Archive for March, 2006

strong as an ox and just as graceful

Monday, March 20th, 2006

I was working out today and decided to go for a personal bench press record of 225LB. I’d only done 215 up to that point, but I was feeling pretty confident I could do it. I slapped two plates on each side and sure enough, I was able to put up twice without any help. Then some guy with really bad BO offered a spot and I was able to do three more sets.

So I was pretty fired up now. Woo everyone look at me, I’m manly man, RAWR! I moved on to the incline bench and did my usual 5 sets. The last one felt a little off, but I didn’t think much of it. I took one plate off the bar and put it back on the weight rack. I turned around and then everything started moving in slow motion – the plate on the other side had slid half way off the bar. The side next to me now had no weight to counter balance. Who would have thought Newton’s laws still apply in the gym? The whole bar tipped up on one end and then attempted to impale the floor with a tremendous crash.

So I did manage to get everyone in the gym to look at me.

Welcome to Planet Weird

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

Last night my friend Mark called inviting me to dinner. An acquaintance of ours, Domingo, had “really big news” and wanted to meet. I had yet to see Domingo sober so I took this with a grain of salt. He had however been in contact with some local filmmakers, so we figured some kind of breakthrough had been made on their project.

We entered the restaurant and were warmly greeted by Domingo. He said he couldn’t wait for us to meet his team. Something felt a little off, but we headed over to the table. There we found an attractive young couple wearing unnatural smiles. Every instinct told me to turn and run, but like a bad dream, my legs kept moving forward.

Domingo introduced us, “Guys, I’d like you to meet Chris and Christy.” I shit you not, those were their actual names. I shook hands and suddenly found myself sitting next to them. Mark was on the end, ready to make a run for it if needed, but I was effectively trapped. I looked at Domingo who was drinking from his tall glass of…water? Something was very wrong.

Domingo asked Mark how his screenwriting was going. Mark said things were moving along a gave a couple details on his current project. Chris was grinning ear to ear, wide eyed and nodding. “That’s great!” he said, “you’ve obviously got a lot of passion for it, just like my business.” Red Alert! Here comes the network marketing pitch, all hands abandon ship! I was about to crawl under the table, when he continued “wait till you see what I’ve done with music. It is going to blow your mind!”

I relaxed a little. No Amway then. They obviously still wanted something here, but the intended target was Mark. His family owns one of the largest demolition companies in the country and people are always coming to him with “great ideas”. Sucks to be him, but I was now safe for the moment.

Chris was winding up now, and I feared he would explode with positive energy at any moment. He went on “I am going to blow your mind, turn it around, and blow your mind again.”

Ok.

“I have cracked the code of music,” he said, “I have broken the laws of music. Just like when man built the first airplane and broke the laws of flight.” I reflected that airplanes braking the laws of flight usually ended up a crumpled mass of metal on the 5 o’clock news, but I stayed silent.

He continued, “It so simple. In fact, it’s always man who complicate things. If you just listen to God then it all becomes clear.” The warning bells started clanging again louder than ever, but I kept listening with trainwreck fascination.

“It’s like when God sent the message with rainbow after the flood. It was all there in the colors,” he said. Domingo interjected “it’s all true. They found the ark you know. It’s located right where the Bible said it would be, but the Turkish government won’t let anyone near it.” I felt my brain begin to fold in on itself with that surreal “is this really happening?” sensation.

Chris was on a roll now. “when we listen to God, it all makes sense. It’s like losing weight. You don’t need all those fancy diets. I can tell you right now how do it. You just have to get back to the garden, back to Adam and Eve where it all started. Why do people get addicted to sugar? Because that’s how Satan gets a hold of your life and takes you down.”

Mark has been a severe diabetic since he was 9 years old and has learned a thing or two about sugar. I could only imagine his shock when he found out it was Satan who jacked up his pancreas all those years ago. This unfortunate thought caused me to lose it, and I almost pushed Mark out of his seat. “I have to go the bathroom NOW.”

I barely made it to the bathroom before cracking up. Fortunately there was no one else there as it took several minutes to regain my composure. I finally took a deep breath and went back to the table. Thank God Mark had redirected the conversation. “So, is this a music instrument or what is it exactly?” he asked.

Domingo said, ”It’s everything. It’s every instrument. Imagine never having played a instrument, and being able to instantly play Mozart. Just this morning I was jamming with Christy here who has never played before and it was awesome!”

“It was really cool.” She bubbled.

Chris said, “I told you just wait and see it. I am going to blow your mind, turn it around, and blow your mind again.” He said this maybe four more times over dinner.

“I know you don’t believe me now.” he said, “Steve you’re sitting there all quiet, I can only imagine what you are thinking.”

I patted him on the shoulder. “Chris, I like you. I think you’re crazy, but I like you.” I said.

So after this monumental build-up we finally went to Domingo’s studio, to see this thing that would be “bigger than the internet” and would “revolutionize the music industry.” I won’t reveal the specifics, as there may be a one in a million chance this a marketable idea, but needless to say it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

That did not slow down Chris and Domingo though. At one point they had all of us “jamming” on the keyboard. I have to admit, in a music contest we would have smoked the competition. Provided we were competing against kindergartners and the judges were drunk.

After being “blown away” by this music, Mark asked what his role in all this would be. Ah the moment of truth. Chris said God had guided everyone to this project. Chris was the inventor. Domingo was the music expert. And Mark? Mark was the “money man.”

For some strange reason, Mark asked what exactly the money would be used for. Chris went on about staying true to God and there was nothing in it for him except serving his purpose. I tried to tell him as gently but firmly as possible that although his heart was in the right place, that wasn’t good enough for any private investor including Mark. Chris said “Mark, I want you to know you are going to be completely protected. I am willing back you up with equity to my house and the title to my car. You can’t lose.” This was an amazing stroke of luck, as Mark had just commented to me on the ride over how he had always dreamed of foreclosing on a house and kicking a helpless family to the curb.

However, he still wanted to know just what the money would be used for. Chris looked up at Mark with a desperation that was heartbreaking. “I just need you to pay off all my bills and debt, so I can work on this full time.”

And there you have it. Chris wasn’t looking for an investor. He was looking for a benefactor. It was painful to watch and no one knows the suck of a 9-5 job keeping you from your dreams more than me, but Jesus Christ no!! Mark could have microwaved his money before flushing it down the garbage disposal and still received a better return on investment.

The air effectively went out of the room at that point. Mark stood there awkwardly – it would take several smoked crack rocks before he could say yes, but saying no would be like kicking a puppy. I had to intervene. I told them they were getting a bit a head of themselves. They needed to secure the rights to their system first. I tried to explain that as long as you own the rights, you don’t need money to market it – that’s the beauty of licensing.

There was no getting through. Chris made more assurances that Mark would be protected with his equity and car title. Domingo went on and on about the endless possible applications of the system. Ultimately Mark did they only thing one could do, saying “Yes it sure is interesting. I’ll mull on it. Keep working on it and keep me posted.”

I thought for sure the night would end with us getting chained to the basement, but somehow we managed to escape. The whole experience left us stunned. We laughed, shook our heads, and tried to get a grip on what just happened. But Chris assured us after a night of sleep, when “it really hits you” that we would be on board 100%. I give him credit. If nothing else, he certainly did blow our minds, turn them around, and blow them again.