Been & Going

[California Seething] Madness Revisited

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As far as I’m concerned, there are three types of people in the world:

  1. People who get sort of excited about March Madness and kind of miss it when it’s done.
  2. People who REALLY get excited about March Madness and look forward to it with the eager anticipation of Cal Seething- 040815- heartparents awaiting their first child only without the accompanying dread of terrible baby shower games (can we go back to not inviting dudes to these? I’m cool with that little bit of inequality if it means I never have to worry about tasting fucking baby food.) People like me who, when March Madness is over, feel as though a couple of nattily dressed brainlessly burbling SportsCenter anchors reached into their chest and ripped out their still beating hearts Temple-of-Doom style as they endlessly jabbered on about Tiger Woods’ chances at the Masters this year and the Opening Day of the fucking interminable death march that is the Baseball season. I swear, it’s like the Trail of Tears with Vin Scully filling in for Andrew Jackson and nachos for smallpox infested blankets.
  3. Weird, freaky, pasty faced people with hateful little beady eyes who don’t enjoy March Madness at all but instead prefer clubbing baby seals, leaving passive-aggressive notes on their neighbors’ cars, and watching fucking baseball.

So- clearly you’re waaaaaaay to cool to be one of the THIRD type of people- right? Of course you are. And that’s why I’m pretty sure that you miss March Madness at least a little bit and yearn for those magical days of endlessly chasing the buzzer beater dragon – just hours and hours of “What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing? Don’tshootdon’tshootdon’tshootdon’tshootdon’tshooot no no no no no no…..YES!!! yesyesyesyesyesyes IT’S OVER!!!!! IT’S OVER!!!!! Good game good game good game good game game. ” Come on- you know you miss it- and that’s why I’ve decided to relive the glory of the past month through the email updates that I, as the humble commissioner of my company’s TOTALLY for entertainment purposes only March Madness pool sent the participants in the pool. Join me as we relive the almost infinitesimal number of highs and all the many, many, oh so very many lows, as I take you from anticipation to devastation to the inevitable conclusion- with as much of the really boring crap cut out as I could manage (so, yeah, just imagine how much worse this would be if I left that stuff in!) Also- names have been changed to protect the innocent, profanity has been ramped up cause FUCK THE INNOCENT and I punched up a bunch of jokes cause I can’t stop myself.

Plus- as a bonus- you get all sorts of random and totally outdated jokes about current events- it’s as much fun as going through the old newspapers in your mom’s house when you’re putting together her audition video for Hoarders! Not that I have any idea what that’s like.

March 4, 2015

Subject: It’s March- And You Know What That MeansCal Seething- 040815- march

….at least- I’m hoping you know what that means, because if you’re getting this email it means that you participated in last year’s CTG March Madness pool, which means (unless you were only participating out of a sense of obligation or because somebody smacked you on the back of your head and took your money) that you’re as excited to get this email as I am to send it!! Or, OK, maybe not as excited because I’m bouncing up and down with glee- but, you know, pretty damn close.

Yeah, all the rest of this is just boring functional crap- you just need to know that the winner gets 75% of the pool and buys bagels for everyone, second place gets 25%, loser gets their $5 back and the Most Creative Bracket name wins some random prize. I say all of this like 10,000 more times and people are still like “now, what do I get if I win again?” People are dumb. Not any of you reading this of course- but, you know, OTHER people.

Let the madness begin!!!!

March 13, 2015

Subject: Selection Sunday is This Sunday- Can We Please Start Freaking Out Already?Cal Seething- 040815- obama

OK, so last week when I sent out the first March Madness message a whole WEEK AND A HALF before Selection Sunday, I was told by some people who shall remain nameless but are dicks that I was being overenthusiastic and premature (something which I was often accused of as a teenager- if you know what I mean. Yeah- you got it. Raising my hand in English class. Sigh #lonelynerd.)

But, can you really blame me? I mean, clearly March Madness is the most important thing happening in the world right now- hell, it’s so important that the President himself takes time away from testing the patience of Westside liberals by fucking up traffic on the way to do Kimmel (seriously?? Kimmel??? They’re closing streets so you can do Kimmel??? What’s next- declaring a national state of emergency so you can be a guest judge on Masterchef Jr???) to participate- although, 47 Senators did send a letter to the NCAA to ignore Obama’s bracket. Hey Senators- when you make the foreign minister of IRAN look like the adult in the room- it may be time to admit you’ve gone too far. It’s like the kid who eats paste telling the kid who eats his own shit to grow up and behave already. (OUTDATED CURRENT EVENT REFERENCE ALERT) Anyhow, you see my point- I mean what am I supposed to focus on if not March Madness- the 99 Seat Theatre fracas? That’s like a Civil War in the world’s smallest, poorest and least relevant country with Facebook playing the role of Gettysburg and Charlayne Woodard as General Lee. (If you think you’d like to learn more about the 99 Seat Plan controversy you totally don’t.)Cal Seething- 040815- 99

Well, anyhow- I held off on sending any further communication- but now- now- Selection Sunday is two days away, Conference Tournaments are in full swing and it is officially, incontrovertably and indubidably time to start FREAKING THE FUCK OUT!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA !!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   etc.

OK- so- if you are getting this message and you played last year, or have already registered for the group- then all you have to do is:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, boring stuff about how to participate- blah blah blah.

I’ll send another annoying reminder on Monday! If you don’t want to play – just let me know and I’ll bug you no more, though I will think significantly less of you.

March 24, 2015- Rounds of 64 & 32

Subject: My Bracket’s Not Busted and I’m Sort of Freaking Out About It

When I awoke on Saturday morning from uneasy dreams and ran to check my bracket I discovered something very troubling had transpired the night before and somehow, inexplicably, I was very close to the lead. You can see why I was disturbed by this. I mean, normally, when I wake up all excited on the first Saturday of the tournament and check my bracket, I find a terrifying bloody wreck and my excitement quickly turns to horrified dismay, like a kid waking up on Christmas morning and finding the mangled corpse of a goat under the tree- and if that hasn’t been used as the opening of a Criminal Minds episode yet- then WHY THE HELL NOT? They can use a line from Had Cal Seething- 040815- goatGadya for the opening quote. Eh- Had Gadya? Obscure Passover reference? Fellow Jews? Anyone??? Is this foreskin on????

Anyhow- my point here is that I’m used to looking at my bracket and seeing a ruined mess, so it was jarring to see it all neat and tidy. I haven’t been this freaked out since I visited New York after a decade away and saw what Bloomberg had done to the place- hell, I went down to Tompkins Square Park and there were actually KIDS playing in a sandbox….filled with…. get this…sand! Not syringes and puke, shattered malt liquor bottles and broken dreams- but pure, clean, wholesome sand- WTF???? THIS IS NOT MY CITY. Sigh.

You know what I’m saying right- New York isn’t New York without the junkies and the piss and the crime and March Madness ain’t March Madness without the agonizing failure, crushing disappointment and wave after wave of punishing self doubt OH YEAH – BRING IT, BABY- THAT SHIT’S LIKE HEROIN TO ME. Plus all of my picks were predictable and dull and if there’s one thing the tournament should never be, it’s predictable and dull (aside from the first day- that was great- but, of course, that was the one day I was way too busy with my stupid “job” thing to actually watch games. By the time I started watching on Friday, it was like when I showed up all excited for my first summer at camp and all everyone kept talking about was how awesome last summer was. Sigh.)  It got to the point that by Friday night I started cheering for outcomes wildly in conflict with my own self interest just in the hopes that something interesting would happen. So- Dayton over Providence- SURE! Michigan State over Virginia- WHY NOT??? NC State over Cal Seething- 040815- piccolo‘Nova? ABSO-FUCKIN’-LUTELY!! Score that upset! Bust that Bracket! Make that piccolo player WEEP- IT’S THE TOURNAMENT, BABY- IF YOU AINT’ CRYIN’- YOU AIN’T TRYIN’.

And yet, despite the massive upsets in the East Region my bracket still looks pretty good. And, you know what- I think I’m OK with that- hell, I’m in a big tie for third, and, who knows- maybe I could actually win this thing after ten years of heartbreak and despair- or, much much much more likely, I can get my hopes built up REALLY HIGH only to slide into defeat like a coach off a chair. Man, that guy loves his son. It’s kind of weird, right? The only time my dad cried when he talked about me was when he told people I was a theatre major. Kidding! Kidding! My parents have always been supportive of all my creative ambitions. So supportive that they are probably gonna read this post- hi guys! Thanks for always having my back, Dad and not crying like a bitch about it in front of the whole fucking country:

Anyhow- all of this is to say- we’re just one week into this thing with games starting up again on Thursday two more weeks of (hopefully) crazy action to go and anything can still happen! (within reason) So- good luck, have fun- and GO WHOEVER IS PLAYING KENTUCKY!

March 30, 2015- Sweet 16 & Elite 8

Subject: I Guess I Was Asking For It

Look, I’m no dummy. I know I was asking for it. Hell, last week I was all “ooooh the tournament is so boooooring” and “why hasn’t anyone busted my braaaaaacket yet” and “oh boo hoo hoo I’m actually winning this year wah wah wah” shamelessly whining about my First World Problems like a Food-Babe-reading-Whole-Foods-mom screaming at a minimum wage cashier cause she can’t find the right brand of Cruelty Free Kale Chips (there’s no such thing, of course. Kale Chips are cruel by definition). I should have known that my hubris would never be tolerated by the Tournament Gods Lundquist and Vitale (who maintains his youthful vigor by sucking the souls from insufferable Cal Seething- 033015- ashleyactresses, but the joke’s on him cause she traded her soul years ago to take Sandra Bullock’s role in Double Jeopardy. Then again, he was able to suck out a mouthful of used Botox and stale collagen- which makes his look younger and gives him the energy he needs to extol the virtues of clean living in between shooting Hooters commercials.)

Anyhow, the Tournament Gods let me have my One Shining Moment during the Sweet 16 while I was competing for the lead, before they smote me with a Mighty Hand and an Outstretched Arm (can you tell I’m getting psyched for Passover? Charoset in the Chouse!!) That’s right- in the very first game of the Elite 8 Wisconsin beat my super-brilliant pick to win the whole tournament: Arizona. Yeah, that’s right- Arizona. Gun totin’, immigrant hatin’, Jan Brewer electin’, MLK Day not celebratin’, Daylight Savings Time rejectin’, sun blasted, godforsaken, racist fuckin’ ARIZONA. Arizona- who’s only two attractions are a gigantic hole in the ground and an absurdly warm climate- making it, officially, the sweaty asshole of America. I mean, there’s a reason why Arizona was the last of the contiguous states added in 1912 after every single other territory had already been granted statehood- nobody wanted it! And do you think Congress was even serious about making it a state when theyCal Seething- 040815- carrie did? Hello no! It was like inviting Carrie to the prom- they were gonna dump pig’s blood on Arizona’s Senator on his first day of work (their all going to laugh at you, Arizona) but then they saw he was heavily armed and bat-shit crazy so they sad, “Screw it, we’ll keep the damn state. We can send baseball players there to train and old people there to die. Oh- and someday- someday maybe they’ll have an actual university. Yeah- and that university might have a basketball team- and that basketball team might get really, really good. So good, in fact, that some pundit might write an article about how in a large March Madness pool it’s actually statistically better to pick Arizona than the heavily favored Kentucky. And then, some complete and utter nincompoop with a beard who runs a theatre and sweats a lot will read this article and he’ll pick Arizona only to have them lose terribly in the Elite 8, blowing his bracket to smithereens while we laugh and laugh and laugh. Except of course, that we’ll be dead. Long dead. Almost as dead as that sweaty fuckwad’s bracket. Ha!” – and THAT’s the story of how Arizona became a state. It’s like Schoolhouse Rock up in this bitch.

And then- to add insult to bracket breaking- Notre Dame came within SECONDS of pulling off a gigantic upset and beating Kentucky in the second game on Saturday- which would have been awesome for a whole host of reasons, not Cal Seething- 040815- ndthe least of which being that everyone’s brackets would be a screwed as mine- only to lose in heartbreaking fashion in the final seconds of the game. Of course, it could be seen as karmic retribution that Notre Dame, which is located in Indiana, had their hearts torn out by Kentucky just days after the passage of the Religious Bigotry Act. Which, I know, is crazy when you think about it- when has Kentucky ever been the LESS bigoted state to cheer for? (OUTDATED CURRENT EVENT WARNING)

Alright- that’s all I’ve got- semi-final games are this Saturday and I’ll be watching on my phone during the Seder and trying not to yell out profanity during the Ten Plagues- or, at any rate, more profanity than is usual for our family Seder (come party with us!)

Good luck this weekend (to those of you whose brackets aren’t completely fucked)! Happy Passover (or Easter, whatever).

April 6, 2015 (Final Four Update)

Subject: Who Cares Who Wins? Kentucky Lost!

Alright, I promised myself I was gonna be gracious here. Be professional, be objective- just report on the facts. Not to Cal Seething- 040815- frankexpress my feelings about how ABSO-FUCKIN’-LUTELY AWESOME it is that Big Bad Blue Kentucky, led by coach John “Douchebag” Calipari  (hey, it’s not my fault that his parents named him that. It’s cause he was born with a full head of douchey coach hair- a rare congenital condition known as Pitino’s Disease. And also cause he’s a douche)  and his over-hyped gaggle of pumped up one-and-done, Happy Meal All Americans CRUMBLED  in the final seconds of the semi-final game like matzah under the weight of a Kaminsky-sized wedge of Wisconsin cheddar.

And, I’m sure as hell not going to talk about how TOTALLY AMAZEBALLS (is “amazeballs” still a thing? I’m very Cal Seething- 040815- ashley old) it was to see Ashley Judd and the rest of Big Boo-hoo Nation in the stands watching as their hopes and dreams for a history making undefeated season went down the toilet The “toilet”, I’m told, is a bathroom fixture that I eagerly look forward to revisiting just as soon as Passover is over. Just picture Wisconsin’s big men clogging the lane and you’ll have a rough idea what’s going on inside me. I know, TMI (is TMI still a thing? God, I’m so old).

Anyhow- like I said- I’m not gonna revel in Kentucky’s SOUL CRUSHING defeat (tee hee hee. Tee hee hee. Stop that!) – but I am going to report objectively and without bias that this has basically tanked just about half of the brackets in our pool- and has left only two players still seriously competing for victory. But in a way, we’re all winners- because whoever wins the tournament will be gracing us with the traditional Victory Bagels so that we can all share in the triumph. Except for me, of course, because Passover. And Kentucky because THEY LOST WOO-HOO!!!!! Sorry, sorry, sorry. I wasn’t going to celebrate. It’s OK Kentucky- you guys tried your best and it just wasn’t good enough. There’s no shame in that, unless, of course, you’re ashamed of being a bunch of fucking losers which, of course, you should be. Plus- it’s good for you to get used to losing- cause it’s all you’re gonna be doing in theCal Seething- 040815- jack NBA when you play for the Lakers next year. (All suck and no game makes Jack a sad boy. All suck and no game makes Jack a sad boy.)

tl:dr Kentucky lost. Wisconsin won. Everyone’s brackets are fucked and I’m inappropriately happy about it. (I know tl:dr is still at thing, cause it’s the most common comment on my posts. Sigh)

OK- to check all the standings please visit the site- and for any UK (and Laker) fans who want to punch me in the face- I’ll be out of the office til Wednesday. If you need to punch someone in the face urgently, please contact Charlayne Woodard immediately (though she’ll make you pay her minimum wage for the privilege  or, you can wait Cal Seething- 040815- randuntil Wednesday and punch me in the face when I return. And if you’re not following the whole 99 seat mess, you can just punch Rand Paul. Go on, do it. He’ll throw a little temper tantrum like a five year old who’s daddy took away his Fountainhead Lego set (build a towering skyscraper as a testament to human superiority and then smash it on the ground because it’s too perfect to exist).

Happy Final Game!

April 7, 2015- Final Update

Subject: Duke Wins. Oh Goody.

You know, I talk a lot of trash about Kentucky- but I really owe them a debt of gratitude. Because a few years ago, if Cal Seething- 040815- clDuke had won (oh, yeah, Duke won, BTW) I would have been full of piss and vinegar- all “entitled preppy white boys” this and “J. J. Reddick” that and “something something something cleaning my toilet with Christian Laettner’s stupid 90’s Lesbian haircut”. But now, because I find Kentucky so utterly loathsome and repellent – I’m totally fine with the fact that Duke won! Cause, you see, I take the same approach to sports that the U.S. Government takes to the Middle East- I just support whichever side seems less repulsive at the time (also a common strategy for U.S. voters and consumers of Passover desserts. Honestly, goyim- eat a goddamn macaroon and then tell me you don’t like Marshmallow Peeps.) It’s like- one year the Broncos are in the Superbowl and Seattle is the devil- and the next year Seattle’s playing the Patriots and I’m all “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST RUN THE FUCKING BALL!!!!!” – and, of course, no matter which side I support, I end up losing- so…hey- just like the U.S. Government in the Middle East!

So- yeah- Duke won. Whoopi-dee-doo. I was cheering for Wisconsin cause they beat Kentucky (the enemy of my enemy is my team) but, whatever. And – of course, that means that the winner of our March Madness pool is….Steve’s bracket “Steve” (congrats, “Steve!”)- and the winner of the Most Creative Bracket Name prize is……pretty clearly NOT Steve. Actually- that goes to “Unexpected Value of Ignorance” which is the best bracket name to be taken from an Alejandro Inarritu movie title since “Basket-Babel” and “21 SLAMS!”. And, of course, the second place bracket is “Crying Boys” – or as they are also known “The Harrison Twins”.

Alright, that’s all for now- I hope all of you beady eyed, pasty faced seal clubbers enjoy your stupid baseball season while those who prefer our sports “entertaining” drown our sorrows in the NBA playoffs while we wait for the start of FOOTBALL SEASON!!! WOO HOO!!! Go Jets…or Broncos…or whoever is playing the Patriots- it doesn’t matter. You’re just gonna lose anyhow. Crap.

Meanwhile- while we’re waiting for the football season, we can enjoy the build up to the NFL draft. It’s especially heartening that the NFL is so committed to raising awareness about violence against women that they’re selecting a known rapist with the number one pick. Shame on you, NFL. If only you treated violence against women as seriously as you treat the risk of brain damage to players- oh, wait, never mind- you do! (SADLY, NOT AN OUTDATED CURRENT EVENT WARNING)

Until next year!

Postscript:Cal Seething- 040815- ihate

I was jonesing so bad for some March Madness action that I finally watched the ESPN documentary I Hate Christian Laettner and, hey, guess what? I HATE DUKE AGAIN!!! I knew I should have watched it before the Championship- just think of all the red faced sputtering fury I missed out on. It’s like when I forgot to watch Schindler’s List before Germany won the World Cup. It’s a good flick, though- best video I’ve seen about white privilege in ages that doesn’t feature the NYPD. Oh well, there’s always next year- and, who knows, maybe Wisconsin will actually win the championship and I’ll have to come up with a reason to hate them. Beer swilling, cheese eating, Scott Walker voting motherfuckers! Cal Seething- 040815- cheeseOh, yeah. That’s the stuff- ONLY 11 MONTHS TO GO TIL NEXT MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRCCCCCHHHH!!!!!!!!!

March Madness. Fuck yeah.


[Desert Droppings] Basketball, Bad News, and Breakfast: ABQ Marches On

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To start off, we’re taking a cue from mega- pharmacy, Walgreens,  purveyor of prescriptions,plus many of life’s pre-packaged necessities from Maalox to mac and cheese mix. Walgreens markets itself as being cozily located “at the corner of happy and healthy.” ABQ has, these past few weeks, been firmly parked at the corner of hapless and hellish.

First March Madness turned to March Sadness as the ABQ-based Lobos men’s basketball team from the University of NM lost to Desert--040214--journallobolower seeded Stanford in Round1 of the NCAA Tournament, a repeat of last year’s tortuous tangle with the Ivy League when the Lobos lost to underdog Harvard. Now, I don’t know a bracket from a brisket, but I follow the Lobos’ seasonal rollercoaster because they’re ABQ’s own and because unlike  neighboring UT, AZ, CO, and TX, NM has no NBA team (or NFL, or NHL, or MLB team). So the Lobos are all-around sports surrogates and they really, really, really try.  Local businesses add “Go Lobos!” to their outdoor billboards and the ABQ Journal relishes reporting their victories and (sigh) the other stuff.
According to the Journal, this year was going to be different. The Lobos had “learned their lessons,” and had a “better mindset,” and had “size and girth.”  This year, the Lobos would take care of “unfinished business”. This year, the Sweet 16. This year…turned out to be just like last year. Lobos 53. Stanford 58. It was Harvard déjà vu.  First year Lobos coach, Craig Neal summed it up- “not a lot of fun, and we’ve been here before.”

Ok. So big basketball bummer there.
And in other news, APD shot yet another questionably dangerous, deranged, disoriented Albuquerquean.  APS proudly announced that 73% of its students graduate from high school. (And that leaves the other 14 uh…35 uh…27% with what- a list of local bus stops near McDonald’s?)
And how about this cheery insert which flew out of the Sunday Journal? The dour faces and profiles of 30 “Most Wanted Property Crime Offenders,” a “paid legal advertisement” from the city of ABQ.  Gee, thanks for the heads-up. I’ll tape it to the fridge. Hmmmm  They don’t look any different from my neighborhood Walgreens customers.

Whew! As Julius Caesar said, ” March is a tough month!”
Even after watching hours and hours of Shoot! Stomp! Stab! In The Walking Dead‘s  Season 4 weekend marathon, the zombie apocalypse still seemed like an exercise in community building compared to the recent grim goings on in ABQ.

Then, Halellujah! I found hope at the supermarket checkout- hefty, glossy wrapped-in-cellophane like a brand new tin of Desert--040214--abqmag2peppermint Altoids,  the April issue of Albuquerque The Magazine. ABQTHEMAG.COM.  YES! SAVED!  Good bye grimy March! Helloooooo daffodilly, marshmallow eggy, bouncy bunny, syrupy sweet April.
Syrup- that’s just what’s dripping off the plump berries atop the huge stack of pancakes on the cover of  Albuquerque The Magazine with its lead article, ” How to Build the Perfect ABQ Breakfast.” That’s my ABQ! Who cares about crime scenes and crushed dreams, when we can immerse ourselves in breakfast! And, look, look! This is just too good. An extra bonus wrapped up with Albuquerque The Magazine- a mini-mag, “New To  ABQ, The Most Unique & Valuable Resource For New
Albuquerqueans.” Is this a gift from the blog gods or what?!

Time to dump those gritty ABQ Journals into the  recycling bin for my zoo docent neighbor to bring to the BioPark for cage liners. Let the critters poop on all that negative news. We’re skipping off to discover “38 Ways to Know You’re an Albuquerquean” and ” Going Organic-Top Tips for Doing It Yourself.”

BTW, Walgreens doesn’t carry Albuquerque The Magazine. Walgreens only carries things that come on the truck.  Whenever I ask Desert- 040214- truckwhy something isn’t in stock at Walgreens, the store people tell me, “It wasn’t on the truck.” It seems that although there is a Walgreens on every major intersection in ABQ, all the merchandise comes on “the truck,” which, if the stars are aligned correctly, arrives on Thursdays or maybe only on the Thursday after Groundhog’s Day. Apparently, in the Walgreens Empire, we are Albuquerquestan- remote, isolated, exotic and worthy only of whatever happens to be on the truck after it’s made its Colorado deliveries.
Walgreens, are you at the corner of clueless and couldn’t- care-less? That’s no way to be an Albuquerquean!  No perfect breakfast for you!

And what does ABQ The Magazine say about about the perfect breakfast?  ABQ chefs and food bloggers share recipes for such morning treats as carnitas omelet, huevos rellenos, and the pancakes featured on the cover which turn out to be cottage cheese latkes! Who knew? “Going Organic…” includes Skarsgard Farms, my favorite organic veggie farm and delivery service. Not a single one of the “38 Ways to Know You’re an Albuquerquean” refers to being shot by police or being a high school drop-out. Even the numerous ads which dot the slick, bright pages are upbeat and tempting including one recruiting candidates for the APD Bomb Desert--040214--bombsquadSquad with Bomb Squad members posing like fashionistas in their protective gear.

All 272 shiny pages of look-how-great-it-is-to-live-here articles make ABQ feel like a dry, high altitude Garden of Eden.
Smile! It’s April! Let’s share some Breakfast Green Chile at the corner of the Bosque Bike Trail and the Rio Grande (That’s “Rhee-yo Grohn-deh” to you newcomers.)

[HorroR Stories] Don’t Get Mad About the Madness

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My company has banned March Madness pools, brackets, etc. company wide. I’m wondering your thoughts on this?

Banned? I love the word banned. I love when grown adults walk around telling other grown adults “You are banned from doing that! Stop it!” I think that ALWAYS goes well. Really, I’ve never, in my 15 year career, ever seen that not work. Never.

You don’t believe me, do you? Well, you shouldn’t. Because it does go wrong. Oh, baby does it go wrong.

But, come on, we all know by now that anytime you ban something that someone really wants to do, they’re going to do it anyway, they’re just going to hide it from you. So I’m guessing that there are all sorts of secret March Madness pools whipping around your company right now. Those that banned it look kinda dumb, kinda like they don’t have any authority, don’t have any leverage, and don’t have a clue. I hate to say it, but kinda like Obama right now in this whole Ukraine situation, but that’s a different post.

Conventional wisdom and every single HR bulletin and newsletter sent out this time of year warns at the productivity loss that March Madness brings. And things like “The Hopper,” cell phones, iPads, etc. make it worse. But, come on guys, it’s like trying to stop the flood, or Putin, or Wal-Mart from selling cigarettes, sometimes you just gotta let it happen and then clean up the mess.

In my dream company I would advise managers not to beat ‘em but to join ‘em. And I’m not just saying that because the first 2 days of March Madness are as holy in my household as the first 2 days of Passover, or Lent, or Christmas, or whatever, which is to say, we take the days off, sit on our couch, eat chicken fingers and scream at the TV. Just like Passover, except the chicken fingers are breaded with matzo. Weird.

Anyway, why not embrace March Madness? I have found that competition is one of the best way to build cohesiveness in companies. So why not create brackets, have departments compete against each other, set up some TV’s in the break rooms? Sometimes you have to let employees feel like they are getting away with something. It builds loyalty, usually. I mean sure, it could also go horribly awry, but that’s life, right?

As with anything when dealing with employees, focus on the outcomes, the production, the performance. “Hey Jan, finish that report and then we can go watch the end of the VCU game for a few minutes.” It’s a bonding experience. It brings you all closer together. Hold hands, scream at the TV, wish for the death of the receptionist who chose her brackets based on mascots and is currently beating everyone else. But wish for her death together.

And for those companies who are terrified of the word “gambling,” and therefore “ban” anything that comes close, don’t approve or sanction bracket pools that have a buy-in. For the company wide competition just buy pizza for the winner. That’s not gambling, right? And then verbally tell everyone to keep their personal bracket pools at home, or in the lunchroom, during lunch hours.

I’m in la-la land, I know. Brackets are banned where I work currently as well. Sigh. But these are my thoughts, for which you asked. So good luck in your clandestine bracket pool. Hopefully you didn’t pick Duke. Horror- 032614-mercer

[California Seething] CPR is Optional but March Madness Isn’t

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I was in a CPR class with my co-workers when an interesting question came up. Our instructor, Safety Bob (not his real name- but very, very close) was stressing the importance of using breathing barriers when giving mouth-to-mouth in order to avoid the spread of disease when one of my colleagues asked “what if you see someone who needs CPR but you don’t have a breathing 50th Anniversary Of CPR Marked In San Franciscobarrier with you?”

Well- Safety Bob had a quick response for that one, and he shot back with a rhetorical question- “Look at the person who needs help on the ground in front of you and ask: how important is his life?” Wow. Point made. We all nodded – clearly understanding the value of every human life.

But then, much to our surprise, Safety Bob began to prioritize:

“If it’s a family member- then, of course, no question- do what you need to do to save their lives.” OK. Yeah. Got that. Don’t let your sister die. Noted.

”If it’s a co-worker. Well…yes. You should do CPR. Probably” Nervous laughter around the room as we all avoided eye contact with that one guy with the English accent who was on nobody’s “probably” list.

“And, if it’s a homeless guy passed out on the street- absolutely not. Your life is way more important than his. I see a homeless guy unconscious with a brown paper bag and an empty bottle sticking out of it, the most I’m gonna do is poke him with my foot to make sure he’s breathing.”

I know. It’s shocking right, this attitude towards human life. I couldn’t believe it- I was like – Best CPR Teacher EVAH! I mean, here I was totally stressed out about taking this class because I was sure that, once I took it, if I saw some super-gross icky homeless dude lying all passed out in vomit on the street and I thought he might be, you know, dying or something, then I would have to, like, actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. EWWWWWWW Homeless Guy mouth SOOOOO GROSS. Turns out, though- I’m off the hook! I can totally just let him die and I don’t have to feel bad about it cause Safety Bob said it was cool. This Republican CPR is AMAZEBALLS.

And it doesn’t stop there- even co-workers are just a “Probably”. So think about that- Mr. “I Reply All to Every Fucking Company Wide E-Mail That Has Nothing to do with Me Because I Have to Make Sure Everyone Knows What I Think at All Times Because I’m So Motherfucking Goddamn Important” and Ms. “I Make Every Single Fucking Meeting Last An Hour and a Half Longer than it has to Because I Always Have to Have the Last Word and I Can’t Stop Myself From Asking the Stupidest Fucking Questions Especially When the Meeting is Going RIGHT THROUGH LUNCHTIME.” Cause the next time you’re about to email “Great job everybody, go team!” to 150 people who hate your fucking guts for cluttering their goddamn Inbox or say “So…wait…how does this new email system work again?” at 1:30 PM when we’ve been talking about it for TWO FUCKING HOURS – just remember – YOU’RE ALL GOING TO (probably) DIE.

OK, so, to be fair, Safety Bob was just talking about the risk of pathogens passing through mouth to mouth contact and, strictly speaking, if I see a homeless person on the ground, then I should still do chest compressions if I think he needs help. Well, I mean- of course he needs help– he’s homeless- that comes with the job description – but I’m not teaching a fucking life skills class- I’m just doing CPR. I mean, sure maybe I can save his life but I can’t give him something to live for.  Not that CPR really saves many lives- I mean, mostly it’s just a way to feel better about yourself when someone drops dead in front of you- so that things aren’t so awkward if you ever meet the family. Let’s face it- it’s much better to say “I’m so sorry for the loss of your father. I did all I could, but I just couldn’t save him.” as opposed to “Sorry ‘bout your dad, dude- I totally Instagrammed that shit! #badsamaritan  #sadpanda”

Now- you might think I’m really tempting Karma by joking about all the co-workers I probably wouldn’t save, but I’m not worried Cal Seething- 032414- santabecause I perform a very valuable service for my company. No- it’s not “playing Santa at the holiday party” or “making wise-ass remarks during boring meetings” or “operating the Kirk Douglas Theatre” pffft- whatevs. No- I run the company’s annual STRICTLY UNOFFICIAL FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY March Madness pool. In the years I’ve been running the pool, it’s grown from 15 to 56 brackets, making it the fastest growing enterprise in non-profit theatre- and it now includes players from theatres around the country – which is so typical of our field these days. Even the March Madness pool is a co-production.

Now, for those of you that aren’t familiar with March Madness cause you’re one of those people who don’t like things that are awesome- like, maybe you’re a baseball fan or a botanist or that old couple from the Safeco ads whose idiot son drowned tragically while Cal Seething- 032414- Safecojet-skiing with his Shiksa wife (which serves him right for going camping on his honeymoon and not listening to his mother. I mean- camping- does that sound romantic to you? At least he had that Safeco “Death Wish” policy they keep advertising for motorcycle riding jet ski enthusiasts, or whatever those commercials are for)  March Madness refers to the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament (there’s a Women’s version too but who cares #marchsadness.) It is, arguably, the most exciting three week period of the sports year. Seriously- if you love watching young people working their ass off for no money in a ferociously competitive environment but you don’t already work in entertainment then March Madness is the next best thing. And I know a lot of people think it’s not fair that big corporations & the NCAA make billions off March Madness but the players get nothing- but I prefer to think of the well being of our young people. I mean- what kind of lesson would we be teaching them if we told them life was fair? How does that help prepare them for the world? I mean, if we don’t teach them how to be exploited by big corporations in school, how will they be ready to be exploited by big corporations when they graduate? We can’t count on Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Discover Card to do everything.

So much like watching NFL Football or a Woody Allen film festival or reading the works of Heidegger in your Book Club for Douchey Pricks (we meet at Intelligentsia Coffee and it’s BYO Kale) enjoying March Madness means shutting out all the evil stuff behind it. But isn’t that also one of the most important life lessons we can teach our young people today? I mean, unless you want to work for a non-profit and eat raw foods and ride your bike everywhere and make your own clothes from hemp- sooner or later you’re going to have to learn how to compartmentalize in order to survive, cause sooner or later your parents are gonna get sick of you bitching about the coded Transphobia on RuPaul’s Drag Race and they’ll kick you the fuck out the house. Anyhow- there’s so much awesome stuff about March Madness- why dwell on the evil? I mean, it’s not just about the NCAA and their Corporate Overlords  Champions making billions of dollars on the backs on unpaid workers- NO- it’s about gambling and lost productivity and making a whole bunch of totally arbitrary decisions about something you know absolutely nothing about and then basing your entire sense of self worth on the outcome of those decisions and WHAT DO YOU MEAN KANSAS IS LOSING??? I Cal Seething- 032414- kidHAVE THEM GOING TO THE SWEET 16 HOW THE FUCK CAN THEY LOSE???? Come on Kansas, you’re a Goddamn superstar championship team, don’t you see that little white kid crying in the stands? Win it for him! You’re one of the best teams in the country, so remember who you are, get your shit together and WIN ALREADY and then with the next one AND THEN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLAY LIKE THE STINKING FUCKING USELESS LOSERS YOU ARE AND LOSE TO FLORIDA!!!! I won’t be wrong again!!! This year I’m going to win this fucking pool!!!!!!!!

Sorry, I’ve been watching basketball practically non-stop for four days. It’s begun to take its toll. I’m unshaven, I haven’t showered, I’m hoarse from screaming and totally out of touch with the world. In four short days, I’ve gone from a productive member of society to Howard Hughes – if Howard Hughes had picked Syracuse to go to the Elite 8 only to watch them LOSE TO DAYTON!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK SYRACUSE????? You would think after all these years that I would have learned that no matter how good they might look Syracuse is always going to disappoint EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME- oh, wait, sorry- except for that one year where I picked them to lose in the Round of 32 and they went to the Final Four. WHAT THE FUCK, JIM BOEHEIM?? Haven’t I always been a fan? Didn’t I used to have a small novelty Syracuse basketball and HOLY SHIT Kansas is within 3 with 15 seconds to go. They can win this thing!! The white kid in the stands stopped crying!!! Come on…come on… shootitshootitshootitshootit OK- wait, yes, pass it to the Intense Little White Guy Whose Name I Don’t Know. Good plan. COME ON INTENSE LITTLE WHITE GUY WHOSE NAME I DON’T KNOW!!! SHOOTITSHOOTITSHOOTITSHOOTISHOOTIT YESSSS!!!! NO!!!! He missed. Ball is loose GET THE REBOUND. No!!! NO!!! FUCK NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  IT’S OVER. Yeah, Yeah. Shake hands, shake hands. Good game good game good game good game. LOSERS. Ha- that’s awesome- they keep showing that crying little Kansas fan kid. Go on, little white Kansas fan, cry your little eyes out- this is only gonna be on YouTube in 10 seconds for the entire world to ridicule you (isn’t the Internet great?)- but don’t worry- you’ll get over it. Someday, you’re going to grow up and go to Kansas and wear a giant stuffed Jayhawk on your head and Cal Seething- 032414- jayhawkcheer your heart out only to watch Kansas crush all your hopes and dreams ALL OVER AGAIN while you shamelessly weep and the entire world ridicules you again cause if there’s one thing funnier than a little kid weeping it’s a dude wearing a giant stuffed Jayhawk on his head crying like a bitch. ISN’T MARCH MADNESS FUN?????????? Yes. Damn it. Yes.

Look, you would think I’d be used to this annual humiliation- but I was sure this year was going to be different because, this year, I was counting on Big Data to save me. That’s right- no more picking sentimental favorites or media darlings or schools with funny names or Gonzaga (all of the above)- this was the year I would rely on Cold Hard Math and Slightly Warmer but Equally Hard Data to make my picks- and the Prophet who would take me to the Promised Land of Probability- none other than Nate Silver. That’s right- Mr himself- the man about whom I said in a previous post “Nate Silver and My Wife are AlwaysCal Seething- 032414- natemath Right” the man who predicted the 2012 Obama landslide, the man who…well…I’m sure has also been right about a whole bunch of other stuff too, even though I have no idea what it is. No longer would I wander in the desert, lost in a wasteland of speculation and guesswork- this year, I would finally come home. I would be the Prodigal Fan and Nate Silver would prepare a banquet of perfect picks before me to feast on. Baptized in numbers, sanctified by statistics I would ascend like Elijah to heaven on a flaming chariot of accuracy to the top of the CTG March Madness pool and for the first time in eight years I would finally finish HIGHER THAN 6TH FUCKING PLACE HALLE-FUCKING-LUJAH!!!!

With the fervor of a true convert- I turned to Nate Silver’s Super Duper Handy Dandy Auto Adjusting  Bracket-ator O-Matic Bot Thingy (NOT the official name, but it should be. Nate- you can totally use this one. Uhm….you’re welcome? Dick)- using my Clear Thinking Left Brain to make my picks and ruthlessly silencing my Mushy Headed Right Brain Instincts, Feelings & Anecdotal Information at every turn.

Right Brain: Gee, Left Brain Eric- you’re picking Duke to go to the Elite 8? Didn’t you think they looked awfully listless and apathetic during the ACC Tournament- plus they don’t really have much experience. I feel like…

Left Brain: QUIET YOU. They numbers tell me they will reach the Elite 8.

Right Brain: Wowzers, Left Brain Eric- you’re picking Kansas to go to the Sweet 16- you know that Joel Embiid is out, right – and Cal Seething- 032414- brainthey’re gonna need his defense. I feel like….

Left Brain: SILENCE FOOL. You know nothing. The numbers say to pick Kansas, so I shall pick Kansas and have them lose to Syracuse in the Sweet 16.

Right Brain: Wait- Syracuse? Dude- are you fucking kidding me? Syracuse has been tanking lately- they’ll be luck to get by Dayt….

Left Brain: ENOUGH YOU INSOLENT BUFFOON. I shall tolerate no more of your anecdotal nonsense. THOU MUST NOT QUESTION BIG DATA. Now- will you behave? Or do I need to read another painfully long article about the possible whereabouts of flight MH370.

Right Brain: No, no- I’ll be good.

Left Brain: Are you sure? Look- this one has nautical charts!

Right Brain: GET IT AWAY! I’ll behave. I promise.

So with my Right Brain properly disciplined I set about making my….wait…come on…OK…YES!! OK Wichita State- down by 2. You can win this thing. 3.2 seconds left….inbound the ball… GET IT TO EARLY…or wait…OK….get it to the Floppy Haired White Guy….COME ON FLOPPY HAIRED WHITE GUY…no…wait… he’s passing to the Other White Guy…why is he doing that….COME ON OTHER WHITE GUY…shootitshootitshootitSHOOTITSHOOTIT!!!!! YES! Wait NO!!!!!!!! It’s Over? FUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!! Yeah, Yeah. Shake hands, shake hands. Good game good game good game good game. Thanks a lot Kentucky for validating everything wrong with College Basketball. Oh wait- hold on- I had Kentucky winning in one of my brackets. SWEET! Thanks, Kentucky- for validating everything that’s great about College Basketball! Sigh. Cal Seething- 032414- wichitaI’m such a whore. Hey, look, it’s a crying Wichita State fan. Man! I haven’t seen this many white people cry since Romney lost. I mean there were a whole bunch of them crying during 12 Years a Slave but that’s cause they knew everyone was watching (“no, seriously, you guys – I’m like soooo sad about slavery.)

And speaking of Romney, I was confident that with Nate Silver at my side I could avoid his fate of looking at data selectively to validate what I wanted to be true only to be crushed when reality reared its ugly head. No, this year I would be like Obama- looking carefully at the real numbers and leveraging the data to my advantage so that everything worked out exactly as planned  (2012 Obama, not Obama.) I even strategically hedged my bets and used my two brackets to make slightly different picks to maximize my chances of triumph. Victory was practically guaranteed- hell I was kicking myself for not signing up for the Billion dollar challenge- cause with Nate Silver at my side, it would be like taking a billion dollars worth of candy from a baby who looks disturbingly like an 83 year old man from Omaha who, itCal Seething- 032414- buffet turns out, is significantly harder to take candy from.

Anyhow- after Day 1 (or “Thursday” as some people call it) things were looking pretty good. I mean, so, sure, OK- OSU lost to Dayton- but that was OK- I had them losing in the next round to Syracuse anyhow. Oh, yeah, and North Dakota State took down Oklahoma- but, that was fine- I mean, those 12 / 5 games are always tricky and, it’s all about playing the percentages, right? I mean- that’s the thing about Big Data- you’re not gonna be right all the time- just more often than anybody else. Right? I went to bed Thursday night in good position- tied for 9th just a couple points off the lead and confident that Big Data would lead me to glory in the long run and that I would emerge triumphant.

Right Brain: Ooooooh, I’ve got a bad feeling about this….


Right Brain: I’m good.

Turns out, though, that my Right Brain was right to be concerned because Day 2 was, as my wife called it, “carnage”. By the end of the day, my bracket was covered in digital red ink as all as loser after loser after loser was crossed out. Now I had just learned in CPR that teachers aren’t supposed to use red ink anymore because it’s bad for our children’s self esteem to see all that red ink on their test page. Now I happen to agree with this 100%. It’s terrible for children’s self esteem to see so much red ink on a test- and the best thing we can do about this is make our kids less fucking stupid. But then again, we can’t even say “stupid” anymore. I’ve been notified by certain parents that “stupid” is a bad word and I can’t say it in front of their kids. Do you know how hard that it? I mean, if I can’t use the word “stupid” then what am I supposed to say when parents tell me that I can’t say “stupid” in front of their kids. Retarded?? That’s seriously verboten. Still- I must admit it’s a brilliant solution to our education woes. Why do we need our kids to be smart anyhow- what is this, India? It’s way more important they have good Self Esteem. Cause in America- we like our kids like we like Mitch McConnell- Over-Confident and Under-Educated!

OK, so yeah, I’m bitter, I’m lashing out, I’ll admit it. Day 2 was an unmitigated disaster.  Duke, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, UMass, VCU- all teams I picked. All GONE. And yet, somehow, at the end of it, I was still very much in the fight. Sure one bracket was in 35th place- but the other was in a very respectable tie for 11th. I was confident that all my defeats were simply statistical aberrations and that surely in the next round, Nate Silver would come swooping down like an avenging angel from heaven yielding Cal Seething- 032414- natehearthis Flaming Sword of Statistics (Worst. D&D Weapon. Ever) and would carry me to glory! Right? Right????

Right Brain: Yeah, not so much.

Yeah, not so much. I don’t even want to talk about what happened on Day 3. Or on Day 4 so far for that matter. Suffice it to say, I’m in 44th place. In a tie. With myself. Oh, wait, no hold on- sorry, didn’t check after the Kentucky game – one bracket is up to 32nd. Zippidie. Fucking. Doo Dah. OK Wait- COME ON IOWA STATE. 15.7 left- don’t fuck it up-passing….passing….using the clock- what are you waiting for??? Shootitshootitshootitshootit – OK – yeah yeah yeah – get it to that guy- D’Andre Something Or Other With the Flat Top- he’s dribbling…he’s dribbling….he’s dribbling- DO SOMETHING ALREADY –CUT-PENETRATE- – SCORE!!!!YESSSSSSS!!!!! WAY TO GO D’ANDRE SOMETHING OR OTHER WITH A FLAT TOP- YOU’RE A FUCKING ROCKSTAR!!! 1.5 left. UNC has it- dribbling over half court- time running out- do they get the timeout???? Do they?? Uhm. Nobody seems to know. Refs are talking…they’re talking…they’re talking….COME ON ALREADY….talking…talking…looking at the screen….talking…talking…YES!!! IT’S OVER!!!!!  IOWA STATE WINS!!!!! IOWA STATE WINS!!!! I’ve never in my entire life given a shit about Iowa State one way or the other but you bet your sweet ass I do now because I GOT ONE RIGHT TODAY!!!!!! WE’RE NUMBER ONE!!! WE’RE NUMBER ONE. Well, OK, strictly speaking I’m in 28th place- but, hey- WE’RE NUMBER 28!!!! WE’RE NUMBER 28!!! In one bracket. The other is 43rd. OK,Yeah, Yeah. Shake hands, shake hands. Good game good game good game good game. HA! I’M A FUCKING GENIUS!!!!!  28th PLACE- BITCHEZ!!!!  I’m on the comeback trail. Sort of.  And, oh, of course- here’s a UNC fan crying. God- get over it white Cal Seething- 032414- uncpeople. Sure, you’re going to be a minority soon- but you’ve still got all that cool stuff from Pottery Barn.

Anyhow, that’s where I leave you- at the end of Day 4 with my brackets clinging to life. And while the prognosis isn’t good- I do feel like if Safety Bob saw my brackets on the ground he would definitely perform CPR. Probably. Let’s see how the UCLA game goes. What? They’re winning?? WOO-HOOOO!!! It’s you and me all the way Nate- we’re gonna win this thing!!!!

Right Brain: And he calls himself the rational one.

P.S.- UCLA won. Hurray!!! But Creighton lost to Baylor. FUCKKKKKKKKK!!!!! God this is rough- I’m gonna need CPR myself if things keep up at this rate- and the way I’ve been carrying on – no one’s gonna want to save me- ESPECIALLY not my family (the dog is particularly over it- but fuck him, his bracket’s doing great). But hey- what a way to go- Death by Bracket! I wonder if Safeco covers that?

Oh, and I couldn’t find a picture of a crying Creighton fan cause seriously, it’s Creighton, who gives a shit? So here’s that crying Kansas fan white kid again. Cal Seething- 032414- kidHave fun back at school kid! Don’t worry, you’re cool- I’m sure no one in Kansas was watching.

God, I love March Madness.