Monthly Archives: May 2012

Standing In The Fire

Finding inspiration from my co-author’s entertaining (and true) post about dancing at weddings, I decided that living life to the fullest means frequently and fervently overcoming the army of tiny fears that populates the mundane.  Perhaps a wedding reception isn’t mundane, but the United States holds over 2 million marriages a year, so they’re certainly not rare.  At the very least, the average person can know with statistical certainty that they’ll have to make the decision to dance, or not.  When put under a microscope, the decision seems easy (you dance, duh), but how many times do people have to make this same fear-slaying decision with other stupid things like fashion, conversation, or even facial hair?

I went to the well (this metaphorical well is also called Google) to find a significant, artistic work that explained these everyday, fear-crushing rationalizations. there were three finalists:

  1. “All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.” – William Faulkner;  OK, obviously an awesome quote, but I feel like I need to think about it for a minimum of 3 months before I understand it.  And I’m pretty sure it isn’t applicable (kind of sure).
  2. Every rap song or tweet that said “#YOLO”
  3. The Garth Brooks song “Standing Outside the Fire.” Bingo; what feels like a risky music video concept (which says more about me than the video) totally works.
So there it was, completely decided.  The chorus of “Standing Outside the Fire” now plays like an anthem of courage anytime I’m about to do something above my comfort thresholds.  What follows is a list of times I hear that anthem:
  • Any dancing more complicated than “grinding”
  • Soberly meeting any girl that is a legitimate 9
  • Wearing a deep V-neck t-shirt
  • Conversations involving my knowledge gaps (including but not limited to politicians, black culture, world geography, and young women’s fiction)
  • Changing a baby’s diaper
  • Walking into the boss’s office with an “attack plan”
  • Any fall further than 12 feet into a body of water
  • Any fall into a body of water shallower than 3 feet
  • Shaving in a handlebar mustache for casual Friday
  • Insulting Barack Obama on Twitter
  • Paintball
  • Fast-pitch anything
  • Not freaking out while a bee/wasp/horsefly is nearby
  • Wearing my 12-year-old corduroy cargo pants
  • Karaoke (especially if I’m the Sheryl Crow part in “Picture”)
  • Contributing an opinion to a department-wide meeting
  • Trying to correctly use the word “eponymous”
This list could probably run forever, but I’m cutting it off.  I start to hear Garth warming up when I’m around 500 words on an blog post.  That’s the ugly side of courage, actually.  If one isn’t doing something important while feeling the need for bravery, there’s a good chance that it’s just stupid.

Can You Smell What Riedesel’s Cooking?

It’s char-broiled co-author.  This is the gory remains of  Tommy Cooksey when he failed to proof-read his response to an evite.

As the screenshot below proves, no man is safe when I break out The Social Flamethrower (nickname for the spiteful  999th of my brain…and yes, my brain does have 999 quadrants, and not a single one of them is capable of converting the word quadrant to a word that conveys a unit of 999 divisions).

WARNING: Before reading this picture, make sure that your face is at least 3 feet away from the screen.  I don’t want your eyes to combust.

You might want to get out of the kitchen,
Dusty “The Heat” Riedesel

Man Up: “Throw your hands up and…” Dance at the Wedding Reception

Within the last few weeks me and my buddy Quint were leaving a good friend’s wedding and were discussing how much fun we had at the reception. No, that wasn’t a typo, we had an awesome time. Let me explain.

Currently we’re about 1/3 of the way through “wedding season.” Most guys (single and spoken for) grunt and groan when they see that save the date hanging on the fridge. Me? I say bring it on.

Sure, a wedding has free food and free drinks. But that’s not the key to having a good time at the reception. At this recent wedding, I knew all of 6 people of 150 before attending. When I left I knew over half of the the folks there and just as importantly…the knew me. I didn’t do it by walking around like a small claims lawyer, jingling change in my pocket and handing out my business card. Sadly, I’ve seen too many men standing on the sideline, treating this like an extension of a business meeting. Talking about stocks and news, etc. Stop it.

Get out on the dance floor and dance. Wedding receptions are a safe haven for everyone to dance. This is especially the case for white guys, who notoriously have zero rhythm. Sorry guys, but you brought this on yourself. Whether you can move like Michael Jackson or if your dance rhythm resembles a dog seizure in the middle of a thunderstorm (I have no idea where that analogy came from, but I’m running with it). Nobody cares what you look like. In fact, even if you’re ridiculously terrible, start doing some interpretive dancing and you’ll be the life of the party.

Why do you want to dance?

  1. The bridesmaids and any single female attendee is dancing. Given the choice for a one night, good time with the mildly attractive guy who is having a hell of a time dancing or the slightly better looking dude sitting around talking shop in his mircle (man circle – it’ll catch on, I swear), She’s gonna choose you.
  2. “Yeah, but Tommy, I have a girlfriend/wife.” Worst excuse ever. Do you think your woman is any different than the single women at the wedding and is not completely turned on by the love and emotion of a wedding? This is an awesome time to show her that you’re the fun, charismatic dude she fell for in the first place. And if it doesn’t pan out that night, you can deposit the night in the marriage bank, and pull it out at a later date. It works that way right? Maybe not.
  3. If that wasn’t enough of a reason, then think about all the food and beer you’re drinking and the work out you missed to go to the wedding and use this to burn calories.

To get you started, here are 3 basic songs/dances (I’ve even included the instructional video for you) you need to know that are inevitable at any wedding. They’re impossible to mess up and will get your dancing juices flowing. Once you’re out there, you won’t wanna leave. Remember, if you go out there and forget how to do it, just kindly ask the cute girl in the blue dress to help you get down. She’ll be asking you to do the same later.

1. The Cupid Shuffle – The instructions are part of the song. To the right to the right to the right to the right. To the left to the left to the left to the left. now kick, kick, kick, kick. Now walk it by yourself. If you mess this one up, there really is no hope for you.

2. Cha Cha Slide -Annnnnd, the instructions are in this song too. They even included white dancers wearing Men’s Warehouse rental tuxes to show you how to do the dance.

3. Shout (Isley Brothers) – There’s really no “dance” to this song. Just do what feels good. Luckily the guys from Animal House made it ok to just flail your body around in convulsions and its considered dancing to this song.

While all the boring shmucks are sitting back drinking their Crown and Ginger “too cool” to shake a leg, you’ll be mingling, meeting people and ENJOYING YOURSELF!

Man up and have a good time,


The Crossroads of Truth and Love

Some people believe that the key ingredient to society’s cohesion is lies.     I tend to agree.  All the opinions we don’t share are the opinions that would make us enemies.  The Invention of Lying did a fair job of explaining the benevolence of a proper lie, but outside of Billy Joel’s “Honesty” (maybe the movie He Got Game), I can’t think that I’ve seen a recent, complete artistic expression of something we all inherently, if not expressively, know.

Only when someone has told you that you have done/been wrong do you know they love you.

My parents kept my backside a rosy hue for a good portion of my childhood (alright, so maybe I kept it that way), and that righteous discipline still ranks in my top five proofs that I’ve been loved.  Most human beings aren’t sadists.  Creating pain is painful, and we dislike doing it.  So whether it’s the peer investment of an emotional intervention or the authoritative investment of physical discipline (via lockdown, beating, hobby prohibition, etc), confronting another’s flaws is an unsavory task.  A task that no one would undertake for that guy they only talk to by the coffee maker, much less a stranger.  So what causes us to be honest with a loved one? Why do we want to fix them? I believe an argument can be made for the motivator with the worst publicist of all-time: selfishness.  Selfishness is the most pure motivation ever born into man, and it makes sustained, corrective honesty the best empirical evidence of love, far better that blind support.

“Til death do us part” is the widely accepted phrase to define true love’s proper temporal expression.  It ain’t real if it ain’t forever.  Does everyone believe this? No, but I don’t think there’s anything that everyone believes.  It makes sense to me though.  Here’s the complete list of things I will love until death undoes us:  the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team,  the Kansas City Chiefs, my family, cream cheese, Feginn the cat, a handful of friends, Eric Church’s Sinners Like Me album, superhero stories, Jesus, and thinking about trying to learn from possible mistakes.  I promise you, if any of those things ever truly lost their way, I’d do what’s in my power to correct them.  And you know why?  Because I’m living with them forever!  It’s summarized in a single, complicated truth.  If a person truly loves something, they will stand by it forever, and if a person knows they are going to be in a situation forever, they will try to make that situation as good as it can possibly be.

It’s a bit paradoxical, but all the best things are.  And the true lovers are always pouring out their honesty onto those things (even when that honesty is dead wrong.  Have you listened to sports talk radio after a loss? How about a family fight?  Someone’s out there trying prevent cream cheese from being the “you are what you eat” poster boy.  I bought Soft Paws for Feginn for a reason.  Ever seen friends fight (nightmarish honesty)?  In fact, the only thing from that list that never causes me pain is the Sinners Like Me album, unless you count how “Hard Way” or “These Boots” can hit me the right way at the wrong moment.

Ignoring that cream cheese makes me fat or that Feginn’s dickish clawing hurts would prevent me from having a fulfilling relationship with either.  That’s why I always think of discipline and intervention as an investment.  I put in the pain of corrective action now and hope to reap the benefits of an improved situation until it’s all over, until the worms are thinking about me as the “you are what you eat” poster boy.

The flipside advice I’ve found beyond this “selfishness reaps love reaps honesty” business is this: before you speak to someone’s face about they’ve done bad or wrong, you’d better make sure you love them. Otherwise, you’re just prick.

Your mother dresses you funny and nobody likes you. Love,

How Could I Not Write About This?

The answer is obvious really.  Spontaneous implosion of my domepiece via nostalgic blitzkrieg of fantabuliciousness.  It’s a real thing.

Bible, I posted a draft of this picture on the back end of our blog about a week ago, but every time I looked at it, finding a sane write-worthy topic behind my emotional reactions to the photo felt like trying to keep my eyes on a single fan blade when it’s turned to high (for those wondering (and I know you’re out there), the phrase “Bible” is used as a one-word replacement for phrases like (but not limited to): hand to God, I swear to God, I’m not gonna lie to you, gun to my head, stick a needle in my eye, etc.).  So instead of coming up with some idea worth talking about, I’m just going to say the only thing this picture can make anyone say.

I had no idea that Larry Bird ever jumped that high in his life.

Deciding it’s levitation from The Basketball Jesus,

Born to Run, A Memoir of Anti-Talent

I’ve decided that I’m a writer because I have no say in the matter.

I’m not a writer in the professional sense (although I’m open to the potential), but certainly in the spiritual sense.  Try as humans might to claim agency of their own lives, they are rarely responsible for their talents and desires, essential influences behind the illusion of choice. In other words, I write because I was born to it, just as I was born to any other moment of specific talent.  Is it chance that my 6’4” frame walks into the break room at the very moment my 5’4” colleague can’t reach the coffee on the top shelf?  Like Morpheus, I see providence, and I can do nothing else but extend my arm, and pass down the coffee.  Maybe your specific talent is drawing, or baking, or maybe you’re particularly good at guessing the number of jelly beans in jars.  These talents might not be world class (even I’m not arrogant to suggest I have even a single world-class talent, and I doubt you do either), but they’re yours and they’re important.  Find them, flex them, and let the talent lead you to a place you’ll know you belong.

A couple weeks ago, I ignored all that drivel and ended up running the Rugged Maniac 5K.  Running is not my talent.  It’s not the worst thing I do either (that would be any activity requiring surgical steadiness in the hands).  In fact, I think running is the inverse talent to my writing.  It’s a primarily physical endeavor that I’m not horrendous at, while writing is a primarily mental endeavor that I’m not terrific at.  And, just as with the writing, I claim no agency in my body heaving laboriously across ankle-turning terrain in the Rugged Maniac 5K.  I signed up in a moment of hubris (I had lost a bit of weight in a diet, and somehow believed that equaled a cardiovascular renaissance of high school Dusty), coerced by a couple buddies.  My friend Steven finished the race in the top 25.

I finished in the top 500.

But the race wasn’t a total waste of time.  In business, I’ve come to believe that ambition beats talent 96 times out of 100.  Sure, nothing beats talented ambition, but let’s keep this simple. I’m somewhere between the third and fourth K of the run, and a skinny (but shapely) blond starts passing me.  I have instant clarity, recognizing this as a defining moment. For about half a kilometer, I weigh my options.  I can let the moment define me and find comfort in the gloriously tight, soaking-wet spandex running away from my instantly impotent body (I swear, at the moment, it felt like sexual virility was somehow on the line here). Or—nope, it was bigger than that—OR, I could latch onto the flame of chauvinism that has fueled male productivity for millennia and say, “Not today, bitch.”

I chose number two, channeled all the best scenes from Chariots of Fire, and kicked over to mental playback of The Boss on the final stretch (completely irrelevant to running beyond the title line). For that last kilometer, I was from Kenya. I was Forrest Gump. I was Steve Prefontaine. I was a guy who finished ten meters behind a skinny (but shapely) blond at the finish line.  Some inestimable time before she passed me for good, she said, “Nice run.”  God bless her.

Maybe the only talent I was ever born with is my unassailable ego, held sacred above all else, and I only channel ambition through the abilities that will keep that ego in place. I’ve gone on a few jogs since that 5K. Usually not more than a mile or two around my apartment complex. I mostly lumber along like a man 50 pounds heavier than he is, but every now and then, a pretty girl jogs past me in the opposite direction. I put my shoulders back and lift my chin up and actually run for about 10 seconds until she passes. It always feels great and silly at the same time.

But I’ve decided that I do it because I have no say in the matter.

Man Up: Time to Get Some New Swim Trunks

It’s been 90 degrees all week here in NC, and my community pool opens Saturday which means we, as men and women will be stripping down to the least amount of coverage legally allowed in public. It’s at this point, that most women go over the top with being fasionable (any ladies reading; my bet is you own 6 bathing suits +/- 2) and most men fall so short of stylish it’s embarrassing to all of us as men. Our dad and even our grandpa rocked stylish trunks, but for some reason our generation decided to break the mold and wear the most obnoxious designed trunks known to man. Sometimes your trunks still fit, but you’ve outgrown them. It’ll make more sense in a bit.

Before I go on, please answer these 2 questions:

1. When was the last time you purchased a new suit? If the answer is >3 years skip question 2 and start reading.

2. If you bought your suit within the last 3 years, does the suit go below your knees? If yes, keep reading.

The suit you wear, when you can’t hide anything else is going to say a lot about you to every lady you pass on the walk to your chair. How old is he? Does he dress well? Does he manscape? How quickly can I get those trunks off? Ok, maybe the fourth was stretch. Regardless, your attention to detail when it comes to your trunks is gonna say a lot about you as you strut your stuff around the pool.

So to help you out I’ve put together a checklist of Do’s and Don’ts about getting a new suit for this summer. I’ve also even done you a favor of giving you some links to where you can buy some new swim wear (I’ve considered all budgets when doing this).


  • No beer logos. You know how trashy that chick with the Corona bathing suit on looks? You look the same, only much much more of a douche. We all like beer, doesn’t mean you need to decorate yourself in it.
  • Length – It should not be below your knees. This stopped being cool once you got your first job after college. You aren’t out skim boarding anymore because you’re not 15. You’re a man now, so check the length. See below..don’t be this guy.

  • If you look like a walking Peacock a girl is gonna think one of 2 things – “this guy is 13” or “guess he forgot how to dress after his mom stopped dressing him”.  I owned the trunk
  • s to the right when I was 18. They still fit. But I’ve outgrown them. See what I mean?
  • NO NETTING. Mostly for comfort purposes, but when you hoist yourself out of the pool do you really wanna look like you’re wearing some type of lacy, netty underwear. And PLEASE do not wear briefs under your suit, it’s like a diaper.
  • Gym shorts belong in the gym. Not the pool. You’re a grown-ass man with a job. Go buy a pair of trunks designed for the pool. Same goes for wearing trunks to the gym, but that’s another discussion.


  • First and foremost – length. See image below for the longest acceptable length as a grown man. Shorter is certainly acceptable.

  • Keep the design simple. A plain color is fine, some stripes are fine, a basic Hawaiian flower design is ok. Minimal is the new excessive. Stick to that and you’ll be fine.
  • Have more than one pair. You don’t want to be the guy that wears the exact same, stinky trunks every weekend.

I’m gonna make this really easy on you.

Below are 4 examples of places  you can get new

trunks, and I made sure to find something t

hat fits in every man’s budget.

Burning Questions from a Hungry Man

What follows in the lines below are the questions that plague a tired man who had to rely on Ramen noodles during his lunch break. There will be no further explanation:

  • Is “agnostic” a flexible word?
  • Do the personalities of cats reflect God’s nature more than the personalities of dogs?
  • What’s the point of self-improvement?
  • Is there a less defensible sin than parking in a handicap spot?
  • What’s the best part of having sex with twenty three-year-olds?
  • How important is spelling and grammar?
  • What’s the point of joke that doesn’t make a point?
  • What is the nutritional value of wood?
  • Does yaneon like dowsraclbesrm?
  • Why doesn’t anyone ever try playing the insanely fun verbal version of wordscramble?
  • Are unnatural things inherently evil?
  • Speaking generally, who cares?
  • If I was immortal, would I still believe in marriage?
  • Why is it weird to hang out with a stripper who’s not in a strip club?
  • When at a strip club, what does it say about one’s relational priorities if you’d rather talk to your waitress than a stripper?
  • Speaking specifically, who cares?

Thinking about it,
Dusty “The Inquisitor” Riedesel