I Hope Every IKEA Executive has to do This

A year ago, I had to help one of my girlfriend’s college buddies move into his new place with his fiance.  After a few hours of lugging their personal belongings up several flights of stairs, we were nearing the end. It was then that I learned that I was expected to help assemble a few IKEA pieces, namely the bed and a dresser. The girlfriend loved putting things together and committed us both to the project before I could come up with a reasonable excuse not to do it.

Of course we will do it


Fast-forward about thirty minutes and I’m struggling to assemble an IKEA bed-frame that must’ve gotten bent or warped in transit; the pieces just weren’t fucking going together. While attempting to screw together two metal brackets, I lost my grip and cut the shit out of my hand… with an IKEA Allen wrench of all things.

bleeding hand

After I spat out a string of obscenities through clenched teeth, I took stock of my hand. It was bleeding pretty badly, but it was just venous blood so I didn’t need to get it treated. I wrapped it with my shirt and realized how absurd the situation was. There I was, holding a wound taken from assembling crappy Swedish furniture. Crappy Swedish furniture that is produced by a company whose business model requires you to pay them to do most of the work yourself, mind you. Somehow this company has managed to Jedi mind-trick most of the world into believing that this is a fun project or do-it-yourself venture. As I was standing there staunching the bleeding, I began to fantasize about a world where the IKEA senior corporate leadership had to deal with their own shit on a 24/7 basis.

After all, leadership of any kind and at any level shouldn’t ask people to do things they aren’t willing to do themselves. I continually preach this and I go so far as to recommend that politicians deploy to and fight in the wars they propose, but I digress… Back to the IKEA corporate leadership.

I hope their day starts with a commute like this.

goodbye to swedish hubby

car in the driveway

closeup of face and allen wrench

Then they have to get to the board room two hours prior to the meeting to fucking put the chairs together.

unassembled chairs in the board room

They’re not even spared during international flights because their boarding passes would have the IKEA logo proudly emblazoned on the front for all to see.

boarding the plane

1st class seat unassembled

Even hotel stays would be extra special for them.

dead asleep


runs to fire escape

fire escape requires assembly

Even in death, they aren’t spared.

everybody but sven

whereun mah harpin

your harp is over there

Heaven harp box

You'll probably need an allen wrench


P.S. The book about my time in Afghanistan is coming along nicely! Expect more news in the coming weeks. It’ll be out and ready to pick up via digital download at the end of March!

P.P.S. Send all your thoughts and positive energy to Hank Hughes.  The Oscars are coming up and I’d love to see his film, Day One, win!

UPDATE – Hank didn’t win, but it was really awesome and surreal to hear his name announced live during the Academy Awards.  Please go check out his film, if you haven’t already.  The link is above.






The W.I.T.H / W.A.H. Phenomenon

Hi everybody! I’m not dead. At least, I don’t think so anyway. So far, I can still grab doorknobs and other objects without my hand phasing through them so that’s a good sign.

Speaking of grabbing things in the house, I got up yesterday and made a huuuuge breakfast. When it was all done, I did what I always do and just put all the pots, pans and dishes in the sink to “soak”.

I got up this morning and saw a dirty pile of greasy dishes in the sink and I realized that I suck at being an adult. I truly had no real expectations to do these dishes at all this weekend. Instead, I hold onto the belief that, one day, I’m just going to morph into a person who actually wants to be responsible. After some horribly accurate introspection, I discovered the ugly truth is that I have a very strong desire to be hugely irresponsible and do as little as possible all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I still put my pants on and go to work everyday.

Good Day at Work

Well, most days anyway.

I handle the big stuff like paying bills and whatnot, but I find it’s the little things that I slack on. I find that I lie to and convince myself that what I’m doing is responsible or frugal or (insert positive adjective here) and not just a by-product of outright laziness.

I think it all comes down to this disconnect that I have with what I think will happen vs. what actually happens.

I’ve dubbed this the W.I.T.H (What I Think will Happen) vs. W.A.H. (What Actually Happens) phenomenon.  Enjoy.

I’ll do the dishes after they soak so I don’t have to scrub so hard.

Here’s what I think will happen.

Pristine Dishes

Here’s what actually happens.

Those damn things sit there for about a week and a kraken hatches.

Kitchen Kraken

I’ll wash the car after it rains so I’ll have less pollen or whatever to rinse off.

I think nature will go out of its way and help me clean my car.

The Car

Sadly, it doesn’t rain for months and my car is covered in all manner of shit.

Not Washing

I’ll set my alarm thirty minutes early so I can have the time to enjoy a nice breakfast and put myself into a ridiculously cheery mood, complete with singing.

Early Rise

Here’s what happens instead…  I hit snooze until the last minute and have a spoonful of peanut butter and some vitamins like an anorexic model.  I’m so tired that I can’t even be angry.  I just look back at my life in a moment of quiet, painful reflection.


I convince myself that I’ll take out the trash & recycling once all cans are full so I’m more efficient with my time and energy.


Here’s what really happens; the wine and liquor bottles fill the glass bin exponentially faster than all other types of recycling and my neighbors get to see how much of an irresponsible drunk I actually am.

Takin out da booze

I think I’ll update my blog every Sunday so my thousands of subscribers will continue to like me.

Being Responsible

But, here’s what I do… I finish every Sunday the exact same way they start; with a bottle of whiskey and no pants.



P.S. Sometimes a little bit of writing gets done on Sundays.

P.P.S. Usually not a lot, unfortunately. I still want us to be friends though. Here, I made a smiley face for you… 🙂

The Great Migration Part I: Preparing to Leave Germany

Dear Readers,


I know I’ve been away from the blog for a while but rest assured that I am alive and well in the US. I have made the great journey from Europe to America, but it did not come without the shedding of sweat and tears. My transatlantic voyage with Wife and two cats did not go off without a hitch or twelve.


As a result, I have decided to recount the ordeal in a multiple installment piece entitled, The Great Migration. What’s with all the grandiose wording and dramatic presentation? Well… there’s a very good reason for it so read on for Part I: Preparing to Leave Germany and see for yourselves.





the underwhelmer




The Great Migration


Part I: Preparing to Leave Germany.


As my time in Germany was drawing to a close, I began preparations to move across the Atlantic back to the US. The plan was simple; take the underwhelmer, Wife, Other Cat and Skittles (along with our collective meager possessions) and transport ourselves from Germany to that fabled land of monster truck rallies, high fructose corn syrup and chain restaurants.


What could possibly go wrong?


Unbeknownst to me, my elegantly simple plan was about to have the survival rate of an ice-cube at Hiroshima.



It all started when I had to get my mandatory “you’re moving to America and we have to make sure you’re not a carrier for Super-Ebola or some other scary virus that we saw in a movie one time, therefore it is real” medical examination or the YMAWHMSYNCSESOSVTWSMOTTRME, for short.


I drove to the nearest hospital that could do all of the required tests and examinations. The powers that be decided to skip the phrenology readings and trepanning so I didn’t have to go to outside of Germany, but I did have to drive for 3 hours on the German autobahn to get to where I needed to go.


For those of you that didn’t react at all to the last half of that sentence, let me clarify something for you. The German autobahn is the highway system of Germany. There is no speed limit in most sections and German-built cars are very fast.


This is an American speed limit sign.



This is a German speed limit sign.



I love the autobahn, but I drive a small, flimsy little shoebox of a car that was designed for short trips to the grocery store and nothing else. A simple trip down to the next exit on the autobahn in my tiny car is thereby transformed into a white-knuckled game of automotive Russian Roulette.


To top things off, my car hates me. I don’t know what I did to it, but it actively tries to kill me on a regular basis; it has an exciting tendency to drift into the left lane with no input from the driver. I imagine that the ghost of Genghis Khan or a person of equivalent evil is somehow bound to the car and wants to end my life in a spectacularly gory fashion.



Despite the best efforts of my haunted car and with a little bit of luck, I made it to the hospital and began my physical examination.


I made my way to the doctor, who resembled Norman Rockwell’s interpretation of an elderly physician. I answered a few generic questions and then I was then asked to get naked so I could participate in the old turn-and-cough check. I normally don’t object to getting naked in front of strangers.



*Above picture not drawn to scale.


This time was different though. While he was clasping my cash and prizes with his old, frigid hands, the doctor asked me to turn around and bend over. I was not amused. The exchange went something like this…


ME: Sweet Chocolate Christ, your hands are freezing.


DOCTOR ICE HANDS: Sorry about that. I’m going to have to ask you to turn around and bend over.


ME: Well, normally you have to pay extra for that.


DOCTOR ICE HANDS: Haha! That’s funny, but I seriously have to check your prostate.


ME: I’m 27 years old… you guys don’t check that until I’m at least 30. Wait… my wife put you up to this, didn’t she?


DOCTOR ICE HANDS: Turn around sir.


The whole ordeal was over shortly afterward and the doctor had ordered, among other things, some X-rays and range of motion check on some of my joints. I had then resolved that I would continue on with the rest of the day without having to get naked, probed and poked (in no particular order) again.


I put my robe back on and made my way to the X-ray department. I was met by a cheery young woman who explained all of the fascinating ways she was going to X-ray me. I feigned enthusiasm for the field of radiology and got on the X-ray table.


She paused, looked at me and then asked me to remove my clothing. It went something like this:


X-RAY LADY: You’re going to have to take off your clothing and put it in that chair over there for these X-rays.


ME: Oh, ha ha… very funny. Did Doctor Ice Hands put you up to this?


X-RAY LADY: Umm… I don’t know who you’re talking about, but if you don’t take off your clothes it’ll mess with the X-ray results.


ME: How will my clothes mess up an X-ray machine?


X-RAY LADY: It clouds the final image. We need clear results on your final X-rays.


ME: What about all the muscle and bone in the way? Doesn’t that cloud the X-ray machine?


X-RAY LADY: Yes, but…


ME: *Interrupting* You know what? Fine. X-ray away to your heart’s content. I wouldn’t want my Jethro Tull T-shirt * to mess with science.


* The underwhelmer dresses in only the highest of fashion.


After an hour of naked X-rays, I finally made my way to the physical therapist to check my range of motion. I walked into her office and she shut the door.


You guessed it. I was once again asked to remove my clothing. All of the previous clothes-shedding was accompanied by lying still or minor movement at the most… not this time. I had to pose, twist, hop and generally make an ass out of myself in front of a fully clothed woman. It was like reliving my days as an exotic dancer all over again.




As I left that wing of the hospital, a man seated in the waiting area called out to me and tried to get my attention. I didn’t turn around for fear of having to remove my clothing once more.


A few minutes later, I left the hospital with the suspicion that I had somehow been violated by a small cabal of people masquerading as health-care professionals.





I didn’t think about it too much as I had to focus on the harrowing drive ahead of me. I needed my mind right to ward off the evil schemes of my murderous car.


I eventually made it home, alive and in one piece. I sighed a breath of relief and then I realized that I had to schedule a veterinarian appointment for Other Cat and Skittles; they had to get their health exams too.


I dialed the vet’s office and a woman who was tragically born without a personality answered the phone in a depressed monotone.


VET LADY: Vet’s office, Super-Sad-Lady* speaking.


*I don’t remember her name, but I do remember the void where her sense of humor should have been.


ME: Hi. I’d like to schedule a check-up on Monday for my two cats.




ME: Umm, the underwhelmer?




ME: Uh, OK.


VET LADY: Show up at 8 AM sharp. Bring a $100 dollars and a stool sample.


ME: Lady… I don’t know what kind of weird kink you’re into, but…


VET LADY: *Interrupting* It’s the cats’ stool samples and the $100 dollars is because our credit card machine is down.


ME: Oh, um sorry.


VET LADY: 8 AM sharp.


ME: OK, but you have to admit that was funny, right?


VET LADY: No. Good day sir.


As I lowered the phone from my ear, I realized that my adventure didn’t end at the hospital or even the autobahn for that matter. In truth, it had only just begun.




P.S. Stay tuned for next week’s installment, The Great Migration Part II: Planes, Trains and Anguish.


P.P.S In case you were wondering, I met the Vet Lady the following Monday and she made Mr. Spock look like an emotional roller coaster.












Nearly every time that I get behind the wheel of a vehicle, I am reminded how much other people suck at driving.

I’m not really sure where the disconnect is. Maybe these people didn’t listen to their driving instructors when they were teens or maybe they have acute and uncontrollable spastic fits while driving.

Maybe they’re driving with an enraged were-beaver in the passenger seat.

Regardless of the cause, the end result is the same. I always find myself behind someone with the driving ability of a cucumber.

In addition to being a vegetable, I imagine that having a room temperature IQ only complicates things when you’re trying to decipher those fiendishly complex dials and controls near that wheel-thingy.

Car to a normal person.

Car to the intellectually challenged.

I know I can’t change the world, but I can at least survive it. Here’s some things to do to even the odds out there.

Here’s a technique that I use often. I call it the patience lesson. Often times, I’m followed by a person that is in such a hurry that they’re nearly ramming my car. I often speculate that the only thing stopping them from actually doing so is the threat of prison time and, of course, the forcible sodomy that goes with prison.

*I’ve never been to prison, but TV depicts it as one long period of continuous rape occasionally interrupted by brief instances of gang rape so that’s the image I portray to others.

If I’m lucky and fate smiles upon me, I get stopped at a red light with this person behind me. They often crowd my bumper all the way to the stop light as well. This is good because it helps me strengthen the trap.

When the light turns green, I just sit there and look at them in my rear view mirror and I feast upon their despair and woe. They scream and yell at me. They honk their horn and pound their dashboard as they realize they’ve gotten too close to my car and they can’t get around me. I drink in their rage. It is delicious. I usually wait for the light to turn red for 1.2 seconds and then I go. This gets me through the intersection (just barely) and it obliterates any chance of the tail-gater making the light.

Another way to improve your skills and thereby be more awesome on the road is to build up your tolerance with multi-tasking. Often times, highly skilled drivers can be knocked off of their game by something as trivial as answering a cell phone or solving a Rubik’s Cube.

Enter the distraction….

I say do these things often and in conjunction with each other. Try adding juggling and tatoo removal as well. With enough practice you could be a Jedi Master* at this stuff and driving will soon become the easiest thing you do in a car.

* While walking around in Florence, Italy I saw the driving equivalent of a unicorn shitting a glitter rainbow. There was a local bus driver adeptly turning his massive bus, at speed, down a Vespa-choked alley while smoking a cigarette AND talking on a cell phone. He missed me by mere centimeters, but I was still touched by his aura of awesomeness. Bravo, little Italian dude, bravo.

Another great way to be more awesome at driving is to add (you guessed it) PIRATES! Grab a few salty mercenaries, make a few modifications to the old Wagon Queen Family Truckster and voila! You’re ready to murder and pillage atop the asphalt!

The pirate car is equipped to deal with any and all road-related annoyances.

Got somebody that won’t stop tail-gating you?


Is some rich prick flaunting his new convertible as he passes you?


Are you stuck in traffic and late for your afternoon pillaging?


You will, of course, have to keep a sharp eye out for ninjas though. The pirate/ ninja war is still ongoing and don’t think for one second that pirates are the only faction that has developed murdering car technologies.