Monday, April 22, 2013

Commentary- This Used To Be My Playground

This Used To Be My Playground
by Rob Cottignies

As you all know, your local park is full of danger. This should come as no surprise in these increasingly violent times of criminality. These drug dealers deal their drugs in parks. These teenagers throw “park parties” with their beer balls. And then there’s the truly frightening threat of awful little dogs on *illegally* too-long leashes, but we’ll get to them in a bit.
There is a park right by my house and in it I like to run, in-line skate, and ride my bike. I go fast because I’m awesome, though I should revise that to say I like to go fast but oftentimes the pathway is more of an obstacle course than a route of exercise. Every time I do one of these precious activities, some form of terror presents itself in my path. This danger monster may come in any form. Below is a list of some of these creatures who could really use a lesson in proper park etiquette and should stay out of harm’s way. Of course, by that, I mean they should stay out of my way, because I would like to harm them…

Unleashed Children
Human beings under twelve years of age should have to wear collars around their necks or at least be harnessed in some way. You’ve probably seen parents with their kids on “leashes” and thought something irrational like, ‘Oh isn’t that terrible?’ No, it is not terrible. Ask some of these “bad” parents how many times their child has been run into by a roller-skater. I’ll save you the trouble- the answer is always zero. Anyway, these harnesses should be attached to leashes no more than six feet in length- the same length that the LAW states is the limit for dogs. At the ends of these leashes would be the parent or guardian, who I often blame more than their reckless offspring because they are not paying attention. You know what will get the parent’s attention? A loud smash followed by a screaming bloody child. And laughter.
Children don't know how to do anything on their own. They love to stare as I whip by them with my blazing man-speed. I can usually navigate around a lone child but even that can be tricky when the brainless creature decides to move directly into my path for no reason even though it blatantly sees me coming. Every time a kid gets in my way, I obviously think about running it over, especially since the odds are I would make a clean getaway. The only downfall to this, of course, is that I couldn't go back to the park for a while. With my flashy exercise clothing and stylish demeanor, I'd be easily recognized. What would I do, go to a different park? There are probably children at other parks. And I'd probably be just as tempted to run them over. It would turn into a vicious cycle. Keep your kids in check, would you?
Instance: While skating, I came around a corner to see a gross woman standing on the left side of the path, looking in my direction. On the right side of the path was a young child, standing there useless as ever. Between them was a slightly older child, spinning in a circle while holding a three-foot branch. The older child was clearly the threat. Had he been tethered, he would have spun around so many times that the leash would have choked him. This is how one learns. Instead, I had to come to a complete stop (which I’m terrible at doing on skates) and stare at the gross woman until she told her spinning mutant kid to let me pass. I’d like to see her on a leash as well. A leash draped over a fence in a matter so she can’t reach the ground. Dangling. Asphyxiation. Know what I mean?

Little Dogs
As I mentioned earlier, little dogs are awful. One debate constantly flows through my head: Which is worse- cats or little dogs? I mean, cats are cats and that's just atrocious. There are plenty of real-sized awesome dogs but little ones are really bad, except for a certain Jack Russell with an underbite who is The King. Should all other little dogs be penalized more than cats because they could be awesome big dogs but they choose to be yippy things with short, stupid legs? Yes.
This article's reason for disliking little dogs is because they all think they're super-tough. They're not. They're dumb. If I saw a creature twenty times my size hurdling toward me, I'd move as far away as possible and keep quiet. That's smart. But these stick-legged idiots often decide to start yipping and try to bite my wheels. Don’t they know anything about basic Physics and the laws of motion, let alone mass displacement and the fact that I could easily snap their necks apart by running them over, resulting in little dog death? At the very least, my hot skate wheels would burn their horrible mouths. Imbeciles.
And get these wretched morons on regulation leashes. So many times I’ve almost crashed because some small jerk dog whose owner is ten feet off the path comes running into my way. There are signs posted in the park that state a dog’s leash can be no longer than six feet. I found out that this is an actual law straight from the Bergen County Director of Parks. You can and should get fined for violating this law. I think you should be thrown into prison for a year.
Your first mistake was thinking that a Pekingese is a real dog. Your second was putting the thing on a leash and bring it out into public. And do you think this applies to all dogs? I have *NEVER* encountered this situation with a Boxer or German Shepherd or any other awesome dog of an awesome size. So there.
Instance: While riding my bike, I witnessed a large woman barrel onto the path in front of me with her stupid bite-sized dog on a too-long leash. I slowed, shouted “On your left” to deaf ears and attempted to glide past them. The dog realized I was there just in time to snap at my huge tires like a fool. I wanted to run it over but my reflexes made me veer off the path and into a trash can. I stared imaginary daggers at the woman while she made sure her precious idiot was not harmed. “Are you serious?” I shouted as she continued walking, ignoring me the entire time. At that, some nosy middle-aged white schmuck in a polo shirt decided to scream at me. “Why don’t you ride on the bike path?” he yelled. Being that I was already on the bike path and had been until the runt forced me off, I went on my way, content that I scared the horrid dog and feeling a little sorry for a man I can only assume has a severe mental defect.

Okay: Parents and children- check. Little dog lovers- check. Who else is horrible and dangerous?

New Skaters
Have you ever seen someone who clearly is just learning how to skate? When I say skate, I mean in-line skate. Rollerblade is a company, not an activity. And ice skating poses its own terrifying and entirely separate threats. Anyway, if you’ve ever been to a park, I’m certain you’ve seen new skaters. And seen them, and seen them, and seen them. This is because they DO NOT MOVE. They STEP two inches then get driven back by the mighty force of Gravity. And they do this with both arms fully extended outward. And there’s always some bozo next to this new skater saying ‘You’re doing great!’ and other misleadingly encouraging things. Also, there is the risk that this new skater, at any time, could fall and sprawl across the entire path. So what do you do when you’re behind one of these? You can announce that you’re coming but the new skater cannot move out of your way. Nope, he or she will awkwardly stand in the middle of everything like a fly drowning in urine. Like a what!?
Anyway, the best way to avoid one of these is to just turn around. My park path is a figure 8 so going the other way usually solves this issue. If your park is not a figure 8, well, come to my park. But stay out of my way.

I love Canada but they should really take back their brown birds. These evolutionary failures waddle all over parks and they crap all over pathways. They have large wings but choose to walk around…………slowly. Their eyesight must be horrible because they never move out of the way when a much bigger creature is coming directly toward them. And forget about trying to get past them when they have horrible goslings around. They hiss because they think they’re snakes since their necks are long and slender. Wouldn’t it be fun if you could kick a goose in the head and it would just bounce back and forth like a spring in cartoons?
Does Nature really need geese? Is there an ecosystem that heavily depends on the goose? I’m not saying they should all be destroyed but they should all be destroyed.

Spanish Families
Why do Spanish people take their entire extended families with them when they go for a walk in the park? There’s never less than a dozen and they scatter all over the place. This is not a racist thing. This is what happens. Plus, I’m half-Spanish so screw you both ways. And no, I don’t bring half of my family when I go to the park. You’re hilarious. What’s peculiar is that these families never do the same activity. There’ll be two older folks walking slowly, a parent trying to grab a kid riding away on a tricycle, a teenager dribbling a soccer ball. And there’s always one family member screaming into a cell phone so loudly that the heavy metal in my earphones gets muted. Sometimes I will see one Spanish guy casually jogging and think, ‘Wow, a single Spanish guy casually jogging.’ But in a line behind him, Enrique, Consuela, little Hector, and even Abuelita are also jogging in a sort-of effort to keep up with the first señor.
Go watch Jai Alai.

The Impassible Obstacle
I was once skating in the park when I came upon a scenario which could not be defeated. A middle-aged man was talking on his phone while *sitting* in the middle of the pathway. His two children were on either side of him, running amok and dropping things on the ground. Also on either side of him were two horrible small dogs, each on an illegal 20-foot leash. There might as well have been a concrete wall in my way. Like the woman with the branch-spinning kid, I stopped in front of this disaster area and stared. The guy was facing my direction, by the way. Oblivious. In my friendliest voice, I exclaimed something like, “You have to get your mess of a family off of the path.” Without a word, he slowly stood up. He moved to one side, though his kids and fully-extended dog leashes remained. I continued my stare. In a feeble attempt to prove he was not completely brain dead, he pulled one dog to the side. Mind you, the other one was still in the way and the kids were running around at will. I don’t know Sign Language, but I tried my best to physically say, ‘Wow, do I hate you. I hate your kids. I hate your dogs. I hate your parents for bringing you into this world and keeping you alive. I hate whomever you’re speaking with on the phone. Please, I beg you, in the sweet name of sanity, remove your wretched self from this area and take your dependants with you.’ He got the idea but it took no less than six-hundred hours for them all to move. To spite him, I waited the entire time.

Dishonorable mention goes to- Old people who converse in the middle of the path, Two women pushing strollers, and Indian men who walk on the wrong side and refuse to move.

For people who don’t exercise, walking in the park should be like driving. Also, shame on you for not exercising. Make sure your children are buckled in and keep your eyes on them at all times. Restrain your dogs so they don’t fly out the window. Look behind you somewhat frequently. And stay to the right. This isn’t wrong-side-of-the-street horrible Australia. I’m at the point where I’m going to start taking people out, one by one, child by child, wretched little dog by wretched little dog, until some common park etiquette is realized and practiced.
I know this will not happen, so I cannot thank you in advance. You’ve been warned.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Commentary- Let's Get Metrical

Let’s Get Metrical
by Rob Cottignies

You’ve probably heard of a meter. You’ve hopefully strode several meters at a time. You’re definitely at least a meter tall. But what is a meter? How long is it? And what does it want from us?
The truth is a meter doesn’t want anything from us. It is, after all, a unit of length, incapable of want or need. Also, it is slightly more than 39 inches. What we want from a meter is for it to be more easily understood. If you speak with almost anyone in the world, that person will likely refer to meters. This is because all but three countries use the Metric system. The Imperial system (Imperial > Metric, right?) is used by Americans and those wily folks in Myanmar, which used to be called Burma until its ruling Junta changed the country’s name. It’s in Asia, so you don’t have to look it up. The Republic of Liberia, which is probably located somewhere, uses a completely different system. I have no idea what it is but I’m guessing it’s complicated and quite awful. Let’s just agree to not go there, alright? Alright.
Quoting one of the worst arguments I’ve ever read, “From an [sic] European point of view, the U.S. unit system seems quite complicated and impractical. The difficulty comes mainly from the fact that larger units seem to be an arbitrary multiple of the next smaller unit. For example, 3 feet equal to 1 yard, 1 foot equals to 12 inches, so 1 yard equals to 36 inches.” So the complication comes from the idea that it’s simple and easy to figure out? Does it make too much sense?
My main problem with the Metric system is the leap it takes between a small amount and the next-higher. A centimeter is less than half of an inch long. Above that is the huge-by-comparison meter. How do you not have feet!? I mean, so easy. And how lovely is an inch? There’s even a worm perfectly formed for this unit of measure. Of course there are also centipedes and millipedes whose names make sense (if you know Latin) but their leg amounts aren’t so accurate.
And a gram!? Gram was a mythical sword that was used to slay the equally-mythical dragon Fafnir. Are all people who use the Metric system dragonslayers? Possibly, but what does that have to do with a dopey little unit of weight? I don’t know. And ‘Kilogram’ was shortened to ‘Kilo’ and is often used in the drug trade. Are all people who use the Metric system drug addicts? Probably. And this ‘tonne’… Does adding two letters make two-thousand pounds more fierce? What it does do is add 205 pounds, so I guess it is fiercer. But 2,000 is such a nice number AND it’s evenly divisible by ten, which Metric people love to claim is better.
What am I talking about? Sometimes my thoughts run away without warning.
Anyway, let’s discuss temperature. While Celsius isn’t exactly Metric, Metric countries use Celsius. Sometimes they call it Centigrade. Sometimes they also sip tea and watch Cricket.
The formula to get a degree Celsius into Fahrenheit (a German name loosely meaning Drivingness) is simple: C x 9 / 5 + 32 = F. Got it? Good. No, it’s easier than that. For low numbers, such as degrees, double the number and add 30. It won’t be exact but it’ll be close. For example, 10°C doubled is 20, plus 30 makes 50°F. Easy! To prove how nice that is, I’ll use the original equation. 10°C times 9 is 90; divided by 5 is 18; plus 32 makes 50°F! So this one is accurate but it’s usually off by a degree or two. Wunderbar!
Let’s not even go into how little sense liters (or litres) make. Pour me a pint.
Americans have already adopted part of the Metric system by running “5Ks”. How obnoxious. Three miles weren’t good enough, huh? So now there’s an extra tenth of a mile thrown in for no reason other than enabling us to pretend we’re like the rest of the world.
And on that note, I believe the USA should adopt the Metric system. Sure, it’ll take the South centuries to figure it out, but they might and hopefully will rise again to secede so they can worry about it on their own. It only seems fair that we take on Metricosity. I mean, the rest of the world speaks English, so it’s the least we could do.
And for the folks in Myanmar, well, when in Myanmar…

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Commentary- The Dreaded Door Dilemma

The Dreaded Door Dilemma
By Rob Cottignies

I’m walking into a store. The store doesn’t have automatic doors. I pull the door open and slide my being through the doorway. For some reason, I glance behind. Some guy is walking toward the store’s entrance. He’s 25-30 feet away. What should I do now? My goal was to enter the store, which I’ve pretty much already done. Time to move onto Phase 2, right? Time to buy new pants and a flashlight, right!? I don’t know. There’s no need to hold the door for this guy. He presumably drove himself here. He’s walking upright. He has both arms and they seem to function just fine. Surely he’s capable of opening this door for himself, just as I have. It’s not a heavy door. And I’m certainly not going to open it FOR him, allowing him to pass me. What if he wants the same pants and flashlight as me? So now I’m here, half in a doorway, holding this door open with my body bent in some strange way that bodies were not meant to bend. My arm hurts. This door is getting heavy. I still have time to let it go and walk in. What could happen? A stranger thinks I’m rude? Or maybe he goes so far as to say something. “Sorry,” I’d say, not mean, and be done with it. Finally, he reaches the door, sees me struggling, then turns left toward the pet store. No appreciation and no result from my effort. This time was truly wasted. Or, worse yet, he goes into the store and thanks me. ‘You’re welcome.’ What a stupid phrase. And welcome into what? It’s not my store. Doesn’t some employee get paid to welcome people into the store? This is not my concern.
Anyway, stop laughing at me. You’ve been in this predicament and you know how horrible it is.
So what’s the solution? Is there proper etiquette for this common situation?
Normally, I’d say flinging the door open and walking in like The King without further touching said door would be the answer. This way you were never holding the door, even for yourself. And if you don’t look behind, how could you know someone was there?
But of course you know when someone is there. The actions to be taken are directly relevant to the person’s distance to the door and the person him- or herself.
Firstly, if the person is more than 35 feet (10.7 metres, Brits) from you, absolutely do not consider holding the door. Use your eyes to judge and give or take fifteen feet. But only take the fifteen. You owe this person nothing. And maybe you have a nice butt, so this person should be grateful for the opportunity to see it in action.
If the person is less than this distance from you…
…and is disabled (physically or mentally), hold the door and step to the side, allowing them to pass. I think this is a given. If the person is obscenely ancient and near-blind, do the same because they might think you work for the store and give you a sweet, wrinkled dollar.
If it’s a woman with children, walk in like The King and let the door close behind you. Don’t start helping her kids. They need to learn for themselves. And odds are the kids will be unruly so she won’t have time to scold you if she doesn’t understand your superior parenting skills.
If it’s a woman with a baby in a stroller- ugh, hold the door. It’ll be awkward but watching the mess of her trying to enter the store backwards while preventing the door from crushing her spawn is worse.
If it’s a store employee, stand aside and wait for him to open the door for you. The money you spend will go toward his minimum wage. He should not only hold the door open, but thank you as you enter like The King.
The only situation left completely up to your discretion is if you fancy the person walking toward the store. I’m a gentleman; I enjoy ladies; but there’s no way I’m making my new pants and flashlight wait for me longer than they already have. She’ll probably continue thinking that chivalry is dead. However, she is woman and I’d like to hear her roar (not like that, even if she is lovely). Open that door for yourself! Prove that you don’t need me! You’re welcome. Besides, what’s really going to happen? I’ll hold the door and she’ll declare love? This is New Jersey. I’d get a snotty look and a meaningless verbal display of gratitude.
NOW, what if someone is holding the door for you? Oh God. I’d rather be skinned. If I see someone about to enter a store thirty feet in front of me, I stop to check my phone or do some other inane activity until the person is fully inside. There’s no way I’m witnessing that pathetic smile as someone tries to be nice holding the door for me. And then I’d be expected to thank this person! ‘Gee, thanks for doing something I can easily do for myself. Tie my shoes or make me dinner and I’ll thank you.’
Wait, I can do those things easily too. Just leave me alone. Thanks.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Nonsense- Muyaht

by Rob Cottignies & Joseph McConnell, with Cosima Fallmann

This past March, my friend Odie and I went backpacking around Europe for 2.5 weeks. Americans would say, 'That's a long time. How did you get off of work?' Europeans would say, 'That's it? I guess that's a nice, short holiday.' So there's that. Anyway, I brought a small notebook along so we could record important information and thoughts. Instead, I present this...

Buzkashi!!!! Goat

Bon Temps is a good time.

Lobsters and I don't care about the Pope.

It's okay.

Time to rape the donuts.

Chip + Dale
Snail Mail
Carlton Banks

Franka Potente. Good.

Oprah looks like a monk.

The chain moves. There is a reason.

Mark No Ploblem

Day 2- No Lille. More Phil. Eat Nill. Church.

Not for wimpy gays.

Blab & Beer.

Your mom looks Native American. Black hair. Calm. Your mom is Pocahontas.

Nothin' like a healthy bum.

Humbling, Humbling, Humbling. I know the Devil.

We are at a Lesbian, Gay, Trans festival.

If you're not in Bruges, you're doing things wrong.

"This is a really good beer. And really strong." Strong cheesing?


Keep nothing- remember everything.

Jemapoly Bill.

Frauen. O, mein Kopf.

Tanks. Drive tanks. Drive them all over. Drive over everything except Belgium.

At least we're not stuck on a train in America. 'Why aren't we going? I haven't eaten in 10 minutes.'

If you have to ask what country you're in, you're doing something right.

Bobby Darin.

Bruges to Brussels (a confusing time). Brussels to Leuwen. Leuwen to Liege to Aachen to Köln to Basel to Zurich to Bern to Interlaken. MANY TRAINS

He sleeps on de train. Not on de plane.

Eggs and vegetables.

Mountain Horse.

Buttcheeks are the appeal. Not buttcracks.

Is this what young people look like now?

How many days have we been here? Wie viele Tage haben wir hier?


I'd rather be a viking than be smooth.

I'm just me, but a judge is a judge.

Mountain goats are black guys.

That's a lot of bong-bong for 11:30.

"My friend's cat is totally hot." -Jason

'Is this train going to Best Buy?'

If the river was whiskey
And I was a duck
I'd swim to the bottom
And never come up

Interlaken to Bern to Zurich to Schaffhausen to Ulm to Munich to sleep.

Liver and snoring. Oh, Junge.

Samuel L. Chicken.

Muyaht for the ladies. Mutek for the men.

Boris the tourist.

Delicious Snacks.

Respect. We don't get into trouble.

You could go to China and struggle.

Half-price beers if you're in seventh grade.

I don't (donut) remember (Yomber) how Muyaht began (begun).

 He's an astronaught with a big boner!

Well, call your lawyer.

Only certain cows.

Albanians only listen to songs with Love in the title.

It was fine, but it was no horse and cheese.

Carrot schnapps!!!!

Quality drool.

How sour is your sauerbraten? Hee-hoo! My wife likes sweetbraten. Dingly dee! Ah, I'm just messin' with you, Helmut.

Craziness and idiocy are not the same.

Do I look like Ben Affleck?

'I was only 22.'
Oh, you were a little Brussels sprout.
'I was a little Brussels sprout. Now I'm a big Brussels sprout!'
(read with heavy lisp. chhhh.)

He might not be handsome, but he's handsome. -Odie on Cos

The Social Bulimic- Not shy. Eats, barfs. Says hi to everyone. Doesn't want to not barf.

Someone took my Lumet. It's a small, fragile animal. It's a baby Lumet. The man who took my Lumet also took my wife. And I'm gonna get one back. Because you can't take care of a Lumet and a wife. And I hope my wife doesn't come back, because I really like my Lumet.

Grüß gott.

Beat the salad.

Vienna is just a small fart on the map.

You are a super trooper. La la la.

We're all monkeys. Monkeys are cool.

I can't believe it's been three months already. Time to go back to butt rock and hamburgers.

She's six wickets short of South Africa.

...And that was the first time I crapped on a train while drinking a beer in the handicap toilet.

Did that happen last night?
Well, for some reason I remember it happening in a bowling alley.
We didn't bowl!
Yeah, you're right.

'Wait, before we do this I just have to lick the back of your underwear and see what happens.'

New York. Ugh. The city that never sleeps. Maybe it could use a nap.

'That's how I roll!'
You should a cliff!!!

It has nothing to do with sexism. Just eat your fucking cat!

You think you look good? You look like uncooked beef!
I like my curves.
You look like the toilet!
I'm pleasantly plump.
There's nothing pleasant about you! A turkey is plump! I'd rather eat a bouillon cube than look at you! 

We're in a bar, leaning on a bar, sitting at the bar, with our feet on a bar.

Fart Beach.

Hi Tim!

Wer bin ich?

Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut
Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid