Sunday, February 26, 2006

Junk Mail Offers Bum Deal

Junk mail can be a real pain in the ass sometimes.

I was reminded of that while sifting through an envelope filled with coupons for area St. Paul businesses, and stumbled upon a brochure titled: Hemorrhoids - The Problem No One Talks About.

I wonder why no one wants to talk about it? It almost makes me wish I had hemorrhoids. Then I could shift every normal conversation toward that torrid zone of too much information.

My boss: Hey, Rocky, how was your weekend?

Me: Oh, it was OK until that wicked hemorrhoid flare-up. It felt like my jockey shorts had been marinated with a fine blend of tabasco sauce and itching powder. Every time I sat down, I yipped like a coyote caught in a bear trap. I wish Krispy Kreme made a donut you could sit on.

Luckily, pain in the ass conversations like that could be a thing of the past thanks to the hemorrhoid brochure, which boasts of Infrared Coagulation (IRC): The non-surgical solution.

That's good news. It's bad enough to have to undergo any kind of surgery, and I can't imagine having to go under the knife to fix my ass. The whole thing would seem unnatural from the moment they wheeled me face down on the gurney into the operating room.

How come we've never seen this procedure on ER? That would be some riveting drama. I would have liked to see George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, or that Revenge of the Nerds guy get stuck with some bulging ass veins for a change instead of their usual traumatic medical bullshit.

Inside the brochure, a banner headline reads: Hemorrhoids - A Problem Worth Solving. But what if your hemorrhoids are like a really complicated word problem involving two trains - one leaving Chicago at 9:30 PM doing 52 miles per hour and another leaving Chattanooga at 10:15 PM doing 63 miles per hour? Maybe then you'd just say fuck it, it's not worth solving, I'll just worry about this extra lump inside my scrotum instead.

Don't Suffer Another Day the brochure brags at the bottom. But the suffering is only beginning. The middle two pages feature a list of questions, and I must admit, I was shocked by the answers. Of course, the place only paints a pretty picture, so I've added my own interpretation of what the real answers could be as a paranoid non-medical service to the readers of this blog.

Rocky's disclaimer: Then again, I could just be bitter ever since I lost my ass virginity about 3 years ago to a doctor's hand. Marcus Welby claimed he was checking my prostate, but it seemed like his fingers were careening towards my spleen. I found his watch the next day. A week after that I found his class ring.

Enough about my ass, let's get back to the hemorrhoids brochure...

Question #1: What is IRC?
Brochure answer: It's a minimally invasive non-surgical hemorhhoid treatment... A small probe contacts the area above the hemorhhoid, exposing the tissue to a burst of infrared light for one second... The patient may feel a slight sensation of heat, but it is generally not painful, therefore anesthesia is not required...

My take: Maybe nothing around your ass is minimally invasive, it's more like D-Day... A small probe? Who's doing the procedure? Aliens? Why can't they just leave your ass alone and go back to doing their silly little crop circles and mutilating farm animals?... This sounds like bullshit. Whenever they say it's not going to hurt, it usually does. When they say it's just going to be a little prick and it feels like you've been hit with a pitchfork, the only little prick you feel is the doctor who just brushed up against you during the procedure.

Question #2: Does the IRC procedure hurt?
Brochure answer: Medical studies have shown that our treatment causes much less discomfort than any other non-surgical hemorrhoid treatment and often is totally painless.

My take: Compared to what other non-surgical treatments? Having Dr. Scissorhands slice and dice your ass like it's an overgrown shrub? Or does a nurse don a welding shield like that chick from Flashdance and use a lighter in hopes of torching a fart to burn them out?

Question #3: How long is the procedure?
Brochure answer: Generally, it lasts about 10 minutes.

My take: If the procedure to zap the hemorrhoid only takes a second, what are they doing to your ass the other 9 minutes and 59 seconds? Blowing smoke up it, perhaps?

Question #4: How many treatments are required?
Brochure answer: This is on a case-by-case basis, but usually about 5-7 visits are required at 1-2 week intervals.

My take: Your ass will be getting tapped for the next 5 to 14 weeks. And giving someone 5 to 7 cracks at your ass seems excessive for such a simple, painless solution.

Question #5: Will I be able to have normal bowel movement?
Brochure answer: Yes, IRC produces no disruption to your work schedule or lifestyle.

My take: I'm not sure who gets to shit as part of their normal work schedule. Maybe the product tester at Charmin. If normal bowel movements don't start, I'd suggest eating 10 bean burritos from Taco Bell. It makes perfect sense, since their slogan is "Think outside the bun(s)." Not only would that make you so regular you'd be irregular, it would make them pay for making you come back for treatment #7.

Question #6: What must I do after the procedure?
Brochure answer: You can continue your usual activities, even on the day of treatment.

My take: Hey, congratulations! Your ass is normal! Go moon the audience of a crowded theatre. Go find a woman to spank you, as it will hurt in a good way for once.

Bringing up the rear on the back of the brochure are two testimonials, including photos of the people who used to be ass-ravaged. They did, however, only use their initials so just their friends and relatives will know the secret identities behind all of that burning, itching, swelling and bleeding. Thanks, L.W. and R.F., for telling us how you sat on your sore asses for 13 and 5 years respectively before doing something.

Finally, at the bottom of the page, the Hemorrhoid Treatment Center boasts of its "convenient" locations. Across the entire U.S.A., it's only found in seven states: Minnesota, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Texas.

You know what this means? Some poor bastard in Maine or Washington State has to drive through about 5 or 6 states on that sore swollen ass just to get this simple treatment. After a trip like that, I'd say your bloated bum would be stuck with 20 to 25 treatments, minimum, which sounds like an even bigger pain in the ass than it's worth to me.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ways to warm up the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics need to spice things up if it hopes to heat up its image. If you are into winter sports, the Games do offer plenty to watch. But to nab a broader appeal and to boost the TV ratings NBC is always bitching about, the Winter Olympics committee needs to cash in on what viewers are looking for.

Even though Antarctica is a continent and not a country with no real native human citizens, I say add it to the mix anyway. Let the penguins compete. People love those slippery little dudes even more ever since that March of the Penguins movie. Let them do the luge on their bellies, and finish with a splash by directing the route right into the water. If people bitch that the Olympics are just for people, let Danny DeVito be the proxy athlete.

If that is deemed too drastic, there is a much easier fix: Add new sports. The snowboarding events was a start, but it is no time to let up. All you need to do is examine many of the mainstay sports to realize the Winter Olympics may need to add more excitement to the lineup.

Take curling. Ask me 25 years ago what curling was and I would have told you it was what kept my sister in the bathroom for 3 hours before a simple outing to the Pizza Hut (Which some may find more exciting than people sliding large rocks down the ice, where people with brooms try to "sweep" the rocks into position on a bullseye target at the end).

The biathlon combines the event of cross-country skiing with rifle marksmanship. Cross-country skiing is probably not the most exciting Winter Olympics event to combine with shooting. But give a downhill skier a rifle, and then we have a different interest altogether.

Organizers could surely come up with even better choices of which event needs to be armed, such as matching ski jumping with archery. Or how about making one of the two middle men on the four-man bobsled team actually do something besides leaning. I say arm him with a blow dart gun and try to hit marked spectators in the crowd on the way down.

Speaking of the bobsled, why not up the ante and have an 8-person event. The sled should look much like the shell of a 1973 Country Squire station wagon. But there should be more roles than just the brakeman and the driver. Might I suggest the other six participants each have to complete one of the following tasks on the way down the track:

1. Apply makeup.
2. Shave.
3. Consume a McDonald's value meal and a hot cup of coffee.
4. Make at least two cell phone calls.
5. Do a quickie crossword puzzle.
6. One has to pick on the other athletes to the point where the driver threatens to "stop this bobsled, and turn around and go home" if they don't behave themselves.

Extra style points could be added if the driver flips off another country's bobsled team during the run, officially bringing road rage to the bobsled track.

Some other new events that would be fine additions to the Winter Games:

Snowball fighting - This event would probably have to be closely monitored so countries like Iraq and Afghanistan didn't try to hide rocks within their snowballs, thus creating SMDs (snowballs of mass destruction).

Snow fort building - Judges would look for not only size of the fort, but special features such as multiple rooms, entrances and the ability to stand up inside. There would be a time limit, and the difficulty of executing the blueprint would be taken into consideration. Example: The United States team of Alaskans erecting an igloo in 45 minutes would mean certain Olympic glory.

Finnish Sauna - OK, so the Finns would be a natural favorite for the gold here. But people running out of a sauna naked and then rolling in the snow would definitely give the TV ratings a needed nudge.

Snow angel making - This event would be judged on artistry and perfection. Not only how good does the angel look, but is there any damage to the outer part of the angel when the participant tries to exit the imprint?

Snowman building - Athletes have to be careful in this event because if they start out too big on the base snowball, it may be too difficult to lift the "thorax" and head balls on top of the base. Creative design is also big here. If your snowman is decorated with just a couple lumps of coal for eyes and a carrot for a nose, don't expect to be on the medals platform. However, if your snowman is wearing the outfit that your country's Miss Universe Pageant contestant was wearing, then you may capture gold.

Lunchtray luge - The Olympiad lugers think they have a dangerous ride. Try clinging to a school cafeteria lunchtray when rocketing down a track at 80 miles per hour. To make it really interesting, an added requirement could be chugging a pint carton of milk on the way down.

3,000K icey parking lot walk - This can be a challenge after a nice sleet storm. It takes the perfect step and just the right speed to complete this course. Walking seems boring, but add that ice surface and you'd see more wipeouts than a surfing contest and more crashes than a NASCAR race combined. The resulting injuries would equal big ratings.

Ice scraping - As long as you have the ice-covered events, this would be another doozy. Of course, there would be the compact car event, which would be dominated by the Japanese. There would also be the SUV event, where scraping a two-inch layer of ice off of a Ford Excursion's windows would test even the strongest ice scraping arms. Any attempts to start the vehicles and use defrost heater settings would result in immediate disqualification.

Stick your tongue to a frozen flagpole - This event would combine the talent of arguing with the ability to rescue a teammate after his tongue has been hopelessly stuck to a frozen metal flagpole. After the proper double- and triple-dog dares are issued, the tongues get stuck and the clock starts. How quickly can the poor bastard's countrymen free him from the frozen flagpole? That time coupled with points for the least amount of tongue surface damage spell Olympic gold.

Name writing in the snow - This would be a real pissing match. Americans and Canadians would be so good at this event. I actually would even have a chance at being an Olympic athlete, and would really display my ability to "go for the gold."

As long as someone reminds the Danish to stick to names and not wizzing pictures of religious deities, the sport should be safe for spectators. The Dutch would be a bonafide contender in this event - their ability to put those little umlauts on their Häagen-Dazsy names and not dribble on their wooden shoes would be duly noted.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Buckle It or White-Knuckle It

I've been doing a lot of traveling over the last two months due to my new job. This story is going to get kind of crazy, so buckle up - it's going to be a wild ride. Keep your arms and legs safely inside this blog until you've finished reading.

I must say I'm a big fan of seatbelts. I never needed to be sold on the idea by some crash test dummies. They save lives, but for me, maybe it's because I have an easier time finding seatbelts that fit me than regular belts to hold my pants up. Maybe I just need to give up on clothing stores and start buying belts for my wardrobe at an auto parts store or junkyard.

Friend: "Where did you get that wicked belt?"

Me: "I got it out of a 1994 Ford Taurus from Mack's Auto Salvage. I actually have 4 different colors of this belt at home - pawnee tan, nimbus gray, portofino blue and medium seafoam!"

Anything that can keep my massive ass strapped in a seat in the event of a crash is just a modern marvel, really. I've always considered myself safe traveling thanks to seatbelts.

Except twice.

The first time wasn't even while traveling by normal means. It was at an amusement park.

Being a bigger dude, I usually avoid rides that look like they'd be too small to stuff my big butt in, or rides that look unsafe for a man half my size to ride. That being said, I must have been temporarily insane in February 2002.

That's when my wife (AKA The Rockette) and I met up with our great friends JudiBootie and her husband at Universal Studios in Orlando. The idea was to go on some rides, eat at some restaurants, have loads of fun and start swinging (Ha! Got you on the last one, didn't I?! Sorry, I'm a tease). We accomplished three of the four things previously mentioned, but on the last day of our two-day tour, a warning flag was waved.

The Rockette wanted to go on the Incredible Hulk roller coaster. I was game, but next to the sign that says "You must be this tall to ride" there were some seat examples that basically meant "If you can't fit your fat ass in these, don't get in line."

Well, I tried the seats, and it felt like I was trying to cram into a kid's booster seat at Perkins. There was no way my ass was going to squeeze into the slot, let alone wrap a seatbelt around the whole package. So The Rockette went on the ride with JudiBootie's husband while I bitched to JudiBootie how I "couldn't believe there wasn't a spot for a 300-pound plus dude on a roller coaster named after the Incredible Hulk." I exploded out of my shirts and pants on a daily basis, and I belonged on that ride dammit. But some coaster designer didn't want any real-life Hulks aboard this train.

Someone decided I needed to be consoled by going on the Doctor Doom Fear Fall ride. JudiBootie's husband told me the ride was basically backwards bungee jumping, where instead of falling down, you get shot up into the air. Then you got the added pleasure of plummeting back to earth. Oh, joy!

As we were waiting our turn to defy death, I wondered why the hell I was even standing in line. I have a fear of heights. So getting on a ride that basically catapults you straight up into the air, then lets you freefall back to Earth was already a heart attack waiting to happen. Then add a silly little thing like my seatbelt not staying clasped and, Houston, we have a huge fucking problem. But on the other hand, I was having so much fun with The Rockette, JudiBootie and her hubby I decided to stick it out and face my fear.

Now it was our turn, so I got in the seat and clasped my seatbelt. It was a tad tight, but seemed to do the trick. But just before the Carnie was doing his final safety check, my seatbelt popped open with a loud "ping" noise. I hadn't even moved, it just flew off for no reason other than failing to harness my huge ass in the seat.

I switched seats with JudiBootie's hubby, thinking the seatbelt was the problem. I grabbed the belt and buckled it. All systems were just about go again until that familiar "ping" noise. The damn belt busted loose again. The countdown was delayed so I could rebuckle, but the "ping" soon followed.

I started thinking it was time to abort the mission since I couldn't keep my seatbelt on. But this time, instead of stopping the countdown, the Carnie just said "Awwww, don't worry about it. That's just a secondary safety feature anyway." Then that 3-toothed bastard flipped the switch and sent my huge ass hurtling into space with my three fellow astronauts.

The only thing holding me into the seat was a metal bar that seemed about as sturdy as an old bicycle frame. I clutched onto that metal so hard that if they ever make a CSI:Orlando, I'm pretty sure they'd be able to find my fingerprints embedded in it. When we reached the highest point, I enjoyed the view of sunny Orlando for a split second. Then I heard a "ping" again, which was my seat belt slapping against the seat frame, a wonderful reminder that I wasn't buckled up. I closed my eyes and began to pray that I wouldn't hear a much louder ping of the primary safety feature giving way.

My prayers were answered and I reached the ground safely. But The Rockette and JudiBootie had to pry my fingers off of that frame. At that point, I had a new appreciation for seatbelts. I never wanted to go on a deathride like that again. To top it all off, the Doom Gift Shop sold hats and T shirts, but not new pairs of underwear for those of us who had just shit our pants.

Fast forward to last week, when I'm boarding a flight from Chicago's O'Hare to Minneapolis-St. Paul. I'm a big guy, but "luckily" my hugeness spills forward and not over the sides of my seat. That means my only challenge is to get the seatbelt clicked.

Most airline seatbelts fit me no problem. United's are by far the most roomy. Northwest, Delta and Southwest aren't bad either. I've had a few close calls with some of their seatbelts, but I'm usually always able to get them fastened by sucking in my gut, taking a deep breath or just pulling and praying until I hear the "click." Let me tell you, a "click" gives me a much safer feeling than a "ping" any day.

But on this American flight, my seatbelt was so small I couldn't even get the two sides closer than 6 inches apart. This mind boggled me because the dude across the aisle from me had to be 400 pounds plus and he had slack in his belt.

The flight attendant walked by and I said "excuse me, I'm having a hell of a time with this belt..."

She said, "OK, honey, I'll be right back."

The flight attendant did seem pretty busy. After all, it was a hectic time. She had to close the rest of the overhead bins, check luggage, do the safety schpeel, listen to 20 other requests, and get the beverages and snacks ready for after we're airborne. I didn't see her for a while, but knew she wouldn't leave me hanging like old Triple Tooth did in Orlando.

The next thing I knew, the plane was backing up and I still wasn't buckled in. The flight attendant zipped by chucking things to her left and right while chanting "sorry for the wait, honey," trying to fulfill all earlier requests as she dashed up the aisle to take her seat. As she blew by me, she handed me a pillow the size of a bag of marshmallows.

I tried to stop her and tell her I didn't think a tiny pillow was going to fix my issue. I needed a seatbelt extender or a rope. The least she could have done was shrink wrap me in the seat. But she just hauled ass to her place up front so, God forbid, she wasn't taking off without her seatbelt on.

At this point, I was yearning to stay on the ground, where ad slogans for seatbelt use preached "Click it or ticket." Maybe this airline's policy was "Ticket. Can't click it? Fuck it!"

It was too late now. I was going to have to rough it out. Standing up at this point and announcing there was a problem probably would have gotten me shot by an air marshall, who thought I was some deranged prick with explosive shoes. So I just hugged my pillow and awaited certain Doom.

As the plane roared down the runway, I had flashbacks to the Doctor Doom ride. Only this time there was no metal frame to hold on to. I couldn't grip the food tray because it had to be stowed in its upright position. I moved the pillow to my lap, hoping it would cushion my balls if we hit a pocket of turbulence that would send me flying into orbit.

A little over an hour later, it was over. Granted, I had almost lost my mind on that flight like William Shatner on that Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." But, like the Doom ride, I ended up safely on the ground after all despite that dangling seatbelt. I was, however, still as white as a sheet when The Rockette arrived in the airport's passenger pick-up area.

Rockette: "How was the flight?"

Me: "Let's put it this way... After the plane landed, I was so happy to be on the ground safe and sound that I didn't just want to kiss the ground. I almost fucked it."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog Day Not As Nutty This Year

My favorite February 2nd furball will crawl out of his hole this morning in Punxatawney, Pa., and get quite a shock. Winter's already over. It almost feels like it never started. He won't even have to go through with the shadow bullshit.

Unfortunately, one of the warmest Januarys in United States weather history won't make Groundhog's Day all warm and fuzzy. It came a year too late. Poor Punxsutawney Phil froze his nuts off last year.

"It was the strangest thing," one witness said. "He came out of his hole last year and sniffed out a spot on a stump to stand. Then he saw his shadow and simultaneously saw two small shadows drop from between his stumpy legs. In an instant, he became Punxsutawney Phyllis."

Phyllis couldn't just wake up in bed to Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" and start his day over like Bill Murray did in that zany Groundhog Day movie. This was Pennsylvania, not Hollywood. Those nuts weren't coming back.

"I had told Matt and Katie that morning it was cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey," Al Roker said. "So naturally, that groundhog's nuts never had a chance."

Legend says when the groundhog sees its shadow, it scares the critter back into its hole, signaling 6 more weeks of winter. Last year, after seeing the shadows of his own nuts freezing off, Phil slipped into a 6-month coma.

Phyllis has recovered in time to participate in today's event. One thing's certain: If a shadow resembling Abe Lincoln is seen, the groundhog can count on at least 6 continuous hours of being dry humped by a bunch of dudes wearing stovepipe hats.