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My kid’s name could kick your kid’s ass

Nothing is more personal or sacred than the act of naming your own child. I know this because I have zero children and boast none of the first-hand experience to make such a statement.

Actually, I know this because various friends who recently became parents have ferociously protected the secrecy of their kids’ names during the pregnancy period. It’s a trend my former editor popularized (among my circle of friends, at least) in order to make sure no one stole the badass names she and her husband thought of for their two kids.

It was a clandestine operation that added intrigue to a guessing game that everyone loves to play. And the privacy undoubtedly added a touch of pride in their kid’s name. The more you protect something, the more you treasure it. Just ask Gollum.

My Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

I’m not that interested in secrecy, though. I named my unborn child about a quarter century ago, and I intend to share that name with you today — if only to get the inevitable mockery out of the way.

Some parents want their kids to have a “strong” name, something that gives a kid confidence in who they are, something like Jack or Faith.

Others name children after their own parents or siblings (or themselves) in order to pay homage to their loved ones. Example: William J. Peabody VIII (because the first seven of you were so damn great).

And others go the unique route in an effort to give a kid a name that no one else in history will ever duplicate. The result is usually something horrid like Starshine Glitterbeauty Roberts or Baxter Bluebonanza Boyd.

I don’t subscribe to any of those philosophies. My son will be given a name based purely on my selfish desires.

I want my kid to remind me of greatness every time I say his name. I want a theme song to play every time a teacher calls his name during roll. I want him to be a constant source of entertainment. (Not in the circus-performer sense, but in a way that makes me think he could, in thrilling-yet-humorous fashion, thwart Hitler’s goal of world domination using a whip, a wicked right hook and a keen sense of history.)

So when Indiana Jones Hansen is brought into this world — whenever that day arrives — my life will become infinitely more enjoyable. We’ll call him Indy for short, and he’ll leave the maternity ward with eight girlfriends and a world-class suntan.

If you’re looking for a more defensible reason to name a child Indiana Jones, then consider the fact that the boy will need a good role model. And no one is a better example of a man than Indiana Effing Jones. I won’t pretend that I can outperform him in that role because the movie trilogy serves as indisputable proof that I cannot.

Anyone seen the other sleeve to this shirt?

The most surprising element of this scenario is that my wife is fully on board with the name. I mentioned it about a decade ago when we started dating and she brushed it off, certain that it was a joke. In reality, it was always a pipe dream. It stood no chance against the popular Coopers and Aidens of the day.

I persisted, though, and always included it at the top of my wish list. Now she’s sold. Deep down she probably wishes her name were Indiana, too. And that probably makes me love her even more.

You might feel inclined to mock this name selection and taunt my unborn son. Keep in mind, however, that the last person who thought he could get the better of Indiana Jones met a not-so-happy end.

Choose wisely, my friends. I know I have.


I really dislike you, but it’s only temporary

The holiday season does not bring out the best in me because, quite frankly, I’m not a whiner to begin with. I’m at my best 360 days a year, with a handful of I-might-choke-someone days sprinkled here and there.

One of those days is by design, and it’s Dec. 23: Festivus.

A holy prophet, Frank Costanza, started Festivus in response to the fanaticism and frenzy of the holiday season. (For you ignorant souls out there, watch this 60-second explanation of the birth of Festivus.) Of the many appealing features of Festivus, the greatest is the Airing of Grievances, in which a person lets others know just how much disappointment they’ve caused in the past year.

Today, the gloves come off. Most of you are safe from my Festivus-inspired disdain, but others might be caught in a hailstorm of hatred and ridicule. If you’ve got a problem with that, take a long look in the mirror, jerkface.

I consider myself a good person, but today I’m gonna try to make you cry.

Target I — Michael Cera: If I saw this guy on the street, I’d quickly build a campfire and throw him in it.

In 2008, for whatever reason, I decided to grow my hair longer than I ever had. I quickly realized I have a beautiful head of hair that should be fawned over and appreciated by the masses. Sadly, I realized this at the height of Michael Cera’s popularity, which he gained by acting like the same awkward loser in every movie or TV show he’s ever been in.

The look-alike comparisons trickled in, but I shrugged them off. Then I became a high school journalism teacher, and those teenage bastards were relentless. I mean, there’s got to be something to the rumors, right? Naturally, I cut my hair and the comparisons stopped.

When Michael Cera dies, entire nations will rejoice. And by “entire nations” I mean me and my beautiful head of hair.

Target II — Vowel-haters: Here’s a quick list of things that won’t exist in 10 years: polar bears, print newspapers and vowels.

The first two are debatable, but the third is a guarantee. By now you’ve undoubtedly noticed how much dumber society becomes each year, and I attribute that to text messaging and Twitter. Several generations of people (mine included) feel the need to express their thoughts as quickly possible, and, apparently, the only way they can do that is by eliminating vowels.

Check the cell phone of any teenager in America, and you’ll undoubtedly see this: “Dnt evr tlk 2 tht grl agn cuz ur myn” or “OMG did u c wht Jstn Bbr jst sed abt ur bubz???”

The problem is that these little consonant whores know their language is intelligible enough to understand, which means it’ll only get worse and dictionaries and spelling bees (of which I’m a two-time winner, thank you very little) will no longer exist by 2025.

Target III — Word-abbreviators: The aforementioned younger generations are most guilty of this crime, in which normal words are cut in half in order to accomplish God knows what. Examples:

  • “What’s the situation?” becomes “What’s the sitch?”
  • “I’ll talk to my parents” becomes “I’ll talk to the ‘rents.”
  • “You’re so special” becomes “You’re so spesh!”

Here’s my contribution to these two language-shortening epidemics:

  • “Say the word ‘preggers’ one more time, and ‘I’ll cut you’ becomes ‘U guna die.’ “

Target IV — “White elephant” parties: I went nearly 31 years without ever playing this immoral holiday game, but then I played it three times last week, including once while on the clock at work.

You know the rules: Everyone opens a gift and then has free rein to trade in their crappy present for one they like better. Inevitably, someone gets stuck with homemade mittens or a ballpoint pen.

The underlying lesson is that, for at least one day, it’s OK to take something that belongs to someone else and then laugh in their face about it. While we’re in the process of reversing valuable lessons our parents taught us, I’m going to start a game where everyone has a sleepover at your house and wets the bed.

Target V — Makers of nicknames: In the 1920s, people were so clever that they took a badass name like Babe Ruth and made it even better with monikers like “The Great Bambino” and “The Sultan of Swat.” Alas, there is no creativity left in the world, as evidenced by the idiotic formula that is used to devise modern-day nicknames.

Is your last name Jones? You’re now “Jonesy.” If it’s Gardner, you’re now “Gardy.” Have a plain name like Jennifer Lopez? Now everyone will call you “J-Lo.” Even if you have a horrible name like Peter Bartholomew, someone will eventually turn it into “P-Bart.”

Sorry, but if your name is as lame as Peter Bartholomew, you don’t deserve a damn nickname.

Target VI — Life insurance companies: I was denied life insurance coverage this year because I have a pre-exisiting health condition. It wasn’t a surprise and didn’t bother me until the company sent a letter saying they denied me because I have a condition that, y’know, warrants life insurance coverage.

I say we apply this logic — overtly denying people the things they really need — across society. Henceforth, infants will no longer be allowed to wear diapers, zoos must remove all barriers between park visitors and the deadly animals, skydivers will receive a backpack filled with Skittles instead of a parachute, and firefighters must now contain fires using a strongly worded speech rather than water.

Target Last — People who talk or text in a movie theater: This is your last warning. If you negatively affect my moviegoing experience, I will pee on you.

I show you mine, you show me yours

“To each his own” is the most valuable motto in a world as diverse as ours. It allows me to peacefully coexist and be friends with others whose interests are far different than mine. It doesn’t matter that I like God and you don’t, or that you like the Red Sox and I hope you get hit by a train.

No matter what, your opinion is just as good as mine. And today is all about sharing opinions.

In a blog post last week, I published a list of the 77 movies that I consider to be the best of all time based on a formula that I devised in my childlike brain.

That list was alphabetical, nothing more than a catalog of films that score a 10 out of 10 on my ranking scale. Today, though, I’m giving you a rundown of The 10 Best Movies Ever.

Keep in mind that, to me and many other scientists, a list of “the best movies I’ve ever seen” is far different than “my favorite movies ever.” That’s because a film like “Schindler’s List” is undeniably great, but it’s not one I’d ever consider a favorite. Likewise, “Happy Gilmore” is a movie I could happily watch every day of my life, but I’m not dumb enough to think it’s among the best ever.

My Top 10 consists of the best movies I’ve ever seen, some of which also happen to be among my favorites of all time. (You can find the basic premise of the unsophisticated formula I use to rank films on the post I mentioned earlier.)

There’s one condition to me sharing my Top 10 with you: You must do the same by posting yours (or at least your Top 5) below.

And, yes, I agree that it’s difficult to judge movies across genres. But flying a plane is also difficult and people still do that every day, so we’re gonna do this, too.

Behold, all ye foul-smelling peasants! The 10 best movies I have ever seen:


1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

3. Good Will Hunting (1997)

4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

5. The Usual Suspects (1995)

6. The Godfather (1972)

7. Love Actually (2003)

8. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

9. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

10. Do the Right Thing (1989)

The next five: As Good As It Gets (1997), Braveheart (1995), Pulp Fiction (1994), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Young Frankenstein (1974).

Attention, short people: You’re unwanted

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t be wasting my time writing a blog that approximately eight people will read.

No, my perfect world involves me hitting .330 for the Yankees, or singing to a sold-out audience at Madison Square Garden, or – above all else – floating amid the weightlessness of space as a NASA-trained astronaut.

Sadly, this world crapped on my grandest dreams by giving me limited athletic ability, the singing talents of Enrico Pallazzo and the intellectual capacity of a decapitated goat.

Some people simply can’t perform certain jobs. I’m OK with that. But I realized on my flights from Oregon to Tucson on Saturday that even seemingly normal occupations are quite exclusive.

Exhibit A: You can’t be a flight attendant if you’re too short.

I’ve been on hundreds of flights in my lifetime, but it didn’t really occur to me until the weekend that virtually all the stewardesses are notably taller than average.

Curious, I asked one of the Southwest Airlines flight attendants if there was a height requirement for folks like her.

“There are certain requirements, yes,” said the 5-foot-10-inch lady.

I didn’t ask her to explain the rationale behind the you-must-be-this-tall-to-work-here mandate because the reasons are obvious to me. Here they are:

No one respects a pipsqueak. You have to enforce a lot of federal regulations as a flight attendant, and everyone is annoyed by most of the rules. So if you’re 5-0 and you tell someone to turn off their electronic device, they’ll probably kick you in your little legs and stuff you in an overhead compartment.

Speaking of overhead compartments, you can’t reach them. If the Federal Aviation Administration left you and a bunch of hobbits in charge, you would be of no help to the socially accepted short people who need to safely stow their luggage.

The pre-flight safety demonstration would go unnoticed. You can’t properly instruct passengers how to put on an oxygen mask if they can’t see you over the seats in front of them.

In the event of a water landing, passengers likely will sacrifice your livelihood and use your seat-cushion-sized body as a flotation device.

You are not an adequate food source. If you crash in a very remote location (a la the plane in the film “Alive”) and the survivors start eating one another to stay alive, you’d likely only provide a small snack, leaving the others hungry. So you’d be dead, eaten and hated.

Marital advice from a moron

True story: Shortly before I got married in June 2005, I was covering a minor-league baseball game and struck up a conversation with a reporter from the rival newspaper. I told the guy, who had a wife and kid at home, that my wedding was around the corner.

He was eager to offer some advice.

“Don’t get married,” he said (and not in the wink-wink, just-kiddin’-ya-buddy kind of way). “Life is never as good as it used to be once you’re married. You’ve always got to worry about making other people happy. Seriously — stay single.”

That guy was a moron — I dismissed his words of wisdom and got married 10 days later — but as far as this blog is concerned, the moron doling out free, take-it-to-the-bank marital advice is me.

I’m a self-proclaimed moron because I don’t know what really makes a marriage go well. Maybe the secret is being a 5-foot-8, 135-pound version of Ryan Gosling, which I am. (Side note: If you put a gun to my head and asked me if I’d rather spend the rest of my life with my wife or Ryan Gosling, I’d hesitate for 10 loooooong seconds before wishing my wife all the best despite her newfound loneliness.)

So even though I’m not an expert, I’m fairly sure that my 6.4 successful years of marriage are due to the fact that I strictly adhere to the following three rules:

1. Never go grocery shopping with someone who would prefer to make you sit in the cart.

My old roommate, Dusty, and I had grocery shopping down to an art form. Our strategy was this: Go to Safeway, get a cart and fill it with the things we want. The success rate was 100 percent. We never created a list, never forgot anything and never had a fight because one of us wandered away for five minutes while the other one had a question. (That question: “Where have you been?!”)

I would rather swim in a river of lava than go to the store with my wife. If she had her way, this would be me.

Avoid the trouble and tell your partner that you’re happy to be a solo shopper. As for me, if there’s ever a joint trip to the store, I just tell my wife to crack the windows and leave me in the car.

2. Wave the white flag, and wave it proudly.

If you’re married to someone whose memory is as good as my wife’s, then you know the sad, lonely feeling of being legitimately wrong about everything. I can’t remember half of the things I say, whereas my wife has a Rain Man-like mental catalog of what each kid in her first-grade class brought for show-and-tell every week.

Trying to win an argument with a person like that is like trying to chug a beer bong with your eyeballs — you’ll only end up embarrassed and smelly.

Whenever my wife and I are about to get into a verbal back-and-forth about who said what or who didn’t say what, she gets this smirk on her face. It’s a sweet look that says, “How stupid do you want me to make you look right now?”

Once I see the smirk, I know I’m toast. I immediately stop talking, concede victory and carry on eating my Lucky Charms. Giving up never tasted so good.

3. Vampires are indestructible, so don’t exhaust your energy trying to kill them off.

Some things are inescapable as a married person, and the best example is your spouse’s entertainment preferences. My wife and I have very similar taste — with one notable exception.

In the past three years, I have been subjected to four movies in the “Twilight” series, 49 episodes of “True Blood,” 66 episodes of “The Vampire Diaries,” and 145 soul-crushing episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” (I wish I were making this up.)

All told, that’s more than 11 days worth of vampire-related garbage. You might say, “Well, 11 days is nothing in the scope of a six-year marriage,” to which I’d respond, “Up yours, assface.”

In the end, the best thing for your marriage is to let your spouse indulge his or her silly entertainment desires. And maybe if you’re lucky, a real vampire will break into your house and kill you. Win-win.