Been & Going

[California Seething] The Very Best Part of a Very Crappy Year

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Look, who are we kidding? 2016 is a horrible fucking year to be an American. OK, well, to be more precise, it’s a horrible fucking year to be ANYONE. Seriously, 2016- what the fuck? One minute you’re cute little baby new year, the next you’re a moustache twirling black-clad villain tying our hopes and dreams down to the tracks so they can be run over by the freight train of despair. Fuck you, 2016. You want to know how we feel about you? Just take a look at this:


And, while every county in the world has experienced it’s own brand of crappiness- in the US we’ve had to endure the sickening dread brought on by this god-awful presidential election. I was really struck by this a couple of weeks ago when the fires from the Santa Clarita valley were raging out of control. There I was- going about my business, running errands while the sky was darkened with smoke and lit with an eerie orange glow from the flames and I thought- yup, that’s being an American in 2016- trying like everything’s normal while a toxic orange cloud hangs over our heads.Cal Seething- 082116- trump

Now, he may be a Crypto-Fascist Oompa Loompa (“what do you get when illegals come in/killing and raping and dealing in sin/let’s build a wall and let’s make it real tall/and Mexico will pay for it a-a-all/Oh yeah, you’d better bet they will/ Truma lumpa drumphidie drumph/do lies sound like truth when you shout them enough?/Tumpa drumpha and Mike Pensey, too/ Jesus would never vote for you-oo-oo/he’d so be a Bernie guy”) but he certainly does have the crowds eating out of the palms of his tiny hands. And oh, what, fun they seem to be having! Frothing at the mouth, screaming “Mexico”, taking incomprehensible loyalty oaths, shouting down protestors- why is it any wonder that leftists decided to create a crazy pants movement of their own?

And so, Bernie or Bust was born! Now, for those that don’t know, the Bernie or Bust movement consists of Bernie Sanders’ most passionate and devoted followers- followers so loyal that they will do absolutely anything Bernie tells them to, except, vote for Hillary which is literally the only thing he’s telling them to do. These folks don’t care if they Nader the election and allow the most progressive Democratic platform in 50 years to be defeated by a hate mongering lunatic- they’re having too much fun! Complaining about how no one listens to them at the DNC while booing Cal Seething- 082116- throwmoneyElizabeth Warren so no one can listen to her, sharing links from Fox News about Hillary’s email, throwing money at cars as they drive to a Democratic fundraiser at George Clooney’s house- cause nothing says “I deserve higher wages and debt relief” like throwing your fucking money in the streets.

And now there are some Bernie Busters who insist their gonna vote Third Party- cause that just went so well  in 2000! Thanks, guys! How did you ever get so much student loan debt and stay so fucking dumb?

So- yeah- 2016 has been a terrible, horrible no good year, but that’s OK because the Olympics are here and the Olympics make everything better! That’s right- the Olympics- that magical event that occurs once every four years when the world comes together to Cal Seething-082116-lafingercelebrate peace and brotherhood by kicking poor people out of their homes to build wasteful sports venues nobody needs. Which, again, is why LA would make the perfect host city- hell, we threw our poor people out of their homes to build wasteful sports venues YEARS ago. And if we need to build more- no problem- just say the word and the Boyle Heights Equestrian Center is DONE. And the Athlete’s Village- well shit, we can just give them any under occupied mixed use luxury mega complex in Downtown LA with more gastropubs than parking spots. I mean, no one can afford to live there- might as well give ito the Serbian handball team.

Still- I love the Olympics. It’s the only time I get to feel good about feeling good about being an American. Because most days, I just feel smug about how bad I feel about being an American (like when we’re bombing someone) or guilty about how Cal-Seething--082116--unclesecretly psyched I am to be an American (like when it’s not us getting bombed). But during the Olympics I’m as unabashedly happy to be an American as a NASCAR fan in Florida eating Chick-Fil-A and blasting Kenny Chesney in his F-150 on the way to the gun show before hitting the Trump rally and getting dinner at Golden Corral (but only cause it’s Jeff Foxworthy’s favorite) then pounding down an ice cold can of Belgian made America beer. And that’s because the Olympics is the only time America can beat the living shit out of other nations and nobody dies or joins ISIS. Hell, the only consequence of American victory is that we get to pose on a podium looking fierce in shiny new jewelry and mouthing the words to a familiar song. It’s how wars would be won if Ru Paul ran the world! Say what you will about the Iraq War- we all agree that the Middle East would be safer if Sadaam had been deposed using balance beam and floor exercise scores. Cause if point deductions could kill, they probably will in games without frontiers, war without tears.

Anyhow, the US has been kicking ass at the Olympics and all the other countries are swimming pool green with envy. But even when the Americans aren’t demolishing much poorer nations, the Olympics are pretty great. Because the Olympics aren’t just a sporting event- they’re a two week orgy of non-stop Inspiration Porn. Just look at how fucking inspiring everything is! The historic accomplishments of Biles, Ledeckey and Phelps (BOOM! Named the women first. How ya like me now, Jezebel? (they don’t)); Simone Manuel shattering expectations and boundaries; Fiji winning their first medal- a gold in their beloved national sport of Rugby which was last played at the Olympics almost 50 years before Fiji’s independence.

And then there are the profound moments of inspiration which transcend competition- the Refugee Team marching proudly into the Cal Seething- 082116- selfieOpening Ceremonies, the South Korean & North Korean gymnast sharing a care free selfie, showing the world how easy it can be sometimes to do the impossible.  Yes, it seems the Olympics are a time when political differences are put aside and everyone is treated with dignity and respect, except of course for the Israeli team which is snubbed and insulted by athletes from Arab nations at every event they go and no one on the IOC says boo about it. But, hey- anti-Semitism is the only prejudice that the left and right can agree on- so the Jews are just bringing the world together!

Of course, the problem with all this inspiring crap is that it makes us dumb. Wait- no- maybe “dumb” is too harsh a word- let’s go with “generous of spirit”…..which, you know, means “dumb”. You see, for advertisers, selling us products on TV is like feeding a restless toddler- so they see Olympic competition is like moving a spoon through the air saying “look at the diver. Look at the pretty diver flying through the air!!! Now open up the swimming pool, cause here comes the diver” and then, Bam! We open up our minds and they shove in a big spoonful of University of Phoenix messaging all pureed up with a Maya Angelou poem. Speaking of diving, if you’re wondering why the Olympic diving pool turned green, it’s cause one of Rio’s finest pool technicians (sadly I’m not being sarcastic- he really was one of the best) dumped 160 gallons of Hydrogen Peroxide in to the pool which neutralized the chlorine and caused algae to grow. And if you’re wondering who the hell needs that much Peroxide at the Olympics- well, maybe take that up with the Shelly Fraser Pryce. Go on. I dare you.

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Anyhow, for companies like Sea World, it makes sense to exploit the feel-good spirit of the Olympics to improve their brand image. Cause if you’re watching the Olympics with your family, and thinking about where to go on vacation, you’re much more likely to consider SeaWorld if it’s “America’s foremost marine mammal rescue center and theme park” as opposed to “Auschwitz for Orcas”.

Of course, McDonald’s was one of the pioneers of using the Olympics to boost their brand image. Sure they’re plugging the white meat nuggets and Apple Dippers now- but as soon as Michelle’s gone, it’s Big Mac time, baby- cause Bubba’s back!

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So- sure, I get why some companies would advertise. Like Subway, which is still trying get out of Jared’s pants with their Cal Seething- 082116- subway#SearchforBackgroundChecks…I mean….#SearchforBetter campaign. But the real head scratchers are companies like Exxon which has spent millions of dollars on their “Energy Lives Here” campaign. These ads feature self-consciously diverse mix of their most bright-eyed, earnest and not-evil-at-all employees talking about all the humanitarian, beneficial and totally not-at-all-evil things they do like studying biodiversity or fighting Cal Seething- 082116- exxonmalaria…none of which makes a damn bit of difference to me when I’m deciding where to buy gas. After all, if I wanted to do what was best for the planet, I wouldn’t buy gas at all- but since I need it to feed my car’s addiction all I care about it who’s closest, who’s cheapest and who takes damn Ralph’s Rewards points. What they are doing to combat malaria never enters into it- it’s like choosing a meth dealer for his 401k plan. Come on, Exxon, you’re a scumbag oil company- just own it. Don’t get all needy and weird. It’s like JR Ewing standing outside my house playing In Your Eyes on a boombox- not a good look for you. You want my respect- keep it real. Show me bloated executives lighting $100 bills on fire after dipping them in gasoline and tag it with “Yeah, we’re Exxon. Fuck you gonna do about it?” Or, better yet, skip the advertising altogether and TAKE MY RALPH’S REWARDS POINTS.

And GE is advertising a lot, which is really confusing because I never thought of them as especially evil…but now I’m starting to wonder what they’ve done! I mean, sure, there were all those kids who got stuck in discarded fridges back in the day, but that was when kids used to play outside and Apple solved that problem. And yet, still GE keeps running commercials to try and convince millennials that GE is a cool place to get a job while millennials are like, “dude- you had me at ‘job’.”

Frankly, I’m surprised Monsanto isn’t running commercials. They could show scientists working hard in labs inter-cut with gauzy, sunrise footage of Cal Seething- 082116- tomatofarmers in fields, happy kids around the world eating disturbingly oversized vegetables, then kids running in fields and city squares, then teenagers running on high school tracks, and finally adults running at the Olympics while a slowed-down, female-sung, acoustic version of “Feed the World” plays and a craggy American voice says “Get More Olympians with G.M.O’s”. Huh. That’s really satire. I swear.

But the most hateful ads during the Olympics are for NBC’s own programming. Look, you may think that the most powerful person in America is the President or the Chief Justice- but really it’s the NBC executive who can sit in a room full Cal Seething- 082116- kristenof otherwise intelligent people at the top of their field and say “hey- you know what we need- a snarky sitcom about the afterlife with Ted Danson and Kirsten Bell- where she plays a dead person who’s kind of a bitch and Heaven is just like the Grove!” and in the very long moments of dead silence that follows, not a single person in the room says “Are you out of your goddamn mind??? That’s the WORST FUCKING IDEA I’ve ever heard.” Instead they are all like  “I smell a hit!”, “Everyone loves Danson!”, “we can cram it down everyone’s throat during the Olympics!” Yeah- cause that strategy worked out soooo well for The New Normal. Remember The New Normal? No? OF COURSE YOU DON’T. NOBODY DOES. The only reason I do is that NBC spent two weeks trying to cram that ill conceived shit pile down my throat during the LAST OLYMPICS.

Then again, maybe the truly powerful person in this scenario is not the executive who greenlit the show, but the Svengali like producer who pitched it. I can just hear the pitch in TV-speak: “It’s like Cheers meets Touched by an Angel in a Samsung commercial” delivered in a peppy upbeat tone as if it’s not the most Cal Seething- 082116- pmbhorrifying combination of three things that the human mind has conceived since Puppy-Monkey-Baby. Just think of someone with these powers of persuasion could accomplish: bringing peace to the Middle East, reunifying North & South Korea, getting Republicans in Congress to do their damn jobs. And all of that miraculous potential wasted making terrible TV shows and earning lots and lots of money. I am horrified and disgusted and very, very jealous.

The other big show NBC is pushing is This Is Us- which appears to be a drama about people born in 1980 all turning Cal Seething- 082116- thisisus36 and finding themselves at a cross roads in their lives. And that means that….yes….wait for it…..millennials now have their own version of thirtysomething. As if Prince & David Bowie dying wasn’t bad enough, now we’ve got this little nugget to ponder when contemplating our mortality at 4 AM. Thanks, NBC for making 2016 even more depressing. I’d consider killing myself, but I’m terrified I’ll wind up in a Kristen Bell / Ted Danson vehicle.

Anyhow- I’m not sure why I’m acting so shocked that NBC’s programming is terrible. What more can I expect when everyone involved with the network who’s not named Wier, Lipinski or Questlove is hot garbage (as the kids say) (the “kids” are in their 30’s) (goddamn it) pretty much all of the time.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the Olympics, NBC is the only game in town. Mind you- there are a lot of different channels showing the Olympics- there’s NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Sports…uhm…NBC Basketball, NBC Soccer, NBC Universo- all sorts of options we can choose from to give ourselves the illusion of choice- late capitalism at its finest!  And because they have us by the balls, NBC has an interesting relationship with their Olympic viewers- it’s not as much “entertainer” and “audience” or “business” and “valued customer” as it is “bank robber” and “hostage”. They know we’re not going anywhere, so they feed us just enough Olympic action to keep us docile while they collect their ransom money from advertisers. And then, just for fun, they sadistically torment us with human interest stories and the inane blather of Al Michaels, Mike Tirico and Ryan Seacrest- the Three Amigos of Announcing Awfulness. And I know some of you are saying- “Hey wait- I love Al Michaels” but that’s just the Stockholm Syndrome talking. Cal Seething- 082116- alcrisThe only way to love Al Michaels is the way Patty Hearst loved the SLA- just ask Cris Collinsworth, if they ever get him deprogrammed.

Of course, NBC executives would deny that they are deliberately torturing viewers and would insist that they are just giving viewers what they really want. And, if these executives actually believe that’s the case- well, I have even less respect for them than ever.

You see, NBC’s research team discovered that more women watch the Olympics than men- and NBC wasn’t really sure what to do with this information. So they turned it over to their cracker jack team of all male team executives who brilliantly deduced that women who watch the Olympics aren’t actually interested in “watching the Olympics”. No- what they’re really interested in is the human drama- who the athletes are, where they come from, how much their moms had to sacrifice for their success, the extent to which having babies has changed their perspective on sports (but only if they’re women, natch- boys don’t change when they have babies, silly), the vital role played by their husbands/fiances in their success (also- only if they’re women or Tom Daley). Female viewers don’t actually want to watch “sporting events”- no! For those gals, the Olympics is just one big reality show, like The Bachelor with medals or the Real Athletes of Rio, so it’s important to cram the broadcast as full as possible of human interest stories, interviews and extended shots of swimmers between events sitting in the ready room – cause there’s nothing more exciting than watching the best athletes in the world at the Cal Seething- 082116- readyroompeak of their abilities sitting in folding chairs listening to Coldplay- can’t you just feel the drama?? “She’s sitting in a chair….She’s glowering straight ahead…wait…yes… she might be….YES…she put on her earbuds! She’s listening to music!!! She’s listening to COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD play.” And it doesn’t matter if they air events long after they end and the whole world knows the score. Everyone knows women don’t care about scores- why all those big scary numbers just boggle their scatterbrained little heads!


And what’s really impressive about these NBC executives is that they were able to gain such insight into the minds of female viewers without talking to any actual females. I’m not sure what, exactly, their stringent research protocol was to gain such a scientific understanding of the female mind- but I can only assume it had something to do with sitting in the parking lot of a gas n’ sip drinking beer on a Friday night saying “Bitches, man” (when asked why they didn’t consult any female viewers- they responded “by choice, man. Personal choice”.)Cal Seething- 082116- final5

Ironically, the real story of these games is that women- and particularly US women have been kicking huge amounts of ass which I’m sure NBC would notice if they weren’t so focused on their marriage proposals. I’m sure every young girl in America who watched the US Gymnastics team was totally inspired to follow her dreams and achieve greatness– that is, assuming her parents let her watch gymnastics at midnight- which a questionable timeslot for family inspirational togetherness viewing but a great one for lonely guys on the couch eating Pringles in their underwear and wondering when Beach Volleyball is coming on already.

Look, NBC- the Olympics don’t need you to make them great any more than American needs Tumpa-Lumpa. Trust me on this- I’ve been holed up in Palm Springs watching 12-14 hours of Olympic action each day subsisting on a strict Cal Seething- 082116- drinkregimen of breakfast cocktails and blender drinks (the Lochte diet.) And the daytime programming is way better because the focus is on the sports not inane blather, human interest schmaltz and inspirational advertising. I guess the evil corporations of the world figure that if you’re watching team table tennis in your underwear at 11 AM drinking pina coladas, then a lack of inspiration isn’t really as pressing a problem for you as, say, updating your LinkedIn profile or getting the hell out of Rio before the cops come for your passport.

But I think they’re just jealous- I proudly watched the Team Table Tennis finals and they were fantastic even though I had no idea which country was which or what gender they were or how many points were in a game or how many games in a set or how many sets in a match or why they kept switching between Singles and Doubles or how they would possibly know who won and when they won and how much they won by or how the hell Ping Pong ended up in the Olympics when the far superior games of Air Hockey and Skee-Ball still languish on the sidelines. And the announcer was no help- he just kept explaining the format by saying, “you know, it’s just like Davis Cup!’ – which is like giving directions to East Bumfuck by saying “you know, it’s just east of Bumfuck!” All I know is that it was crazy and fast moving and for that moment in time in that one place in the universe there was absolutely nothing more important than who came out on top. And as much as I love theatre- if I could produce or even see just one play that meant this much the people watching it or involved, then I could walk away happy except then I would have to get a real job and seriously, fuck that.

And it’s not even like I’m some huge table tennis fan. I much prefer Rugby 7’s – where, as my wife said, the whole game is like the last five Cal Seething- 082116- hockeyseconds of a football game when the whole thing just devolves into a crazy series of laterals – and who doesn’t want 14 straight minutes of the Music City Miracle (Bills fans excluded). And then there’s field hockey- where the field is as blue as the diving pool should be; and handball, invented by an alcoholic Yugolslavian gym teacher in the dead of winter who was running out of ideas for what to do inside and clearly getting desperate. Years later on his death bed, he was heard to mutter repeatedly “Goddamn it, Dodge Ball!! I forgot about Dodge Ball!!” And then there’s soccer, basketball, volleyball and all the running, jumping, twisting, turning, throwing, thrusting, stabbing, slashing, splashing, paddling, peddling, punching, rassling, riding, rowing, ribbon tossing, gun shooting and, I guess, whatever, golf. All of which has made of a terrific distraction from the floods, fires and fuckwads which have fouled up 2016.

But all things must end, except NBC’s contract with the Olympics. Just two weeks ago, the Olympics began with a festive tribute to slavery using a human hamster wheel and an earnest segment about how the earth is getting hotter because of the actions of man. Specifically this man:

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Holy crap! What’s Tongalese for “hubba hubba”? I hope you’re watching Exxon- Cause THAT’s an ad for oil!

In all seriousness, though, sustainability is an important theme of the Olympics which is why the medal winners are getting little Cal Seething- 082116- riostatueplastic statues of the Olympic logo instead of flowers. After all, flowers are wasteful cause they die and decompose but these plastic statues will last forever in a landfill! Oh well- at least the Olympic venues are sustainable since as soon as the games are over, they’ll be recycled into homeless encampments.

And that’s going to be pretty soon- because the games are just about over. The Closing Ceremonies are upon us, and Simone Biles will be carrying the flag for the US (Ryan Lochte was invited to do it but the invite came from the Rio police.) And the team she leads out reflects not only what is great about the Olympics- with their athletic prowess, sheer determination and mostly non-douchey behavior- but what’s actually great about America. Because it is a team that reflects the population of our country- and that in turn is a reflection of the entire world. And all of you that are composing angry messages to me in your heads about how that’s a load of crap because the team is still WAY TOO WHITE and all the power is in the hands of WHITE MEN and we still have a WHOLE LOT OF WORK TO DO- well- you guys also make America great since, like Subway, you’re always #StrivingforBetter and I totally mean that in the least patronizing way possible, no matter what Jezebel says about me.

And that gives us something to shoot for in 2020- or better yet, 2024 in LA! Just picture it- President Clinton enjoying the games as her second term winds down- and why shouldn’t she? She’s done a great job and once her granddaughter taught her Snapchat her presidency was scandal free. And she can be confident knowing that her legacy will be secure- after all Michelle is kicking ass in the polls- and while that may not be great news for McDonalds- it sure is great for America (not the beer, the country. You DO NOT want to hear Michelle’s opinion of beer).

And where will I be for the 2024 LA Olympics? Where do you think? In Palm Springs, of course, watching NBC and complaining about it (a Ted Danson / Elle Fanning sitcom about the Rapture? Are you kidding me????) with a pitcher of pina coladas and a mimosa.

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Oh yeah. That sounds pretty great to me.








[California Seething] – Suck it, Sochi!

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I have a bone to pick with Johnny Weir (Phrasing!) Thanks to his fabulous fashions, surprisingly thoughtful commentary and GBFCal Seething- 022414-weir (Gay Best Friend) chemistry with Tara Lipinsky (as described brilliantly by Madame HR) I can no longer tolerate regular figure skating commentators. It’s like coffee- there was a time when I could swig back anything – diner coffee, deli coffee, office coffee that’s made from pre-measured packets ordered in bulk from Staples which sits in the carafe getting hot and crusty all day like cholent on Shabbos – and has roughly the same impact on my colon, I didn’t care, I didn’t even taste it. Then Starbucks came along and all of a sudden, coffee was like this beverage with flavor that I was actually supposed to enjoy and not just some toxic sugary spew I choked down my throat ten times a day to keep myself from falling into a permanent vegetative state during my data entry job (you laugh- but I had to sign a DNR before I took that job. When the guy before me dropped, they went through his pockets for change and sold his shoes. Yeay Non Profit sector!) I was ruined! I haven’t been able to drink office coffee since. Hell, now I don’t even drink Starbucks. It’s a single-origin, shade-grown, fair-trade, home-roasted, fresh-ground, filtered-water, manual-drip mug of perfection at just the right temperature or nothing. And if you think typing all those hyphens was hard- try making the coffee- it takes me like nine fucking hours to make one cup- it’s literally the only thing in my life I’m remotely a perfectionist about. I can sit in a pile of used tissues, with my shirt buttoned wrong, my beard out of control like a superstitious hockey player on a deep playoff run, and so much cream cheese on my pants it’s like I dry-humped my bagel instead of eating it- but if the roast on my goddamn Ethiopia Sidamo is wrong I just freak the fuck out like Johnny Weir with a broken Bedazzler.  And it’s the same thing with figure skating – I used to just ignore the commentary, but after a couple mornings of sparkling wit and sparkling tiaras with Weir and Lipiniski, the prime time commentators seem like Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth in comparison and I DO NOT mean that as a compliment. I’m like a shark who’s developed a taste for human blood and now there’s no way I can go back to seals, especially when one of the seals is Sandra Bezic and she’s sitting next to Scott Hamilton spewing syrupy banalities like “she’s like a Cal Seething- 022414- primetimefigurine of a figure skater in a jewelry box but she’s so strong.” So….is that a good thing? Or a bad thing? Or….are you just super duper extra proud of the fact that you still have the exact same jewelry box that you did when you were a little girl with a Dorothy Hamil fixation and you’ve picked this particular moment to fucking humblebrag about it. And, sure, Scott Hamilton’s OK- like a 2nd favorite uncle that everyone knows is gay but no one’s allowed to say anything during those awkward moments at Thanksgiving when Nana says “So, Scotty, when are you give me some grandchildren?” which happen more and more frequently every year thanks to her creeping dementia and chronic alcoholism. And while Tom Hammond is doing remarkably well for a man who’s been completely drained of blood, all he ever does is tell us how long it’s been since random stuff happened in a really serious voice as though that’s supposed to add some fucking gravitas to the proceedings. “No Italian has won a medal in figure skating since 2002”, “This is the first time that US women have gone without a figure skating medal in consecutive Olympics since 1948”, “No American woman has touched the clammy, dead skin of my face without recoiling in horror and fleeing the room since 1986. Sigh. Hey, you guys want to hang out after the Ladies’ Final tonight? No? Oh. You got plans. That’s cool. No one has wanted to associate with me because of my unbearable personality and disturbing pallor since 2002. It gets so lonely. Sniff.”  Seriously dude, it’s like 80 degrees there- go to the ski slope and get a tan. You’re like one of those fish that lives its whole life in a cave and never sees the sun except those fish might have something interesting to say about ice skating.

Of course, Weir and Lipinski weren’t the only fabulous American pair on the ice – there were a couple of halfway decent Americans who were actually competing in the games. I’m speaking, of course, of ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Now, usually, weCal Seething- 022414-daviswhite don’t get to see much ice dancing at the Olympics – but this year, by some totally crazy coincidence, NBC decided to show a lot more of it right when we had a couple of Americans competing for the gold. Weird, right? It’s like they were all “Fuck it. Ice Dancing. Why not? Wait- what we’ve got Americans that are good at this??? Reeeeaaaally? ! had no idea! What a coinkerdinker.” Not that I mind. I’d always rather watch something Americans are good at then watch Bjorn Olafson and Bjorn Erickson bjorning it out with each other over a 50,000 mile cross country race for the honor of blond people and a lifetime supply of reindeer meat. I’m actually proud of America for sucking at Cross Country. All that grim determination and grueling exertion- fuck that shit. That’s not the American way to win medals. No- the American way is to keep making up new crazy-ass flippy-flip snowboarding events that nobody else in the world knows how to do yet- and then, when other countries figure out how to do these events better than us, because they actually work hard and practice, we just come up with something newer and cooler and it’s like “Oh, you guys is Switzerland are still into halfpipe? That’s, like, soooo 1998. We’re all totally doing Slopestyle now.” And, you know what- that’s awesome! I mean, sure, we may not have the best conditioned athletes in the world,  and we steal all our winter sports ideas from Gleaming the Cube– but, hey- if you give a big pile of snow to a bunch of Americans, Cal Seething- 022414- gleamingwe’ll get stoned as shit and figure out how many times we can flip around in the air and we’ll call it a YOLO McTwist 420. Give snow to a bunch of Norwegians- and they’ll go very slowly in a straight line until they die. Which country would you rather be from? Now wait- don’t base your answer on quality of life, education, culture, economic stability or healthcare- just stick to winter sports coolness.

So, yeah- it’s fine to suck at Cross Country- but- I do have to admit I was a little disappointed by our Biathalon results. I mean- we’re the gun craziest country on earth- how can we be so bad at shooting? Is it just that Americans aren’t used to this type of target shooting? Would we do better if they put little hoodies on the targets? Or – maybe instead of a rifle range, we could do our shooting in a school cafeteria?

The Russians, on the other hand, are great at Biathalon, but that’s cause skiing and shooting is how they hunt gays.

The worst part about the Biathalon is that, if you screw up at shooting, you have to ski a penalty lap. That’s how much Cross Country sucks- the worst way they could think of to punish bad shooters was to make them do more Cross Country skiing. That would never work with Half Pipe- snowboarders would be missing shots on purpose. “Ooops, 0 for 5. Oh, shuckey-darn. I guess it’s 5 more runs for meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!” But Cross Country- that’s how Norwegian parents make their kids eat their vegetables “Finish all your Brussels sprouts, Bjorn, or it’s an extra 10,000 meters before bedtime.”

Anyhow, like I was saying about Meryl Davis and Charlie White….at some point earlier today I’m sure, they dominated the Ice Dancing competition and, in the process, they reminded all of us Americans that we are so are so pathetically desperate to soak up Olympic glory that we’re even willing to learn what a “twizzle” is and why we should give a fuck what a good one looks like. We’re the ones making the real sacrifices here. Also, and I’m not ashamed to admit this, I have a total hair crush on Charlie White. The downy Wonder Bread cloud of golden curls softly flouncing about, a little bit shaggy and totally loveable like an adorable, welCal Seething- 022414- whitel           groomed sheepdog- that’s exactly what I had in mind when I grew my hair out for the first time at 15 into a pumpernickel black, unwieldy, steel wool Jew-Fro like a crackhead’s poodle.  And that would be the best my hair would get. By the time I was in my mid-20’s my hairline had already entered the Great Recession and the time had come to give up and cut it short for good. So, for me, the American Ice Dancing triumph was about more than patriotism or athletic achievement- it was about basking vicariously in the Gold Medal glow of Charlie White’s golden locks and remembering the shadows of my own Olympic caliber fantasies of fabulous hair. Because, you see, for those of us that are follicularly challenged- there are no Paralympics- so we must watch as Charlie White lives the dream for us all in Sochi, and think of what might have been….

While White and Davis fulfilled their Olympic dreams, many of the highly vaunted American athletes did not. There was Shaun White who failed to medal much to the smirking delight of every single snowboarder because they naturally hate him for all the attention, funding and opportunities he brought to their sport and also because he’s this enormous douche. Lindsey Jacobellis did a masterful impression of Llewyn Davis when she totally sabotaged her chances for success by falling in the semi-finals with a clearCal Seething- 022414-womenhockey lead for the third Olympics in a row. The U.S. Men’s Hockey team beat Russia in an early round game and gave Al Michaels a throbbing 1980 Cold War Nostalgia erection that lasted right up until they lost to Canada in the semi’s and were Finnish-ed off in the Bronze medal game. And the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team lost to Canada in heart-breaking fashion and wept so copiously as they received the Silver Medal that their coach seriously regretted joking “hey, you lose this one, you’re staying in Sochi”.

But of course, the biggest US failure was the Speed Skating Team which medaled in only one of the bazillion events they competed in. The real surprise, to me, though isn’t that we suck at Speed Skating- it’s that we were supposed to be good in the first place. I mean, I always figured that Speed Skating was one of those crazy-freaky things that’s super-important in the rest of the world but is just kind of a weird novelty here like soccer or hazelnut spread or learning science and math. It turns out we were actually coming into the Olympics favored to win a bunch of medals and ended up totally humiliating ourselves. U-S-A! Most people blamed the new Under Armour suits that the skaters wore during the Games- though they kept on losing when they switched back to their old suits….which were also made by Under Armour….so….maybe they sucked, too. In response to these Cal Seething- 022414- speedskateconcerns, the US Speedskating Association took immediate and decisive action and renewed their sponsorship contract with Under Armour for another eight years. That’ll learn ‘em! 2026 is gonna be our year! Never underestimate the power of greed to triumph over the Olympic spirit. For those that don’t get why this big contract seems foolish- just substitute “Jerry Jones” for “U.S. Speedskating Association” and “Tony Romo” for “Under Armour”. And if you still aren’t sure what I’m talking about, just think about how you felt in 2004 when we re-elected George Bush and you’ll know exactly what our Speedskaters are going through. And, yes- I am getting all worked up about Speed Skating – you got a problem with that? Winter sports to me are like Judaism and politics- I fast on Yom Kippur, vote in Presidential Elections and give a fuck about Speed Skating during the Winter Olympics. So long, Speedsuckers! Have fun with your Loser Suits. See you in 2018 in South Korea. I hope President Clinton can come to the Games!

So, yeah, the Olympics were kind of a bust for the American team- but not all hope is lost. On March 7, the Paralympics begin and, thanks to Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. has loads of great new Paralympians just itching to work off their PTSD on the slopes and rinks of Sochi and not on their long suffering loved ones.  Thanks, George Bush! U-S-A! U-S-A!

And that brings us to the Closing Ceremonies. The theme of the Closing Ceremonies was “a buncha people making stupid shapes on the ground and shit” Cal Seething- 022414- shapeswhich was also the same as the Opening Ceremony and the last Opening Ceremony and every Ceremony at every Olympics since they figured out how to film stuff from above (fuck you, too Busby Berkeley.) Seriously- I get it- volunteer slave labor making circles. Whoopidie-doo. But according to the organizers, the Closing Ceremonies were a tribute to Russian art, culture & literature. I meant to come up with all sorts of witty things to say about the Ceremonies, but I fell asleep, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the best way to pay tribute to Russian art, culture and literature. I did notice that many of the writers who were honored during the Ceremonies had been persecuted during their lifetimes and this got me super-psyched for the Pussy Riot Tribute Concert at the 2042 St. Petersburg Games.

As if Russian art, culture and literature weren’t bad enough- Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were brought in to comment on the proceedings. It’s like NBC was saying “Hey loyal viewers- we want to thank for sticking with us all the way to the end of the crazy Cal Seething- 022414-almikeOlympic ride. So as a very special treat, why don’t you all go fuck yourselves?” I mean, seriously, NBC- why you gotta play me like that? Didn’t I stick with you through all of those goddamn Cadillac commercials with the asshole who talks about how Americans are sooooo great because we don’t take enough vacation time (like that’s really our fucking choice) and how we’re the ONLY ones going back up to the moon- even though we can’t afford the gas money to go there on a  Russian rocket? And didn’t I stick with you when you showed that fucking documentary about that Russian orphan swimmer girl with no legs who was adopted by a loving American family in the Baltimore suburbs and came back to Russia to meet her biological family only to realize just how UNBELIEVABLY FUCKING AMAZING LIVING IN THE SUBURBS OF BALTIMORE ACTUALLY IS? And didn’t I stick with you when you kept trying over and over and over and over again to convince me that Living with Fisher would be funny because it’s about a blind guy- when we all know that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet and an enormous hunk of shit about a blind guy is still just AN ENORMOUS HUNK OF SHIT . Well, didn’t I???? And after 18 grueling emotional days together through ups and downs, triumph and defeat, good times and bad, Costas and Lauer- you give me the Michaels and Collinsworth on the final night??? Laurel and Hardly?? Tweedledee and Tweedeldipshit? I mean, I get it – I know all the good commentators got the hell out of Sochi just as fast as their little legs could carry them, and so you were totally relieved when you found Al Michaels still in Sochi, lying face down on the ice of the hockey rink in a pool of Stoli vomit and half-digested Qualuudes wearing nothing but a dickey yelling “I DON’T BELIEVE IN MIRACLES” with Cris Collinsworth sitting on the ice smiling brainlessly next to him saying “Yes, It sure has been one heck of an Olympics, Al.” so you dragged them over to the Fisht Stadium (Wait, are we not even saying “Phrasing” any more?) sat them down with Vladimir Posner who dropped such bon mots as “every country is special in its own way” which is also what he tells his autistic son when he takes all the other kids to Disneyland and subjected your loyal viewers to three hours of misery, boredom, suffering and torture. And it that doesn’t say “ a tribute Russian art, culture and literature”- I don’t know what does? Well done, NBC!

Oh yeah, there was also that enormous bear that blew out the cauldron before shedding a single tear just like Russian orphans do Cal Seething-022414-bearon their birthday when they make a wish to go to America- only much much more disturbing that that. More disturbing even than the no legged swimmer girl.

So, here I am. The Olympics are over. After two glorious weeks of avoiding reality with high flying Olympic competition, it’s time to come back down to earth and avoid reality using regular television – which is not nearly as fun. I’m watching Speed for God’s sake- which is like Gravity on the bus. And, sure, it’s the best movie ever made about the perils of public transport in Los Angeles that wasn’t produced by concerned parents in Beverly Hills (if you haven’t seen this-watch it now) but it can’t compare to the glorious bubble of unreality that can only be experienced by obsessively watching a long running athletic tournament at all hours of the day and night. Between Kiev, Venezuela and Arizona (Jan Brewer only vetoed that bill because there’s no religious objection to serving Mexicans) all I can say is- MARCH MADNESS IS ONLY THREE WEEKS AWAY! Thank fucking God. I was this close to knowing what’s going on in the world. Phew!

[Lessons From The TV People] Winter Olympics Viewing Guide

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We are now a week into the Winter Olympics and here are a few ideas to help boost your involvement with the Games. Ready?

  • Mock the “Ready?” voice prior to the start of the speed skating events. (It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to a Russian accent. I tend to only be able to do only a word or phrase with accents. Like my Australian accent consists of saying, “Foster’s. Australian For Beer.” and my Scottish accent is “Ewen MacGregor is great.”)
  • Skeleton is insane. Slopestyle is insane. Heck, anything involving a snowboard is insane. Say, “that’s insane!” out loud when watching these events.
  • Yell, “Sweep! Sweep! Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!” while Curling is on. (I enjoy watching Curling. It’s nice to know that there’s still an Olympic event that I could still possibly do.  All you need are good knees and a broom.)Bob Costas v. Matt Lauer
  • Worry about Bob Costas and his diseased eyes. Does anyone know what actually happened? Did he wash his face with the impotable Sochi hotel water? Was this all a plot to take over the broadcast by Matt Lauer? LAUER!!!!!!!
  • Don’t worry about the Costas Infected Eyes’ social media presence. “For those of you wondering why I’m wearing my glasses, I have contracted an infec-“ Boom! Twitter account. “—tion in my right eye.”
  • While watching downhill skiing, be sure to sing, “I like the way you work it, Ted Ligety” to the tune of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”. This gem is courtesy of my brother. Direct all complaints to him. This is the third Winter Olympics that Ligety is skiing for America. So that’s three times that I’ve sang that every time I hear Ligety’s Ted Ligetyname. Even when that Day-Quil commercial comes on.
  • Sit in judgment of the outfits. Not just the glittery Figure Skating costumes. You expect those. It’s the Norway Men’s Curling Team. Please google them. They’ve been wearing a different pair of whack-a-doodle printed pants for each of their matches. Actually, don’t judge them. Love them.
  • You can, however, sit in judgment of the US’s Opening Ceremony digs. The busy sweaters were not my favorite. When I see ugly American team outfits, I can’t help but think back to Norway Men's Curling Teamwhen I was a little girl and there was a campaign to vote on the top three looks for the (I think?) 1984 Summer Olympics.  I remember filling out a ballot and the outfit I voted for did not win. Now I say to the TV, “Who voted for that?” (Side note: the store I cast my ballot at was a clothing store called Kick In the Pants. The sign had a donkey in jeans kicking. Now that I’ve typed that out I wonder if I made it up.)

I hope these suggestions enhance your enjoyment of the Winter Olympic Games. Please feel free to suggest your own Rocky Horror Picture Show style interactions with the athletes that have worked all their lives for this moment while you watch from your sofa.

Ted Ligety. You’re welcome.



[California Seething] So…Yeah…Sochi

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Look, I’ve never been to Russia. For Jews, Russia isn’t a place we go to, it’s a place we flee from. All I know is that when I read all the crazy stories coming from Sochi about nightmarish accommodations where the only thing that works right is the camera in the shower , I want to build a time machine, go back to 1921 and give my great grandmother a great bigCal Seething-021014-water sloppy kiss and a box of See’s Candy for getting the fuck out of that godforsaken shithole of a country with it’s unique brand of cold, misery, drunkenness, feral dogs, violence, repression, xenophobia, homophobia, corruption, incompetence, Pogroms and ballet and making her way to Troy, NY….with it’s unique brand of cold, misery, drunkenness, repression, corruption, incompetence- but…no Pogroms- so, you, know, baby steps (no ballet either). Just think about that for a second- Troy was a BETTER alternative to Russia- do you know how few things Troy is better than? You can’t even make a Jeopardy category out of it- pretty much just Russia, suffocating to death in an abandoned fridge, and Utica. Even Worcester and chlamydia don’t make the cut (don’t get cocky, Worcester- you’ve got a long way to go to catch up with bacne.)

So, naturally I was a little concerned when I was chosen to cover the Olympics for Been & Going but then I remembered that we have no money, so I would just be covering the Olympics from the couch. Which means, on the bright side, I won’t get pink eye from a Soviet Cal Seething-021014-costasera jizz covered pillowcase like Bob Costas, but if my tap water does look like piss, I can’t blame Putin. (SOCHI DRINKING GAME: Do a shot of vodka every time Putin is shown or mentioned. Then vomit prodigiously after the first hour of prime time coverage- not from the vodka but because he’s such a sickening piece of shit. Also cause of the vodka.)

Those of us that grew up during the Cold War were made to believe that Russia was a terrible place because of Communism. But now that the Cold War has been over for more than 20 years (can you believe it? Almost all the Olympic athletes were born after it ended. Isn’t that great? I love kids from the 90’s – they make kids from the 80’s feel bad about themselves) it is clear that Communism was never really the problem. In fact, it’s quite the opposite- Communism was a perfectly good political philosophy that was totally ruined by when the Russians co-opted it- the way Grunge was ruined by frat boys and Facebook was ruined by Moms.

But all that Communism stuff is in the past. This is New Russia, the Strong Russia, Putin’s Russia (SHOT!). A Russia that honors its hateful past while marching bravely to a hateful future. And to honor Russia’s history and culture Putin invited the Cossacks to assist with Cal Seething-021014-cossacksecurity at the Games. The Cossacks, for those that don’t know, are a proud warrior caste with a long and distinguished history of wearing huge hats and killing Jews- and they’re damn good at it! For centuries, nobody killed Jews like the Cossacks. If Hitler is the Michael Jordan of killing Jews, these guys are Doctor J. It’s like bringing in the Klan to honor Southern history and culture . Don’t get me wrong- I don’t mean to suggest that Putin is going after Jews. I mean, I’m sure he would if he could find any, but he’s found it a lot easier to go after LGBTQ (did I get all the letters?) individuals- a strategy he refers to as “beating the low hanging fruit”. So one unintended upside of having the Olympics in Sochi is that there may be much more awareness of the horrendous human rights abuses taking place in Russia. After all, if SportsCenter is having a conversation about Equality and it doesn’t have to do with how competitive the NFC West is, then that can’t be a bad thing.

Also, it’s a great opportunity for protest. Like snowboarder Alex Sobolev who openly displayed an illustration of a woman in a ski mask on the bottom of his board after competing- clearly as a tribute to Pussy Riot. I got to tell you, this really Cal Seething-021014-sobolevmakes it clear what a gigantic chicken Shawn White is for pulling out of the Slopestyle event cause the course was too tough. I mean, Sobolev is not only taking on the course- he’s taking on the wrath of a ruthless dictator while little Shawney Whitey-poo won’t even snowboard on the mean old Slopestyle course cause he’s afraid that his precious little haircut will get messed up by a catastrophic brain injury– wah-wah-wah…cue Arrested Development style chicken dance….now. Still- I hope that the course claims Sobolev before Putin gets his hands on him. That Olympic cauldron is fueled with stray dogs and the bones of athletes who thought they had something to say. (UPDATE: The board’s designers have announced that the image of the woman in the ski mask was not inspired by Pussy Riot and any resemblance is strictly coincidental much to the disappointment of bloodthirsty Cossacks and wild dogs looking forward to having snowboarder for dinner.)

Anyhow, I know that many of you aren’t watching the Olympics due to politics or apathy or because you’re reading this column right now and thinking CRAP! I totally forgot the Olympics were on! So, for all of you and also those that are actually watching the Games- here’s my first installment from Sochi- a recap of the Opening Ceremonies. Now, for those of you that followed my Epic Live Blog of the event- don’t worry – there’s lots of new stuff, too! But if you do happen to come across a joke that you’ve seen before, I ask that you please laugh again because I’m incredibly needy. You can make a drinking game out of it and do a shot of vodka after each joke you’ve heard already. Hopefully you won’t get violently ill after the first paragraph, not just because of the vodka but because I’m such a sickening hack.

Cal Seething-021014-ringfail

This was the first fail of the Sochi games. Well, second if you include “being in Sochi”. Or, third, I suppose, if you include choosing “Hot. Cool. Yours” as the slogan. I thought the Russians were against gay propaganda? Anyhow, it was the first fail of the Opening Ceremonies- although in Russia, they didn’t actually show the gaffe- choosing instead to show rehearsal footage where the snowflakes all transformed perfectly- which means that the children of the “Snowflake Technician” will never know why Daddy didn’t come home from the Olympics the day before their house burned down. They were so proud of him. They made construction paper cards and everything.

?Hero girl? at Sochi Winter Games opening ceremony?Hero girl? at Sochi Winter Games opening ceremonyCal Seething- 021014- girl

?Hero girl? at Sochi Winter Games opening ceremony

Look- it’s an innocent young Russian girl about to be sold into white slavery  (SHOT!) This is just Putin’s way of teasing childless Americans with all the beautiful blond children they can’t get any more. What a dick- it’s like eating ice cream in front of a diabetic. I mean he’s quite literally dangling her right in front of us – he might as well be saying “Ooooh, look Americans. It’s a gorgeous blue eyed little white girl- want to adopt?? PSYCH! No white baby for you. Oh, boo-hoo, does that make you sad? Here is quarter, call China.” Not that I can blame Putin- who knows what sort of Western evils children may be exposed to in America while they are being raised by parents who love and nurture them and would do anything to give them a better life. Much safer to leave them in orphanages where they can be emotionally and physically abused in the traditional Russian way (SPOILER ALERT: The Russians don’t always love their children, too #sorrysting)

Cal Seething- 021014-chorus

Wow! The Gay Men’s Chorus is really rockin’ that Russian anthem. Who’s Hot, who’s Cool and who’s Yours? MEOW. (SHOT!)

This is not to be confused with the Russian Police Chorus whose performance of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” has charmed the world in a patronizing cat-video “oooh look, they think they’re people” sort of way. Cal Seething- 021414-getluckyBut, fair enough, I get it, those Russian policemen are totes adorbs right up until they scream “faggot” and crack open your skull with a stick.

Cal Seething- 021014-mcdonalds

Time for a quick word of thanks to the four most important Olympic sponsors- Coke, McDonald’s, Greed and Irony. If you’ve had a Coke in the last 86 years, then you’re part of the Olympic Dream and Michelle Obama’s worst nightmares.

Cal Seething- 021014-parade

Oh boy- it’s the Parade of Nations- and remember, they’re going to enter in the order of the Cyrillic alphabet. Oh Russia, you’re so cute. You’re attitude towards gays is as backwards as your “R”s (SHOT!)

Cal Seething- 021014-womaninwhite

Hey Sochi, the future called, they want their hookers back. (SHOT!)

2014 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

Look- it’s Israel- go Israel go! No, seriously, go, get the hell out – they have Cossacks doing security for God’s sake- RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE. (SHOT! This is starting to get embarrassing.)

And- right after Israel, we’ve got Iran. Bob Costas (or Matt Lauer- who can tell?) was a little snarky about this- suggesting that Israelis and Iranians can’t get along when they’re in close proximity. Clearly Bob Costas hasn’t been to Beverly Hills recently. I mean, hey- the Beverly Center’s not knee deep in blood so they should be able to stand next to each other in line for a few minutes peacefully, as long as they don’t run out of baba ghanoush on the craft services table.

2014 Winter Olympic Games - Opening CeremonyCal Seething- 021014- bermuda

Seriously, Bermuda- put some fucking pants on. Grow up already. You look like the cast of Richie Rich: The Musical (AMERICAN CHOPPER Fans: substitute Mikey Tuttle: The Musical. It’s actually funnier.)

Cal Seething-021014-nepal

Seriously, Nepal, get a real flag. You’re like the girl who wore the tu-tu on her first day of kindergarten. I know everybody made a oood and ahhhed and said how adorable it was, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to keep wearing it every day til you’re in fifth grade and  it’s all torn and covered in chocolate stains and the teachers want to put you in Special Ed. It’s like your 11th Olympics already, Nepal. You’re a big girl country now, get a big girl flag.

Olympics: Opening Ceremony

Seriously Putin, would it kill you to fucking smile? You look like $1 billion went into the Olympics and the other $50 billion is shoved up your ass. (SHOT!- cause of Putin and the joke you’ve heard. So- 2 SHOTS!) I know, I know, it sucks seeing all these countries walk in that should just be part of the USSR. I get it- I wish the Parade of Nations were shorter too. At least I can watch House Hunters when this gets boring while you’re stuck there having to clap for Kyrgyzstan. And, yeah, I don’t want to live in a world where I have to spell Kyrgyzstan either- but come, on it’s not so bad. You can still exert your will and crush their democracies when they try and join the E.U. Come on, who’s a happy dictator? Who’s a happy dictator??Cal Seething-021014-putinsmileThere you go! Now that wasn’t so bad was it?

Cal Seething-021014-jamaica

Look- the Jamaican Bobsled Team is back! They couldn’t make it for the last two Olympics, but they weren’t gonna miss this one, cause they heard the guys from Colorado has some primo shit. You know, a lot of people have been saying that the Winter Olympics unfairly favors small, white European nations way out of proportion to their actual population or importance in today’s world, but I actually think it’s better to be from a country with no winter sports tradition, since you can be terrible at your event and still totally make it to the Olympics cause you’re the only one who does it. Just ask Mongolia’s top figure skater, this guy:Cal Seething- 021014-mongoliaDoesn’t look like much, but he’s the goddamn Gracie Gold of Ulan Bator. I mean, If you’re a Norwegian cross country skier and you don’t medal- you’re derided in the press and publically ridiculed – but all this Mongolian guy has to do is carry a flag in his underpants and he’s a goddamn inspirational Olympic hero.

Plus- have you been to Norway in winter? Cross Country skiing is all they have to live for. When Norway didn’t medal in 2010, they were pulling white people out of fjords until the middle of August- which is like two weeks longer than usual.

Speaking of Olympians from small countries- here’s my favorite Tongan luger Bruno Banani.

Cal Seething- 021014- bruno

Banani, who was born Fuahea Semi but changed his name 8 years ago to match his sponsor, German underwear manufacturer Bruno Banani. Can you imagine such crass, vulgar commercialism at the Olympics? Bob Costas certainly gave him a piece of his mind during the Subway Fresh Talk Minute. I would love to get on the condemnation train, but I would change my name to Calvin Klein in a second for a $200 donation to Been & Going and a pair of husky sized boxer briefs. Not that Calvin Klein is banging down my door exactly. I wonder who made those undies for the Mongolian team? Blue is totally my color.

Cal Seething- 021014- USA

U-S-A! U-S-A! Better not dip that flag! Unlike every other country in the world, the U.S. hasn’t dipped our flag in salute to the home country’s ruler since 1932- also, the first year we were elected “Douchiest Olympians” by the rest of the world (still undefeated!). Personally, I think it’s great- fuck the world! It’s chest pounding, eagle flying, unabashed jingoism time- hell, that’s what the Olympics are all about! It’s the only time we get to shamelessly kick other country’s butts without having to feel bad or worry about building democracy afterwards.

Cal Seething- 021014- russia

Thank god. The Russian team. Finally someone I can shamelessly boo. Boo, Ruskies, booo! Go back to Russia…oh wait. Also, this means the Parade of Nations is over- and it’s about damn time. Now I know how the Russians used to feel when they waited in line for bread. And aren’t things so much better there now that they have no bread at all?

Cal Seething- 021014-stbasil

OK, so this part is a celebration of Russia’s history. See- that’s St. Basil’s Cathedral- and according to Matt Lauer (or is it Bob Costas?) “St. Basil’s Cathedral was built by Ivan the Terrible, who poked out the architect’s eyes so it could never be repeated.” Let’s be clear, folks,- this is the feel good part of the show. (SHOT!)

2014 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

Now we come to one of the most beautiful parts of the night. The extremely lengthy ballet sequence inspired by War and Peace. This is a stirring reminder of Russia’s contributions to the arts. The music of Tchaikovsky, the films of Eisentstein, the ballet of Diaghilev – so many of the world’s unbelievably boring masterworks were given to us by Russian homosexuals. Is it any wonder they fought a revolution? This was the entertainment of the times. I would start a revolution, too just to get out of sitting through another fucking Swan Lake. Hell, I went to see The Cherry Orchard and almost burned the theatre down at intermission just so I could get them to STOP WHINING AND SELL THE FUCKING ORCHARD. SELL IT SELL IT SELL IT SELL IT SELL IT SELL IT SELL IT!!!!!! You’re broke, you’re desperate, the summer cottage people are gonna give you top Ruble and I just want to go home so shut your fucking borscht hole already and SELL THE GODDAMN ORCHARD!!!!!! God, I hate Chekhov. Unless you’re talking about the navigator on Star Trek, I want nothing to do with him.

Of course, as the Opening Ceremonies taught us, there was no Revolution in Russia- just a peaceful transition into an era of industrialization and growth- followed, of course, by the wild and crazy rock n’ roll years of the swingin’ Stalinist 50’s- see:

Cal Seething-021014-1950s

Gotta love these ceremonies. They took Battleship Potemkin and remade it into Bye, Bye Birdie. It’s like Russia’s applying for its place in the modern world with the most bullshit resume ever. Now I don’t feel so bad about exaggerating my JavaScript skills and saying I speak French. At least I didn’t TOTALLY FALSIFY ALL OF MY EXPERIENCE IN THE 20TH CENTURY (just parts of the 90’s).

Of course, Russians weren’t the only ones engaging in a little bit of revisionism. NBC did it’s part by cutting the anti-discrimination statement out of IOC Thomas Bach’s speech because Russia promised to give Bob Costas his real eye drops back.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Now there are those that are cynically saying this omission was political- but those people are showing no respect for NBC’s proud and storied legacy of bungling incompetence at the Olympics. Personally, I prefer to believe that this omission was not the result of censorship and repression but rather corporate greed, terrible decision making and mind boggling incompetence. But then again, I’m an optimist.

Well, there you have it. Despite all the apprehension, The Opening Ceremonies went off almost without a hitch much to the disappointment of millions including myself.  For the next two weeks, we’ll enjoy skating, skiing and the dulcet tones of Mary Carillo’s disturbingly masculine voice as she travels through Russia looking for stuff to film that will make it seem less hateful to us. Yeah, good luck with that, Mary. As for me, I’m looking forward to enjoying the Olympics from the comfort of my couch where the only dog is mine and he sure as hell ain’t wild (unless you count “fuzzy lump on the floor” as “being wild”) and I don’t have to share a toilet stall (so nice of the Russian Olympic Committee to hire Larry Craig as a consultant). Stay tuned for a complete Olympic recap in my next post  (plus some other stuff)- meanwhile, as Putin’s girlfriend said “who do I have to fuck to light the Olympic cauldron around here?” (SHOT! Ugh- I don’t feel so good).


[HorroR Stories] Teamwork Sucks! Hurray Teamwork!

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Hello my lovelies! Did you miss me? Yes, I know, I’ve been remiss of late in my pledge to help you navigate the perils of the workplace. What can I say but my current workplace has been a little more perilous than usual and as such, demanding a lot of Mme HR’s attention. Trust me, I’d rather be spending my time with you, my friends, but since you aren’t paying me yet, I’m gonna have to keep slogging away in the salt mines.

When I haven’t been slaving away and solving the myriad of problems my dumb managers seem to throw my way (and I mean “dumb” in the bestest most respectful way so I don’t want any moms out there chastising me for using the word “dumb”), I’ve been watching the early Olympics coverage. And, as a former serious fan of figure skating but not so much anymore, I can’t help but watch this new “team” figure skating thing that’s been going on. Mostly because it’s the only thing that’s been on, but that’s immaterial. “Team” figure skating? What the heck is this crap?

JohnnyBut before I start talking about that, can I take a small moment and say how much I really really want Johnny Weir to be my new best friend? He, teamed up with Tara Lipinski, has been doing the daytime commentary for the “team” figure skating competition in the most fabulous and fantastic way. His jewelry alone deserves it’s own medal. And the best part is that he’s a great commentator! While silly Tara says stupid things like “Oh, I could never do that!” when asked what a “twizzle” is, Johnny actually answers the question in an informative way while still imparting how freaking difficult it is: “It’s like a spin with movement, which is incredibly difficult to execute.” (Not a direct quote, but close enough). And he’s doing it all while wearing a wonderful gold necklace and matching earrings. I never thought I could accept a figure skating commentator who wasn’t Scott Hamilton, but I have to say Johnny has won me over, not just for the fabulousness but he is actually good at the commentating thing too.  So lay off Johnny Weir, America, he’s not single-handedly responsible for making Russia change their homophobic ways.

Ok, now back to teamwork. You may or may not know that this is the first time they’ve had a “team” figure skating event at the Olympics. It’s got me thinking, in this very individualized sport, that’s it’s like the people who came up with this idea were sitting around thinking, “how do we get medals for everybody?” “Team figure skating! Hurray!” Look at the Russian team, for example, they started out with a strong performance from sentimental favorite and old guy Evgeni Plushenko. He never would have gotten a medal in this Olympics by himself, but now he’s going to get a gold (as of the writing of this). Hurray teamwork!Evengi

And then there are the Americans. They are middling in the men’s individual and pairs, occasionally good on women’s individual and fantastic in ice dance. Right now they are sitting at Bronze, purely because the ice dancing pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White (who, by the way, has the cutest moppiest hair you’ll ever see in figure skating) scored the highest score that has ever been scored in ice dancing. So, their loser teammates who have been falling all over the ice will now get a bronze medal. Hurray teamwork!

falling2So there you go, right? That’s why we mangers love to spout about teamwork because it is kind of a “medals for everybody” kind of thing. The superstars balance out the bozos so that all of us just look good-enough. And there’s nothing better than good-enough, right? In an interesting moment, Tara and Johnny were talking about the idea that no one wants to waste their best performance for the “team” event. In Tara’s opinion, and if you look at what happened to her at the Olympics, it’s all about when you peak. And what if, quelle horreur, you peak during the “team” competition? Even if your team got the gold, would that be good enough if you don’t medal at all in the individual? I challenge that it won’t, unless you’re the old Russian guy who has a bad back and probably won’t even skate in the individual event.falling

It makes me think, as we are in the midst of performance review season, are our superstars also good team players? Do they sacrifice some of their individual performance for the team? Would they be better as individual contributors? Is it even right to include both in the review? I don’t know, probably not. Before I was a manager I was a superstar individual contributor and I hated working with a team. Now that I am a manager, I need my team. I know they have strengths and weaknesses but hopefully we can find some sort of yin yang thing with that. Maybe when managers spout about teamwork we are just serving ourselves? Maybe. But I’m OK with that, meryl and charliebut not so much with this “team” figure skating thing.

[California Seething] Here’s to 2014- The Year of No Renovations

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Cal Seething- Jan 6- Ryan

Hey, what d’ya know- it’s January! That means that for the two-thousand and fourteenth time since the (presumed) birth of Christ and the second time since the (confirmed) death of Dick Clark (America’s Deadest Teenager) another year has begun. Enjoy your moment in the sun, Seacrest- for sooner than you think, the Four Horsemen of Celebrity Irrelevance (Age, Overexposure, Bitchy Media, Fickle Fans) will come for you. Then you’ll be that forgotten old man in the studio, face locked in place by the rigor mortis of plastic surgery, kept safe and far away from the action and relegated to leading the countdown at midnight while millions of viewers and a dozen very nervous producers watch on pins and needles- simultaneously cheering for you to finish successfully and shamefully wishing for your humiliating failure. All except me- I’m just gonna hope you fail. Oooooh, that’s gonna be sweet. I just hope my dementia won’t be so far advanced that I’ll still be able to remember who you are how much I hate your stupid face so I can properly revel in your decrepitude. That’s something to fucking live for.

Anyhow, 2014 promises to be a remarkable year– with something great for everyone! For instance, if you love ice dancing but Cal Seething- Jan 6- Putinhate gay people- the Sochi Olympics are perfect for you! Putin’s even getting wireless receivers installed, so he can watch from inside the Closet. Of course, there’s more space in that closet now that Brian Boitano has come out- an announcement which elicited the exact same response as Joan Fontaine’s death “Didn’t that happen years ago?” Not that Putin ever thinks of Brian Boitano in that way. Or at least, not very often- and when he does he immediately has to rip his shirt off and wrestle a bear.

So, yeah, the Winter Olympics is one of the gayest sporting events around- right up there with Ru Paul’s Drag Race and all WNBA games- -so why would the IOC possibly put them in a country where you can’t even say “Biathalon” without being arrested for spreading homosexual propaganda? And if they had to put the Winter Games in Russia- how did they manage to find the one fucking Russian city where it’s not actually cold? I mean if there’s one thing Russia has going for it is that it’s REALLY REALLY REALLY cold just about everywhere. Don’t take my word for it- ask Napoleon and Hitler. So finding a COLD Winter Olympics site in Russia really shouldn’t be all that hard- hell, I’ve never even been there and I can think of six, it’s like finding hay in a haystack. And I don’t want to imply that greed, corruption and graft were involved in making this choice- I prefer to simply say it outright “greed, corruption and graft were involved in making this choice”. It’s either that or a simply terrifying level of utter ineptitude- and I’m honestly not sure what’s more frightening. I mean- come on, putting the Winter Olympics in Sochi is like, oh I don’t know, putting the Superbowl in New Jersey in February or putting the World Cup in Quatar in July. Hmmm. Wait a second.

For me, though, 2014 isn’t about large sporting events or midterm elections or legal weed in Colorado (though that does make a trip to see the in-laws more tempting). I’m excited about 2014 because it’s the Year of No Renovation. You see, when we first bought our house in 2008 at what we falsely believed to be the bottom of the market (which it turns out was as bottomless as the Mimosas at brunch) there were a few little things that we needed to take care of- including:

  • Move water heater outside
  • Move washer & dryer outside- build enclosure
  • Repair foundation
  • Install new bedroom door
  • Remove dead tree in backyard
  • Replace pavers in backyard with concrete pad
  • Replace shed in backyard
  • Redo all landscaping in front & back yards
  • Put in new wooden fence around front yard
  • Remove popcorn & repair plaster on living room ceiling
  • Replace all hardwood floors and install new subfloor
  • Replace torn linoleum kitchen floor with new tiles
  • Replace all kitchen appliances and fixtures
  • Replace lighting fixtures in kitchen and bathroom
  • Replace kitchen cabinets
  • Replace kitchen countertop
  • New backsplash for kitchen
  • Replace all tile in bathroom including floor and wall tiles
  • Remove all rotten wood from bathroom floor & walls and rebuild sections of floor and walls
  • Replace bathroom sink, vanity and all fixtures
  • Replace bathtub with new shower
  • Paint entire house
  • Fix closet doorknob

Now, as you’re reading this list- keep in mind that there are only four rooms in the whole house- bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room. Now this number of rooms is perfect for my new version of Clue for the mentally challenged (the only weapon is a pointy stick), but it’s not really ideal for major renovation- since, when one room is out of commission- we’re pretty well fucked. I mean, we can’t even buy more than eight rolls of paper towels at a time cause we’ve got no place to put them- imagine what it’s like to have to move the refrigerator into the living room cause we’re working on the kitchen. I’ll tell you what it’s like. It sucks a lot.

Still, we didn’t really have much of a choice but to do this stuff because our house was built by hobos in the 20’s in exchange for bathtub gin and stale biscuits and maintained for most of it’s life as a rental property with all the love and care that you would expect from a series of Los Angeles landlords who treated the place like Larry Hagman treated his liver and Congress treated the trust of the American people. Seriously- if this place were a puppy, Sarah McLachlin would have had you weeping at what those bastards did to it. So over the last five years, we’ve gradually tackled one item at a time until finally this past summer we were 083ready to take on….The Bathroom (tum tum TUMMMMMM).

Now, if you are a homeowner and you’re considering renovating your bathroom, then the best thing you can do is sell your house or burn it down for the insurance money. If those aren’t options, though- then the next best thing you can do is find an honest, reliable and competent contractor. But how can you tell if the contractor you’re considering is honest, reliable and competent? The key is to ask the right questions. Here is a brief questionnaire you can use:

Question #1: Are you Israeli?

There are no more questions.

Now I know that sounds bad- but before you start accusing me of speaking for Hamas or Hezbollah or, God help me, even CNN- I need to reassure you that I love Israel and, ok, sure, Israelis, too- hell, I’m an Israeli citizen myself. So- no need to get all Price-Taggy- just listen to the story:

On July 3rd, my wife and I met with an Israeli contractor. For the purpose of this post, I’ll refer to him as “Doron” because that is his actual name. We had planned to have an in-depth conversation about our bathroom renovation- discussing several different options for walls and flooring- bathtub vs shower, possibilities of fixtures, etc- and that after this discussion, he might price out a couple of different scenarios, and we would figure out the timeframe and create a mutually agreeable schedule. No need to rush into anything.

So, Doron comes to the house, takes one look at the bathroom, talks to us for 30 seconds and says “OK- so take everything out, put in new floor tile, new wall tile, new sink and vanity, recessed lighting, do hot mop and new shower. I give you very good price, it is not problem, we start on Thursday.”

Now, I don’t like to be hurried in these situations- and there was no way I was letting this Israeli flim-flam man push me into a project I wasn’t ready to start. I was gonna hold firm:

Me: Uhm, yeah…well…you know, that sounds good but, you know, we were, I mean, kinda just hoping to, you know, talk about the job and, you know, maybe think about our options and, you know, uhm, come up with a plan. You know?

Doron: I understand. It is not problem. This is holiday week, my guys don’t have a lot of work. I give you very good price. We take everything out. Do new tile, hot mop, shower. One week. Not problem. We start on Thursday.

This only made me more resolute and determined:

Me: Sure, yeah, I get it. That’s cool and all, but, you know, with the holiday and all. I mean, there’s probably a bunch of stuff we, you know, aren’t going to have time to…you know?

Doron: OK. I understand. It is not problem. I tell you what. I give you same price. We start on Monday. All you need to buy is shower head and new valve for shower.

Me: Uhm…but…well…

Doron: Not problem. We take everything out, new tile, hot mop, shower. One week. Not problem. You buy one thing. How hard is that to buy one thing? I give you very good price. We start on Monday.

Clearly this was going nowhere. It was time for me to pull out my secret weapon:

Me: Well, Ok, well, listen we need a little time…can we…you know…talk about it and get back to you.

Doron: Of course! Not problem. Take some time to talk. No rush. I go outside, make some calls, come back in 5 minutes and you talk. OK? Not problem.

Do I even need to tell you what happened next?

On Monday morning, we started the job. It didn’t matter that we weren’t ready. It didn’t matter that we didn’t trust him. It didn’t matter that we had absolutely no idea what “hot mop” meant, but that it sounded like some sort of scatological sex act involving excrement and hair and possibly soup – the Israeli occupation of our house had begun and I had remembered an important lesson from my childhood- that there is no argument you can possibly make that can not be refuted by “it is not problem”. Are you paying attention, John Kerry????

Still- maybe it wouldn’t be so bad? I mean, all we needed to buy was one thing, right? Just the shower head and the new valve. Oh- and, of course the tiles. And the sink and vanity and mirror and toilet paper dispenser and towel rack and medicine cabinet and metal tile edging (that’s a thing- I swear) and paint and wainscoting and toe kick.. Oh, and the grout. Damn you grout! More about that in a minute.

Still- at least the job would be quick- one week right? I mean, sure it meant having to get up at 5 AM to go shower at the theatre and spending money every day on a dog sitter so that our loveable family pet could lie like a lump on her rug for a change and hoping and praying every day that they would leave us with a working toilet before they left each night- but still, it would only be for a week, right? That’s what Doron said- “One week. Not problem.” Well, as it turns out “Not problem” is one of those quirky, idiomatic expressions that doesn’t translate so well from the Hebrew. What it actually means isn’t “Don’t worry. I’ve thought through this carefully and can assure you this isn’t going to be a problem” but “Maybe this isn’t going to be a problem. Maybe it’s going to be a HUGE FUCKING PROBLEM. Who knows? Who cares? I’m just gonna say whatever it takes to get you to shut your goddamn pie hole and write me a big check. OK?” It’s a subtle distinction.

Anyhow, it’s possible that the job indeed would have taken one week more or less- except when they took the wall down they discovered this:


This is what’s commonly referred to as “termite damage” – though the technical term used by contractors is “winning lottery ticket”. Now- don’t worry, Doron assured me that they could fix this, not problem. All they had to do was rebuild the walls. Of course, in order to do that, they first would have to replace all the floor joists to make the surface flat (FLAT NOT LEVEL. VERY IMPORTANT DISTINCTION! PLEASE NO ONE EVER EXPLAIN THIS TO ME AGAIN EVER!!). But before they could do that, they would need to rebuild the entire foundation of the whole building to provide a solid base for the floor joists. But before they could do that, they would need to take down all the stucco in the front of the house and reapply it, since- hey why not? We’re suckers- we’ll pay anything! But before they could do that, they had to pick up the entire City of Los Angeles and move it off several miles east off the San Andreas fault so that there would be no possible risk of earthquake damage to the floor and foundation. But before they could do that they needed to have Superman fly around the world a whole bunch of times really really fast so that they could go back in time and coax a dinosaur into stepping on the very first primordial termite to prevent the species from ever evolving and therefore preventing any possible future damage to the wood. Fortunately, he said that he would give me a very good price and this would only take one week. Not problem.

Through some act of sheer will, I summoned my own inner Israeli and managed to convince him to please just fix the damn floor and walls and that we would take our chances with shaky foundation, loose stucco, shifting tectonic plates and the evolution of the wood destroying insect into the modern termite. Not problem. So- ok – just add one or two days and 30% to the cost of the job and we’re right back on track? Right? Cue the wacky mishap and apology montage!

  • We’re so sorry- we accidentally got the wrong permit and had to reschedule the city inspection, which means we’re going to lose almost a whole week of work.
  • Whoopsie! I know we promised you guys that there would be a crew coming in to work over the weekend, so you made arrangements to stay in a hotel and board the dog but we forgot to schedule someone. Sorry!
  • Oh, no! Did we leave for the day with a gushing leak under the sink and only a small Tupperware container to catch the water and then NOT TELL YOU GUYS ABOUT IT so that you woke up at 3 AM to discover that the bathroom was flooded and all of the brand new tile work most likely ruined and you had a complete nervous breakdown? That sure was silly of us!!! We’re so wacky.

And how do you think I responded to these mishaps? Would it surprise you to hear that I responded with grace and gentle good humor and that I never once raised my voice or (Heavens to Betsy!) used profanity? Me, too! I would have been totally shocked! How crazy would that have been??? Thank God I totally lost my shit each and every time something got screwed up, screamed myself hoarse at Haddas, the long suffering scheduling manager whom Doron hired when he got sick of customers yelling at him directly, and used the word “Cocksucker” more times than is perhaps considered socially acceptable in any setting other than a Sopranos episode. Phew! (Why is cocksucker used as such a derogatory term? I mean, when you think about it- that’s one of the nicest things one human being can do for another- shouldn’t it be used for people who do special favors? Like- “Thank you so much for picking me up a the airport. You’re a true Cocksucker.”)

Three weeks into the project and with no end in sight, we were exhausted. Our nerves were frayed, my voice was shot, the dog was applying for emancipated minor status and Haddas was experiencing PTSD every time the phone rang at home. It was time for the project to end. And that’s when we had the Great Grout Catastrophe.

When we redid our kitchen a couple of years ago, we decided that we would use the same floor tile and grout (#370 Dove Grey) for Cal Seething- Jan 6- 370the bathroom whenever we finally got around to renovating it. This was the one thing we were always sure of, our light in the darkness, our bulwark against doubt and despair. No matter how bad things got, how much got screwed up, how many times we heard the phrase “hot mop” and recoiled in horror – we believed- no- WE KNEW that everything was gonna be ok because we had the Right Floor Tile and we would buy #370 Dove Grey Grout. And when the time came for us to buy the grout (which, oh, by the way, Haddas notified us we would have to do at 4 PM the day before they were going to need it, so we had to leave work early and scramble- OOPSIE!!) we drove to our Friendly Neighborhood Persian Tile Store and said with the great confidence of true believers: “One bag of your finest #370 Dove Grey Polyblend Sanded Grout, Sir- and be quick about it!” And when our Friendly Neighborhood Persian Tile Store didn’t have #370 Dove Grey Polyblend Sanded Grout, we drove post-haste to a Much Much Much Less Friendly Neighborhood Tile Store. There were no spots in the lot so my wife waited in the car double parked while she was yelled at by homeless people (why were there homeless people at a tile store? Because we live in Los Angeles, my friend, because we live in Los Angeles) and I dashed up the steep stairs to the second floor above the showroom, as quickly as I could (it’s not that quickly) ran to the back, dug out a bag of the #370 Dove Grey Grout, bought it mere seconds before the store was to close and ran outside carrying my sacred burden just in time to be yelled at by a crackhead. I’m still not totally sure why.

On the way home we were giddy, exultant, ecstatic even. Finally we knew that something would go right. After all the fuck ups, all the delays, all the OOPSes- here was something that could not be screwed up. For, Lo, we had now in our possession the Sacred Sack of Polyblend Sanded #370 Dove Grey Grout and everything was going to be alright.

The next day at work I couldn’t wait to get home, eager to run inside and see our beautiful new grout on the floor. I burst into the house, ran into the bathroom (there’s far too much running in this story) turned on the lights and saw…..just how terrible it looked. The grout looked nothing like the kitchen floor. The color was all wrong, it was much too light, not grey at all but practically blue. I was enraged- THE FOOLS!!! Somehow they had managed to fuck even THIS up- SURELY this was the result of apocalyptic incompetence- they had diluted the grout so it was much too light, they had not been careful when applying it so dust had gotten mixed in and the color was now wrong, SOMEHOW THEY HAD DESTROYED EVEN OUR PERFECT, UNASSAILABLE , INVIOLABLE MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMN COCKSUCKING POLYBLEND SANDED #370 DOVE GREY GROUT!!!!!! And if you think I overreacted to a little problem with the grout color then FUCK YOU, clearly you’ve never renovated a bathroom before – this shit is LIFE OR DEATH.

A lot of screaming and yelling later, I had made Haddas promise to send Amnon, the foreman, to the house the next day and clean the dust out of the grout because I was CONVINCED that was the problem. The following day, Haddas called me and assured me that he had been there and done it. Once more, I couldn’t wait to get home. Once more burst into the house, ran into the bathroom, turned on the lights and saw….it looked exactly the same. I was devastated. Once more I called Haddas. Once more I said simply terrible things. Once more I demanded that Amnon come back and fix this terrible miscarriage of justice (once more, to be clear I WAS NOT OVERREACTING TO A PROBLEM WITH THE GROUT COLOR. OH GOD, MY HEART. MY HEART. I’m ok.) but this time- I would be there at the house with him to make sure everything went perfectly. Finally, we would have this resolved. Finally, this project would be over and we would be able, once more to SHOWER IN OUR OWN GODDAMN HOUSE.

The next day, I met Amnon at the house. I showed him the hideous grout in the bathroom. I showed him the correct grout in the kitchen. Bathroom. Kitchen. Kitchen. Bathroom. Clearly he could see the difference. Clearly I would be vindicated. I stood back with my arms folded and chin up and waited for him to respond.

He looked at the kitchen floor. He looked at me. He knelt down to get a closer look, thought for a moment and said:

“This isn’t the same color. This is Charcoal, I think.”

The nerve! The impudence! The sheer impertinence of this man speaking to me in this manner! (Sorry, watching Downton Abbey while I write this. It’s making me a little uppidy.)

“It most certainly is the same color” I said. This is #370 Dove Grey. I know it for a fact.”

He didn’t say anything. He just went out to the yard, poured out little bit of the Dove Grey grout into his hand. Mixed it with some water and smeared in between two of the tiles on the kitchen floor.

He was right.

The color was completely different.

We were wrong.

The one thing that we knew absolutely to be true- beyond and shadow of a doubt. The one incontrovertible, unquestioned, 100% certainty that we had been holding on to was wrong.

It sucked a lot.

Fortunately, Amnon had a solution. He could have a guy come the next day, scrape out all of the Dove Grey grout with a knife and Cal Seething- Jan 6- 60put in #60 Charcoal grout instead. He said it would only take a day or so and they would give us a very good price. Not problem.

So- clearly now you can see why I’m so FUCKING happy that 2014 is going to be the Year of No Renovations. After all, we’ve just about finished everything on our list. Except for the doorknob on the closet, for some baffling reason. And lately we’ve been talking about French Doors in the bedroom to the backyard. Well, when I say “we’ve been talking”, my wife brought it up and I collapsed into a fetal position shoved my fingers in my ears and said “la la la la la la la. I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you.” It’s a mature discussion.

But, you know, the bathroom did ultimately come out very well. Despite all the mishaps, the work they did was terrific. And if you are going to get a shower- turns out “hot mop” is the way to go! Maybe we could just, you know, call up Doron to come take a look at the bedroom. Talk about the possibility of French Doors. And that after this discussion, he might price out a couple of different scenarios, and we would figure out the timeframe and create a mutually agreeable schedule. No need to rush into anything.

Aw crap.