Sunday, April 21, 2013


If you are ever talking to someone who is super old, but you aren’t sure if they are super old, just ask them if they enjoy reading.  If they say “no, I only enjoy biographies,” then chances are very good that they are at least sixty years old.  If they reply that they only enjoy biographies about war generals, then they are at least ninety.  (And thank you for your service!) 

I enjoy reading the occasional biography.  There are basically two types: biographies about really good people, and biographies about really bad people. 
Examples of good people:
  • business leaders / CEOs
  • inventors
  • doctors
  • sports athletes (preferably really successful ones who then have a substance-abuse or drinking problem)
  • rock stars (preferably really successful ones who then have a substance abuse problem—which is pretty much every single one of them)
  • military leaders

We read these biographies because we want to know what it is like to shoot the winning basket, make a ton of money, or sleep with the supermodel. 

Examples of bad people:
  • murderers
  • multiple-murderers
  • some guy who kills ALOT of people
  • sports athletes—who kill people
  • military leaders (if their side lost the war)
Here is my major complaint about biographies: they are very formulaic.  You can pretty much just grab a biography template and fill in the blanks.   

Every biography opens with the exciting part that we actually want to read about.  The sports guy is sitting in the parking lot thinking about driving his car off a cliff, or the rock star is in the hospital on life support and the doctor is screaming for a needle—a needle containing life SAVING drugs?  What a twist!  And we are only on page two! 

Then, unfortunately, the next part is the really boring sixty pages of the book where we jump BACK in time and start with the potato famine of the 17th century or some European plague.  Amidst all of this medieval-time boring stuff, a great-grandfather emerges.  Then we have to sit through the great-grandfather courting the great-grandmother.  Did you know that Hans Blichtenzing sat outside the Belgium cheese factory all summer in 1856 in order to ask Mary Ann Vleoptara for her hand in marriage?  We don’t care!  We are begging the author at this point—please fast forward two centuries to get to the guitar player who is shooting heroin already.

The best biographies are the “unauthorized” biographies.  This is because it speaks to the real reason that we are reading the book in the first place—we want some dirt!  Autobiographies can be super boring, because the person writing the book isn’t going to admit to the uncool things that they have done in the past.  Sure, they will admit to shooting the drugs, bopping the girls and making the money, but they aren’t going to readily admit to one thing—being a dummy.  They won’t complain about some accountant ripping them off or worse, being lazy.  They will only do this if it makes them look cool.  Example of uncool lazy: Hans took the summer off to eat cake instead of bodybuilding, and as a result, he lost the big Mr. Wonderful championship.  Yeah... not going to happen.  Instead, it is written that Hans was screwed over because of corrupt judges.  Poor Hans! 

Example of cool laziness: rock star is too lazy to write a new album—because of all the naked ladies running around his mansion!  That lazy bum.  We can’t stay mad at lazy guy.  He’s only human, and he’s a great guy!  At least according to his autobiography.    

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I travel a little bit for my job, and this means a few hours in a car, driving from town to town.  One of the big problems that I have, and I’m sure that you do as well, is staying alert on the road while driving by yourself.  After all, driving along a highway in a comfortable car can be tough—you have air conditioning or heat, plush seats, and (if the windows are rolled up) it is quiet and calm.

I never had this problem when I was younger.  I had a little hatchback that I drove around for a while when I was in university.  First of all, you will never fall asleep at the wheel or be bored if your car does not have power steering.  It’s impossible.  The other thing without power steering that is impossible is to actually turn the vehicle.  The first time I drove the hatchback, I was literally pulling out of the parking stall and getting ready to test drive it.  I wanted to turn right.  I thought about turning right, I felt I should turn right—my arms tried to turn the wheel clockwise, and the car just kept going straight.  The car decided that I needed to do more push ups, or maybe start injecting steroids into my bum.  I’m not sure.  Luckily I slammed on the brakes and the car screeched to a halt (well, more like slowed down from two miles per hour to a dead stop) and I loudly declared the car “undrivable!”.  Power steering is a huge advancement in technology—for those of us who don’t do “push ups” it is like the printing press or penicillin.

One of the nice features of that old car was that the glove box had fallen off.  I’m not sure where it went, but it wasn’t with the car.  There was a piece of cardboard where the glove box should be, which was great for the driver. The passenger would get icy winter air blowing right on their genitals.  I mean, it was a direct hit.  That kind of constant complaining keeps the driver alert in the winter. 

Anyway: you are out on the boring highway and you are in your comfortable, swanky, high-class car that has all the glass in the windows and the heater even works.  You snob!  Well, the joke is on you.  You are so comfortable, that you will eventually fall asleep at the wheel and veer off the highway.  Actually, come to think of it, that is not really a joke, but you get the point.  We don’t want that.  So here are a few tips to stay awake, alert and have some fun while driving to your destination!

1. Take off your shirt.  Now hold on.  Hear me out.  Of course, I am advocating this for the dudes only.  Unless, of course, ladies you are into that sort of thing.  In which case, try it out for a couple of months and see how it feels.  But if you are offended, then of course I am talking to the guys only here. 

First of all guys, you are going to notice your nipples quite a bit.  Keep your eyes on the road.  Trust that nothing in the car is going to bite or attack your nipples.  The air rushing around the car, as well as the concerned looks of other drivers will keep you alert and refreshed!

2. Sing to the radio, CD or mp3.  What I am talking about here is not just “humming” along or even regular singing.  I am talking full-blown Pavarotti.  Get into it.  Own the song.  If you enjoy ballads, then you should have tears streaming down your face as you pull into the hotel parking lot.  Making the devil sign if you are a heavy metal guy is okay, but just don’t head bang during turn off ramps.

3. Get angry.  Confession: I am slowly turning into my father.  I listen to talk radio now.  And part of me likes it.  Remember being eight years old and wondering why old people listen to the radio and it is NOT a rock band?  Well, I find myself listening to radio shows—sports interviews, political talk shows, and so on.  Sometimes listening to a conversation can be fun, but often the topic on the radio show is kind of boring.  The environment?  Please.  European debt crisis?  Snooze.  Hockey interview?  That is fine—if you want to drive your car off the road!  Instead, consider not only answering the questions yourself, but getting really angry while you are doing it.  Example: the host of the radio program is interviewing a financial representative about retirement.  The host asks about RRSPs.  Now forget what the guest is going to say—you don’t care.  Get angry!  Start ranting about how inappropriate that question is.  Why is he giving you, the financial expert, the third degree about finances?  How dare he!  Who does he think he is!  In this day and age, if someone sees you ranting and raving in the car all by yourself, it's no big deal—they just tell themselves that you own a Bluetooth.  Or maybe you have an imaginary friend.  Hopefully they won’t be judgemental.

Remember, if you get pulled over by the police: put your shirt on.  Turn down the radio.  Wipe tears from your eyes if it was a ballad.  Stop shouting.  Most importantly, have some fun!  Officers love that.  Try not to get tazed—although if you do, that would really wake you up.