Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rhino's Church of Free Will

I have been a minister for a couple of weeks now and it has become evident that I will need to lead a revolution against more mainstream organized religion. I know this will result in a schism – but that can’t be helped. Consider this my metaphorical nailing of theses on the door of the interwebz.

The new Rhino’s Church of Free Will establishes the following holy commandments that may or may not have been dictated to me by a burning bush. OK, they weren’t but still:

1. Thou shalt make all attempts to not be an asshole to people. Unless they do so unto you. But even then you should give pause.

2. Thou shalt exit the passing lane if there are people behind you and thou art being passed by cars in the cruising lane.

3. Thou shalt not pee on the seat and if you do thou willst clean-up after yourself.

4. Thou shalt not eat the last piece of pizza or other snack food unless thou offer it up to all others first and if there are no takers then it is fair game.

5. Thou shalt tip at least 15% or whatever is culturally acceptable. 20% is best if the service is good.

6. Thou shalt keep your cell phone turned off at the movie theatre.

7. Cleanliness is next to godliness so thou shalt wash thy hands after using the bathroom.

8. Your body is a temple. Do not defile it by filling it with cheap liquors, food or cigars. Instead, thou will strive to drink, smoke and eat only the finest liquors, food and cigars. And often.

9. Do not vilify thy neighbor for whom they love and want to marry. It is none of thy damn business.

10. Tithing to the church is a good thing. It won’t mean anything in the afterlife but it is a good thing as tithes will be used by The Rhino to follow commandment 8.

Addendum from the Congregation:

11. Thou shalt acknowledge and affirm that Han shot first. (Submitted by Brother Barnes)

That is a pretty good start. What else do we need to add?

It is good to be a God fearing Rhino.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Everyone out there has heard a variation of this old joke at one time or another during their formative years:

Q. Why are toilet paper and the starship Enterprise alike?

A. Because they both orbit Uranus looking for Klingons.

You probably laughed and laughed at this puerile word play. Cause, let's fact it, anything having to do with the butt is pretty funny. Even funnier was to make it an insult by substituting 'your mama's tongue' for toilet paper.

However, being the geek that I am, my first thought upon hearing this joke was, "Hey, there wasn't an episode where the Enterpise fought Klingons in their home solar system. What the heck is he talking about?"

Luckily, it hit me that it was a joke and I had to good sense to just laugh and not voice that thought.

True story.

It is good to be the geekiest Rhino IN THE WORRRLLLD.

What is your geekiest story?

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Rhino Life Advice: Resolutions

As you are well aware The Rhino is a self-effacing kind of, well, Rhino, and far be it for me to offer unsolicited advice. But, the fact of the matter is that some of you need it and since my love for humanity must win out over my humility I will attempt to help you. To that end I will now offer you the benefit of my world view and life experience on a timely subject: Resolutions. Yes, we are going to discuss the capital R kinds that are made every year in a hung over haze on 1 January.
Here is a list of Rhino’s Rules for New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Don’t make them.

2. See rule #1.

Well, that was simple, wasn’t it? My job here is done.

What’s that? I’m not done? I can already hear the bleating. “ But, but, but, but, Rhino, how can you expect me to change things if I don’t make a grand pronouncements and throw every ounce of energy into making those changes?”

My response is, “How has that worked out for you so far?” If you are in the very, very small minority of people for whom that method has worked, hurrah and good for you – you get the gold star. If, on the other hand, you are still paying for hat gym membership that you contractually locked in for the 2-year, iron-clad “New Years VIP Rate” that you have only used once, not to work out of course, but to soak in the hot tub in a lame attempt to leach out the gallons of cheap champagne you drank whilst twisting the night away during the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve telecast. Well, then you might want to consider an alternative.

The first problem with Resolutions is that little s at the end of the word, i.e., it is plural. As in, you are expected to list out everything you want to change about yourself and take immediate action to correct those deficiencies. That’s like saying; I’m going to cut down that forest over there all at once. I’ll take one swing of the ax at each tree, in succession, until I’m done. Get 5 or 6 swings into it and all you’ll have are blistered hands, tired arms, a sore back and all you’ll have to show for your labor are a couple of trees with single cuts in them that will heal over in a couple of weeks.

You really want to change something? Divide and conquer is the key. Instead of the forest just choose one tree. Not the 200 year old oak. Maybe you pick on that 5 year old spruce – been around for awhile but isn’t so thick that you’ll break your back. Now, take a moment and consider your target so that you can devise the most efficient and effective plan of attack. Focus. Whatever you do, don’t go batshit crazy and run in there and start swinging on it with your ax (no matter how good that may feel). Work steadily and take rests when appropriate. Stop to measure your progress. It may take a few hours, maybe a few days, but you will get through that one tree.

In Summary:

1. Pick one thing that you want to do/change.

2. Take some time to understand what is driving that behavior and/or why you want to do the new thing. Ensure that there is a tangible goal.

3. Make a plan.

4. Execute the plan. Slow and steady. Be reasonable.

So, there you go … a valuable life lesson. Unsolicited. And free. And you know the value of something that is both unsolicited and free don't you? You don't? Then let me tell you about these 2-year, VIP rate gym memberships I'm selling.
It is good to be The Rhino ... But I really need to take my own advice sometimes.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

D&D Life Lessons

I was a Dungeons and Dragons (and other role playing games) geek as a young Rhino. Big surprise, huh? And by young I mean into adulthood and the only reason I stopped was when I moved away from that amazing group of friends.  I'm sure that I could have found another group to join, but, it just wouldn't have been the same. No shared verbal shorthand built-up over thousands of hours of gaming. It would have been uneasy and awkward and by then I was just too old to want to change my ways.

I learned many valuable lessons during those formative years that I've applied to my personal and professional life  And being the magnanimous and generous Rhino that I am I will share them with you as an early Christmas present.

1. Always Check for Traps. Number was there a better truism to live by. Even when you think you are at the end of a trial and have reached the reward, one should never rush in lest he find himself poisoned because he didn't take a moment to do the right  things that got him there in the first place.

2. When you have teleported onto a platform that has been rigged with a flaming trap one should just attack because the surprise gained by not stopping to put the fire out far outweighs any ongoing damage (not to mention that it looks really cool too). Sometimes you just have to take the pain but find a way to turn it to your advantage. Can't tell you how effective this has been for my career in leadership roles.

3. "But we have Linguistics". This one requires some explanation. We were playing an SF role playing game and I was designated science officer and was responsible for the purchase of ships software. With a limited budget I bought what we thought we'd need and since we were going "out there" I figured that we'd need to communicate. That was until we were attacked and didn't have the right programs to fire our cannons very well. In the heat of the battle the captain asked me what we did have and I replied "But we have linguistics". That became the catch phrase for massive FUBARS going forward, regardless of the game being played. Lesson learned there was that delegating is fine but it always pays to double check.

What is even funnier is that some of my friends played with other groups and probably used that phrase around outsiders and years later they were at a con playing and when something really went wrong someone that they had never met before said "but we have linguistics". True story.

4. If you expect your party to bring your body back for resurrection (as opposed to defiling your corpse and taking all of your ill-gotten gains) you probably need to have laid down a foundation of goodwill long before that point in time.

5. That NPC beauty at the inn that comes on to you (even though you have a charisma score of -4) that your party warns you not to go upstairs with, but you do anyway because you are too drunk to care, is probably a succubus.  Stop and listen sometimes even with faced with something you really, really, really want. Sometimes the wisdom of the group should be heeded.

6. That NPC beauty at the inn that comes on to you (even though you have a charisma score of -4) that your party warns you not to go upstairs with, but you do anyway because you are too drunk to care, is probably a succubus. Go.When else is that going to happen to your sorry ass? Ignore the wisdom of the group and get your drunk ass upstairs anyway because it will probably be a wild ride and a great story for beers later and if you've been smart you can rely on point #4. But only do this occasionally as goodwill only goes so far. Sometimes the experience is the most important thing.

7. Party warfare is always ugly and, in the end, everybody loses. Put down, quickly and violently, any force that causes unreasonable dissension in the ranks. Key word there is unreasonable. It sometimes pays to leave a dissenter alone as long as they are too impotent or incompetent to tear the team apart. It makes you look wise and reasonable to the rest of the team when you counsel them despite their obvious shortcomings.

8. A party travels on its stomach. Food is important and there is no gaming session that cannot be improved by the availability of salty and sugary snacks, pizza and gallon jugs of day-glo colored "drink". If you want people to be happy - feed them. Even if it has to come out of your own pocket. If you are asking people to go above and beyond then feed them.

9. Ambiance counts and preparation is key. There is nothing so wonderful as a GM that can spin a tale and bring you into the fantasy so completely that hours can go by without you wanting to stand up and relieve your numb ass. On the flip side, there is nothing so awful as a GM that does not have the ability to wing-it and just didn't care enough to be ready. If you are going to lead, you have an obligation to everyone involved to make sure that you prepare appropriately. Sure, there are times that you are going to have to take a break and deal with something unexpected ... but preparation can limit those times.

10. Nothing is as important as the guys and gals around the table. There are good adventures and there are bad adventures ... but there will always be more adventures. But, above all of that are the people that you have the adventures with. Don't lose sight of what is really important - the people that you are with. The adventures, high and low, are always the best in the retelling with the people that you experienced them with. Always important but especially so at this time of the year.

Good advice all of the above... but never forget ... we have linguistics. And, as long as you have that what else do you really need?

It is good to be the chaotic good Rhino with 18/100 strength statistics and the +5 vorpal blade bastard sword.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Iconic Creamsicle

I drank an Arby's orange cream milkshake last night. It was sublime. Like drinking a Creamsicle. Took me back to summer days of years ago. My father's company held a picnic each year at an amusement park and, in addition to all of the picnic food you could eat, they brought in an ice cream truck that handed-out Creamsicles and other confections. Every year my friends and I would dare each other to touch the dry ice they used to keep everything frozen. Of course, we all did it. Sweet memories.

Thinking these heartwarming thoughts, my only desire was to share that bliss with the love of my life. Of anyone, she would surly appreciate that which makes her Rhino happy.

Rhino, "Here darlin', have a sip. It is wonderful. Tastes just like a Creamsicle."

HLDW, "You know I'm allergic to dairy."

Rhino, "It's a fast food milkshake. The only cow it has been remotely close to was the beef it sat next to. Second thought, I don't think that is real meat either. Just take a bit on your tongue. Did I mention that it tastes just like a Creamsicle?"

HLDW, "Congratulations. But I don't like Creamsicles."

Rhino, "WHAT?"

I couldn't believe it. How could I not know this after so many years together? This is the woman that has been my partner through thick and thin. The woman to whom I've whispered my hopes and dreams. My soul mate. How could she betray me this way?

Rhino, "Why do you hate America?"

HLDW, "What are you talking about? It's a milkshake for goodness sake."

Rhino, "The Creamsicle represents everything that is good about my beloved America."

HLDW, "I know I'm going to regret this, but, how is that even possible?"

Rhino, "Like America it has, what appears to be, a hard shell. But when you finally muster up the courage to take a taste it is sweet nectar on your taste buds. And, if you keep at it, working hard, you are rewarded with a creamy interior that is soft and compliments, perfectly, the citrus shell. And, better yet, if you really have balls and just take a big bite you are immediately rewarded with the creamy interior. I can't think of a better metaphor of the promise that is America."

::Rhino starts humming (quite smugly) God Bless America while sipping his milkshake::

HLDW*, "You know that is bull, don't you? And that humming is annoying."

::Rhino hums louder::

HLDW, "Humming louder doesn't make you right, it just makes you more annoying."

Rhino, "I'm sorry, were you speaking? I can't hear America haters over the awesomeness that is my shake."

HLDW, "I do not hate America."

Rhino, "I believe you. Do you still want me to roll through Starbucks and get you a double CHE hemp milk MAO-chiatto in the Heroes of the Revolution collectible cup made from recycled little red books?"

HLDW, "You are going to make me say it, aren't you?"

Rhino, "What?"

HLDW, "You are an ass. There."

Rhino, "Now there's the girl I fell in love with."

HLDW, "You are still an ass."

Rhino, "That's patriotic, Creamsicle loving ass to you.

It is good to be the frozen, artificial orange flavoring, confection loving Rhino.

*Hippie Liberal Douche Wife

Monday, March 05, 2012

Half a Step

As promised in my last post.

We were celebrating a buddy's birthday and, as such drunken celebrations go, we ended up at a gentleman's club. (Note - I was going to do a riff or two on the lack of gentlemen, etc., etc., but that has been done to death.)

I don't particularly care for strip clubs. I'm happily married to the HLDW* and tell her when I go to such establishments, and, quite frankly, the HLDW is amazing I don't need any additional outside stimulation. The entire experience can be summed up by a paraphrase of a comedian (can't remember who), "Going to a strip club is like going to a buffet and being told that you can't eat anything." Don't get me wrong, I still have fun despite the fact that I don't get lap dances. I respect the girls and generally end up talking to the dancers that come around, hand out tips, buy lap dances for my buddies and drink. I've gone to this particular place with the birthday boy on several occasions and, since he has been going there for 20+ years, everyone knows him and he gets VIP treatment and he knows just about every girl so they feel comfortable hanging out with us.

So, I'm sitting there, watching everyone act like kids in a candy store when they announce that a new girl is making her debut on the main stage. A young thing, she comes out and proceeds to work the pole like a world class Olympic gymnast. Seriously amazing athletic ability. Flips. Splits. Twirling around that thing at scary speeds. Take the erotic dancing out and it looked like a very serious aerobic workout. When she was done she was barely breathing hard. Just contemplating that level of physical activity almost gave me a heart attack. Several guys "made it rain" on her. (No point loss or grousing about my gratuitous usage of "make it rain". For the record it is the law of the land to use that phrase at least once whenever one writes about strippers, strip clubs, rappers or just wasting money so don't blame me). She cleaned up like Donald Trump during a real estate downturn.

After that performance, another girl took the stage. A girl that my buddy knows and to whom I've spoken in the past. Attractive, nice girl. Late 20's, early 30's (which is late 50's, early 60's in stripper years), has a baking business on the side that she would like to do full time. I call her Cookie Lady. She proceeded to do her routine. Old school. She flirted with the pole, used it for balance, but no tricks. No athleticism. She made a few bucks and hustled off to make her real money doing table dances.

That got me to thinking.

But first ... a necessary segue. I'm a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Grew up there in the 70's during the Steel Curtain years. Saw the the greatness that was a young Franco Harris. Making tacklers miss with his incredible footwork and spreed changes. Putting his head down and plowing through them if necessary. The years passed and I eventually saw the Franco Harris that dashed for the sidelines to avoid a hit, my father yelling at the television every time it happened. Losing half a step. That's all it takes to end an athlete's career. "Half a Step" can be applied to any sporting activity. A golfer can't drive as far, a baseball player can't hit as far, a cricket player can't, well, ummm, can't do whatever it is a cricket player does as far.

Back to me thinking ...

Strippers, like athletes, depend on their physical gifts to make it in their chosen professions. And, both have ways to prolong their careers when they feel like they are losing that half step. Athletes have steroids. Strippers have plastic surgery. Franco Harris races for the sideline. Cookie Lady flirts with the pole. Both had/have to watch younger, stronger athletes coming up through the ranks - knowing that their time in the limelight is coming to an end.

Half a step is all that it takes.

I threw an extra $20 Cookie Lady's way that night and told her she did great. I hope that she didn't realize that it was a pity tip.

It is good to be a thinky, doesn't have to rely on his prodigious physical attributes, but knows he could if he had to, Rhino.

* Hippie Liberal Douche Wife

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Past One's Prime

Can't write more about this right now. On the jobsPhone. Celebrating the Deputy Sheriff's birthday as only men can. Thinking about the connection between professional athletes and strippers. There is a very close correlation. I need to to expand upon this. Perhaps later this morning after another dose of ether. That will provide the necessary clarity that such a studious subject deserves.

Do you want to know more? Tell me in the comments.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Stuff Chicks Don't Grok

There are so many things that chicks don't grok I decided to start making a list. This isn't just about the HLDW.

1. The Three Stooges. Note: any list of things that chicks don't get must start with an obligatory reference to The Three Stooges. That is the law. I can't change it. Nor do I want to.

2. That most meals can be eaten without using a plate or utensils for that matter.

3. That some bowel movements must be described, compared and discussed.

4. The first scratch of the morning is sublime.

5. Smashing the TV remote is, in fact, a very reasonable response to my Steelers losing in the playoffs.

6. Cigars are not cigarettes.

7. Just because I smile and hold the door for you doesn't mean that I'm a sexist pig and/or want to rape you. It just means that my mother raised me right.

8. Calling one's best friend "ass face" or any other pejorative term means the same thing as "I love you".

9. Phone calls can last less than 2 hours. The following can, and often does, constitute my side of a legitimate phone conversation and can convey a tremendous amount of information: "Rhino here" (pause) "Yeah" (pause) "OK" (pause) "Bye".

10.Flipping someone off in traffic is not only justified, but oftentimes necessary in order to teach the other drivers manners.

11. Why yes, I really do think that I'm still 22. Why do you ask?

12. No man EVER wants to be "just friends" with a woman. (I think that one is obligatory too).

13. "Nothing" is a legitimate response to the question, "What are you thinking about?"

What do you have to add?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Tooth Fairy

Conversation at the cigar shop today...

Red, (talking about his first child), "Will's got a loose tooth. He's 4."

Rhino, "Isn't that the time it happens?"

Red, "Around 5 or so usually."

Rhino, "Well, he's ahead of the curve."

Larry (whose children are all grown), "Now you get to be the Tooth Fairy."

Red, "I'm not anything with fairy in it."

Demetrious, (who has 5 young children), "You know the haul per tooth is $5.00 these days."

Larry, "If that's the case then I'd pull all of my teeth."

Odd conversations.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Heartwarming Noel Anecdote

The HLDW* and I spend Christmas Eve with our "Atlanta Family". Two guys, Larry and Demetrius, that I met at the cigar shop many years ago, and their wives and kids (and lots of other invited guests). I love these guys like brothers and they have awesome families. I've written about some of the dinners/parties we've had in the past - they are chefs and wine experts so any get together is amazing. What makes Christmas Eve even more special is that, in addition to the normally anticipated culinary goodness, Larry is of Italian extraction (the New Jersey kind - but not the trashy Jersey shore kind - more like the old school Frank Sinatra kind) and that means he does the traditional Feast of Seven Fishes. Platter after platter of fresh oceanic goodness - fried, baked, sauteed, etc., etc. The goodness goes on long into the night.

A couple of years ago Larry's parents, Pat and Jerry, and his brother came to town (they still live in New Jersey) for Christmas. Wonderful people. There were probably 40 or 50 people there that year. Several of us, including the HLDW, Larry's mom and his wife were sitting around one of the tables noshing on antipasto and drinking wine and the subject came up of Pat's fight with diabetes and ongoing complications that cost the loss of her leg earlier in the year. Hey, like I said, we're family, so what else should we be talking about on Christmas Eve? Anyway, Pat was doing well and the subject came and went.

What I should mention at this point is that Pat, as 60-something ladies do, was wearing a very "festive" Christmas sweater adorned with various and sundry buttons and pins with holiday pictures and greetings.

This is what followed:

HLDW, "Oh, Pat, I love your sweater and all of the buttons and pins."

Pat, "Thank you."

HLDW, "I love the Rudolph with the blinking nose!"

Pat, (pointing to a large white button with a green outline with a large red L in the center with a black diagonal line through it) "Do you know what this one means?"

I perk up at this as the HLDW has had a few glasses of wine at this point and she has the alcoholic constitution of a virgin on prom night so I can't wait to see what she is going to say.

I should learn that this desire is a very, very bad thing.

The earlier conversation must have been front and center in her mind because, with no hesitation whatsoever, the HLDW says, "No leg?"

OMG, did she just say that?!?!?!

Oh, yes, she did. She just said "no leg" to our host's mother.

The table goes silent.

I'm biting the inside of my cheek in a futile effort to keep a soul-ripping guffaw from bursting from my mouth. I can't help it. I start laughing hysterically. Everyone else, including Pat, start laughing too. The HLDW is sitting there in horror, turning crimson with embarrassment, as she realizes what she said.

HLDW, "Oh my god, oh my god." She is incapable of saying anything else at this point.

Time for The Rhino to step in and save the day.

Rhino, "Ummmm, honey, it means 'No L' ... Noel. Get it?"

HLDW, "Oh my god, I am so sorry! I thought it was for airport security or something to let them know you have a prosthetic leg."

This causes another round of uproarious laughter.

I, being the loving and supportive husband that I am, immediately called Larry over and said, "Hey, Larry, ask the HLDW what that button on your mom's sweater means."

Let's just say that at this point I learned that for a delicate flower the HLDW has one hell of a fast backhand.

Larry, of course, asked ...and the HLDW refused to respond. So, of course, Pat chimed in with 'no leg' which just caused an even louder round of laughter. Except for Larry, who was just confused. So, I explained and he laughed ... and immediately called his brother over for another round of "what does this button mean?".

This went on for pretty much the next half hour as person after person was brought in on the joke.

Thank goodness that Pat has a great sense of humor.

That story gets told every year. Another tradition.

It is good to be a Rhino with such heartwarming noel anecdotes.

*Hippie Liberal Douche Wife