The Daily Dump

A place where everyone (me) is welcomed to express their opinions openly and honestly. I encourage free thinking, free wheeling, off-the-cuff banter and monetary donations.

Tuesday, February 28

I’ll Tell You What’s Unnatural – Suffocating. That’s Unnatural.

It’s well established that my mom is what psychologists politely term “eccentric.” Growing up, she paid my sister and I to skip trick-or-treating, she refused (and still does) to buy a microwave because of it’s capacity to infect us all with cancer, and for a solid two years of my childhood she bought everything in the food store that had NEW! printed on the box. (Note: None of his should be construed as anything but affection. I absolutely love that I have a mother who bought an electric toothbrush and two days later offered it to me complaining that it “made her dizzy.”)

Her latest whimsical escapade has been into the world of “organic.” If it’s organic, chances are my mother has it: organic toothpaste, organic sugar, organic shampoo, organic cotton, organic pancake mix and organic peanut butter. I imagine if a salesman showed up at her door tomorrow with an “organic air filtration system,” she would take out her checkbook and buy five on the spot – one for herself and one for every member of the family who is unfortunate enough to have been breathing inorganic air all these years.

Being a person with strong feelings about receiving free stuff from others, I have never turned down any organic product my mother has sent my way. I loved the organic soap, although the organic toothpaste, with it’s ability to froth up to twenty times its own mass, took a bit of adjusting too. The organic chicken, I’ll admit, tastes infinitely better than your run-of-the-mill, dirty, man made chicken. And when I was at my parents house a few weekends ago and handed a stick of organic deodorant, I was naturally (ha!) excited to try it.

What’s the point of an organic deodorant, you ask? Great question. Apparently, most deodorants contain chemicals such as Aluminum, Zinc, Propylene Glycol, Phthalates, all of which may be harmful if absorbed into the skin over long periods of time. Indeed, there are warning labels on all deodorants to not use the product on open wounds and to immediately call poison control if it is ingested. One look at the active ingredient in my current deodorant (Old Spice Red Zone) and, sure enough, there it is: Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex, which, if my high school chemistry still serves me, stands for “Aluminum with Zinc and three Chloriney Hydrogen things.”

Three?! That does sound dangerous.

The organic deodorant, on the other hand, contains things like corn starch, candelilla wax, shea butter, and tea tree oil, all things you might find in your kitchen cupboard or your hemp medicine-woman fanny pack. I may not be the most holistic person, what with my predilection towards alcohol and pain medication, but I appreciate the logic that if something natural can do a job just as well as something chemically unnatural, why not go organic?

Unfortunately, what the organic deodorant label doesn’t tell you is that while corn starch, candelilla wax, shea butter, and tea tree oil may be great for arts and crafts, they have no ability whatsoever to keep you from smelling like a pile of garbage. When I got home from work yesterday, the first day I tried the organic deodorant, and took off my sweater I almost passed out. Flashing before my eyes was a scene of paramedics finding me in my bathroom with a gaping head wound caused by my head hitting the porcelain sink when I collapsed. They were all wearing surgical masks and trying to get to me, but were routinely turned back by the horrible odor.

I literally had to shower right then and there. As I scrubbed away with a coarse loofah and the most fragrant body wash I could find in The Girlfriend’s stash, I reflected upon how close I had come to becoming the first person I knew to die from their deodorant. And not because over the course of 50 years Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex seeped into my lymph nodes and crippled my body’s circulatory system, but because my own stench was too much to bear. I implore everyone reading this, especially the ones who I come into contact with on a regular basis, to continue using your harmful, slowly degenerative, chemically compounded deodorants; because trust me – when you’ve been where I was, where it almost ended so pungently . . . well poisoning myself has never felt so good.

Monday, February 27

An Olympic Wrap-Up, By The Numbers

2: Recommended dosage of acid to take before watching the clown-themed closing ceremonies at Torino.

4: Number of times while watching figure skating that The Girlfriend threatened to secretly record me saying things like “Oh no, she only doubled it” or “That step sequence was bland” and play them back for my friends.

$5 million: Amount Bode Miller earned last year, $1 million for every event he lost at Torino.

$130,000: Amount of money, in personal loans, taken by luger Anne Abernathy to finance her 2005 training and racing schedule in order to qualify for the Olympics. Abernathy, who is 52 years old, is the only representative of the U.S. Virgin Islands and was prohibited by the Olympic Committee from competing in the games due to the dangerous women’s course. After a committee hearing, she won the right to at least have her name listed on the official racing schedule as “DNS” – did not start. "I just wanted to be recognized as having worked hard to get here.”

2: Number of times, officially, that “YMCA” was performed at the Olympics – once during the opening ceremonies and once during the closing ceremonies.

2: Number of times I said out loud to the TV, “What the fuck?” upon hearing “YMCA” being played at the Olympics.

8: Finishing place in the standings for Danish Women’s Curling team, out of 9. The women curlers were the only representatives sent by Denmark to the games following the Mohammed cartoon uproar. No word on whether the strong sales of Danish flags continued into the Olympic Village..

9: Amount of restraint, on a scale of 1 – 10, it took Avril Levine to not give the crowd the finger during her performance at the closing ceremony.

50: Amount of time, in seconds, I spent laughing after The Girlfriend told me she could extend her leg above her head like the figure skaters do, and during her demonstration fell backwards onto the floor through her bedroom doorway.

8000: Bottles of maple syrup being sent to Bjoemar Haakensmoen by a Canadian manufacturer. Haakensmoen, the head of the Norwegian cross-country team, was watching the two-woman cross-country sprint from the side of the race course when Canadian Sara Renner broke one of her ski poles. Haakensmoen had a pole with him and immediately handed it to Renner. Renner and teammate Becky Scott ended up winning the silver medal while the Norwegians wound up fourth.

5, 3: Number of twists and somersaults, respectively, packed into American Jeret "Speedy" Peterson’s patented move “the Hurricane.” Peterson landed the jump in the Men’s Aerials event, a first in Olympic competition for a jump of its caliber. Peterson finished 7th due to a mediocre first jump and a shaky landing on the Hurricane.

$314,770: Amount paid by Italy to Italian speed skater Enrico Fabris for his two gold medals ($157,385 a piece).

$0: Amount paid to Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen for her five medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze). Canada is one of the only countries to not offer monetary rewards to their athletes.

103-0-2: Record of U.S. Women’s Hockey team against every team not named Canada in international competition before losing to Sweden in the semifinals at Torino.

88: Finish of Ireland’s Rory Morrish in the 15k Cross Country Skiing event. Finishing below him were Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Kenya, Brazil, Portugal, Nepal, Costa Rica, and Thailand. He was edged out by Ethiopia and Mongolia though.

86.5: Top speed reached on the Men’s Single Luge event.

87: Speed I was clocked at on the Long Island Expressway when I got my first speeding ticket.

27: Assumed age of American moguls skier Toby Dawson. Dawson was abandoned on the steps of a police station in Seoul before being adopted by ski instructors Mike and Deborah Dawson from Colorado. His current birthday, November 30, 1978, was given to him when he was brought to an orphanage, based on how he looked compared to other children.

6: Number of comments and emails received by readers begging me to not write about the Olympics for an entire week.

13: Approximate number of hours spent, by me, watching Olympic coverage so I could write about it on my blog.

1.5: Number of hours I wish I had back, accounting mostly for Ice Dancing. Other than that, I really enjoyed the Olympics, for the first time in a long time. The drive for Beijing 2008 is officially on.

Friday, February 24

Bode Miller Is Confused

When asked if he has been disappointed in his performance thus far, Miller responded by saying, “Ski racing has our world cup. I mean that’s where the champions are really decided. The Olympics is where the Olympics champion is crowned. I think I’ve never really been too bent on those kind of titles.” He then went on to say, “People think the Olympics is the Olympics for a reason. It’s only one event like this in the world. It’s the top, top stuff.”

Later in the rambling interview he commented it would even be more fun to just be a spectator. “It would be fun to me to just watch these events,” he said. “I could have just come up today to watch.”

The reporter then asked if he would go back to watch his teammates’ runs after he was disqualified. He answered, “Ah, it’s a bit of a pain to get into that area with all these people. Plus I have to get a VD test after hooking up with this girl last night.” OK, I made up the last part.

Miller went on to say, "Some people say I make mistakes. I just say that in fact this is the secret of enjoying life. I hate monotony. Why don't they leave me freedom of choice? People want to impose choices which aren't necessarily mine. That's the mistake people make."

No Bode, here’s the mistake you make: You engage in a lifestyle where earn millions in prize money and sponsors paychecks to compete in a sport. If you wanted to be left alone to your own devices you could retire, buy a cabin in the woods and read Thoreau while making smores. But that’s not the choice you made. You instead chose to come to the Olympics while some poor guy who worked twice as hard as you but was half as naturally talented got bumped from the team.

I just don’t like this guy – at all. Unfortunately, with the U.S. now trailing Germany by only one medal in the overall standings, Bode making it to the podium becomes crucial if the U.S. is going to surpass them. So yes, I will be rooting for Bode Miller, and I will take solace in knowing that he doesn’t want me rooting for him. That me wanting him to win a medal is my projection of expected goals onto him, so any victory becomes an extension of what I want Bode Miller to do instead of it being what Bode Miller wants Bode Miller to do. And I’ll keep a copy of Carl Jung by my side to make sure I’m getting that right.

The Dutch Are One Trick Ponies

The Dutch, a people known for their drugs, dykes and wooden shoes have managed to win nine medals in these Olympic Games, all of them coming in Speed Skating events.

The latest win was in the 10,000m event where Bob de Jong and Carl Verheijen (I’m not making these names up) landed on the top and bottom medal list, leaving American Chad Hendrick with the silver.

Bob and Carl were surprises winners, with Hendrick, Italy's Enrico Fabris (gold in the 1500m and bronze in the 5000m), 5000m silver medalist Sven Kramer and the underperforming Norweigan team all expected compete for medals. Instead it was Bob, who finished next to last in the race in Salt Lake City in 2002, with the gold and Carl with the bronze. Bob’s time of 13 minutes 1.57 seconds was more than 4 seconds better than his personal best. Carl’s was nearly eight seconds off his pace. In case you haven’t noticed, I can’t get over the fact that these guys’ names are Bob and Carl.

The U.S. Is My Mo Guishla

After Sasha Cohen’s gritty performance to hang onto silver last night, the Men’s Curling victory against Britain for bronze and Julia “The Tiara” Mancuso shocking the field to take gold in the Women’s Giant Slalom, the U.S., with 21 total medals, is only 3 medals shy of Germany at the top of the leader board.

With 16 events left the field is still wide open, but the prospects don’t look good for the U.S. Only a handful of events favor the U.S. such as the Men’s 10,000m Speed skating, the Men’s 500m Speed skating (APOLLO!) and the Four Man Bobsled, as opposed to the Two Man Bobsled or the Luge, featuring only a single man, begging the question “How come Gillette isn’t sponsoring the men’s bobsled teams?” I think even I come up with a clever campaign for “Four men are better than two!” At the end the Americans could stuff a fifth person in and have that team win the gold, followed by a Russian sledder smirking and saying, “I GUESS DEY IS RIGHT – DE FIVE ARE BETTER DAN DE TWO!”

Anyway, the point is practically every other event (mostly cross-country skiing and biathlon) favor countries like Germany, Russia and Canada. And even in the American favored events, sneaky Germans and Russians are lingering in medal contention as well. Bottom line is it doesn’t look good for us, on a whole, to be the top medal getter in these Winter Olympic Games.

I feel like Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby right now. I never thought I would get so attached to my country during the course of these games. But now as they’re coming down the stretch, showing some moxie and making me proud, they’re about have their neck broken and remain paralyzed forever. Well, at least until Vancouver in 2008. But unlike Eastwood, I won’t cry. I promise I won’t cry . . .

Thursday, February 23

Curlers Are Angry – UPDATE!

Maybe it’s because their sport uses so much jargon that sometimes even they don’t know what they’re saying. I don’t know. But I’ll tell you who does have every right to be angry – the U.S. men’s curling team, who were knocked out of gold medal contention by Canada on Wednesday.

I mean, the Canadians pressured the U.S. from the start by drawing around and putting up guards. Then the U.S. fell behind when they got just one point when they had the hammer, while Canada regularly scored two. In the seventh end, they continually cleared out the house to keep the U.S. from picking up the crooked number. The Americans chose to clear out the house in the seventh to keep the hammer, then converted for two points to make it 6-5 after eight. With Canada controlling the hammer in the ninth, U.S. third Shawn Rojeski didn’t get his first throw over the hog line, and a light draw by skip Pete Fenson allowed Canada to own the top of the house leaving the U.S. open for a big end. The Canadians made a peel to score five and the Americans were done.

Talk about a heartbreaker, right?

UPDATE: The Americans will take home the bronze after defeating Britain today 8-6. With the U.S. holding LSFE advantage in the final end, they prevented the British from establishing guards while British skip David Murdoch could only land one rock in the house and one front-house weight for protection. But American skip Pete Fenson still had open draw to the right and curled in the hammer to secure the victory. It is America’s first medal ever in a Curling event.

Well at least everyone understood the last line. And that’s what mattes the most (*tear).

Sasha Cohen Goes For Gold

Good luck avoiding the results of the Women’s Figure Skating finals (taking place now) if you were planning on watching them on TV tonight. After Sasha Cohen’s impressive short-program performance, every website from Yahoo to crappy blogs like The Daily Dump are going to be following the results live via internet.

Here’s the schedule of women’s skaters:

Emily Hughes – 3:17 ET
Sasha Cohen – 4:13 ET
Kimmie Messner – 4:37 ET
Irina Slutskaya (current leader) – 4:45 ET

I wish there was a way to clone myself and then send “present day” Me back in time to, say, October of last year, and have “present day Me” walk up to “back then Me” at my desk at work while I was typing some blog post, and have “present day” Me say, “Guess what. A few months from now you’re going to list, on your blog, the starting times for the Olympic Women’s Figure Skating Finals,” and then watch “back then” Me laugh at “present day” Me and call him a douchebag.

Bode Miller Doesn’t Care About The Olympics

Unquestionably one of the most talented downhill skiers, Bode has earned the reputation of being an enigma – an über-capable skier who just doesn’t seem to care about winning. At the outset of the Games he was hyped to win multiple medals in various downhill events, but after several disappointing runs, including one disqualification and one DNF, Bode has disappointed America and made children everywhere cry.

What’s worse, he doesn’t seem too bothered. He was seen partying the night before his downhill race (in which he finished 5th, two away from getting a medal for those of you scoring at home). Then after his disqualification in the combined event (one downhill, two slalom runs) he joked that the error saved him the 90-minute ride down to Turin for the medal ceremony. He later said that Angelina Jolie once wanted to have sex with him, but he was too tired to get off the couch and buzz her into his apartment.

"It is other people who want me to win medals," he said. "The silver medals I won in Salt Lake City didn't give me anything. Last year I set myself the goal of winning the World Cup and lining up a long series of wins. It was my private challenge. This year I just want to enjoy myself. I could give up tomorrow without having the slightest regret. I could keep away from this world for a year and then perhaps start to feel the desire to prove something to myself again."

Spoken like a true champion!

Bode’s last chance for a medal comes in Saturday’s slalom event, which, after failing to finish five of seven World Cup slaloms this season, is not his strong suit. To make matters worse, he hurt his ankle playing basketball earlier in the week. The injury is said to be negligible, but when asked if there are backups should Miller be unable to compete, U.S. Ski Team Alpine director Jesse Hunt said, "We'd take a look at it. You know, Erik Schlopy is still here,” after which media members from at least seven different countries penned jokes for “Schlopy Seconds” should Schlopy indeed compete in Miller’s place.

Taking cue from Kobe Bryant, who gave himself the nickname “The Mamba” (the snake, not the dance) for his ability to strike quickly and lethally, I’ve decided to start referring to Bode as “The Jackass,” a creature that is defined by its stupidity. Indeed, it is written that they “have a reputation for stubbornness, but this is due to some handlers' misinterpretation of their highly-developed sense of self preservation. It is difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it sees as contrary to its own best interest, as opposed to horses who are much more willing to, for example, go along a path with unsafe footing.” An apt description, seeing as how a horse on skis could probably do better than Bode Miller right about now.

I Have A New Favorite Athlete

Alisa Camplin of Australia (yes, that Australia) won bronze in the Women’s Freestyle Skiing Aerials, edged out by skiers from China and Switzerland, countries that actually experience snowfall from time to time. It was only the fourth medal won by Australia in the Olympics . . . ever.

Have you ever seen the movie Cool Runnings? About the Jamaican bobsled team? Kind of the same thing. Weird that Cool Runnings comes up here too because is it just me or do the first three minutes of Hotel Rwanda seem like they’re taken directly out of Cool Runnings? I don’t know, you have to see the movie to understand what I mean. Maybe they used the same song in the two movies. Obviously Hotel Rwanda takes a different turn than does Cool Runnings. But I digress.

Point is I’m in love with Alisa Camplin. Not only is she an unlikely hero, but she was genuinely excited that she won even bronze. Plus her profile on NBC’s Olympics website has great tidbits of information about her, such as:

Most aerialists mark their takeoff spots with small flags in the snow, but Camplin has taken a different approach, using small kitchen utensils to mark her spot. When she checks into her condo at a competition site, she raids the kitchen, looking for a wooden spoon. If she can't find a wooden spoon, she marks her spot with a spatula, egg flipper or whisk.

Throw in the pigtails under the helmet and I’m just smitten. There’s something about little quirks like that that just screams “SKIING ISN'T ALL I'M GOOD AT.” I wonder how she is with a rifle . . .

Too bad she already has a boyfriend, American moguls skier Travis Mayer. Travis finished 7th in Men’s Moguls competition. That means he didn’t win any kind of medal. But I’m sure he’s really funny and sweet.

Wednesday, February 22

Ice Dancing Is Unbearable

Last night I went to the food store on my way home from work. I bought myself some pork chops and some fresh vegetables and some wild rice, intending to cook myself a great meal when I got home. I even had a bottle of wine a distant relative gave me for Christmas. I had Sin City on Tivo which I was going to watch at 8:00 so I could simultaneously record the Olympics and, when the movie was over, watch them as they was meant to be watched – fast forwarding through pointless commentary and those interminable 20 seconds before judges scores come up on the screen. It was going to be a great night.

When I got home I cooked the whole meal and excitedly sat down on the couch. Then, corkscrew poised, I unwrapped the foil wrapper on the bottle of wine only to see staring back at me a flimsy metal screw cap. Then I went to my Tivo recordings list and saw that Sin City had been bumped after an unexpected influx of “Law and Orders,” all of which I had seen at least twice before. I stood there, twist-top wine in hand, staring at the TV in disbelief just long enough for my meal, the last bastion of hope for the night, to turn lukewarm.

So my fun night of delicious food, drink and entertainment turned into me eating a tepid pork chop with twist-cap chardonnay on ice while watching Hotel Rwanda.

AND YET, that is nothing compared to the pain of going to The Girlfriend’s apartment the other night and hearing her say to me: “Let’s order take-out and watch the Ice Dancing competition.”

I don’t think there’s a masculine equivalent in pure intensity to the feminism of Ice Dancing. If a normal scale of male / female activities looked something like this:

Carrying a purse <------------------------------------------------------------------------> Leaning to the side
when farting

The scale for Ice Dancing might look something like this:

Watching Ice Dancing <------------------------------------------------------------------------> Killing a deer with
Your bare hands

But again, that’s probably not accurate. I mean, they don’t even jump! They just . . . dance. On ice skates. It’s like making Disco Roller skating a Summer game in 2008. I guess Tanith Belbin makes it .0004% watchable, but then you have to subtract .0003% from that because she skates with Joey Fatone.

The Biathlon Makes No Sense

Here’s something else the United States isn’t good at: Skiing around a loop with a high powered rifle strapped to your back which you will use intermittently to shoot at targets before taking off skiing again. Oddly, the most successful countries at this event are the historically war-torn, frigid countries whose people have a history of actually having to shoot things while skiing. One historian notes:

“Historical descriptions of warriors on skis date back to before Christ and include writings from Xenophon, Strabol, Arrian, Teophanes, Prokopius, and Acruni.”

That’s a lot of famous writers! No word on what Goethe or Tolstoy thought of the event, but Germany and Russia seem to be dominating the events along with Norway, who you have to assume just fancy going out on skis and shooting things up. The U.S. can’t seem to finish any biathlon event higher than ninth. No wonder Hemmingway once wrote of the biathlon: “It is a great event for people unhurried by nobler efforts such as fishing and drinking.”

Which got me to thinking, like Hem often does. Since Americans frequently succeed in sports they create (like Snowboarding), why not create a new biathlon combination? Such as:

1. Ice fishing / Running with tennis racquets on feet. Drill a hole in the ice, catch a fish and then take off running on snowshoes – carrying your catch!

2. Free throw shooting / Sledding. Sink 10 consecutive free throws then immediately turn around and launch yourself down a hill on a sled. You must carry your sled back up the hill for round two, ruining all the fun.

3. Snow dog racing / Show dog grooming. Race a 5K Iditarod-style event followed up by grooming your sled dogs for a grueling battle for Best In Show.

I’m just thinking outside the box here. Sure, my suggestions might not be steeped in “history,” but I think we can all agree that is Prokopius was writing about it, it’s probably out of style anyway.

(Note: It may seem like I’m making fun of the biathlon. This is not so. On the contrary, I can think of few things sexier than a woman skiing down a hill with a loaded weapon. Except maybe a woman skiing down a hill with a loaded weapon, wearing a bikini and telling me how funny my blog is. Yeah, that would do it.)

My Neighbor Loves Sasha Cohen

I hate my neighbor. Our apartments share a wall and through this wall I hear him play bad music, scream to his friends on the phone things like, “Dude, no waaaay! She wasn’t that fat!” and generally act like a jackass. I will tell anyone who listens that he is my nemesis and that the real reason I watch so much “CSI” is to learn how to get away with murdering him someday.

Last night at around 11:30 I was watching the Women’s Short Program Figure Skating, solely, of course, because I made this dedication to write about the Olympics on my blog. I tuned in late, just in time to see the final few skaters take their best shot at the dominant, dirty-named Russian Slutskaya who was in first place with a hefty score of 66.70. They all failed miserably, setting the stage for American Sasha Cohen who was skating last.

Cohen went out there with her coquettish eyes and simply nailed her program. Stuck every jump and dazzled me the crowd with her flexibility grace and dexterity. Then, as the music stopped and Cohen struck her final pose, I heard a resounding clap come from my neighbor’s apartment followed by a spirited “Yes!

I immediately thought two things:

1. That even though I hate my neighbor with a burning passion, this is what the Olympics are all about – bringing people together. Setting differences aside, having a truce from war, forging a common bond of humanity and sharing the illogical satisfaction of beating the Russians as though it were still the early 80's; and

2. My neighbor isn’t just an asshole, he’s an asshole who watches figure skating for fun. I mean, at least I was doing it for my blog.

Tuesday, February 21

Lindsey Jacobellis Is A Show-Off

Bob Costas, who was just happy to have something compelling to talk about, feasted on this story like Lindsey had just tested positive for steroids while charging the stands at an NBA game. Jacobellis was leading in the Snowboard Cross right up until the final jump where she got a little fancy, throwing in an unnecessary trick, and promptly fell on her ass as the French rider passed her to win gold.

Maybe she thought style points counted, maybe she had a feminine itch, maybe she thought that because her last name sounds like two distinguished men’s names put together that the race wasn’t actually over when she crossed the finish line but rather when she was done showing off. Maybe she should have thought more about her Visa check card being stolen.

Regardless, I think it was the right thing to do. You stick that method air and land smoothly to win gold and that’s the poster girls hang in their rooms in Colorado and Vermont for the next decade. Somehow, that little board kick probably earns you an extra million dollars. Is it a gamble? Sure. But it’s also a gamble to never live up to your potential like I did – to never get your chance to show the world that you could have been a champion moguls skier. Actually, that’s not so much a gamble as it is a failure. So at least she took a gamble instead of failing outright.

Although I did have a similar experience at work once. I was trying to impress my boss, so I set the copy machine to collate AND staple the two-page memo he asked for. Little did I know they were supposed to be copied front and back! So don’t worry Lindsey, we all make mistakes when we try and do too much.

Americans Love Their Country; Can’t Ski Across It

I don’t consider myself a hugely patriotic person. Sure I love America and I think it’s cool that we told England to go screw themselves and started our own country and became powerful and industrious. But I’m not blind to the mistakes my country has made. We’ve killed many innocent people in our quest for expansion. We’ve become way too dependant on a diminishing fossil fuel to run out industry. And, worst of all, we have failed to produce a cross country skiing team that can even come close to winning an Olympic medal. And when it comes to a sporting match, I, as an American, am humiliated that we are so thoroughly dominated by the rest of the world in something like cross country skiing.

First of all, it’s not that hard. I mean, yes it’s hard, as in “Your thigh might literally explode.” But when you think about what Americans excel at – figure skating, speed skating, alpine skiing – is waddling like a duck on skis so far beyond us? In the history of the Winter Olympics we have won ONE medal in cross country skiing. Estonia, a country of approximately 1.3 million people and a capital city whose name ends with two n’s, has won three medals.

Somehow, of the 300,000,000 people living in the United States right now, we can’t find one person, male or female, who can finish higher than fourth. I’m no mathematician, but it seems like those odds would be pretty good. At the very least, couldn’t we just put Lance Armstrong in some skis and let him take a shot at it?

In the team relay, the women finished 14th. The men finished 12th. In my heart, they finished last.

(It could be worse: We could have lost the Revolutionary War and remain a part of Great Britain, a country that has somehow managed to be a world leader while winning one total medal, a silver in the skeleton – an event that takes more brain deadness than anything else, and even in that they could only finish second.)

Torino Is Hard To Say

Just because “Turin” rhymes with “urine” doesn’t mean we can disregard the city’s name. I mean, Lake Placid rhymes with Lake Flaccid, but that doesn’t mean you can change it to something fancier like Lake Tranquil. Bottom line is that calling these Olympics “Torino” would be the same as calling them “Roma” or “Firenze” if they were held in Rome or Florence. And we just wouldn’t do that.

Besides, I think you’re missing out on a host of catchy headlines by foregoing the name Turin. Such as:

“Turin For A Treat”

“Austrian Skiers Keep Turin Along”

“Bode Miller Refuses To Turin For The Night, Stabs Official”

“What’s That Smell? It’s Turin! Host City Dirty”

“Chinese Want Gold; There’s No De-Turin Them”

“IOC Deceived On German Drug Tests, Cry “It’s A Red Turin!” (Work with me.)

The whole ordeal actually got me wondering though – why do cities in Italy have two names? We didn’t rename Beijing and Mozambique and Edinburgh. But “Torino” is too hard? We had to change that to Turin? I don’t get it, and anyone who can explain it to me is my new best friend.

Also, how many more people would be watching right now if the Austrian city of Klagenfurt had won their bid to host instead of Turin? And how many people would NBC hire to come up with a name other than Klagenfurt?

What I Really Think About The Olympics

I wasn’t planning on writing about the Olympics, mostly due to the fact that I haven’t actually been watching the Olympics. So while I could have rattled off posts with titles like “Why Can’t I Get A Hotel Room In Torino?” and “Do You Know Who Won The Bobsled?” I just didn’t think that was in everyone’s best interest.

Over the weekend though I realized something. The Olympics happen once every two years, the Winter Games once every four. The next Olympic games of any kind won’t be happening until August of 2008 in Beijing. In the big picture, this means two things: 1. The United States has only two years to eradicate communist China (one and a half if they want time to adjust advertising prices accordingly); and 2. there’s a pretty good chance that this blog won’t see another Olympics.

I’ll give you a second to stop crying . . .

In the best case scenario, The Daily Dump sticks it out until August of 2008 for the sole purpose of having existed during a Winter and Summer Games – an act as arbitrary and blatantly pointless as working until you’re 70 just so you can retire at a nice round number. In the worst case scenario, these Olympic games end this weekend and I wake up in a cold sweat Monday morning to the realization that my blog will never see another international sporting competition of such a caliber. (And I’m more likely to wake up in a cold sweat after having a mayonnaise induced heart attack than because I never wrote about the Olympics.)

But if you give me a choice of watching the Olympics or switching to light mayonnaise I’ll take the Olympics EVERY TIME. Even ice dancing. Well maybe not ice dancing – in that case it’s more likely I end up like the donkey in the philosophical paradox of Buridan's Ass wherein a mule, placed between two identical bales of hay, starves to death because he can’t decide between the two.

So I’m devoting this week to Olympic coverage. Hopefully three or four posts a day on what I think about the 2006 Torino Games. If nothing else, I’ll save you from having to watch the games yourself. And at the cocktail party you attend this weekend to mark the closing ceremonies, you’ll be able to carry on discussions on which country has the coolest uniforms (the Netherlands), the hottest athletes (Canada), and which mascot, Neve or Gliz, would win in an ultimate fighting match (obviously Gliz). Enjoy.

Friday, February 17

I Was Watching “Survivor” And A Hockey Game Broke Out.

I haven’t watched “Survivor” since the first season. Probably a few episodes of the second season as a hangover of the cult mindset instituted in year one, but eventually I lost interest and put down the coconut Kool-aid.

Apparently in the time since I stopped watching, “Survivor” has turned into a cross between “Penthouse Forums” and “American Gladiators” (breeding suspicion that the producers of the show have been reading my journal and stole my ideas).

I suppose it’s the natural arc of any reality show that the longer they stay on the air, the more breasts they need to sustain an audience (see “Real World” and “Fear Factor”). And “Survivor” has been no different, taking cue from the first season when millions of male viewers stopped talking about Jennifer Aniston and started talking about “The Girls of Survivor.”

Note that “The Bomb Shelter Effect” was in full play here, the premise being that if you are stuck in a bomb shelter with the same people for an extended period of time, people that you might not find attractive upon first seeing them will, over time, become more and more attractive until eventually you convince yourself that that girl with the mole above her eye is the most beautiful girl ever. The same rule applies, to a lesser degree, to workplaces, classrooms, summer camps, families (in the South), and vacation resorts, especially if you’re a teenager there with your parents.

And personally, I love this rule. I love when this happens on shows (like “The Office” now, where Pam gets hotter every week) because instead of being force-fed the cast of “The OC,” we’re required to put a little effort into it, to nurture the attraction, to work at making it more rounded that Katherine Heigl’s breasts on “Grey’s Anatomy.” You look back at the crushes of your youth and wonder why you liked them so much and you realize that you were exposed to such a small amount of people everyday that puberty literally forced you to fall in love with one of them. Then you went to college and had sex with your neighbor because you were too drunk to make it anywhere else. But that’s neither here nor there.

Point being, last night “Survivor” not only threw that old formula out the window, they then went outside, urinated on the formula and called it names like “sissy pants” before throwing it in a nearby river with a rock tied around it’s ankles. Then they took their show to a place formerly occupied by only made-for-Cinemax movies and beer commercials.

They took their new “obviously hot” women

and subjected them to the following challenge:

Each team will compete in varying match-ups, racing head to head to five circles in the sand. Buried within each circle is a bag. The tribes must dig and find the bag, and then get back to the finish mat. To score, there must be at least one hand on the bag while any part of the body touches the finish mat. First tribe to score three wins Immunity.

I assume there were other rules, like no punching, kicking, choking, fish-hooking or titty-twisting. But it didn’t matter – the point of the challenge was to get women in bikinis to wrestle. And the only thing missing was hot oil and Tom Sizemore attempting to coerce them back to his hotel.

And the worst part? I watched the whole thing. Well I guess that’s not the worst part. The worst part will be in a couple of years when it is revealed on the Season Finale of Survivor 15 that the eventual winner manipulated her alliance by prostituting herself for immunity, and then, channeling Herm Edwards, saying at her press conference, “What can I say? You play to win the game.”

Thursday, February 16

Because I Like Sports. Toned, Half-Naked Sports.

And so the dance begins. Me storing the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue underneath copies of Esquire and Paste*, only to have The Girlfriend eventually find it, say, “I don’t know why you find this so interesting,” and proceed to flip through every page making comments like, “Look at her eyebrows,” or “Oh honey, how many meals have you thrown up today?” And I glance over her shoulder, chuckle and say, “Yeah, totally. How many? Like five at least, right? It’s awful. She’s just awful.”

You’re the most awful one of all. Sometimes when it’s late at night and I’m by myself and drunk, I look at pictures of you and wonder “How did you get so awful?”

Reminds me of Maui. The sunset, not the hot girl in the bathing suit.

Just like your job!

Hold on . . . something’s not right here.

There we go! Hmmm Mmmmm.

She seems like fun.

“Molly, how does it feel to be posing in a bathing suit that any man in America would choose over a night in bed with you?” (Molly Sims in a $30 million dollar bikini made of diamonds.)

Wednesday, February 15

Victoria's Secret Is Hard

The Girlfriend and I have an understanding wherein she accepts the fact that I often buy bad presents and in return she doesn’t break up with me.

No holiday is worse than Valentine’s Day. For some reason, I can’t wrap my head around buying someone a substantially useless, romantic present like flowers or chocolates. I’ve been given chocolates as a present before, and while it’s awesome that, thanks to the present, you get to eat chocolate, you can’t help but think “This could have been a DVD.” And flowers? The Girlfriend and I have had this conversation at least five times:

Me: “But they die.”

TG: “But they’re pretty.”

Me: “But they die.”

Not that any of my ideas have been much better. One year I bought her a dinner that I would have paid for anyway. More recently I gave her a perfume she now uses to freshen up the waste basket in her kitchen. This year I was determined to do things differently. Yesterday, on my lunch break, I went to Victoria’s Secret.

On any average, normal day Victoria’s Secret is a store full of underwear and the women who need it. On Valentine’s Day it transforms into a store full of underwear and the men who want their wives to have sex with them. It’s a circus of lace, carnal intent, but most of all utter and complete confusion. I imagine if there was a holiday centered around indecisiveness, fear of commitment and an insatiable appetite for sex, women would be walking around Home Depot the same way men walk around Victoria’s Secret on Valentine’s Day – gingerly picking up items off racks afraid they might get dirty or, worse, have to describe what they are looking for to a sales associate. You don’t really know yourself until you’ve asked an overaggressive saleswoman where you might find a matching panty for this tank top.

I spent almost an hour walking around the store alternately trying not to be noticed and to avoid noticing anyone else in the store. I don’t know what’s worse: the shame of a woman catching your glance as she rummages through a bin of thongs or the “WTF?” face of a guy holding a chemise up in the air knowing he is trying to picture his wife in it. Fact of the matter is, wherever you look there are people holding women’s underwear and it’s about as close as the average guy is going to get to an orgy. And everyone knows that. And it’s a little awkward – except for the one guy who walks around like he’s in the food store picking up Cheerios and a taco kit. You just know this guy has been in a porn.

Anyway, in the end I came away with what I thought was a great present, until I gave it to The Girlfriend and she informed me that I had bought the wrong sized bottoms and the wrong sized top. Nothing says love like, “But I thought you were bigger than that.”

Good thing I also stopped into Sharper Image to buy something for myself and spied this awesome Pedometer – you know, one of those devices that counts how many steps you take and the distance you walk? So I bought that for The Girlfriend as well, essentially offering her a bundle of presents that suggest that I think she is big and should keep track of her exercise regimen more closely. Ah! The romance!

I will say this: there is something oddly empowering about a co-worker asking you a legal question while you assemble a Victoria’s Secret gift box in your office. It just smacks of “The hardest part of my life right now is wrapping this lingerie for my girlfriend to wear tonight.”

Tuesday, February 14

Time For A Change – I’m Becoming A Woman. JK!

A few years ago, back when shopping online was still just a weird alternative to walking to the store and picking up an item off the shelf, my buddy Scott was trying to find a present for his sister’s birthday. I don’t remember exactly what he was looking for, and I only vaguely remember him telling us that he found it on some obscure website – but I absolutely remember him telling us how, subsequent to his purchase, his credit card number had been stolen and was being used to make various unauthorized purchases.

The thief used Scott’s card to buy a pair of high top sneakers and (this isn’t a typo) a doll house. Scott called the police and told them the shipping address used by the thief for said doll house and the scammers were apprehended. Scott concluded the whole episode with a meaningful nod of the head, saying, “Now that I think about it, the website did seem a little sketchy.”

What’s my point here? Well for one thing, criminals aren’t always men in ski masks with guns. So beware.

But also, Right about now, having my identity stolen doesn’t sound like such a bad thing. 2006 has been a fucking awful year. Actually, calling it fucking awful is an understatement akin to calling that new girl on “The OC” “pretty cute for her age.” And I’ve got no solution for how to make it stop sucking. Seems like misfortune is the drug of the moment and I’m Courtney Love.

My solution? Well I don’t think people will be lining up to steal my identity at this point ­–

Cut to scene of two criminals looking at credit card records of

Criminal #1: “This guy looks good. Let’s steal his identity.”

Criminal #2: “Hold up, I’ve read this guy’s blog. He is having one SHITTY year. No WAY I’m taking this guy’s identity.”

Criminal #1: “But he’s got great credit.”

So I’m being proactive. I’m giving away my identity. Maybe it’s the belligerence, maybe it’s the intellectualism; whatever it is it’s not working anymore. So someone take it, anyone. I’m going to try my luck with a new one. I’m just not sure how to go about availing myself of it. Here are my options:

1. Highest bidder. Sure, it blows right now, but it’s like buying a great house in a poor neighborhood. All it takes is a Starbucks and some designer outlets and suddenly you’ve got a great girlfriend, funny memories and some pretty chiseled biceps all in a neighborhood full of timid white people.

2. Think of a number between 1 and 100. Whoever guesses it gets to give me $100 for it.

3. Pitch it as a reality show in Hollywood: “So You Think You Can Be Belligerent And Intellectual?” Contestants will battle one another in contests of wit, mathematical acumen and knowledge of cheeses. At the end of every episode I’ll storm onto the set screaming, “Jesus, you suck like a [typical simile]!” sending another disgraced contestant home.

4. Put it on Craigslist under the heading: “I’m angry and smart – and not from Williamsburg!”

And then of course there’s the matter of a new identity. I’m not sure yet what it should be and I’m certainly open to suggestions. I’ll probably end up picking it the same way I picked my college: by which one sounds the best. Or by which one is closest to my high school girlfriend who will dump me a few months into the first semester anyway. But that makes no sense, so yeah – I’ll go with the coolest sounding one.

Here are a few of my preliminary ideas:

The Weatherman. I’ve said this to my friends on more than one embarrassing drunken occasion, that I think “The Weatherman” would be a cool alias. Usually the pitch goes something like this:

(in slurring voice) “You know, not like a guy who predicts the weather. But like a guy who KNOWS the weather, you know? Like he’s so fucking cool that he KNOWS what’s going to happen, but not like just with sports and movies and shit, but with like MOTHER NATURE!”

The Daily Dumper. Not by choice. Apparently I’m known by this pseudonym by a few people who read my blog. Nothing more awesome than reading someone’s site, seeing a link in the sidebar that says “The Daily Dumper,” clicking on it and seeing a picture of your own face.

Grissom. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. (Internal monologue: “If only I wasn’t kidding . . .”)

Swingline. Because I’m looking at my stapler right now.

Dan. It’s not a bad name. And it’s served me well up until this point. But I know what you’re thinking – it lacks that quality that says, “I’m a mean motherfucker and you’d better read my blog because I’m bringing it like a mule!, which isn’t to say I’m bringing it slowly and deliberately, but rather with an unending wellspring of energy and determination.” I know, I’ve thought it before too.

So we’ll see. Send suggestions along and maybe one will pop out at me. If you can, refrain from using the words “gay,” “asshole,” or “vastly ugly.” Although I get it if the name just doesn’t work without their inclusion.

Monday, February 13

Big News By The Journalists Who Brought You “Christmas Can Be A Pleasant Time” And “Earth Day Is Boring”

Thursday, February 9

Brief Interruption

No new posts until next week. I have some more important things to deal with, although I could probably write 10,000 words on the Grammy’s last night, 3,000 alone on when Mary J. Blige took Bono’s hand off his guitar while he was trying to play during “One.” Hopefully plenty of others will step in and do the show the comedic justice it deserves.

See you all next week. Until then, here’s a picture of a puppy.

Tuesday, February 7

“CSI” Makes You A Great Criminal

Great article sent to me by Slack LaLane (knowing my unhealthy obsession with “CSI”). It’s all about how real crime scene investigators are upset at the effect shows like “CSI” are having on real life criminals. That articles reads:

Today, the use of bleach, which destroys DNA, is not unusual in a planned homicide, said the senior criminalist from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"They're actually educating these potential killers even more," said Capt. Ray Peavy, also of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and head of the homicide division. "Sometimes I believe it may even encourage them when they see how simple it is to get away with on television."

It goes on to describe a recent incident where a “CSI” fan “went to great lengths to cover his tracks” by using bleach to remove blood from his hands, covering the back seat of his car with blankets to prevent getting blood on the seats when he transported the bodies, burning his clothes and removing his cigarette butts from the scene because they would contain DNA from his saliva.

OK, I’m not going to brag and say that if I decided I wanted to kill someone, I’m pretty sure I could do a great job of getting away with it; but covering the back seat of the car with blankets? Burning your blood soaked clothes? WASHING YOUR HANDS? This is what makes this guy a dangerous criminal, exhibiting behavior that, while psychotic in the sense that he killed a woman and her child, is fairly straight-forward in terms of committing a crime? I’m surprised there’s no mention of him taking the crowbar with him after he was done beating them. Because that’s just genius.

Oh wait:

According to the affidavit, he also tried to throw some evidence into a lake, including a crowbar used to bludgeon one of the victims. The lake was frozen though and he shouted a profanity when the crowbar remained on the surface.

I just watched an episode of “CSI” the other day where a guy shaved off all his body hair to avoid leaving DNA behind. He also strangled the victims with items already in their house, vacuumed after he was done, took the bag with him and left behind at the scene hairs and fibers from strangers to throw off the police. I don’t think crowbar guy was paying close enough attention to the show.

The Daily Dump Is Serious About Bad Comedy

When I first saw that Iranians were rioting because of the cartoons that ran in a Danish paper depicting the prophet Mohammed in an unflattering manner I was floored. My first reaction was “a bomb-shaped turban isn’t even funny.” My second reaction was “I can’t believe these Iranians are SETTING FIRE TO BUILDINGS because of a cartoon.” That’s an overreaction right up there with the FCC’s response to the “Wardrobe Malfunction” of 2003.

Then came Iran’s less violent response today: “A prominent Iranian newspaper said Tuesday it would hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust to test whether the West extends the principle of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide as it did to the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Wow. Again, my first reaction was “You have got to be fucking kidding me. A contest for HOLOCAUST cartoons? Why not just have a contest to see who can kick a puppy the farthest.” Then I read the following line, explaining the motivation behind the contest, and it gave me pause:

“Does the West extend freedom of expression to the crimes committed by the United States and Israel, or an event such as the Holocaust? Or is its freedom only for insulting religious sanctities?"

In other words, how seriously do we uphold our right to free speech?

In the U.S. there are some things we as Americans have come to understand as “untouchable” in terms of comedy, parody or antipathy, – e.g. slavery, the Holocaust, 9-11, etc. Yes, technically we have the right to say whatever we please concerning these subjects, and certainly there are people who publish their rogue ideas on a small scale. But no serious newspaper would ever consider doing so, and if any serious newspaper ever did, the backlash would drive them into the ground.

My prediction is the Jewish community will respond more civilly than by burning an Iranian flag. And the blame for it coming to this at all rests solely on the shoulders of the Danish newspaper who showed less good judgment than Britney Spears when they first ran the cartoons. I’m sure there are some other political and ethical ramifications involved here, but the fact of the matter here is that no one wins when newspapers run unfunny cartoons, which has pretty much been the case since The Far Side went out of circulation.

Plus my friend Brendan points out the most shocking angle of all:

“After looking at some of the news sites the past couple of days there is one thing I don't get about the Muslim protests around the world. I already knew that they were insane and violent but the one thing I can't figure out is where do they get all those Danish flags to burn? Think about it. We live in NYC, a city filled with people from all over the world, home of the UN and a city with thousands and thousands of stores. Yet if the Danes pissed me off right now, I would have no idea where to go get a flag. But in the Middle East there are people with Danish flags ready for sale at a moments notice, even in places where you can't get basic necessities.”

Now THAT’S funny.