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Adios

Dear Colombia,

My sister, Keely, is a wonderful person. You shouldn’t deport her. She’s funny and smart. She works with orphans. She is the wind beneath my wings because she knows that children are our future. See, her secret is to teach them well and let them lead the way and, in doing so, show them all the beauty they possess inside, thus giving them a sense of pride to make it easier. But in your infinite wisdom, you’d prefer she didn’t spread goodwill throughout your country. You’re not really into the whole “working with orphans” thing. You don’t see the point of “helping kids with developmental problems.” Allowing one to use one’s very expensive education to “better the lives of others by offering free physical therapy” isn’t your racket. Interesting, Colombia. Very interesting.

Love, Josh

P.S. I do find it a little funny. Thanks for the material.

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As funny as it is, before I get into the aforementioned postscript material I’m obligated to come to my sister’s aid the best way I know how: with my words. Being a natural complainer who is unwaveringly intolerant of all things stupid, I will take up this cause for one entire paragraph. Why? Because in her own blog my sister the transcendent one has refused to go on complaining about being deported. Blaming the government would be counterproductive. Like a duck, she lets the water, or the orphan tears, run off her back. That’s nice and I respect her position. However, someone’s got to address this. I’m not saying that my banter is or will be any good, but it’s all I have.

So she didn’t have the correct paperwork. She had a tourist visa when she should have had a volunteer visa. But isn’t there some leeway for a do-gooder from Colorado? It’s not like she requested a volunteer visa as a front for selling Colombian mail-order brides. In fact, she went the other way; she positively expanded upon the activities typically expected of a tourist. I mean, what is a tourist visa anyway? It’s just the government giving permission for one to lollygag. So by helping orphans and personifying the greatest love of all, she’s being punished for not puttering. No, Mr. Colombia says. No, no, no. You promised us you were going to dilly-dally and you, Missy, are not. We want tourists, tourists who take pictures of crazy Colombian toilets and fill rolls of film with photos of every McDonald’s they encounter. We expect tourists who mock the misconceptions about our drug problem by posing in front of a Welcome to Colombia sign with a handful of baby powder. You are trying to teach about the greatest love of all? Please leave. Don’t let the puerta hit you on the way out.

C’mon, Colombia.

(This is where I’d lean in, whispering into Colombia’s ear.) She can be like that sometimes. She’s always going a step beyond. She did, after all, decide long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow. Maybe she had it coming and needs to learn that she can’t go around selflessly helping other people willy-nilly.

The doctor's robe. The glowing aura. Need I say more.

She couldn’t even lie about her good deeds to Mr. Colombia when he questioned her. Of course, it’s hard to lie when you’re a do-gooder. But it could have been as easy as this:

Mr. Colombia: What is your business here?

Keely: I’m learning to salsa dance and I’ve fallen in love with a Colombian man without whom I am lost. I am drinking a lot of coffee. Also I took fifty three pictures of the Iglesia.

Mr. Colombia: Which one?

Keely: The one in the city.

Mr. Colombia: And that is all?

Keely: Yes.

Mr. Colombia looks at her suspiciously.

Keely: I do have one question. Where can I find Columbia Studios?

Mr. Colombia: (smiles) You’re just the kind of moron we want here. Enjoy your stay in Colombia.

Mr. Colombia emphatically stamps her visa.

Instead she probably shared her whole plan, talked about the special equipment she built for the orphans. She must have gone on and on about the greatest love of all happening to her. Defiant, she marched up and said, “If I fail, if I succeed at least I’ve lived as I believe. No matter what you take from me, you can’t take away my dignity.” Yeah, yeah.

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Los Stupidos.

Come to think of it I’m might need to thank Colombia because I’ve been looking for something to hold over her head for a while. Back off. I’m not trying to be mean. In fact, I can write this because I love her dearly. But you have to understand that I am a selfish person and she’s been making my brothers and I look like a bunch of sideshow doofuses for 29 years. Granted, some of that is our fault as the level of stupidity to which the three of us have fallen is truly staggering and could fill a year’s worth of blogs. (Frankly, we’re lucky we have all our limbs.) On the other hand, Keely—or as we call her, The Mailman’s Kid if the mail man was a bongo-playing, Matthew McConaughey-resembling ex-Peace Corps worker who dabbled in organic chemistry “just for fun”—has always set a high standard. But now I have a comeback. Next Thanksgiving when Mommy and Daddy are scowling at me for slapping my brother with a piece of breast meat I can simply point across the table at Keely and say, “El Deporto.”

Of course, they will respond by pointing at me and saying, “El Stupido.” Then they’ll make me go to my room. Darn.

Los Stupidos II.

If any of my three readers are worried, fear not. She will almost certainly find a way to make the best out of Colombian Deportation 2011. She will convert this turd of a situation into glittering fairy dust. She told me the other day that she’s going to spend some time in Peru while she waits for the correct Colombian visa. Figures. She’s going to visit Machu Picchu where she will almost certainly make a discovery of particular worldly significance—a new species of flower, the petals of which can be used in lieu of gasoline in any internal combustion engine and whose only emission is love. She will stumble upon a band of never-before-seen Incan orphans who need help with their motor skills. She will write a book about her experience. It will be titled, Thanks, Deportation. I’ll open the book’s cover and hear the binding crackle as it does on any new book. On the dedication page I’ll see my name. It’ll say:

To my brothers, Josh, Jack and Andy, For every right, there is a wrong. Thanks for being my wrong.

You’re welcome. I’m going to chase my tail for a while.

-MC JLight

Andy Jesus, a.k.a. Mayor McMoron

I had the opportunity last month to spend a couple of weeks with one of my favorite people in the world: my youngest brother, Andy J. We went to the beach, ate ice cream, swam at all hours of the day. Nothing complex, just good simple time spent with family. Wind whistled through the trees, bullfrogs burped out on the pond. There were lightning bugs and giggling. So serene. And it was this serenity, this pure medium, that allowed me to realize a certain truth… Namely, that my brother is indubitably a moron.

I love him dearly. It’s not his fault. After all, he is thirteen and male. When you’re thirteen and male you don’t leisurely eat ice cream. No, you take it as a challenge. You dominate the ice cream. You consume over a pound of the stuff (17.5 ounces to be exact) in one sitting. You don’t just go swimming; you wrestle-swim. You Kung fu in the water. You Jujitsu in the water. You leave your swimming partner with an ache in his most sensitive areas. You don’t just go to the beach; you make the beach your bitch.

And why do you do this when you’re thirteen and male? Why do you shoot BB’s through windows and blow up hot dogs with firecrackers and run around waving some poor girl’s underwear over your head that inadvertently ended up in your laundry at camp? Simple. Because it’s cool. Coolness is the sole justification. Coolness. People will blame this behavior on hormones or caffeine. Freud would say that the young man is trying to achieve some libidinal pleasure. No, no, Siggy. He’s trying to be cool.

“That’s domination, fish.”

Coolness is bliss. Upon performing an act of coolness you, at that moment, have reached the pinnacle of life in this or any other universe. At thirteen you have usurped the laws of physics and chemistry, thus creating a momentary ether in which you are the center. You glow fluorescent shades of blue. You emit never-before-smelled pheromones. You’re not a man, you’re The Man. This is coolness. But, like any high, it’s fleeting, so you become a chaser. You seek out other opportunities for coolness. You are relentless and, if nothing else, original. You realize that sledding in and of itself is not cool, but sledding off a six-foot, coccyx-shattering jump is. You discover that simply lighting the charcoal is a sad substitute for incinerating the charcoal with a gallon of gasoline. Who cares if the burgers taste like a trucker’s leathery hand because in doing all this you are striving for the ultimate, hoping that all these acts will somehow weave together, like an Arthur Fonzarelli spider web, and become law. You’re hoping to become the lifetime sheriff of cool.

photoProblem is, cool is not universal. Cool is in the eye of the beholder, but the thirteen-year-old beholder is too encased in coolness to know it. He sees coolness in having an indoor water fight using pitchers and pitchers of water. For his father, however, this event produces the polar opposite of cool; it produces red. It produces your-are-so-uncool anger. It produces go-to-your-room-for-a-week-and-only-come-out-to-help-me-tear-up-the-carpet anger. Anger, if anything, can thwart coolness.

And the thirteen-year-old male idiot does get his fair share of anger. It sometimes piles upon him like sticky tar. For a while he doesn’t understand what the big deal is, but then the reasons behind the anger soak in. He grows older, too. To some extent he starts to understand how to function in the world. He learns that coolness isn’t the only force in the universe. He learns the rules. But—and this is the scariest part about the male, cool-seeking moron—the urge for cool never… goes… away. Never. You just learn how to manage it. You dole it out in smaller doses. You get better at lying and making excuses.

Keeping it cool.

You know when the time is right. But the search for cool never leaves you. So, at 19, you create a floor-to-ceiling barrier of phone books in your dorm hallway while everyone else is sleeping. At 25, under the cover of darkness, you jump into bushes for no reason at all. You, at 32, take utter joy in stealthily whipping your friends with a towel. As a father at 40 you tow your children on sleds behind your truck, sending them whipping along the frozen streets, but you make sure their mother doesn’t see. At 45 you have to fight the urge, when walking with someone next to a swimming pool, to push them in. Doesn’t matter if it’s your wife, your mother, or your boss. And, at 55, you sneak off on the 4th of July with a Black Cat and a hot dog, knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that blowing stuff up with firecrackers is the coolest thing ever.

Keep it cool.

-MC JLight

For a nothing-doer I’ve been awfully stressed lately. When I get stressed I get cranky and there’s only one thing I can do went I get cranky: rant. It’s about to happen. Don’t judge me. I hope you’ll keep reading.

Without further ado, I present to you my first annual List of Things that Might be Stupid or The 2010 Parade of Stupidity.

Humidity. Humidity, I’m pretty sure, is stupid. Think about this: I’ve walked outside my apartment during the summer and my glasses have fogged up. I’ve had to flip on my car’s defrost because of the humidity… DURING THE SUMMER. So stupid. Sometimes I feel like I’m wearing a wetsuit and hanging out inside a giant mouth. It’s disgusting. Things get sticky. I chaff in certain places that I don’t like to talk about.

People Who Don’t Know When It’s Appropriate To Have A Loud Cell Phone Conversation. On a bus, in a quiet restaurant, at a golf tournament, in a doctor’s office, in a movie theater, in a napping lion’s enclosure, while you’re in the pool, when you’re in line somewhere, in a public restroom, at your arraignment, in a movie theater, in a movie theater. This is a short and very incomplete list of places and situations in which people do not need to start yelling into their cell phones. But without fail, someone always does and doing so is very, very stupid. Quite stupid. Sure, things come up, but not that often. Please don’t interrupt my bus ride by screeching into your cell phone about the totally hot guy you met at the party even though you were totally hammered, the guy who totally held your hair back while you puked and who’s so totally sweet. I don’t care. To deal with you he must have been totally hammered too and totally doesn’t remember you and totally lost your phone number and he totally wouldn’t call you anyway because you’re a total loser. Shut up.

Shut your trap, Buddy. No one cares.

Here’s the underlying problem: The convenience of cell phones has slowly conditioned us to believe that because they can be used anywhere, they should be. No, no, no. Save some conversations for the house.

My Hair. It’s always been a little stupid, but I don’t realize it until it gets longer than usual. That’s when I remember why I always cut it so short. I have what you might call a puffy problem. And the humidity (see above) doesn’t help anything. The longer it gets the closer I get to being able to safely ride a bike without a helmet.

The NBA. Overwhelmingly stupid and frustrating. Where do I begin with this one? How about with the officials who don’t really enforce rules anymore. Instead, they kind of, sort of call certain fouls on certain players, but only if the foul is really obvious or really imperceptible depending, of course, on the player committing the foul or receiving the foul and they bend certain, but not all of the rules to favor certain players and often they forget the rules completely to ensure that the game is exciting and they always look good doing it, making sure that they gesticulate wildly so as to show everyone how athletic they are and how, if they wanted, they could be playing basketball too and, most importantly, they ensure that at the end of the game the viewers know their names even though it’s ludicrous to know any official’s name in any sport. There’s no other sport in which the casual fan can notice and name so many officials. Officials are an apparatus of the game for God’s sake. We shouldn’t know anything about them. What’s next? Are the commentators going to start talking about the baskets before the game? Maybe discuss where the iron’s origin. Or, better yet, let’s make every one different so that the players have no idea how big it is. Maybe they can’t even get the ball through it. And they can also change rims after each quarter to really keep the players on their toes.

I’ve become so angry that this doesn’t even make sense.

I love basketball. That’s why I love the college game. The NBA, however, isn’t basketball anymore. It’s a player popularity contest and a showcase for officials who are given way too much leeway.

Soggy Apples. Nothing worse than being eager to sink your chompers into a nice crunchy apple only to find that the stupid thing is actually filled with apple sauce. Mealy texture, apple flesh falling apart before you can even chew. When this happens I sometimes pretend it’s a pear just to make myself feel better. This, however, does not take away from the stupidity of the situation.

Get after it, Pal.

Golf. Usually stupid. How else do you describe the act of trying to hit a little ball into a little cup? Twain was right, golf is a good walk spoiled. I’d like to go further by saying that golf is a good walk that quickly becomes an angry, obscenity-laden slog. Even more stupid, I continue to play it.

There are way too many good angry golfer pictures to choose from.

Parents Who Refuse to Recognize the Messes Generated by Their Children. Let me begin this rant by saying that I love ankle-biters; I am by no means anti-child and I understand that they specialize in making messes. But, parents of the world, if you go to, say, a restaurant and your child makes a mess of cosmic proportions at least recognize that some else will be cleaning it up. A simple “Sorry about the mess” will do just fine. I’m not asking you to get on your hands and knees and coral all the Cheerios on the floor. Just say thanks to the person who does.

P.S.-This segment is brought to you by a family of four who I waited on last Sunday, the children of which made a colossal mess by throwing rocks all over our outdoor dining area while the parents simply enjoyed their mojitos then quickly scooted out the door after leaving me 10%. Truthfully, the tip doesn’t matter. What matters is that I spent thirty minutes sweeping rocks back into the garden. An oopsy-daisy would have made it all better.

Moving. S-t-u-p-i-d. People say that a good friend will help you move. I’d never do that to a good friend. I say you should only ask people who you really, really hate.

Moving. Is. Stupid.

Pat Robertson. He insinuated that the people of Haiti had it coming because they don’t share his religious beliefs. Enough said.

Rants. They don’t make you feel any better. They only get you more worked up about the things you dislike and make you notice other things you didn’t realize you disliked in the first place. Dammit.