Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Truth Behind the Quinsey Blog

From time to time I get negative responses to the things I write on this blog (shocker). That said I thought it would be helpful to provide some background information to illustrate how this whole thing got started. If after reading this explanation you still think I’m an insensitive asshole, no worries. Half the time my own wife arrives at the very same conclusion.

Rewind to June, 2008. I’m driving around LA doing my sales thing when the song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” comes on the radio. I’d heard the song several times before but had never really listened to the words. For some reason I decided to listen this time and was completely captivated. When I got back to my office I googled ‘sunscreen song’ and learned the following:

The song was inspired by Mary Schmich’s essay entitled “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”, which was published in the Chicago Tribune as a column on June 1, 1997. In her introduction to the column, she described it as the commencement address she would give if she were asked to give one. The column soon became the subject of an urban legend, in which it was alleged to be an MIT commencement speech delivered by author Kurt Vonnegut in that same year (in truth, MIT’s commencement speaker that year was Kofi Annan). Despite a follow-up article by Schmich on August 3, 1997, in which she referred to the “lawless swamp of cyberspace” that had made her and Kurt Vonnegut to be “one”, by 1999 the falsely attributed story was widespread. In 1999 the essay was set to music, renamed “Baz Luhrmann Presents: Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen): The Sunscreen Song (Class of ‘99)” or in short “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”, and released on an album by Australian film director Baz Luhrmann. When the column became a song, Schmich’s “wish” came true after Zagreb’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing started to play the song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” at every graduation ceremony.

I was intrigued by the back story and thought it really spoke to the reach and power of the internet. I was so inspired in fact that I decided to start my own blog to capitalize on the “lawless swamp of cyberspace” referred to by Schmich. My first post was appropriately titled: “Graduation Speech for the Class of 2008” (inspired by Mary Schmich’s original essay). I sent the link to Mary Schmich at the Chicago Tribune and she immediately responded with a positive note of encouragement. That’s all it took – I was hooked. For the past 3 ½ years I’ve blogged regularly on a wide array of subjects - 164 posts and counting to be exact. Throughout this process I’ve learned some interesting things about myself. First off I really love writing. It’s the creative outlet I never realized was missing in my life. Secondly, people actually enjoy reading what I write. I feel a profound sense of satisfaction and frankly, surprise, every time someone tells me that they like the blog (thank you). Lastly, I’ve realized that I’m far more willing to freely share my thoughts, experiences, and opinions than most people. My wife describes this phenomenon as the lack of possessing a filter like normal people. I choose to see it this way: Putting yourself out there is not always an easy thing to do… unless you're me, because I just don’t give a f*ck. See the difference? Taking a step back here’s what I’ve learned about you (my readers):

The people who really know me interpret the Quinsey Blog this way: Simply put it’s a tongue in cheek way of sharing my inappropriate view points with the world. These people probably even hear my voice talking as they read through each post. They’re not wrong.

The people who think they know me interpret the Quinsey Blog somewhat differently: They see it as the bully pulpit of an alter-ego I’ve created to escape the confines of my every day, parochial life. They probably think I don’t really mean most of the stuff I write (or that it’s at least a blatant exaggeration of how I really feel), and only publish it to get a rise out of others. They’re not completely wrong.

The people who don’t know me at all interpret the Quinsey Blog this way: They see it as the polarizing rants of an ego maniac who has no compassion for his fellow man. They probably think I’m a brazen and closed-minded narcissist who clubs baby seals in my spare time. They couldn’t be farther from the truth, although I get where they’re coming from.

In order to appreciate this blog and understand where I’m coming from, there’s something you need to know about me first: I see the world a little differently than other people. It’s not that I’m smarter or more cultured than anyone else (trust me I’m not). It’s also not that I enjoy offending those who are easily offended (although I kind of do). It’s just that my brain is wired a little differently than most.

For example there’s this lady at the gym who ALWAYS wears a sweatshirt tied around her waist to cover up her ass. Logic would say she’s self conscious about the size and/or shape of her butt, and therefore wears the sweatshirt so that nobody else will see it. I, on the other hand, jump straight to the conclusion that she’s more than likely concealing a tail.

Another example: Have you ever noticed that black-eyed peas are not stocked with the rest of the canned beans at the grocery store. Conventional wisdom would say it’s because they’re not really a bean so they don’t belong with the other beans. I, on the other hand, cry black-eyed pea discrimination by the grocery store clerks. I’ve eaten black-eyed peas plenty of times in my life, and I’ll be God-damned if they’re not more like a bean than a pea.

Next example: One of my single buddies recently introduced me to a woman he’s been dating. He saw the look on my face when she left for the restroom and said, “I know what you’re thinking, but she’s just big-boned.” A decent friend would have smiled and said as long as she makes you happy that’s all that matters. My response? “That’s funny, I’ve never seen a fat skeleton.” (kudos to my buddy, Phil Schwalbe, for this gem)

Yet another example: Have you ever wondered why singers who speak with accents (Brits and Aussies specifically) completely lose said accents while singing? Most people would rationalize that talking and singing are different so it makes sense for the accent to go away. I, on the other hand, say they’re miserable frauds who need to either own the accent full time or lose it altogether. Don’t just use that shit when it’s convenient to pull chicks or sound smarter.

And finally: Most people believe that chronic fatigue syndrome and social anxiety disorder are legitimate illnesses based upon irrefutable scientific data. I, on the other hand, am convinced that they’re bullshit diseases created by weak-minded individuals as an excuse for excessive laziness and a general distaste for other people.

I guess the point is I don’t necessarily accept the obvious answers to life’s simple questions (I go straight to the tail every time). It’s not because I’m stubborn or cynical (although I’ve been called both before), but rather because the less obvious answers entertain me (which, let’s face it, is really the most important thing) and give life color. In summary if you want to live in a boring, hum drum, black-and-white world, don’t dare read this blog. But if you want to embark upon a wondrous journey with rapping midgets, crooked politicians, badly behaving celebrities, and apocalyptic prophecies, hop on board and buckle up.

Your humble tour guide,

John Quinsey

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

If You Give a Candidate a Nomination

If you have kids you’ve no doubt read the book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, by Laura Joffe Numeroff. It’s a cleverly written account of the chain of events kicked off by the seemingly benign act of giving a cookie to a mouse. I thought it would be fun to apply this same format to the American political process to debunk its complexity and illustrate just how simple it really is. I call it, “If You Give a Candidate a Nomination.”

If you give a candidate a nomination

He’s going to ask for campaign contributions.

When you give him the contributions, he’ll probably ask for more (because campaigns ain’t cheap you know).

When he’s used up all of the private money, he’ll go to the corporations to solicit even larger donations.

Then he will inevitably go to the special interest groups because everyone knows that’s where the real money is.

When he takes the special interest group money, he will essentially become a puppet on a string. And he won’t dare do anything to upset the machine that’s funding his very livelihood.

When he has more campaign money than the GDP of most small countries in South America, he’ll run campaign ads attacking his opponent. He’ll run so many ads that the public will start to view his propaganda as fact.

When he’s done trashing his opponent, he’ll hope no one even notices how ridiculously under qualified he is himself. You will see him on TV in expensive suits reciting speeches written by people way smarter than him. He’ll make a bunch of empty promises that sound too good to be true, but celebrities will endorse him and who knows what’s best for the public better than wealthy celebrities?

He’ll probably get far enough ahead in the polls that his ego will begin to grow disproportionately to his intelligence. When this happens he’ll start to believe he can actually make a difference once elected. He’ll tell everyone it’s a good thing he’s a Washington outsider, and voters will buy in.

He’ll become president. When he becomes president, he’ll think to himself, “Oh shit, what the f*ck do I do now?”

Then he’ll spend the next 4 years playing golf and working on his memoire. Which means… he won’t do any of the things he promised during his campaign.

He’ll enjoy being president so much that he’ll completely abandon the convictions he originally brought into office. Instead he’ll just do whatever the special interest groups tell him to do. Thinking about how dope it is to be president will remind him that his term is almost over so… he’ll ask for more campaign contributions.

And chances are if he asks for more campaign contributions, he’s going to collect enough money to get re-elected.

…and the goat rodeo will continue for at least another 4 years.

Original text from “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”:

If you give a mouse a cookie

He’s going to ask for a glass of milk.

When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw.

When he’s finished, he’ll ask for a napkin.

Then he will want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn’t have a milk mustache.

When he looks into the mirror, he might notice his hair needs a trim. So he will probably ask for a pair of nail scissors.

When he’s finished giving himself a trim, he’ll want a broom to sweep up. He’ll start sweeping. He might get carried away and sweep every room in the house. He may even end up washing the floors as well!

When he’s done, he’ll probably want to take a nap. You will have to fix a little box for him with a blanket and a pillow. He’ll crawl in, make himself comfortable and fluff the pillow a few times.

He’ll probably ask you to read him a story. So you’ll read him one from one of your books, and he’ll ask to see the pictures. When he looks at the pictures, he’ll get so excited he’ll want to draw one of his own. He’ll ask for paper and crayons.

He’ll draw a picture. When the picture is finished, he’ll want to sign his name with a pen.

Then he’ll want to hang his picture on your refrigerator. Which means he will need…scotch tape.

He’ll hang up his drawing and stand back to look at it. Looking at the refrigerator will remind him that he’s thirsty so…he’ll ask for a glass of milk.

And chances are if he asks for a glass of milk, he’s going to want a cookie to go with it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Is This Omaha? No, It's Disneyland.

I’d never been to Disneyland in January, which is strange considering we’ve had annual passes for over a decade now, but that all changed this past weekend. We had a Sunday free of commitments (which is rare in our household) so we decided to pay a visit to the “happiest place on earth” and well, color me disgusted. January is traditionally the least busy month at Disneyland. Perhaps this results in cheaper airfare, cheaper hotels, and cheaper admission to the park, which in turn drives higher attendance from the lower class (aka the red states). Or perhaps the hillbillies make a killing on Holiday moonshine sales, and therefore have more money for vacations this time of year. Whatever the case may be while entering Disneyland this past Sunday, I felt like we passed through a wormhole directly into middle America. My wife and kids paid no attention to our fellow park-goers and simply enjoyed the Disneyland experience, but I on the other hand was so completely enamored by the cretins that I couldn’t look away. What follows is a list of observations I captured while reveling in their oddity.

• One word: JORTS. Jorts of all sizes, shapes, and varieties. Jorts as far as the eye could see. Store bought jorts, homemade jorts (my favorite), even jorts teamed with fanny packs. Question – where the hell can you even buy a fanny pack short of time-traveling back to the 80’s and buying one there? I shit you not, I saw no less than a dozen dudes wearing fanny packs over jorts. Based on the sample group I observed, I’m guessing Walmart could easily take their market cap from $204 billion to $206 billion if they simply started carrying jorts and fanny packs in their red state locations. You can thank me later, Walton family.

• Fat people in motorized wheelchairs and not because they’re handicapped, but because they’re too lazy and fat to walk. (insert best southern drawl here) “Hey Bessy, look what Obamacare bought me, and I didn’t even vote for the guy… sucker. Let me just slap a confederate flag sticker here on the back and she’ll be good to go.”

• Kids on leashes. You might think it’s an animal because of its egregious misbehavior, but it is in fact your child. Fail.

• Colored overalls w/ matching plaid shirts. Until last Sunday I had no idea overalls came in any other color besides denim. And the cherry on top? Brightly colored NASCAR hats of course (but not Jeff Gordon because he’s from California and everyone knows only queers come from California).

• Honey-mooners (who look a little too much alike – wink, wink) in stupid, wedding-themed Mickey Mouse ears. Not a good look even when you have all your teeth.

• Pony tail mullets. Business in the front, shit-kickin, line-dancin party in the back. Yee haw.

• University of Nebraska gear. Hmmm, are the Huskers in town for a bowl game? No, then what the f*ck?

• Excessive smoking. Hello, even the Euros were offended by your blatant disregard for the designated smoking areas.

• Enough outside food to feed the entire population of Haiti. It was like a giant white trash picnic. Let me get this straight, you spent $500 bucks to get your family into the park but a $5 burger just seemed exorbitant?

• Inappropriately sized women’s clothing. How do you fit 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag? Ask the chicks I saw at Disneyland last Sunday. Gross.

Conclusion: If you’re looking for entertainment I HIGHLY recommend a trip to the magic kingdom in January. It’s like paying admission to Disneyland and getting the zoo for free.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blue Collar Envy

A couple years ago my kids asked me what I do for work. I explained that I sell computer hardware and software which allows big companies to virtualize the connections between their servers and back-end storage and network assets. They both looked at me with completely blank stares. So I simplified things and said that the equipment I sell allows the employees and customers of big companies to access data more quickly and efficiently. More blank stares followed by several logical questions:

“So Dad, do you build the equipment that you sell to the big companies?” they asked.

“Well no, we’ve got another company we use that manufactures and assembles the equipment to our specifications,” I responded.

Which induced puzzled looks followed by another question, “So do you install the equipment that you sell to these companies then?”

“Well no, I’ve got a team of guys who do the installs,” I replied.

More puzzled looks followed by, “So do you fix the equipment when it breaks then?”

“Well no, there’s another team of guys who do support and break/fix,” I answered calmly.

At this point their puzzled looks evolved into downright frustration, “So it sounds like you don’t do anything, Dad. What do you do all day after you leave the house and go to work?” they concluded.

“Well I go to meetings, and give presentations, and have lunches and dinners with customers…” I paused and then it hit me.

My kids were absolutely right, I don’t really DO anything. Which explains why the only fulfilling days I ever have at work are the days the commission checks hit my bank account. My kids have never asked me again about what I do for work. And I can only imagine what they must tell their friends I do for a living.

And there you have it, life in the white collar work force called sales. Earning a handsome wage without the benefit of developing, creating, or producing anything even the least bit physically tangible. It’s a real conundrum. I’m honestly jealous of those who are able to make a living with their hands.

Example: We bought the kids a ping pong table for Christmas this year. It came in a big box with about a thousand pieces. Dude at the store said it would take 2 ½ hours to assemble (you know where this is going). I started assembling the table at 9:00 pm on Christmas eve. I finished assembling the table just after 2:00 am on Christmas day. And I only had 3 pieces left over (which is normal right?). Anyhow, my inept construction skills aside, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I stood back and saw what I had created. And now I can’t pass by the play room without stopping to admire the table while donning a proud smile. I can only imagine this must be the same sense of accomplishment a construction worker feels after they finish building a house, or a mechanic feels after they fix a car, or even the guy at the pizza place feels after he cooks up the perfect pie. Yup – I’m afraid I’ve got a bad case of blue collar envy.

Ah, the simple life. An honest day’s work with something tangible to show for your efforts at the end of each shift. It sounds a lot less stressful and a lot more fulfilling than my job. Shit I’m only 38, perhaps it’s not too late for a career change. What do construction workers, mechanics, and pizza chefs make for a living anyway? What’s that? Never mind, suddenly this soul-sucking, slave-to-a-quota charade that I call a career, doesn’t sound so bad after all. Hey, don’t judge me - there are far worse things I could be than a money-grubbing sellout. See you at the top mother f*ckers.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mea Culpa

PS: I still think he sucks.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Have You Ever...

Have you ever noticed that Gabourey Sidibe (chick from “Precious”) is so fat, that even her eyelids are fat? She’s like one jelly doughnut from literally exploding a la Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”. But Gabourey, it’s only wafer thin. Ever heard of salad?

Have you ever seen the infomercial for the Forever Lazy blanket pajamas? They’ve got zippered hatches in the back in case you need to take a shit. Are they f*cking serious? Just $19.95 and you couldn’t look like a bigger asshole if you tried.

Have you ever witnessed the excitement of a motorcycle cop after he's nabbed somebody for speeding with a radar gun? He jumps out of his hiding spot and bounces up and down like a kid on Christmas morning, “Ha ha, I got you, I got you.” He gets to experience the joy of being one ticket closer to his quota, while your day is completely ruined. Bastard.

Have you ever wondered why dogs get in such a ridiculous pose when they’re taking a shit? Whenever my golden retriever’s taking care of business I have to look the other way out of embarrassment. Kind of reminds me of the movie “Crouching Tiger, Pinching Dragon”. I’m sorry you had to see this.

Have you ever thought about what happened to the standard issue teacher uniforms of the 70’s and 80’s (polyester teacher pants w/ short-sleeved floral tops)? I don’t ever remember any of my teachers wearing anything else. Teachers today are so hip they’re going to put JC Penny out of business.

Have you ever wanted to pick up a little person and rock them like a baby? What? Don’t judge me, it’s totally normal.

Have you ever pictured what the bastard love child of Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia might look like? Well, you don’t have to picture it anymore, she lives right here in Orange County. Photo courtesy of my buddy, Robert Hawkesby.

Have you ever felt like punching someone in the face just because?

Happy New Year from the Quinsey Blog!