Hey Interwebs,

I know it’s been practically forever since I posted here…Cause I quit this shit.  But take heart, you can keep up with my non-ninja exploits over at DaveOdegard.com. Also, please checkout MadePossible.com, where I’m now Associate Editor.

It’s been fun.

-Dave AKA the Wordy Ninja.

Everyone wants to be famous.  If anyone has ever looked you in eyes and said “You know, I don’t care for fame,” you were looking into the eyes of a liar. I think most people want that rush of having to make their way through a crowd of screaming adoring fans, to be invited to the most exclusive events, and to be asked their opinion on a multitude of topics while on camera for national broadcast.  What’s more, I don’t think such desires translate to an inflated ego or megalomania, rather it’s just a sign that you’re human.

Wanting to be famous is wanting to be valued more than your worth.  Don’t believe me? Okay, even if you despise Dane Cook (as you should) you know who he is, right? Now, without looking it up, can you tell me what Joseph Lister did? Give up? He discovered anti-septic surgery! Dude is the reason that millions upon millions of people were/are able to have lifesaving surgery without dying from infection, but instead of knowing that you know who Dane Cook is…Dane Cook.  Think about that. Honestly, let’s admit that there are very few famous people who deserve to be famous.  Oh, you disagree? Then how come more people can tell me who the hell “Snooky” is, but draw a blank when I ask them the same question about Abigail Adams…No, it’s not the little girl from Little Miss Sunshine.

Look, I’m not saying that being famous makes you overvalued scum.   I’m also not going to claim that I’m immune to craving fortune and glory.  I regularly have daydreams about being profiled on some TV news magazine for a variety of reasons—writing a literary bestseller, leading political/cultural movement, or foiling a terrorist plot in a Die Hard like scenario (It could happen!).  But in the past couple weeks certain events have made me think about what it means to be famous and I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Earlier this month, 80’s teen movie star Corey Haim died. Early reports seem to indicate that it was an accidental overdose of illegal prescription drugs. If anything Haim’s death illustrates the dark side of fame.  Money and notoriety can get you in the door of the most exclusive parties, but it can’t cure the addiction that may come with it.  Why is it that there is such a wealth of personal tales detailing drug and alcohol problems out of Hollywood that it’s practically become a cliché?  We applaud those that overcome it and empathize with those who don’t, yet we never question why it happens so readily.  Where does the idea that because you were in Lost Boys you can take half-bottle of oxycontin a day and not have a problem come from?

Meanwhile Lindsay Lohan filed a lawsuit against e-trade because one of the company’s commercial features a “milkaholic” talking baby named Lindsay.  Lohan’s lawsuit is a trifecta of fame-induced egomania.  Not only is she claiming she’s a first name star (she isn’t), but that people would recognize the commercial as referencing her (Uh…I don’t think anyone did until she suggested it), and thusly she’s entitled to $100 million (What the hell?!).   My friend Christine was actually excited at the news, because, as she says, “it pretty much gives me the green light to sue Stephen King for his book Christine. Aside from the obvious name similarity, I always thought that the characteristics of the character drew a clear parallel to my life.” Wait, wasn’t that the one about the car that came to life and killed people?   “Yep. That’s right. Clearly a rip off of my life,” she said, adding later: “Hello $100 Million!”

And most recently Sandra Bullock’s husband, apparently, cheated on her.  I’ll be honest here: I couldn’t care less about that fact.  But it seems most people do. And as much I can attest that Sandra Bullock staring in a film is the main reason I won’t go see it, even I don’t think she deserves to have all this played out in the media.  Hey, your husband cheated on you, that sucks. Oh, and EVERYONE in America knows about, mainly because of your recent career success.  I think that’s motivation enough for her to unleash Miss Congeniality 3 on the movie going public as payback.

This month alone we’ve seen that the excess of fame can last well past one’s success (Haim), the constant attention can lead to unbelievable heights of self-aggrandizing (Lohan), and that even your most embarrassing personal problem can’t stay private (Bullock).  And yet people will still resort to almost childish means for their 15-mintues of national attention, something I like to call “Balloon Boy Syndrome.  The most example of this: the guy in California who quite possibly faked his out of control Toyota Prius.

I think that, in the end, as much as I want to be famous, I just as badly want to have a life of substance. I want to be able to keep things in perspective, especially my own self-worth, and still have my privacy.  I still want fortune and glory, but if I never get it… well at least I have the consolation that it definitely has a downside.

[Pic via]

As a semi-professional writer—I get paid to write stuff I don’t care about and can’t make a living writing what I love—I have amassed some solid skills:  a decent ability to bring much needed snark when it’s needed (3/4 of the time it’s needed ALL the time), amazing propensity for listicles (it’s like a list, but its an article), and an absolute love affair with parenthesis (I’ve got nothing).  But I also have a shameful secret.  Something dark and hidden within my very soul—I can’t spell worth a damn.

Recently, I was writing a thank you note to a friend.  It was in pen on personalized stationery—because I’m a classy guy.  I was writing a sentence in which I thanked the recipient for picking where to eat.  After I’d finished, I noticed that something was off.  I had spelled restaurant with only one “a”.  I then had to rewrite the letter, checking each word in the dictionary before I committed it ink.  Later, I was working on an article that was close to being past its deadline, when I noticed a simple typo yet no red squiggly line underneath it.  Somehow the spell check in Word had been turned off and after I activated it, my draft became a lit in red squiggles highlighting each and every mistake.  “Oh man,” I said, “I can’t spell worth a damn.”

Now, whenever something tragic like this comes out, there is always the search for who is responsible.   How could someone make it through grade school, high school, college, and graduate school and not be able to spell the word “restaurant” off the top of his? Who is to blame for this?

You know who’s at fault?  Modern technology.  If there’s was no spell checker in word processing programs and web browsers (including that blessed autocorrect that somehow managed to know by writing  “collegue” I meant “colleague”) I would have learned to do it on my own.  And I’m not the only one.  The Internet is littered with evidence of people who suffer from similar intellectual deficiencies, either posting a Facebook status message or writing a sign.  Could it be that having spell check, like when an overuse of antibiotics creates a stronger drug-resistant bacteria, is too much of a good thing?

It’s not that I don’t appreciate spell check (oh, I do), I just wish that having it around didn’t mean when I write something it looks like it as written by a dyslexic 10-year-old.  But what can I do? Spend my free time reading the dictionary and going through flashcards for SAT vocab words?  I’m twenty-six, I think it may be a little too late to learn how to spell “onomatopoeia” without having to look it up through Google.  I think my only course of action is to double check everything though the computer and just be thankful that I’m not so bad that I use texting abbreviations.  K, Thx.

[Pic via]

Living in New York is different than living anywhere else in the U.S.  I don’t mean on a cultural level, of course there is that, but in an everyday sense.  Everyone living stacked on top of each other and an extensive public transit system makes owning a car pointless, most of the time.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.  You save money on car payments and insurance (though, like everything else, it’s probably made up for in the cost of rent), you don’t have to worry about sobering up for the drive home from the bar, and you have a smug sense of self-satisfaction for being “eco-friendly.”  But sometimes, it really sucks.  You can’t jump in to your car and cruise over to a Wall-Mart or Target to pick a few things up.  You have to plan out what you want to buy, go to the different stores, and carry all that back to your apartment—and, if you’re like me (living in a walkup), up four flights of stairs.

So whenever they can, New Yorkers try to make things easier on themselves.  The city’s Chinese restaurants and pizza places employ an army of deliverymen that bring takeout to your door; any business that sells merchandise that can’t be easily carried out offer a complimentary delivery service; and one of the most popular grocery stores in the city is just a Web site.  If you’ve never heard of Fresh Direct, the concept is simple: order your groceries through their site and they bring them to your apartment. Yesterday, my roommate off handedly mentioned that it was how he would get his groceries from now on.  I had used the service years ago, but don’t anymore.  “What’s a good amount to tip the delivery guy?” He asked me.  “Do you think $5 is enough?”  I paused for moment to consider the question.  “Actually, I don’t think I think I ever tipped them,” I said. My roommate was shocked.  “Dude,” he said, “you have to tip.”

For the rest of the day, all I could think about was the act of tipping.  I kept replaying Steve Buscemi’s rant in Reservoir Dogs about throwing in a gratuity for your dinner.  In the film, Buscemi’s character, “Mr. Pink,” regales a table of career criminals just after breakfast on the morning of a heist on the inequality of tipping guidelines.  He points out that it’s good manners to tip a waitress, yet no one gives anything to someone working the register at McDonald’s. “I don’t tip because society says I have to,” he explains. “All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort, I’ll give them something a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, it’s for the birds. As far as I’m concerned, they’re just doing their job.”

Okay, I don’t know what it’s like to be Fresh Direct driver.  Maybe it sucks.  Maybe they pay next to nothing and you need tips to get by.  But in all honesty: the job doesn’t seem all that different from Fed-Ex or UPS and we don’t tip them.  Is it because they’re delivering food?   What if you’re a diabetic and UPS guy brings you a package with your insulin that keeps you alive in it, do you tip him then?

A friend once told me that you tip to ensure good service for NEXT TIME.  And I get that for certain situations—try tipping a dollar or too more the next time you order from your favorite pizza place and you soon get a reputation among the delivery guys and they’ll get your order to you way quicker….and probably won’t spit in your food. But it still bugs me that there is this odd dichotomy about tipping, like slipping your barber five buck but leaving the dental hygienist hanging.  The only remedy I can think of is to not tip anyone (people will think you’re a cheapskate) or tip everyone (they’ll think you’re an obnoxious big shot).  In closing: tipping is weird.

[Pic via]

On Sunday, just over 106 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl, edging out the final episode of MASH as the most watched televised event U.S. History (Get fucked, Moon Landing).  Now, I’m not a big football fan, but I enjoy the Super Bowl; dare I even say: I love it.  If you think about it, the Super Bowl is actually one of the few cultural traditions that we have in America.  We gather with friends and family for food and shared entertainment.  There are even some theories that it’s part of our tribal nature.  And since it’s one of the few times a year that advertisers can pretty much guarantee that people will be watching their ads (it’s cliché to say it, but most do agree with the “I watch it for the commercials” statement) they reel out their best commercials.  Here are a few things I learned from watching them this year’s Super Bowl Commercials :

All women are harpies that want to dominate and steal your soul, but you can get away…in a Dodge Charger while watching your Flo TV.

Misogyny was in the TV air that night.  While there were plenty of sexist commercials, they’re par for the course with advertising that airs for the biggest game of the year, but Jesus these two take the cake. Depicting whipped men who gain freedom through buying things instead of, you know, telling their girlfriends/wives they don’t want to go clothes shopping with them or carry their lip balm.

Anheuser-Busch has no clue who really drinks their product.

Once again the biggest ad presence of the night was Bud Light.  I counted four for the light beer with three more for other Budweiser brands or general branding.  And as usually, it all proved what I’ve also believed about Anheuser-Busch: they have no idea who really drinks their beers.  In all the Bud Light spots, going back for as long as I can remember, there are these young guys (mid-20’s to 30’s) going nuts over Bud Light.  I’m in that age group and I can tell you bringing a six pack of Bud Light never gets the “YEAH! Bud Light!” reaction, but more an “Awwww, Bud Light?” The only people I ever knew who get excited over Bud Light are high school girls…and I can’t go into how I know that exactly, except in states with of age of consent of seventeen or younger (God Bless the South!).

There are guys still wearing tighty whitey underwear.

Maybe it was the double whammy of the Career Builder and Dockers spots, but I was shocked (Shocked! I say) to witness so many men in white jockey underwear (though they were more a beige, which is really gross).  Haven’t we as a gender moved past this yet? Come on!  I get it if your mom is still buying your underwear for you, but not when you’re older than thirteen.  You move onto boxers or boxer briefs, just like how you upgrade to soft-core pornography from the Sport Illustrated swimsuit issue.  It’s evolution!

VolksWagen loves bullies .

Remember that “game” when you were a kid where the biggest jerk on the school bus would punch you every time he saw a VW Beetle? Well, with this ad the carmaker is setting the precedent for said child douchebags to hit for punch-buggies for ALL its models.  My arm is already numb in sympathy for grade school nerds everywhere.  But what do you expect with a company that was started by the Nazis?

Tim Tebow hits his mother.

After all the fuss made about the Focus on the Family spot staring Tim Tebow, I was surprised just how tame it was…Aside from the fact that over a third of America saw the 2007 Heisman Winner assault his mother.

The scene: last week in my apartment.  I found the bright green plastic bowl underneath the kitchen sink, careless tossed into the milk crate that held bottles of various cleaning solutions and soaps.  A bulbous knob extended from one end with a smile, and eyes peaking from behind a thin red mask painted on it.  “What is this doing in here?” I asked my roommate.  “Oh yeah,” he said. “I wasn’t sure where to put it.  What is it?”  I looked down into its goofy painted eyes. “It’s my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cereal bowl,” I said.

Twenty years ago, when I first dug the bowl out of the bottom of a Cheerios box, I didn’t want it.   My TMNT obsessed kindergarten brain immediately recognized the red mask as the identifier of Raphael and no one wanted to be Raphael.  Whenever playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with your friends, you would want to pretend to be your favorite turtle. Young “type A personalities” were drawn to Leonardo (succinctly described in the theme song with “Leonardo leads”), while the more creative kids wanted to be Donatello (“does machines”).  A rare few even liked Michelangelo (“a party dude”).  But no one, not a singe kid, liked Raphael (according to the song, he was “cool but crude”); and some unlucky latecomer who didn’t call dibs to be one of the other three early enough was general stuck playing Raph.  His other option was playing April O’Neil and she was a girl which was way worse (though I now wonder why no one volunteered to be Splinter, the giant rat that was the group’s sensei).

“Aw man, Raphael.” I remember saying with disdain, then turning to my mother, trying to enjoy her first cup of tea of the day, and inquired if we could run to the grocery store before school and get another box of cereal that would probably have a Donatello bowl (my first choice, but I would have settled for either of the other two) inside it.  Without having to say anything, I could tell her answer was a strong and definite “No.”

And so I made due with my Raphael bowl.  Years after the Ninja Turtle fad had died out, I found it again and brought it with me to college (mainly for its kitschy throwback value) and now keep it at the office so I can eat cereal at my desk (I had brought it home to wash last week, which is why my roommate didn’t recognize it).  And you know something?  Raphael has really grown on me.  What I mistook for a grumpy cynic was actually the group’s speaker of truths, who never beat around the bush and always said what was on his mind.  And his hot-headedness?  While many will agree that it constantly brought the group into dangerous situations, it was also the acting force on most of their greatest adventures (many of which forged their strongest alliances).  In essence, Raphael was probably the best Ninja Turtle and I am proud to own his cereal bowl.

A couple days ago, I was having a rough day at work.  Without going into too much boring detail about what it is I specifically do to keep a roof over my head, I was filling in for a sick co-worker and had to deal all the other office drones (something I loathe).  To vent my frustration, I quickly jumped on Facebook and let loose via my status message.   It was short. It was succinct.  I referred to my co-workers as “mutants.”  I felt so much better afterwards.  Did you just shutter?  Do you think you know where this going?  Want to know what happened next? Nothing. Why? Cause I’m not a moron.

It seems that when the first adopters of Facebook, college kids, brought the social networking site with them to the workforce, older co-workers, bosses, and supervisors joined as well and a new era in office politics was born.  The internet is strewn with tales of Facebook causing workplace conflict, some even resulting in people losing their jobs, as in this rather infamous status update of one young lady with a reply from her boss:

So it’s understandable that people are apprehensive with commenting about their work on Facebook and whenever I post a rant about work I receive several comments that I should watch what I say about my employer.  One friend even suggested that it may cost me possible future positions elsewhere. A sentiment my mother also made a while back when I was being considered for a position with a rather prominent publishing company and she called to remind me to “clear off your Facebook anything offensive.” It made me imagine how that would play out in an interview:

Potential Employer: Well, we think you’re perfect for the job. It’s just that I’m a little concerned about something you wrote on your Facebook status a while back.
Me: Oh, was it the one from college where I said I was going to get so drunk that I was going to “take advantage of myself”?
Potential Employer: No.
Me: The one where I admit to also sleeping with Tiger Woods?
Potential Employer: Er, No…
Me: I know. It was when I called John Meyer “His Royal Doucheness, the King of Douchetania, land of the douche bags.” Wasn’t it?
Potential employer:

As hokey as it sounds, Facebook is supposed to be an outlet and I shouldn’t have to censure myself.  Everything I post on there is exactly what I say to my family and friends.  Yes, maybe I would never say it to the people I work for, but that’s why I’m not friends with them and keep my profile private (I’m only connected with two people I work with and they would never rat me out to management, mainly because they say the same things on their profiles).  The day I watch what I write on Facebook is the day I quit.

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