America! It’s Time to “Grow a Pair!”

(nothing can get you out of a funk or a rut like bitching about all the ‘bitchers’ out there…)

Oh, yeah, and this one contains the salty language reserved for my favorite rants…

America, Grow. A. Pair. Already.

America, it’s time you grew a fucking pair. I mean a big pair, you sorry bunch of out-of-shape, whiny ass pussies. You’ve had it too easy for too long. And now it gets hard. Turn off the fucking “Kardashians!” Stop watching other people being talented (no, the Kardashians are NOT talented). Do your own thing. It’s time that you return to what made you great and the envy of the world! It’s time to return to a no-fear, take charge, can-do with feats of daring do, damn the consequences attitude! It’s time to throw off that pervasive fear that has settled on your shoulders like your crazy aunt’s shawl that she wears even in the August heat of Phoenix! Quit your fucking crying already and take some personal responsibility and do something that makes your life better! Stop bitching about how much it’s going to cost, or who’s looking at you and laughing or freaking out whether or not Greece is going back to the Drachma. You’ve got a few problems right here at home in case you haven’t noticed. Time to fix the issues here first. And no one else is going to help you out, not anymore. It’s time for a little personal responsibility, America. Fend for yourself.

You think that I’m wrong? Imagine that a horde of zombies shows up right now on your block. Who’s going to check in on you? Your neighbors? They are NOT going to cross that street full of undead neighborhood watch commanders, my friend. Sure, they might watch from the big bay window of their 4,200 sq. ft. McMansion with pained concern as the undead mob eventually beats down the door to your poorly constructed house made of Chinese housing materials. Hell, your neighbors will probably watch while drinking a nice Cabernet… And, do you think your local police department will help? I guarantee with their recent budget cuts, the few that are left are talking you on the speaker phone from across the squad room as they brace the door, telling you to just stay inside “until they can get to you.” Hell, even your relatives in Peoria are going to tell you, “Well that’s what you get for living in (insert city name here).” And Europe? Those cultured, latte swilling, wine and cheese eating socialists? They have a few of their own self inflicted issues to deal with. Face it, America, you’re pretty much fucked. Your minds and bodies have gotten soft, your life has gotten “hard,” and you’re just sitting around complaining that no one is doing anything about it to help you.

America: “Fat, dumb and stupid is no way to go through life…”

Who knew "Animal House" would be so prophetic?

So, America, you over-caloried, self indulgent, reality show watching, entitled, social media addicted fat ass, how DID you get here? Let me tell you. You’re spoiled. You expect “it” NOW. You want immediate gratification. But, it’s not all YOUR fault, is it? A lot of it is your “parents” and their rotten parenting skills that are at fault here. After they got a taste of freedom, sowing their oats in the 60’s, they kept on wanting more and more. Then, you were plopped in smack dab front of the TV for a front row seat to the go-go consumption decade that was the 80’s. Sure, it had a hell of a hangover at the end, but hey, we invented Prozac and other new medications to dispel the pain. In their halcyon haze of new found prescriptions and accumulation, parents lost track how to be responsible parents.

As you grew up, your parents apparently never bothered to tell you that you WERE NOT the best at everything; that merely showing up and competing WAS NOT cause for a trophy; that you COULD NOT get everything that you felt “entitled to” or wanted.

I NEVER got a trophy for trying out at the Punt, Pass and Kick tryouts every year. I thought I was good, but the fact that my father would call out to me to go home during the competition eventually led me to believe that I wasn’t going to win any kind of trophy. It crushed me, but it taught me that I am NOT a football player. And, as for the teacher in 5th grade music class who told me to “never try out for the marching band…?” THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! You’re right, I DON’T have any musical talent.

The icon of one of Tim Barley's greatest childhood traumas...

And then there was the 4th of July Big Wheel Race in Portland, MI circa 1976… MOST. TRAUMATIC. COMPETITION. OF. MY. LIFE.

Of course I didn’t win the new Big Wheel for first prize. I cried (yes, I am a modern man, and in touch with my feelings), and grudgingly took the ice cream cone coupon (worst second prize ever) after controlling my sobbing enough with my mom having to forcibly guide my hand to take the coupon.

But, SHE didn’t harangue the organizers for another Big Wheel for the 2nd and 3rd place finishers. She didn’t go out and buy me a new Big Wheel because she felt bad for me. She also didn’t tell me that I was a winner for trying. She merely said, “You tried your best.” I did. The reason I didn’t win was that asshole who “traded paint” with me on the last turn and forced me into the hay bale. (I forget his name as it is just too traumatic for me still to this day…)

Hear, and accept that “no” is part of life. Then move on.

Accept it. Then get around it.

But, somewhere along the way, America forgot to learn how to say “NO” to itself and its kids. How’s that working out for you now? Your parents, by not demanding too much from you and coddling your sorry asses, have made you soft and probably borderline retarded. You started getting everything you wanted and only cried and whined when you didn’t get it. Your parents were soft and gave in. You got an X-Box, even though you had a PlayStation. You got your own TV in your room at age 8. With cable! You cried in the middle of Wal-mart and your parents, rather than spank your sorry ass right there, bought you whatever you wanted just to shut you up. Your expectation and entitlement made you a bunch of whiners and criers about “fair play,” and “even playing fields.”

Look: life isn’t fair and playing fields are NOT even. But, let me tell you something, there IS a level playing field, you whiners. You make it yourself by creating a whole new game. THAT’S how America was built. It just created a whole new field for a whole new game. The U.S. of A wasn’t the U.S. of A until some colonists said, “Hey, bitches, we don’t like tea and crumpets! We want coffee and tobacco in the morning!” And then it did it again and again and again with hard work, ingenuity, brains and more than a bit of chance taking. Baseball? Basketball? Pure American sports, invented so that we wouldn’t succumb to soccer and rugby. We mass produced the car, made the airplane a reality, brought the lightbulb to the people, developed the telephone, helped win wars, harnessed the atom, walked on the moon and brought the world closer together with the Internet and social media (the jury’s still out on the effects of this one). All this in what could be considered America’s pre college years. We ARE only 236 years old. We did all these things even though people said “you can’t do that.”

Look, no one likes to hear the word “no.” It’s a word that I heard a lot in high school, as in, “Would you like to go out on Friday,” “No.” “Please.” “No.” etc., etc., etc. It hurts. But, you get over it. What it took for me was just moving someplace else in order to go to school and inventing a whole new game. And yes, I do mean that figuratively…

But, like finding a blocked path in front of you on a trail, or seeing a detour on your favorite route to work, obstacles present us with opportunity. It’s time to see that the word “no” is not a bad thing. It’s not just there to discourage you. It’s actually there to guide you off a path that isn’t working, and discover one that holds infinite possibilities because it hasn’t yet been discovered. You parents told you NOT to run around the pool for a reason! “No” is merely a tool that you can use to create new paths to be stronger, leaner, smarter, faster, and better people and a nation.

Educate yourself.

The best way to getting around the word “no,” and forging a new path is learning.

“A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Books!

Apparently, the path to “prosperity” in this nation is by balancing budgets at the cost of funding on education. While this may help (and I say “help” loosely here) balance budgets, it also adds to a national education gap that constantly fails against other industrialized nations and a few third-world nations as well. Math and science skills, if you hadn’t realized as you read this ON YOUR COMPUTER OR SMART PHONE, are becoming pretty goddamned important! If you are a young American, you already have one strike against you. Not only that, but there is an effort to make English the official language for the U.S.. Well, that’s all well and good, but 30 million Americans (14%!!!!) of this country can’t read or write at a 9th grade level! Have you ever heard a non-native English speaker speak! They speak in proper English and test much higher than a good majority of those 30 million do.

Not only do you get good grades (teacher’s pet, teacher’s pet!!!), and praise, which you strive for every day, but education is invaluable when you want to go into the workforce, which most of you have to do unless you are A. a trust fund baby, B. a brilliant whiz kid who has the next great Dot.com idea, or C. happy with being a sponge on society. Let me tell you right now, you know already if you are an “A,” and being a “C” is a lifestyle choice usually earned AFTER GOING to college. But, if you think that you are a “B,” you’re not. Just realize right now, that you are NOT a B. Just like the “A” types, you’d know by now if you are going to be the next Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg.

But, there is another career choice that apparently does not need much education and that is U.S. Legislator. According to this article at Huffingtonpost.com:(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/members-of-congress-speak_n_1532666.html), the level of discourse at the highest level of government has dipped to a 10th grade level. Clearly, there is no need for a proper education to be a U.S. Senator or Representative. This is probably the reason why education cuts are the first to take effect when balancing a budget. We’re just grooming the next generation of legislators.

You should always be challenging yourself to learn something new every day,whether it be from a book or from a documentary on TV  (FYI – you’re NOT going to find this on “Duets,” or “America’s Got Talent.”). In this time of high unemployment, it’s always best to learn new skills. “But, Tim,” you say, “I don’t have the money to go to school.” In my best R. Lee Ermey I would respond, “You sorry, fat-headed, waste of a good American! Bulllll-sh*t! There’s an internet out there, son! You can learn anything you want. Now, get to it. Sit and give me 20 (minutes of internet searching on a skill you want to learn).” Seriously, it’s easier than ever to learn new skills. So far this year, I have taught myself marketing and blogging skills so that I can pontificate like this every day…

Where America is today…

It’s bad. Finally, the hangover of partying like rock stars with money we didn’t have, combined with living in a society where stupid, loud, obnoxious, classless people are celebrated with TV shows and a need for people to praise us for every little thing we do has caught up to us. But, we didn’t get here overnight and we aren’t going to get out of it quickly. Cars that has been driven over a cliff at high rates of speed go really, really far off cliffs. (If you had gotten a good education, basic physics would have taught you this). Cars, and economies, don’t just magically appear back to where they were. It takes time and effort to get back to “normal.” It take a lot of heartache and a lot of trimming of the fat you have accrued over the years sitting on your asses, eating your fast food and watching “American Idol.”

There are ways out of the mess that was created. It all comes down to creating ideas and making things HERE. As locally as possible. If you truly want to make a difference, buy things that are conceived OF, made IN, and sold TO, Americans. If you need a new chair for your McMansion, buy one that is made in your town, or your state, or you goddamned country. That car you need to replace? What about an American made car that will support American manufacturing and American jobs? The more that you can find that is manufactured here in the good old U.S. of A., the better off we are all going to be. And if you can’t find what you are looking for, why not create it yourself? Nothing can stop you; you’re an American. You’ve been born into a country that gives you freedom to do anything you want! Get off your ass and do what needs to be done.

The REALITY of it all.

Rise to your challenge!

Buying the products made in your own country and educating yourself aside, what you need to do, America, is get off your collective lazy, ever-growing asses and exercise both your body and your rapidly shrinking brain and return America to a country that can stand on its own. There is no “us” versus “them.” You’re being lied to because it makes for good TV news. You can do what you want to do. And if you can’t do it by yourself, find someone who shares your vision. Banks and companies shouldn’t be worried about Europe and how it’s going to affect them (with YOUR money by the way) before they spend money. Politicians shouldn’t be deadlocked into a state of not accomplishing anything by a standoff of ideals. They should be finding ways to help those Americans who DO get off their asses and let their brains find a way around the “no” obstacles. It’s time to be bold again.

America should be asking how can we lead. America should be asking HOW it can get back to the moon or Mars, not how “economically feasible” it will be. America should ask itself how soon it CAN harness the sun and wind and tides to overcome addictions to fossil fuels, not whether WE should. As a country, we should challenge ourselves to DO something, no matter how remote it seems. There will be “no’s.” But, we must always wan to do MORE. There will always be naysayers who say you can’t. That’s good. Just find a way around them.

Now, what are you going to do to challenge yourself?

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Off to Golf. Today’s Cure for “The Rut.”

(luckily, my friend has 2-for-1 greens fees today at Terranea in PV…)

Stellar views at Terranea.

Still in that rut that has sidelined me creatively lately (a byproduct, I am certain of the late Saturday in Hollywood combined with the trips to Del Taco AND Taco Bell on subsequent days), my friend Eric (a highly creative SP F/X coordinator with some great films to his credit and purposely taking time off) and I are going to hit the par 3’s at the Terranea resort in Palos Verdes.

The weather is not great, typically June Gloom, but nothing beats a morning playing golf – except for waking up to a beautiful woman who then makes me a solid breakfast before she puts on her rocket scientist lab coat and leaves me money from her nine figure trust fund so that I can “have fun today” until she gets home and we can go play volleyball with her friends. As she leaves in her Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, she yells to me, reminding me to start planning our month long trip to New Zealand and Australia to hike this fall…

This is how I write when "Super Girlfriend in My Head" is around...

Okay, so the creativity is not entirely gone. Maybe it’s just the motivation factor…

Maybe it’s just that I need a Muse. A distraction from the distractions. If you know of a Muse in the guise of attractive, intelligent, active, and funny woman, please direct her to my blog…

 

Now, I’m off…

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In a Rut: What To Do When You “Don’t Know What to Do.”

(Whatever…)

MUCH different than having a lamp shade on your head...

 

 

 

If you are an avid reader of this blog, and judging by my new-found ability to read my Google Analytics you are NOT, then you kind of expect me to have a DAILY blog piece, or at least certainly a few quality blog pieces of interesting material every week. But, it’s been since last Friday that I have posted anything of interest. You see I am in a funk. BUT, I am making an effort to make sure that I am exercising the brain today.

 

The Brain as a Muscle

The brain, they say, is a muscle. You need to keep it working as often as possible. I read a lot, try to write as much as possible and do the daily crossword and Sudoku puzzles every day to make sure that I am stimulating the neurons and synapses as much as possible. It’s said that we use 10% to 17% of our brains. I am using 75% of that on a daily basis, and saving the other 25% to make that final “kick” when it’s needed. Therefore, I am using very little of my brain lately. Unfortunately, I think that this is making me stupider (see?) and that makes me sad.

What To Do?

The problem with a rut, especially a creative one, is that when you are in a rut, the very things that are a cure for getting OUT of the rut also make you feel like you’re just in a different rut.

“Take a walk” some will say. Sure, going for a walk is good for the legs and the cardio if you walk fast enough, but that takes me a way from my computer and my writing. Often, I’ll come back and the last thing that I want to do is get right back into writing.

“Turn off your brain, watch some TV.” I’m really good at this. I could watch The Weather Channel for hours at a time, especially during hurricane season and winter blizzards. There is something distracting about watch natural disaster unfold, but it often leads me to watching other channels and then before I know it my brain is totally turned off and reruns of Family Guy have been found, distracting me further.

“Lunch/happy hour” is an oft suggested option. For those of us who are unemployed and without revenue streams dedicated to liquor and food, this is NOT an option. AND, lunch and happy hour in the South Bay RARELY ends up as only lunch and/or happy hour. It usually leads to a lost morning the next day…

So, I often find myself trading one rut for another. Luckily, I have a job interview today which should break up the monotony a bit, and maybe I’ll get started on that “Food Fight: Burger Edition” piece I promised with a trip to In-N-Out on the way home.

What do YOU do when you’re in a rut? Comment or send an email to offtopictim@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter – @offtopictim.

Hasta!

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Hockey and Sportsmanship! (Congratulations to the LA Kings!!!)

(Civil disobedience has been contained to Kings fans littering on Chick Hearn Drive…)

Sportsmanship!

Congratulations to the LA Kings!  Now you know what it’s like to be a Red Wings fan!

Hockey is a great sport. It’s an elegantly brutal, hard charging sport, full of many different constantly moving parts. Its fan base is surely blue collar. Sure, it doesn’t score points in bunches like the NBA or the NFL, but it is more exciting than soccer and these guys are manly MEN. You try skating for 30 seconds (a LONG shift by NHL standards) while another equally large man is trying to check you into the boards, and you will get a taste of how hard it is to play hockey. Plus, it’s cold. They’re playing on ice for God’s sake! It moves quick and when someone scores a goal past a goalie who is protected by gear larger than the Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man, it’s a thing of beauty. Well, most of the time anyway.

Moreover, the NHL playoffs exhibit one of the greatest time-honored traditions in sports – the post series handshake. No matter how hard you checked another player into the plexiglass, or whether you rubbed shaved ice into another player’s face, you always have respect to skate by him and shake his hand. There is no chest thumping; no scowling at other players because they had the gaul to try and put their hand up in your face while trying to shoot the ball; no chalking throwing up in the air to celebrate yourself. And no one talks about winning multiple championships before PLAYING a game…  Just celebrating with a handshake and a hug, a “great game,” and a “see you this summer…”

And THAT is true sportsmanship.

You hear me, NBA?

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OffTopicTim Presents: FOOD FIGHT!!!! (Mexican Food Edition)

(Courtesy of a late Saturday and lazy Sunday…)

Whenever you do a night in Hollywood and have a craving on the way home, you HAVE to cater to it. Thus began my 16 hour Mexican fast-food binge that started with a ride home from Hollywood last night, top down, wind in my hair, and the rising hunger that could only be satisfied with a trip to Taco Bell!

Today, I followed it up with a trip up to Century City to see “Safety Not Guaranteed,” a delightfully fun(ny) movie with some great understated performances by Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) and Mark Duplass (“The New Girl”), after which I had the craziest urge to swing by Del Taco.

Apparently I am carrying an anchor baby…

So, I thought (yes, sometimes I DO think), “What an interesting idea for a blog.” So, today we have a head to head match up for Mexican fast food. (sorry for those of you who don’t have access to Del Taco. You don’t know what you are missing…)

To be fair to each, I ordered the same thing and ate both at home (although, I did go through the drive through at Taco Bell early Saturday morning): a grilled chicken burrito and a chicken soft taco.

(Appetizer!) The Chicken Soft Taco

Handcrafted by Del Taco artisans!

The ingredients of both the Classic Soft Taco (Del Taco) and Chicken Soft Taco (Taco Bell) are the same: a tortilla, lettuce, cheese, chicken and “secret sauce.” At 180 and 150 calories respectively, they are essential the same – although, if you are counting calories while eating at a fast food restaurant, you’re missing the point of eating at either establishment… But, that is where the similarities end. Taco Bell’s Chicken Soft Taco is sparsely populated with chicken, but chock full of lettuce, making it seem bigger, which led me to ask, “Where’s the beef?” which elicited questioning looks from the drones behind the counter to young to understand my allusion to classic TV advertising. On the other hand, Del Taco’s Classic Soft Taco had at least 50% more chicken inside and their meet seasoning has always been far and away, head and shoulders above that of the bland meat of Taco Bell.

The winner: Del Taco’s Classic Soft Taco!

(“The Entree”) The Grilled Chicken Burrito

Oh my god! Yummy!

No fast food Mexican establishment is complete without this half-decade old entry into the “portable menu item” landscape (Taco Bell wiki). Del Taco’s formerly named Grilled Stuffed Burrito (now the Classic Grilled Chicken Burrito) once again overpowers the paltry Taco Bell entry, the Grilled Chicken Burrito. They only share a few ingredients: a tortilla, seasoned rice, cheese and chicken. While Taco Bell adds only a creamy avocado ranch sauce, Del Taco stuffs its burrito with fresh tomatoes and lettuce. Plus, again, the chicken is so much spicier and better tasting on every level.

The winner (again): Del Taco’s Classic Grilled Chicken Burrito

Drinks

Del Taco serves Coke products which always trumps Pepsi, which they serve at Taco Bell. A flat Diet Coke is better than the perfectly carbonated Diet Pepsi, although Larry Barley would beg to differ…

Sauce Packets

Fun for the whole family!

Here is where Taco Bell DOES exceed Del Taco. While Del Taco has two main sauce packets, including their Del Scorcho, Taco Bell has five (5!!!) different types of sauces for everyone’s varying constitution. Plus, Taco Bell’s packets have entertaining things written on them for you to read while your order is being painstakingly crafted behind the cashier…

The winner: Taco Bell, for creative use of  “packet entertainment.”

The Verdict

Whether that craving hits you on the ride home from your shift at the bar, slinging drinks to the “wannabes,” pretenders and posers at 3 A.M., you’re hung over, or if you are just plain old lazy, then I would suggest that you take your dollars and hustle on over to Del Taco. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Next up on Off Topic Tim’s FOOD FIGHT: Gourmet burgers in the South Bay.

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