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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Booooooo, Hisssss to the Supreme Court

A while back I wrote that while I love so many elements of hip-hop culture - it's what I grew up in - I was salty with those rappers who've been pushing those stupid "Stop Snitchin'" T-shirts. It's a bad message to send that if you see a crime (I don't mean jay-walking or absentmindedly walking out of the office with a company ink pen) you shouldn't tell, because you have some allegiance to the criminal, since you and he are friends or neighbors or something.

And no, this ain't a black thing. Dang shame that I have to clarify that. But someone would suggest it otherwise. So don't bother suggesting it here, unless you can prove cause and effect to me: that the color of someone's skin compels them to act a certain way. Philosophy 101 - all poodles are dogs, unless they live in Miami Beach, in which case they are people too. But not all dogs are poodles. Burnettiquette 201 - some criminals look a certain way, but not all people who look that way are criminals.

Anyway, at the same time I scolded cops in my last market (prior to Miami) of Milwaukee, Wis., where three officers were recently acquitted in court of charges that they brutally beat an unarmed suspect at one of the cops' house party. One of the reasons the case failed was that even though dozens of cops were at the scene - some on duty, some off - only a couple acknowledged seeing a handful of their buddies and co-workers beating a man just a few feet away. Most, perpetuating that blue wall of silence, insisted they didn't see or hear a thing.

I said then that we can't expect impressionable kids to willingly tell authorities when they see crimes, if "authorities" are unwilling to report crimes committed among their own ranks.

And that leads me to the U.S. Supreme Court. They ruled yesterday against an assistant prosecutor from California who had sued over what he said was retaliation by his bosses, after he blew the whistle on crooked activities he saw in the office.

He was passed up for a promotion later and suspected it was payback for him blowing the whistle. And he sued, saying the (alleged) retaliation was a violation of his 1st Amendment free speech rights.

The Supreme Court said no dice. They said government employees-turned-whistleblowers have no free speech protections at work and that there were other safeguards at work to prevent them from suffering retaliation after whistleblowing.

So let me get this straight: I work for a government agency. I see co-workers stealing boatloads of money from the orphans and widows fund. My conscience compels me to report that to management. My co-workers are appropriately busted, fired, arrested, charged, tried, etc. Someone in management now views me as a rat. I'm up for a promotion and most qualified. But I'm passed over 'cause one manager doesn't like "rats." That's not wrong?

Great message justices. Let's hope none of these kids who now think "Stop Snitchin'" is cool because they're young and dumb don't get jobs as government employees when they grow up.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


For as long as I can remember I like to tell people that I am not a nice guy, that I am just two steps forward and a left turn from being a full-fledged jerk. It's a thin line. If I had a shrink, my wife believes he'd tell me I was masking my true softy feelings, 'cause I don't want to just believe in everyone and get my feelings hurt. I say baloney. And frankly, I don't give a rat's behind what anyone else thinks! Kidding. I do care, even about those things I'm loathe to care about, because of my unhealthy suspicion and paranoia. I'm not A Beautiful Mind paranoid. Let's just call mine a case of extreme cynicism over the alleged goodness of mankind.

And that leads me to my point. I did a posting last week about a dude outside the grocery store who asked me for money to go buy ice cream. I didn't give him the ice cream loot. Instead I offered to go in w/him, let him pick out all the ice cream he could hold and eat, and I'd pay for it. He declined. Maybe he was insulted that I didn't trust his spending intentions. Maybe I was being a jerk. Or maybe I thought the liquor store next door factored into the equation. Maybe I didn't like the feeling that he was trying to play me for a sap. So fast forward to a couple of days ago.

I pull into the parking lot at Blockbuster, distracted w/the lines I was rehearsing for the clerks in order to convince them to not charge me the full price of a movie, in this era of no late fees (still not buying the argument this new system is better). As I back my truck into a parking space I stop rehearsing for a sec, 'cause there is a guy hovering in the next spot. He's standing there looking nervous, sweating like he had just walked the Green Mile. I'm not sure what to think.

I get out of the truck and he pounces. He's in my face faster than you can say con man. And he tells me a story about his car having broken down a few blocks away, and how his wife was with the car, and how they were new to South Florida from Boston (that accent was sure real), how he was tapped out and just looking for a little help to get them to the Tri-Rail station on Hollywood Blvd. And then the kicker - as he wipes the sweat off his brow, he shakes his head and says "People are so calloused."

I can't lie. That got to me. I spend a quarter of my day almost every day marveling at some of the crazy behavior I see around me. And so this guy's lament resonated with me.

He may have been a con. I don't know. But my instinct felt some truth. So I hit him with $20 to get him to the train station and on the train. He gave me his business card and took mine and said he'd send me a check in the mail. Pay it forward? I want him to pay it backward. Keep his word and repay my money. He can pay it forward on his own dime.

If I hear from the guy, it'll likely knock a few more bricks off the top of my wall of suspicion. If I don't, I won't be all that surprised. And I'll slap a few more bricks on top of that wall.

Some of you (including my own mother) told me to have a heart for a Sad Sack. This is my attempt. Hope it's fruitful. If it isn't, then no big deal. It's no more $$$ out of my pocket, literally.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Get a Room Report!!!

As I sit here on my porch writing this, there's a couple sitting in a giant green double-cab pickup truck that stopped outside of my house, so a back seat passenger could run to a neighbor's house. And while they wait for the passenger, I swear the couple is gettin' it on in the front seat of the truck!!! I kid you not. My wife sees 'em too. In fact she's getting up and walking inside the house right now, because "these people are nasty," she says. I agree.

It's been about 30 seconds.

I will not describe the manner in which they're gettin' it on, 'cause this is a PG-13 blog. But suffice it to say this would go well with a '70s era instrumental soundtrack of organ (no pun intended), drums, and a little electric guitar...along with furniture that includes a polyester blend plaid couch.

Two minutes.

I wanna go spray 'em with the hose to break it up.

Three minutes.

C'mon, people. Love is a beautiful thing, but not for an unwilling audience. Teach your kids the time-and-a-place rule, 'cause doing what they're doing in the front seat of a pick-up in broad daylight ain't right. It's triflin'!

Update: About four minutes have passed. They stopped a few seconds ago. Man, that was quick. Now he's getting out of the truck to join the passenger in my neighbor's front yard. And she's lighting a cigarette! LOL. Trust me. I wish I had a good enough imagination to make this stuff up.

Both men are walking back to the truck. They're leaving now.

Tsk, tsk, ya dirty dogs. Hope whoever drives that truck after you has a can of Lysol handy.

Dirty Dog-Dropping Weasel & Bad Driver Update

Why update these different "types" of offenders in the same posting? 'Cause I equate them on the same level. Both are knuckleheads.

For the dog doo leavers, cops got to one of my neighbors. Hopefully he'll think about the cost of a ticket, and bring a bag with him next time he sneaks around the 'hood to let his dog go in common areas and other people's yards. And lady in the pink skirt suit who let your bichon frise go ON THE SIDEWALK near Hollywood Beach Sunday and left the business where it fell? Shame on you. I hope someone who was with you that morning reads this and calls you out.

As for bad drivers, in a three day period:
  • I got stuck behind a driver, who saw someone he knew stopped (or broken down) in the next lane over and sat through an entire stoplight, window rolled down, chitchatting casually with the driver in the stopped car. You could see both guys clearly yuckin' it up. Hey, if you see a friend broken down, pull over and ask 'em what they need. But to stop in the middle of rush hour, chat for a couple of minutes and then drive away chuckling as the line of cars behind you stretches across the state line, is a bone-headed thing to do.
  • I was trying to exit the parking garage at Bayside in downtown Miami and was forced to slam on breaks when out of a side lane a guy in tank-sized SUV darts across my path with mere feet to spare, in order to snag a parking space he apparently thought I was gonna take. That's smart. Risk a collision for a parking space.
  • And I got stuck for a half mile stretch behind a driver who rode straight down the center yellow line on a two lane road, preventing me from going around her. What was the big deal? She was driving about 10 MPH.

BTW, for you wise guys (so far no smart aleck ladies have joined the discussion) who only read the blog and don't realize I write news too, below are links on to a few recent pieces of my writing. Enjoy. (about a West Point cadet); (an interview w/comedian Tommy Davidson); (and a look back at my and my wife's first hurricane experience).

When is correcting someone not a good thing?

Not a trick question. In part, the answer is when correcting them isn't necessary. And in part, the answer is when your intention is not to show them where they're wrong but to try to make them look bad.

I was on Hollywood Beach Sunday morning, strolling the Broadwalk on the way to breakfast with my wife and mother-in-law, when I absentmindedly strayed into the bike path, that narrow lane adjacent to the sand. My M.I.L. and I walked in the bike path for a few seconds until we looked up, saw two cyclists coming toward us at a distance, realized we were on their side of the white stripe, and stepped out of the lane and back onto the pedestrian side.

Mind you, when we spotted them and got out of their way, there was no imminent collision. They were a good 12 yards away, when we cleared their path. We kept walking and talking. No big deal, right?

Well, when the lead cyclist in that duo passed us a few seconds later he snarkily blurted out "The bike lane's for bicycles, folks!"

No way! The bike lane is for bikes? That's a relief, 'cause I was starting to wonder what that helmet you were wearing was for, not to mention that Lance Armstrong shirt, and those elastic, knee-length grape smugglers. Oh, and you were on a bike! I get it now.

Pinhead. See, that's when a correction is out of order. That was unnecessary. It served no purpose other than to give this guy a means to let some of his snark flow. The fact that we got out of the lane in plenty of time should have been more than enough of a clue to him that we realized we had been in the wrong place.

Correct someone when they obviously don't know what they did wrong. Correct 'em when they know they were wrong, but just don't seem to care. Correct 'em when they were wrong, because they were sloppy, or inattentive or took shortcuts. Correct 'em when their bad behavior had the potential to hurt others as well as themselves.

But don't correct someone just so you have the chance to say your version of "So there!"

Anyway, this guy's scolding would have carried more weight if he had also scolded the dozen cyclists we counted during breakfast riding their bikes on the side of the Broad Walk reserved for walking traffic, especially considering some of the walkers had to swiftly side step those errant bikes to keep from getting run down.

And BTW guys - and by guys I mean men, if you're not in the Tour de France and you're not riding that bike more than a few miles, please quit wearing those compression shorts. Leave the tighties to the pros.

Weekly Behavior Awards

Sorry folks, this weeks Weekly Behavior Awards produced no winner for Best Behavior. I didn't see any outstanding behavior this week, and no one else told me about any. Not to say I didn't see general good behavior. But should we really get rewarded for that? That's like rewarding a would be crook for not committing a robbery. Or rewarding husbands for not pimp-slapping their wives, or rewarding kids who don't kick their dads in the shins. You don't get commended for not doing bad things. You shouldn't be doing 'em anyway.

Anywho, the best nomination for Bum of the Week came from Anonymous, who recommended "the 10 or so idiots riding ATVs and doing wheelies in the middle of I-95, around 5 pm Sunday. Idiots is too kind a word actually....Special mention to all the girls showing cellulite pockmarked bodies this weekend for everybody to see. That's just nasty!"

Anonymous, all I have to say is a hearty Amen! Especially, the part about the ATVs on the highway. That is supremely stupid. As for the pockmarks, they don't look good on any body that's wearing minimal clothing. And while we're on the topic, neither do knife scars, or ripples. This goes for you too, guys!

Sunday, May 28, 2006


It's Weekly Behavior Award time. Give me your stories of good/bad behavior for the past week or so, and we'll name some winners...and losers tonight.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I Got 'Em On The Run!!!

Forget Joan of Arc. I'm James of Bark. And I am on a spiritual mission! Since I first spotted the dirty weasel who let his dogs doo on my swale and then left the leavin's, I have:
  • Hit the cops with a description of that jerk and his two little loaf pinchers. Laugh if you want, but since I didn't know where he lived a description was the best we could do. Anyway, I know tracking down the dog poop bandit isn't a high crime priority. But they'll catch the guy eventually.
  • Spotted another neighbor who let his Pit Bull go in a third neighbor's yard, and hit the cops with his street address. They say they're gonna give him a verbal warning or ticket.
  • Taken a "citizen's report" on another dirty dog leavin's leaver and where that dirty dog leavin's leaver lives. She will be turned in too.

I am on to you biological litterbugs. And as long as I walk around in sandals, potentially exposing my feet to the "elements" that came out of your dog's behind, then I will be on a mission to rid the 'hood of you.

You haters may say I'm being a brat. Say that after you've had to tip-toe through grass in common areas of your 'hood or on parts of your lawn (or parts you don't own but are required by ordinance to maintain) because you have no idea where your more triflin' neighbors have let their pets go.

Keep walking your pooches. They need the exercise and deserve to get out of the house. But if you're in my neck of the woods and I see your dog squatting in a public/common area and you're not whippin' out a plastic bag like Quick Draw McGraw, look over your shoulder. I might be watching like Batman from 'round the corner - not in a weirdo stalker sort of way, of course. But if I spot you offending, as it were, I'm gonna call you out. I won't confront you, 'cause you might be a nut ball.

But I'll clown you on this blog and maybe hurt your feelings...maybe. I'm watchin'.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ironic defines it as "poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended."

I define it as Philly-based rapper Beanie Sigel being shot during a botched robbery attempt early Thursday morning. He was treated and released, and will survive.

Why, you ask, is that ironic? Sigel can answer better than me with this lyric from his old song Flatline: "You shoot first if you get the drop." Or maybe ironic is "The aim (is) all that; when I flame you get all that," from Gotta Have It. Translation: My shooting aim is very accurate, and when I open fire I'll strike you with pretty many rounds.

I admit, I am a hip-hop hypocrite. Love lots of the tunes, and I even justify singing along w/some of the naughtier songs, because I tell myself "it's just music, man!" And I don't want any lectures from anyone over 40 who grew up in the era of sex, drug, and/or rock'n'roll themed "pop" songs, about the "evils" of hip-hop. Pop tunes of all genres are catchy, and at their root they're all corny.

But even I know you reap what you sow. And if there is such a thing as fate then sowing crazy songs about shooting people might lead to you reaping your own set of bullet wounds.

Now, to his credit, Sigel later wrote and performed a verse for I Can't Go On This Way, in which he laments the tough life he has reportedly given up and reminisces about being taught that you should "Use your tongue as your sword and your books as your ammo." In several more songs released late last year Sigel offers prayers and apologies for his old ways. Again, if fate exists then the dummies who shot Sigel will turn on their radios and "hear" the seeds he's sown more recently and find a gig other than stick-up kid by which to earn their keep.

Kudos to Sigel if things really have changed. You need a mulligan, a second chance, every so often. Unfortunately, changing your sermon doesn't always guarantee that your former disciples are gonna get the new message right away, just like forgiven doesn't always translate quickly to forgotten.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Be Straight With Me

I'm just returning home from a lengthy wrangling session with a new car dealer. And needless to say, I'm going directly to the freezer to grab a bucket of ice to soak and hopefully sooth my bum in.

For the world of me, I can't figure out why it is impossible for some people to give a straight answer. I don't need lectures on how dealers need to meet this cost and balance that expense. I didn't just fall off the back of the yam wagon.

But for once, I'd like to meet a sales person who says "This item will cost you this much, less the value of your deposit." Instead, it's always "We'll see," or "Let me check," or "Let me see what I can do." Deals can be made. I am proof. But man, it takes the equivalent of a climb up Mt. Everest to make it happen.

I felt like I was on an episode of Seinfeld, as I watched the sales manager and several sales folk standing around chatting, occasionally gesturing in my direction, nodding earnestly, shrugging, grimacing, chuckling on cue.

No one gives straight answers anymore. Maybe life is more complicated? Or maybe people are just more shady and can't do straight talk anywhere.

Either way, I'm gonna need to sit on one of those donut hole pillows tonight.

Sales people? More like nails people.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What the Heezy?

How is it that Telescope Creative Interactive Solutions can count, confirm, and certify 60.4 million American Idol votes overnight, but it takes days, weeks, even months to nail down less than twice that number of U.S. presidential votes?

American Soadee Pop Commercial

I can't pretend. I was just watching American Idol, and the guys who were kicked off from the top 10 sang a really good - except Ace - rendition of some southern rock tune I didn't recognize. But the point is it sounded good, professional even. I may never live that down, but I believe in credit where it's due.

And Taylor just sang a duet with Toni Braxton of "In the Ghetto" by Elvis P. It too was good. Unfortunately, I couldn't get Eric Cartman out of my mind the entire time they were singing.

The Cowboy Code: Chapter Two

So we addressed the "Cowboy Code," the other evening, the unwritten guide by which all men everywhere learn to treat male friends.

But as with most codes and guides, just because it exists doesn't mean everyone who should follows it.

Which brings me to my point. I got another disturbing message from an old friend that another mutual buddy of ours violated the code's no-tattling policy.

The violator was asked by the girlfriend of the other guy where the other guy was one recent evening.

Rather than follow the code and either decline to answer, or answer that he wasn't certain, the violator told the girlfriend something to the effect of "No, he wasn't with me. And I'm pretty sure he wasn't with so-and-so. Nope. We don't know where he was!"

That was a first-class violation. The problem with guys like that is they assume the code requires them to lie. You don't have to lie for anyone. You just don't voluntarily bust them out, that's all.

One of my other friends, who is a pro at carrying out this part of the code, simply tells other guys' girlfriends "I don't know where your boyfriend was" or even less revealing "I'm not sure."

He doesn't sell the other guys out, but he doesn't aid in their downfall either.

I once lost a friend over a violation of this element of the code. I had given a really bogus, really lame excuse to a mutual buddy as to why I hadn't shown up to the mutual buddy's special charity event. I think I said I was sick or hurt. I admit it was a tacky thing to do. I'm not proud of it. What can I tell you? I'm fallible. Anyway, when the mutual buddy asked my guy a few weeks later if I was "feeling better," my guy tells him something to the effect of "James, doing better? For what? There's nothing wrong with him. He's fit and healthy as he's always been!"

I don't need to explain the awkward situation I found myself in - admittedly, by my own doing, at least in the beginning. Still, when I asked my guy about this obvious violation of the "Cowboy Code," his first answer was that he wasn't aware of the lame excuse I had made. His second, more defiant answer was that it wasn't his job to cover for me.

Sorry, but the code says he was wrong on both counts. You don't have to know what your buddy is up to in advance. Even if you're caught off guard, the best way to support the code is to tell the truth with "I don't know" or "I'm not sure."

As for covering for me, it absolutely was his job. It's every guy's job to cover for his buddy. There are exceptions. If you commit murder, don't ask me to drive you or your Bronco to the Mexican border. You're on your own. If you cheat on your significant other and I was friends with her before you, you're on your own.

But if you need basic all-purpose cover, I will do my duty and not rat you out. I won't help you come up with a creative excuse - some guys choose to lie for their buddies; I can't - but I will keep my mouth shut unless it's just to say "Sorry. I'm not sure."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Breaking News: I Finally Caught the Dirty Weasel in the Act!

So there has been a phantom bum raiding my block lately. This person is a phantom, 'cause under cover of darkness - or maybe it's not so dramatic; maybe it's just when everyone else is at work - they've been letting their dog(s) crap on the swale in front of my house and leaving the business where it fell. And if they're doing it in front of my house, you know they're stealth bombing other folks too.

I've been fuming about this person for a week now, just wishing I could do something about it and knowing at the same time how unlikely it was that I'd ever be able to do anything. So in full bitterness, I've had to go out and scoop up some other dog's 'do and discard it. I mean, how hard is it to clean up after your pet? And if you can't or are too lazy or too busy to pick up after 'em, then you don't need a pet. You need Jebus, 'cause you're a dirty dog yourself.

Anyway, I had an interview up in my neck of the woods this afternoon for a story I'm writing for next weekend. And when I finished with the subject I was very close to home. And rather than head back downtown to Herald headquarters through traffic this time of day, I went to my home office, AKA my front porch.

So I sat, plugged in my laptop, wipped out my notes, and started to write, when I heard a slight jingling outside. My seat sits kind of low, so I peeked up and over the window sill and saw him: a guy I see around the neighborhood all the time walking two little hounds. He's looking around furtively - or at least they seem like furtive looks to me - and stopping every few seconds as his dogs stop to sniff things. Well, he crosses the street and doubles back the direction he came from and found himself right in front of my house. He stops. He's staring curiously, which annoys me for some reason. Maybe he was just admiring our quaint little shack. But I'm suspicious when someone just posts up and squints and stares 30 feet from your front door, as though they're looking for something. I stop typing for a moment, 'cause I don't want to make a sound and spook him. Well, after a moment he stops checking out my house and looks down at his dogs. He waits another minute, and then drags them on down the sidewalk. I give him a few seconds to move away, and go out to the sidewalk. Sure enough, on the swale is a fresh steaming pile.

I don't know which of those little biscuit-benders committed the offense. But they're dogs. They do what's natural. Their owner is the culprit. And I caught that fink red-handed! I suppose I could've confronted him, but if you've read my posting on when keepin' it real goes wrong (, then you understand why I didn't. He could've been nuts or carrying a weapon or something. And I'm too young to go to Heaven (I hope), and too pretty to go to jail (for smackin' the dog poop phantom).

So I let him go, but I did call the very cool, very responsive neighborhood resource police officer for my small corner of my fair city, who assured me that he'd be on the lookout for the guy and would slap him w/a ticket faster than his head could spin.

Laugh if you want. It's only funny till you have to clean up after someone else's beast.

And your dog crapping on dirt that I don't own but am required by the city to maintain translates to bad Burnettiquette.

Time and a place

First, my disclaimer: If you only own one outfit of clothing, wear it proudly and hold your head high when you do.

Everyone else? There is a time and a place! How 'bout my trip to Cousin's Subs to grab a turkey/bacon/guac sandwich. No, you won't find it in the South Beach diet manual. But I can't front. It was good.

Anywho, enough about the sandwich. When I sat to dig into my grub, a woman came in w/a couple of kids wearing a nightclub outfit. I mean an A Night at the Roxbury outfit. There was the too tiny skirt - you know it's too short if you subconsciously tug at the bottom of it every few seconds, the too tight sweater top that kept creepin' up over that belly button like it was trying to get away, and the open-toed shoes. What have I said about those shoes? Make 'em fit. Or clip your toe nails and rub some lotion on your heels. It was like little individual biscuits fighting their way out of the front of the shoes, each one fighting for room against the other one, all of them holding on for dear life.

Now, here's the kicker. This woman was attractive - pleasant face, nice smile, etc. She didn't need to do this. She definitely didn't need to at like 2 O'clock in the afternoon. If she really wanted to kick it like that at midnight on her way to the club, fine. Different strokes for different folks. Some of us took Roxbury as a club-gear guide, I guess.

But it's like a nice car. It always makes me cringe, when I see a classy, luxury sedan that has been ruined by a bawdy paint job or fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror, or some other ridiculous embellishment.

Have some faith in yourself. I ain't Oprah, but man, if you look good, let your looks flaunt themselves. No need to dress it up and ruin the illusion.


Man, I hate Palm Pilots!

Kidding. What I really despise are excessive public displays of affection.

My mother-in-law, who is visiting this week (and is always welcome, all you haters out there), was telling me last evening that shortly before her flight from Milwaukee yesterday she and four other passengers in a very tight space were subject to a grown man telling his poopykens how much he wuved and missed her and how he couldn't wait to hold his shnookems in his arms again.

Are you kidding me? Where's the shame? No self-respecting man is gonna chat like that on a cell phone in a crowd, where every word can be picked up, unless that plane is in trouble.

Besides, I'm just cynical enough to think that guys like this somehow think they're showing off their sensitive sides. If I'm wrong, then why did this guy not make the call while he was lounging in the gate area prior to boarding? It wasn't like he was O.J. in a Hertz commercial, hurtling suitcases and skycaps in order to make his flight. Why wait until he was on the plane, minutes before takeoff, to make such a private-content call? He wanted to be heard! That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

Grown folks, too much PDA is not cute when other people are in the room. Limit yourself to hand-holding, quick smooches (when necessary), arms around each other's waists (but none of that 1980s-esque hands in each other's back pockets) and short, neat, clean words of affection when on the phone. "Love you," "miss you," "see you soon," or any combination of such is acceptable.

Anything more is bad Burnettiquette.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Raised by Wolves

So I was moving through Target with the hoards yesterday, snatching up "hurricane" items.

I admit I was much calmer about it than when I first moved down here, last October, two days before Hurricane Wilma arrived. Then I was grabbing stuff off store shelves like it was going out of style. This time around I wandered more slowly, scratching my head and asking myself what makes a particular item a hurricane supply? I didn't come up with anything deep and scientific - just that if I would be using it during and after a hurricane, it must qualify as a supply. Of course, the sales clerk who was calculating what would be taxed and what wouldn't didn't agree that my beef jerky, magazines, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs were hurricane supplies.

Anywho, we heard a commotion in the store and thought a shelf had fallen over. When it moved closer, my wife saw first that the noise was coming from a crowd of teenagers having "light saber" fights with those long foam floaty things. Aside from beating the crap out of each other, they were knocking over everything in sight and leaving the stuff where it fell.

It wasn't my stuff, but it ticked me off so badly when my wife pointed it out that I teased with her that I was gonna say something to them.

For the record, I say teased, because I ain't stupid. It's a shame. Back in the day you probably could say something to a group of kids like that and they'd get bashful, pick up their mess, and pipe down. These days say something to someone else's kid - even if that kid is wrecking something - and you're likely to get smacked, cut, or worse.

So I had no intention of actually saying anything to these kids, 'cause Mama Wolf could've been lurking nearby waiting to feed on someone. But out of curiosity I stuck my head around the corner just to see where Mama and Papa Wolf were located, and what did I see? Mom and Pop with a smaller kid kicking a beach ball back and forth in the middle of the store and knocking stuff over in their own right and laughing their heads off.

No wonder the older kids were tearing stuff up. They had a great example of triflin' in action.

Still Not Real

Cover your ears, Big Daddy, 'cause I gotta step onto the soap box for just a sec. this morning. We talk on this blog occasionally about young'ns these days thinking they're more "real" people, more "genuine," more "believable," more "down-to-earth" if they can make some bravado-heavy claim to being menacing.

Some kids have been conditioned to believe the best way to earn respect and admiration is to virtually and literally crush the life out of another person.

Over the weekend, at a high school graduation party in Liberty City 17-year-old Jeffrey Jarnell Johnson Jr., a good kid, by all accounts, a smart kid, poked fun at another kid and traded verbal barbs over who had the coolest car:

Police say Antwon Grace, 21, in some twisted attempt to defend the honor of his friend (the other kid), shot and killed Johnson.

An absolute waste of another promising life, all because one dummy - not saying it's Grace for sure, not unless/until he's proven guilty - thought his buddy was being made to look bad. And rather than think of a clever joke of his own as a comeback he thought it was a good idea to take another kid's life. The buddy's not off the hook either. How in the H are you gonna punch another kid, because he outsmarted you, literally?

Pay attention kids. Once again, "keepin' it real" needs to be redefined. Until it is though, remember, it ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


We'll keep it short and sweet tonight.

Bum of the Week: Me, for hating on the Giant/Marine/Cane Toad (bufo marinus) that invaded my backyard about a week ago. I was annoyed by the giant frog's (I know it's a toad, but I don't care. I like the sound of "frog" better.) constant singing - she's actually croaking away as I type. A funny thing has happened though since Frogarotti showed up. I haven't seen one annoying bug in my backyard - no mosquitos buzzing my pond and none of what South Floridians call "Palmetto" bugs, but what folks further north just call giant, mutant roaches. Seems the singing comes with side benefits. I may even plant another water lily in that pond to give Frogarotti a new place to sit. Sing on frog, sing on.

Best Behavior: Betsan, from, for above and beyond customer service, as per this story from our friend Bronchitikat - "...I'd tried ordering some sock yarn from the website a few weeks back & wondered why it hadn't come. Turned out I hadn't actually ordered it, just made a 'wishlist'! So I ordered. So Betsan first emailed to ask whether I really wanted one or two balls of one kind of sock yarn - you need two to knit a pair of socks, as I'd only ordered one! And again to say I'd actually paid full, rather than Members, price for something else - thanks & again to check exactly what colour range I wanted for some more sock yarn & again to say she's putting it all in the post for me this afternoon! Hey, I may be knitting socks come Friday. w00t! Anyhew, how's that for Customer Service? Not to mention patience, good nature, kindness etc. BTW - I'm pushing 50, not 80 - for all it may seem otherwise from the above!"

That's all folks. We'll start the rowdiness again tomorrow morning.

WBAs - Let's Get Your Nomination On

That time of the week. If you have a nomination for Best Behavior Award or Bum of the Week let's have it. So far, our good friend Bronchitikat has nominated someone for Best Behavior. I know there are others. I have a couple. But I'd rather see yours. Polls close at 9 p.m.

Skin Deep

I just left a fashion show on South Beach about an hour ago, and I'm torn in my feelings about the whole thing. I want to clown on what I just saw, but I can't fully, 'cause all those young girls (youngest 14, oldest 21) so desperately wanted to become the next big thing. And I can't fault 'em, 'cause everything about American popular culture these days drives them to strive for a career of looking pretty. Commercials, ads, film, TV, magazine spreads, etc., suggest that you have to look hungry to look beautiful.

I'm not mad at 'em. I want the same thing - not to look hungry, but to go big. I've been working for years to complete fiction manuscripts so I can hopefully sell 'em and blow up as an author, as well as a journalist. We all wanna blow up, but what do you have to give up to blow up?

I was happy for the young woman who won. She was the youngest of the bunch, not a celeb, and genuinely stunned at her good fortune. She got $50K, an introductory modeling deal, and accolades.

But what she - and her competitors - really needed was a platter full of steak and potatoes.

I have no doubt some of 'em were just naturally rail thin. Genetics deal us all different hands. But no one's gonna convince me that some of 'em weren't "engineering" their paper-thinness in order to look more model-like.

Anyway, since when did it become an admirable profession to march up and down a runway showing off scant bodies? Slaves got marched up and down "runways" of sorts, and they sure as H didn't get any trophies, and they didn't share in their cash prizes.

OK, I'm done. Guess I won't be invited back to the next runway show like this one.

But in another life, if I ever become independently wealthy and have a lot of time on my hands, I'm gonna start a model rescue mission, where sandwiches and protein shakes are gonna flow freely like milk and honey.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Frogarotti: Day Three, & What Would You do for a Klondike Bar

Frogarotti still lives. She - and she is a she; I didn't check, but there's a tank load of frog eggs and tadpoles in my pond now - wasn't very enthusiastic last night. She sang for only five minutes or so at a time, and then only every 40 minutes or so. I slept well.

So, about the Klondike bar. I was walking out of a grocery-esque store and a dude hit me up for money for ice cream. I declined but offered to go get him an ice cream or escort him to the ice cream section, so he could pick out what he wanted. And I would pick up the tab. He declined.

Maybe it's coincidence, but next door was a liquor store. And there was a heavy flow of foot traffic coming out of the liquor store.

I'm not mad at the guy if he wanted a drink. But I ain't stupid either. Give charitably, help out the homeless, etc. But don't be a dummy. There is the argument that you should give indiscriminately and let fate deal with the recipient as to whether or not they use your gift for a good or bad cause. And there's the argument that you can help steer fate by making sure your gift isn't misused. I subscribe to the latter.

My pops, a minister, used to tell his parishioners that there is a fine line between faith and foolishness. Think about that one. Likewise, we should be open-minded to other people's predicaments, but not so open-minded that our brains fall out.

The Code

Forget it if you think I'm jumping on that DaVinci bandwagon. It was a good book, but get over it. I read Charlotte's Web when I was a kid, but I don't believe spiders can talk to me.

Anywho, I'm talking about the Cowboy Code. One of my guys violated one of its pillars, I hear.

A friend from back in Milwaukee tells me that a mutual buddy is now dating the ex- of another mutual buddy. The other guy and the ex- broke up just a few months ago. This is causing tension between both guys.

First rule of the Ex element of the Code: When your buddy breaks up w/a woman, until the mourning period has passed, you don't mention her in your buddy's presence unless it's part of you consoling him, or unless he says its OK, because it was an amicable breakup.

Second rule of the code: Even when the mourning period has passed, you still don't mention his ex in his presence unless that whole amicable breakup thing is in effect, or he brings her up first, or it's in passing, as in you saw her in public here or there, with this person or that.

Third rule of the code: No matter how hot you've always thought your buddy's ex is, don't even think about it. You wouldn't consider dating your sister. You've always been warned not to hook up w/co-workers. Why in the world would you want the grief that comes with this kind of connection unless you're trying to land a segment on Jerry Springer or Maury.

Fourth rule of the code: If you insist on ignoring the code, you must let nature take its course and not be overly aggressive pursuing the ex. As part of this plan, you must give your buddy a heads up that you and his ex are having a go at it.

Fifth rule of the code: If it appears things are working out between you and your buddy's ex, and all three of you still live in the same region and you have not given your buddy a heads up, you must ask your buddy's blessing - assuming you're still friends w/him.

Sixth rule of the code: Unless your buddy is unusually understanding, you must give it a long period of time - maybe six months, maybe a year, maybe more, before you hook up with his ex - unless one or all of you have moved away and don't live in the same region anymore.

Seventh rule of the code: There are three major exceptions to the rules governing exes and buddies. If your buddy is really understanding up front and parts w/his ex on friendly terms and really, genuinely doesn't care who hooks up with her or why, then knock yourself out. If any one of the three of you (you, buddy, his ex) move away, far away, a reasonable wait period, plus a heads up to your buddy clears the way. If you and your buddy fall out of touch and are no longer close, the passage of time makes it OK. And if enough time has passed, period, your buddy should let bygones be bygones and hopefully has enough of a new life that he isn't bothered by who you're dating. And after so much time, if he is bothered, then too bad.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My Sweetheart's Keeper? (and a Frogarotti Update)

First the update: The frog lives... for now. Kidding. As soon as I can catch her (or him) - assuming it doesn't outsmart me - the frog will be transported to Stan Goldman Memorial Park in Hollywood, where it will find plenty of water, trees, etc.

On to other business. So here's a rhetorical question: To what extent are you responsible for your significant other's behavior? Actually it's not rhetorical, 'cause I want feedback.

"Imagine" a scenario in which you are dating someone new who has a big mouth, a smart mouth, and that person regularly offends your friends at social gatherings.

Now imagine that your significant other isn't necessarily malicious, but rather a dunce who doesn't realize that his/her constant put-downs and snide remarks and know-it-all attitude about things he/she really knows little to nothing about are rubbing people the wrong way. Do you let it slide 'cause you believe he/she doesn't know better? Or do you pull him/her aside and tell them? Which is the more loving gesture, ignoring your sweetheart's abrasive tone with your friends, or pointing it out to him/her?

What if I told you in this "real life" scenario the abrasive significant other approached the spouse of his/her sweetheart's old friend at the old friend and spouse's wedding and offered shocked congratulations that the couple even made it to the alter? Not exactly your standard recieving line greeting.

A few more questions: What is the appropriate reaction when finally your closest, oldest friend, whom you've known for most of your life, compared to a few months for your sweetheart, confronts you and tells you your significant other is out of line?

Is it:
  1. What did he/she say? I don't believe you. I've never heard him/her say anything like that.
  2. It's no big deal. He/she doesn't mean anything by it.
  3. Or, I'm sorry, sorry for what he/she has said, and sorry on his/her behalf. That's not cool. I'll talk to him/her about it. It's possible he/she doesn't even realize it. I'm sure if he/she did know he/she would apologize and cut it out.

In the real life scenario, the close friend, when confronted, downplayed his/her significant other's 'tude and abrasive personality and refused to bring up the multiple offenses to the sigificant other, for fear of hurting the significant other's feelings.

Too convoluted? I hope not.

My take on this whole thing is if you really care for someone tell them when they're badly out of line, not just when they've done something wonderful. If you're not willing to put them in check when they need it, then that says something about the strength of your bond and their level of maturity. Letting the significant other continue to make an ass out of him/herself out of fear of offending him/her is equal to letting your guy walk around with his fly open or your girl hit the dance floor with a roll of TP caught on her shoe, but worse.

Calm down, already!

Sheesh, people, relax. I didn't whack the frog, never actually planned to. I was venting. Besides, I'm pretty sure frogicide isn't even a word.

I am grateful to have animals in my yard. If I could, like Snow White, I'd stand back there and hold up my arms so all the woodland creatures would have a place to sit and sing and chatter.

But I don't care how much of an animal lover you are - being kept awake like that can drive a person crazy.

And Og, the wife and I had already decided to scoop the frog up and take it to a nearby park that's full of wildlife and a bigger body of water.

BTW, Chris A. and eclecticgrl, welcome to the party.

Stupid Frog, Stupid Hippies

It's after 1 a.m., and Frogarotti (see previous post: is still yammering in my back yard.

He (or she, I'll bet she) is not losing enthusiasm. Her voice is not getting hoarse, as I'd hoped. I tried to find her. I can't. She pipes down when I get outside, cupping my ear and pointing the flashlight. And she mocks me by croaking away as soon as I turn my back to head indoors. She is loud. I can hear this frog through the walls. Even my dog, who doesn't have that great a sense of humor, is lying at my feet right now looking at me like "Tsk, tsk, big man. You can't silence one fat little frog with big pipes?"

Where are all the lilly pad-loving hippies when I need them to save this frog's life...from me? I know it's bad Burnettiquette to pimp slap animals. But surely if I catch this frog before PETA arrives, she (or he) is goin' down.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The beast must die!

I am contemplating murder. But don't worry. No human will die tonight.

After walking my dog this evening, I put my truck in the back yard, as is my routine. Walking from the truck to the back door I heard two big splashes come from my pond. I knew it couldn't have been the koi, 'cause they're fatter and lazier than a couple of weed-smokin' hippies I knew in college. I swear I think I've seen smoke rising from under the lilly pads. Plus those fish would only jump out of that water if they spotted brownies hovering just above the surface.

So the wife and I walked over to take a closer look at the commotion, and sitting on the edge of the pond was the hugest bull frog I've ever seen up close. This thing was the size of a kitten. My wife's immediate reaction was both "Ewww, gross!" and "That's so cute!"

I agreed on the cute first. I'm a dude. I can be a big kid. Frogs are cool.

That was about three hours ago. Three hours of non-stop chirping and croaking and ribbiting later, and I'm on the verge of committing frogicide.

That creature won't shut up. The frogs on Animal Planet don't do this. They're quieter. Thirty seconds of croaking and it's off to a commercial break.

This was supposed to be an early night for me - to bed and asleep by 11 p.m. I can't sleep though, 'cause even with my doors closed and windows shut tight and the TV turned up, I can still hear the frog opera.

Frogarotti had better hope I don't find him out there tonight, 'cause I hear frog legs taste like chicken.

The Toes Knows

I used to think my wife was nagging me for reminding me to slather up the feet with lotion before I walked out of the house in sandals.

That was until I saw two of the crustiest sets of toes today that I've ever seen in my life. And to be fair, one set was on woman, the other on a guy.

The guy, coming down an escalator that I was riding up, had such crusty feet it looked like he was trying to bake a pie in those shoes.

Fellas, women aren't joking when they say they check out our shoes when examining the potential of the total package. And if they look at your feet and see dry rot, that will be a deal breaker.

And ladies you ain't off the hook. Speaking of hook, the crusty female toes I saw earlier were clutching a pair of too cute but too small open-toed heels like bird claws. Those gray toes were holding on for dear life, as though if they loosened their grip the shoes would fall off.

Check your toes people, or cover 'em up in public. I'm gonna have visions of mummy feet as I try to fall asleep tonight, and that just ain't right.

Wonky toes = bad Burnettiquette.

We're Number One! We're Number One!

From the Associated Press wire on the humanity of drivers in South Florida:

The Miami Doorbell?

Before I moved to the Dirty South (I know this isn't Atlanta) late last year, one of my biggest beefs in Milwaukee, Wis., where I lived was the "Milwaukee doorbell." That's what the old locals called it when a driver would pull up to a home and lean on the car horn to get the attention of someone inside.

I swear I thought I would never hear "the doorbell" anywhere as much as I did there...But then I moved to South Florida. There is a competition on my block (no Big Daddy, it's not in the 'burbs), I think, to see whose friends/family/co-workers can show up earliest in the day or latest at night and lean on their horns the longest.

I even saw a woman early today pull into a driveway a couple doors down with a cell phone glued to her ear. Do you think she CALLED inside to let whoever know that their ride was outside? Apparently not. She was talking to someone on that phone, but every few words she'd give the horn a blast. That lasted about three minutes.

Please, I am begging you people: call ahead to your friends/family/co-workers and tell them "I am three blocks away. I'll be pulling up to your door shortly." And you folks inside, avoid the label of triflin' by reacting when you get that call with a "OK, I'll be outside waiting for you."

I know such transactions are possible. There are more cell phones than people on this planet. When the Matrix is finally constructed in another 50 years we will regret having birthed so many talk-pieces into this world. They're gonna side with the computers. But that's another story.

Keep the peace! Don't "blow" the Miami Doorbell!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What to do, what to do

I have a friend who is a closet bigot.

I say closet, 'cause I honestly don't think this friend thinks about it before making mean-spirited, insensitive, or just plain old ignorant comments about people based on their skin color or status in life.

It's frustrating to observe, 'cause this friend has been nothing but nice to me. However, I notice with increasing frequency that when my friend comments on other people there is always a caveat involving race. My friend can't just weigh in on someone's behavior, actions, attitude, etc.

For example, if this friend eats good food in a restaurant, and this friend happens to catch a glimpse of the African American chef, this friend might say something to the effect of "Man, that black chef is awesome!"

If a frowning man, surrounded by smiling people, gives us a mean look, my friend might say "That Hispanic dude sure looked at us funny."

Let a Middle Eastern man raise his voice to his wife, and this friend will express shock not at the verbally abusive man's behavior, but at "that Arab guy!"

You see the problem, right? My friend seems to think that people's skin color and ethnicity are integral parts of their behavior, as if the chef's food was good because he was black or if the mean mugging guy gave us a hard look because he was brown-skinned.

Not cool. But I'm not quite sure how to bring it up with my friend or if it should be brought up.

Still, I can't help but wonder what my friend says about me when I'm not around: "I know a cool (black) guy who writes for a living?"

That Ain't Right what I said to myself earlier this morning after seeing a woman pull up to the curb at a neighbor's house with a car full of kids.

The car windows were up, and the woman was smoking a cigarette. C'mon, puff if you want to, but don't hold the kids hostage to it.

With all the fat, cancer-causing crap we're feeding 'em these days, the least we can give a kid is a little fresh air on his ride to school.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Oddest thing I've seen...(today,anyway)

A brown-skinned woman (I was close enough to fairly assume, I think, that she was of African or Latin descent) parked her car at the curb next to me as I walked by on the sidewalk. The car she drove had a bawdy Confederate flag bumper sticker mounted at the top of the windshield.

History and its interpretations can be crazy. But I'd love to hear the story behind her and that sticker.

Maybe she borrowed the car. Or maybe she bought it used and the sticker was already there. But why not scrape it off, then?

Am I nuts, or is that not odd?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Weekly Behavior Awards

Once again we got more votes for number one pinhead than for nice person.

So this part'll be short and sweet. The Good Behavior Award will go to my neighbor across the street who every morning like clockwork takes a plastic grocery bag and picks up trash around her front yard, the sidewalk, that little strip of grass the city owns but makes you maintain, the curb, and even the street in front of her house. No matter how many Nimrods drop empty Doritos bags in front of her house, and sit their empty soda cans on the tree stump at the edge of her yard, she never seems to lose patience. She just cleans up after those idiots. May a few of my other neighbors who haven't heard of trash cans follow this woman's lead.

As for Bum of the Week, we got a couple of nominations, plus my pick:
  • Tere, of Coral Gables blog (, offered this - "I was driving down one of the residential streets off my block, and there was this guy, standing by his Lamborghini - he had the doors up and was just standing there, arms crossed, posed by the car. I got the distinct impression he wanted us all to stop and stare at his obvious, fantastic coolness and his sweet car. ARGH."
  • Og, of Neanderpundit ( ), shared this - "My nomination is for the moron who sat in traffic in front of me; wait till twenty car lengths opened ahead of him, then looked up and decided to move.For three hours. If I had had a real tire iron, instead of the cheap little things they give you with cars nowdays, it would have been his last day on earth."
  • And here's my offering: The wife and I went to church this morning, 'cause I'm a heathen and need guidance that neither Peter Griffin nor Homer Simpson can give me. So when the service ended and we rose to leave, we noticed the oddest thing. Standing on a church pew next to the hymnals and guest-signing books was a little Chihuahua. But that's redundant. Anyway, this dog was standing on the pew. He trotted a few paces this way and that way. A few minutes later, his owners, a young couple who had attended the service, came and scooped him up. Now, I love dogs. I love pets in general. And I ain't uptight, but it is going to be a tall order to convince me that it is OK to not only have your pet in church but let him walk up and down the pews. C'mon. If that animal isn't doing Lassie duty (leading the blind or running for help after you've fallen or had a seizure), then it has no business in church. That's triflin' to the third power. Take that craziness to Lincoln Road, where little dogs can explore their human sides all they want. And all the people said? AMEN!

I guess it's unfair that I get the final say. But them's the breaks. And I say this week I win. I agree Tere, that guys who can't just enjoy their hot rods but wanna make you admire them too are often tools.

And I agree Og that any pinhead who lets 20 carlengths build before moving in traffic in front of you and drags this game on for hours right in front of you doesn't deserve to eat fresh food, much less drive. I'll leave the life and death thing to powers higher than me.

But even if you're not a religious person you have to admit that letting a dog - a pet, not a service dog - stroll around a church is not cool.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Nominate for WBAs

Weekly Behavior Awards will be announced Sunday night, as usual. Don't wait till then if you have a recommendation for Biggest Bum or Best Behavior.

Let's have it in advance.

Much thanks to Big Daddy, Og, and Andy for last week's nominations. Thanks for saving me from having to nominate on my adventures only, guys.


Big Daddy's Thought-Provoking Response

Hey, I've said I have tons of opinions. I never said mine were the absolute right ones or the only right ones.

So I wrote yesterday that I'm skeptical about "experts" who quickly invoke learning disabilities as a reason why so many young kids - especially central city kids - don't do well in academic tasks like reading these days. My skepticism was illustrated by a couple of kids I saw on a stroll. One of 'em couldn't tie his shoe, but while he struggled w/that lace he recited a pop song verbatim. I opined that if a song could be memorized so could a textbook with the help of parents, guardians, good neighbors, older siblings, etc.

Anyway, my wife, who is a teacher, and Big Daddy, a frequent contributor to this blog both disagreed with me. Wifey says my view is oversimplified. BD says I have to consider socioeconomic issues, race, and even location before taking a swipe at parents for some of kids' academic failures.

Here's BD's response in full: I don't know, champ. I still see sandals, black socks, shorts just below the nipples and a metal detector at the beach in your future. I agree that kids today need to study their lessons more and that they are entirely capable of learing anything put before them. I do not subscribe to the notion that my generation was smarter, better, or more intelligent than the young 'uns out there today. They've survived crackhead parents, knuckleheads shooting at cars, and gun battles that were really unheard of before the mid to late 1980's. But your Cosbyesque tirade has as much to do with children feeling left out of school as it does with their parents feeling alienated from the system.Right or wrong, many parents of children in a minority group schooled during integration did not have a Sandra Dee Rydell High School experience. Theirs was more like Rizzo's. Therefore, it is difficult for them to champion the school system when it comes to educating their child. Many of us who grew up during the height of integration (late 1960's- to now) have bitter feelings about public and private schools and it is difficult not to transmit those feelings to your child when you see the school treating them the same way. I come from a small town family of teachers who knew how to work the white man's educational system to get the best opportunity at the schools that were the best funded. It involved fake addresses, clandestine night moves to a cousin's house and drop offs at bus stops miles away from home so I could go to the white school. I saw that and drew respect. But not for the school. It was for my folks, who were making a sacrifice. And after all that, the school still was in the antebellum south. Between 1978 and 1986 I must have fought 10-20 times over racial issues usually related to my presence. I fought with public school kids and private school kids, who were worse because their parents were allegedly more "liberal" and "education minded." So it will be difficult for me to promote faithful participation in school learning without an air of contempt. Much of the learning that my children receive will fall on my shoulders.Which brings me to my next point. Tired parents who didn't get much out of school don't make great teachers. I am not making excuses here. But I would like all to realize that coming home from work, making dinner, and then teaching a child 2 hours of math is not something most parents can do every day for 13 years. They need help. The first thing is to make the kids more responsible through a** whoopings, but advocate for parental help that parents can trust. The trust is the big part that's lacking. That's what we had before integration--a trust that the people at the school cared as much about your kids as you did because they were your neighbors, friends, associates. I never felt that level of trust in my school. It's a shame that hasn't changed.

My Rebuttal: That was deep BD, and I don't wholly disagree. But there's one problem here. You're talking about the problem being bad and biased school systems and tired parents. I agree that those things are rampant. But I'm not talking about the worth of the school. There are smart kids who come out of crappy schools unscathed all the time, because when they get home from school concerned parents talk about homework w/'em and help 'em w/that homework to whatever extent they can. If that view makes me Cosbyesque, so be it. There are worse comedians I could be compared to. Truth is one of my pop's regular refrains coming up was "Son, you are getting a better education than I did." That didn't stop him though from riding my behind and making me do homework and trying to help me w/it, even subjects he might not have been the best in. So tell me what that parental effort has to do with crappy schools and biased schools. My thoughts were all about role models and influences, my friend. And I still say parents, guardians, older siblings, etc., make the best of all.

And BD, I like you. Don't know you, but I like that you don't pull punches. But man, you have got to quit comparing me to Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace. I don't care if I live to be 150, I will never wear black socks w/my sandals. My shorts won't ever ride above my waist line. And you won't ever find me on the beach with a metal detector. You gotta give me more cool points than that.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture

I was walking for a cup of coffee this afternoon and sat for a minute to let my brew cool before drinking it. Two kids with backpacks, I guess leaving school, came walking by and paused on the sidewalk in front of me.

One had a little boom box, bumping a song I recognized as a rapid-fire tune by Busta Rhymes. If you know hip-hop then you know that Rhymes rhymes at a ridiculously fast pace. You have to have special ears or a stereo that can play in slow motion to understand what he's saying the first dozen or so times you hear one of his songs.

Don't get me wrong. I was a fan back in the day. Rhymes ticked me off recently though over a moral issue, but that's another blog entry on a different day.

So anyway, one of the kids stopped 'cause his shoe was untied. While he knelt to deal with it, his friend with the boom box stood by and waited patiently. A few seconds pass, the shoe's still undone. A few more pass, and a few more, and a few more, till about 30 seconds have ticked off. It hit me that the kid was taking so long, because he just couldn't tie his shoe.

Here's what tripped me up though. All the while as he struggled with that lace, he was rhyming along with the boom box, keeping up with Rhymes word for word! His little friend eventually grew impatient, called the shoe lace kid a dummy and started walking on.

I don't think the kid was a dummy. That's not cool. But that whole scene made me think of something else.

I hear about kids that get low grades in the classroom 'cause they can't remember lessons from day to day, and experts who say we should spend more money and use more state of the art equipment. And kids are still failing. And so the conclusion always seems to be that these kids have learning disabilities.

I don't want to hear any of that learning disability stuff until the experts have spent a day in any average middle of the road neighborhood, even a poor 'hood, and listened to the kids and their music. These kids are smart. They can memorize lengthy song upon lengthy song upon lengthy song and not miss a beat. So if properly motivated, they can memorize stuff in a classroom too. But that kind of motivation comes from parents, and guardians, and older siblings, and aunts, and uncles, and grandparents, and responsible neighbors - that whole village-raising-kids concept from the African proverb. And as long as kids have rappers and rock stars and sullen over-paid jocks to look up to, it's those guys whose words they'll continue to memorize, not the people contributing something useful to the planet.

Alright, I feel the soapbox buckling underneath me. I'm getting down now.

Updated: the No Speak List

Last week I wrote about how disturbed I was to see a woman on television tell her corny boss to "keep it real." My problem wasn't the words but the likelihood that the woman had no clue where they came from and what they really mean.

When I lived in Sicily as a child my older sister and I made friends w/a bunch of the local kids. One day, a group of the older kids, with whom my sister had grown tight, decided to prank me. They called me over and told me they were going to teach me a little Sicilian. So I followed their lead and repeated the phrase they gave me over and over until it felt natural rolling off my tongue.

A short time later another older boy came strolling up, and the group urged me to practice my Sicilian on him. I was eager - stupid, but eager - so I walked up to him and said something to the effect of "Sua madre è un maiale grasso." Don't condemn me. I was 10. I found out only after the older kid had chased me on foot about half a mile that I had called his mother a fat porker. He didn't beat me like I stole something, though in retrospect I wouldn't have blamed him if he had. But the kid did cuff me about the ears a couple of times and scold me - in English - for repeating words I wasn't familiar with.

So after observing and overhearing a little more misplaced co-opting of hip-hop jargon over the past few days, I feel like we need a list.

If you are: over the age of 50, a boss of any kind, a parent over 40 who either has either never listened to hip-hop or hasn't in over 10 years, NOT a former rapper, an adult who lives in a home full of stuffed animals, a member of the clergy, an elementary or middle school teacher, a person who drives a minivan, a person who does not own at least one old-school hip-hop album, a person who still says "jiggy," or a person who still thinks Vanilla Ice represents the Miami rap scene, then you are forbidden for goodness sake from using the following words and phrases -
  • Yo
  • G
  • What up?
  • Dog (as used by American Idol judge Randy Jackson)
  • Homie
  • Home boy
  • B-boy
  • Fly
  • Peace (unless you are praying for it), and definitely not Peace Out
  • Dope (unless you are fiending for it)
  • Pimpish
  • Hollah (or holler, if you were an English major)
  • Anything that ends in "izzle"
  • Keep it Real, or Keeping it Real
  • Trippin'
  • Word, Word up
  • Chillin'
  • Down (as in "I am down for...")
  • Played, or played out (as in "People, who don't subscribe to hip-hop culture but insist on using old hip-hop lingo, are played out.")

If you have anything that should be added to this list, write back.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What's Good for the Goose...

I recently poked fun in this blog at an old friendly acquaintance for still using pick-up lines to meet and attract women. I said it was corny.

It's only fair then in the area of romance - I'm gonna start charging a fee for relationship tips - that women get called out too.

An old friend emailed me to catch up on things and tell me how life was going for her in NYC. One thing that isn't going is her love life.

She described a recent date to me and said it fizzled and fell flat because after a light bite and cocktails they went to a club, and the guy couldn't dance. The way she described it this guy moved like Jabba the Hutt - meaning he danced like he had no feet.

Now, I understand the value of a good rug cutting. It's an ice breaker. It's fun. It tells you, some folks theorize, whether that other person is prone to good rhythm, period, or might be clumsy in other ways too.

But most guys can't dance, except for those who are male strippers. We, the non-strippers, all think we can dance because we've seen a couple of Usher videos, and even a few of those old MJ videos before he started grabbing himself all the time. And we've convinced ourselves that we can duplicate their moves. But we can't. If each dance routine is measured on a 20 point scale, one point for each move in the routine, the best of us might consistently score fours and fives. What we've fooled you with is a practiced ability to bob our heads to a beat, smile while we're doing it, wave our hands in the air like we just don't care (thus taking attention off of our feet), and thrusting our hips just so, so that it appears from the waist up we're actually moving our legs. We occasionally move one foot or the other, just to throw you off.

Then there are those guys who don't even try to look cool about it. They just try to have fun. I say kudos to them too.

My point ladies is that there are some things that men will never be as good at as you. You have to accept that. And the faster you accept that, the faster you'll realize that those things are so superficial that you shouldn't use them to gage a guy's worthiness.

'Cause as years pass, if you're still alone (and want a relationship - not everyone does), you're gonna find out something about that guy from back in the day with two left feet: He might have been clumsy, but he probably also had a JOB (not saying you need his money, but at least you know he wouldn't be trying to take yours), and a PERSONALITY, and was TRUSTWORTHY, RESPONSIBLE, and RELIABLE.

Hey, I'm just saying, if you want to see a guy dance that well, there are plenty of places you can go and toss a few $1 bills. But there aren't that many place you can find a good man.

On two completely unrelated notes, thank you llh from Hazard, KY, for your kind words. And Tere, this may make me seem odd (or odder than I already am), but I've never been fond of "Jim" as a nickname 'cause it makes me think too much of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and their "buddy" Jim. As for family they all call me James now, except for one of my grandmothers and a couple of my aunts who slip up every now and then and call me Jamie, a nickname I never fully shed till I was in my 20s.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The first of Ten Commandments

I love the ones that Moses showed us. And even though I know it's like running on a treadmill, I still try to abide by 'em. So far I haven't killed anyone. So that's one successful commandment.

But my commandments are hardly Holy and definitely not guides to clean living. Mine are guides to avoiding awkward silences with people who are different from yourself. They're about not making yourself feel or look stupid unnecessarily.

So commandment one is about familiarity. You've heard familiarity breeds contempt? I used to think that meant getting to know someone too well, as in ALL of the good and bad. Now that I'm a little older I think it's also probably a reference to being too familiar, almost like being fresh with someone.

Thou Shalt Not Address A Stranger by A Nickname, Slang, Or Hip Phrase, And Thou Shalt Not Address People You Know By The Same, Unless You Are Good Friends With Those People.

Commandment number one goes out to the bartender who called me "homey" the other day. Go ahead and laugh. But "homey" is a very personal nickname. It's not like buddy, or pal. Homey is something you call your tight friend or the person with whom you feel an inexplicable sibling like bond. Homey is one of those slangs born of hip-hop culture. I'm almost as uncomfortable with a stranger calling me "homey" as I am angry when I hear people tossing around racial slurs. It's not a race thing though. I have white and Asian and Latino friends who can call me "homey." A stranger calling me that ain't cool though for one reason: Strangers do it not because they know you well. Strangers use such nicknames, because they make certain assumptions about who you are, based on what you look like. And they think by calling you a slang nickname it instantly gives them credibility with you.

You get my drift? I know you do.

So that's commandment number one. I'm no Sydney "They call me Mr. Tibbs" Poitier, but if you don't know me like that: I don't work with you, hang out with you, etc., then call me James (not Jim) or Mr. Burnett.

Next week, commandment number two.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Weekly Behavior Awards

So we got a couple of nominations for Poindexter of the Week, better known as Biggest Bum.

Only one came in, however, for Good Behavior recipient. One, plus mine, I mean.

I nominate the Peter Griffin look-alike I encountered at the beach today who inexplicably thought about the folly of his Speedo and without apparent encouragement covered it up by putting on a pair of full, baggy, completely unrevealing shorts. Thank you kind sir for that act of mercy.

Big Daddy had the only outside nomination. Here's his story: "I don't have any jackass shouts, so I'll give a Good Behavior shout to the staff at the Sheraton Key Largo (which used to be the Westin) located at MM 97. They were genuinely concerned about my stay, called me twice to ask if there was anything they could do, gave me a free upgrade to a 4th floor water view room (which included clear view of sunset) and treated our group like champs. Sid, who worked the beachside tiki bar was exceptionally friendly and I even got a free show as one of the other guests decided to sunbathe topless and then put it back on after being politely asked (and informed of her criminal activity) by the management. So not everyone who lives and works in So Fla. is a jackass and those who aren't certainly deserve all the credit they can get to encourage copycats. ( I realize that many in this area would not necessarily include the Keys as SoFla. as their approach to living is much more identified with Florida's west coast, but we take what we can get)."

I don't wanna be greedy. So even though I really was grateful to the beach guy for covering up that banana hammock, this week's Good Behavior award goes to BD's benefactors at the Sheraton Key Largo. It's nice to get good customer service w/out griping and grumbling on the side.

As for Biggest Bum, Og, of, nominated a smug guy in a hybrid (hmmm, sounds like a recent South Park episode - kidding Og) car who held up traffic in a parking lot by driving just a few seconds per hour. The guy also lost points with Og, who theorized that the batteries that will eventually have to be replaced in the hybrid will still contain environmental pollutants centuries after gasses from fossil fuels (gasoline in regular cars) have dissipated. I say "theorized" not because I doubt Og, but because I don't know enough about hybrids to take a side.

The second nomination comes from Andy of boredom blog. Andy says he was attending the Air and Sea Show this weekend and saw a nice looking Wellcraft boat slam into another craft. The pilot of the Wellcraft "did not even bother to stop," Andy says, adding "I thought that kind of thing only happens on dry land but I guess not." Fortunately a few other people saw the collision and took pictures, Andy says, and hopefully they got the crasher's vessel number.

And I had two nominations: One for the parents of the young boy who dropped trou about 10 feet away from the wife and I at the beach this afternoon and doused the hot sand with his stream of freedom. They laughed it off. With that reaction, the kid's gonna end up thinking he can spray away whenever and wherever he feels the urge. What's next, kids bending biscuits in the sand, while their parents chuckle? The beach isn't a litter box. Do I really need to explain why his folks are up for the award? My second nomination goes to the two too-cute-to-clean-up women about 10 yards away from us on the beach. Their umbrella caught a stiff breeze and snapped. When it broke they took it out of the sand and laid it next to their stuff. When they got up to leave, they left their broken umbrella. The puddle of pee was bad enough. If we start leaving busted furniture on the sand too, the oceanfront will start looking like a couple of front yards I've seen in the area.

Anyway, again, I'm not trying to be greedy. So Andy's nomination gets it. How triflin' is a hit and run in a boat? Guess that's proof that having extra cash doesn't necessarily make for having extra class. Hope they catch the guy.

I'm wearing hip waders to the beach from now on

I am trippin' right now as a little kid - maybe 3-years-old - pees on the beach about 10 feet from us. As other beachgoers watch and no doubt make mental note to not walk barefoot over that particular patch of wet sand, his parents laugh. No, his parents aren't wolves.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

It's that time

Let's go folks. I need nominations for the Weekly Behavior Awards.

Unless this is your first visit, you know the drill: Every Sunday night we name the Biggest Bum and Best Behavior recipients.

If you observed an incident or some group/organization/outfit, etc., deserving of either award over the past week or so, let's read about it.

So far we have one nomination, made by Big Daddy earlier in the week. And we can take new nominations till 9 p.m. Sunday.

Last week's winners were my folks - Best Behavior, for their patience while visiting South Florida for the first time, and People magazine - Biggest Bum, for once again naming mostly models, actors, and actresses to their annual Most Beautiful list.

Bad Buds

The wife and I were out car shopping today, 'cause we're about due an upgrade, and on the way home from the dealership we stop in Target to grab a few things.

Walking up and down the aisles we begin to smell a peculiar odor, not a good one. We quickly determine it is the building that smells like a seafood restaurant, the WHOLE building. That place needed giant moth balls.

Anyway, we go down one aisle after another until it seems like the smell starts to fade and then out of left field, better known as aisle nine, a new funk hit us. I start, 'cause I felt pimp-slapped (open hand, palm forward) by the new stealth funk. Turns out it wasn't the building this time, it was a dude shopping w/a couple of other adults - a woman and another man. Don't know if they were relatives, friends, neighbors, etc., but whatever their "formal" titles the three of them were obviously friendly.

So, here's my question: Assuming the guy bearing the funk did not have a disease that caused him to smell - in which case, his smell would have been excusable, what kind of friends were the other two for not giving him a heads up? They were standing there yucking it up as though they smelled nothing but roses.

Being a good friend isn't just about saying sweet things all the time, no pun intended. Sometimes you gotta say the harsh stuff too, for the other person's own good. If I stink like goat cheese, I want my friends to pull me aside and tell me to handle it, the same way I expect their intervention if my fly is open or I'm dragging tissue on the back of my shoe.

I have always had a little suspicion/paranoia for a "friend" who won't tell a friend that something is wrong/off kilter, etc., when they're in public. Makes me think the "friend" might really be an undercover hater.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Stop the Muggings, Please!

Thought I meant physical muggings, right? Well, I did, but not the kind that involve you getting jacked of your: car, purse, wallet, cash, etc.

I'm talking mean muggings - tough looks.

If you don't know: "mean muggin'" is that frowny, snarly look you give someone to demonstrate you're not happy with them, or, in some cases, to show that you could be a menace. At least that's what mean mugs used to be for. Now you know.

We've all mean mugged someone. Maybe we furrowed the brow at the woman who just cursed out her kid in a grocery store parking lot. Maybe we glared at the person we caught staring ogling our significant other. Maybe, we were just young and stupid and mean muggin' everyone who crossed our paths just to let them know we were unhappy with life itself.

Traditionally though, "wearing" a mean mug as a popular item - like wearing the latest Nike kicks, or the best jeans, or a baseball hat with the sales tag still on it - has been the domain of youngsters, mostly hip-hop heads. Just check out Riley Freeman in The Boondocks comic strip, as an example.

So why lately am I seeing EVERYBODY mean muggin'? Seriously, young people, old people, black people, white people, brown people, gritty hip-hop heads, penny loafer and blue blazer-wearing private school kids, hemp-wearing (and probably puffing) hippies, Dave Matthews-esque alt-rocker types, moms, singles, grandmothers.

What gives? I know doggone well people can't be that angry. Maybe they are, though. Gas prices are high. Hurricane season is coming. Osama's still on a mountain vacation.

My wife didn't believe me when I first brought this up a few days ago. She thought my wig was on too tight or something, when I told her during a stroll through downtown Hollywood that an old guy had just mean mugged me.

But then, when we stopped for coffee and sat to do some people watching I pointed out another old guy - this time not looking at me. Instead he was glaring at another man, who, as best as I could tell, was just walking by and minding his own business.

Over the next 30 minutes or so the same scene repeated itself three or four times with an elderly woman, a middle-aged woman, a 30-something woman, and a 20-something guy.

A buddy used to always say that mean-mugging was the human equivalent of a dog baring his teeth: a defensive measure meant to say "I am not a punk, and I'll fight you if I have to."

So assuming my guy was right - and I'm not saying he was 100%, though I think he was close - what does that mean? Are people just walking around perpetually scared of strangers these days, so scared that mean muggin' has become automatic, like breathing and walking?

Worst Use Ever of a (formerly) Cool Phrase

I've already confessed before that I let my wife talk me into watching Bravo TV's Blowout, starring wads of bangin' hair.

So I'm confessing again that last night I watched a rerun of the season finale (I think it originally aired on Tuesday). I swear though it was research. I only watched to see how many times J. Ant got all weepy and whether or not he would again call hot hair cut recipients Baberaham Lincoln or describe freshly cut bangin' hair as Bangladesh.

Anyway, in one scene the boss tells his assistant that he just landed some new big deal. So with one fist he pounded his chest, the way Sammy Sosa (and countless professional wrestlers) used to do when showing love to the crowds of adoring fans.

The assistant's response to this gesture? She told J. Ant to "keep it real."

Noooooooooooooooooooooo! That's wrong. Aside from it just being creepy like when Busta Rhymes and Martha Stewart awkwardly shared the podium at an MTV awards show a couple of years ago, those words weren't used properly.

Stop the madness. I want a law banning ALL people from co-opting catch phrases from hip-hop culture, unless they can first demonstrate in writing they understand what they're saying and where it came from.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


I think that's the word they use on Law & Order when one side wants another crack at rebutting the other side's argument.

So I said my piece on serial spitters and knuckleheads w/booming car stereos in residential areas.

And I got a couple of interesting responses. One was from a reader who said that "As you get older, you'll see you need to get rid of the phlegm RIGHT NOW!" Naturally, he was responding to the serial spitting rant.

My rebuttal: needing (or wanting - in this case there's a thin line separating the two) to spit right now just doesn't cut it. I "need" to go "right now," sometimes. But if I always went immediately upon "needing" to, I'd be walking around with wet pants. And that wouldn't be pretty. Sorry pal. Sometimes common courtesy says you have to try to hold it.

And Big Daddy, that was a colorful story about Miami and car stereos back in the day. I closed my eyes and could almost see the scene. But you weren't describing Miami. You were describing every urban neighborhood in every big city in this country. We all experienced that back in the day. I experienced it in Southeast Virginia. I have friends who experienced it in Milwaukee. Others who have the same memory about growing up in Seattle and Chicago. The key was we all put together our jury-rigged stereo systems and bumped them ridiculously loud when we were kids. You can still listen to old hot tunes, to loud hot tunes, but come on, if you're grown do you still really "need" to blast 'em in heavily populated areas? And I would disagree with you that the offenders are bumping their stereos so loudly because they genuinely believe everyone wants to hear their music. I think they do it, because they just couldn't care less what you or I think. The only symbolism here is the gesture of crankin' it up that says I like it this loud, so how the volume affects you doesn't matter.

And Big Daddy, I would never wear socks with my sandles. But I am crotchety when it comes to my peace being disturbed at home.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Car Stereo Etiquette

I won't belabor this one. I could talk about it all day.

But it just came to mind again 'cause last night someone dropped off my next door neighbor, and the dropper offer's stereo was booming as he approached. You could hear it a block away.

By the time he pulled into my neighbor's driveway, my windows were rattling. Then, to add insult to injury, he sat there in the car for a minute...with the stereo still cranked up. Maybe it was a good song that he wanted to hear the end of. I don't know. I've lingered in the car before to catch the end of a song.

Anyway, there are common sense rules to this music thing. I enjoy a good tune as much as the next person while driving. In fact, if you see me on the highway bobbing my head in my Jeep and flapping my gums, I'm probably not on a cellphone headset. I'm probably singing along to something.

But when you're driving into or through a residential neighborhood, turn it down. It ain't that complicated. Just ask yourself how you would react if you got rattled suddenly and things started vibrating their way off your coffee table because of a passing car. If you were on the phone and had to apologize to the other person and get up and walk into another room that was better sound insulated. If you were watching TV and missed that killer line of dialogue.

It's not the most serious violation in the world, but it is an annoyance. So, like I wrote a while back, consider that residential street like an airport runway. You know how the pilot says to put up your seat back and your tray upon final approach? Well, when you're on that final approach home turn down the volume. And when you "take off" again, or get outside the boundaries of the 'hood and onto a main thoroughfare turn it back up if you want. But that volume rule applies to outdoor commercial areas too. No one eating or drinking or shopping outside wants to hear your favorite song.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Again with the Spitting?

So it’s official, I have a spitting problem.

Not my own. I have a problem with serial spitters.

They’re everywhere, hocking away, spitting on the sidewalk in front of my house, on the sidewalk in front of the grocery store, on the sidewalk across from the church I attended Sunday. And that’s just over the past couple of days. And to be more specific, it’s always grown men…and the occasional chain-smoking elderly woman.

A co-worker once told me about a guy who let fly when she was in her car. But for the windshield she might’ve been wearing a face full of loogie seconds later.

If you’re thinking “gross,” you’re right. And here’s why: Spitting is supposed to be something you do to unburden yourself of unwanted and maybe even uncomfortable “material,” just like whizzing and nose-blowing, and farting, etc. And the last two things on that list you only do around other people in public when you absolutely NEED to, as in you can’t help it. Case in point: I was eating w/my family at a restaurant outdoors a few days ago, and something set off my hypersensitive nose. Within minutes I was stuffier than if I’d had a cold. I needed to blow my nose. But I didn’t need to do it at the expense of grossing out my fellow diners. So I walked the tough 30 second journey to the bathroom and handled it there. BTW, I also spit while I was in the can – two birds, one stone.

But somehow over the years spitting has become a manly gesture, something some guys do to reaffirm their masculinity. Think about it. If you’re a dude with all his faculties who wasn’t a Poindexter as a little boy, you probably have a memory of standing around on the playground, kicking dirt on girls and spitting. You’d spit on anything and everything. And the first boy who spit usually started a chain reaction. All the others had to keep up with the Joneses after that. Then the bell rang, recess ended, and most of us grew up. But those guys who didn't grow up and can't afford a sports car to prove their manliness, there's spitting.

So it’s not far-fetched at all that we used to brush off extreme spitting as just another guy thing, like the tendency of some guys to walk around resting a hand on their crotches, as though they’re worried their goodie bags might run away if not held tightly.

But if you’re a grown man and you don’t have coal miner’s lung and you’re still spitting just because you can, it’s a subtle sign you haven’t developed self control in adulthood.

I can’t make you check yourself. But if you absolutely have to spit at least look for a more appropriate place to let fly, some place meaning NOT the sidewalk, NOT people’s windshields, et. I’m sure there are a few more places we could list, but you get the picture…I hope.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Problem With the Pick-Up

Once again, let us start with my disclaimer and reminder that Burnettiquette is about more than good manners. It is about good sense.

That being said, my guy from back in the day called me to catch up on things. And he brought up his cousin, who is actively seeking a mate.

I'm not mad at Cousin. We all need somebody to leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-ean on.

But seriously, my guy's cousin is in his early 30s and has never had a serious girlfriend. And it's not for lack of trying. For the longest time I couldn't understand why it just wasn't working for him. He's a decent looking guy. Women always smiled back when he showed his teeth.

And then I saw him in action. We were all out one night a few years ago - before I was married - and Cuz spotted a couple of women who made him all wobbly in the knees. After signaling me and my guy to take up the customary wingman positions on either side of him, Cuz led the way. Like good wingmen we chatted up the friends of Cuz' primary target, to keep them from intefering with his pitch. And he, well, focused.

Cuz' conversation started out well enough. But then it crashed and burned in a matter of seconds, when he asked the woman if "it hurt." It's like a knock knock joke. You have to ask for explanation. She did, and he answered something to the effect of "when you fell from Heaven."

So fast-forward to today. Apparently Cuz is still using pick-up lines. And call it coincidence, but he's still alone. I feel bad for the guy.

Once and for all fellas they don't work...unless you're using them on an equally desperate woman. And really, how often are women as desperate as us, guys? NEVER.

But you don't have to take my word for it. I asked an old platonic female friend and my wife why pick-up lines don't work, other than sheer corniness.

And they both agreed it is because they smack of incincerity, that they are always rehearsed, and that most women have a hard time believing a guy who uses a practiced line to get their attention.

So fellas, if you too are a Cuz, don't believe the hype. Telling a woman she has a nice body will not get her to "hold it against you." It will probably get you pepper sprayed.