February 25, 2009

Meet Ash, My Wingman

Posted in Just Darn Clever tagged , , at 12:59 pm by Andrew

It’s Ash Wednesday, and I’m wondering if you’ve heard of the “Bad Ash” movement. It started in New York City, and it’s a group of young, single Catholics who attend Ash Wednesday services together…and then bar hop together late into the evening. They call themselves “Bad Ash,” and it’s spawned similar social groups in other major cities.

Isn’t that a hoot? They essentially use the ashes on the forehead as a way of identifying each other. The crips have their blue bandanna, some gangs have secret signs (like the Buchanan Boys from Seinfeld), and Bad Ash uses the black ashes.

For those of you intimately familiar with Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, beads and beer yet unfamiliar with the Catholic tradition of Ash Wednesday…well, today is the first day of Lent, and Catholics fast, abstain from meat, and attend services during which the priest makes a cross of ashes on the forehead and says “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

It’s obviously a solemn day, and Catholics are even instructed not to make a show of their suffering; that is, don’t go bragging about your ash cross and your fasting.

These Bad Ash Catholics say they’re not trying to brag; rather, they are proud to be Catholic and like the opportunity to hang with fellow youth with similar beliefs. “Ash Wednesday is a special day for Catholics, and we’ve found a new way to celebrate it without compromising the principles,” said one Bad Asher. “Sure, we drink a lot, but you won’t see any nachos or hot wings around here.”

Get this: “I’m not saying the ashes are hot, but when you see a guy with ashes, you know you have something to talk about,” said a young woman. “It’s like you have the Holy Spirit as your Wingman.”

I should also point out that I made all of this up. Not a word of it is true…but isn’t it totally believable? Young people find the most novel ways to party. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if such a group does exist. And they could do a lot worse than calling themselves “Bad Ash.”


February 23, 2009

New Guy Makes Me Look Bad

Posted in Parenting tagged , , at 2:11 pm by Andrew

Sometimes, life is a cliche. You know the old yarn about the new guy coming in and ruining things for the old-timers? Maybe the new guy has too much energy, works too hard, is too much of a suck-up, or is simply too talented and makes everyone look bad by comparison. I was victimized by the new guy last week.

I’ll lay some quick background: I had a conference in New Orleans last week, at which I would 1) meet my new co-worker for the first time, and 2) be forced to leave my comfortable, work-from-home dad routine. This routine includes getting up at 0-dark-30 with my junior high son, making breakfast for three kids…and then making lunch for three kids, before ushering them off to school.

Granted, heading to a hotel for a few days, with a slightly later alarm clock and no meals to make, only consume, was a nice respite for me. But like I said, the new guy is making me look bad.

Who’s the new guy? My wife…and she made the kids’ lunches while I was gone.

[Tangent: You see what I did there? You thought I had a business tale about my new co-worker and what-not and then WHAM….I went all domestic and turned this into a parenting post. I’m smooth like that, so get used to it!]

I was cruising along, making what I thought were good lunches yet within the confines of good sense and nutrition. I varied the sandwiches according to each child’s taste…I mixed in some sugary goodness, often with a seasonal flare, like a fine restaurant pushing its specials. I think I did right by the kids, and they never really complained.

But then I go on vacation (so to speak), and the temp (generally not a good term with which to refer to your wife, but in this bidniss analogy, I think it works) swoops in and wows everyone with fresh thinking about sack lunches. She switched from wheat to light rye (which they liked!). She introduced cherry tomatoes (which they liked?). She included personal notes and clipped cartoons from the newspaper for them to read.

So when I came home the kids were all “Mom made lunches!” and I knew I was in trouble. “We got special bread…and tomatoes…and cartoons!”


But long story short, I’ve managed to get those crazy ideas out of their heads by easing them back to mediocrity…I mean, reality. I kept the rye but jettisoned the tomatoes and notes. I distracted them from the changes by including extra cookies. Cheap shot, I know, but the mornings are hectic. I need to keep things on schedule and can’t get weighed down with things like creativity.

So that’s my tale of how the new guy stuck it to me. Ironically, in a way, she’s both the new guy and the boss. Fortunately, the boss doesn’t know how I typically make lunches. Which proves that other business motto: “Keep your head down and don’t try to impress too much.”

February 20, 2009

Unprofessional Blogger!

Posted in Just Darn Clever tagged , , at 1:53 pm by Andrew

Wow…7 days…an entire week without posting! Who do I think I am? Some schmo who just writes whenever he wants? Does George Will disappear from the Washington Post like that? I think not.

I need to make this up to you, so I’m taking my last week’s salary from the National Guild of Totally Good Writers and donating it to the less fortunate at the Association for Bloggers and Not So Great Writers.

I could make an excuse about being out of town this week, but that’s bush-league.

And sure, this is a post about not posting, which is a major violation of posting rules, but I’m hoping you bailed on this non-post back in paragraph two, because, in all fairness, this is a pretty sorry post. (Did I mention post?)

So let’s just pretend this didn’t happen, and when I see you this weekend, we can both be all “Hey, how are you!” and nobody needs to know about this clumsy encounter.

OK, then…so…uhmm…you know…it was…yeah. Bye.

February 13, 2009

Spin Class Revelations

Posted in Just Darn Clever tagged at 8:47 am by Andrew

I’d like to bring the music down for a moment and get a little serious. I want to talk about epiphanies. (Or as pop culture has so cleverly renamed them — “aha moments.” No wonder people worry about the dumbing-down of the English language.)

I had an epiphany this week — in spin class at the gym, no less. The class was just beginning and people were warming up, adjusting their bikes, filling water bottles. It was 8am, and the room was filling with soft morning sun. I had that early-bird-gets-the-worm sense of accomplishment, and I was surrounded by motivated people of all ages. The instructor always opens class with some upbeat, motivational music…to get the blood flowing and heart pounding. So I’m taking all this in, proud to be pushing myself, impressed by my fellow exercisers, and as the music washed over me, I reached this epiphany:

“Why in God’s name are we listening to a song from High School Musical 3?”

When did society allow the bubble-gum musical to sit at the adult table? Sure, it’s made millions and become an enormous brand, so it has tremendous appeal…among 7-10 year-olds. But a High School Musical reference has no place in adult conversation…or spin class.

We have a bottomless pool from which to pull inspirational music, and Joe Spin Instructor went HSM3? C’mon. Even if you limit it to musicals, you have a million options before scraping the bottom and exhuming High School Musical. Go old school with Guys and Dolls or Oklahoma, Music Man or King and I.  I’ll take overplayed modern shows like Rent and Phantom, Lion King and Little Mermaid.

But High School Musical? And don’t play devil’s advocate and tell me it’s the modern-day Grease.  Travolta and Newton-John were never marketed directly, let alone solely, to pre-teens.

All I’m asking is that we follow some basic rules within adult society:
1. Items from the Wal-Mart bakery are not intended for public consumption.
2. Kids shouldn’t drink coffee.
3. High School Musical is child’s play…not Broadway.

February 11, 2009

Poor (but Clever) Man’s Guide to Valentine’s

Posted in Just Darn Clever, Parenting tagged , , at 3:51 pm by Andrew

Clever and effective compliment to pay your wife in advance of Valentine’s Day:

Setting: folding laundry
Characters: you and your wife
Husband: [While holding a pair of your child’s jeans, son or daughter, preferably between the ages of 8 and 12] “Are these jeans yours or Jordan’s?”
Wife: “Ahhhh…thank you!” [hugs and kisses]

And there you have it! An intentional unintentional compliment — the best kind.

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