Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hostess: Too big to Fail

With the news of Hostess closing its doors for good, came the sudden realization that yet another chapter is ending in America’s great story. Customers are left to scramble for the last crumbs of Hostess products from store shelves, making the annual mad dash on Black Friday look like a (Hostess) cake walk. I for one am heartbroken at the news. I wish I had a box of Twinkies to drown my sorrows in, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, like so many other Americans, I will be forever left to wonder what could have been.

Hostess, the bakery company that has brought us such timely classics such as Zingers, Suzy Q’s, and Ho-Ho’s, not to mention favorites such as Twinkies, Fruit Pies, Sno Balls, and Ding Dongs, has announced they are no longer financially soluble and are therefore closing their doors for good. News hasn’t rocked the food and beverage world like this since Wilie Wonka announced he would be shutting the doors of his famous candy factory – and even then, that was only in a fictional story. Americans are left to wonder who will be next? If it can happen to Hostess, why not other great American food companies such as Hershey’s or Kraft or Hebrew National? I personally cannot even imagine a world without Kraft imitation cheese slices, which completely revolutionized the hamburger industry.

I have never been a fan of the Wall Street bailouts of the big banks and auto industry, only because I find the concept of “too big to fail” to be a slap in the face of every business that has struggled to keep their financial house in order, not to mention the financial burden it puts on the American People. But the news of Hostess has left me to wonder, if any bakery is too big to fail, certainly it would be Hostess. Hostess Brand is as American as apple pie, baseball, or the groovy hippie movement of the 70’s. Certainly Hostess is a company deserving of the financial backing of Chinese borrowed money from our government. I mean if not Hostess, then who?
I, like so many others, am left to wait and see what will happen. The Sno Ball, Mr. President, is in your court…the only question is what will you do with it?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I’m no politician, but I’ve been known to tell a whopper or two in my life. Especially as a kid. But many times it wasn’t exactly lying that I did, per say, but more like hiding the truth about something that had happened. I can recall one particular Saturday morning when I woke up rather late to an empty house (my family was all gone, which, with a family of eight was very rare) and found a note from my mother stating that I was to shovel my assigned portion of the driveway before I could go out to play with my friends (I lived in Alaska, and in Alaska those are the sort of chores you get). Of course I was outraged at my parents’ demands, as any 13 year old boy would be. How could they expect me to shovel the driveway…on a Saturday of all days? I know what most of you are probably thinking. “Oh the horror. That’s child abuse.” Exactly my sentiments.

I reluctantly and angrily began to shovel the driveway, muttering more than a few choice words under my breath. After almost a whole hour of shoveling (or so it seemed…it was probably more like 20 minutes but who is keeping track of such minor details) I had but a small area of snow left just under our old yellow Subaru, which was parked in front of our garage, so I ran up to my dad’s dresser to retrieve the keys so I could move the car. The yellow Subaru had a manual transmission (for those of you who are too young to have heard of such a thing, it means it had a stick shift and a clutch, which were very tricky to operate, especially for a 13 year-old kid). Still quite peeved at my parents for ruining my perfectly wonderful Saturday morning, I placed the key into the ignition and turned the key while flooring the gas, without first engaging the clutch. You see, cars back then worked differently than they do now. They didn’t have all the latest fancy safety measures and automatic crap that keep folks today from getting whiplash every time they turn the key. It took real skill to drive a car…skill that I certainly didn’t have. So as I stepped on the gas you can probably guess what happened. The car totally lunged forward into the closed garage door – a door that had been freshly painted just the summer before!

You know how people talk about near death experiences, the ones where everything moves in slow motion while their lives flash before their eyes? That’s exactly what happened to me. I actually saw my life flashing before me on the panels of the falling garage door. You see, the laws of physics tell us that a moving object (such as a car), when coming into contact with a stationary object (such as a garage door) will move that stationary object (garage door) if the mass of the moving object (car) is bigger and has enough force behind it (floored accelerator pedal) than the stationary object (garage door). Please don’t ask me exactly what law of physics this is, because at that point I neither knew nor cared to know. I just knew it existed because I was witnessing, first hand, the law in action.
As I sat in the stalled car, which was now conveniently parked halfway into my parents’ garage, (notice how I identified ownership of the garage? This will become important for obvious reasons later) a simple thought crossed my mind. That thought was of course, “I’m dead,” since it was my parents’ garage (see now why I needed to point out the ownership?). Not knowing where the rest of my family had gone or when any of them would be back, I scrambled faster than any 13 year-old boy ever has to fix the garage door. It didn’t matter that the railing and lag bolts had been ripped from the walls or that the individually crafted panels of the garage door laid crumpled like an accordion on the garage floor. I had one task and one task only, and it was to save my own life by repairing the damage before any witnesses (brothers or sisters) could see what had happened and report back to my parents.

I really don’t know how I did it, but to this day I can faintly remember hearing a choir of angels singing and a surge of strength that could only have been sent from above. I can attest that it wasn’t my time to die that day. Somehow with powers beyond my own I was able to lift the garage door back up and reset the lag bolts into the wall. And after patching the half inch gap that now stood between the garage door and wall with one inch weather stripping - not to mention ignoring a rather large dent in the center of the door where the bumper of the car first initiated the contact - the garage door was as good as new. In fact nobody even realized anything had ever happened to it. It wasn’t until 20 years later that I actually had the courage to tell my parents what had happened that fateful Saturday morning. I never technically lied about the garage door, but I certainly didn’t ever tell anyone the truth. In fact, when I finally did muster up the courage to tell my parents about what happened to the garage, it was only because I figured my statute of limitations had expired. How’s that for honesty?

Tantrum Time

I really hate it when my kids throw a tantrum in a public place. They're smart and know they got me because it's a public place where other people are around and watching. I'm in their territory. The only thing I hate even more then a child throwing a tantrum is when someone approaches you with advice on how to handle the situation. Like I'm doing something wrong. Like the tantrum is somehow my fault. Yea, it's my fault, I didn't give in and give my child the damn candy bar she wanted because I didn't want her to ruin her appetite for dinner and have her mom mad at me. I'm not ruining my chance at some snookie later over a candy bar.

Next time someone approaches me with parental advice about a screaming kid I think I'm going to say, "Look buddy, I might not be able to smack my kid right now but there's nothing stopping me from smacking you across the head right now. So back off." That would actually feel pretty good.

Happy Mothers Day

When I was in the eighth grade there was this girl I sort of had a crush on, who told me that I had the longest and prettiest eye lashes she'd ever seen. It was during our social studies class and she told me this while the teacher was talking and we both should have been listening (I know we were being naughty).

The word “pretty” is not something you should ever say to a boy at that age, not at least when describing something about them. Needless to say that night I used a tiny pair of scissors I had found in my mother’s makeup kit to cut off my eye lashes...completely…they were gone, nothing but nubs. The next day the girl obviously noticed and asked me if I had cut my eye lashes off. To which I lied and said no. Who was I trying to kid. What I had done was not only obvious but also pretty stupid.

The point is, girls make boys do silly things in life. Which is exactly why I blame everything stupid I do today, on my wife. You see, it's her fault. She is an amazing, accomplished, highly intelligent, and beautiful woman in which who's presence I do stupid things. I'm so in love with her that my mind is unable to focus on much else and I become unfocused and unreasoning moron. I lose my better judgment around her, resulting in a blubbering and bumbling idiot. Happy Mother's Day honey, I love you. And a happy Mother's Day to all the amazing women out there, mothers or not, you make the world a much stupider place (and yes I realize stupider is not a word…blame my wife for me using it.)

Life is just too funny to be taken so seriously