Thursday, November 30, 2006


Tell you what, we didn't die trying to see WOLFMOTHER, but we almost did trying to get home. Maybe a few times. Let's just call it six times as a fair estimate.

Elders and I loaded up Boggs the Honda at roughly 11:43 the night of the show with a 6:30 dinner and 8:30 meet-n-greet with the greatest band on the face of the Earth--WOLFMOTHER. Not an unachievable mark at all, but with freezing weather on our heels like the lawman on a drug bust, we knew we needed to make exceptional time on the early portion of the trip and get as far down the road as possible before stopping for craps, cokes or steak finger baskets. You know, we're road dawgs. With two iPods between us, we left the Yellow at 12:00 and not a minute after.

I remember listening to Dr. Dre, Cage and a little WOLFMOTHER, you know, just to get the blood running a little bit. There were some really frightening sightings of deer carcasses along the way. Actually, there was an abnormal amount of dead deer on the side of the highway. I was wondering if we were driving to Dallas or a much darker place. Nonetheless, we pushed onward unphased by a headless deer on the side of the road. The head was about three feet away completely detached.

What's that in the road ahead?

What's that in the road? A head?

Speaking of wildlife, I was unfamiliar with a camel farm about three hours out of the Yellow. There was a flock of camels (if someone would mind providing me for the proper description of a gathering of camels--I don't believe it's a "flock"). I estimate there was almost 30 of them. Bizarre and actually a little sad. I'm not sure what purpose camels serve in Texas apart from transportation and not even reliable and efficient transport. Perhaps they'll be slaughtered and served at your local Wal Mart as "beef parts." They looked lonely and confused. That's all I'm gonna say. Poor guys didn't even see it coming.

We hit rain just south of Wichita Falls and it drenched us the whole way in from there. I could hear the kid at Jiffy Lube asking just the night before, "Did you want us to replace your wipers and refill your windshield fluid?" I declined politely. Regretted it.

We arrived in Dallas at about 5:48 thanks to the ever-trusty HOV lane. Sheryl was kind and gave us a tour of the new UMGD offices and loaded down Elders with more promos than he could carry comfortably. It's the music business and Sheryl's a vet and takes care of her peeps. We then headed to Firewater for a quick bite before heading downtown to meet WOLFMOTHER. Jacko and Matt would meet us down there.

After being hasselled for $10/each on parking, we parked in the street right in front of his lot for $.75/each. Whatta punk. If I wasn't such a stingy cat, I would've paid for it to avoid confrontation. If I wasn't such a nice guy, I would've punched that dude in the gut. Mama didn't raise no sucka.

After making our way to the venue, Greg (now the coolest guy in Dallas) handed out the tickets, lined us up and ushered us into the Tea Room where WOLFMOTHER would soon be arriving and, like zoo animals, would pose for pictures and sign various items then be taken to their dressing room to prepare for the assault of music, mayhem and madness they would unleash on an otherwise unsuspecting Dallas audience. With no more than a five minute delay, WOLFMOTHER arrived quietly and rather uneventfully.

Thanks to Sheryl, I was walking cooly about with the standard glossy that you're given at these events and a copy of the WOLFMOTHER album on vinyl. Oh yeah. I hopped in line like a good kid and awaited my chance to meet the band. They seemed to be quite good spirits--shaking hands, nodding to the praises of the fans present, grinning boyishly. The Tea Room was playing the new Jay-Z record and Andrew, who was bobbing his head and even flexing some rap hands playfully, jumped into a mumbled freestyle saying something about WOLFMOTHER and "throw your hands in the air and say 'ho!'" Funny stuff.

They autographed both of my items and, being such good sports, they offered the following photo. I threw up the "W" claiming it was "'W' for Wolfmother," at which point Andrew and Myles were more than happy to oblige. Priceless. Great guys. Great meet-and-greet. Everything went smooth.


We then retreated to the hotel to check in, enjoy a couple of ice cold Lone Star tallboys then grab a cab back down Deep Ellum for the 10:30 set of WOLFMOTHER. The show was sold out which was good to see. Despite the murderish weather that was potentially zeroing in on the Metroplex, it could deter the faithful fans from packing into the sweaty Ballroom. Duke, Elders and I, with Matt and Jacko following, pushed our way front and center with about thirty feet of living, breathing flesh between us and the mic at centerstage. Perfect.

The house speakers were playing Sly and Family Stone and James Brown which was perfect for the lovefest that was about to occur. Put me in the right mood which is difficult to do when my tail is packed in amongst about 500 fratdaddies and their girlfriends.

The band took stage shortly and the place went ablaze. Ready to go. They dashed off headlong into "Apple Tree" and it didn't stop until the band said so. Tight band. Rocked hard. I got elbowed in the side which made me need to pee badly. I watched the encore from near the back which was unfortunate because I missed the close and studious account of WOLFMOTHER covering Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown" which I had seen in its rousing premier in a tribute to Zeppelin at the UK Music Hall of Fame Awards. The encore also featured "Collosal"--one of my personal favorites. Highlight of the show for me, aside from the Zeppelin, was their fueled performance of "Tales."

After the show, David, who had joined us at the venue after flight delays all evening, craved food at Cafe Brazil which was just down the block. Although the sign on the front said they were open and the doors were unlocked with patrons sitting at tables eating, we were told that they were "closed right now." Awfully peculiar thing to say. "Right now"?

I mentioned there's a fine establishment near our hotel called Denny's that actually serve breakfast (which I was particularly in the mood for) all day long. We all agreed on Denny's. Denny wasn't working last night, but our gifted waiter was such a gracious host. He was a fairly tall black man with a gentle grin and almost Vandrossian delivery. It was actually part Vandross and part Sammy Davis. Duke ordered something which graduated him to an exclusive menu they kept behind the counter. Duke declined.

After I took down my Meat Lovers Scramble, we then headed up to the room to bed down at which point we ended up watching the same Criss Angel episode that was playing before we left for the show. Pretty lame. But I found Carrie on USA. That definitely took the edge off the lameness of Criss Angel. Sissy Spacek killed it in Carrie.

We knew the next morning wouldn't be easy because the thunder and cold blasts of wind indicated the weather had caught up with us and now half of the state, if not more, was under the strain of the first arctic blast of the season.

That next morning, we awoke to, well, about the conditions I was expecting. Cold, rainy and getting worse. We had really two options: start moving or spend another day. I, being the beneficiary of the "stubbornly restless" gene, I told Elders to get 'er moving. We were going to take on this storm by driving right down its throat which was by way of Highway 287.

We heard that the Yellow had received anwhere between six to twelve inches of snow. Fort Worth was getting sleet turning to snow and the amounts between here and there were completely unknown. But with about three hours of Ice Cube in tow and Duke already on the road down to Austin, we headed out.

We knew that we needed to make it home before sundown because as bad as the weather is, it's three times as at night. We left at 9:15.

The roads were as bad as we had believed them to be. Ice to snow packed to chunks of ice and snow. Sucked. It was horrible. Elders had Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" as his ringtone which ringed the appropriate lyrics:

We come from the land of the ice and snow,
from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying "Valhalla, I am coming!"

We dared the ice and were received warmly at home to exactly 7.2" of snow. WOLFMOTHER absolutely destroyed the Gypsy last night. And this road dawg is about to put my head down for some much-needed shuteye. Slow down on bridges and overpasses. They might be icy and if you see that jerkoff in the black Tahoe who almost ran me off the road, tell him I died as a result of his reckless driving on hazardous road conditions and I'm survived by a lovely wife and seven children who will now have to go hungry and without gifts this holiday season. We'll send him the bill.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


As the music industry packs itself up in a handbasket and wanders wearily to a dark and hot place underneath the Earth's surface and CDs become basically more valuable as lids to leftover sauerkraut, we really need to examine some CDs that commonly pass through clearance tables only on their way to the trash (or fridge depending on your intented use). Trust me, I'm a scavenger and I'll search those tables endlessly looking for gems. I once found Zhiggie's debut record, Jeru the Damaja's Wrath of the Math and the Diabolical Biz Markie record all in one visit. Going through a clearance table in the backroads of Oklahoma is like being the first to fish a freshly stocked pond and the bargains you'll find are unreal.
Below, I've listed the top ten of my past bargain bin finds. Honestly, there are better records I've found, but I've singled these out because I most commonly see these and they sit there collecting dust waiting for you, the soon-to-be educated consumer to come sweep them up for probably less than you could by a burger and fries. Hey, in the world we live in, you save as much as you can so consider them a blazing bargain for the cultural and history lesson you'll receive simultaneously.
Rodney at Fat Laces, thanks for the inspiration for the post. I'll start with the record that birthed the entire brainstorm.

Total Soundscan: 332,547 units

Current Average Weekly Soundscan 3.4 units

What Made It Big:

"Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Nightmare On My Street"

What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
It'll forever be discounted as a throw-away, flash-in-the-pan pop record and, in reality, it's just that. But it's not only that. Surprisingly, it only scanned 330,000 records because you couldn't avoid the two lead singles off this record if you tried. Damn thing didn't even go platinum. Whatta shame. But out of embarrassment, those 330,000 owners of this record have all sold it back in confidentiality to their local used store. They did so without realizing two great things about this record. Firstly (and rather shamefully) is Fresh Prince (now the uber-Denzel wannabe, family-film superstar Will Smith) recorded at a live show in Union Square shotcallin' the audience including the not so P.C. request for "all the people with A.I.D.S. be quiet!" So young. So stupid. Secondly and more importantly is this album is a fantastic account of DJ Jazzy Jeff's accomplishments as a turntablist. With the ability to pick this album up for $.99 at your local used dealer, it's an absolute steal.

Total Soundscan: 181,736 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 0.0 units
What Made It Big:
"I Got a Man" (which sold 543,849 units as a single)
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Positive K will probably win the "Who the Hell Sang That?" Award so long as he lives, but remember this: that song was everywhere back in 1992. And for those lucky enough to actually hear the full record, there's enough heat on there to light up any house party. Positive K, believe it or not, had worked with MC Lyte and even Brand Nubian. The cat had his ties yet because he hit the pop format, he got chewed up and spit out. With tracks like "Nightshift" (and the super tasty remix) and "Carhoppers," Skills Dat Pay Da Bills is well worth the price of $.78. I mean, the fact that Big Daddy Kane produced the original "Nightshift" makes it easily worth a dollar. You're just gonna have to trust me. Plus, there's always time to hear "I Got a Man" again because that single was uncut dope. Stop frontin'.

Tommy Boy
Total Soundscan: 1,937,402 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 80 units
What Made It Big:
"Jump Around"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Besides the fact that "Jump Around" will still light up any place like a molotov cocktail, this album had some really deep cuts on it. Everlast and Danny Boy (not Tim Robbins) did their damn thing on this record yet the schtick worn thin, Everlast grabbed a guitar and started singing songs about addiction and heartbreak. Yikes. And he did it on the same label that put out House of Pain. Most people would've gotten booted for such antics. Everlast sold almost 3,000,000 of that solo record which was half the record of House of Pain's second record, much less this hard-hitter. "Shamrocks and Shenanigans," Life Goes On," "Top O' the Morning To Ya," man, this is a great record. Still is. When you see a brick of them in the bargain bin, cop one for yourself. You'll see what I mean. Most likely, if you see a brick, over three quarters of them are going to be the clean version. I guarantee you this.

Tommy Boy

Total Soundscan: 1,794,246 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 9.6 units
What Made It Big:
"O.P.P." and "Everything's Gonna Be Alright"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Look, Naughty By Nature had flow. I'm gonna put it down. When these dudes came out, you swore they were gonna change the game and Tommy Boy put out a record that stood a serious chance of doing that. Unfortunately, it featured a track called "O.P.P." which took them to an altitude that not even the strongest safety net will break your inevitable fall. They sold over a million units of the single and still managed to scan close to 1.8 of the full length along with a few thousand of those awesome Naughty By Nature hoodies. Once "O.P.P." started going through the licensing stage of its maturity, the album's sales were halted almost immediately. You can find that damn song on almost every rap compilation ever put together. But even cheaper is this deliciously slamming debut record. Treach and Vinnie did that damn thing on this frantic, rapid-fire, bass-heavy masterpiece. Sure, it might sound dated, but at a price as low as $.58, it's like a fine antique at a Goodwill price. Don't be a snob.


Total Soundscan: 4,001,842 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 15.4 units
What Made It Big:
What Makes It Worth the Biggedy-Bargain Bin Purchase:
Jermaine Dupri-produced pint-size rhymeslayers talking about run-ins with the boys in blue and kickin flavor to the ladies. This here is forty-swiggin music, fellas. Okay, in all seriousness, can you believe they sold 2.1 million of that single?! All that aside, the jokes of the music industry actually made a fairly decent record. Sure, their voices get mad annoying after maybe three tracks, but if they'd put out an instrumental of this record, you could sell it to diggers around the globe for $20 a pop. "Can't Stop the Bum Rush," "The Way of Rhyme," and "Lil Boys In Da Hood" are all bona fied although it's difficult to play even in a room by yourself without chuckling out loud at the silliness of this project. But with its lowest price dropping to $.20, for less than the price of a soda, you can adopt to jobless aged kiddy rappers. Don't delay, do it today.

Delicious Vinyl

Total Soundscan: *unknown, although I can't name one kid who didn't have it growing up.
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 21.6 units
What Made It Big:
"Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
I'm-a put it this way: joke if you want, Tone made a classic with this After Dark. I don't mean classic in a Criminal Minded sense. I mean for a buck or less, you can't find better hip hop. Dead serious. Look past "Wild Thing" and "Medina" to tracks like "On Fire," "Cuttin' Rhythms" or the title track and dude had it goin' on. Certainly having the Dust Brothers (later responsible for the likes of Beck's Odelay, Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique and, er, Hanson) behind the boards can't hurt the project, but add to it Tone's limited rhyming abilities and this is as fine and downright silly hip hop albums that the price of a box of paper clips can buy.

Total Soundscan: 231,754 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 0.1 units
What Made It Big:
"You Can't Play Wit My Yo-Yo"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Recently, I had a pleasant chance run-in with YoYo (now Yolanda) and I reminisced to the beauty of this supersweet record which I, not but a month earlier, swiped from a $.49 bin. How tragic. But nonetheless, I couldn't resist. Why? Well, as Ice Cube's protege, I took it as a stamp of approval and then, upon noticing production credits from a "Delvon the Funkee Homo-sapien" (later to be simply "Del" or, for all you youngins, the guy who raps on the Gorillaz track "Clint Eastwood"), the power to purchase overwhelmed me and I didn't hesitate. From the first listen in years, I found it to be just as refreshing as the first time I heard it. It's like MC Lyte's lyrical prowess coupled with Latifah's boom. Guest verses from Cube and enough p-funk to tide you over 'til the next Dre record. Dude, what more do you want?

Def Jam
Total Soundscan: 326,001 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 0.0 units
What Made It Big:
"Sometimes I Rhyme Slow"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
I'll be the very first to tell you these dudes were mad corny. In my admittance, this record has got some magical material on it. Being that they barely scanned 300,000, most of you kiddies probably aren't familiar with the single "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow" which didn't get played by popular radio so it makes it definitely worth it. As members of Gangstarr's posse, they at least get some posse points. Well-produced, lackluster rhyming, cheesy leather jackets on the cover and the typical crazy echo effect on every Greg Nice verse--this has the makings of a delightful listen. Check out "Down the Line," "Hip Hop Junkies" and "Sex, Sex, Sex" for additional freshness.

Delicious Vinyl
Total Soundscan: *unknown, perhaps around 4,000,000 units.
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 2.4 units
What Made It Big:
"Bust a Move" and "Principal's Office"
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Another old Delicious Vinyl sure shot. Young MC bursted onto the scene as your prototypical clean rapper. The kinda rapper you could bring home to mom. Nothing altogether fun about that except the dude did have some skills. Sure, you wouldn't be caught dead with this album around yo boys, but explain that it was produced by Quincy Jones, Jr., the Dust Brothers (again) and features Flea and you can easily justify the ownership of this record. The names aren't all that make this record though. "Non Stop" is the dopest track on this album. Just remember that. When everyone's asking to play "Bust a Move," do the right thing as an hip hop elitist and play "Non Stop" followed with "Know How" and represent snobbery to the fullest. Don't be surprised if you can find this for under $.50. Good pick-up.
Def Jam
Total Soundscan: 371,556 units
Current Average Weekly Soundscan: 0.5 units
What Made It Big:
Dude, it's Public Enemy.
What Makes It Worth the Bargain Bin Purchase:
Amazing that a remix/outtake record by Public Enemy once scanned almost 400,000 records. In fact, it's incredible--standing as a testiment to PE's reach. Unfortunately, though, it staled rather quickly and the greatest miss it was ending up in bulk in clearance tables everywhere. It's actually quite baffling that this record was the first to sell back being that it's still better than 99% of the material they're putting out these days. Chuck's still on fire and Flav, well, you know...whatever. You won't find any other PE record this cheap so pick it up when you see it because it's inevitable you will. If you like it, then proceed to pick up the third, second and fourth PE records, yes, in that order.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


So were the now-famous words so eloquently spoken by, of all people, my lovely wife's skydiving instructor who we will refer to solely as Richard. Not to protect his identity, but I never caught a last name. Funny how that is that you don't grab the last name of a guy who is ultimately going to be the last person with your lovely wife as she plummets toward the Earth at 150+ MPH from about 11,000 feet above the land. But that's another story that you'll have to wait for later.

We departed for the lovely metropolis of Albuquerque Friday morning after making sure all family were en route to their end destination. We had a much bigger mission for the weekend. My wife turned 30 when we were on the road and we gotta stop the car as soon as we can to celebrate. First stop was Santa Rosa, NM where the birthday girl actually treated me to a polish "sausage" that had been rotating over mid-level oven heat for about six hours I estimate. Funny how the suggestion that it was polish, I have no problem with. I do have a problem with the suggestion that it was actually sausage. Either way, in the middle of nowhere, it hit the spot and that's all that matters. Next stop, Hotel Blue in Albuquerque. Pretty fancy sounding, huh? Just wait.

My dear mother had warned me that we were going to run into some heavy law enforcement on the road. In fact, there were news bulletins everywhere claiming that on I-40, from California to Tennessee (actually, I'm not sure where I-40 ends--Tennessee is truly just a guess), there were going to be police officers/highway patrolmen ever 10 miles. That would mean that we would run across at least 27 happy-to-help law enforcement officials out to ensure our safety. Being that I'm not easily duped, I called the bluff. I said we would come across only nine of these guys all the way to New Mexico. My lovely wife didn't counter.

Bring it, Cochese.

Well, as my prediction would have it, we didn't see 27 cops. In fact, we didn't see even nine. In fact, in 275 miles between the Yellow's city limit and Albuquerque, NM, we didn't see a single police officer of any sort at all. Thank you to all the committed law enforcement individuals who decided to take Friday off.

Oops, just confirmed that was only in effect for Thursday (Thanksgiving). Apparently, from Friday on (when the real drinking begins), you're on your own for 275 miles. Interesting how that works. Well, hopefully law enforcement found a lot of non-functional tailights on Thanksgiving. I mean, it's all about safety. For the record, I didn't speed, drive drunk and I wore my seatbelt the entire way. I mean, when a law is broken out in the middle of nowhere and there's not a dashboard-mounted video camera to see it, did it actually happen?

So, tearing down the highway at up to 95 MPH, we arrived in Albuquerque much earlier than expected. That's a joke. We arrived in Albuquerque as expected--around 3PM or 2PM locally. Making our way down to Hotel Blue, we pass the always lovely Dr. Martin Luther King Ave. I've never been certain why MLK always has to be located in the worst parts of town, but it's a fact. There was a nervous silence after I say, "Well, we must be close," as we pass MLK Ave. For those tallying at home, that's not a joke.

It was Historic Route 66. In fact, it's on the most popular drag in the city for weekend activities. There's clubs, restaurants, show venues, sushi places, coffee houses. We were on the very edge of that fun. In fact, you go to very end of that stretch, take a corner, drive past the head shop, tattoo parlor and day labor center, take another corner and another corner, drive past the bums in the lovely park to the right, locate the two police cars on the left hand side and that's your entrance.

No kidding. There were two cruisers right in front of the entrance to our hotel as we pull up and three officers hustling about. We don't see a single cop the entire way in and when we pull up at our hotel, there's two of 'em. Yeah, I'm starting to feel like a real hero booking the beautiful and crime-riddled Hotel Blue for my lovely wife's birthday weekend. Real cool, j3.

My lovely wife is thinking, at this point, that I should ask for a discount. I'm thinking that might be a little rash, I mean, we see three officers and we ask for a discount? At least it's safe. We walk in and before we can even say hello, we're asking, "What the hell is going on?" because as patrons, we want to know. And have the right to. It's explained to us that there appeared to be a stolen identity that someone was trying to check into the hotel with. Okay, a non-violent crime. Stolen identity, sheesh. I thought it was murder or something. I see one cop fly out the front door, dashing through bum park to chase down our suspects thinking, "Not too bad. Just coincidence that this would happen as we're pulling up. Very strange coincidence." However, I feel that after my lovely wife's suggestion of a discount, I really need to take hold of this situation to help put her at ease. I really need to grill these people and make sure this place is safe for us to bed down the night. I want them to know where I'm coming from. I'm not going to stay in a place that's unsafe. No, I'm going to demand this place gets their act together before I give them my money.

"Do you have secured parking?"

Yeah, a real drilling--that's what I gave them. I'm driving a freaking Honda Civic and I'm concerned more about my stupid car than I am the safety of my lovely wife and myself. The answer to the question was "yes" which was, at the very least, positive. I'm unsure though if this was still a pleasant place for us to stay. "Do you have secured parking?" Yeah, I'm an all-star. B'lee dat. There's a million better questions that I could've asked at this point.

"Do you have triple reinforced doors?"

"Have you tested the deadbolts lately?"
"Are the sheets made of kevlar?"
Whatever. I'm husband of the year for even suggesting that we stay here. I'm husband of the decade by actually staying there. Not that my lovely wife is demanding a better place, but I know I owe it to her. I figured, let's check out the rooms before we completely write this place off. It's this complete neglect of the mate's wishes and obliviousness that made it difficult for me to date growing up. I didn't get along with girls until I married one.

Anyhow, the door keys didn't work once or twice so they had to fix our door lock. The lamp on my side of the bed had a lightbulb out and, of all things, there was a dead prostitute in the bathtub. I'm kidding on the last one.
We didn't hang around long because we had things to do. Places to go. Things to see. And after trying out our Tempur Pedic bed we felt it was better for our health and spinal chords to go out and do something different.

What comes up when you Google "Tempur Pedic."

I have a feeling that the only thing a Tempur Pedic bed is suitable is a corpse. They call it memory foam because it melds to your body shape and weight distribution, but it has the memory of a 100 year-old man. You roll, it takes shape again. The hole you had before is absolutely gone. You spend all night trying to make the perfect sleeping shape in the pudding, but you never really sleep. Avoid these beds if at all possible. There's a reason why they have teddy bears modelling their beds on showroom floors. Because no human with the ability to express pain would ever lay down on one of these puds. It's like laying down on a big ass catcher's mitt.

We drop into LA Underground to pick me up some vinyl. Scored some Ice Cube, Black Sheep, Madlib and Dilla. Dude's do it right over there. I could've dropped some $500 in there without even thinking about it because they have so much tasty stuff. I opted not to because I had a much bigger gift to buy for someone else that next day.

We later ended up at a local Italian place called Saggio's (sAH-shEE-Os not Saggy-Os as my lovely wife had first thought). Good eats. Quick. Relatively priced. Only one problem. Upon opening the door to the main room, I noticed directly to my right the figure of a large man that immediately brought on a vomitous feeling. The feeling that maybe we need to find another place to eat. We were in enemy territory. Abandon mission before we get in too deep.

The calzone was magnificent. My lovely wife's shrimp alfredo was "a little buttery" but good otherwise. Next, we were to retreat to one of the fabulous hotspots that Albuquerque has to offer. The Hinkle Famly Fun Center which features three really fine SkeeBall lanes at which I was to give a lesson and winning to both my lovely wife and any witnesses that were in the house. I chose to warm up with a little Spider Stomp.

My lovely wife chose to warm up with a personal favorite which we refer to as the Dinosaur Egg Drop.

I then went hunting for little furry dillyboppers in a game that I deemed as impossible to win because the trajectory of the firearm and the limited movement from one side to another and made it not only difficult to knock down the little bastards, it was unlikely you'd hit anything. That's a quarter we'll never get back. But now I know.

The long and short of it is that my lovely wife ended up whooping my tail with a top score of 410 on the SkeeBall lane. It wasn't her first win, but it was certainly the biggest. I had set three high scores during the game at 310, 340 and 370--with the last one leaving me with the belief I was safe until she took me 40 points higher. Good game, lady. I got schooled.

Arcades, I've found, are very sad places like Wal Mart. Look at the clientel in your average arcade next time you happen to be in one. I saw a kid who was probably about to notch about 20 years walking around aimlessly with a pocket full of quarters playing games at random. He had on a leather jacket (a la Top Gun) and saggy jeans. His eyes looked like he had spent about three weeks in this place without any exposure to sunlight. Dude needed a girlfriend, a boo. He's on his way to a life of isolation and loneliness and cavities from the Laffy Taffy he spends his tickets on.

We were really just blowing off steam before tomorrow's activity. We ran by a local grocery store, picked up a buttercream cake and two forks, headed back to Hotel Blue (crime central) and partied like rock stars.

We awoke (suggesting at one point we actually feel asleep) around 5am locally to get ready for our morning journey down south to the town of Belen. Checked out, paid full price, got about three good cups of coffee in my system. Feeling good, feeling fine. My lovely wife was energetic, excited, anxious. So long as there was a smile on her face we were good. We arrived at our destination at about 0745 hours.

We shook hands with the locals. All of them extremely polite and professional. You could certainly sense that you were in the presence of people much more experienced than you in cheating death and truly taking chances. It was like walking into someone else's house and they were all armed with semi-automatic firearms and you had a paperclip.

Shirt reads "Your blocking the plane door! Stop screaming and jump!"

They all had really hard lines in their faces. Some of them were tanned to a leathery texture. They all seemed to have the most boisterous laughs and speaking voices which could only be achieved by stripping your vocal chords by jumping out of a plane at 11,000 feet a few hundred times.

We soon met up with the instructor and Erin's tandem jumper, Richard (who I previously mentioned that I didn't know his last name) Greenwood. I had heard around the hangar that he had logged somewhere around 4,000 jumps. That's insane. Here's Richard.

It needs to be noted his striking resemblance to GI Joe's very own turned professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter. This is the kinda cat you'd like to be jumping out with your lovely wife.

Richard briefs all of the jumpers on prior deaths that have occurred in tandem jumps and, if that's not enough, he goes into detail on how they happened. Of course, he states that it's necessary that all jumpers know the risks they are taking by jumping out of a moving aircraft high above the Earth. "You could die" would suffice. Erin remained unphased. Her husband was not quite as lucky. I spent my time cooling my nerves by pacing back and forth around the hangar, peeing uncontrollably (in a potty, mind you) and taking pictures of the dogs that were hanging out around the airport.

This dog is not dead. He insists on sleeping with his head under the tire of a vehicle.

If the stories were not unsettling enough, the presence of crossbones throughout the hangar managed to enduce regular "gulps" of anxiety from this observer.

Erin, in the meantime, was preparing and patiently waiting for her turn up in the plane. They got her suited up and began walking through flight positions so she was perfectly comfortable with what was going to happen.

What you see above is known as "arching" which allows for maximum velocity in a controlled state during your freefall. Erin would be doing this at an altitude equivalent to eight Sears Towers and not the four inches off the ground that you see here. And she'd be doing this at roughly 150 MPH. My body, unfortunately, doesn't go into this position unless I'm dropping toward the Earth at 150 MPH.

Here, Richard adjusts Erin's "helmet" which really serves no purpose except, as Richard mentions, "It makes it easier for the coroner."

At about 1300 hours, Erin's plane arrived and Erin made the dash to the plane where Richard, once again, made one last run-through of the ejection process to ensure that Erin had it down.

The man in the yellow is another well-experienced jumper named Ron Weagley who was in charge of the videography for the jump. Supercool guy. Before I knew it, the engine was started, I was brushed away with a "I love you, honey!" and a wave--thinking I might not ever see her again. Talk about freaky. But I knew she was in trusted hands up there. Not only that, she's a champ and has been known to deliver some incredibly clutch performances. As soon as her plane (which was just a little larger than your standard coffin) lifted up from the ground, I made my way quickly to the drop zone so I could be there as she touched down.

I located the drop zone not but a half mile away, got the video camera running and began searching the sky for her plane. First pass of their ascent it was no problem. Second wasn't a problem either. Third and fourth, however, I could barely make them out in the sky with all of the high clouds. I would lose them from time to time because they were so high that the camera I was using wouldn't even them pick up to focus.

Begin freaking out.

You know they're about to drop when you hear the plane's engine lower to a slower speed. Once I heard that switch, my camera pointed directly to the heavens where I managed to locate them just as the first skydiver exited the aircraft (not Erin). But then I make out a second and third (videographer and tandem jumpers) start sailing through the sky at a speed which was undetectable at ground level. I, with my back on the ground began rolling tape.

Once the chute opened releasing a subtle "pop" into the vast sky, my body sank in relief. She was alright. The two began to lazily, sometimes seeming like a feather in the sky, descend toward the drop zone. I kept filming. I filmed until they became so close that I could hear my lovely wife let out a playful scream of joy and then I perked up to my feet and set the video camera on the edge of my trunk lid still rolling pointed directly at the drop zone and grabbed my the still camera and took a few shots. One of which you'll see below.

To describe a landing as "touching down" as I did before is quite an understatement. You're basically sailing across the land at about 20 MPH and then you come to a complete stop using your butt and about three feet of dirt.

Once my lovely wife made impact, I darted toward her to find her halfway between laughing and gathering her breath to speak. She's a freakin bad ass, don't you know--conquering something bigger than anything I could possibly imagine.

And I need to take this time to log an official thank you to the fine people at SkyDive New Mexico for their professionalism and incredible spirit and for making my wife's 30th birthday truly a remarkable experience. Ron on the left and Richard on the right.

Plenty of updates forthcoming. Have a good week, folks.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


And thanks to my buddy Roger for killing the bird this year. I'm not much of a hunter so I leave it up to the camo crew to do the dirty work. I was up at 6am this morning cutting up onions, celery and carrots for the turkey. Never has the smell of onion been so very repugnant. I got my steaming cup of coffee to the right and to the left, an entire cutting board worth of chopped onions. Yikes. It's like getting a wake up call from the Texas Tech Marching Band. And I had to go to Wal Mart (hell) to get white wine at 7am. Well, you know the day's only going to get better.

Bird's in the nest for close to three hours. Kraut goes on in two hours. Stuffing an hour before the meal at 2.

And that image you saw isn't really my buddy Roger. His name is Roger, but where he's from and who is actually eating that bird, I have no idea. I lied. I'm sorry. I bought my bird at the store because I really don't like birds. It's more I don't like feathers, really. I don't know. I just like a clean floor.

Our turkey this year is named Terrance (not named after the great Terrance McDaniel). He spent all night in a pot of cold water covered in koshier salt. Bless his heart.

Well, be thankful for family, for friends, for country. Be thankful for food, for drink, for pie. Be thankful for football, for naps, for funk. Just be thankful and take a load off--I'm doing this cooking this year.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


After Clipse fans waited for close to four long, grueling years for the follow up to their debut banger, Lord Willin', looks like those "crackers" who "weren't play fair at Jive," finally decided to drop Hell Hath No Fury. Not sure why it took so crazy long to put this out, but it's always stunk like some major label crapola--you know, hook 'em, sign 'em, shelve 'em, drop 'em type of "jive." I mean, with record sales down anywhere between 10-15% from last year, who really needs a new release anyway.

Either way, it's coming out. I suppose better late than never. Now, hopefully it'll push about 250,000 so Jive can recognize these cats can sell a record. I gotta sampler of the record today and I'll just put it this way, bona fied banger, kiddies. I'll let you know right now, I've reserved a spot in my top ten and it ain't even come out yet. It's gonna be hot. It's gonna be slammin. It's gonna be all those cool buzz words that hip hop DJs use to express something is "good."

And, for those who are turned into the more independent side of things musically, ya boy was proud to serve on the nominating committee (the Cartel) for the Annual Plug Awards again this year. Thanks, Jerry.

What I need you to do is head over to and get ya votes in by, uh, soon. Just do it now, in fact. It won't take you long. We appreciate your time and input. My votes are in. Go Dilla.

Alright, happy Thanksgiving to all of you. If you drive, don't drink. And if you drink, don't drive. Love your mama. Eat the kraut this year. And take double portions on the pecan pie.

Friday, November 17, 2006


It's something I've known for quite sometime now. It's something I've usually reserved for small, piddly outbursts when with my lovely wife. It's something that's a fairly common sentiment--I'm not alone. It's something that effects my job, my life and, at times, my very happiness. That something is the truth (truth) that Wal Mart is a cancerous, degradative, depressing vacuum of everything that is good and holy in the world. I despise it with every drop of blood in my body.

That being said, my feelings do not warrant writing a book as many have. I'm not out to make a daring and serious documentary about it as many have as well. Just six reasons, aight? For those who complain about my writing dragging on too long, pick up Highlights Magazine for toddlers and find the hidden hammer in the apple tree. This is a rant that is not guaranteed sound reason and substantiation. It is purely opinion and it doesn't come with near the sugar necessary to make the medicine go down. Like the great Mista Chuck D said, "I got so much trouble on my mind!"

My wife and I entered a Wal Mart tonight in search for a doggie gate (they call 'em baby gates, but I think that's a fairly cruel notion) against my will--almost kicking and screaming, however I didn't have quite the energy after a long day at work to go to that length of resistance. So I settled for moaning and groaning like I was in swollen pain...gas, perhaps. In the case that I have to enter a Wal Mart, I usually try to enter at the "Lawn Center" because it is a diluted Wal Mart experience. Usually, you're surrounded by greenery, the smell of moist soil and pesticides. When the doors slid open, I found that this was not the case this time of year. I'm blown away by the smell of plastics. Towering fake Christmas trees lit in the ugliest colored lights, large enflatable Santas that stand 4 feet wide and 6 feet tall, gargantuous lighted candy canes--it's Christmas time, apparently. Only so because Wal Mart told me it was.

Completely random corrugated displays of Christmas CDs, jugs of lemonade (missing the connection there), a display of Coca Cola that tickled the three-story ceiling (tempting me to take a 12-pack of the bottom and run like hell), Dallas Cowboy winter jackets--everything that didn't belong in the "Lawn Center" was now there and I had to dodge and hurdle my way through this obstacle course. Welcome to Wal Mart.

A company man 'til the bitter end.

I'm hoping that Wal Mart considers them "doggie gates" because then, after wandering aimlessly through the supposed "Lawn Center" that looks more like a yard sale, we would end up smack dab in the middle of the pet supplies and there we would find a gate, but as part of the design that brings me excruciating emotional anguish, it's completely on the other side of this megaplex--I don't mean the other side of the front...I MEAN THE OTHER SIDE AT THE BACK OF THE far away from my current location as you can be and still be inside this hellhole. So we begin walking and that's when the post that you're reading now came to me. As the great Paul Harvey says, "And now, the rest of the story."


Wal Mart does everything on a scale that can only be described as unendingly wasteful and desperately immense. On the endcaps, displays and power aisles, product is absolutely jammed in to every possible location. And, not only is there a pharmacy, a bank, an optometrist, hair dresser and photo development center, but there's also a McDonalds--the very definition of "obesity" by its very existance. Supersize your shopping experience by cramming as much chicken McSomethings down your gully as you can while gobbling on handfuls of soggy french fries doused in ketchup. Sounds like a party!

Even Wal Mart's hours are big with many locations staying open all 24 hours selling Fritos to stoners and gas to paperboys.

Simply put, I'm a bigger fella and the one thing I hate is feeling small and anonymous. The feeling I get walking into a Wal Mart is that of insignificance. I'm a dollar figure, a small decimel point on their bottom line. In a place so immense and far-reaching, that's all you are. Before I even pull back the parking brake after getting into my parking space, I become short of breath in an almost panicky state. Silly as it is, it's true. It dwarfs even the greatest spirits. You are reduced from someone loved, someone of importance, someone who has a family and a circle of caring friends to a sharpened number two pencil in a unimaginably large focus group consisting of trillions of mindless robots. And your ScanTron is a store that's the size of five to seven football fields. Every movement you make, SKU you purchase is studied, scrutinized and processed by a gigantic computer in Arkansas (of all places). If you picked your undies from your butt in front of the frozen waffles, they have logged that into a new spreadsheet. They have your fingerprints.

This places is so big, they give you freaking benches now to rest on in case you get tired in the automotive section. They're like park benches really. Except there's no grass, no chirping birds, no water fountains. Just the constant hum of electricity and a child screaming, "I crapped my pants, ma!" Have a seat and take a load off, Grandma. Enjoy the ambience of Wal Mart.


That grinny fella on the back of this happy employee's vest is their signature character. He says to the kids, "Smile, you're at Wal Mart." He says to the adults, "Smile, you're saving money." He says to me, "I'm going to rob you of everything you own, every assett you have one head of brown lettuce at a time." Don't fall for the smiles. It's a blatant and obvious ploy to pleasurize what is otherwise a depressive and sad shopping experience. Yeah, he's dropping prices, but he's it's because he just found another third world country who can do it cheaper, longer and with less of the backend labor legalities. Baby, he's passing it on to you! The Smile Guy is a slave driver. If he had hands, they would be holding a whip that he would bring down ferociously on every country in God's Great Earth that considers copper a precious metal and laughter a luxury.


I always get myself in trouble when I speak in generalizations, but I'm going to do it anyway. If you ever want to feel good about yourself, but equally sad for the world we live in...go walk the aisles of Wal Mart at any given hour (except for when the Daytona 500 is on) and you'll get to experience the very finest of the human species. First off, there's always going to be a guy in camo gear shopping for a tarp to go on his pick-up. There's going to be a swarm of pimply-headed teenagers tearing the electronic section apart. Go to the very back and you'll see two kids in hoods tearing open edited copies of the of the newest rap CD proving the absence of actual thought and reason.

Actually, I'll go ahead and let everyone know now in case you missed the earlier headline, Wal Mart doesn't prosecute for shoplifters taking less than $25 in merchandise. Which, thanks to their aggressive price cuts, $25 can get you a lot of merchandise.

Another thing you'll notice about Wal Mart customers is their inability to keep their mouths closed. It's like a suspended yawn or something. They'll walk from aisle to aisle with their mouths wide open like their experience is so incr3dibly awe-inspiring, they can't help it. Also, Wal Mart customers do not know a proper volume level for communication. That includes both their normal speaking voices (which will typically pop ear drums at close range) as well as the required volume level to get an accurate test of a stereo's performance. A few visits back, I saw a guy standing in front of a stereo that was stripping paint off wall twenty feet away with the bass coming out of the system and he stood there motionless with his jaw at the floor.

You'll always find a couple of people mumbling to themselves and, if you're lucky, this guy will sneak his way out onto the sales floor from the dressing rooms.

He's like the Lochness Monster of Wal Mart. This here is a rare photo of him after he was captured, but not prosecuted because his use of the signature blue bag was considered "endearing and creative" by store management. Plus, he's a paying customer. In fact, he's a stockholder. And while being a Wal Mart stockholder has proven profitable at times, you don't want to become one of these guys.


Bare with me for a moment. I had a thought one day on my long pondering walks to work about the "worst-case scenario" of Wal Mart's long-term effect on the marketplace at its current trend. Follow me on this.

Because of Wal Mart's current domination of the market place, they demand the lowest price on all goods from their vendors. Even if it means the vendor, manufacturer, distributor has to cut their own costs to achieve it. If they can't cut the cost of the product down, they will not purchase it. But since, Wal Mart has shut down or stifled most of the market place, Wal Mart represents the store you want to be in if you want to stay in business. So the vendor agrees to reduce the cost to Wal Mart from $7.50 a unit to a rock bottom $7.00 a unit. Now, $7.50 allowed for, let's say, a slim $.75 a unit margin (10 points), but now they're down to a very slim 3.5 points of margin.


Let's say Wal Mart only agreed to take on 500,000 units of whatever this thing is at $7.50 in which, in margin dollars, the vendor would have made $375,000 for that one SKU. At the new lower cost, Wal Mart agrees to take in an additional 100,000 units so now the vendor makes only $150,000 for that SKU even at 100,000 more units. In fact, the vendor would make tremendously less money for that SKU unless they shipped one million more units to Wal Mart which Wal Mart will not accept unless they come down to $5.00 which, now, is a loss for the company and they would have to write it off to the business expense of making it into the Promise Land which is the overgrown, overstocked shelves of Wal Mart. To be exact, it would be a loss of $2,625,000 on that one SKU if they agreed to 1,500,000 at $5.00 cost. That'd be great product presence, for sure. Triple the amount of product in the field, hopefully you could also triple your sales potential and, thus, the beginnings of a cooperative relationship have begun. That's what Wal Mart would like you to believe.

Thankfully, though, the company decides it's simply too chancy and they don't have $2.6 million to blow on "chance." They decide to instead manufacture 600,000 and make only $150,000. It's tight, but they're making money. They ship the product. Wal Mart spends $4.2 million on the transaction with a tight $150,000 going to the vendor's bottom line. Not a good haul for that kinda cash flow, but just wait until they come back for a reorder.


Because their margin was so slim on that transaction, the vendor has to reduce operations temporarily. Also, 75% of their output has been locked up by Wal Mart, but again, it's worth it. Wal Mart is the largest retailer in the world. If they can start selling at Wal Mart, the world is theirs.

Meanwhile, the product makes it to the store and is stocked. But Wal Mart decides to not sale price the item because their hefty 45 points of margin happen to be, believe it or not, slightly below plan. It doesn't get sale priced at all for the three months its in the store and Wal Mart only sales 15% of their stock or 90,000 units. They pull, pack up and ship back to their vendor the remaining 510,000 units (2% which are damaged from storewear) and Wal Mart is awarded units returned multiplied by cost and the vendor has to pay back $3.5 million to Wal Mart.


So, overall the vendor made $850,000 in their three months with Wal Mart while now they're sitting on $3.44 million in inventory with about $70,000 worth doesn't even work. Normally, they would like to keep $1.5 million on hand so they're over inventoried and their revenues are just above half of their current liability. Since they've had no capital and reduced operations over the last three months on their "chance" at Wal Mart, they've fragmented or completely severed relationships with current accounts. And now they need those smaller accounts somehow take on about $2,000,000 worth of inventory they're now fat on thanks to Wal Mart's returns. Eventually, the vendor ends up in a tailspin and is ruined from their test at Wal Mart.


Meanwhile, on gross revenues, Wal Mart made $1.26 million on the sale of that particular SKU and $630,000 is clean margin dollars that goes toward the bottom line. See who is laughing now.


The truth of the matter is vendors and suppliers are willing to take temporary loss at the potential for future gains and since they need Wal Mart more than Wal Mart needs them, the playing field is completely imbalanced. Wal Mart calls their price, the vendors meet their needs, other retailers are starved to their imminent death and by their vendors and Wal Mart because their cost of goods is so much lower so they're not only competitive on price, they're dangerously competitive. Vendors are weeded out, competition is levelled, new stores are opened, shoppers with nowhere else to go come in by the busloads. Wal Mart gets fatter and fatter. Margins leaner and leaner. Ultimately, Wal Mart sucks the power out of the market place like a government starving their own population. Oh wait, that's right, low prices. Yeah, they're giving back. Sorry.


Let's put it in terms of the music industry to help everyone get a clean notion of where I'm going with this. Wal Mart sucks all of the margins and incentives from the music distributors so the industry starves all other accounts to save their tails on the losses at Wal Mart. Because Wal Mart's competitors are not getting the same terms and discounts on product, they eventually wilt under the burn of Wal Mart's low low prices and have to close their doors. Mom n Pop's, independents, even online retailers are stung. Competition is eliminated. All of the sudden, Wal Mart begins shrinking their music inventory because it's not turning at the current average fixture count per location to fit their needs. Inventory shifts back to the vendors. Vendors have no other home for the product except maybe a few big box retailers (warehouses with cash registers) because Wal Mart has managed to close down the majority of their client base. Further down the road, Wal Mart finds that paper products yield twice the margin dollars that music generates so they lift their music section out completely and expand their paper product selection to take its place. Music industry nears elimination. It's driven online where it makes a measley $.99 a transaction. Artists and labels can't pay for studio time on a new record at $.99 a song and 100 downloads a day. They're working at Wal Mart two months later in the sporting goods section.


Obviously, Tom Cruise is a stockholder and business looks to be doing good.

Wal Mart opens branded convenience stores to compete with and eventually eliminate Toot-n-Totum and 7-11 stores one at a time. They open up a smaller, "neighborhood market" model to compete with and eventually eliminate Albertsons, United Supermarket, HEB, so on and so forth. Now, I'm no economist so perhaps my scenario is exaggerated in a sense, but I'll put it this way, they're moving into Asia in a big way and I know that operation doesn't come cheap. One step closer to world dominance. And they have their loyal, dimwit customers to thank for this. Wal Mart knows that in a struggle economy, Americans typically respond quite favorably to the lowest price without considering what drives that lowest price. And, furthermore, the expense of that lowest price.


The constant hunger of Wal Mart has led to the company going to great, even insiduous lengths for your dollar. The latest tactic is the public announcement that "Merry Christmas" will be recited by all associates as opposed to the more general "Happy Holidays." Not because I have a problem with this because, well, it is Christmas, but using their middle-America, small-town, blue-collar Protestant disposition as leverage against competitors is played. For a company like Wal Mart to use religion as a marketing tool in the interest of increasing sales during the peak shopping season is the lowest that any one company can stoop.

Or they refuse to sell explicit content on a CD because they believe the old school notion that foul language and questionable content threatens the very backbone of society. Not all too coincidently, they're loyal customer base also lives under this rock of perceived morality. Yet they have no problem carrying some of the most violent films in cinematic history. I guess they just really don't like rap music, but they carry the cleans to keep the black population from uprising. They like their Garth Brooks though, let me tell you that! How much sense does not selling explicit rap music yet selling firearms make?

As a rule, remember that Wal Mart is a very powerful gigantic company that spends unfathomable amounts of money on public relations, damage control, lawyers, lobbyists and management to protect their image. As good and pure as they might appear at face value, there's more trouble than one could ever imagine behind those smiles. There's very angry and powerful unions, ongoing litigation in courts across the country and for every unhappy ex-employee, there's fifty current employees bound and determined to protect the entity.

Here, a eerily boisterous and overly exuberant Wal Mart manager tosses candy to his army of employees in hopes that they'll protect him when Judgement Day comes. And he's going to need it because in order for this man to effectively run a store location at the level of efficiency and profitability that Wal Mart requires, people will have to work through lunch breaks, possibly work overtime without compensation and push people far beyond their physical, emotional and spiritual limits without complaint. I'm sure the three year-old Babe Ruth's worth it.

Wal Mart doesn't care what it takes, the truth can't come out. Honesty is a suggestion, but not a requirement. Honesty is so very black and white and Wal Mart can only exist in shades of grey.


I would really be careful suggesting that all Wal Mart employees are the uneducated and naive stereotype that's normally drawn. Only really because I've met many exceptions to that rule. However, I have found that Wal Mart employees fall into one of two categories. Either they're lovably lost or remarkably rude. The lovably lost are the middle-age to elderly employees who usually offer up a grin and some sort of timeless quip as a greeting or farewell. Usually they're polite and begging some sort of empathetic self-talk like, "Aw, poor old man working at Wal Mart," as you're walking away. They look like they hustle about three different part-time jobs to make ends meet. Commonly, the slouch in their back suggests a hard knock life, maybe some heartbreak. You will run into younger types in this category as well. Normally, they're just kids trying to get some money for a used car or, optimistically, cash to put toward furthering their education. But it doesn't take long to realize you're talking to someone with not many shiny marbles up top. Say you're buying charcoal for a cookout. When he/she sees it in your basket, he/she grabs it, scans it and says something completely related to the situation but random nonetheless like, "I really like barbecue." Or you could get the from-way-out-of-left-field, "I have a golden retriever named Barbara."


The other type I more commonly find myself colliding with are the remarkably rude. Customer service is definitely not their forte. In fact, conversation itself is painfully exhausting for them. If you want to meet these people, check out the paint department and the automotive department. They usually apply for these positions. Because there's usually a heightened amount of service (paint mixing and oil changes) required in these departments, the shortcomings on the customer service is up to three times more evident to the customer. Many times, you'll find them bitching and moaning to a co-worker about specific work issues or even attempting to articulately comment on worldly events. However, the end result is most often unpleasant. Because they're worked like sled dogs, they only slouch when they get a chance to. The more of a hurry you're in when you meet, the slower they will react to requests. This is the effect of someone who is jaded from run-ins with management or someone lacking general ambition and a positive perspective. You would too if you had your soul sucked from you every day of the week. Obviously, what a good company would do is replace them with someone who can assure a higher level of customer service, but their specialized knowledge and willingness to tolerate crap from management without resorting to homocide puts them an edge up on their competition.

One thing is visibly evident in every Wal Mart employees' facial expressions and that is an underlying sadness and heaviness. Those smiles you see around the store on all the signage more importantly is intended to encourage happiness from employees. If you need that to get you through the day, I say quit and go work construction.


In closing, I absolutely detest Wal Mart. I'm not campaigning for everyone else to share my hatred, but I do need to make it public so you understand why I tighten up in seizures anytime I'm within two miles of one of these hope vacuums (which it about everywhere in the continental United States). The very structure of Wal Mart's business relies on the assumptions that humans are cheap, stupid and, most importantly, apathetic. Well, I might be cheap and, at times, I might even be stupid, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna sit back and give this company my cashola on the notion that I can't and won't take a stand.

The Root Down would like to thank you for your time.

Wal Mart would like to thank you for your patronage.


Like an old lover to a lonely soul. That's right. We're heading back. They ain't got much, but there's a few people insistant on getting a trip in before Christmas. December 15th we'll make our triumphant return to the Wolf.

Currently looking at just under 3 feet of packed powder. They betta get some snow wit a quickness.


For those of you living under a rock of coolness, the PlayStation 3 released last night. Okay, that's not really fair. There's plenty of cool people that play P$3, but watch them lose their cool when there's one to every 50 gamers. Yeah, that's what I saw last night.

Here we see multiple subjects passing time in line for the new PlayStation 3 console and the food that is having to be prepared by a gas stove indicates this man is hungry. And that hunger is not a sensation that just overwhelmed him. No, it's been coming for hours. In fact, the tent further suggests that he's going to need shelter in the case of cold weather, predatorial attack or darkness. Yes, this subject and his buddy who is wearing a cast from a completely different idiotic excursion and other buddy who is pale from the isolation that he will spend 90% of his life in are actually camping out for this gaming unit.

It's important to remember that Target ran off Salvation Army bell ringers from the front of their store for Christmas yet they have no problem letting people loiter in the name of greed lining their storefront for days. Hmm, a little different when their paying customers, I guess.

This is what they wait for. Yeah, it looks kinda like the top of a Bissell Hand Sweeper vacuum. I read an article this morning in which someone said it was a "sexy" machine. Yeah, this coming from a guy who probably hasn't seen a girl in a year and a half. Sheesh.

I went up to the local store to see this firsthand at about 11:15 last night. Upon arrival, I see mobs upon mobs of people. The cafe was packed, the music department was packed. The book department (role playing section, specifically) was a world of excitement. I wasn't expecting to find quite the assortment of people filing in. Jocks, dweebs, mothers, fathers, local TV personalities (NOT doing a story), "females" (a word that my lovely wife has informed me is prison slang for "women"), there was even people who looked athletic and, yes, tan (actually, just Rory).

The store received 30 PlayStations. There were easily 500 people I estimate. Problem.

Systems were to be given out by way of a raffle system. Once they were called, 499 people would punch the person next to them and then the winning contestant would wander wild-eyed through the mob to the front where they are handed the system like it's a case of col' cash and then are ushered to the door and asked if they want a uniformed police officer to walk them to their car. Insanity.

One girl won a 60-gig (geek for "powerful") system and almost wet herself while she was paying for it. "I can't believe it! I can't believe it! I'm shaking! I'm freaking oooooooooouuuuuuut!" And she was, indeed. What was really funny was watching the winners hold them in their hands by the front door while about 470 people stared at them with the glares of hungry coyotes ready to prey upon them. One cat kept eyeing me like I was interested in beating him down in the parking lot. Poor kid filled his shoe, I think.

I showed for the spectacle. I mean, really, how can you miss such an event. It was quite spectacular. Seeing humans driven to such levels of ecstacy and excitement over a game system. It's pretty compelling really. Two guys who were waiting on their police escort exchanged congratulations like they were proud fathers of newborn babies, "Congrats, man."

"You too. I'm so excited."

"Oh, hell yeah."

I really just showed up for the free door prizes.

Everyone, it's freakin Friday. And the congregation said, "Amen," collectively with an exhale of relief.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


It's one of those days that just has me stunned at what a freaky world we live in. I'm just catching up on the news and I find out that besides having his World Music Award performance halted because of technical difficulties, MICHAEL JACKSON IS FREAKIN 48 YEARS OLD. How incredibly gross.

The sound cut out when he went for the high note on the chorus of "We Are the World." Yeah, that's about right--a fitting beginning to my account of what a disturbing, contradictory, phenomenally confusing world we live in.

Yeah, we're the world alright--that finds one of the largest retailers just giving the money to Salvation Army instead of allowing bell-ringers to stand out front of their stores for Christmas to "spare shoppers the potential discomfort of being asked for donations." Target just wrote a check for $1,000,000 to Salvation Army and basically said, "We'd rather have our customers spend their money on us than charity. Now, go away."

Of course, $1,000,000 is really nothing compared to what a Japanese pitcher by the name of Honda Mitsubishi might get paid by the Red Sox next year. In one inning of work, he could potentially pay for a third of my house. If two runners reach the corners before the first out, he could probably completely erase my mortgage altogether. That's sick.

I heard the Kevin Federline record today and it's insanely horrible. Dude can't rap, dude can't sing, dude makes no sense. Sad that he gave shoutouts to his "wife" when before it even came out, he was already divorced. Sorry, that's not sad. That's damn funny. My cubemate was telling me that he cancelled his tour because he couldn't sell any tickets. Ouch. I'm sure that label's loving him on the roster. Wolfmother outsold him almost 6 to 1 on their first week with almost no presence in the states. Proof that Wolfmother rocks as much as Federline sucks. Who are the 6,400 people who bought that record? With all the money that cat has, he might have bought that 6,400 units.

Clooney won Sexiest Man Alive for the second time. Dude, if they're desperate for someone to award it to, there's always yo man.

OJ's back in the news while touting his new television special, "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened." Wow. I love how the "if" leads one to a hypothetical notion, however, "happened" signifies truth. Interesting. Dude's shameless, I swear.

Another great retired running back who has yet to kill his wife, Emmitt Smith did run away with the best loser on "Dancing With the Stars." Who am I kidding? I love that show. But I gotta say, nothing was as refreshing as watching AC Slater do his damn thing. I mean, holy cow, that dude brought it down in a big way. I guess he can finally say that his sexuality is not in question. Convenient how that works for him. He's a winner either way. If dude had his jheri going, he would've whooped Emmitt, no doubt. I saw AC toprocking on one segment...gangsta! gangsta!

Okay, Mario. Sorry about the sexuality comment. I was clearly misunderstood. I'm gonna go spend time with my lovely wife. I suggest you do the same. It's a frightening world we live in.