OK, he went and did it. A friend of
mine kicked open my “Big Box of Bitches” by writing
the following line in an email to me: “…did I
ever mention, I *HATE* SPAM???!!!!”
It almost seems a cliché to write
about the concept of hating SPAM because I’ve never
met anyone who actually likes it. According to the advertising
gods, I am an overweight, balding, impotent, sex pervert in
dire need of better mortgage rates. This begs the question
of why do I need to see young teen sex goddesses yearning
to meet me when, according to their extensive market research,
I also need Viagra to enjoy such a spectacle?
It would seem to me that this is the
worst way to advertise. Yes, I know it’s practically
free for them but I find it very difficult to imagine anyone
responding positively to such lame ads. But the very fact
that they continue to populate my inbox at an alarming rate
is proof positive that someone, somewhere is responding to
them or they would go away. So whoever you are, stop it!
One flavor that rates special recognition
is the kind that look like legitimate correspondences with
subject lines designed to get you to open the emails under
false pretenses. “re: your son’s accident.”
Being the savvy email veteran, I can
normally spot camouflaged SPAM like Oprah spots a Hostess
product but sometimes they sneak through. So I open it and
am greeted with something to the effect of “Don’t
get email like this without having our lame ass health insurance…”
First, who notifies you of such an accident
via email? Second, after tricking me like this, how likely
am I to listen to what they have to say? Do they expect something
like “DAMMIT! YOU SON OF A BI… oh, wait, cheap
health insurance. I better get my credit card right away…”
Sometimes it pisses me off just for
the luck they had getting me to read it. Like when you get
one from “Eric Garcia” and you actually know someone
named Eric Garcia but this email is not from him. It’s
the alias that the bastards are using that just happens to
be the same name as a friend of yours. If I didn’t know
that a reverse flood of responses back to them would do nothing
more than clog up the Internet that much more, they’d
be getting a cubic butt ton (degrees of magnitude more than
a “$hitload”) of emails telling them where they
can pack their online degree certificates.
OK, all better now. I have to go and
make out my obviously inflated mortgage payment and the shine
off of my bald head is blocking the barely legal teen porn
site I “had to see.” And if my gut wasn’t
blocking my view, I could swear my little soldier might be
coming back to life after all these years …
January 23, 2003
Last Saturday I took the family and
went to San Francisco because
my brother was visiting there for the weekend. A girlfriend
of his from New Jersey had a convention there and invited
him down for the weekend to stay at the Fairmont. Yes, I said
the Fairmont which is like a huge, expensive, 4-star hotel.
I fully expected Julia Roberts in her hooker outfit to be
walking through the halls but instead just gawked at the snooty
rich-types that were in abundance (just as they gawked at
me “Really, Lovey, they’ll let ANYONE in here
these days.”)). It was all I could do not to say something
like “Dude, how much did you pay for HER!?” just
for the reaction.
BTW: that’s where the series “Hotel”
was set, for you 80’s prime time soap fans.
This just happened to be the Saturday
that all the protesters decided to invade the City of Brotherly
Backside Love. Luckily, we somehow avoided the surge of traitors
despite several thousand of them being in the area, according
to the radio. They didn’t want the U.S. to go to war
with Iraq. I would have soothed their fears by informing them
that they would not have to go. I’d do it for them.
But we had a great day in SF going to
Fisherman’s Wharf, riding trolley cars, cabs, and busses,
and even seeing the Golden Gate Bridge which, if you don’t
know, is friggin’ huge! And let me thank the trolley
driver for introducing my kids to the terms “shit”
and “ass.” OK, maybe they’ve heard me say
it on more than a few occasions (along with the TV these days)
but still, public servants on the job should be more careful
in, you know, public.
When we all were looking at Alcatraz
from the shore, some guy walked up to his buddy and said “Hey,
is that Treasure Island?” My brother and I found this
profoundly funny not only because he thought Alcatraz WAS
Treasure Island but the fact that he asked told us that he
thought “Treasure Island” actually existed. It
was not until we came upon a map later that we realized that
there actually is a small island near Alcatraz that they have
dubbed Treasure Island. Who’re the idiots now? (I just
noticed that the contraction of “who are” looks
like “whore.”). OK, fast forward my age a few
On the way back, I ran across my daily
rant: automatically flushing toilets. This story is related
to another one on my last vacation that I will relay quickly.
I was in a truck stop toilet all alone
in the middle of the night. Not feeling to comfortable being
out in the middle of nowhere in a truck stop bathroom in the
middle of the night, I was a bit watchful lest the scene from
“Dumb and Dumber” should evolve. So in my skittish
mood, I was hyper-sensitive to the utter silence of the bathroom.
All of the sudden, the auto-flush of the crapper kicked in
and the power of said flush rivaled that of a meteor hitting
the Space Shuttle windshield. Except louder.
Every one of my appendages flew in a
different direction as every muscle I own convulsed. Then
the “Boy, do I feel dumb” factor kicked in, soon
replaced with misplaced anger. It just wasn’t right,
OK, back to the SF story, A.K.A. Jason
vs. The Terminator Toilet Part II.
Again, I walk into a public bathroom
(a Chevron this time) to, you know, lose some weight. The
toilet I choose happened to be the one that the user before
me thought necessary to coat the seat with urine. Yeah, that’s
necessary. But that’s another rant.
Like any normal human, I took some TP
and wiped it off (not my TP thus about a cubic ton was necessary).
As an extra precaution in such situations, I took a toilet
seat cover from the dispenser and proceeded to create my semi-opaque
barrier of paper, because my ass is the last place I want
to come in contact with other ass germs and/or urine.
I had just got it situated just the
way I wanted it (an exact science to be sure) when the auto-toilet
decided it was a good time to kick into action. In a nanosecond,
my perfectly placed butt-shield was sucked down, toot sweet.
So I went through the same procedure,
chalking the first up to God’s little poke in the eye
for me. Unfortunately, the toilet also decided to repeat the
scene. This just ain’t right.
Well, there was nothing left to do but
the obvious. Apply shield directly to derrière and
make a carrier landing on the seat. Of course this is similar
to a night carrier landing and the result was not pretty,
in setup nor execution. But I had beaten the little auto bastard
and it was somewhat victorious that the toilet let forth a
final, futile flush attempt to rob me of my victory that sounded
satisfactorily like a scream of defeat.
I had looked the beast in the face and
did not falter. Superior intellect had won over automation.
I was a warrior. I was invincible.
Then I choked at the plate. I know God
So I pissed on the toilet seat and left.
January 15, 2003
Today's BLOG entry is an email from
a girl asking about the Marine Corps. My response is below
and pretty well sums up my view about my beloved Corps.
From: <name withheld by Capt Grose>
Sent: Saturday, January 04, 2003 4:42 PM
Subject: have a few questions
I am 16 years old, and I am hoping to
join the marines within the next 2-3 years. However, I do
have a few questions about the marine corp. I have heard in
marine brochures and in websites that unlike the other 3 military
branches, the people who become marines change in the values
and gain strength and other things. But I want to know from
an actual marine, what exactly does the marine corp have to
offer that other branches don't offer? I have done lots of
research just to make sure that the marine corp is the branch
I want to go into. Also, you once said on your website that
america doesn't need a marine corp. It wants one. Well, If
it is not necessary to have a marine corp, do you ever think
that the corp might one day be disbanded? I really hope not.
But I just want some input from an actual marine. Please write
back with answers. I may have some other questions later on,
but these two are my biggest questions. Thanks a lot
<name withheld by Capt Grose>
P.S. your site is awesome! It has given me a lot of info,
and its fun! If I ever get any money, I'll try to help out.
You pose some interesting questions
and I’d be glad to answer them the best I can.
The Marine Corps is unique among the
armed forces in several respects and many of them that you
hear or read about are mostly true in practice. While it’s
honorable to serve in any branch, the Marine Corps takes the
most pride in being the best in what we do and that attitude
carries through both our personal and professional lives (which
by the way, blurs as we identify ourselves as Marines).
Being a Marine is an attitude of professionalism,
brotherhood, excellence, pride, and a belief that we can do
anything. We promote both physical and mental toughness, education,
decision-making, and a self-assurance that borders on cockiness.
But at the same time, we hold civility, protocol, respect
for others, and a love for our country and her people in high
We hold ourselves to a high standards
and are not shy about policing our ranks, which means that
if we see something wrong or someone acting the fool, we correct
the situation right away because not only does it make that
Marine look foolish and we do not allow it to continue, he
or she represents the Corps as a whole and therefore the stupidity
is a reflection of all of us. So you have everyone keeping
everyone else in check at all times and it becomes a mark
of professionalism never to let your fellow Marines down by
doing something we know is wrong. This is something you don’t
see in other services who would view this behavior as “too
motivated” or “hard core harassment.”
Marines have pride in their history.
Every Marine knows and celebrates the Marine Corps birthday
every year. We can talk for hours about our history and traditions
from loving memory. Any Marine can talk for hours about everything
from weapons and tactics to protocol and history. We all go
through a life-changing transition when we go through bootcamp
and we have endured the hardest recruit training in history
from men and women that are as scary as they are professional
(and we never EVER forget them).
It would be insulting to call the head
of the Air Force “Airman.” Just as insulting,
the Army General would be beside himself if you called him
“Soldier.” If you call the Chief of Naval Operation
a “sailor”, you’ll see the inside of the
brig. But the Commandant would still get a chill when addressed
as Marine. We are the only service who uses part of their
service name as a title. It’s a compliment to be called
“Marine” no matter what rank you are.
The last point I’ll bring up answers
your second question as well. When things go wrong in this
world, who are the first people that the President turns too?
He calls the Marines and that’s the truth. We have Marines
waiting on ships deployed around the world every day of the
year. When called, they can be anywhere within a day if not
hours, ready to fight.
I say America doesn’t technically
need a Marine Corps because technically, we provide a service
that could be a specialized Army function. But America WANTS
a Marine Corps because we represent the punch of American
power. We kick down the door and neutralize any situation
before it gets too big. It’s what we represent that
makes America feel good about having some really tough men
and women to keep them safe from those that would do us harm.
To ensure that we meet that requirement and that the belief
is not just a bunch of hype, we train hard and hone our skills
to match the expectations America has for us. We focus that
professionalism, excellence, pride, smartness, toughness,
and dedication on everything but when applied to warfighting,
there simply is no better force in the American arsenal.
We do two things well: win battles and
make Marines. The benefit of the first is obvious but the
benefit of the second is not fully appreciated. By making
Marines, we create super-citizens who take the skills but
more importantly, the attitude of being a Marine with them
for the rest of their lives. Once they return to civilian
life, they have with them an attitude of citizenship, respect,
honor, drive, and professionalism that is somewhat missing
in today’s average American, at least to the degree
that Marines posses.
Will the Corps be disbanded one day?
I hope not but it’s been tried ever since we were established
in 1775. The same people that love us sometimes forget why
they loved us in the first place. This is especially true
after a war because they want to put the reality behind them
and see no need to keep fighters at the ready after they have
established peace. At that time, we represent the ugly reality
that you must have men and women who know how to fight and
do real damage to the enemy. They forget that there are people
out there that do not share their view about loving everyone,
accepting diversity, and laying down their arms for one big
Earth hug. There are people out there that would take over
this country at any sign of weakness from us because we are
the “haves.” People who have enjoyed our standard
of living without ever experiencing foreign aggression sometimes
do not appreciate the level of danger that exists every day
in the majority of this world and that the only realistic
protection from it is to meet force with force, or at least
have the capability to do so. Personally I wish it was not
that way but that doesn’t change the necessity of protecting
ourselves from those that do not share that same view. I don’t
want to try to explain the folly of violence to a mob who
is tearing me apart for being an American. The Marine Corps
exists for the same situation on a national scale.
We have to constantly prove to those
that forget what we do that we still hold a purpose. We are
in a continuous state of justifying ourselves which, on the
good side, forces us to reevaluate what we do and the services
we provide. The result is that we evolve depending the latest
world situation. We used to have an amphibious focus but the
mass landings on hostile shores are unlikely for the future.
We now concentrate on things like close combat in an urban
situation, terrorism, and quick insertion strikes. But the
thing that has not changed, and that will never change, is
the application of the Marine attitude. As long as we keep
that, we can learn new tactics and apply our professionalism
to become proficient in anything we evolve into. That’s
the secret and what I think is the uniqueness of the Corps:
the attitude is the constant and with that, we can do anything.
I hope this answered your questions
and please hit me with any more you have.
Jason D. Grose
United States Marine Corps
January 14, 2003
Today was the first of many “easy
Tuesdays” for this quarter. I have one class and since
Tuesday is a uniform day, it’s almost given that you
will behave as in combat: “I’m up, he sees me,
I’m down.” In other words, when class is over,
get the hell out of Dodge and get home. Maybe that’s
just me but I doubt it.
So I took advantage of the day and went
with the wife to do some shopping but before the fun began,
we had to stop at the post office and mail a book that I sold
online. (I feel a rant coming on…)
I know it’s a cliché and
I know the stereotype is that post office employees are slow
but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!! If they would have been any slower,
I would’ve had to check for a pulse. Picture the scene,
a line of the most pitiful creatures lined up with no intelligent
gleam in any eye… and that’s just the people waiting
to be helped. They make the post office workers look like
The waiting line of death feeds into
a row of potentially 5 counters. Of course only two are being
manned at any one time by sloths on valium poorly disguised
as postal workers. When another one shows up, likely emerging
from a slimy cocoon as seen in “The Fly”, the
collective hope of the poor souls waiting spikes, causing
the dreary place that is the post office, to momentarily take
on a hint of excitement, only to be dashed as one of the “workers”
decides that the new arrival is her cue to put out her “Window
Closed” sign and meander back into the nether regions
of the building (probably to feed on the bleached bones of
customers who just ran out of life force while waiting).
Five slots, two employees, a few dozen
people. Come on, it’s after the Christmas rush; a time
to rededicate yourself to your chosen profession! I was uncharacteristically
patient with the whole scene but I have to admit that did
feel like slitting my throat more than once while waiting
the eternity it took to advance to the front of the line.
But then it occurred to me that as my lifeless body would
crumple to the floor in a unanimated heap, the people behind
me would simply step over my corpse, un-phased at my graphic
demise and happy that they are that much closer to the front.
Maybe it was the old man in broken English
trying to pull off the most complicated postal transaction
ever conceived. Maybe it was the oriental employee with the
eyes that said “What meaningless little whiney-ass problem
are you interrupting my quality hibernation time with?”
Or possibly it was PWT mother with the Ridlin-deficient brat
running through the building. Whatever it was, I have to conclude
that it was not an anomalous situation and that the negative
stereotype of the post office is NOT unjustly thrust upon
them. Yes, it’s quite impressive that they can take
your package and for a few bucks they will deliver anything
to anywhere in the world within a few days (think about it,
it boggles the mind) but there shouldn’t be a connection
between the customer interaction and the service they perform.
The hell that is encountered when dealing with the post office
is not required nor should it correlate with the difficulty
of the job that they do (other than the length of the line
waiting because a useful service draws consumers).
My suggestion: since Tuesday at 1000
was insanely busy, I have to conclude there is no “slow
time” for the post office. Therefore (and I know this
will sound revolutionary so stand by to be blown away): hire
more people to work the desks (pause for the gasp). I mean,
you have the counters to handle the crowd and if it’s
known that getting into and out of the post office is a quick
and painless evolution, you will have less cranky people to
deal with once they get to the window. I’d be willing
to pay a little more for the convenience! Hell, have an express
line or a line that charges a bit more for the convenience.
Do something for us, you know, your customer?
One more thing: don’t have your
dumb ass employees do their menial crap work at the counter
with the little “Window Closed” sign still up.
This makes for an irate air to the place since the employees
KNOW everyone in line is expecting the window to open once
an employee saunters their fat ass into the chair. But then
they just sit there and act like there’s not two dozen
people impatiently waiting for their turn. You know it, we
know it, so cut it out you bastards!!!
And no, I don’t need any stamps
today. I think I would know, and ask for, the only other service
you provide after waiting it your damn line for a half hour
while Betsy the Beachball over there counted her fingers a
dozen times rather than opening her counter and actually helping
someone. If you want to ask me something, ask if I want back
the ½ hour of my life I’ll never see again, a
harpoon for the Moby Dike over there, or a blow dart for Ridlin-boy.
I know how to lead him just right and then it’s nap
January 13, 2003
Today I got a dose of how confusing
the United States’ financial accounting system really
is. To sum up my understanding of it, the President comes
up with a budget and sends it to Congress who says “yeah,
that’s nice, I’ll set it… over here…”
and then sets a coffee cup on it and proceeds to come up with
one of their own. Then it gets bounced around the Congress,
the House, back to the Congress until it is sent to another
committee who tries to mesh out the differences of the Presidential
and the Congressional budgets. Then it gets sent back to the
President. I think that’s the gist (likely even more
convoluted than this, though, since everything I know about
it prior to a class I’m taking comes from Schoolhouse
Rock, which also confused me). Let’s just all agree
A: no wonder it’s so FUBARed and
late every year and
B: the nuances are better left to someone who’s much
smarter than me.
Next bit of randomness: my wife got
me one of those vibrating massage chair things that also has
heat. At first I liked it but it makes the laptop screen look
like I’m on LSD. Plus, along with the laptop power cord,
the phone line, and the mouse cable, I feel like the Borg
when sitting in a chair that adds yet another tether. Not
sure if it’s a keeper but like an ugly tie, it might
be hard on the domestic weather pattern if I don’t “just
Hmmm, what else. As long as we are on
randomness, I meant to mention that during my travels across
California, I noticed a Budweiser brewery along the highway
I traveled many times this holiday season. The sign’s
letters were like 3 or 4 stories high each. Why do brewery’s
feel they have to create letters bigger than most buildings?
Is it to burn their brand into your brain so that you can
see it when you close your eyes? And for Christmas, they put
a light display on top that looked like a Christmas tree that
made me wonder what kind of message they were sending: “Celebrate
the birth of our Lord … and throw back a cold Bud to
boot. Merry Christmas. Don’t drink and drive. Just drink.
Budweiser.” And the last bit of irony was the fact that
there was a huge car dealership next to it. Isn’t this
like putting a whorehouse next to a church? Maybe it’s
just me who sees these things.
I had to use a calculator to check my
son’s multiplication homework tonight. When asked by
my daughter the names of the nine planets in the solar system,
I had to look it up on the web. I got back at them both by
beating their little smarty pants off in a vicious game of
Uno. Mess with me they will think twice about next time. Yes,
I’m a moron.
January 12, 2003
Another week, another week ignoring
I was accused of being cynical. Can
you believe it? Me? Cynical? A friend emailed me and expressed
how my BLOG was always good for a laugh and added the comment
“… you have a talent for cynically defining your
adventures thru words...”
I know he mean it as a compliment but
it never occurred to me that I was coming across this way
and I know it will shock some of you but I never set out to
sound that way. Yes, I have my putzy idiosyncrasies (ask my
wife who loves to point them out) but I like to think that
overall, I have a positive outlook on life. I guess the fact
that I use the BLOG as an outlet to rant makes it look like
it’s my usual mode. It is not, or at least I like to
think it’s not. The fact is, I hate complainers almost
as much as I hate hypocrisy but it appears that to claim that
I’m not one of these makes me the other. Ouch.
I was always taught to not complain
unless you have a solution to follow it. I guess I’ve
been guilty of just making fun of things for the humor value
but some of my entries have served the purpose of getting
things off my chest. So I will continue to rant but try to
find the positive spin. No promises but all I can do is try.
Friday night my son took me to The Two
Towers (second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy)
and we had a blast. Once a month is Boy Night where Alex and
I go do something of his choosing. It was cool that he picked
taking me to this movie because he had just seen it the Tuesday
prior when I was called to a last minute meeting. I really
wanted to see the movie and he knew it. Good boy!!
I won’t give a detailed blow by
blow of the movie because not only is it three hours long,
but also because that would be, you know, high on the jerk
meter. But I have to point out that the elf character of Legolas
is one bad mutha!!! This guy chooses a bow as his weapon of
choice and is just a smooth as glass. He whips out arrows
at incredible speeds and launches them with pinpoint accuracy
(usually between the eyes). He’ll pull an arrow out
and use it as a knife in close quarters and then launch it
impressively quick. Suffice it to say you don’t want
to mess with this guy. There is also a scene when he grabs
a horse by the neck and hoists himself up, flipping around
in a manner that makes you think you saw something impossible.
Where movie magic and live action merge is utterly indistinguishable.
OK, I’ll stop but as a Marine, I was duly impressed.
On the other hand, I saw “Triple
X” and thought I was watching a comedy. It was so far
outside the realm of possibility that it was annoying. It
was an encyclopedia of standard old tired action clichés:
car chase here, boat chase there, blowing up an enemy camp
(with the standard “guy being blown through the air
as a result of huge fireball behind him” sequence).
The most humorous thing was that they tried to incorporate
“X-sports” events into the story as actual useful
actions. This was an obvious ploy to appeal to teenage boys
(plenty of sexual innuendo, one-liner stud lines, loud punk
music, fast cars, etc) and those guys who need to find some
value in X-sports activities.
For instance, jumping a dirt bike over
a fence while holding on to the seat, body trailing, for the
purpose of shooting a gun at the enemy. In the same scene,
he did a jump in a mid-air, sideways manner (I’m sure
the eXtreme guys have a name for this) to fly through a barbed
wire fence horizontally. My wife and I laughed aloud.
I could go on and on to include bad
dialogue, bad Russian accents, and a “save the world
from certain destruction” ending that was thwarted in
the very last second cliché. But I promised to be more
positive so I will just say it’s two hours that I’ll
never get back but was free since I borrowed it from a friend.
It occurs to me
that in all the business of my vacation, I missed a couple
of entries, one being that of New Year’s Eve.
On the last day of the year 2002, I
went to see Pearl Harbor, the
Arizona Memorial, and the Mighty
Mo (Missouri). It was a visit that was very interesting
and the enormity of what happened there is hard to grasp even
when you are looking at the actual locations. Here
are a few pictures of the event.
Here are a few little facts I picked
up that I thought worth mentioning:
The Arizona was hit with a torpedo launched
from a Japanese plane and was struck in the forward magazine.
They showed video of the actual event (of which I never knew
existed) and it was impressive. The entire ship lurched out
of the water and the aftermath is what you usually see in
footage (the billowing black smoke).
men went down with the ship which sunk in 7 minutes.
21 ships were sunk
or beached and all but 3 were resurrected and put into
service during WWII.
The duty watch officer was informed
by an enlisted radar tech that there was a large formation
coming at the island. Thinking that it was a squadron of B-52
bombers that was due in, the watch officer told him to ignore
it and that they were expected. Oops.
The base had their Christmas party the
night before and most of the sailors were fast asleep, likely
sleeping off a hangover on a Sunday morning. Therefore, the
ships’ berthing areas were full of sleeping sailors
when the attack happened.
The Japanese general who orchestrated
the attack did so in protest. He thought they’d get
their behinds kicked if the US got involved in the war. But
he did his duty and did it well. I assume that he didn’t
do a little jig and sing “I told you so” when
the mushroom cloud appeared.
I sensed a bit of irony when I was being
shuttled out to the memorial in a small tourist boat when
I looked beside me to see a Japanese tourist sitting next
to me. In fact, the majority of the boat was full of Japanese
tourists. I bet they were uncomfortable. I mean, how would
they feel if I sat next to them on the way to the Hiroshima
We spent New Year’s Eve with friends
and with people we had just met. It was an ecletic group to
say the least. Carrie and I were the token Californian Marine
types. There was an older civilian black couple and a Navy
SEAL and his wife. Add in the Michigan Swiantek’s on
the Navy side and you are left with the super-geeky Navy brain
trust to round out the group. I don’t mean to offend
because the guy seemed so smart that I was jealous but he
really looked like the teacher that was on the side of the
Nerds in the Revenge of the Nerds movies. Nice guy, just wallowing
in his nerdiness. If only I had such commitment…
We all had a good time but the women
in the group came up with the brilliant idea to play the Newlywed
Board Game. OK, so let me get this straight; we all just met
and now we are going to air our most secret marriage intimacies
cleverly described by the term “whoopee”? Wow,
sounds like a plan. The SEAL was thrilled.
After us men were forced at knifepoint
to participate, the women retired to the deck and the men
stayed behind as a less than comfortable feeling enveloped
the entire group. The first question was something like “If
an artist wanted to paint your wife’s picture, what
will your wife say would be her worst angle: her front, her
back, or her profile.”
All I could hear in my head was “DANGER!
There is no right answer to this. This
game was made by a lesbian, bent on destroying married men
and horribly scarring a husband’s private areas by irate
wives (and not necessarily his own). I mean, what in the hell
am I supposed to say to this? None of the answers would NOT
rate a kick in the orbs.
It was Star Trek’s Kirbyoshi Maru
all over again so like Captain Kirk, I changed the rules.
Spock would have been proud. I just refused to answer and
that’s what I wrote on the paper. Screw it, let everyone
hate me but I was NOT going to answer that. I’ll let
all the other fools try to talk their way out of their dumb
ass answer and/or justification but not me. Call me a chicken
but all I have to say is “BagAAAAK!”
The rest of the night went fine, after
we all learned things like what act made us feel most homosexual
and the like. I don’t know, knowing that one guy wore
his wife’s underwear once really didn’t score
high on my “Want to know about you” chart. Truth
be told, that was a double-trouble question since both husband
and wife rarely told of the same event. All and all, a bad
call by the females.
So we ate, drank, ate some more, and
drank (did I mention we drank?) until midnight when, like
the fools that we are, thought it necessary to go out front
and light fireworks for the kids. Hey junior, being up late
and then mixing alcohol with pyrotechnics; hope your taking
notes. Only one kid grabbed the wrong end of a recently lit
sparkler and learned what a burn blister is. Ah, education
I bid 2002 a fond farewell and looking
back on the year as a whole, I can’t complain. I started
it with drinking with friends and ended it the same. In between
I saw joy, pain, fatigue, anger, frustration, contentment,
achievement, exhaustion, irritation, loneliness, and outright
love. In other words, it was a wonderful year in the life
of Jason D. Grose.
January 5, 2003
Extra Bits and Pieces (OK, late entries,
but I was busy!!!)
I have cracked the
code for the Hawaiian language. Here’s what I learned
at the Polynesian Cultural Center: The word “Aloha”
is actually the Hawaiian phrase meaning “Bring your
money to our island so we can fleece you, you white mainlander
trash.” Similar but different is the word “Mahalo”
which they would have you believe means “Thank you”
but is actually the phrase “Leave our paradise island
you white mainlander scum.” Once
I realized this, I understood why both words were said with
a smile and with such fever by the locals.
People will tell you “You HAVE
to see the Polynesian Cultural Center when you are there.”
After experiencing it first hand, I would counter that statement
with “You HAVE to kiss my hairy white ass.”
I have made it no secret that I’m
not the Hawaiian culture’s biggest fan and after going
to the HQ for it, I have to admit, I’m still not a big
fan. We answered their call for “aloha” and ponied
up the dead presidents for the show. I will not complain about
every attraction being shut down by the time we got there
late in the afternoon because it allowed me to miss what was
sure to be more fodder for this entry. But I will point out
that the souvenir shop was in full swing and willing to aloha
you dry. But just how many ugly shirts, wooden bowls, seashell
horns, and puka shell necklaces can one person possess?
By the time the show started, I had
successfully refrained from any purchases (my wife on the
other hand was playing right into their little scheme. Aloha.).
All I really wanted to see is a brown man shooting fire out
of his mouth. Is that too much to ask?
But I had to sit through the entire
experience. It occurred to me that what they call “culture”
is strikingly similar to that of the behavior of cavemen.
What I mean is that everything they showed us was just humans
making due with what they had on hand and never furthering
the technology. Need some pants? Use a big leaf. Need music?
Let’s bang these two sticks together. Maybe I’m
not conveying my meaning very well but what I’m trying
to say is that either we use advanced forms of what they use
or they use primitive forms of things we have improved upon.
Maybe its both but I found it rather boring to watch caveman
technology being celebrated. Any minute I expected the back
of the stage to crack open and see King Kong chained up.
Another thought that entered my head
is what I was watching may have been the last thing some poor
explorer schmuck saw before becoming the main course. This
thought hit me when I was watching the New Zealand portion
of the show where they had their faces and chests painted
in black stripes and sticking out their tongues for a fierce
Two minor things that bothered me and
likely only me was the tongue thing (really dumb looking and
seemingly inviting annihilation by an opposing force “Hey,
let’s take these idiots’ island. They’re
last defense is sticking out their tongues. I think I heard
one say ‘na na na na, na’”.
The other, hardly worth mentioning,
is something that I have no idea exactly why it bothers me.
During the hula dancing when the women are waving around their
arms like a couple of pilots talking about flying, they do
this subtle little head tilt. I don’t know what it means
and likely goes mostly unnoticed by most but it’s this
quick jerking twist that rotates the head just slightly. I
don’t know, just bugs me.
The whole illusion lost some of it’s
credibility when they used different ethnicities. Somehow,
the black guy stood out. One of the men looked like an accountant
and then there was a woman who had as much Polynesian blood
running through her veins as Tiny Tim. Come on guys, this
is not an equal opportunity issue! I think this is one time
we can safely turn away people of diverse cultures without
worrying about racist intent. For all my complaining, I would
have liked to stick with Hawaiian performers on this one.
I finally got my brown guy spitting
fire. Actually he just licked the end of the torch, a slightly
questionable portion of the act for its sexual overtones and
the fact that … he’s licking the fire end of a
torch. Mostly, he used the torch as a baton and threw it around
to loud music. Even though he dropped the damn thing twice,
he got my grudging respect when he started flinging around
two at once. What exactly would this look like on a resume?
While I’m pissing off all Hawaiians
reading this, let me address the music. If you like it, great.
My opinion, yikes. But then you probably think my Sarah McLachlan
is noise. Fair enough. But there’s this hero they have
whose name is “Iz.” Now Iz looks like he tipped
the scales at an even 500 lbs, give or take a metric ton.
If he’s the Hawaiian hero, fine. But did he have to
put himself on the cover of every CD … with no shirt?
Come on, there are better ways to sell music. I heard he died
recently so please forgive me bashing the dead. I didn’t
do the research but I’ll go out on a limb and guess
obesity was somewhere in the "cause of death" block.
Hey, I have to address obnoxious situations anywhere I find
January 4, 2003
The “EXTRA DAY” in Hawaii.
We were supposed to leave today (Saturday)
but the Air Force decided in their random way that today’s
flights would be sparse. We found out there were only 4 seats
going on the 0700 flight and getting all four of those would
drain all the lottery luck we would ever had so we decided
to sleep in and wait. There was a C-5 leaving around midnight
so we hedged our bets to get one of the 70 seats on that flight.
I started the day in the most stereotypic
Hawaiian event I could think of: taking a morning walk on
the beach. Trying to get anyone up to join me was useless
since I practically had to yell at the kids the day prior
to get them to do it so I thought a little “Jason”
time was in order. It was a good time to reflect on my vacation
and think about the school quarter ahead but I still managed
to find a bit of humor even at the early hour.
There was some guy asleep on the beach
and my mind searched around to put some hypothetical pieces
together of how he got there. Was it a hard drinking binge?
A life long dream fulfilled? Just plain weirdness? Whatever
the reason, he was half on the towel he used as a bed and
the lower half of him was in the sand. Maybe I’m too
much of a creature comfort guy but that would have made for
a nasty sleep for me (bare feet dug into the sand all night).
I can put up with a lot of things when I sleep but that’s
not one of them. What a great idiosyncrasy for a Marine. Anyway,
I wondered if he was dead on my way back and it struck me
that it sounded like the same story you hear on the news:
“Yeah, I was just walking along the beach and I found
this guy. I thought he was asleep at first but it ends up
he was dead. I should have known because he didn’t seem
to mind that his toes were dug in the sand.”
The next sight that sticks in my mind
was an elderly couple taking a stroll. Now before you start
imagining a Hallmark Card commercial, let me point out why
this scene struck me. On this morning sun drenched beach in
Hawaii, with the ocean waves lapping the shore, this elderly
lady was romantically strolling with her life long mate…
and talking on her cell phone. What a scene. I have a cell
phone but still find it monumentally rude to ignore my present
company who is with me IN THE FLESH to talk to someone on
a phone. It really made me think of how technology has changed
the way we interact with each other. Not even the furthest
beaches on Hawaii are immune: we are always in touch whether
we like it or not. If I was the old man, I’d whip out
my own cell phone, call her, and call her a bitch and then
hang up and walk like nothing happened. But that’s just
Back to the story:
the fact remained that I had a free day in Hawaii so what
to do!! Well, it was obvious: go to the Dole Plantation. Yipee!!
I need psychological help.
But the trip was not a total wash because
we were treated to the Guinness Book of World Records entry
as the largest maze in
the world. For the incredible cost of $5 per adult and
$3 per child, we were able to walk through this giant maze
made of some viney hedge bush thing. I took the kids on this
journey and the deal was to find 6 colored boxes in the shortest
amount of time. I wonder if Guinness has a record for getting
lost in the biggest maze in the world. If so, tell them I
need to talk to them.
For all you Marine Officers reading
this, it was land nav all over again but this time, you were
in a stinkin’ maze with no map!! I almost expected to
run into frazzled lieutenants looking like smashed ass at
every turn. But it didn’t take long to re-learn what
I had learned years ago in the forests of Quantico: look for
the gathering of people through the vegetation and you will
find the boxes. I knew my days at TBS would pan out some day.
For those of you who didn’t understand
the last paragraph, the other powerful reference that kept
creeping into my head was “The Shining”. Yes,
it was just like that hedge except there was no insane Jack
Nicholson with an axe chasing you. Hell, maybe there was but
finding your way through seemed just as life threatening.
I kept envisioning them finding my emaciated form in the deepest
The sign said the average time was 15
to 30 minutes to make it out. The record was 8 minutes (likely
by a very sad individual who actually took pride in the fact).
In a whopping 56 minutes, the
Marine and his two off spring emerged. Hey, I may be a
Marine but don’t be worried: I doubt if America will
find itself in a war where victory depends on finding the
enemy in shrub mazes. But if we do, screw it and drop a daisy
cutter smack dab in the middle. There, no more problem.
After making out of the Dolt Maze (notice
the sly wit), we had to get one more look at the North
Shore. Not only was in the first beach we went to (therefore
all others paled in comparison, as reminded to us by our son
about a trillion times) but it is the most famous home of
the most famous waves in Hawaii. It was a windy day so the
promise was there to see something pretty spectacular if not
We were not disappointed. Every beach
was closed off because of the size
and power of the waves. I say that they let anyone out
there who is foolish enough to take the chance. Hell, I’d
gladly pay the money the rest of the island was clamoring
to suck out of my wallet just to watch Darwinism at work.
These waves were of the killer variety and sounded like thunder
as they smashed into craggy rocks that shot mist 50 feet into
the air. It was hard NOT to think about how it would be to
be standing right where they smashed. Of course this feeling
would last about a nanosecond before what used to be you became
a pink mist mixed in with the ocean spray.
Thus ended the vivid images that are
in my head about my Hawaiian vacation. Now I’m where
I began (sort of) by waiting at Hickum Air Force base waiting
to get on a flight that leaves at 0120. Free flights come
at odd times but hey, free is free. I’m tired, cranky,
a long way from home, and 30 hours away from my next quarter
starting. Vacations are so special.
January 3, 2003
Bay: a bay populated by all these colorful tropical fish
and coral who are probably pretty pissed that an even greater
number of humans are splashing around in it all day.
This is one of those “got to see”
places in Hawaii and I will admit, it was pretty cool despite
the sucking sound made by the vacuuming of my wallet to enjoy
this. We had to pay to park. Pay to get into the bay area.
Pay for the snorkeling equipment. I even had a fish request
a dollar before he’d show me his coral home (kidding).
But the coral cuts were completely free and in a philanthropic
act hereunto unseen on this trip, the life guard actually
gave us two band aids for free. I was stupefied.
As described in the 7 minute required
video (“moo” went the herded tourists) the bay
was formed millions of years ago when a volcano punched a
hole in the land mass near the shore. Then the water spilled
over and filled up the hole to form the bay. It seems that
Hawaiian royalty used to horde the place to themselves way
back. Boy, would they be pissed now. Now it’s populated
by white mainlander trash and capitalistic (monopolistic)
After being processed like cheese (don’t
touch anything, don’t take anything, disturbing the
fish is a federal offense, don’t feed anything, leave
lots of money, have a great day) we made the trek down to
the bay and stood in line to get the snorkel equipment. The
variety was dizzying but came down to “The $7 Cheap
Bastard Package A: for those that don’t really want
to enjoy themselves and want to spend the day cussing about
the saltwater that can’t decide whether to run down
your snorkel or stay in your eyes.” Or, for an astonishing
low price of $2 more you can get the “Dry Package”
which translates “Pay or be miserable.”
At this point, let me share that the
kids were driving me bonkers. Put two kids together on a Hawaiian
vacation void of television and you have the potential for
non stop bickering. I have two such kids. So when we decided
to spring for 4 “Deluxe Dry Snorkel” set ups,
it was but a temporary defense against the whining. This armistice
was broken when we found out that kids’ sizes are only
in the “Cheap Bastard” category. Let loose the
True to form, the kids sucked every
last grain of joy out of the experience. I actually looked
forward to getting into the water because it occurred to me
that underwater, they couldn’t continue their barrage
of complaints. Silly me, what was I thinking? They simply
poked me until I came up and then wailed at me concerning
their substandard snorkeling equipment. They finally had to
settle on just using the leaky masks and holding their breath
between peeks. This was relatively fine until we got to the
Had Carrie and I been allowed to enjoy
the scenery, it would have been breathtaking.
The bottom of the bay was covered with coral and there were
the most colorful fish I had ever seen swimming around all
around us (I think they wanted more of our money). It really
looked like one of those Discovery Channel shows. But as we
got a bit further out, the reef rose up to a point where we
were in an inch of water. This combined with the fact that
the waves were crashing on it (and us) made for what the fish
probably enjoyed as the daily “Let’s watch the
humans get raked across the coral” show. I fared better
than the children but we all got more than a few cuts. This
of course ended the minimal amount of fun for the kids who
then insisted that a trip back to shore was necessary where
they took inventory of their wounds and then bickered about
who had more, what actually qualified as a “cut”,
and the relative pain value associated with each wound..
Oh well, only $50 for a half hour of
snorkeling. I could hear the fish laughing. At least we got
to sit on the beach and enjoy the sun while the kids played
in the surf. And if you ask them afterward, it was a great
day. You would think that since I’m pretty sure I was
a kid at one time, I’d understand them better. You’d
We are the Kings of Sunscreen so none
of us got burnt but the sun still takes its toll on the energy
level. By the time we left, most of my life force was gone
and we barely made it back to the cabin before I yelled “TIMBER”
and took an afternoon nap. The kids? Back to the beach. I
better check their rooms for drugs because no one can have
that much energy naturally.
After wiping the
dried spittle from my check and discovering a lack of beer
in the fridge, I shuffled out to the beach to join the family
who were enjoying the
Hawaiian surf (and coveted my beloved Coors in the cooler).
The kids had never missed a beat and were trying to body surf
with the boogie boards Carrie had rented. After a couple of
beers (vacation is great) I
decided to join them.
Body surfing is fun…. When you
are good at it. When you’re not, it has a striking resemblance
to thrashing around in the surf trying not to let saltwater
invade every orifice in your body. I did catch about 3 in
as many hours of trying and the kids
loved that I was out there with them. For all of my complaining
about their complaining, I’m smart enough to know that
just being there is most of the fun for kids. We spent the
rest of the afternoon frolicking
in the Hawaiian surf. I can’t think of too many
things better than that.
January 1, 2003
On New Year’s Day, we were laying
on Waikiki Beach. How many times in your life can you say
We bid farewell to our friends, the
Swianteks, but not before confiscating their vehicle (thanks
for the $150 rental savings). We intended to hit the Aloha
Bowl stadium where they were supposed to have some big swap
meet but I guess the prior night’s celebration was a
bit much for the coordinators because that puppy was locked
up tighter than a drum. So much for seeing the location of
the Pro Bowl. Oh well.
We went to the NEX which is sad because
it was an actual treat for us to visit a huge PX store. Both
29 Palms and Monterey, for all their riches, has a PX system
that is, well, lacking. But on the smart side, we could get
anything we needed, including souvenirs, at prices that don’t
leave you feeling like you have spur marks on your hips.
One story I will relay, just to complain,
is that I wanted a coffee for the road from the SBC shop next
to the entrance to the main mall. After getting it, I turned
to go through the mall to get to the car where I was met by
one of the employees (NOT “associate” if you are
familiar with my disdain for that reference). Likely a local,
this ancient witch could have been present when volcanoes
formed this island. She had watched me purchase my coffee
and as I approached with ID card in hand, she gave me a big
shit-eating grin that would scare Satan himself and told me
I could not bring my drink into the mall.
Let’s just say my reaction was
less than gentlemanly. The kids were going nuts to get going
so they could get to the beach so this meant that we had to
sit around while I finished before we could get to our car.
It made the coffee even more bitter than a Starbucks.
OK, I’m done. Off my chest.
Once we got out of there, we made our
way to the Holly Coa (I will purposely misspell almost every
Hawaii reference in these BLOGs just on principle. Since they
make it tough, I’ll make it easy) where we got checked
in. For those of you that don’t know, this wonderful
motel is for military members and is smack dab in the middle
of Waikiki Beach.
For the first time in my life, I was
upgraded to a better room without asking. Of course, I was
like Steve Martin in The Jerk after he got rich (“There’s
so many snails on her plate, you can’t even SEE the
food!!!”) and made a mockery of tipping the bell boy.
Parking was another exercise in retardation so I’ll
skip the details.
We got to our room which had a spectacular
view of the city of Waikiki, 10 stories above it all. We even
had a terrace and immediately warned the kids that there would
be no climbing at all. I’m not talented enough to pen
a song by the likes of “Tears In Heaven” and would
not have handled it well. But it didn’t matter because
we had to get to the pool before the kids slit my throat.
I saw the human body it all its beauty
and all its horrid possibilities. Exactly how is a man supposed
to avoid the obvious when walking with wife and kids and a
excruciatingly perfect little hottie walks past with a two
piece bikini that would make the Pope bite his knuckle? Ironically,
she was the first woman I saw (which made me wonder exactly
what I was in for for the rest of the day) and the last of
that caliber. The rest were a poor facsimile and mostly of
the little teen variety in an almost-woman body. You know,
the kind that you should not be looking at for fear of common
decency and jail time but have to take notice if you have
a Y chromosome.
On the horrid end of the spectrum, well,
there were a lot of retired folks. The human body does not
age well and … well … it was just nasty. Skin
falling off, hair in places where there shouldn’t be,
no hair where there should be, and bones protruding like pillowcases
full of baseball bats. There were also the Santa wannabees
which all served as a reminder that life is short and then
we start falling apart. God bless them, they were out there
having fun but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy beholding
my future. I knew that some of these men had sacrificed their
bodies in times of war and found a level of utmost respect
in their difficulties. May I never have to follow in their
footsteps but if the call is made, may I be as honorable in
my answer regardless of the cost.
So I found myself on New Years Day with
some Hawaiian drink (with the requisite tiny umbrella and
alcohol content of moonshine and the kick of rocket fuel)
on Waikiki Beach watching the old and the young doing the
same as I was: enjoying the fact that I was soaking up the
atmosphere of a tropical island in the middle of winter. The
moment was not lost on me.
That night, after dinner, Alex felt
a bit queasy and wanted to stay back in the hotel while the
rest of us went shopping on the strip. If I was smarter than
I claim to be, I would have ignored his insistence that I
join Steph and his mother. Shopping is such a chick thing
and at Waikiki, it’s also a freak show. So me and my
tendency for understanding, acceptance, and diversity set
out to join the ladies for a little walk on the beach and
What I could have used is magazines
and magazines of ammunition and the license to take out any
and all freak shows I saw fit. It would have been a bloody
night. I found myself playing bdy guard for my two girls from
the hordes of humanity that crowded the downtown area.
I have little, OK, absolutely no, patience
for street performers. A few that bothered me included the
robot man, the lame bum-with-a-dog act, and the break dancers.
Let me elaborate.
Robot man: black guy with dreads sticking
out the back and some kind of Fat Albert junk yard outfit
that boasted duct tape strips for gloves and denim jeans with
spray pain on them. He had some kind of cheesy chest piece
set up with random bits of wiring (bravo on the few blinking
lights) and a face mask made up of dark glasses and cardboard
something or other. He had a mouth piece that made a hydraulic
movement sound which he sounded every time he “robotically”
moved his body. I’ll give him credit that he could move
well but the whole thing was, in my opinion, one hell of a
cheesy way to make a living. Maybe just my disdain for street
performers but nonetheless, bothered me.
But not as much as Mr. bum-with-a-dog.
That’s about the extent of the act. The bum would put
on a pair of sunglasses on the dog and give him the command
to lay down with his head resting on his own paws. Ta-da,
end of act. I think the only thing sadder than this is the
immediate crowd that would form when this little scenario
played out. “Please take my money Mr. Lame Bum With
A Dog. I’m too stupid to retain monetary reserves. Oh,
and hold that pose while I take about seven roles of film
of the event.” Where’s my next magazine?
Lastly, I will spout out about the break
dancers. The big crowd really had me interested and when I
elbowed my way to the front, I was suddenly transported back
15 years. All this interest for a bunch of Hawaiian teens
(with the most God-awful haircuts) exploring the intricacies
of spinning on their heads and posturing in circles like they
were from Brooklyn in the mid 80s. But oh, the interest they
created. Coulda sprayed the entire crowd!!
The Alice Cooper look-alike with the
“Got Weed?” tattoo and a felt hat for offerings
behind a handwritten piece of paper that read “Ask Mr.
Doom Anything.” How about, “Why are you so f#$%#$%
up?” I thought better of it because I’m sure he’s
have a rehearsed answer. How couldn’t he?
The magic ring guy. This wouldn’t
have even made the list except that he screwed up two of the
three tricks I watched, dropping the rings as they rolled
into the crowd and then getting stumped when he had too many
rings to work with. I just kept thinking “The sound
of those rings clanging together for the hours it must take
to get good enough to perform would drive me to the Drooling
Props (I thought I’d use the street
lingo here. I know, that hat don’t fit too well)
The only street performers I saw that
I actually paid money for were worth the donation. The act
was a type of juggling trio that took turns. The one I saw
was a kid with two sticks connected by a string and a kind
of metal contraption consisting of two cones connected at
the tips. He would catch the middle with the string and it
would roll from side to side with a type of gyroscopic motion.
He flung them high in the air and caught them on the string.
The rest is beyond description because he flung it, spun it,
tangled his limbs, etc. in ways you’d have to see to
understand. Notice I did not say "believe" because
I saw it and still found it a bit difficult to trust my eyes.
I donated just because it was obvious that the kid was talented
and that he had practiced his art. It was true entertainment
I thought worthy of support.