Category Archives: Tao of JLo

Say no to the orange blowhard

Ok, I swore I wasn’t going to say anything political this year because it usually just leads to no good, but extreme times call for extreme measures. It’s enough to pull me back into writing something in this space, at least.

If you are even considering voting for Donald Drumpf, just don’t. He’s a opportunistic demagogue who spouts nothing more than applause-seeking generalities, while pedaling inane fantasies like an impenetrable wall that other countries will line up to pay for and a future where Apple will make all of its products in the United States simply because of the force of his will. Are you kidding me? Does anybody actually believe these things will happen?

If you were with your children and saw somebody acting like he does on the side of the street, you’d turn around or speed across to the other sidewalk to avoid him. If you got reports from school that your child was saying half the ignorant and hateful garbage that spills from his orange, frothing lips you’d ground them until they turned 18. If you were sitting next to him at a restaurant or or in a movie theater you’d move to another seat without thinking twice about it and likely report him to the manager. He’s a ****, plain and simple (Fill in your own choice of word there.)

The true sign of a bully is somebody who cries loudest when others call them on their own BS and push back. When you taunt, insult, and condone violence in an already emotional group setting, don’t be surprised when those you pick on thinking they are low hanging fruit push back. And Drumpf isn’t the one in danger. He stands behind his security detail and turns tail when things get heated. He doesn’t give a damn about you or any of his supporters. When things get rough he’ll push you to the ground like George Costanza and step on you as he flees the smoke in the kitchen.

Now he’s whining that his First Amendment rights were violated in Chicago. Funny how the people who complain most about their First Amendment rights being violated usually understand them the least. The First Amendment protects you from the government, it doesn’t provide any protection from the legal consequences of your speech from others, as inconvenient as those may be.

Frankly, I doubt anybody in the race really deserves your vote or mine, but just about any of them would preferable to this jackass. (Though Cruz actually scares me just as much, as he’s likely to start WWIII just to hasten the rapture.) If you want to protest and shake things up, vote for the Libertarian candidate and make them a viable alternative for future elections. Write in Al Gore or Michael Bloomberg or Elizabeth Warren or Paul Ryan or anybody you want. Just don’t get played and reward the orange blowhard. Let’s at least leave the bar for entry into the White House at “he/she acts like an adult.”

Cheers,

JLo

 

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Drive in Orlando at your own risk

This will come to no surprise to anyone who lives in or has visited the fair city of Orlando, FL, but we have the worst drivers in the world, bar none. Orlando gets a bad rap a lot of the time, but it’s actually a very cool place to live, but this driving thing is no joke. Maybe it’s the toxic mix of seasoned citizens, drunks, baffled tourists, and frazzled locals, but the list of things I’d rather do than drive in Orlando at rush hour is long and varied, including pulling out hairs in my arm one at a time, staring at paint drying, and listening to Nickelback for a week straight for charity. (Well, maybe not that last one, but seriously, some brave soul is actually doing that. The maker bless him.)

Now that you know this startling fact about my town, here’s a list of the drivers to watch out for when you are out and about town, or if you come visit to pay homage to the Mouse and the Boy Wizard, as is required by law apparently. (Not included in this list is driver that completely freaks out, slows down and turns on the hazard lights at the first sign of rain, because these folks are found throughout Florida and are not exclusive to Orlando. Watch out for them nonetheless.)

Lost tourist: These people mean well, and we love them since their tax dollars mean we don’t pay state taxes in Florida, but they are a menace. Usually seen driving shiny, white, late model American cars that can only be rental cars, looking exasperatedly for the exit to Disney, and driving the wrong way down I-4.

Jesus fish displayer: You’ve seen these people, with their Jesus fish medallions and “safe for little ears” stickers. You would think folks that advertise their love and admiration for the Prince of Peace would be a little nicer on the roads, but they drive with an abandon and confidence that only you only find from those who are sure they going to be rewarded in the next life.

Jetta owner: What the hell is it about owning a Jetta that makes people completely lose their mind on the road? You can usually find this person when two lanes of traffic are merging together, trying to go as far as possible in the lane that is ending before cutting in front of you in the next lane, thereby saving themselves 3 seconds of waiting. If you see a Jetta with a Jesus fish, just do yourself a favor and pull over to the side of the road and wait for assistance.

Seasoned citizen driver: They favor American sedans at least 300 feet long with the left blinker permanently engaged, and, like the old Seinfeld gag, no longer fear being killed in a car wreck since they have presumptively lived long and fruitful lives already. Not so much a threat if you are in a car on the road, but watch out if you are sitting on the first floor of a building near a window within 100 yards of a road, since that is their favorite parking spot.

Stick figure family van/SUV owner: These folks can be recognized by their distinctive fondness for stickers with cryptic numbers with decimals (13.1, 26.2, etc). These vehicles generally can be found within 10 feet of a Starbucks or Crossfit center at all times (admittedly, it’s pretty much impossible these days not to be these days), and driven by my old friends, the Lululemom. They are often distracted by the amount of glitter in their eyes, because they are reliving the glory days running through old cheerleading routines in their heads, and/or by the well worn Dave Matthews band cd they are jamming out to while trying to drown out Brayden, Tina, Dylan, and Heather screaming in the back seat.

Would be writing his name in snow if he could guy: You know this guy all too well, and he may be the most dangerous of the bunch. Generally drives the largest truck legally allowed on two axles, has multiple charming “Assault Life” stickers on his  overly tinted back window next to silhouettes of automatic weapons, presumably says “Bro” a lot, and drives to and from the LA Fitness in the left lane going 10 miles below the speed limit, until you try to pass him, at which point he hits the red “turbo” button on the dash and drives past at 100 miles and hour, leaving only a faint whiff of Drakkar Noir and Nickelback.

Anyway, should you choose to drive in the City Beautiful, just keep your eyes out for folks and should be just fine. Just be sure to keep your insurance current.

Cheers.

Put the phone down, and let the boredom in

First off, before you say anything, yes, I know, I’m actually writing about something that isn’t connected to a playlist of some sort. I’m just as shocked as you are. The end times may be upon us. This happened a few weeks ago but I’m just getting around to it now, because I’m lazy like that I guess and I’ve been spending most of my free time (i.e., time not doing school work, watching kids, or riding my bike) either making the aforementioned avalanche of playlists or revisiting the glorious world of Bunk, McNulty, Stringer, Bubbles, Cutty, and Omar. (Reminder: Bunk’s suits are glorious, nobody says “po-leece” quite like Jimmy McNulty, and if you’re going to come at the king, you best not miss.)

On Thursdays I usually go over to the school and have lunch with my kids, mainly because I can and they still like to spend time with their pop on occasion, which I will consider a bonus at this stage. I was out running errands beforehand and got there earlier than usual, so I found myself with about 30 minutes to kill. I sat down at the table and naturally my first reaction is to reach into my pocket and pull out my phone, so I can pass the time playing Civilization, flipping through web pages, reading e-mail, or sadly shaking my head at clips from Sarah Palin speeches. Only, here’s the thing: I LEFT MY PHONE AT HOME.

I have 30 minutes to kill and nothing to bury face into for a distraction. What the **** am I supposed to do now?!? I thought seriously about going home to get it, but decided to let it ride, because I’m just that kind of wild and reckless thrill seeker. It was a nice day so I sat on the bench in front of school and enjoyed the sun and the passing clouds, immediately ruing all of the wicked Instagram photos that were passing me by, but I was doing ok. Then a car pulled up and I heard a clip of a song that I couldn’t quite remember, but since I didn’t have my phone I couldn’t Shazam it or Google the lyrics to find out what it was immediately. Instead, I had to go old school and actually THINK for a couple of minutes about it, and lo and behold, after about 5 minutes spinning it over in my head I figured out which song it was (I’ll Be Good To You by the Brothers Johnson, but that’s neither here nor there).

By the time boys got there, I had time to think about lot of stuff, most of mundane, some of it was even sad, but it was all pretty glorious. It was a great reminder that we’ve surrendered too much of ourselves to these stupid little devices, and it is actually possible to live, and even thrive, without them. As usual, Louis CK said all of this already much more eloquently, and was way funnier about it, so I’ll let you watch him instead of rambling on longer.

Well said, Louis. Put down the phone, turn up the radio, and sob along with Bruce Springsteen once and a while. It’s good for you.

Cheers.

Why Frozen coming to Epcot is a bad thing

Call me old fashion, but I think Disney’s decision to replace Norway’s Maelstrom attraction with one inspired by the massively popular Frozen is a bad idea. A really bad idea. And it’s not that I’m a huge fan of trolls or particularly care about Norway or have an irrational dislike for Frozen (in fact, I rather enjoyed it.)

Here’s my objection. Frozen has nothing to do with Norway itself. The movie is set in a fictional, vaguely Scandinavian land called Arrendelle. It may have been inspired by Norway, and I’m sure there’s several Disney obsessive types who will be quick to point out why I’m wrong here. To me though, the great thing about Epcot was that it was one of the few popular attractions in the U.S., or in Disney World for that matter, that bothered to care about other cultures. Part of the attraction of the place (pun very much intended) was that you could walk around the World Showcase, have a drink or two, actually talk to folks who lived in the different countries represented, and maybe learn a thing or two about some place that wasn’t ‘Merica.

That may seem a lame or flimsy excuse in the face of thousands of screaming Elsa wannabes (and the millions of dollars that they and their families will likely spend at “Fro-way” on cheap tiaras and Olaf plush toys), but it was a very real experience and kinda/sorta the whole point of Epcot in the first place. It’s akin to replacing the Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom or The American Experience with Lightning McQueen and Mater (Wait, forget I mentioned that. Don’t blame me when that happens next year.)

And yes I realize that Disney has integrated other fictional attractions and characters into existing countries before (think Mary Poppins in the UK and maybe Mulan in China), but at least these fictional characters were set in very real places, even if Dick Van Dyke’s English accent was the greatest American insult to our former colonial masters since some tea was dumped into Boston Harbor a few hundred years ago. Frozen doesn’t even have this kind of connection.

Anyway, the decision has been made. I’m sure it will be wildly popular, make a gajillion dollars, be sold out for months in advance, and help the inevitable Frozen 2 open to record numbers. And that’s fine. Just don’t call it Norwegian, and don’t pretend that it’s part of what Epcot was meant to be.

 

I remember

Note: This was originally posted on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks and I’ve reposted it each year on this day since. I haven’t edited the piece much, since I’ve yet to find a better way to say any of this in the last four years. And I still haven’t made sense of anything that happened day, though I’m still grateful to The Boss and impressed with George W. Bush’s fastball.

I remember getting to work a little late that day, around 9:10 AM. I don’t remember why I was late, maybe I had an errand to take care of on the way to work or was just running behind that day. As soon as I walked into our office my friend John asked me if I had seen what had happened. I hadn’t listened to the radio on the way to work and had not seen a TV that morning.

“Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center this morning.”

“Are you serious?” was all I could think to reply.

I went to my desk and tried to pull up the CNN website, but it was only partially loading, slowed to a crawl no doubt by people just like me trying to find out what was happening and overwhelmed by the surreal events taking place. We heard that there was a TV on the first floor with the news on, so we took the elevator down and watched with a few dozen other people.

I remember being acutely aware of how quiet the room was. Everyone was just standing and watching silently, trying to comprehend what they were witnessing. While it wasn’t exactly clear what was happening when the first plane hit the North Tower, after the South Tower was hit it was obvious that this was something completely beyond our ability to immediately understand. All I remember thinking when I saw those buildings burning was “how long can they stand burning like that?”

I remember NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski was reporting from the Pentagon around 9:30 when he said that there had been a massive explosion there. For the first time, I was scared. This wasn’t just something happening in New York anymore; this was war. How many more planes were there? What was going to get hit next? And about this time the “unconfirmed reports” started to pour in: the Sears Tower in Chicago was a target; the Empire State building had been threatened; there was a hijacked plane on the ground in Cleveland (this last one in particular seemed to have a lot of legs and I remember hearing it multiple times that day.)

And of course the White House and the US Capitol were being evacuated. We had pictures of this, staff in business attire walking, and then all of a sudden running, out of the building. We now know of course that one of those two buildings is standing today because of the heroism of those aboard Flight 93, which was soon to crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Then everyone in our room watched as the South Tower, the second building struck, answered my initial question and began to collapse. Even though I had wondered how long those buildings could stand after the impact of two fully fueled airliners, seeing that first tower fall was still shocking. I remember then for the first time people around us making noise, some letting out shocked screams, other sobbing, a few cursing. It wasn’t long before the second tower fell, and I went back to my desk for lack of anything better to do, wondering how many people I had just watched die. 10,000? 50,000?

I remember spending the rest of the morning in a bit of a daze, staring out the window towards St. Pete/Clearwater airport, watching a few planes landing and feeling frankly terrified every time one came into view. We were 6 floors up and even though in retrospect it seems a bit silly, at that time it seemed entirely possible that one of those planes might find us an inviting target. None did, and it wasn’t long before there were no more planes to land, except for the military jet (perhaps it was a coast guard plane) that we saw take off and streak away.

I remember getting an e-mail from one of my managers, expecting him to tell us to go home, but instead reading that we should treat the day as a “low call volume day” and “work on some back burner” projects. I’m not somebody who is easily angered, but reading that I was completely pissed off and ready to either quit on the spot or march into his office and punch him in the face. I worked for a financial services firm and we weren’t sure at that point when the Stock Exchange would reopen or if any of our industry in New York was even left.

I remember spending the rest of the day thinking about the people involved. The passengers on the planes used as missiles, those folks trapped in the towers, many of whom chose to jump rather than face the jet-fueled inferno a moment longer, the firemen and police who charged up the stairs of a burning building to try to save others, and, after a while, the hijackers themselves. At first all I felt was hatred for them for what they had done, which was natural of course. But over time I’ve come to pity them, these men who died and killed for a lie, that they would find their reward in paradise.

In the days and weeks that passed, I remember watching the news and reading accounts of what happened obsessively. It still all felt oddly distanced and detached even though I knew it was real and had happened. I guess you would say that I was in a state of shock for some time. My memories of those times are scattered, but one of the most vivid is George Bush throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium for the first game of the World Series (and throwing a strike while wearing a bullet proof vest – that WAS impressive, whatever you think of the man).

There are other moments as well, David Letterman’s first monologue after coming back on the air, U2 playing the Super Bowl halftime show as the names of the fallen scrolled passed on a large screen behind them. But I remember most clearly several months later when I heard Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising, and for the first time, while listening to the title track, I had tears streaming down my face. The opening of the song follows a firefighter who is starting a doomed climb up the stairs of one of the towers with a “sixty pound stone” on his back and a “half mile of line” over his shoulder. The imagery is so powerful that to this day I can’t listen to it without the hair on my arms standing up.

I’ve never had a chance to meet Bruce Springsteen, but if I ever do the only thing I’ll say to him is “thank you.” The Rising provided me with something to latch onto, a way to let go of the senseless violence that we’d witnessed that day, and a needed emotional release. I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment either.

I remember finally visiting New York several times for work in 2008, and getting a chance to see Ground Zero. By that time it was little more than a massive construction site, with viewing areas for visitors and a few makeshift memorials surrounding it.

The WTC site in 2008.
A collage that decorated the WTC subway station.

One part of the WTC site that stuck with me was the so-called Survivors’ Staircase. It was the remaining above ground element to survive the Trade Center collapse, and hundreds of people used it to escape the buildings that day.

The Survivors’ Staircase

To this day I still find myself obsessing over the events of September 11 on occasion. Snippets of those events still find their way into my dreams sometimes. I can only imagine how much more those people who lost friends and loved ones or who were directly involved in the events that day have those dreams. Today, as the 10th anniversary of the attacks is upon us I find myself wondering when and how to explain those events to my children. What will I say to make something that in retrospect seems impossible seem real? How do you explain to a 7- and 8-year-old the horrors people will inflict upon one another in the name of religion? And how did those families that lost a parent explain what happened to their children? Those are the things I’m thinking about today. Tomorrow, I will just remember, again.

What do you remember?