Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dear John (2-27-13)

Hard Core Advice From
Hard Core's Hardest Core... John Leslie

Dear John,
     I am a senior in high school, and I have been dating "Brianna" for 10 months. She graduated last year and attends a community college, but really has no ambition to be or do anything. We spent last summer together, and I honestly fell head over heels for her.
     Here's the problem: I have been accepted to a college that's out of town. It's always been my dream to go away to school, so I told Briana that it wouldn't be fair to either of us to stay together while I'm away, but that I want us to be together as much as possible until then. However, ever since I said this to Brianna things haven't been the same. She's begun cutting herself, and tells me if I leave she'll kill herself.
     You see, Brianna's dad left when she was 12, and she's still crushed by it. She doesn't get along with her family, and tells me I'm all she has. She says that if I go away to school I'll be leaving her just like everybody else. Now I feel nothing but guilt when I think about going away to college.
     I want us to enjoy our time together as much as possible. In fact, I even want Brianna to be my date for the senior prom, but I don't want her to think I'm simply using her, because it's not true. She's the only person I want by my side, and I'm sure she can find a dress with sleeves long enough to hide those ugly scars.
     Do you think it's fair that we're staying together now even though we'll most likely break up when I leave for college? I want the full college experience, but I know a long-distance relationship will be miserable, because Brianna says she can't live without me and constantly threatens suicide.
     How do I solve this problem?

Dear Confused,
     If she kills herself, then your problem's solved, right?

Dear John,
     "Frustrated" said she felt taken advantage of by a friend who relies on her for transportation, doesn't care about her schedule, and never offers to pay for gas. You suggested a subtle hint.
     As someone who is disabled and unable to drive, I need to have human interaction and visual stimulation every now and then.
     "Frustrated's" friend may be in a similar situation, and the intellectual stimulus of being with her friend may help her mood tremendously, since being stuck at home can make a person depressed.
     Please ask "Frustrated" to have patience for her friend.
     --Been There

Dear Been There,
     Selfish people like you make me sick.

Dear John,
     "No Longer Compatible" said she isn't attracted to her husband because he's stopped bathing, has bad breath, a beer belly, and sinus issues.
     Is that all?
     My husband is grotesquely obese and also cares little for personal hygiene, but--holy moly!--is he blessed in the angle of his dangle. That fat bastard is like the over-sized gift that keeps on giving.
     I don't think there's any man so repulsive that a woman, with the help of a little booze, can't find attractive.

Dear Satisfied,
     Apparently, you've never seen Ron Jeremy.

American Chimpanzee

Monday, February 25, 2013

D'Oscars Unshamed!

Well, stand aside Nostradamus.
     Once again I was 99% correct in my annual prediction of who would take home an Academy Award. Even I, your humble Hollywood correspondent, took home an Oscar, but that was only because one particular winner got too drunk to noticed me stealing it.
     The only category I got wrong was for Best Actor. I was positive that Daniel Day-Lewis would go home a bridesmaid, not a bride, for his portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln. While others praised his performance, I found it to be just that: a performance. The animatronic Lincoln at Disneyland is more natural and lifelike. My money was on Clint Eastwood for his portrayal of an aging (insert occupation here).
     I was saddened that the cast of the movie Frankenweenie decided to boycott the ceremony, but I find their Pro-Life stand to be both brave and courageous. Wait, that's the same thing, isn't it? Nevermind.
     Everybody was shocked when they finally realized Ben Affleck hadn't even been nominated for Best Director, but my own personal theory for this glaring snub is that nobody recognized him with that beard of his (and I'm not talking about his wife), so therefore didn't know to vote for him. When he finally had his chance at the podium, after his film Argo won Best Picture, it was brave of him to air out his marital problems to the billions of people watching around the world.
     One of the more memorable moments was also a controversial one. I, for one, was greatly impressed and entertained by Barack Obama's, his lovely wife Michele's, and Vice-President Biden's Django Unchained skit. Political pundits like Rush Limbo and Bill O'Really bloviated endlessly that such shenanigans belittle the two highest offices in the land, that of First Lady and her husband. As for Joe, it's almost impossible for him to embarrass himself any further than he already has.
     So, my thanks to you, my loyal readers. Without your input for me to ignore, I would have never been able to make such a big killing in Vegas on Oscar night.

American Chimpanzee

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Oscar Predictions 2013

Opinions are like belly-buttons... everybody's got one. But is that going to stop me from telling you who I think will win the top six categories at the Academy Awards annual self-congratulatory ceremonies?
     Get real.
     I'll start with Best Supporting Actress, since, when it comes to the women, all anybody's really interested in is what they're wearing and whether or not they're able to legally have abortions.
     For Best Supporting Actress you can immediately cross out the names Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) and Amy Adams (The Master). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they don't have a chance...
     Well, I guess I am saying that.
     If there were a category for Best Naked Performance By An Actress Past Her Prime, then Helen Hunt (The Sessions) would win hands down. But Best Supporting Actress? Sorry, Helen. By the way, how's your brother, Mike?
     I wonder why most actresses, such as Helen Hunt and Joan Collins, wait until they're well past their prime to do a nude scene? This is America, I guess. They can do whatever they want. But why wait until all their equipment is heavier, hairier, and closer to the ground? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should see women as sex objects...
     Well, I guess I am saying that.
     No, the choice comes down to Anne Hathaway for her role in Les Miserables and Sally Field in Lincoln. Sorry Anne, but the dream you dreamed won't be coming true any time soon. Sally Field, the hottest old lady I wouldn't mind getting jiggy with, will win. It'll go down this way, the members of the Academy will vote for The Girl With Something Extra as a goof, and then, after it's too late to do anything about it, she'll embarrass herself onstage once again.
     For Best Supporting Actor I think it's a toss up between any of the five actors nominated. Alan Arkin (Argo) has been in the business a long time, but he won't win because he makes acting look too easy. Plus, doesn't he basically do the same character over and over again?
     Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) might have had a shot if he hadn't been coasting on his name for the last couple of decades. I can't blame him for doing it. If you have a chance to do some real acting, or a chance to make some real money, I'd go for the money. At the end of your life, does it matter if you're the world's greatest actor if all you can afford to eat at the end of the day is dog food straight out of the can?
     Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), that guy is so over-rated Justin Bieber laughs at him. I'll say one thing about Philip, at least he doesn't slap his employees in the face, or, if he does, he's not stupid enough to do it on camera. The only shot I'll give him is if the Academy members see the name Hoffman and think they're voting for Dustin.
     Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), he's always a contender, except this time he looks like a dork. Sorry, but he does. So, since Hollywood is a town obsessed with looks, that gives him no chance.
     That leaves us with Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained. That's the man I'll put my money on. And it doesn't hurt that acting next to Jamie Foxx can make Buzz Lightyear look like he's Lawrence Olivier.
     For Best Actress, I'll have to go with Jessica Chastain. Since Zero Dark Thirty will come up with its pockets emptier than the American taxpayer's, they'll toss it a bone by awarding her the Oscar. The problem, as I see it, is this: America's the good guy. If this was a movie about how the United States is the bad guy (see Django Unchained), then the Academy would fall all over itself giving it high praise and accolades, but, since we're the good guy getting the bad guy, they'll have no interest in awarding it with anything more than a snub.
     Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) has no shot. Heck, she didn't even come out naked in it. Like Helen Hunt, she'll probably wait until she's well past the age where anybody will be interested in seeing her naked. Even Rosie O'Donnell.
     Quvenzhane Wallis (Beast of the Southern Wild) is the youngest actress to ever be nominated for Best Actress. Will she win? No. I don't see a rapidly aging gaggle of actresses rewarding her for her youth, no matter how much she may deserve it.
     That leaves Naomi Watts (The Impossible). Impossible is what I'll call her chances for winning the Oscar.
     Which brings us to Best Actor. Now we're talking. Will it be Bruce Willis in A Good Day to Die Hard? Or Sylvester Stallone in Bullet to the Head? Sadly, it will be neither of them, as the Academy is adverse to honoring real men. Had they been playing homosexual cowboys playing with each other's six-shooters, then they may have had a shot. Still, let me tell you one thing, if you think it's easy playing a bad-ass when you're closer to the end of your days than to the beginning, then you'd be wrong.
     Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)? He's the front runner in this race, even with that hyphenated last name.
     Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)? Too good-looking to be taken seriously.
     Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)? For singing instead of acting? Get real.
     Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)? How did this guy ever become a successful actor? The only way he'll win is if gets the sympathy vote over his brother--the good-looking, talented one--dying tragically after filming one of those Batman movies.
     Denzel Washington (Flight)? Sorry, Denzel. This would have been your year, except for the fact that Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated, too. Hollywood, the racist place that it is, loves nothing more than voting for black people, unless they have an opportunity to vote for the white man who freed them. Even if that white man was a Republican.
     Best Director.
     There are a lot of good directors missing from this selection. Whatsisface from Argo. You know, the guy that used to date Jennifer Lopez. Whatserface from Zero Dark Thirty. You know, the gal who used to be married to James Cameron. What we're left with is Michael Haneke (Amour). A foreign film. I hate foreign films. Every so often the Academy likes to add one to the list to show how enlightened they are, but don't be fooled... Hollywood hates foreign films even more than I do. Why? Because there's no money in foreign films. The profits go somewhere else. Hollywood doesn't mind your money going somewhere other than your pockets via the taxes your government confiscates from you, but God forbid their money should find its way into someone else's wallet. Since Amour won't win, neither will its director. Whoever he is.
     Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) directed, at least in my opinion, the single best film I never made the effort to go see.
     Ang Lee (Life of Pi). I don't think the Academy has ever forgiven him for Hulk. I know I haven't.
     David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) may have had a shot, but he forgot to add the scene where all the women do an impromptu dance routine while singing a catchy tune from the 60's.
     I don't think anybody's doubting that this is Steven Spielberg's year for directing his cure for insomnia, Lincoln. I'm not saying it's a boring movie, but if I wanted to hear endless talking about a subject I have no interest in I would have just spent the evening at home with my wife and saved myself some cash. So Spielberg it is. Maybe, when he accepts his Oscar, he'll throw in an apology for the last Indiana Jones movie.
     And now it's time for Best Picture!
     To be honest, I don't know why they call it Best Picture. A picture can be a movie or a single image captured on film or something my kids bring home from school that I'm required by law to show off on my refrigerator. A movie, however, is a movie, and can't be mistaken for anything else. The word "movie," however, is considered in Hollywood to be a word for the masses, and, thus, beneath them. "Picture" is more of an elitist term. What Hollywood lacks in education, they try to make up for by being pretentious. Having said all that...
     And the winner is: Beasts of the Southern Wild! It's not because Lincoln is not a good film. It is a good film. In fact, it may even be a great film. The problem is, no one's ever stayed awake long enough to find out. Who knew Abraham Lincoln was such a bag of wind? The one line they left out of the movie was Lincoln's opponents telling him, "If we vote for your 13th Amendment, will you please shut up?" When John Wilkes Booth shot him in the head, it wasn't because he disagreed with Lincoln's politics, it was because Lincoln wouldn't shut up.
     Beasts of the Southern Wild will also win because Hollywood likes to surprise us every year by choosing small films, such as Chariots of Fire, Shakespeare in Love, The King's Speech, and other films you don't remember.
     Quick, who was last year's winner?
     Yeah, that's what I thought.
     For the record, it was The Artist.
     That leaves us with Amour, another small film that nobody's seen, but with the distinct disadvantage of being from France. Personally, I don't hate the French. Unfortunately, everybody else does.
     Argo. Didn't see it.
     Django Unchained. Black man good. White man bad. Okay, I get it.
     Les Miserables. Miserables was what I was watching this musical yawn-fest.
     Life of Pi. This is less a movie, and more a description of Oprah Winfrey's diet.
     Silver Linings Playbook. I was distracted throughout this whole movie wondering if Jennifer Lawrence is going to wait until she's fifty before she does a nude scene.
     Zero Dark Thirty. I read in Esquire magazine that the actual SEAL Team Six soldier who killed Osama bin Laden has been screwed over royally by the same U.S. government you think is going to take such good care of you. He left the service last summer and received squat. No pension. No health care. No protection for him or his family from an angry al-Qaeda looking for revenge. All that, and five dollars a gallon gasoline by summertime.
     Aren't you glad you voted for Obama now? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Obama doesn't care...
     Well, I guess I am saying that.

American Chimpanzee

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dear John (2-20-13)

Hard Core Advice From
Hard Core's Hardest Core... John Leslie

Dear John,
      My girlfriend and I are going through a very rough time after five years together, and we are now on an extended break.
     I am trying hard to address my own issues through counseling, and one of those issues is dealing with being lied to. I can't stand it. I am a rather honest person, but my girlfriend is far from it. After being exposed to her little white lies for so long, I have become aggressively suspicious and controlling, and borderline paranoid. I am hoping to address this and learn to "let go," since the snooping, spying, and obsessive grilling of her for the truth is destructive.
     I try to offer her opportunities to tell me the truth about things, but her first reaction is always to lie. It could be about something as innocuous as what she spent her time on in the evening, or it could be something more serious. What she gives me is what I call "the onion" truth, in which a little bit is revealed, and, when pressed, a little more, until finally the whole truth is revealed and it's completely different from what she first said.
     She is an avid reader of your column and I hope seeing this letter will cause some sort of epiphany in her, and impress upon her just how much I like to use the word "epiphany."
     Am I doomed to be an honest person amid a world of lying liars who lie? Do you think she is ever going to be honest with me? And what really happened in Benghazi?
     --The Grand Inquisitor
Dear Grand Inquisitor,
     Honesty is key in any relationship if you want it to grow and thrive. Since your girlfriend is such a compulsive liar, I see little chance of this happening. I suggest your getting all the sex you can out of her, and then dropping her like a bad habit.

Dear John,
     I love my boyfriend dearly. We've been together for five years, but are now on what he calls "an extended break." The problem is he's become a kind of Grand Inquisitor who grills me mercilessly over every aspect of my life, and I can't stand it.
     Things were wonderful at the beginning. He was kind, loving, and attentive. But, ever since he began counselling, he's become aggressively suspicious and controlling and borderline paranoid, obsessed in his belief that I am lying to him, which is untrue. He says he's hoping to "let go" (whatever that means) since--as his counselor has told him--snooping, spying, and obsessive grilling for the truth is destructive. I can honestly say that I've NEVER lied to him. Well, except for that one time, but, as we all know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
     I try to be as honest as I can about things, but his first reaction to anything I do or say is to distrust me. It could be something as innocuous as what I spent my time on in the evening. I'll tell him, and then he'll start giving me what he calls "the onion" treatment, which consists of him pressing me for more and more information, until I've explained the whole minutia of my evening and then, at the end of it, he'll call me a liar and stomp off in a huff. I almost feel like making things up, because it seems that he'd prefer believing lies rather than the honest truth.
     He sees himself as Diogenes, who spent his life alone in a fruitless search for an honest man (how sad to live your life without fruit), but I've come to see him as Sisyphus, forever cursed to roll a boulder up a mountain and doomed to never reach the top. Not because of the boulder thing, but because Sisyphus sounds like "sissy first," and that's what my boyfriend is.
     He holds you in high regard, and I hope if he reads this letter he'll see himself in it and try to change for the better. Do you think this is possible, or do you think our relationship is over? Also, what do you think really happened in Benghazi?
Dear Perplexed,
     Trust is key in any relationship if you want it to grow and thrive. Since your boyfriend is such a controlling snoop, I see little chance of this happening. I suggest your getting all the cash you can out of him, and then dropping him like a hot potato.
Confidential to What Do You Think Really Happened In Benghazi?
I went straight to the source and asked the future President of the USA, Sarah Palin... er, I mean Hilary Clinton.
"Ben who?" she asked.
American Chimpanzee

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Smarter Than You

     I just got back from taking my lovely wife to dinner for Valentine's Day.
     "How would you like to go to a world famous restaurant?" I asked her.
     "I'd love that," she answered.
     So I took her to McDonald's.
     Let's just say that that didn't go over so well, and, instead of the night of romance I had hoped for, I'm here writing this for my humor blog. How could an idea that seemed so right, turn out to be so wrong? Which, in an odd way, leads me into what I want to talk about.
     Way back in 1945 (May 17th, to be exact) the city of El Paso found out that federal highway funds of between $1 to $2 million were headed its way so that an El Paso section of a postwar superhighway could be built.
     The citizenry of El Paso were outraged. OUTRAGED, I tell you! Well, at least the citizens who owned property and businesses on what were then the city's main thoroughfares: Texas Street and Alameda Avenue. They were concerned that the building of another major thoroughfare would divert traffic, and, as a result, their businesses and pocketbooks would suffer.
     Well, they were right, and they were wrong. The city was going to grow, whether the citizens of El Paso wanted it to or not, and there was no stopping that growth, although many tried. And by "tried," I mean cried and complained.
     "El Paso needs a lot of things more than it does a truck route," protested an M. Kubby, a secondhand dealer on Texas Street, "and I'm against spending $350,000 for something we don't need."
     Business for Kubby was especially bad, since nobody wanted to do business with a grown man named "Kubby," and, besides which, people are already born with a second hand. Had it occurred to Kubby to go into the third hand business, he might have found more of a market for that.
     Attorney Thornton Hardie--no relation to Andy--didn't care for the idea of spending city money "just to get federal money." Apparently, lawyers felt differently about getting money in those days.
     This whole brouhaha sounded familiar when I read about it in Tales From The Morgue, a column by reporter Trish Long that came out in the Sunday (2-3-13) edition of the El Paso Times. It sounded familiar, because it sounded like me when I first found out that the city of El Paso wanted to purchase a AAA baseball team, and then spend at least $50 to $100 million or more to tear down a perfectly good City Hall just to build a stadium for said baseball team, in what I think is a futile attempt to revitalize Downtown. I was, and still am, against it. I have other, better ideas on how to revitalize Downtown El Paso without it costing the city one cent,* but nobody ever listens to me.
     Just ask my wife.
     Will I be proven wrong like those naysayers from 1945? Probably. After all, at the start of every football season I'm 100% certain the Dallas Cowboys have a shot at the Super Bowl.
     That got me to thinking: Who else has been embarrassingly wrong about things that turned out to be incredibly correct? If there's one thing that makes a person feel better, it's that another person is stupider and wronger than they are, and, trust me, after the McDonald's fiasco, I definitely need to feel better about myself. So, my loyal readers, I offer to you the following true quotes:
     Scipio ("Skippy" to his friends.) Chiaramonti, Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics at the University of Pisa back in 1633, famously said: "Animals, which move, have limbs and muscles; the earth has no limbs or muscles, hence it does not move." Actually, he makes sense in an odd kind of logical-sounding way, doesn't he? I bet his wife didn't make him sleep on the couch on Valentine's Day.
     J. Richardson Parke, who had an Sc.B., Ph.G., M.D., and an M.O.U.S.E., said back in 1906: "Russian women are never more pleased than when receiving a drubbing [beating] at the hands of their husbands." By "Russian women," I think he was talking about Rihanna.
     Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, was quoted by the magazine Good Housekeeping back in 1991: "I am never going to get divorced, and that's that." Apparently, that wasn't that. I guess you could say that, in a way, she was correct. She didn't get a divorce. Prince Charles did.
     Dr. Alfred Velpeau, a French surgeon and Professor at the Paris Faculty of Medicine and Whorehousery said back in 1839: "The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it." He adamantly felt that way. Adamantly, that is, until he needed to go through surgery himself. I can't say I know what a "chimera" is, but, if it's French, then it probably stinks, smokes, and doesn't shave its armpits.
     "[A] small action... [will] set everything to rights." Major John Pitcairn (British Army Officer) advised General Thomas Gage (commander of the British garrison at Boston) back in 1775, concerning American revolutionary fervor and how it would disappear once the British put their foot down. And we all know how that turned out.
     "The cinema is little more than a fad." Charlie Chaplin predicted back in 1916. The Little Tramp may have been a great silent filmmaker, but he had the common sense of a turnip.
     "We do not want now, and we shall never want, the human voice with our films." D.W.Griffith, another famous silent film director and turnip-brain, insisted in The Saturday Evening Post back in 1924. I've always found that the harder a person argues against something, the more likely that thing will come to pass. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. Every time I've gotten a divorce, I've argued I'd never get married again. I'm on my fifth marriage.
     "We don't like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out," said a Decca Recording Company executive as he turned down The Beatles in 1962. Now he's turning down beds as Head of Housekeeping at a Motel 6 in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
     After one performance at the "Grand Ole Opry," Elvis Presley was fired by its manager, Jim Denny, who told the future King of Rock and Roll,  "You ain't goin' nowhere... son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck." In an interesting twist of fate, it was Mr. Denny who went back to driving a truck.
     "Everything that can be invented has been invented," insisted Charles H. Duell to President William McKinley back in 1899, as he tried to talk the President into abolishing his office as Commissioner of US Office of Patents. How stupid does a man have to be to argue himself out of a job? Apparently, simply resigning hadn't been invented yet.
     "Worthless," was Sir George Bidel Airy's declaration on September 15, 1842 concerning the "analytical engine" [computer] invented by Charles Babbage. Sir George also saw no value in bathing or brushing his teeth, since he was sure that would wash off his body's natural protection against evil spirits.
     "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty... a fad," whinnied the President of the Michigan Savings Bank back in 1903. I can somewhat understand his point. The beauty of using horses as a means of transportation is that you can eat them at the end of their career.
     Other quotes that seem to have come from a mentally relaxed brain are:
     "...the Japanese Auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market for itself." Business Week magazine in August 2, 1968.
     "Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia." Dr. Dionysus Lardner (1793-1859).
     "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Lord Kelvin, c. 1895.
     "[Airplanes] are interesting toys, but of no military value." Marechal Ferdinand Foch, 1911.
     "[Man will never reach the moon] regardless of all future scientific advances." Dr. Lee DeForest, quoted in The New york Times, February 25, 1957.
     "Nothing of importance happened today." King George III of England, diary entry, July 4, 1776.
    "Bill Clinton will lose to any Republican who doesn't drool." The Wall Street Journal, editorial, 1995. Wasn't that what the Republicans were saying about the re-election of President Obama this past November?
     And, finally:
     "That boy will come to nothing." Jakob Freud said about his son, Sigmund, back in 1864.
     That one's my personal favorite, because that's what my dad used to say about me. My dad may have been a tough old coot, but I will say this about him...
     He didn't mind eating at McDonald's.

*See I Have A Plan (Part One) posted on 6-27-12 and The Church of Oz (Part Two) posted on 7-2-12.

American Chimpanzee

Friday, February 8, 2013

Can't Win For Losing

"Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him had better take a closer look at the American Indian."
Henry Ford
     Reporter Vic Kolenc wrote a very interesting article in the Business Section of the Sunday El Paso Times (1-20-13) concerning unemployment in our fair city. At least I think it was interesting. It was so long, I didn't bother to read it.
     Instead I read his very interesting article from the day before. In it, he wrote how El Paso's unemployment numbers have gone up to 8.9%. The gist of the article, as I understood it, was that things had to get worse before they could get better. Interestingly enough, that's what my grandmother told my grandfather just before his chest cold turned into pneumonia, and he died.
     The article explained how last year (December 2011) it was at 9.9%, went down to 8.9% (November 2012), and then went back up to 8.9% the very next month (December 2012). Whew! Those unemployment numbers bounce up and down more often than the numbers on my ex-wife's bathroom scale. The source of all this snooze-worthy information was the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
     Dallas. You know... the town where Kennedy was shot.
     The article also explained that even with all the extra Christmas hiring that went on, the number of people who had jobs still went down. Hmm, let me put that into a mathematical equation, so that I can understand it better.
More Jobs = Higher Unemployment = WTF?
     Nope, that still doesn't make any sense to me. How can hiring more people lead to higher unemployment? According to the Texas Workforce Commission there are 27,500 El Pasoans out of work.
     Oh... that's how.
     "It's not good news, but I would not over-react to one month of bad market news," said Tom Fullerton, an economics professor at UTEP, "I wouldn't over-react, mainly because I have a job." He paused to light a cigar with a hundred dollar bill. "One month does not establish a trend," he said.
     "Excuse me, I have to answer that," he said, picking up his phone. "Hello? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I am sitting down. WHAT DO YOU MEAN I'M FIRED? Hello? Hello?"
     The ex-professor Fullerton looked at me sadly.
     "I guess it is a trend," he corrected.
     Still, he shouldn't worry. El Paso's unemployment numbers are only higher than state numbers. And national numbers, too. Hmm, maybe he should worry, after all. I've got the numbers in front of me, and while state rates have decreased to 6.1%, national rates have stayed the same at 7.8%
     All this math. Man, if I wanted to work with percentages, I would have stayed in school.
     Lorenzo Reyes, Chief Executive Officer of Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande (If there's one thing I've learned, the longer a person's title is, the less they'll be able to do for you.) had expected the rate to go down, but, instead, it went up. (See what I mean?)
     "But I wouldn't over-react," he assured me. "Mainly because I have a job."
     He poured himself a nice shot of 100 year-old brandy.
     "It's a concern when it goes up," he said, savoring the amber liquid.
     Yeah, no shitski, as the Russians say. Especially for the families of the guys who've lost their jobs. But don't worry, El Paso is adding jobs. We're adding a lot of jobs.
     "We just need to find the talent for those jobs," Reyes said.
     "Hello? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I am sitting down." Pause. "WHAT?"
     He put down the phone.
     "Um," he said, turning his newly sad eyes back to me, "you wouldn't happen to know anybody's who's hiring, would you?"
     According to the information in the article, the retail sector added approximately 500 jobs this past December, just as it always does every Christmas season, but what it doesn't usually do is lose jobs, which is what several sectors actually did. In fact, they lost enough jobs to raise the unemployment rate. I bet everybody's glad they voted for Obama now.
     The Texas Workforce Commission said El Paso added 3,500 jobs from December of 2011 to December of 2012, which is a 1.2% annual increase. When that number is adjusted for the season, the growth rate becomes 1.3%. I guess seasonal adjustments are like the wind chill factor I keep hearing Dopler Dave, the weatherman for KVIA, talk about.
     I don't understand the wind chill factor either.
     Roberto Coronado, an economist who oversees the El Paso branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Dallas. You know... the town with the football team that no longer makes it to the Super Bowl.), says that's near El Paso's historical average of 1.4%, and he expects El Paso to add even more jobs in 2013 than it added in 2012. Maybe even as many as 7,000.
     But if adding jobs makes our unemployment rate go up instead of down, I don't think El Paso can afford to add any more jobs.
     Hey! This just in! Vic Kolenc has just reported on the front page of the Wednesday (2-6-13) edition of the El Paso Times that Hoover is going to lay off 151 local workers by the end of March!
     "But I wouldn't over-react," Coronado said, reaching for a jar of Grey Poupon, "because El Paso has actually outperformed the national economy by far."
     "Hello? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I am sitting down."
American Chimpanzee

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Te'o, El Paso, & Zimbabwe

Y'know what bothers me most about this whole Manti Te'o affair? I mean, besides the apostrophe in his name? A last name with only three letters in it should NOT have an apostrophe. But I digress...
     What bothers me most about Manti Te'o is that he only had ONE make-believe girlfriend. If I were a college football hero, I'd have a whole HAREM of make-believe girlfriends. I'd be the BIGGEST make-believe stud on the team.
     But enough of that nonsense and all those capital letters. I was tired of the Manti Te'o story five minutes after the news media began to go all OCD on it. Sadly, my news media friends weren't, and they bragged to me about how they were going to commit all their time and all their resources to get to the bottom of the story, until they could finally report to the American people the truth about what happened.
     "You mean, like Benghazi?" I asked them.
     "Ben who?" they answered.
     But I didn't want to write about that. What I wanted to write about was how, according to the Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index, El Paso is no longer the second-best performing metro city economy. It's 18th.* You know what I say to that? So what? Do you know what second-best is? It's the first loser across the finish line, and who wants to be the first loser? (Although, if coming in second makes us first, then we should celebrate that.
El Paso! The FIRST Loser!
Whoever reads that won't remember that we were losers, they'll only remember that we were first. For example...)
     In the first place, who listens to an index that's named after something you do on a dairy farm, and, in the second place, people don't believe the truth, they believe what you tell them. Whenever I go to Vegas, my parents aren't interested in how much I lost, they're only interested in how much I won. It gives them something to brag about when annoying relatives are busy trying to brag about their annoying kids about things that are just as obviously untrue.
     "Did you win?" my mother always asks.
     "You bet. Five thousand bucks," I always say.
     "Wow!" she always wows.
     Now, why would I want to tell my mother it cost me 20 grand just to win that five? That would disappoint her. Make her sad. I don't want to make my mother sad. And that's why El Paso needs to come up with an index of our own. So that we don't make our mothers sad.
     I suggest we start the Duchene Institute of Statistical Comparisons and Comparable Statistics. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that the longer an institutes's name, the more impressive it is. The more impressive it is, the less they do. The same goes with titles. My title is Love Czar, a title I got playing football in college, and, since my title is short and I do more, my first order of business would be to point out that, although El Paso went down 16 rungs in the economical ladder, we're still WAY better off than the whole country of Zimbabwe.
     Did you know that, after paying government salaries (first things first, after all), the country only has $217 left in the bank? And that's after checking between the couch cushions and underneath the refrigerator. How a country with some of the world's largest platinum and diamond reserves can have less money in their coffers than my little girl has in her piggy bank is easy to explain.
     In the year 2000, Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe seized the land of over 4,000 white-owned farmers and effectively dismantled the country's agricultural industry. In other words, he took away from the producers, and gave what he took away to the takers, and the takers, who know nothing about producing, produced nothing. That sent the country down the road to hyperinflation. Inflation reached 11,200,000% in 2008, and the world's economists acknowledged that the country was so poor the only thing they exchanged at Christmas were glances.
     Meanwhile, prices were doubling by the day, and the government found itself having to print Z$100 billion notes. The next year they found themselves having to print Z$100 trillion notes. President Mugabe wanted to print gazillion dollar notes, but his plans, much like Zimbabwe's economy, fell through when he found out there was no such number.
     A new coalition government formed that year, and, adopting the motto "Hope and Change," they began the long process of 1) fixing their economy, and 2) making sure their salaries were paid.
     First things first, after all.
     As I write this, I'm looking at a picture of the new trillion dollar coin the U.S. government is thinking about minting, and something about the whole Zimbabwe comedy of errors seems familiar. I can't quite put my finger on it, but, as El Paso's Love Czar, at least I can confidently say:
El Paso! At Least We're Not Zimbabwe!

American Chimpanzee
*Las Cruces fell from 13th to 21st.**
**But who cares about Las Cruces.