Like diamonds, tattoos are forever, but they’re not always a girl’s best friend 11

This time of year I like to spend as much time as possible at the pool. It’s a great place to catch some rays and chill out, but it’s also the perfect place to people-watch. I am a keen-eyed observer of people and their ways, and the pool is a perfect opportunity to catch the latest trends and fashions.

This is particularly true in the case of tattoos. After hours of field research, I have some observations and some suggestions.

Guys, if you want to look tough, all the ink in the world isn’t going to help if you’re out of shape. It’s nearly impossible to be bad-ass when you look like you recently gave birth to twins. So, before you hit the tattoo parlor, hit the gym. Remember: the only place muffin tops look good is on muffins.

If you’re going to get a tatt, the right image is imperative. Like diamonds, tattoos are forever, so think carefully before going under the needle. Always a bad idea for a tattoo is your favorite band’s logo. Sure, you dig ’em now, but in 20 years your ardor for Insane Clown Posse will have cooled and you’ll spend the rest of your life explaining why you have an image of a dreadlocked, cleaver-wielding midget on your calf.

A very popular image, especially amongst men who think they’re hard, is barbed wire wrapped around the biceps. Guys, if you’re considering this tattoo, I have two words for you: Pamela Anderson.

Here’s another tip: “ironic” images of any sort are a really bad idea. A good rule of thumb is, if an image is too stupid for your dad to wear on a t-shirt, it’s probably too stupid to have engraved into your skin.

Deciding where on your body you’ll get your tatt is also an important consideration. It’s hard to go wrong with the classic placement on the biceps or deltoid. But unless you plan to spend your life pulling espresso shots or working at the Jiffy Lube, tatts above the collarbone are a very bad idea.

Especially bad in this category are facial tattoos. Back in the day, criminals would often be tattooed on their faces as a permanent and public record of their crimes. Today, facial tatts are a permanent and public record of your stupidity and/or substance abuse issues.

Women also need to give careful consideration to what they’re getting tattooed and where those images are placed. For a while it was common to see girls sporting ink on the back of the upper arm, directly above the elbow. Today, however, a fashionable location for lady tatts on the lower belly, with just a hint of ink peeking coyly over the waistband of the bikini bottom. While this is not inherently a bad location, the right image is key. For instance, this is not the best place for a tattoo of a fish. Trust me on this one.

What’s in a name? In this instance, I really don’t want to know 9

I’ve never raised a kid, so I’m reluctant to voice my opinion about how those who actually do have them, raise them. When it comes to naming kids, however, I’m not so reticent.

Again, I’ve never actually named a kid but I did at one point pick out some great kids’ names. This was on the off chance that my wife and I might simultaneously lose our minds and decided to procreate. Fortunately, it never came to that and I still have these names (and all ancillary domain names) if anyone’s interested in buying them.

I have named a few dogs in my day, and they all had great names. I know this because, when people would ask me, “So, what’s your dog’s name?” I would tell them, and they would say, “Great name.” So, no room for debate on this point – this is science we’re talking about here.

Anyway, what prompts this meditation on naming kids is something I saw painted on the window of a minivan in Austin the other day. It’s graduation time in central Texas, and lots of matriculating seniors are receiving good wishes from family and friends in the form of messages painted on their (or, their parents’) car windows. All over town you see sentiments like “Congrats grad!” or Class of 2011 Rules!” or “Runs great – cold A/C – $500 OBO.”

But one that caught my eye Saturday said, “We (Heart) You, Anally.”

W, as the kids say, TF? Are you serious? What parent would give their precious little angel a name that a porn star would balk at? Were they aiming for Anna Lee and just completely drop the ball? And if they did mean to name her that, how is it that no one persuaded them this was really not a good idea? That name didn’t raise any red flags with anyone? Really?

Maybe whoever painted the sentiment misspelled her name. But then, what does it say when a person of high-school age doesn’t know that the number of people named “Anally” is approximately … oh, I dunno … zero? I realize Texas is pretty much the bottom of the barrel when it comes to educating our kids, but Anally? That’s not even a proper name – it’s an adverb.

And is it legal to give a kid a name like that? You can’t even get a license plate in Texas that says “BLWME” (or so I understand, anyway) but you can name a child Anally? I’m not a huge fan of the government telling grownups what they can and can’t do, but if you can’t use your license plate to speak your mind, then how is it OK to name your daughter … well, you know?

Names may not make or break a person, but you have to think they have some influence on a kid’s life path. Did Richard Chopp’s name influence his becoming a urologist? Or, under different circumstances, might he have become a mohel? And what effect did C. Goode’s name have on his going into optometry?

William Shakespeare (now, that’s a name!) questioned the value of names, and opined that a rose by any other handle would smell just as sweet. He might have had second thoughts about this one, though.

Airplane passenger pulls a fast one, faces jail time 4

United Airlines’ motto used to be “Fly the friendly skies,” but I’m pretty sure this is not what they had in mind.

Last week, a 25-year-old man was arrested for allegedly masturbating on a United flight from Spokane to Denver.

Kyle Pierce, of Florida, was busted after a teen-age girl sitting next to him spotted him working his joystick and alerted a flight attendant.

The teen was not the only witness. Another passenger was alerted by a friend who saw Pierce pleasuring himself.

“My friend turned to me and said, ‘That man is masturbating’ and in disbelief, I looked and saw his penis,” a woman told authorities. “I hit him in the arm with a book, which caused him to stop.”

I imagine it caused him to stop – especially if it was the arm in play. Talk about killing the magic of the moment – not to mention throwing off your rhythm.

I have to wonder what book she hit him with; it would be sweet irony if it was “Portnoy’s Complaint.” And speaking of sweet irony, the in-flight movie was “The Jerk.” (Honestly, I have no idea what the movie was; I just wanted to get that gag in).

In Pierce’s defense, plenty of people are scared of flying; that’s why they serve liquor on planes (well, that and also to distract you from the fact that you’re sitting in a space that would outlawed by the Geneva Convention if you were a prisoner of war). So, maybe someone suggested Pierce have a stiff one to calm his nerves and he misunderstood.

Another possible misunderstanding: Doctors sometimes prescribe small doses of Xanax to anxious flyers. Quoting from literature from Stanford University School of Medicine: “The alternative is to advise patients not to take medication, but encourage them to fly without it, instructing them in the principles of self-exposure.”

See? Plenty of room for misinterpretation. It could have happened to anyone.

If this case ever goes to trial, Pierce could cite the above as mitigating circumstances. I bet the evidence would stand up in court, and I think he has a good chance of getting himself off.

Pierce was taken into custody when his plane landed, and charged with obscene and indecent exposure. He faces penalties that include a $5,000 fine, 90 days in jail and, of course, premature blindness.

A brief quiz for the temporarily single man 14

Taking a much-needed break, my wife spent the weekend in a cabin near Rock Springs with her posse. We don’t spend a lot of time apart and when we do, it really underlines the differences between the two of us; while she and her girlfriends were going for leisurely hikes and cooking gourmet meals I was back in Austin, doing as little as possible by day and grubbing for stray Crunch ‘n Munch in the sofa cushions at night.

I’m not left to my own devices very often or for very long, and it’s probably a good thing. Every time I am left unattended, I am amazed at how quickly I devolve from a fairly high-functioning humanoid to a sort of Gollum with a Roku box. Going feral so quickly makes me wonder if other married guys are similar. Accordingly, I devised a brief survey for my fellow married men. Have fun!

1) When your wife is away, the first thing you reach for when you wake up is:

  1. The framed wedding photo from your nightstand
  2. Two aspirin and a big glass of water
  3. Very quietly, your pants and car keys
  4. Pistol and one bullet

If you answered 1, you’re a sap. Deduct five points and grow a pair. If you answered 4, deduct 10 points, grow a pair, and quit watching the Oxygen Channel. If you answered 3, you’re a very naughty boy; deduct 15 points and behave yourself if you plan to keep your pair. The only acceptable answer here is 2 – add 10 points.

2) Which of the following best describes your typical breakfast when your wife is away:

  1. Coffee and toast
  2. Yogurt and fresh fruit, garnished with a sprig of mint
  3. Sushi that spent night on kitchen counter
  4. Double espresso and bong hit

If you answered 1, you’re a sensible guy – and by sensible I mean boring. Deduct five points. If you answered 2, you should not be taking this quiz, because you are clearly gay – but add five points for being fabulous. The correct answers here are 4, followed by 3 — because the bong rip gave you the munchies. Add 10 points (and well done).

3) Which of the following best describes your typical dinner when your wife is away:

  1. A healthy balance of all the recommended food groups
  2. Requires a microwave and a spork
  3. Comes out of a keg
  4. Fuck dinner

If you answered 1, you are boring beyond belief and might as well be married, since you have no reason to be single; deduct 5 points. If you answered 2, nicely done, and add 5 points. If you answered 3, very well played indeed, sir, and please add 10 points. If you answered 4 because of 3, your bachelor kung fu is still strong, Grasshopper; give yourself 15 points and take a well-earned nap.

4) Which of the following best describes your television viewing habits when your wife is away:

  1. The Godfather
  2. The Godfather Part II
  3. The Godfather Part III
  4. All of the above (and porn – duh)

Do I really need to tell you how to score this one?

5) In your wife’s absence, how often do you:

  1. Shower
  2. Cook
  3. Make bed
  4. I thought you said my wife was out of town

Please see 4.

6) How many of the following do you typically need to get done before your wife returns? Please list them in order of their impact on your long-term happiness and / or your continuing to breathe in and out.

  1. Shave
  2. Mow lawn
  3. Clean house
  4. Buy flowers, card
  5. Clear browser history
  6. Repair drywall
  7. Make bond
  8. Retain attorney
  9. Establish credible alibi
  10. Join witness protection plan

No scoring here – these are just a few reminders.

7) Here’s the final part of the survey. Your score here can make or break you, so please answer honestly. Deduct five points if you have taken the hand lotion from the bathroom to any other location in the house. Deduct another 10 if you actually left it right next to the computer. Take off a further 15 points if you’ve ever had to make a trip the store solely to replace a depleted bottle of hand lotion; however, add 50 points if your wife was only gone overnight.

Step up your summer concert fashion game with these helpful tips 3

My wife and I, along with another couple, kicked off the summer by going to the Louisiana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival in Buda Saturday.

I count the experience a huge success. We got to spend a nice – albeit warm – day outside; we got to hear some great zydeco, and we got to hang with some cool people. Plus, I was home before 9. As I said – huge success.

I’ve been going to outdoor shows since back in the day when when you could still actually understand Bob Dylan, and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to do it right. For you young players who are new to the game, or for you more seasoned guys who don’t get out much anymore, I’ve made a few notes that will help you get the most out of your outdoor experience.

Like so many things, the right ensemble is a must. Just as you wouldn’t wear cut-offs and a tank top to the opera (unless you live in Austin), you don’t want to go out looking like you just got off the bus from Waco.

For guys, the right outfit almost always means going shirtless; doing so will showcase your ink, your piercings, and your almost total lack of muscle tone. Here’s a hint: take that money you were going to spend on a “tribal” tattoo and spend it on a gym membership or, at the very least, a pair of running shoes. Do not, under any circumstances, spend it on more Natty Light or onion blossoms.

An aside about tatts: If you’re white (and trust me here — if you’re going to outdoor shows, you are) you don’t belong to a “tribe,” and that Maori stuff you have etched into your flesh just makes you look sad. And those bad-ass kanji characters on your deltoid may literally read “fear this,” but you don’t have to be Japanese to know that they really say “chronic masturbator.”

For pants, it’s hard to go wrong with a pair of wrinkled cargo shorts; their voluminous pockets are ideal for smuggling beer and/or a bong past security; additionally, their relaxed fit plays down your muffin top, and also keeps you comfy when you break into drunken paroxysms of interpretive dance. And remember those pockets? They make dandy handles for the security guys who will soon be bum-rushing you toward the exit.

When it comes to choosing a color, khaki is always in style for day wear; for after 5, or for any occasion that’s a little dressier, play it safe and go with black or perhaps a subdued camo pattern.

And guys, if there’s even the slightest chance you’re going to be showing any ass cleavage, please remember that “wax” is not just a noun – it’s also a verb.

A hat is a necessity if you’re spending more than 45 seconds in the Texas sun. I prefer a classic baseball cap (bill to the front, because that’s how I rock a ball cap — old school). I sometimes wear a Vietnam War-style boonie hat. My headgear decision depends on how much time I plan to be in the sun, and whether I want to look like a NASCAR fan or a meth cook.

As for shoes, there are lots of options for the well-shod devotee. Athletic shoes of any description are appropriate; they’re comfortable, which is important because you’ll be standing a lot. They’re also good for dancing (and since I’m talking about white guys here, when I say “dancing” I mean “shifting your weight from foot to foot roughly in time to the music.”)

Another plus with athletic shoes: their solid soles protect your feet from broken beer bottles and stray bongs, and their full coverage is welcome when you step in a puddle of vomit on your way back to the car in the dark.

Not nuts about results, Fort Wayne officials will probably neuter naming contest 3

Bill Shakespeare asked, what’s in a name? Well, if you’re a long-serving mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, your name’s the kiss of death if you ever hoped to have a government building named after you.

Harold Baals was twice the mayor of Fort Wayne, and served a total of 15 1/2 years — making him the second longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. His first tenure covered the entire Great Depression and World War II. He died in office in 1954.

Despite that, his name is less than popular with modern-day city leaders – killjoys who say they probably won’t name a new government center for him because of the jokes his moniker could inspire.

Fort Wayne, which is about 120 miles northeast of Indianapolis, is opening a new city/county building to house administrative offices. They foolishly opened up the naming process to the public, and let people vote online for their favorite name. The result? Well, apparently Fort Wayne is populated almost exclusively by 12-year-old boys, and “Harry Baals Government Center” came in first, with almost 24,000 votes.

The runner-up, with a mere 2,200 votes, was “Thunder Dome.”  OK, I like Tina Turner as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is Ike Turner) but naming your new government building after a “B” movie starring Australian nutter and anti-Semite Mel Gibson seems like an even worse idea than naming it after — well, you know.

Other names were suggested but none with the weight of Harry Baals. One possibility, which scored a meager 527 votes, was the Eugene Johnson Memorial Center; this seems to have slightly less potential for provoking sniggers – apart from the johnson thing, I mean.

Another possibility was Chief Richardville. A great idea — until you remember how “Richard” is usually abbreviated. So, scratch that.

Despite crushing its nearest competitor by a margin of more than 10 to 1, Fort Wayne probably doesn’t have the … well, you know … to put “Baals” on the center. Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy was quoted in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, saying,  “We love Fort Wayne, too. We’re not going to make any decisions that look bad.” But the people have spoken, and it seems to me that the city fathers (mothers, whatever) need to grow a pair.

I think it’s a good thing these folks weren’t involved in naming the planets in our solar system; no telling what they might have named the seventh planet from the Sun. Probably Seventh Planet from the Sun.

It’s also a good thing that these faint hearts don’t live in France, and so will never be confronted with the possibility of having to name anything after that country’s greatest novelist. If they’re getting their panties in a twist over Harry Baals, imagine how they’d react to Honoré de Balzac.