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Saturday, May 21, 2011

The true story of how I saved the United States economy... and your 'you-know-what!'

Well, I'm usually not one to brag... but what the heck... if it's true, it's true. 

For almost a year now, the sun visor on our Ford truck (passenger side) was missing it's retaining clip--the tiny, one-inch square, gray plastic thingy that holds the visor in place when it is not shielding my wife's eyes from the sun. So for one year, my wife has suffered, with dignity (most of the time) with the visor hanging loosely from its hinge, bouncing willy-nilly over hill and dale (not to be confused with Disney's Chip and Dale), just 'gutting it out.'

I know... who said life was fair?

Every so often, like a woodpecker's gentle but persistent pecking, she would remind me to "get that (insert affectionate pet name for the object) fixed."

So I planned... and schemed... to do it as a special birthday surprise-- not for her birthday but on the one year date of the clip breaking. I went to my friendly Ford dealer and said, quite debonairly I might add, "Order me one of these things and damn the cost!"

"Yes sir. That will be $15.07, cash in advance.

$15.07! Well, if you love your wife like I love mine, you just gulp and do it. Although I do believe that $15.07 might be just a touch steep for a small piece of plastic. I could get three rolls of duct tape for that and absolutely guarantee the sunscreen would be in place forever... and have plenty left for the next dozen projects. But I love my wife, right?

I picked up the preciously priced piece the very next day and secretly began the installation process. (Lest I mess up, I just don't announce things like that to the world, because... well, you know.)

Take plastic piece, which installs with just one tiny screw, and begin the process. Wait. WAIT! Where is the screw?

Call to dealer: "Where is the screw?"

"Sir, the screw does not come standard with the little plastic piece."

"I beg your pardon. I was standardly screwed!"

Miraculously, I found a screw in my trusty toolbox-- the one that holds the screwdriver that looks like a cute AA battery with one end being a cross-type thing and the other, like a straight line, and a nut-holder that was also my pounder-thing.

Sure, the screw was too big, or small or something... but I forced it and, IT WORKED! Job complete in just a little over 2 hours. World record!

My wife was overjoyed... and secretly, so was I. Happy Birthday, truck!

Now I figure... if one small piece of plastic for an insignificant, non-mechanical part of the vehicle costs $15.07 (without the screw), what would my $26,000 vehicle cost to make, part by part, if I ordered everything from my friendly Ford dealer? My guess... maybe $87,356.29, give or take a few screws.

End of story, right? Well, almost.

Weeks later, letting bygones be bygones, I ordered the fancy lug nut cover for the one missing from a front tire, same vehicle. 

"No, problem, sir. These fancy-ish ones only come in sets of 4... and will cost $44.44 (coincidence? I don't think so.)... plus tax. Done! Anyone want to buy three fancy-ish lug nut covers, or should I just throw them, like everything else extra, in the bottom of my tool box forever?

So that is the true story of how I personally helped turn this economy around... and got Ford back on its feet.

I also do other patriotic things to move the economy along. Went to a movie last week and surprised my wife with the Special Senior Saver bushel of popcorn for just $26. And if that sounds high, perhaps you don't realize it comes with free refills. And those big gulp sodas... how do they do it for only $4.95  with free ice--and lots of it, no less?

Viva la economy!

PS: Happy rapture. See you tomorrow... or not.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's an improv world... and some of us just don't get it.

I think Tina Fey has come to save us all.

She is the best 'comedian/writer/Jill of all laughter' around... and she has an idea on how to live better, have more fun and reduce that ugly body fat.

In her first (only) book, Bossypants (best cover ever), she has a light-hearted 'take' on something significant. If life is not scripted but an improvisation, how come we keep killing the skit?

In the book, she reveals The Rules of Improvisation That Will Chage Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat. Her experience comes from her time at Chicago's famous improvisational comedy show, Second City, and of course, her job as head writer and performer on Saturday Night Live, and now, 30 Rock.

"The first rule of improvisation" she says, "is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you're improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we're improvising and I say, 'Freeze, I have a gun,' and you say, 'That's not a gun. It's your finger. You're pointing your finger at me,' our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say 'Freeze, I have a gun!' and you say, 'The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!' then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun... ' The rule of agreement reminds you to respect what your partner has created. Start with a YES and see where that takes you."

"As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. 'No, we can't do that.' 'No, that's not in the budget.' 'No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.' What kind of way is that to live?"

The second rule "is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something. If you start a scene with 'I can't believe it's so hot in here,' and you say, 'Yeah...' we're kind of at a standstill. But if I say, 'I can't believe it's so hot in here,' and you say, 'What did you expect? We're in hell.' Or if I say, "I can't believe it's so hot in here,' and you say, 'Yes, this can't be good for the wax figures...' "

You get the idea?

Next rule: "MAKE STATEMENTS. this is a positive way of saying, 'Don't ask questions all the time.' If we're in a scene and I say, 'Who are we? What are we doing here? What's in that box?' I'm putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers. In other words" Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don't just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles."

And lastly, 'THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities... beautiful happy accidents."

Just think... if Eve held up a pretend apple and said to Adam,  "Try this. The snake gave it to me." And Adam said "Yes, it looks good and I think I would love Granny Smith's, if I knew what they were, but I've heard apples give you goiters." Then Eve, walking on, says, "A goiter must be like an original sin." Then, it's a whole new ball game. You either have a life or a catechism lesson.