Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Truth About The Sports Guy

Thank God that Kenny Mayne's hard-hitting investigative journalism can show us the truth behind the columnist/podcastist.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Secret of A-Rod's Success

Everyone wonders why A-Rod is finally successful in the off-season. The reason is devilishly clever: during A-Rod's steroid suspension hip rehabilitation, manager Joe Girardi merely changed all calendars in the Yankee organization to the Julian calendar. A-Rod now thinks that it's November 9 and that he's playing in a off-season league for HGH test subjects.

How did he discover this strategy? It's also how Obama managed to prevent the Democratic party from losing the election for him -- their strategists all thought they had at least another 10 days to start running their "Palin IS Qualified" ads.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jewelry For The Sensitive Lothario

Talk about your niche product -- marketed toward people that are emotionally open AND have multiple lovers. But, hey, you've gotta give them props for knowing their target market.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dropping Il Duce*

One of the annoyances/highlights of my first year in Germany was dealing with pretentious Germans (definitely a minority, most sympathized with my plight) that personally attacked me for the actions of my (ugh) President. These jackholes apparently saw no irony whatsoever in blaming me for the actions of an elected official that I didn't even vote for. I would let the deutschbags drone on for a bit, give them a few outs, and if they didn't take the chances -- I'd drop the H bomb. "I appreciate your insights, coming from a culture that has never acted in fear or ignorance to elect a government that later committed horrible acts of aggression... oh wait. Never mind. Just fuck off." If they tried to argue, it would get really fun, bec.ause, as everyone knows, once you bring up Hitler, rational conversation is finished

So,after learning that Mussolini's nickname was "Il Duce" (thanks to "The Know-It-All"), I look forward to my next trip to bella Italia in hopes that I can sucker someone into letting me "drop Il Duce". Such are the small pleasures of living in Europe.

* This post dedicated to John Martin, King of Deuce Droppers

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vatican Tempts Anglicans With New Slogan: "Our Gay Priests Stay In the Closet, And Our Women in the Laity"

ROME(BS) The Pope today reminded conservative Anglicans that, "the Catholic Church is proud to keep to its traditions and not allow open homosexuals or women in its clergy. Only the pure of spirit, which naturally includes repeat pedophiles and former Hitler Youth, are allowed to serve. Also, tradition demands that sons of extremely wealthy families be allowed to remain priests, bishops or even pope, no matter how many mistresses, children or 'executive assistants' they may have." He continued on, offering to allow married Anglican priests to stay married if they converted to Catholicism and "promised to stop mocking my hats."

On the issue of women as priests, the Pope refused to comment as he could not stop giggling. A spokesman later issued his official statement on the issue, "*snort*,chicks! Ha!"

And in case you're wondering, I'm not anti-Christ, I'm just anti-organized religion. If you wonder why, read up on your Church history.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

VikiP, Citi CEO, on Morality in Banking

My former Dear Leader, VikiP, was recently interviewed by Welt am Sonntag, a German weekly, to get his perspective on a few issues. He ended up dodging faster than Neo in the Matrix. Some snippets:

Welt am Sonntag: Mr. Pandit, you studied electrical engineering. How often in recent months have you asked yourself why you didn't remain an engineer?

Vikram Pandit: To be honest with you, I was never a particularly good engineer.

Based on Old Lane and Citi's performances, I'd say he's consistent in career performance.

WaS: How are we going to get morality and decency back into banking? Have values like these ever actually counted in the business operations of the Wall Street banks?

Pandit: I can't speak for Wall Street as a whole. Citigroup, at least, has changed considerably in the past 18 months - it's no longer the same company as before the crisis. We've focused on what we can do best, what customers and investors expect from us. This process has not yet been completed, but we've already achieved a lot. Nowadays we're much leaner than we used to be. But the biggest difference lies in how we run our business and what sort of corporate culture we stand for.

Is VikiP incapable of hearing "morality" or just incapable of speaking about it?

WaS: And that means?
Nice work, Welt am Sonntag! US interviews never try to get a follow-up to a weasel.

Pandit: The customer is always the paramount focus. What matters most are the customers, not the products.

And this is why US interviewers have given up on cornering the weasel. BUT, basically, VikiP admits they weren't focused on customers before. And you're a BANK -- what products do you actually have?

WaS: That's what every banker tells us.
Is it just me, or is the interviewer a bit annoyed with the BS?

Pandit: Maybe. But what matters is not what people say, but what they do.

Except, apparently, CEOs of major banks.

WaS: Is it responsible to pay a single employee $100 million a year, like the boss of your raw materials unit Phibro, which you've meanwhile sold?

Pandit: It is, of course, a legitimate view to maintain that a sum like that is simply too high. As far as I'm concerned, however, it's more crucial to get the remuneration structure right. The entire bank sector needs to get its act together here. We mustn't encourage bankers to take inappropriate risks for which ultimately the banks have to carry the can, not the staff concerned.

Note he doesn't say that the remuneration structure is shifted too much toward huge bonuses for execs. Or even that remuneration is too high.

WaS: But doesn't the example of Phibro show that there ought to be an absolute upper limit as well?

Pandit: I don't think that's the right approach. We have to reward staff when they perform, and pay competitive salaries. It's the structure that's important in this context, not the level, it's question of whether the incentives are right or wrong.

I.e., I am not going to give up my ability to pay employees whatever they claim to be worth

WaS: But isn't the financial sector being driven far too much by money? Even long-serving investment bankers are complaining that for years now the talk is only of bigger, higher, further.

Pandit: I can comprehend that this is how it's perceived by the public, as if greed were the only motivation on Wall Street. At Citi, we always endeavored to recruit staff who primarily wanted to help their customers.

I worked for Citi for almost 8 years, and this was never anything more than lip service. If I could have shown that publicly sodomizing customers was profitable, the Glass-Steagall Act wouldn't have been the only legislation that was paid to be eliminated by Citi lobbyists.

More tomorrow -- I figure you've all had enough Citi-related bitterness from me for a day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My First Byline!

I'm no longer just a wwwhiner blogger, now I'm a soccer correspondent! Check out my first work for -- previews of Bundesliga matches involving Americans. Full disclosure -- I only wrote the 1st two previews, the rest are by YA regular David Smith.

Gird yourself for more self-congratulating posts in the future!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Some Tips for Talking With HR

A friend recently asked for my help before her chat with semi-annual HR performance review. Here are my suggestions:

1. Prepare to explain your situation to a third-grader. With a learning disability. And ADHD. References to Transformers and/or Spiderman would not be amiss. If speaking with a female HR rep, consider a Barbie metaphor.
2. Lower your expectations. To the sub-basement.
3. When in despair, drink. What do you think spurred the 3-martini lunch in the 80s? The rise of corporate HR.

Feel free to add your own suggestions!

Worst. Qualification. Ever.

My soccer-based elation Sunday has now officially disappeared. First, Charlie Davies, the only US speedster other than Landon "Balding Pele" Donovan, barely survives a car wreck that killed another passenger, but he will be 6-12 months recovring from a pu pu platter of serious injuries -- broken tibia, broken femur*, ruptured bladder**. Then our rock in central defense, Oguchi Onyewu, tears his patellar tendon during the waning moments of a meaningless (for the USA) game against Costa Rica. While he should only be out 3-4 months, that still doesn't bode well for his readiness for South Africa.

On the bright side, Argentina qualified, barely, and so I should have another 8 months or so of Maradona jokes before he mismanages them out of the World Cup. Maradona did lash out at his critics, saying, "the media criticized me for having a Columbian agricultural coop, Pablo's Dolces de Nariz, sponsor the team, but the energy and megalomania we showed validated my choice."

* This would not, technically, stop a Drunken Lemur
** Please, no jokes about how one shouldn't try to hold it in on long car rides

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your Guide to Beards

As I prepare for Halloween, I've learned that there are 5 stages to growing a beard.

Stubble: This can be anywhere from 5 minutes after shaving to 5 days, depending on the guy. This is not a popular look, but it generally implies you don't have enough time/motivation to shave. Women tolerate it*, but tend not to comment on it.

Scruffy: This is quite popular now, even here in Germany. It takes some effort to maintain, but it's worth it to keep the look that says you don't put forth any effort. And it drives the women wild.

Yasser: The former Palestinian leader pioneered the too-short-not-long-enough look. It's the key reason he was tied** for last in the "People Magazine Sexiest World Leaders" poll. This is also the stage where female coworkers say "you're growing a beard?" in the same tone they would say "you're a sadist?"***

Here I am at this stage, minus the shades and keffiyeh.

Crazy (or, as I call it, "The CW"): Once the beard gets full, you move from shady potential terrorist to actual crazy person. I'm really looking forward to this stage.

The Guru: This one is restricted to ZZ Top, kung fu masters and religious gurus -- the only types of people with the time, conviction and indifference to societal conventions concerning food and facial hair to have the full beard.

* Wayyyyy more than guys tolerate Fem-Stubble
** With Nixon
*** I'm guessing the tone is the same. I haven't heard the latter.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nobel Committee Gives Peace Prize to Obama, Finger to Bush

Stockholm, Sweden - In a surprise move, Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Committee chairman Sven Svenssssen explained the move by saying, "Obama's eight months as President have made it clear that he is, in fact, not George Bush. While we did have nominations for a variety of people that had accomplished great things to promote peace, none of them were quite so spectacularly NOT the most despised American leader since that bastard Andrew Jackson. Pardon my language, but we do despise Jackson."

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Lost (Or Found) In Translation

Sunday at ultimate practice, a teammate (female) told me, "You guard him, he's too long for me." Previously, I'd heard "he's too high for me." Now, technically, these are both accurate translations of "Er ist zu hoch für mich." But it's not exactly what she was aiming for.

On the other hand, German teams do shower together, so maybe she knew exactly what she was saying.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Forget UFC, Monkey Knife Fighting Is The Real Sport of The Future

I'm hosting Düsseldorf's first monkey knife fight at my place next month -- Mojo vs Coco!

Olympics 2016: JT's Apartment

I've been hearing a lot about the bids by Rio and Chicago for the 2016 Olympics, and I am here to offer another alternative -- my apartment. Let's look at the competition*:

Chicago - Flophouses left over from Prohibition
Rio - Slums filled with gun-toting kids
JT - Lots of crash space!
Winner: JT

Chicago - "-style pizza"**
Rio - Endless parades of meat
JT - Wholesome, home-cooked meals
Winner: JT -- Chicage normally wins here, but athletes need veggies

Chicago - Eliot Ness was the only man who could stop organized crime in the Windy City, and he's dead.
Rio - Even the monkeys are criminals
JT - Crime free!
Winner: JT - This is turning into a bloodbath.

Chicago - Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, Corporate-Sponsor Arena for the Bulls
Rio - Maracana stadium, beaches
JT - Kitchen table that works well for poker
Winner: Chicago

Chicago: Great museums, good restaurants
Rio: One word: Thongs
JT: Just me, baby
Winner: Rio

Final Tally: JT 3, Rio & Chicago 1 each. Book now!

* I was, as always, too lazy to research so I'm just basing this on my recollections from movies and TV.
** Inside Chicago, there's no need to call it "Chicago-style"

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Top 5 Ways to Celebrate German Unity Day

So you're wondering, how do Germans celebrate German unity day? Here's a list of the most popular activities:

5. Complain about the continued Solidarity "tax" that was supposed to last only 10 years.
4. Have a currywurst (image "courtesy" of Nadia Arumugam, follow the link)!

3. Slap on lederhosen or a dirndl and get blitzed!

2. Spend a few hours hanging around the gym locker room in the nude.
1. Invade Poland (image courtesy of this site)!

The Year of Good Books: September

September was a banner month in the Year of Good Books. Since I'm a HUGE nerd, I've keep a list of what I've read for the last 6 years. And with the 6 books in September, I have read 47 books for the year, tying my previous annual max. The best part is that almost all the books I've enjoyed immensely, and this month was no exception. Warning, this is a loooooong post

Anathem - Neal Stephenson's fabulous novel of science, cosmology and action has already been covered in (too much) depth here at JTiG.

Next Man Up - John Feinstein - One of the cover blurbs marvels at how Feinstein gets the access he does, and I have the answer -- relentless positivity. He covers the 2004 Baltimore Ravens season from the post-playoff meetings to the end of the season. It is interesting, but he never digs deeper into controversies. We learn Chris McAlister sometimes shows up with booze on his breath -- AFTER we are told he has changed his ways. The title is key -- to the epilogue. While this did get me primed for the NFL season and give me more respect for Ray Lewis (he helped plan the Ravens D approach each week), I feel like it was a missed opportunity.

Animal Vegetable Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors, but this was a decided change of pace. It's the story of her family's year of eating locally. Lots of great* recipes are included for each month as well as tips on how to follow a more locavore lifestyle. While I won't be going fully local, I am now trying to do so more often. This was easy in August and September when I could buy fresh blackberries and then feel good about helping the environment and the Rhineland farmers. I don't see this being so easy in the winter. Non-Russians can only eat so much cabbage.

Knife of Dreams - Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time has been in my reading life for 10 years now. With the next book due in October (after a 4 year wait and the death of the author!), I decided to reread book 11. It was better than I remember** and has me fully psyched for The Gathering Storm. If you like fantasy or just a great read, do yourself a favor and hunt down the first book in the series, The Eye of The World. If you already enjoy the WoT, check out the quite entertaining reread at

The Fifth Elephant - Terry Pratchett has long been a fave of mine, and I've read more by him than any other author. This is another in the massive (though each stands up well on its own) Discworld series. As usual, the plot is merely a means to deliver great laughs and good insight of people. Publishers Weekly called it "a heavyweight of lightness" and that is spot-on.

Agent Zigzag - Ben Macintyre's story of British double- (or triple?) agent and criminal, Eddie Chapman is ludicrous fiction, filled with laughably improbable turns and a cast of zany characters (including a German spymaster who believes that English country dancing is not only healthy enough for the Wehrmacht but also the source of ALL folk dancing in Europe). Since it's non-fiction and supported by both German and English records of wartime activities, I have to cut it some slack. A great read that will leave you wondering afterward exactly what happened with Chapman during the war.

* Well, great-sounding. I haven't actually tried any of the recipes.
** Except the cover, which faithfully renders the most boring scene in the book.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Word of the Month: Stumbulatory

Almost nothing* makes me happier than making up words. This month's word is inspired by an obnoxious little munchkin I know.

Adjective: Describes the state of inebriation where a person can no longer walk normally but can stumble, yet does not fall down while stumbling.

Example: After her third beer, my friend stopped being a walking buzz kill and became a stumbulatory buzz kill.

Related: Shambulatory -- Ever since I read "World War Z", I've had nightmares of the shambulatory dead.

* Cursing does, actually.