Showing posts from May, 2011

Outsourcing a comedy of errors on TV and in PUSD

Note: This column appears in the 6/2 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/3 issue of the Peoria Times

There is a show on TV called “Outsourced,” which is not very funny and also kind of racist. But the show is accurate in that, in real life, being outsourced is just as unfunny and often as discriminatory.

The Peoria Unified School District is considering outsourcing its janitorial staff for the purposes of saving a projected 1.4 million annually. This means, lest we be confused by the gentle connotations and intended hilarity of the term “outsourced,” that Peoria Unified School District is considering laying off 150 workers and hiring instead cheaper labor from an outside company.

Gone will be the days of janitorial staff hired from within, in order to enable them to become a trusted part of the school community. After all, who better to place in a school setting—especially at times when no one else is around—than a person who nobody really knows? I can only imagine that good-natured, s…

Stuff my parents said

My parents made their annual trek from New Jersey to visit us here in the Valley last week. It was a great time as always, and it was especially nice for me to have them there at the book signing, because not only were they a great help in putting the book together, their idiosyncrasies provided for much of its content.

Speaking of ... because I love them, here is a list of random phrases that were heard during their visit.

- “Where do you guys keep sandwich bags that I can fill with ice for my foot?”

- “I was thinking, the indigestion may be because I drank so much pool water.”

- “Do you like onions? The recipe calls for onions.”

- “What do you want me to do with this ice pack I used for my foot?”

- “I put your alarm code into my phone. Here, let me show you. It looks great.”

- “I think I accidentally cleared all of the downloads on your computer.”

- “Is the microwave on? I don’t hear anything.”

- “The vet called. Brittany is eating, thank God.”

- “If you stand barefoot on concrete for too lo…

Contrast, the website for the Arizona Republic and Channel 12 News, has a weird set-up in that, the main headline on the home page, and each individual city’s page, sits next to a picture that is for a different story. I don’t know why it’s set-up like this, but the contrast of headline and picture is a constant source of both confusion and inappropriate hilarity, for me.

Right now, at this very second, the headline on the homepage reads, “Arizona Supreme Court stops planned execution for inmate,” and immediately to the left of this headline is a picture of Hines Ward, in a track suit, and a woman wearing a … bikini (?), each holding up their disco ball trophies for winning “Dancing with the Stars.”

On Glendale’s homepage, the headline, “Glendale sex-abuse suspect arrested in Philipenes” sits next to a picture of a plate of sushi.

UPDATE: They changed the picture on the homepage. So just trust me that Hines Ward helped stopped a local execution by winning a dancing contest.

City: ‘And don’t come out until I say so’

Note: This column appears in the 5/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/20 issue of the Peoria Times

I’ve got bad news for local criminals. Thought jail was rough? Try living at home.

Peoria City Council, following the lead of other like-minded cities such as Glendale and Surprise, granted approval to local law enforcement last week to draft an ordinance for a one-year trial run of home detention as an alternative to the clink.

But don’t fret, decent society. This doesn’t apply to murderers and arsonists. They still get to go to jail and become an active member of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s strenuous rehabilitation program, which includes lifting weights, sweating in tents, and the massive task of rehabilitating Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s image. But “minor” criminals such as shoplifters may have the option to stay home, which would be a real wake-up call to most shoplifters, who are notorious for always being at work.

The purpose of this plan, as always, is to save money. Who do you think pays…

Vampire weekend

Last weekend my wife and I attended a vampire-themed adult birthday party. As I am wont to do when it comes to readying myself for a vampire party, I waited until the last minute to consider what I would do for a vampire costume.

My original idea was to wear two popped-collared polo shirts, khakis, and cons and go as Vampire Weekend. But I decided against that because I didn’t know anybody going to the party and I feared the outfit would go over like a lead balloon.

Me: Hi, I’m Mike.

Person Dressed as Vampire: Hi, I’m Mark. Looks at me up and down, awkward silence…

Me: I’m Vampire Weekend.

Person Dressed as Vampire: What’s that?

Me: Oh, they’re a band, kind of like, intentionally preppy, but actually pretty awesome …

Person Dressed as Vampire: Is it a one-person band with no instruments?

Me: No, there’s a few guys in the band, but uhhh, I don’t have any friends here, so …

Person Dressed as Vampire: Oh, okay. Cool. I’m Dracula. Dracula is a vampire.

Repeat conversation 28 times throughout night.

The survey says—you are inadequate at your present occupation

Note: This column appears in the 5/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/20 issue of the Peoria Times

I have fully immersed myself in the process of filling out and submitting virtually any survey that comes my way.

It used to be that I scoffed at surveys. If I had to call a customer service line, and the automated prompts asked me if I’d like to participate in a survey afterwards, I always chose “yes.” I did this because I feared if I chose “no” this would somehow redirect my call to the lowest rated team of customer service agents, which would be, in my mind, a team of high-functioning chimpanzees wearing headsets. Once my conversation was complete, however, I would immediately hang-up on the survey. Not because I was indifferent about my customer service experience—it was typically awful and not helpful and forced me to question humanity—but because I was lazy.

But now? I am less lazy. Every time I receive poor service, which is quite often, I want to voice my displeasure to someone…

Classic card of the week

Kevin Gross, 1989 Score

According to Wikipedia, Kevin Gross is a member of the Ventura County Hall of Fame. According to its website, induction into the Ventura County Hall of Fame requires that “athletes must have competed in a sport recognized by the Hall of Fame.” Makes sense. The website then goes on to list the sports recognized by the Ventura County Hall of Fame, which include Speed Boat Racing, something called Martial Arts Volleyball, and, of course, Winter Sports. Kevin Gross played baseball, which also qualified.

Anyhoo, what else?

Kevin, who has one of the league’s sharpest curves,

I just want to point out that if I did not know we were speaking about baseball, I would be left to assume that Kevin Gross had the most defined buttocks of anyone in his league. I would assume that the league in question was his fantasy martial arts volleyball league.

rebounded in 1988 from a dismal ’87 season.

When set against his career statistics, Kevin Gross’ 1987 4.35 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, for me, j…

Shhhh! I'm hunting house hunters

Welcome back to House Hunters International! Grant and Sara love their 12-bedroom home in a remote suburb of Orange Country, but Grant’s job as a financial whatever and Sara’s job as nothing leaves them stressed-out with the fast-pace of life in the States. Having vacationed on the island of Barbados many times, and under the impression that they are revered and welcomed by the locals, they are set on finding a second home there. Today they’re meeting their realtor, Mike …

Mike: Okay, so, first we have this awesome three-bedroom home near the beach. It’s got a pool, and uh, some other things. Also, it’s in Barbados, near the beach. Do you want to make an offer now? And of course by “make an offer,” I mean “provide HGTV consent to get the place for you without any of the red tape and logistical nightmares that face less-wealthy and not-featured-on-television homebuyers?”

Grant: Hold up, Mike. How much is this place going for?

Mike: Does it matter?

Grant: Not really. Still though.

Mike: $265…

Come eat free onion rings and make me feel better about myself

Note: This column appears in the 5/12 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/13 issue of the Peoria Times

On Friday May 20, from 3 to 5 p.m., I will be at Firebirds Restaurant in Peoria signing copies of my new and only book, So, Do You Like … Stuff? I have absolutely no idea what this is going to be like.

My biggest fear, of course, is that no one will show up. To combat this, I have kindly asked all three of my friends who live in Arizona to come and support me. My plan, if no one else shows, is to pretend that I do not know these people, sign their books, pose for pictures (with the forthcoming captions describing them as “fans”), and then demand that they go home, change clothes, and come back. My only fear, of course, is that they won’t show up.

Luckily, my parents are almost certain to be there. They are traveling all the way from New Jersey, not so much for this as to, as my dad said, “check out more of Phoenix … do they have a zoo or something?” but still. It is certain to be a ver…

Classic card of the week

Mauro Gozzo, 1990 Score

Mauro Gozzo. Let’s gizzo:

Mauro, who is nicknamed “Goose,”

This is a true story. One time I was playing a baseball-themed board game, and one of the categories featured scrambled letters, and with those letters you had to figure out the actual player’s name. When I drew that category, my letters read: “ G O O Z E G O S Z O.” I was stumped, and as a joke I guessed “Pat Tabler.” I made up that story.

presented the Indians his credentials for a spot in their bullpen in 1991
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Goose Gozzo, dressed in an Armani suit that features a detailed stitched calligraphy of a goose head on the back of the sport coat, walks into the front offices of the Cleveland Indians. An executive rises to meet him …

Executive: Mauro, welcome. Come in, have a seat. Sanka?

Goose: No thank you.

Executive: It’s decaf … ?

Goose: I don’t want to waste my time or yours. May I present to you my credentials for inclusion in your pitching bullpen during this, the year of ninete…

City, Goldwater eat dessert, fight, document it all

Note: This editorial appears in the 5/5 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/6 issue of the Peoria Times

Have you ever read 100 pages about something and learned less? No? Then you should totally check out the transcript of the meeting between the City of Glendale and the Goldwater Institute. It’s chock full of nothing.

To recap the issue at hand: The City of Glendale reached a deal with businessman Matthew Hulsizer to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes so that the team can remain in Glendale. The Goldwater Institute, which is an organization that does … something, is challenging the legality of the deal, stressing the risk to taxpayers. These two sides came together for a meeting two weeks ago in which the goal was, apparently, to pretend they didn’t despise each other and to eat cupcakes.

Indeed, someone brought cupcakes to the meeting, and the first few pages of the report detail this fact. I’m not sure why this needed to be documented, but it did lead to Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs posin…