaro, Desmond claims ownership for the body of Christian Shephard, as UPS will give up even corpses to the first person possessing hands with which to sign off. When Kate asks Desmond why he sprung her out of jail in order to attend a concert, he replies that ‘nobody can tell you why you’re here,’ and what he really wants is ‘to leave.’

This sounds very emotional and deep in hindsight, until you realize that he was merely referring to the fact that he wanted to eat lunch at the Olive Garden two towns over. Say what you want, those breadsticks are mind-blowing.

At The Flightline Motel

Hurley arrives at the Flightline with Sayid, on a mission to get an absurdly-inebriated Charlie to perform at the concert. Hurley tries to sway Charlie by telling him that ‘it’s the most important thing he’ll ever do,’ and considering that he never got to sleep with Claire, he’s essentially correct. When Charlie gets distracted by a cloud that looks like a bottle of Jameson, Hurley shoots him with a tranquilizer gun and tosses him into the back of his Hummer.

This is the exact same way my wife got me to go to Dubuque with her last Spring.

At The Benefit Concert

Hurley and Sayid arrive at the concert. Miles, who has also just arrived, spots Sayid and calls Sawyer to tell him he’s escaped from jail. Miles asks him to check on Sun at the hospital, to see that she’s okay.

It is at this time that I would like to remind everyone that Yunjin Kim is following me on Twitter, thus completing Phase 1 of the 28-Phase process that culminates on our wedding day. Not many people realize that the name ‘Ji Yeon’ is Korean for ‘Son of Pale Norweigan.’ Now you know.

At St. Sebastian Hospital

Juliet shows up to give Sun an ultrasound, which triggers Sun’s ‘Realization Moment,’ flashing back to when Juliet gave Sun an ultrasound on the Island. As Jin and Sun always seemed to function in tandem, this also works as Jin’s Realization Moment as well. Never underestimate the dimension-obliterating power of a radioactive wand, Astroglide and a taut, Korean tummy.

They also start speaking English as well, because they remember now. Apparently, they use Rosetta Stone software in the Afterlife.

Over in a significantly less sexy hospital room, Jack is prepping Locke for his surgery. Jack jokingly tells Locke that there’s a chance he could kill him, thus making 10 million Easter Egg nerds simultaneously moisten themselves with glee.

Jack and Juliet pass in the hallway, where it’s finally revealed that they were once married. This goes down as the second worst-kept secret in Lost history, just behind ‘Does Island Claire smell like pennies and black olives?’

(Answer: Yes.)

Outside A Bar

Sayid and Hurley observe a fistfight between Boone and an unnamed asshole who pushed Shannon to the ground. Sayid rushed to her aid, giving them both their Realization Moment, via tongue-to-tongue contact.

Nadia who? Never mind the years of International travel, longing and occasional torture; Sayid’s heart lies with the woman he had a relationship with for 15 days back in 2004.

At The Benefit Concert

Juliet is paged by the hospital, David enters with Claire, Charlotte wakes up a drunken Charlie, and Kate recognizes Claire from several days earlier. On stage, Drive Shaft will be accompanying Mr. Daniel Widmore and his Cavalcade of Stuttering, Violently-Frustrating Whimsy.

Charlie looks so sexy on stage that Claire goes into labor. Meanwhile, Eloise pleads with Desmond not to get everyone to ‘move on,’ which prompts Desmond to tell her that he won’t be taking Daniel. Not with him, at least. I enjoyed this conversation, as it reminds us that, just because everyone that we knew wasn’t in the final scene, that there aren’t other churches, other groups and other Realization Moments. Don’t get hung up on the small stuff, or I’ll put my thumb through your neck.

As Kate helps Claire with her labor backstage, they both have their respective Realization Moments. Later, Charlie shows up and has one as well, no doubt triggered by Aaron’s mystical placental goo. Desmond saunters in, fist-pumps on a job well done, and pours himself a tall glass of whole milk.

Back At St. Sebastian Hospital

Locke is brought out of surgery, where he’s coming around and recovering at an Afterlife pace. The wiggling of his toes gives him his Realization Moment, followed by the pissing of his hospital gown. Jack resists anything remotely resembling a Flashback, saying that he needs to leave to see his son. Locke correctly (but dickily) reminds him that he doesn’t have a son.

Back in Room Number Gorgeous, Sawyer catches up with Jin and Sun. Sawyer is intent on arresting Sayid, but they’re having none of it after seeing the light. Even in Purgatory, you can still get gutshot and potentially miscarry a newborn. Heaven sounds extremely terrifying.

At the candy machine, Sawyer’s struggling to get an Apollo bar. Juliet shows up and tells him that if he unplugs the machine and plugs it back in again, the candy will drop down, adding that ‘it’s technically legal.’ Once again, continuity nerds simultaneously drop clumps of ‘Cool Ranch’ Doritos down their shirt with excitement. As they both reach for the candy bar, Sawyer and Juliet have their respective Realization Moments, before they come back around and continue fighting over sole possession of said candy.

Back At The Benefit Concert

Jack shows up and runs into Kate. Kate attempts to get him to remember the past, but he continues to resist. Kate then clubs the dumb oaf with a canoe paddle, as this is the only way for this lunkhead to understand anything.

Back At The Church

Locke shows up and meets Ben. Ben apologizes for what he did to him, adding that he was ‘selfish, jealous, and wanted everything that (Locke) had.’ Locke forgives him, but Ben still has some things to work out before he decides to enter the church. For Ben, a guy that seemingly had everything he could have ever dreamed of on the Island, to want the life of a paralyzed loner working a temp job at a box factory, he should have probably aimed a squinch higher.

Hurley also runs into Ben. Hurley reminds Ben that he was a ‘great Number Two,’ to which Ben replies that Hurley was a ‘great Number One.’ This leads into my theory that their Island code names for each other were ‘Poop’ and ‘Pee.’

Jack and Kate arrive. Kate tells him that she brought him here ‘because this is where you were going to have your father’s funeral.’ She says that ‘they’ will be waiting for him to come in, once he’s ready ‘to leave.’ Kate then inexplicably changes outfits, in what is either a Purgatory thing, or the single most glaring continuity error in Lost history. Perhaps Kate just didn’t want to enter Heaven wearing such a slutty dress.

Jack enters the back of the church, finding the coffin of Christian. When he touches it, he has his Realization Moment, culminating with his father entering the room. After a brief exchange, Jack realizes that he himself has died, and he embraces with his father, both absolutely reeking with embalming fluid.

When Jack (and the viewing audience) expresses confusion, Christian explains that Jack’s life and the people in the church are very real, yet they are all now dead. ‘Some died before you, some after you,’ Christian explains. He further elaborates that the church and this world was a place they all made together to find each other, because the most important part of Jack’s life was the time spent with these people. It was created so they could all ‘find each other, remember and move on.’

Meanwhile, out in the church, Miles realizes that he’s an Atheist and immediately poofs out of existence. Bad time for an existential breakdown, dude.

Jack enters the heart of the church where he is greeted by many of his old friends from the Island (Kate, Hurley, Libby, Sawyer, Juliet, Desmond, Penny, Sun, Jin, Charlie, Claire, Aaron, Sayid, Boone, Shannon, Locke, Rose and Bernard). They all share embraces and enjoy their reunion, which is all a little more than my black little heart can handle (the look of satisfaction on Locke’s face when he hugs Jack just might be my favorite moment of the entire series).

After awhile, they all sit down in the pews as Christian walks out the back of the church, bathing everyone in attendance in a glowing, white light. Jack and Kate exchange a smile, as the room is engulfed.

Excuse me, I think I have something in my eye. Yup, it was a cat whisker. I hate those things.

Original Timeline: At The River

Sawyer heads off to get Desmond out of the well before Locke can, while Jack, Kate and Hurley head to the Source (ie: Butthole) of the Island.

At The Well

Desmond has already been saved from the well before Locke or Sawyer can get there. Locke is initially going to kill everyone, but will settle for just Jack now that he’s the new Jacob.

He’s still sinking this bitch, though. Make no mistake of that.

At Rose And Bernard’s Camp

Turns out that Rose and Bernard saved Desmond from the well, but he best be moving on soon, as they like to function as an isolationist society. Locke shows up and snatches Desmond away.

Vincent urinates on Rose’s leg. Bernard urinates on Vincent.

In The Outrigger

Miles and Richard (who’s now mortal), stumble across Frank in the water. Initially wanting to blow up the Ajira plane, Frank puts an end to that nonsense, reminding him that he’s a pilot and will get them off of the Island. Realizing just how cuckoo-bananas insane their original idea was, they decide to trust Lapidus instead.

On The Way To The Source

Locke’s group and Jack’s group meet. There’s a ton of chest-bumping and shit talk about murder, but it’s pretty obvious that nobody has a plan. It’s quite adorable, actually.

At The Source

Only Jack, Locke and Desmond approach the Source. Jack and Locke tie a rope around Desmond and lower him in. Desmond reaches the bottom and sees the ‘cork’ that’s more or less keeping all evil from breaking loose. As he’s immune to electromagnetic energy, Desmond hops into the pit and yanks the cork out, unleashing what seems to be the brewings of Hell upon the Island.

So this explains Sex In The City 2.

Jack chases Locke out of the cave in a fit of fury, punching him in the mouth and causing him to bleed. This is when they both realize that by pulling out the cork, both Jack and the Man In Black are mortal men. They tussle for a bit, but Locke nails Jack with a rock and scampers off.

When I was a little kid, I heaved a rock at a kid named BJ. I thought I had killed him; I was really scared and sad for awhile. Turns out he was okay, and we became friends in high school.

At Hydra Island Beach

Miles, via walkie-talkie, tells everyone to get their asses in gear before the plane takes off. Claire’s not coming with, because she’s nuttier than a box of Clusters.

At The Cliffs

Locke has a boat waiting for him. Jack shows up just in time for a kick-ass final showdown. Locke stabs Jack in the abdomen and pierces his neck, but before he can finish the job, Kate shows up and shoots the Man In Black. Jack kicks him over the cliff, killing him and ending what may be the worst and most ill-fated Island mutiny attempt ever.

Sawyer and Kate rush off to catch up with the plane, but not before sharing a tearful goodbye with Jack. Ben and Hurley stick around to help Jack finish what he started.

At The Ajira Landing Strip

Frank is having trouble with the hydraulics on the plane, so he sends Richard back to look at it. Yeah, if I have a mechanical failure with my airplane, I want the guy from the 16th Century to fix it for me.

Kate and Sawyer are catching up with the plane, when they run into Claire. Kate offers to help her raise Aaron, which changes her mind. Everyone gets on board as they begin their takeoff.

Frank Lapidus is the greatest pilot in the history of aviation. Or perhaps the plane exploded into pieces two seconds after the episode ended; who really knows?

At The Source

Jack’s going back into the Source to clog up the butthole and save the Island (may I suggest sharp cheddar cheese?). He knows he’s not going to survive, and turns over Island ownership to a tearful Hurley. Desmond wants to help, but Jack says that he’s done enough, and he should go back home to his wife and son.

Jack finds the plug and drops it into the Source (hey BP, you want that oil leak taken care of?). The light begins to return, as Hurley and Ben pull an exhausted Desmond back to the surface. Below, Jack sobs with relief as he is engulfed in the light. It’s warm and smells like cinnamon.

Hurley asks Ben if he could help him protect the Island, which Ben graciously accepts. They start by coming up with a way that Desmond can leave the Island, and also by adding a miniature golf course to the Barracks.

At The Bamboo Grove

Jack wakes up in a creek outside of the Source. Aware of his eventual demise, he finds his way back to the bamboo grove, to the same spot where he awoke after the crash of Flight 815. He hears a dog barking and turns to see Vincent running towards him. Jack smiles as Vincent lies down next to him, so he doesn’t ‘die alone.’

Looking towards the sky, he sees the Ajira plane fly over him, knowing that he has saved his friends as well as the Island. His eyes close.


Now, don’t you go getting sad on me; we’re not done yet. Let’s Break It Down!


1 – The last line of the series is “We’ve been waiting for you,” spoken by John Locke after Jack enters the church. This is in stark contrast to what I thought was going to be the final line of the series, “We’re all out of dip.”


2 – Desmond, Penny and Juliet are the only non-815 survivors in the church, which makes perfect sense, unless you’re a dolt who continues to argue the logic of the final scene.

3 – From Lostpedia: “Boone’s observation that he had difficulty getting Shannon back from Sydney is likely an in-joke at the difficulty in scheduling Maggie Grace to return for the final season, having had to already write her out of ‘LA X.'” That’s funny stuff, right there.

4 – Kate is the only original cast member to land on the Island, leave, return and leave again.

By comparison, Locke is the only original cast member to land on the Island, re-learn to walk, get teleported off of the Island, die, get shipped back to the Island, get reincarnated by evil incarnate, only to be killed once more. What are the odds?

5 – Sawyer and Claire are the only characters to arrive on the Island for the first time in the first episode, and leave the Island for the first time in the last episode. Really? I’ll be damned!

6 – ‘The End’ was the longest episode in Lost history, clocking in at a massive 105:45 minutes. So, to anyone complaining, you got 106 minutes of Lost, so cork your bitchhole.

7 – ABC estimates that nearly 21 million people watched ‘The End,’ while states that ‘The End’ was the most pirated television episode in history based on statistics. Congruently, According To Jim is statistically the least-pirated show in history.

8 – From Lostpedia: “The scene where Locke stabs Jack involved swapping out a real knife for a collapsible one. During one take, the swap was not made properly and Matthew Fox was stabbed by the real knife, which was stopped by a Kevlar pad that Fox wore under his shirt. Matthew Fox tried out various protection pads for that scene, and it just so happened that when the accident happened he was wearing the Kevlar pad, the others of which were not stab proof. It was even suggested that he not bother using a pad at all before the incident happened.”

That would have been bad to say the least. “Um, sorry everyone. We can’t finish the series because we…um…stabbed our main character to death on set.”

9 – The penultimate scene with Jack and Christian the back room of the Church was withheld from shooting scripts. When the scene was filmed, the set operated with a high level of security and was off-limits to everyone with the exception of Matthew Fox, John Terry, and a few select members of crew. Even other cast members were not allowed near the set when the scene was taking place.

Frank Lapidus was there, though, because that sonofabitch can do whatever he wants.

10 – Shannon (Maggie Grace) makes her first appearance since ‘Expose’,’ an absence of 59 episodes in a row. Not surprisingly, Lost hasn’t aired a terrible episode since then. I’m not a Shannon fan.

Well folks, I hate to tell you this, but we’re all done here. Once again, thank you for reading Lost Friday over the years; please stick around and allow me to entertain you with all of the other stuff I do here on the CDP. Sound off in the comments section, enjoy your weekend and stay nostalgic by checking out links to nearly every Lost Friday ever written (including some episodes of the Pop Crunch show, penned by yours truly).

Thank you very much.

Hey…waaaaait a minute, here. Where are the captions? I mean, this is the last Lost Friday ever, and there’s not even one photo caption to speak of? Seriously?


(“Was it good for you, Vincent?”)

There we go. Now we can leave happy.

Season 6 – Episode 1/2.

Season 6 – Episode 3.

Season 6 – Episode 4.

Season 6 – Episode 5.

Season 6 – Episode 6.

Season 6 – Episode 7.

Season 6 – Episode 8.

Season 6 – Episode 9.

Season 6 – Episode 10.

Season 6 – Episode 11.

Season 6 – Episode 12.

Season 6 – Episode 13.

Season 6 – Episode 14.

Season 6 – Episode 15.

Season 6 – Episode 16.

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #2.


#2 – ‘Aerating The Mashed Potatoes.’

(Originally published 11/23/10.)

(Note: There are a lot of bloggers that want to be published authors, but probably less than .5% ever get to realize that dream. Thanks to you, I got to do it twice. When the CDP ends in February, my writing career will not, and that’s due to the last 7.5 years of support, friendship and motivation you’ve given me. Thank you.)


Aerating The Mashed Potatoes is available for purchase RIGHT NOW!

The book is available everywhere right here, but I have a limited stock of 100 copies that I’m selling personally. I did this because I wanted to do something special for the ravenous, awesome folks that simply want a personalized, autographed copy of what could be the Greatest Book Ever Written. Here’s how to order.

Send $21 (cash, check or money order) to:

The CDP.

PO Box 865

Sun Prairie, WI


Your $21 gets you an autographed, hand-numbered copy of Aerating The Mashed Potatoes, a rad piece of CDP merch and Priority shipping (2-3 days). Provide a mailing address (and a name if you want it personalized). I’ll ship the book as soon as the order comes in.

Cost is $16 if I don’t have to ship it. Keep that in mind, folks in the Madison area. Let’s meet up.

These books will sell out, and I can’t promise that I can save you one. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, so order your one-of-a-kind advance copy right now!

One last thing before you run off to your checkbooks. This is a DIY venture. I have no agents, no publicists and certainly no marketing. If you’d like, it wouldn’t take much to help me out by Tweeting about this. Posting this link to your Facebook wall. Mentioning it on your own blog. Any (and every) little thing counts. I normally don’t ask for this, but it’s going to make a big difference, I’m sure of it.

I thank you so much in advance; you guys are the reason why I get to do stuff like this, and it means more to me than I can say. Have a great day; buy my new book!

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #3.


#3 – ‘To Here Knows When.’
(Originally published 2/16/09.)

Three Sundays ago, me and the Missus were on our way out of the Alliant Energy Center, having just witnessed the brain-melting awesomeness that is the Mad Rollin’ Dolls Roller Derby. The day was beautiful; an unseasonably warm morning brought Madison out of its cocoon of Winter jackets and unfashionable hats. The day was also made beautiful by the fact that it was my quiet, uneventful and arrest-free 27th birthday. I felt good, I felt young, and I was looking forward to heading home in time to catch the Super Bowl and gorge on various dips, beers and cheeses.

The Missus offered to drive my car home, and as we pulled onto the street, we instantly recognized that something was wrong. Not wrong in a “Life is a series of random, unrelated events that means nothing and ends when you die” sort of way, but wrong as in “I think the car may have exploded a second ago.” The whirring sound of rubber tire meeting non-rubber metal in an unholy alliance of black smoke and dangerous maneuvering got us back off of the road in a heartbeat. Pulling back into the parking lot, we saw that the left rear tire was flat and shredded into oblivion.

“Happy Birthday!” shouted my friends in unison from the backseat. Assknobs.

As I was twisting the jack, loosening the nuts, blackening my hands and dirtying my favorite jeans, it struck me as quite the coincidence that this was not only my second flat tire in six months, but in the same exact wheel well, too. I chalked it up to bad luck and got us back on the road in less than five minutes; a new personal record.

Driving on a 55MPH donut is an anxious experience to say the least. Not only are you trusting what amounts to nothing more than a pretend wheel on a Big Boy car, but you have to trust that you did everything right when changing the tire in the first place. If it should, I don’t know, sproing completely off of the axle and launch itself into Lake Mendota whilst navigating the beltline, you’d have nobody to blame but yourself when receiving your blood transfusion back at the hospital of your health insurance provider’s choosing.

Stupid birthday. Stupid Super Bowl.

The next day, I took Monday morning off of work and slowly rolled my way over to Broadway Tire on the opposite side of the city. For me, Broadway Tire represents a necessary evil, as they’re the closest game in town whenever I have a vehicular emergency. However, they’re rude, yell at you like you somehow damaged your only mode of transportation on purpose, and pretty much leave you at their greasy mercy.

“Hi. I have a flat tire.”
“(already angry) What happened?”
“Well, I don’t really know. The tire was flat in the parking lot.”
“(angrier still) How far did you drive on it?”
“Um, not really far at all. Maybe 100 yards or so.”
“(angry and incredulous) Well, how did you get here, then?”
“What? I put the spare on…(muttering to myself)…you freaking moron.”
“Alright, pull it in; we’ll take a look at it.”
“Will do. Say, I just got that tire here less than six months ago, and…”
“(reading verbatim from sign behind counter) 30 warranty on all tires!”
“(wide-eyed)…I see.”
“Jesus, what in the hell did you do to this tire? It’s shredded!”
“Nothing. I mean, I don’t know; that’s how I found it.”
“You’re telling me that you didn’t drive on this?”
“For the last time, dude, I stopped driving as soon as I noticed it.”

We then exchanged accusatory glances until the phone rang and startled him.

A 30 day warranty on tires sounds nothing short of worthless, but nonetheless, I had nowhere else to go. They slapped a used tire into the left rear wheel well, charged me a respectable 36 bucks, and I was back at work by 10am.

Done and done, correct?

Bzzzrtt; wrong answer.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Missus came home from work, and while still in the garage, began to inquire about the mystery tire they had applied to the Wild Stallion v4.0.

“Honey? Are you sure that they put the right size tire on your car?”
“What? Why?”
“Well, your car is all…crooked.”
“Oh, God. Hang on, I’ll be right out.”

Sure enough, my entire car was now slanted downwards toward the left rear axle, indicative that the belligerent, rude and inattentive folks at Broadway just up and put the wrong size tire on to spite me. However, the measurements were correct and the tire was legit; the whole works were just crooked for some strange reason. The mysteries were starting to pile up, but I didn’t want to think about it, so quite frankly, I ignored them. If I should ever get diabetes, you can bet that I’ll deny the symptoms right up to the point where they start sawing my foot off.

Friday morning was freezing, probably five below zero when I left the house at 7am. I got about a mile away from my house when I once again heard the sound of rubber flapping off-balance. I turned down My Bloody Valentine and gave a listen.

“This seriously cannot be happening.”

Seconds later, I began to lose control of the car, and quickly turned into the parking lot of the new Target that they’re in the process of building right next to CDP Headquarters (I’m pumped at this prospect for a number of reasons). As I got out of the car, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Flat, shredded tire. Left rear wheel.

For the second time in five days (and the third time in six months), I was once again on my hands and knees, changing the same tire in the same wheel well. I called up the Missus to let her know what was going on, and she told me she would drop by the parking lot on her way to work, just to make sure that the jack didn’t snap and mush my body flat underneath the car. I also called my boss and took a personal day, because I was all set to limp back into Broadway Tire and tear each and every one of them a brand-spanking-new butthole for my troubles.

The ranting came fast and furious when the Missus showed up. It was so cold outside that I had to wear a stocking cap that I keep in the trunk for emergencies, which caused my still-wet hair to meld and freeze into the most embarrassing shape possible (think A Flock Of Seagulls meets the Unibomber). “I can’t believe this! Those jerks sold me a lemon tire! They owe me! I’m sick of changing tires! This sucks! My life sucks! Morrissey was right! Aaaugh!”

It was at this point where I took the newly-shredded tire off of the axle, and made the discovery that solved all of the looming mysteries in a big hurry. A jagged, glistening, razor-sharp hunk of shrapnel sticking straight out of the wheel well, right where my rear coil springs had apparently snapped and broken.


Allow me to slingshot you back through time, and recap what exactly happened to my car. I had been more or less driving in a deathtrap that was secretly gearing up to end my life in the stupidest possible way.

Six months ago, my rear coil springs unknowingly snapped while driving through a construction site, initially flattening my tire, which was replaced, chalked up to accident and forgotten about. At some point during the week of the Super Bowl, the broken springs had somehow shifted, sending a chunk of twisted metal just enough into the path of the left rear tire to rub against it for hundreds of miles, slowly wearing it to pieces until it just came apart…like, say, in the parking lot of the Alliant Energy Center after a roller derby. When the Broadway guys replaced the tire, they never bothered to notice the spring problem, but did seem shocked that what looked like a typically-flat tire could be so mangled. The snapped springs continued to be ignored, leaving my car to look crooked and tipped sideways, just like the Missus noticed on Wednesday. The broken coil then worked its magic on the new tire, until finally striking oil on Friday morning, once again shredding it during my morning commute.

Mystery solved. I felt like an automotive Dr. House. I also knew that I was about to write a very, very large check to a mechanic.

So, for the second time in a week, I attached the donut to the Wild Stallion, this time driving to Capitol Ford for a long day of repairs and complimentary popcorn. New springs? Check. New struts? Check. New tire and alignment? Check and mate.

Total cost? $900.

To keep myself from committing suicide, which was my initial solution for this problem, I’m left to focus on the positives. For one, I didn’t get killed, which is always a reality when it comes to car problems. Secondly, nothing had to be towed or shuttled anywhere (except for my carless ass), which is always a tremendous pain in the wenis area. Thirdly, I had just begun an Emergency Savings account for situations like this no less than days before the explosion, and most of what I had in there covered the overall costs.

Could have been worse, I suppose; it could have happened on my birthday.

Hey, wait a minute…

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #4.


#4 – ‘Shop ‘Till You Drop (Or Stab Someone).’
(Originally published 9/8/08.)

CDP Headquarters experienced an emergency last week, as we nearly ran out of Mojitos on a Friday night. This would have proven to be disastrous, as it’s prohibited by law to head into the weekend sober if you happen to be spending the evening at my house. Like a flash of alcoholic lightning, the Missus, myself, Benjamin and Sherry hopped into the car and drove to the supermarket to get the many ingredients necessary to create this delicious and unbelievably complicated Summertime drink (seriously, it takes like, three months to make).

The Copp’s Food Center down the street had almost everything we needed, but had just run out of mint shortly before we arrived (perhaps everyone in Wyndham Hills had the same idea as us). This left us with one of two options:

1. No Mojitos (unacceptable by any means necessary).
2. Travel to the…other…supermarket across town.

You know the kind of supermarket I’m talking about. The one with the fluorescent lighting that makes you slit your wrists with a cat food lid as soon as you walk in. The one where everyone seems to get gutshot in the parking lot. The one where every checkout girl is 10 months pregnant with a baby that’s already 4 months pregnant. The one where Peter Cetera never seems to stop singing. Yeah, the trip to the belly of Hell was about to be made for the good of the timeless Rum Highball.

I’ve never been to this grocery store before,” said a wide-eyed and naive Benjamin.

Well, settle in. You’re in for a treat,” I quipped back, before checking my eyebrows in the rearview mirror and taking my pocket knife out of the glove compartment.

When we stepped into the Sentry Foods, I was instantly reminded of all the sadness and suffering in the world. It seemed to be in a constant state of unkempt renovation, as were the patrons. “Let’s just get this stupid mint and get the hell out of here,” I said. I’m typically always on the verge of a panic attack if you see me out in public, and this was certainly no exception.

As we meandered around the aisles, looking for a proverbial mint-flavored needle in a crap-flavored haystack, the Missus darted off in the correct direction while I was distracted. As I tried to catch up, I attempted to crack my friends up by doing my signature ‘Power Walk.’ If you’re unfamiliar with the ‘Power Walk,’ I suggest checking out Mr. McMahon’s WWE entrance. I do this in public all the time, because I think it’s hilarious and it leads people to believe that I have something wrong with me.

As you can probably surmise, it’s the funniest thing that has ever happened in America. That entrance song is also my ringtone. Let’s move on.

As I power-walked around the corner and caught up with the Missus (who found the mint), I noticed a random shopper that was looking at me. He was short and chubby, tan-skinned, slightly feminine, backwards cap and dressed like a frat boy douchebag. We’d never get along, even if he was a Red Sox fan.

As the four of us crowded around the mint and determined just how many metric tons of the stuff we’d need, this guy managed to walk right up next to me and stare me down. He was sweating and appeared to be either severely intoxicated or under the influence of some narcotic. Weirder still, he had no groceries and wasn’t even carrying a basket. I was ready for anything.

You wearing an iPod?” He asked me, which ranked at approximately #998,603 on the list of the One Million Things I’d Expect To Be Asked By A Stranger At A Grocery Store, wedged right between “I’d like to eat Michael Dukakis’ shoes!” and “Do you know what year it is, Neil Armstrong?

My friends looked confused as I made the regrettable decision to respond to this sweaty mass of unbalanced humanity. “No,” I said. “Why?”

He then proceeded to mock my amazing Power Walk, all while boasting a please-punch-me-in-the-knob grin. Dude had approached me for the sole purpose of making fun of the way that I pretend-walked.

Now, this shouldn’t be a big deal to anyone with greater mental facilities than myself. Just laugh it off and move on, right? Well, not exactly. This guy had caught me at the wrong time; a time where I wanted to get confrontational and remind him that it’s not nice to insult people. Who knows; maybe that’s how I really walk? Maybe I got hit by a bus as a child and my legs didn’t heal correctly. Maybe I was that guy in the POW camp with John McCain. Maybe I’m retarded and like to embarrass myself in public.

My friends looked at me as if to say, “Please, just walk away from this drunk idiot.” Instead, I came slightly unglued.

What the hell is wrong with you, man? Do you just approach strangers at random and make fun of the way they walk? Get outta here.”

Dude didn’t really know what to say, so we just sort of walked around him and made our way to the checkout. I was expecting more than that; perhaps I got off lucky. Hell, perhaps he did.

I’m an unassuming-looking guy. Medium build. Nerd glasses and a hipster attire. However, I was raised in one of the most rural parts of Wisconsin, worked at a dairy farm, redneck bar and hardware store, all before the age of 18. I will be more than happy to hand you your ass if the situation should present itself. I have a dangerous problem with male authority and bullying, and any guy that thinks it might be funny to tease or belittle me will be met with the sort of retaliation that can only come from a tiny man that was raised by bipolar women his entire life.

It ain’t worth it, Cowboy.

But the moment had passed, and as we continued around the barren supermarket, my friends were giving me their usual schtick about what I did wrong; which is typically everything.

“Why didn’t you just laugh and walk away?”
“Because that’s a sign of weakness!”
“Why do you have to be such a jerk?”
“He deserved it!”
“Why does this stuff always happen to you?”
“I hit a leprechaun with my car when I was 16; happy?”

As the conversation continued towards the checkout line, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It was the dude, sauntering back over to my general vicinity. I tried to act like I didn’t see him, but if he was about to slash my throat with a poorly-concealed razorblade, I should at least make eye contact beforehand.

Was this guy insane? Was he asking for an ass-kicking? My theories were only heightened as he walked slowly past me, slo-mo power-walking the entire way and looking at me with the same douchebag grin. Bastard was egging me on.

Oh, that’s it. Nobody gets between me and my mojitos.

I clutched the knife that was nestled in my pocket; this guy’s eye was about to get carved out of its booze-soaked socket. Then, if I felt like it, I was going to go to his mom’s house and Power Walk on her fresh corpse. The only person allowed to make fun of me is me, especially if this whole thing started due to me already making fun of myself. He was a dead man. A dead, ignorant man who doesn’t understand humor and is now about to get stabbed because of it.

For about the millionth time in my life, I took a split second to fully understand the hilarious ridiculousness of the moment. Through a series of seemingly random and borderline-silly circumstances (jonesing for mojitos, out of mint, cross-town travel, power-walking in front of random passerby), I was about to beat the living hell out of a complete stranger that barely deserved it (I wasn’t really going to stab him; I was just going to…you know…cut him a little).

Only the restraint of the Missus kept the situation from reaching a violent head, as the only thing I was able to do was say “I think you’re done; get the hell out of here.” He put up his hands in a defeated fashion and disappeared, once he realized that I did not find his brand of observational insult humor worthwhile in the least.

You’d think that my friends would praise me as a hero. Someone that stood in the face of annoying opposition and emerged victorious. Perhaps they would even gain some sort of masculine respect or attraction towards me, in that I wasn’t some weak pushover that would take crap from people, regardless of if I might have deserved it for prancing around the supermarket like a gazelle in heat. Maybe they’d feel that I was someone who could protect them should something truly serious go down.

You’d be wrong. As is always the case, this entire situation was my fault. If you think that my ‘I can’t do anything right’ act has worn thin, I can assure you that nobody is more sick of it than I am.

What did I tell you about this place?” I said to the trio, clucking with disapproval. “Can we please go home and play Rock Band now?

Thy will be done. And you know what? It was worth it.

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #5.


#5 – ‘Why I Will Never Be The Host Of This Old House.’
(Originally published 12/12/08.)

On Monday afternoon, I arrived home from work just after the freezing rain had begun. I made a point to leave the office early that day, as a snowstorm of apocalyptic (ie: typically Midwestern) proportions was on deck to ravage and pummel the county with its fluffy payload. Also, as a preemptive strike, I took the next day off as well, because I’m allergic to snow and have no interest in knowing what it feels like to die in a car accident.

As I stepped into my house and tossed my keys into the Key Bowl (every house should have one), I took a deep breath and relaxed, feeling relieved that I had nothing more to do during the first big snowstorm of the season than to sit in my flannel pajamas, sip hot chocolate, watch The Price Is Right and take a nine-hour nap.

I exhaled just as quickly, you see, for my house smelled disgusting.

I tilted my head in a futile attempt to understand why my home smelled so…gamey. It was as if a grizzly bear had, for whatever reason, picked the lock and wandered in hours earlier, rubbing himself on my furniture and pawing through my carefully-straightened stack of Rolling Stone magazines, only to show himself out just before I had arrived. Usually, my place would waft forth the aroma of a scented candle, or one of the many homemade breads that the Missus makes for absolutely no reason. Not today.

Naturally, I blamed the cats. They can be particularly foul beasts at times, and on occasion, their litter box funk tends to seep up through the basement and out the vents, bathing the condo with the all-too-familiar scent of feline feces until we clean it out. I silently chastised them and continued on with my upcoming Afternoon of Relaxation, with no intention whatsoever of changing the litter boxes on such a joyous and peaceful day.

For about, I don’t know, an hour or so, I ignored the fact that my house smelled like a State Fair, until I first heard the sump pump fire up. The freezing rain outside was getting bad, and it wasn’t until I heard the whoosh of the pump downstairs that I began to make the connection that I should probably check to see if my storage bins were floating around down there. I bounded down the steps, peeked around the corner and saw nothing but a dry floor and clean litter boxes. I was perplexed, as the full force of the musty scent hit my nostrils like a racist joke, instantly reminding me of our old apartment, which suffered from mold and flooding issues on a bi-weekly basis.

Now that we live up in an elevated region of the county (the Hills, bitch!), our basement is bone dry. We’ve never had a problem with flooding or leaking, so the unmistakable smell of dankness had me scratching my head in confusion. It doesn’t take much, but I was fairly stumped. This Snipe Hunt was cutting into my afternoon Talk Show block, however, so I gave up the search and went back upstairs. My Swiss Miss and Rachel Ray were calling to me.

It was about 10 minutes before the Missus came home when I heard the dishwasher start up. I found this to be quite perplexing, as I didn’t start the dishwasher, nor do we have a dishwasher that runs on a set timer, for those do no exist on this planet. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “Is this what happens every afternoon at my house? Phantom flooding and dish washing? I’d better make a note to never take a day off ever again; this place is starting to freak me out.

Then, much like the Urban Legend about the babysitter, I realized that the sound of spraying and sloshing water wasn’t coming from the dishwasher, but from the basement. “The calls are coming from inside the house!


I ran back down into the basement, this time actually turning on lights and walking around and whatnot. I saw the sump pump, sitting idly and unassuming, surrounded by walls, carpet and a lifetime of possessions that were completed saturated and soaked with water. When I turned my back on the pump, it probably gave me the finger, too.

By this point, the Missus was home, who I instructed to bring down as many towels as possible while I pulled back the carpet and got everything away from the sump pump. We sopped up all of the water, cranked the dehumidifier next to the wet carpet and stared into the pit of the pump, wondering just what was going on while we were away.

I think we have a loose pipe or something,” I said. “Look, there’s water all over the walls and everything; I wonder how that happened.

I then had the brilliant idea to trip the sump pump into working, so I could see exactly what was going on. Fishing out a golf club (7 iron, methinks), I stuck it into the pit and pulled up on the tanker ball, springing the pump into violent action.

Instantly, a six-foot geyser of water exploded from all directions inside the pit, drenching not only myself, but everything within a hefty radius from the corner of the basement. The Missus screamed, the cats scattered and I watched in soaked horror as gallons of water cascaded onto the walls, floor, ceiling and most notably, directly onto the outlet in which the sump pump was plugged in.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, the pipe outside of the house had frozen due to the freezing rain, clogging the sump pump tube and preventing it from shooting the water outside of the house. Because of this, the built up pressure blew the pipes apart, creating the Fountain Show and subsequently eventual electrical fire in the basement of CDP Headquarters.

So we tightened the pipe, cleaned up the pool of water (again), and I began to suit myself up for a trip outside of the house and under my deck, to disconnect the frozen pipe and save my home from destruction. Some day off this turned out to be.

We live in a chain of condos, so walking around to the back of the house requires a trip more or less down the street and around the corner, and amidst one of the worst snowstorms of the last three years, it was not something I was looking forward to. I blindly stumbled through the pitch-black backyards of the Wyndham Hills subdivision, sinking into two-foot drifts at random intervals and trying to remember which deck was ours. Dogs barked at me; I wasn’t happy.

I dropped to my knees and dug the sump pump tube out from under a foot of snow, and it was indeed frozen solid. The landscaping crews must have decided that it was getting in their way this Summer, and they coiled it up under the deck instead of unfurling it like, you know, a functioning tube that directs water away from your home should. After about 15 minutes of unscrewing, twisting, grunting, falling over and swearing, I had the tube disconnected from the house and ready to bring back to the garage for a full night’s thawing.

Before that, however, we needed to make sure that the sump pump was now functioning properly and the pipes had been adequately tightened by my girlish hands and debatable wrist strength. So I yelled to the Missus to run down to the basement and plug the sump pump back in (we unplugged it so the house wouldn’t burn down). As the sump pump had been running for hours, trying feverishly to dispel the clog for the bulk of the day, the pit was full of steaming, vibrating, near-boiling water.

Much like a scene directly from The 3 Stooges, I happened to be outside and looking directly into the eye of the sump pump hole at the exact moment she plugged it back in, spraying me down with three gallons of two hundred-degree water in a sub-zero snowstorm. I fell back, lost my screwdriver in the snow (I’ll retrieve it in June) and clutched the length of frozen tubing with equal parts anger, confusion and sadness.

It’s fixed!” I yelled to the Missus. “Call an ambulance!

Afterwards, we surveyed the damage, which amounted to nothing more than a slightly wet basement. You’d think that my pride would have been the only major casualty, what with the pipes exploding all over me due to sheer ignorance, or the embarrassing scene out in the snow on my hands and knees. However, I felt good. As far as Home Ownership 101 is concerned, this seemed like a Level 1 issue, and I (eventually) handled it with a certain amount of poise and grace (and wet pants and frozen hands). Maybe because of this, I’ll be more prepared when a Level 2 issue decides to show up. I always thought that buying a condo gave you a happy medium between responsible financial equity and not having to fix things when they break, but when the pipes explode in your basement during a blinding snowstorm, you’re pretty much on your own, regardless of how inept you are at fixing stuff.

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #6.


#6 – ‘Play Don’t.’
(Originally published 6/14/10.)


When I was around the age of 10, my mother grew exhausted with our almost-daily screaming matches and took us both to see a therapist. Although I never asked her the exact reason for this, my assumption was that she chose therapy in an attempt for us to learn a little more about each other on a deeper level, and try to form some sort of alternate connection, instead of engaging in a constant battle of manipulation and passive-aggressive superiority. All I knew for sure was that I got the day off of school, so I was in without objection.

There was one moment from that day that sticks out more prominently than anything else; a memory I may never forget. The therapist gave me and my mother each a can of Play-Doh (she got a blue can, I got a red one), told us to sculpt something that reminded us of the other person, and explain our reasons why. This seemed like a decent way to open up and share feelings that were currently buried under a pile of baggage and clever wordplay. A chance to complement each other without feeling like we were somehow conceding victory in our Cold War.

Mom went first; she molded an adorable Teddy Bear. Round little ears. Bulbous nose. Hemispherical mitts. It looked like a fluffy, blue Teddy Graham. She then went on about how much she loved and treasured me as a son, how she’d do anything for me, and so on and so forth. She broke into tears expressing just how much she cared about me; it was a very touching and heartfelt moment.

Then it was my turn. I produced a cherry-red, foot-long, coiled snake.

Could you tell us why you made a snake?” the therapist gently inquired, quite certain that she had stumbled upon a demon seed.

Well…” I stammered for a moment while I crafted my story. “Well…whenever me and mom fight, it’s…it’s like…um, THIS!

I then proceeded to mimic the snake obliterating my mom’s Teddy Bear representation of me. I had the snake bite off the round ears. I made it tear apart the hemispherical mitts. I coiled it around the bear’s midsection and squeezed the entire works together in my hands, forming a wad of mutilated, blue-red hamburger. I then slapped the entire works back onto the therapist’s desk and pounded it flat with my fists.


The therapist’s pencil holder and picture frames vibrated across her glass desk like an air hockey table as I put the exclamation point on my impromptu production. It was quite the performance. It was also the first and last time I ever saw a therapist with my mother. She has never once brought it up.

I know what you’re thinking. That was a frightening, worrisome and heartbreaking tale about a mother desperately attempting to establish a bond with her vile, degenerate, cursed son. I completely understand where you’re coming from, but please listen, as I have a confession to make. A confession for the you, the reader, but mainly a confession for my mother.

I’ve never been artistically inclined, and the logical fact of the matter was that I didn’t know how to make anything but a snake with Play-Doh. It was all I could construct. At the time, I was too embarrassed and insecure to admit this creative lapse to the therapist or my mother, so I just made the only thing I could and bluffed my way through the rest of the session. I didn’t mean a word of it, I was just too superficial and petty to admit that I sucked at Art.

And so it goes. It took me a long time to realize that my lifelong struggles with anger and emotional manipulation were never even close to the lifelong struggles I’ve had with vanity, ego and constant attempts to ward off public humiliation. While my mom and the therapist saw an angry kid pummeling the living shit out of a wad of modeling compound (and incorrectly affirming their theories about me), I had my own personal revelation concerning my deepest fears of embarrassment and pride, flaws that nobody knew I had. I learned something important about myself that day; unfortunately, everyone else in the room merely thought I was destined to become a serial killer.

In short, I’m really, really sorry, mom. I never thought you were a snake. I just didn’t know how to make anything out of Play-Doh that showed how much I love you.

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #7.


#7 – ‘Walking Dead Friday – Season 1.’
(Originally published 11/5-12/10/10.)

When Lost ended, Lost Friday also ended. However, when The Walking Dead arrived on AMC, I knew that I needed to take the Lost Friday formula out for one more victory lap. Enjoy recaps, captions and zombies galore, as we recap the first season of the only zombie show that has ever mattered, The Walking Dead. Enjoy.

Season 1 – Episode 1.
Season 1 – Episode 2.

Season 1 – Episode 3.

Season 1 – Episode 4.

Season 1 – Episode 5.

Season 1 – Episode 6.

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #8.


#8 – ‘It’s All Okay.’
(Originally published 5/22/09.)

I have an obituary hanging in my office cubicle.

I have been displaying this obituary for over four years, ever since I found it in the back of a local heavy metal zine. I do not know the man mentioned in the obituary personally; I have never met him and have no idea who his family or friends happened to be. The obituary is as follows:

Shawn K. – Died October 24 in San Bernadino, CA.

The drummer of the metal band Prolific was hit by an airborne car battery that had been ejected from a single-car accident on the other side of the freeway.

I remember exactly where I was when I first discovered this obituary. I was eating a veggie panini at Einstein Bros. Bagels during my lunch break, and upon reading it, dropped the sandwich from my hand. For the next five minutes, I stared into space and thought about the unfathomable freak accident that took this man’s life. I thought about how it was possible that such an accident even happened. Was he behind the wheel of a car? Just walking down the street? How brutal was the single-car accident on the other side of the freeway to even launch a battery that far? It was and still is one of craziest and most bizarre deaths I’ve ever heard about.

Go back and read it again.

Whenever I read about things like this (and we all read about them every day), I instantly think about two things. One, who still believes in Fate? Who honestly thinks that it was this poor guy’s destiny to be sent into Heaven this way? Who honestly thinks that it be God’s will that children die of Leukemia, or waste away in the basement of a neglectful parent? These events always remind me that Life is random, and there is no God that decides how you will die. Period; end of argument. If you want to believe in a God that hurls car batteries at percussionists, you go for it. I, on the other hand, am steering clear (mind the pun).

And before you get all over me for no good reason, I’m not saying that God doesn’t exist, I’m saying that Fate doesn’t exist.

Secondly, and this is the most important part, I always try to take away something positive from the scattershot nature of Life (after all, that could have been me eating that car battery, and there’s always tomorrow for another crack at it). Being an Agnostic doesn’t mean that it’s all gloom and Nihilism. There’s a wealth of positivity in knowing that you’re completely in charge of your destiny, and that it can just as soon be taken away from you for no good reason. It drops the chains of guilt. Makes you focus more on the positives and the present. Makes you respect and appreciate the moments, and not waste your time worrying about being judged later.

For the sake of full disclosure, I will admit that the darkest recesses of my heart also find this story to be slightly humorous, too. I mean, how could you not? However, I find it humorous in a head-shaking, ‘That’s Life’ sort of way. Everything you work for, everything you plan for and everything you strive for can be taken away from you in ways that you could never possibly imagine. You can’t become an agoraphobic, either; this danger of a Random World needs to be embraced. It needs to be looked at with humor, otherwise most of us would never leave our homes again.

So every morning, I sit down in my office chair, take a deep sip of coffee, look up at Shawn’s obituary, and remind myself that it is completely unnecessary to stress out over insignificant business. We are fragile. We are weak. Most of us lose the plot every single day. But it’s okay. It’s totally okay.

It’s all okay.

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #9.


#9 – ‘Look At Me, World, I Can Use A Computer!
(Originally published 8/27/08.)

I’ve never fully understood why people venture to public places for the sole purpose of using their laptop computers. For about a decade now, and in virtually every coffee house, bookstore, food court and wi-fi compatible strip club, people are meandering out of their houses and surfing the web. “Why aren’t these people at home?” I would always wordlessly mumble as I looked for a seat. After I was assured by the Missus that these people were all business travelers and were doing extremely important and potentially life-saving work on the fly, her argument was almost instantly shot down when I noticed that damn near everyone using the Internet in public was on Facebook. To me, it seemed completely unnecessary in every way; a mere status symbol, and an excuse to hang around a Barnes & Noble without actually having to purchase anything. Silly, really.

If you remember from way back in the CDP archives, I was a bartender for about a year in 1997. Some quick math will also remind you that I was 15 years old at the time, but that story has already been told. Regardless, as a bartender, I was trained to know that non-paying customers were poison, and simply got in the way of the natural flow of business and commerce you’d want in an establishment that exchanges goods for money. If someone had been sitting on a barstool for more than a half hour without buying something, they were asked to move. It’s simple economics, really. If you walked into a gas station and wandered around the aisles for two hours, you’d either raise suspicion or get arrested, and your weird ass would deserve it, too. Why were the public Internet-surfing trolls exempt?

Nowadays, most atriums and Wi-Fi ready locations are loaded with freeloaders; jackasses that buy a small vanilla Latte and camp out for a length of time rivaling that of the entire Korean Conflict. If I were the manager in a place like this, what would be the point in letting these people hang around? Ambiance? Hipster status? Fear of lawsuit? This is one of those seemingly insignificant things that really bothers me when I go out; “What are you doing here? Got sick of playing Scrabulous at home? Needed to feel like you were actually interacting with a non-virtual environment?

The Missus told me I was being an asshole (I am, and an unreasonable one at that), and reminded me that for a lot of people, they don’t have Internet access at their homes, and if they had to walk down the street to the coffee shop to check their mail and research an important term paper or report, then they should do so. My response to that is Internet access can be obtained in your home for about $10 a month now. Make the phone call, and stop making me wait for a seat at Gloria Jeans so I can enjoy my hot chocolate like a nice, paying customer should. In 2008, a home without Internet access is like a home without a toilet. You’re in my way.

In an attempt to clear my head, I stepped away from my unnecessary rage that consumes me on a minute-by-minute basis and considered the weight of the situation. I wanted to see both sides of the “public web surfing” argument, so I decided to join the unwashed masses and try it out for myself. The Missus was throwing a dinner party one day (the ruthless cult known as Pampered Chef has sunk their potpourri-scented claws in), and I took it upon myself to get as far away from CDP Headquarters as I possibly could for the next five hours. In doing so, I threw my laptop into the Wild Stallion v4.0 and headed off to Borders, where I was to become everything that I’ve ever hated.

I ordered a Latte and a chocolate chip cookie that was about the size of a personal-pan pizza, and took a seat next to four other computer-pecking guys that had clearly been here for awhile. Maybe since the place opened; I don’t know for sure. One guy had ordered nothing, it appeared; a nerdy looking fellow that was probably about 30 years old (nerdier-looking than even I). The guy next to him meant business; a chubby hick sporting a trucker hat with important newspapers and documents strewn across his table. He was sucking on an energy drink that they didn’t sell within the confines of Borders, which meant that he brought it in himself. Christ.

The third guy was tucked in the corner, looking very shifty and strung out. Clearly, he was looking at something that he didn’t want anyone else to see. Corpse Porn*, probably. The fourth guy packed up and left before I even had a chance to set up my computer. Again, he was certainly up to no good.

(*I’ve heard about people that are into the idea of Necrophilia, and to accommodate their curiosities, they have their significant others soak in near-freezing water for a length of time, and remain corpse-like and limp back in the bedroom, essentially simulating a dead person during the intimate act of their choosing. While I’ve never participated in this, no doubt interesting, activity, I will say that if you’re fortunate enough to have a mate that will do that for you, hang onto them for all they’re worth. That’s a man or woman that will go through hell for you later down the road.)

Anyway, I set up my equipment in the last open table and got down to business, beginning to write the essay that you’re reading right now. Almost instantly, I realized how distracting it was to be creative in public. I’m typically so focused on not tripping over things, spilling my drink into my lap and getting robbed that I have no time to worry about writing something worth reading (this essay is potentially Exhibit A). I was constantly looking over my shoulder, people-watching and gently nibbling on my embarrassingly-large pizza cookie; my laptop was an afterthought.

I’m used to my own private room, mood lighting and ambiance; this was like an exercise in futility. The constant screeching of the barista’s blender, the hopeless, brittle, Tupperware party-throwing bitches at the table next to me rambling on about how much better the planet would be if they were the President (“No more Olympics cutting into my Soap Operas; Haw-haw!“) and the lingering thought that a bunch of my Wife’s friends were simultaneously touring my home and pawing my breakables with Mojito-sticky hands was almost too much for me to handle. I figured that if everything around me was succeeding in hindering my creativity, I’d do the same thing for the sake of my own entertainment. I almost instantly started talking to the fellow web-surfers around me.

Hey, what’cha working on?” I asked to the weiner-looking guy to the left of me.

Resume.” He replied kindly, kneading his forehead with his fingertips in a feeble attempt to calm the hell down after digesting approximately eighteen gallons of coffee. It appeared that he really was working on something important, although I still wondered why he would work on something so important in a place so capable of breaking concentration. I didn’t ask a follow-up.

On my right, I got the attention of the large, trucker-hat guy with all the papers and documents.

Hey man, what’cha working on?

Online exam.” As fate would have it, he was working on one of the many State Examinations that I worked with the Wisconsin Board to help create. Poor guy; those things suck. He then surprised me when he turned the tables and asked me what I was working on.

Well…um, I’m writing an essay.”

Cool. What about?

I stammered and thought of anything besides the truth. “I’m writing about how much I think I hate guys like you” seemed to be a little counterproductive and practically begging for a boot to the sack.

I…am working on…um…book. A book, I mean. I’m working on a book.” Technically, I was sort of telling the truth.

Wow, a book, huh? Good for you, man.”

Hey, thanks. The answer to Number 23 is ‘Connective Tissue,’ by the way.

Awesome, thanks, buddy.”

This research conflicted me, as these guys were legitimately there for business. Regardless of how I felt about it, they had every right to do so. Hey, maybe the annoying buzz of the downtown Borders was still a more tranquil and peaceful location than their home. This is almost certainly true of a household containing any more than zero children.

(NOTE: Borders charged $6.95 for a Wi-Fi subscription, so the argument that people go to these places for free Internet is not always true. That, to me, almost completely negated the purpose altogether.)

After nearly an hour had passed and my coffee and pizza cookie were gone (both delicious, if you were wondering), I was entering uncharted territory I had forced myself to venture towards. Just how guilty was I going to feel sitting here without buying anything else? I mean, how much longer did a seat in a coffee house belong to me once I was done enjoying their delicious, sugary products? In any case, I had at least another hour to kill before the dinner party started to wind down, so I dug in and went for it.

Suddenly, an unexpected thing happened. The latte, a caffeinated drink that I seldom suck back except for cases of extreme loneliness (much like brandy Manhattans), began to take its toll on my colon in a dangerous and, quite frankly, unpredictable way. I had to use the bathroom, and fast. But what was I going to do about my computer? My saved seat? This was something that I never thought of. What if someone takes my notebook? What if someone takes my spot? Do I take all of my stuff into the stall with me? Should I just stake my claim and mess my pants? What was I going to do?

I deliberated for a few minutes until I reached critical mass in my small intestine. A decision had to be made, and quickly. In lieu of asking the guy next to me what he happens to do in these situations, I decided to leave everything where it was and make a beeline for the can. I didn’t want to, and I can assure you that I took the fastest poop of my life, but it was something that needed to be experienced for the good of my vital research. And so far, the theory of using a computer in public wasn’t worth the trouble; resume, exam or otherwise. I missed my office, I missed my bathroom and I couldn’t ignore the fact that, for a place that’s supposed to be hip and ambient, these places tend to destroy your will to concentrate. It felt like I was trying to recite a Shakespeare play from memory while running through the ‘Slopsticle Course’ on Double Dare.

Good,” I thought to myself; “This is telling me exactly what I need to know. Public web surfing is bad for your brain.”

About a minute later, the Missus called me up and told me that the dinner party was over. Like a shot, I gathered my things and made a beeline for the door. On the car ride home, I tried to come to some sort of finality or official word on how I felt about public web surfing, but surprisingly, couldn’t. While I still stand firm that owners of these places have no reason to let web surfers hang around without making regular purchases, I have no question that a coffee shop or bookstore can sometimes offer something that your home cannot (coffee and books, for one). In one way, it made me happy to know I have such a tranquil home life, but in another way, made me feel like my research still isn’t over.

That night, as I was soaking in freezing cold water while the Missus blared the Funeral March from the master bedroom and put on her favorite black dress, I still couldn’t understand why people are so damn weird.

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time (’08-’10) – #10.


#10 – ‘A Decade Of Television.’
(Originally published 11/2-6/09.)

The end of 2009 culminated in ‘The Decade In Review’ on the CDP, possibly the most ambitious blog project I’ve ever taken on, and in my opinion, one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen any personal blogger do ever (25 essays over two months, highlighting nearly everything related to 00’s pop culture). Today, we spotlight ‘TV Week,’ a celebration of everything good, bad and merely popular about the last decade of television. Enjoy.

Part 1 – Instantly Canceled.
Part 2 – The Best Of The Best.

Part 3 – The Worst Of The Worst.

Part 4 – Top 10 Of The Decade (10-6).

Part 5 – Top 10 Of The Decade (5-1).