Friday, July 30, 2010


I don't think I've ever needed a week off as much as I do right now. Thankfully we make our annual trip to the beach tomorrow, complete with beer, children, and Canadians...and hopefully not too much dumb-assery. I plan to return refreshed, revived, ready to blog and ready to turn 40.

In the meantime...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Top Ten Wednesdays: What are we issuing an executive-level apology for?

10) On behalf of everyone in our corporation/administration/technology cult, we would like to humbly/deeply/sort of apologize for poisoning your coastline/firing you for being a racist/assuming human beings hold their cell phones with their hands. Please accept our transparent attempt to avoid a Congressional subpeona/calculated attempt to avoid any further slides in the polls/blatant attempt to hold on to your chains of brand slavery.

9) What’s that? You want a little more. Jesus Christ, we already said we humbly apologize, you ungrateful...fine.

8) As a symbol of our media-/newscycle-/market research-driven regret, please accept this heartfelt series of touching television commercials/heartfelt statement from our press representative/heartfelt accusation that you’re a moronic dumb ass who doesn’t know how to hold a cell phone properly.

7) So there you go, are we square? No?! Well if that’s not good enough, you can take your environmental disaster/unwarranted termination/dropped calls and shove them up your whiny little....

6) Ahem. On advice of counsel, we would like to humbly/deeply/sort of apologize for our comments in number 7.

5) Furthermore, to rectify this situation, we promise to dispatch our very best underwater robots/spin doctors/automated tech support message.

4) In addition, to prevent a repeat of this situation, we also vow, to the best of our profitability/approval ratings/product release schedule, to not treat environmental safety like a junior executive willing to trade sex for a promotion/beg for approval from conservative bloggers like a GOP Congressman begging to lick the heels of a $300-an-hour dominatrix/design beautiful cell phones that handle actual phone calls like a supermodel recoiling from your greasy touch.

3) Finally, we would also like to offer you a free lube, oil, and filter for your local beach/your old job back at the same crappy government salary you were making before everyone thought you were a dirty stinking bigot/an ugly rubber casing that makes your shiny $600 phone look like Fisher Price's My First Overpriced Piece of Technoshit.

2) Now that surely should take care of all your concerns, right? Oh, come on! Are you telling us that you’re not satisfied with our slow and ineffectual/rash and haphazard/condescending and arrogant response to the situation? Okay, fine, have it your way.

1) We hereby announce that we assume full responsibility for the situation and will now be jumping from our nosediving corporate stock with an $18-million-dollar golden parachute/buying your silence with the promise of a personal phone call from the President and a new job, “Undersecretary for Sweeping Things Under the Rug”/letting you exchange your phone for a refund like the uncool, drooling, Droid-loving loser that you are. Happy now?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

USDA Nearly Fires Official Over Concerns of “Blackness”

Agency accused of overreacting to conservative criticism that official was "unapologetically 100 percent black"

Agricultural secretary Tom Vilsack came under attack today for firing Shirley Sherrod, an official in the United States Department of Agriculture, after a conservative Web site produced video evidence of her being black.

The firing came after conservative publisher and facts fornicator Andrew Breitbart posted a series of accusatory messages on Twitter during one of his so-called “Twitdumps.”

"[Oh my God], this gov’t official is at NAACP meeting and is totally black. Video proof forthcoming," Breitbart dumped.

The video showed Ms. Sherrod indeed not only being black, but being black with other black people at an NAACP panel discussion. After discussing her lineage, which she offered unprompted as "completely black," Ms. Sherrod unabashedly declared, "I will always be black." Many of the other blacks attending the panel could be seen nodding in approval.

Conservatives quickly pounced. "This is precisely the kind of behavior the NACCP should be against," wrote blogger Michelle Malkin, an honorary Caucasian.

Talk show host Glenn Beck, an actual Caucasian, told his television audience, "This is what the Obama administration has sown. Can you imagine a situation where a white person would get up in front of a group of other whites and claim they will always be white?" He then wrote "WHITE" on his chalkboard and drew a heart around it and an arrow through the heart, which he labeled "BLACK."

After his initial burst of Twitdumping, Mr. Breitbart produced a longer diatribe on the Fox News program The O’Reilly Factor. "The problem here is that Shirley Sherrod is being a racist exclusionist. She’s only interested in being black. Not once does she even consider being white."

"Furthermore," he continued, "this blackness is inherited, not earned, which goes against our American way of life. Why does she get to be black and I can’t?" Host Bill O’Reilly concurred, saying this was the rudest thing he’d seen a black person do "since asking for more motherfucking iced tea in a restaurant."

Faced with this overwhelming evidence and ironclad logic, the Obama Administration reacted swiftly. "We have made it clear from day one that complete, unfiltered blackness is not something this administration is comfortable with," press secretary and total cracker Robert Gibbs said. "Our threshold for blackness has always been and will remain, at most, 50 percent."

Agricultural Secretary Vilsack moved quickly to rectify the situation, calling Ms. Sherrod and asking her to resign. Ms. Sherrod balked at the suggestion, reportedly commanding the secretary to display a sign of affection on her dark posterior. At that point Vilsack fired her.

"Historically, the USDA has simply not tolerated blackness of any kind," Secretary Vilsack said at a press conference, "and we're not about to let non-black farmers face that kind of discrimination."

Evidence of whiteness surfaces

However, some bloggers had misgivings about the authenticity of the tape. Writing for Salon, Glenn Greenwald, described as "stunningly white," thought Sherrod’s tape had been edited. After repeatedly trying to contact the NAACP for the unabridged tape, the organization came out from the desk it was hiding under and delivered the full recording.

The unedited tape showed that, after her controversial comments about being black, Ms. Sherrod went on to describe watching a Golden Girls marathon and shopping at Yankee Candle.

"Clearly," Greenwald wrote, "the reports of Ms. Sherrod’s blackness have been greatly exaggerated."

Mr. Brietbart, however, was not so easily convinced. Speaking on CNN through his official spokesman, a talking sack of shit, he stated that the unabridged tape could not be trusted as much as the heavily edited tape. "We have no idea who did not edit that tape," the talking sack of shit said, "and for all we know, she was watches marathons of 227 and buys Soft Sheen hair products at Rite Aid."

After additional media outlets verified that Ms. Sherrod was also a member of a scrapbooking club, the White House and Department of Agricultural quickly reversed their race to judgment. "It is clear to us that Ms. Sherrod demonstrates more than acceptable levels of whiteness we demand from our public servants," Secretary Vilsack said. "And I would like to take this opportunity to not only rehire her, but also invite her to catch up on all the work she missed while she was away from her job."

"That’s mighty white of you," Ms. Sherrod replied.

Ed. note: We originally reported that a talking sack of shit was speaking on behalf of Andrew Breitbart, when in fact the talking sack of shit was Andrew Breitbart. CJSD regrets the error.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: What new words are we creationing in our political Tweets?

10) dallusion: a comparison between great literature and one’s frontier hillbilly ramblings

9) conservatize: to make something like the original, but dumber

8) birthriotic: insisting that a person can only be president if their mother’s placenta has "Made in the USA" stamped on it

7) Becked: to weep uncontrollably at the sight of poor people receiving assistance

6) Christgasm: the joyous release one experiences after pounding home a Christian legislative agenda

5) bodesty: the state of keeping one’s womanhood tastefully concealed by nipple zippers

4) GOPeed: a conservative public figure who demonstrates the gross erosion of traditional family values by paying a sex worker to urinate on him

3) tealeaves: the love stains left from an overexcited gathering of Teabaggers.

2) imPalin: crushing logic/facts/English language with one folksy wink

1) persetweeted: to have one’s dumb-fuck ideas thrown back in one’s rosy fucking cheeks for no reason other than being completely fucking wrong

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Your Basement Smells Like Pussy: A Tale of Real Estate Woe

In 2007, when The Lovely Becky and I moved from Iowa City to da UP, we sold our house in less than a day. The realtor put the sign on the lawn in the morning, and before the sun set, we had an offer that we accepted. No muss, no fuss, just the usual cleaning and moving out.

In 2010, after being on the market for three months, we got a very shitty offer on our UP house. We negotiated our way to a smelly offer, one that was substantially less than what we paid but acceptable in a market where foreclosed McMansions litter the landscape like used Porta-Johns after a Lollapalooza concert.

My Spidey sense tingled a bit when the buyers, who I will dub Lord and Lady Douchebag, started off with their shitty offer. When I told my father—the former Navy man turned car dealership manager, a man who is the best salesman I know—what they offered, he said that I should tell them I would burn the place to the ground before I’d give the house away at that price. Maybe I would have in 2007. But this was 2010, and not only was it a buyer’s market, I was in the UP and looking to get out of it like a bad marriage.

I’ve tried over the last three years to not bad mouth the UP too much. I’ve often failed, and in retrospect, it’s not the UP, it’s me. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula does indeed have a lot to offer. It’s beautiful, and thanks to the size of Lake Superior and the presence of big-ass tanker ships moving in and out, Marquette often felt more like a quaint Atlantic seaside town instead of a Great Lakes hamlet. There were some creature comforts of civilization like Starbucks and a very good hair salon. However, the very fact that those two things stick out for me says a lot about why I was not meant for the UP. The three main S’s of life in the UP—stalking, skinning, and shoveling—did not mesh with mine—shopping, shows, and summer. I was the Zsa Zsa to the UP’s Eddie Albert (ed. that's Eva to Eddie Albert, doh! Thanks to Terry for the correction). And unlike the 200-inch winter we had two years ago, this break-up was not bitter. I just wanted us to go our separate ways and meet other people and places we were better suited for. I was even willing to give the UP the one thing I loved in the final settlement: our house.

The house was critical to making three years in the Great White Near North, because for at least half the year, I didn’t want to go outside. The finished attic in particular was my salvation: it not only served as my home office and offered a beautiful lake view, but it eventually became my first man-cave where I could watch movies and Rock Band-out to my heart’s content. (Given that it was at the top of the house and had a lot of windows, I couldn’t really call it a man-cave, so I instead dubbed it The Cock Pit.) Even the basement was perfect for our needs. It was an old, unfinished room we could use for storage and for the fleet of cat boxes that serviced our three fuzzy, purring shit machines.

Said shit machines were initially a thorn in our side during the selling process. We had showings, but they tended to complain about the cat smell in the basement. The basement did indeed have a cat smell, because that’s where the cats were (duh!). We also had one cat with a kidney problem who started peeing on the floor during the past year. We cleaned the basement frequently but you can only do so much to keep that kind of environment bakery fresh. We didn’t worry about it too much, however, because we figured someone would come along who saw the basement for what it was: an old, ugly place to store Christmas decorations, cleaning supplies, and cat accoutrements.

Three months into the process, Lord and Lady Douchebag appeared. They visited the house, and the initial report was that they liked it a lot and that the basement was not a big deal. They liked it enough to come for a second showing that lasted nearly two hours, with TLB and I driving by the home during the second hour knowing that every minute longer they took probably meant they were seriously interested. They made their shitty offer, we negotiated to the smelly one, and we proceeded to the seller’s agreement. We even agreed to their request to be out in 30 days.

They had a couple of contingencies, one of which was that we have the basement professionally cleaned “to their satisfaction.” At the time, that didn’t seem like a big deal to us, as we had planned all along to get the basement cleaned by some pros. When TLB and I had moved into the place, it had been left in a pretty dirty state, and we vowed to pass it along to our buyers in a state so scrubbed it would give Mr. Clean an erection.

The inspection is where things began to go to shit, literally. Our agent called us and said the buyers had gotten adamant that they would not buy the house if the basement smelled like cat. We were caught off guard by the shift in tone, but thought we found the culprit: our middle cat, Stinky. We had stuck him and the others in their cat carriers during the inspection, and Stinky had pooped in his cage while the buyers were inspecting the house. We understood their concerns and reiterated that we’d get the basement cleaned. In fact, we boarded the cats so that said scrubbed basement would not be touched by feline ass again.

The cleaners came and did a number on the basement with one of those scrubbers like you see in grocery stores, working the floor hard enough to take off some of the paint. Post-clean, the basement smelled free of cat. The Lovely Becky and I left for the weekend to start the first phase of our move to Illinois, confident we had held up our end of the bargain.

The following Monday, our panicky agent called us. The buyers had come to sniff the basement and were not happy. They still insisted that the basement smelled like cat.

It was four days before we were supposed to close.

TLB and I mobilized, planning to leave our daughter Libby with my mother-in-law and heading back to the UP on Tuesday, with my father-in-law joining us to provide additional elbow grease and olfactory analysis. Our agent also suggested we talk to the house inspector for cleaning suggestions. Apparently he had had fuel oil spilled in his basement, and he recommended a product that had removed the smell. Marquette was not a center of janitorial supplies, however, and TLB had to go online to a New York company to order the product and pay $200 for overnight shipping.

The next morning, just before we left, the owner of the New York janitorial supply company called TLB. We’ll call him “Bobby.” The first thing Bobby asked TLB was, “What’s with this crazy shipping?” TLB explained the predicament. “You don’t want that stuff,” Bobby said about what she ordered. “I been in this business 20 years, I’ll give you something better.” We suspected that Bobby knew not only how to make the evidence of cats disappear, if you know what I’m talking about.

We returned to our house. The basement an musty, old, unfinished basement. It did not smell like cat pee. If we got down on our hands and knees, we found a few faint hot spots, but overall it didn’t seem like enough to derail the deal. We figured we could beat it.

We started with a pre-Bobby barrage of hydrogen peroxide, letting that work its bleachy magic overnight. The next day UPS arrived with our assortment of Bobby-approved products, mostly enzyme cleaners good for urine, vomit, blood, and guys who talk. Then, just to be My-Cousin-Vinny sure, we mopped up with Mr. Clean orange with Febreeze. Even on my hands and knees, I could smell no cat, just the scent of hard work and modern chemistry. Our agent and her assistant came over, and both concluded that the basement smelled fine. “I don’t smell cat,” the assistant said. “It just smells like an old Michigan basement.”

Confident that the buyers would agree, we waited for them to come over and smell the scent of victory. Except that they didn’t want to come over. In a note to their agent that we saw, they said they felt “pressured” into making a decision, had called off the closing, and wanted to wait until the following Monday.

I went Lou Ferrigno on our agent. Granted, she was the messenger, but frankly she had been very passive and annoying during the process. She had been badgering us with questions about how we cleaned the basement and bringing in a different cleaning company instead of, you know, selling the goddamned house. I laid out a cell-phone salvo where I said I was ready to blow the whole deal up just to keep Lord and Lady Douchebag from owning the house. We had left our child behind to meet their demands, and they couldn’t deign to visit us because they felt “pressured”? Our agent tried to calm me down, and at one point changed the topic to other possible cleaning solutions. “I don’t want to talk about fucking cleaning products!” I said. “You are a real estate agent, not some cleaning expert.”

If the squeaky wheel gets the grease, then the screaming wheel gets the KY, because lo and behold, Lord and Lady Douchebag changed their minds and said they would come on Friday. That happened to be the day the movers came, because while Lord Douchebag was cavalier about the closing date, we still had to stick to the moving date we had arranged in order to meet their Douchebag demands. Their highnesses came, they smelled and we conquered. Our agent said that they didn’t smell anything. Huzzah!

Except not. The Douchebags were worried that the smell would come back, like a monster from Stephen King’s Pet Dysentery. They still wanted to smell it again Monday. TLB, also known in our relationship as “The Smart One,” figured the deal was over, and that they were just delaying the inevitable. I, known as “The Other One,” thought we still had a chance.

Guess who was right?

Our agent called on Monday. The Douchebags had given the basement four nostrils down, and I knew for a fact that they were just looking for a way to back out. We were positive the basement was fine, fine enough that what had not seemed like a big issue to them shouldn’t have become a deal breaker later on.

In the end, it’s not so much that they didn’t buy the house that angered me, it’s the way they didn’t buy the house. The LeBronned us for a few weeks instead of just making up their minds and letting us know. The worst part was the inconsideration. They treated the whole process like they were shopping for fruit, as if our house was a cantaloupe they could tap for a while and put back whenever they wanted. They didn’t seem to comprehend that, in order for them to move in, people had to actually move out.

So, we’re left with an empty (albeit cleaned) house in Marquette that’s still on the market, with a sad, empty Cock Pit just waiting to shake again with the sound of poorly played plastic drums. Meanwhile, we received no earnest money from his Lordship, because you can’t disprove a subjective condition. They weren’t satisfied, ergo we got no money for taking our house off the market during the 30 days we tried to please them. I blame myself for not being more savvy and will definitely never agree to something like that again.

We are, however, out of the UP. Despite all the frustration, expense, and aggravation this has caused...despite the last month leaving me mentally and physically exhausted, to the point where creating a Top Ten full of low-hanging dick jokes seemed too taxing...despite having to take care of a house I no longer live in...I’m no longer dealing with all of this while living in the second-snowiest city in the lower 48. I’ll take going through The Tale of Lord and Lady Douchebag by Alexander Dumbass over not having a way out of the UP. Now I just hope we find a buyer and that the house finds an owner who appreciates it, one who will love what the UP has to offer.