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Restroom Etiquette

You're asking yourself, why? Because I'm frequently in the restroom with urinal conversationalists and soap allergy sufferers, that's why. Let's review some methods to combat the bad habits of rest mates. Check the door lock before knocking or turning the handle, sometimes there’s a vacancy indicator, prove you’re literate. When entering, try to clip the door knob with your forearm or wrist, and catch the door with your elbow. Always smile at the exiting user, you're about to discover what they've been through.

For solid deliveries, like dressing rooms, I will occupy the handicap stall if it's available. For liquid deliveries, any stall takes precedence, then any urinal with space on either side; I don't mind waiting for a comfortable opportunity as a last resort. Man to man, to properly clear your urethra, press your perineum, the space between your scrotum and anus. Yes, seriously, trust me; you'll preserve underwear comfort and restore zipper confidence.

We're almost done. Kick the lever to flush, and nudge the seat closed. Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitizer instead of dry handed whistling; you've been warned. Choose a paper towel over the hand dryer, then use it to open the door. Remember to smile as you exit and comfort the next user.

Five Minute Plank

A friend of mine challenged herself to work towards a five minute plank, then she quit. I decided to record my attempt at an inspirational video, to gut through the pain; even when it feels like nobody cares. My personal best at the time was approaching the three minute mark. On the difficulty scale, the five minute plank ranks far less intimidating than 100 pushups or the four minute mile. One day I may challenge myself to maintain the Oprah Mile over the course of a full marathon.

The final result I posted to Youtube (embedded below) was my third attempt. My first attempt was a success if not for the restricted camera angles. Following my disappointment with the initial footage, I began and failed the second attempt half an hour later. Two days later and determined, I added a twist to my third attempt, to stress the fact that there isn't always a television audience cheering our pursuit of personal goals. My co-star, who hesitated at first, grew more comfortable as the minutes ticked away; he’s a natural weight.

My strategy was to adjust at each minute: start wide for the first minute, go narrow at the second, balance on one foot at the third, then the other foot until the fourth minute, and gut it out for the remaining sixty seconds. Truth be told, my solid strategy failed after the third minute, switching feet at that point provided zero relief.

Crossing the five minute mark was less rewarding than the collapse. My entire body caught the shakes towards the end; I was genuinely exhausted. It’s unreal how much you can sweat from keeping still. Being me, I'm still unhappy with my back’s fluctuating height; being you, I'm forgiven. Thanks, looking forward to the next challenge!

NBA All Star Weekend

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The actual game started 45 minutes after its scheduled 8 pm start; rightfully, some in-game booing remained from the preceding Sears Entertainment Showcase. Every stoppage in play provided an excuse for Kia, All State, and whoever Kyrie Irving ages for, to advertise with a musical act. Excessive theatrics and commercials aside, the game itself was very touchy; the frequency of airborne players getting shoved deterred the star power. For perspective, even Kobe Bryant passed up open jumpers, so you know.

Commentators have long insinuated that an All Star Game player agreement exists to defer to the host. Knowing this, was it me or did James Harden, Houston Rockets star, act like a prima donna? He walked the ball up and generally looked frustrated coming off the bench again. Bosh didn't appreciate being embarrassed either, which could have been another Houston connection problem. I tried switching to the D-League All Star Game between acts, only to be reminded of the talent gap; ultimately skipped the final quarter, and imagine the final two minutes of play dragged on for half an hour.

At least the three point contest remained somewhat pure after all of these years. When I heard Terrence Ross ASK Jeremy Evans to keep the final round of the Dunk Contest prop free, my choice was made for me; of course this request was made before Evans trotted out a painting of himself. This year’s dunk field was so impressive on paper, that last year’s winner, Jeremy Evans, should have been the worst dunker of the bunch. Even though we were robbed of a Terrence Ross vs Gerald Green Finals because of the lame East vs. West gimmick, James White’s dejected face was gold! Also, if we must allow multiple attempts, then at least subtract a point per missed dunk from the dunker’s final score! Jason Richardson remains the best All Star Game dunker after Vince Carter, followed by Gerald Green, Andre Iguodala, and Terrence Ross in some order.

I should have watched the bad zombie television show instead… If you’re wondering who won what contest this weekend, then you’ve missed the point; we all lost.

Women, Please

Ask a group of men about women and we’ll readily admit that we’re stupefied. Ask a group of women about men, and prepare for a torrent of misinformed garbage spew from their delicate lips. Ladies, for the supposedly smarter sex, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Some blame magazines, I blame absentee fathers. If no one took the time to outline simple terms for a desirable relationship, then I’ve teamed up with David Cesar to combat some misconceptions and respond to unrealistic checklists like the above and below:

By no stretch of the imagination is the following list complete, although we have agreed that each point lays an admirable foundation for compromise:

  • Cleans the home wearing stilettos and lingerie, cleaning the home is optional.
  • Eagerly trades massages for home cooked meals, and vice versa; we're always eager for either, no man turns down or sulks over a massage or home cooked meal in return for the other.
  • Makes a sandwich after sex, we would if we weren’t immediately exhausted; we kill spiders, your evolutionary advantages are just as important.
  • Reciprocates compliments; we appreciate your beautiful ability to make yourself any more beautiful.
  • Saves as much as she spends; because ten pairs of Christian Louboutins amount to the opening cost of retirement property.
  • Calmly expresses her frustrations, and welcomes assistance to overcome obstacles; we really want to help, we would do anything to end perpetual sob stories.
  • Doesn't invite ratchet television, friends, or relatives into our home; we make repairs with ratchets, don't break our home.
  • Public disposition between Angela Basset and Phylicia Rashad.
  • Private submissive hedonist between Kim Kardashian and Ciara.

You’ve been given the recipe; reverse engineer at will. If you insist on being stubborn, a unique snowflake, or legion to the same Marilyn Monroe who died of a drug overdose, then here are four final tips to best relate to the man in your life:

  • Play with his dick
  • Play with his dick
  • Play with his dick
  • Play with his dick

Finally, no, I am not a chauvinist. I love women, I treat women respectfully, I have argued in favor of suffrage more times than I care to disclose. If you’re still not satisfied with these suggestions or their ethical nature, then imagine each suggestion comes with a bottle of Merlot, or add a sense of humor to the list. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hit on in Tampa

As a moderately handsome man, I have a few of these stories, I know your plight ladies; hell, accept my apologies for every failed attempt at wooing your sisterhood. I vividly remember this one time in Tampa, Florida. I was on the bus, can’t recall where I was going, and I sat next to a rotund lady with a friendly face. Her face was friendly, not attractive; for anyone adamant about beauty being in the eye of the beholder, I did not behold beauty on that bus. On some days I wear a titanium wedding band on my left ring finger. Like an ethical fool, I always seem to reveal my farce when someone inevitably questions my marriage. Besides my bachelorhood preference, the ring subconsciously relieves pressure from conversations with females, their friends, colleagues, and so on; I’m also very well mannered, I can generously compliment, and by nature my intentions can be confused. I mention the ring because it’s been forgotten as she strikes a conversation.

We get to the fact that I arrived from New York, which is a desirable trait for all women without ties to New York; then her questions became more personal: Are you here with anyone, to see anyone, away from someone? I’m paraphrasing, I can’t be exact this far after the fact; what I do know is, I kept saying, no and no one. Finally, she asks if I want to hang out some time; I tell her, no and never. This doesn’t dissuade her from expressing her feelings; I’m flattered, and that doesn’t dissuade me from scoffing at her date proposal. My faux wedding band suddenly comes to mind, at which point I showcase it and blurt out something about my wife’s approval. Instead of referencing the omission of a wife from my previous statements, this woman proceeds to instigate an affair. These were her words, you’ll have to envision her easy callousness: if she’s not with you, then she won’t mind! Just like that. We’re not talking about *insert gorgeous woman I would briefly picture nude before rebuffing nonetheless* here. I must have blacked out after she so unceremoniously offended my matrimonial sanctity, because I recall hearing myself, like a spectator, say, I love my wife more than anyone will ever love you. And I promptly exited the bus a full stop early. Florida heat is tragic; I will always remember that walk. I’m still trying to forget that woman.

Expletives and Insults

For the most part, I quit outright cursing, ever since the emotional expression of vulgar language was proven to momentarily shut off your brain; the occasional “fuck you” or “fuck off” escapes for the dry humor. Being the loudest person in the room has never been in my best interests either. Not to be disillusioned, my passive aggression is very smug despite my best attempts to seem aloof. When I’m in a groove, with kind honesty at my disposal, I can forego the first and last word, raised voices, and embellished lies. There’s a very important difference between snaps and insults, laughter has no place in contempt.

Fuck, as a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb, is too ambiguous. For one, the words sex and fuck are voluntarily interchangeable. Lustful connotations aside, exclaiming a fuck denotes an inability to properly express the grounds for disagreement. Shit and bitches aren’t literal observations of a human being, nor are they detrimental metaphors. On the other hand, reminding a remedially educated adult of their limited vocabulary can occasionally be self-gratifying. As a sadist, I imagine masochists can feel berated by figurative language; from afar, watching children cry themselves to sleep can be equally entertaining.

For me to truly hate something, is to prefer said object be at my disposal, rather than oppose me; then it’s a compliment. My ideas of insults don’t slap you in the face; they firmly clench your soft hands and shake your weak wrists. I’m the fifth horseman of the apocalypse, the harbinger of self-loathing; because when all else fails, I remind you that we're going to die, and this conversation won’t mean a thing; besides a wasted opportunity to be more than two negatives.

If you immediately thought, "two negatives make a positive;" not when they add.

Pro Homo

On OKCupid, there are questions used to compute your compatibility with potential mates for a relationship, as friends, or as enemies. Whenever I encounter a high enemy rating, I’m always assured that woman is a Christian with extra-marital children, and they hate homosexuals. I’m that heterosexual black male who endures flak for drawing a civil rights analogy from the homosexual movement for marital equality. America has statistically disproven the efficacy of marriage, denying the right to be federally observed as a matrimonial union is a senseless affront to the Bill of Rights. The internet, our final modicum of democracy, has logically argued, “Oh, you don’t like gay marriage? Then don’t get gay married.” And that makes sense.

I would love more gay male friends, their typically impeccable style complements me, and they have a knack for attracting attractive women. Gay females on the other hand, have shared far fewer benefits in my favor, especially being menage opposed; sorry ladies, I’m sure you’re wonderful people nonetheless. If I must confess distaste for anyone, it’s for obscenely flamboyant people; gay or straight, I'm an introvert, that much attention is nauseating. For some helpful insight from my inexplicably accurate gaydar, ladies meet kegels; because once a man mentions anal sex, then he’s obviously bored of your most feminine feature.

Two people have ever asked me if I were gay, one privately gossiped as much, another thought he could insult me with a public insinuation, and multiple gay men have hit on me; I was flattered every time. Because, even as a heterosexual black man of West Indian descent, the second most homophobic region of the world outside of the Middle East, I don’t associate homosexuality with bad or wrong. At the same time, there’s another internet meme that asked, “What if homosexuality is nature’s way of preventing over population.” And I can find the humor in that, the same way I can be entertained by Django Unchained, Dave Chappelle skits, and rap music. It’s easy to digress over the suitable nature of potentially offensive humor, butt fuck it; everyone deserves a fair chance.

Succeed Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana, born Zoe Yadira Saldana Nazario, is currently the go-to minority action heroine of Hollywood. When Will Smith cracked the movie blockbuster code, it must have occurred to another demographic that similarly promising rules applied to them. Once a movie producer accounts for conventional wisdom and historical demographics, we’re left to conclude that profitable movie investments should reflect the desires of hormonally charged young white men, and old Jim Crow era white men. It’s then no surprise that as a black actress, you should sleep with enough white actors to be cast for your appeal to satisfy these factors. Let’s explore this theory on a movie by movie basis with the leading ingredient of mixed race relations; please note that I watched movie trailers for the most part, rather than subject myself to watching dreadful movies.

Let’s begin with the outliers, known to people who order movies on demand as, After Sex and The Heart Specialist; highlighted by explicit sex with Brian White, almost lodging a wrench in my theory, despite Brian’s ironic surname. Let’s follow up with her movies devoid of a love interest, including The Skeptic, Vantage Point, Center Stage, and Get Over it; followed by movies featuring soft ethnic relationships, including Takers and Drumline. Finally, let’s conclude with her sexually themed onscreen mixed race relations, including Avatar (yes, Avatar), The Losers, Crossroads, Death at a Funeral, Colombiana, The Words, Star Trek, and Burning Palms/Maneater; in the last of which she begs Nick Stahl to rape her, thereby removing The Heart Specialist wrench. From Halle Berry to Thandie Newton, professionally and personally, to the opposite end of the spectrum, from Uma Thurman to Angelina Jolie, leading ladies rarely share intimate screen space with black male love interests. Observe the roles of your favorite leading black male actors, from Idris Elba to Morgan Freeman and Will Smith himself, question how frequently they’re left without love interests. Zoe Saldana is the beneficiary of an industry that rewards her for enforcing a social bias; for which, if the prolific Voltaire legally scammed his fortunes through the lottery, then Zoe Saldana's profitable exploitation is no less admirable.

Her blueprint's sales potential has only recently gone mainstream with Scandal and Deception; special shout out to Shonda Rhimes, banking like the new Oprah! The last leading pair of African Americans on broadcast television starred in Undercovers, which despite rave reviews, was quickly canned. The real loser here is Tyler Perry, as much as I feign his cross dressing caricatures, his stubbornness to present black men in a positive light will forever relegate his productions to basic cable and poor box office sales. Congratulations Zoe Saldana! No hard feelings; for someone to win, someone has to lose.

Mac versus PC

Like the mathematically inept with calculators, Macs are for people who simply need things to work, PCs are for people who need to know how things work, and Linux is for poor posers forcibly turned smug elite. I would know, I’ve owned every platform and read The Oatmeal. Now, Macs have left the hallowed grounds of designers and eccentric homes, to infiltrate developer circles and general administrative offices.

I have been anti-Apple for so long that I bought a Creative Zen AND Sony Mini Disc player instead of the iPod! I still don't want to pinch, wave, or generally gesture at my screens! This must be how writers felt about typewriters, or photographers who thought film would never be usurped; where art thou BUTTONS?!

A respected web developer recently told me that her last PC encounter involved DLLs from Windows 98! I started asking around and found that most Mac users have never owned a PC, last used an antiquated Windows version, or were exposed to the much belied Vista. Microsoft hasn't done itself any favors with Windows 8 either, when all they had to do was build a TILED desktop with a Start menu and omni-bar. Of course, it's not difficult to personally install the necessary components, except that extra effort is exactly where a sane person would browse other options; now I know how most Thiests feel.

The easiest explanation for Apple fever has always been convenience. From my experience, public schools were either equipped with Macs or PCs in their computer labs. Each platform maintained a separate image, one remained in a beige box, and the other resembled an organized bucket of Legos. Microsoft may have released the ill fated Courier before the iPad, and Palm may have released the Pilot before the iPhone, except they were all marketed to the wrong generation. The computer market is at the mercy of grown children systematically brainwashed, and devolved to devote themselves to a grownup Leap Frog product. As I get older and lose my complex faculties, I promise to more freely dabble with Apple products; in the mean time, best wishes with your Macs and elliptical machines.

Being Biased

Everyone has their preferences. Remember to be tolerant. Lesbians don’t accuse straight women of sexism; some biases are implicitly respected to that point. For clarity, because there will be semantic detractors, a preference is a tendency is a partiality is a bias by relative synonyms; the title uses the term bias because I’m partial to alliteration.

To my point, it’s my belief that we’re all biased; an example for your credulity, we innately value our family over strangers. You know the question: what if you had to make a choice with a gun pointed to your head? Against a stranger, you’d have to more than hate a family member to save the stranger instead. Then it’s not unreasonable to find our biases subtly expand. We humans are creatures of comfort, we find comfort in regularity, and nothing is more regular than our reflections; itself an instinct recognizably adhered to by virtue of our homogeneous relationships. Of course, all rules have exceptions, ironically often products of biases themselves: short women who only date tall men for example.

To be clear, my purpose is not to validate offensive behavior. Circumstances inevitably arise during which we feel excluded due to inconsequential biases, such as demographic marketing, like browsing the melanin scrubbed Task Rabbit service. However misappropriated, this constructive reaction is more admirable than the anger that results from forgetting our own perpetuated exclusions. While some scenarios can insult our sensibilities, science has proven that explaining a problem can help alleviate the associated stressors. You’re welcome!

Instead of preaching mythical purity, let's acknowledge that our tolerance and biases define our individuality; and along the following lines, do not impede your growth:

But today most black Americans not hampered by poverty or prejudice take for granted their right to study Italian, listen to Britney Spears or opera, play in the NHL, eat Thai food, live anywhere, work anywhere, play anywhere, read and think and say anything. —Stephan Talty, Mulatto America, 2003

Super Bowl Sunday Special

It's Sunday, the Super Bowl is too large to ignore! Please note my Patriots over the 49ers Super Bowl pick from the Conference Round, unlike pre-game talking heads, I own my losses; of course, when I win, you must never forget that I celebrated President Obama’s second term before he won! My record for the new year so far: one win, two losses.

I would like to make the sentimental pick here: Ray Lewis’ bon voyage season concludes with a Championship ala Michael Strahan and Michael Jordan; it would probably help if his name were Michael Lewis. The problem with the sentimental pick is that it flies in the face of the better team. After dominant wins over dominant teams, and despite a few hiccups, the 49ers were arguably the best football team all season. And yet, there are logical reasons to side with sentiment. The 49ers did fall to far lesser teams, and the Ravens did pull out victories over two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in games they were favored against. Sentiments are emotional though, the pick is still tied to the dream of a fairy tale ending, instead of inexcusable confidence. Colin Kaepernick has played like a veteran, crushed a playoff quarterback rushing record, and won on the road when it mattered against the league’s best home team.

There’s more sentiment, my anti-sentiment towards the polarizing arrogance of Jim Harbaugh. I was a Jim Harbaugh fan in his playing days, I was also a Jeff George fan, a Warren Moon fan, and a Ken O’Brien fan… Basically, I rooted for quarterbacks who kept losing, liked the allure of the upset, and wanted to be inspired by the underdog. Today, Captain Comeback has reinvented himself as the hard-nosed coach who revitalized football in San Francisco, previously the home of west coast finesse. We both changed in this equation, and there is a solid discomfort associated with coming full circle.

Sentiment aside, I’m picking the 49ers to win, and even my record for the year; I’m going to need the clean slate before the NBA Playoffs. An on-field Ray Lewis collision with Colin Kaepernick’s immediately dislocated hip would still make my evening; and somehow, I find myself worrying more about Lewis’ miracle recovery being derailed. Flukes aside, give me second string Alex Smith over Joe Flacco anyhow. I win either way, just know, I care more about my record than a story. Enjoy the game and chime in with my tweets during the game!

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