Jan 292012

Like most of you, I’ve been forced to feign interest in the Republican presidential primaries because a.) it might matter; and b.) you can’t turn on a TV, visit a news website or pass a playground where it isn’t being discussed—in fact, I saw a toddler stagger off a roundabout and start to puke, clearly a scathing response to Gingrich’s “Environmental Solutions Agency.”

I know how he feels. (The kid, not Newt.) All this political spinning is enough to make anybody sick.

Unlike most of you, however, rather than be content to accept that one of these fellas may be fairly elected by their fellow citizens to become the next President of the United States of America by the system we’ve had in place for the last two centuries plus, I think we’re going about it all wrong. President of the United States has become THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB ON THE PLANET. As such, why should a simple vote by the American people decide it, like we were picking a winner on “American Idol?” I mean, haven’t the Taylor Hicks and Warren Harding elections taught us anything?

It’s time for change, all right, but not of the candidates, but of how we pick them!

We can all still vote at the end (yay democracy!), but what I am proposing is that rather than all these caucuses and primaries and polls, we replace the current presidential vetting process with a more sensible screening system, one that is a bit more … rigorous. Consider this: Would any major corporation in the world—be it Apple, Google, Wal-Mart, General Electric or even the Wiffle Ball Company—just hire “the most popular” job applicant as its CEO? I think not.

Also consider this: The requirements to become an American astronaut—a job, while important, doesn’t necessarily impact the rest of the Free World with every decision—are more rigorous than becoming president. To be an astronaut, you need years of training and education, a sterling personal history free of alcohol-induced indiscretions, and a dedication where you put the needs of the program and the nation before your own, including a willingness to sacrifice your own life, if necessary.

To be president, all you need is money.

And ambition. I’ve often said that the first thing that should eliminate someone from running for president is if they want to run for president.

Well, rather than complain about “the way it is,” I have built a better mouse trap, as it were, to snag us a candidate truly worthy of the mantle “President of the United States of America.”

(pat pending, although suggestions for a snazzier name are welcome)

First off, I would call for a remarkably official-sounding National Presidential Recruitment Committee (NPRC). I’d say it should be bi-partisan, but my plan would probably eliminate the party aspect of the presidency, which might have trickle-down consequences. Which probably would not be a bad thing.

Every four years, the NPRC would do a national search of the top leaders from across the country, scouring board rooms, legal organizations, all the branches of the military, local communities, universities, sports and media organizations, blogs—okay, maybe not blogs—for the best and brightest. The NPRC would gather about 100 of the highest-quality leaders the country has to offer, each of whom will be extended a formal invitation to participate in the formal Presidential Application Process (informally, the “PAP”—a gold mine of headlines in itself: “Romney Doesn’t Make PAP Squad,” “Newt Claims PAP Smears Chances,” etc.)

The PAP itself would comprise of three phases, each one of which would help winnow the field:

Phase 1: Physical Fitness Test

I know that there isn’t a major physical component to being P. of the U.S., but after seeing how much the stress of the gig ages everyone who comes through the office, we should be looking for someone who is fairly vigorous. A healthy body = A healthy mind (or so says my cereal box).

As such, there are a few existing challenges that could be employed in the search for a president (and in the process would make for entertaining television). I might even suggest each candidate goes through all three events!

  • American Gladiators: Anyone who can run The Gauntlet, survive The Eliminator and best my girl Crush with the pugil sticks would show the resolve and toughness we want in a leader. Warning: Gratuitous Gina Carano embed!
  • Wipeout: While not as combative as “American Gladiators,” if someone can win this chaos-drenched obstacle course with all their vertebrae intact, I would say they probably would have a strong enough backbone to stand up to foreign adversaries.
  • The Warrior Dash: I have run this and will be running it again this June—and if for the “fun” of it, I can run 3.2 miles, climb walls, duck tires, crawl through mud, avoid barbed wire and hurtle over fire, then I don’t think it’s out of the question for a candidate to have to do it to show that they have the mettle to take the slot as the most powerful person on the planet. If you want substitute in Tough Mudder (which is three times longer), I wouldn’t stop you, but I certainly wouldn’t run it, either.

By the same token, if the American electorate called for some sort of elaborate Thunder Dome battle royale scenario where a number of candidates are put in a steel cage and the one who is left standing moves on to the next round, I wouldn’t vote against it.

Those who survive the physical tests can then move on to the next phase—

Phase 2: Intelligence Test

We make high school seniors take the SATs to get in the college. We make lawyers take the bar before practicing law, and doctors have to pass the boards before cutting someone open. The NFL makes draft picks take the Wonderlic test before investing tens of millions of dollars in them. Thus, why shouldn’t we at least have some sort of general knowledge test to see if someone is intellectually capable enough to be The Decider?

The presidential test should be a combination of opened-ended questions, essays and problem-solving exercises. (No multiple choice! Something about having the right answer already on the page that even a trained chicken can randomly pick sort of takes away from the ability to truly measure someone’s intelligence.)

The test should also check the basic knowledge of the job—name the 50 states, 9 supreme court justices, main cast of “Seinfeld,” etc.—as well as some more random current international trivia, such as whether President of Finland Tarja Halonen is a man or woman. (Hint: It’s one or the other.)

If the candidate can get a passing grade, then it’s on to the final phase—

Phase 3: Simulators

Okay, just because someone is physically able and mentally fit, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will react properly under stressful situations. Thus, the final section should include some simulated challenges to see how the future Commander-in-Chief reacts in a crisis—do they stand up and take charge, or maybe just sit back and read a good book? When faced with actual moral and character challenges, do they take the high road, or do they just light up a cigar?

Again, there’s all sorts of precedents, from flight simulators for pilots and astronauts to combat simulators for soldiers. Police and fire fighting cadets use simulators, as do miners and all sorts of other professionals. Heck, there are even simulators for pig farmers!

So what would be in the presidential simulation sequence? I think all sorts of possible crisis scenarios, from foreign attacks to kidnap situations—you want to make sure the prez doesn’t go Karl Pilkington when things get crazy. (NSFW language in clip.) I also like the idea of something along the lines involving a recreation of the Oval Room and a drunk Salma Hayek trying to seduce the simulatee into passing her the Nuclear Football to obliterate Iceland. (And don’t act like there are no nukes pointed at Iceland—you know whoever controls the cod controls the planet!) Bombs away!

In short, if the Kobayashi Maru is a good enough standard for Star Fleet cadets, then a similar exercise should be good enough for American presidents.

Once a candidate passes all three tests, then they are welcome to run for the presidency in a general election. You know, if they have enough money.

Jan 252012

So as I watching the New England Patriots back into the Super Bowl this past weekend—and the diehard Pats fans I was watching the game with weren’t apologizing for the win, but certainly didn’t feel “great” about the way it went down, courtesy of a Ravens choke job that would put Albert DeSalvo to shame—I couldn’t help but think to myself:

When exactly will the Devil arrive to collect the soul of one Tom Brady?

And yes, I completely acknowledge that I am as green as a Joe Willie Namath’s #12 jersey with envy.

Seriously though, if it somehow came to light that quarterback Tom Brady—a lowly sixth-round draft pick who mysteriously has bloomed into a three-time Super Bowl champ (so far), two-time NFL MVP, seven-time Pro Bowler, future first-ballot NFL Hall-of-Famer, “Saturday Night Live” host and husband to a supermodel who brings in a mere $45 million a year—had traded his eternal soul in a Faustian deal, would anyone bat an eyelash?

Of course not. I also think that there are a few people out there who would make the same deal. Heck, who am I kidding? There are millions of people who’d tear their own souls out of their beating hearts (if that’s where it’s kept) and hand it to The Adversary on the spot for that kind of life.

Surprisingly, I may not be one of them. Other than not believing in God—and by extension, Satan—there are other reasons why I wouldn’t sign on for that particular deal, even if it was to quarterback the New York Jets. (Although Joe Willie Namath may have already claimed that offer.) First off, the biggest reason might be having to deal with prickle puss Bill “The Hooded Claw” Belichick on a daily basis. I’ve got to think that somewhere there are rusty catheters more pleasant with which to interact.

Then there’s the whole “glory” of playing quarterback in the NFL. Sure, it’s sweet when you’re tossing that game-winning touchdown and your teammates are carrying off the field, but what about when the trainers are carrying you off the field with a leg shattered into more pieces than Rick Perry’s political dreams. Don’t forget about the twenty or thirty times a game that an angry, HGH-fueled 327-lb. man crashes into you at full speed for the express purpose of violently knocking you to the ground, if you’re lucky, or into unconsciousness, if you’re not.

And then there’s the adoration and attention of millions, which includes the paparazzi constantly following you to capture moments like this:

I don’t care how many NFL MVP trophies and super model trophy wives you have, that’s just a “oops-you-caught-me-shrieking-like-a-little-girlie-except-most-little-girls-are-cooler-than-this” moment that no one wants immortalized for internet posterity.

Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t some things I wouldn’t consider trading my soul for, you know, if Beelzebub existed.

For example …

Fame and fortune – I already have a blog—how much more famous can you get? And Google ads told me I’ll get rich as soon as I can get a few million visits a week, which right now … well, I’m only a few million away from. No problem.

Everlasting health or eternal youth – Staying healthy forever sounds good for some, but unless you can stop the aging process, I’m not sure I want to be trying to get around in the body of the healthiest 200-year-old. As for eternal youth—I’m still 12 in my mind right now, so it’s not really necessary.

A Super Bowl championship for the Jets – No, I wouldn’t want a tainted championship. I believe that it can happen even without divine intervention. In Rex I trust. (No, really. Hypothetically it could happen …. really … I …. Dang!)

Discovering Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster or what made The Bloop – Of course, it’d be awesome to be forever known as the person who got to the bottom of one or more of these famous “mysteries,” but if none of them actually exist (as I tend to suspect), will I want to be known as the latest guy who traded his soul for nothing (you know, like Milli)?

Visiting alien worlds – If it’s another planet in the universe like Earth but completely populated with more sentient and attractive beings (like a bunch of Danica McKeller clones), then great. If it’s a world teeming with brain-eating, acid-spitting creatures that immediately tear your face off to implant their eggs in your brain, a la Alien, then, to paraphrase the knight in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, “You have chosen . . . poorly.”

The wisdom of the Ages – Already got it, thanks.

Time travel – Although it would be cool to see many things first-hand, say like Abraham Lincoln giving his Gettysburg address or when zombie Jesus rose from the grave in search of the braaaiiiinnns of the faithful (it’s in the back of the Gospel of John, I think), I keep in mind that decent personal hygiene (including things like the daily use of deodorant and soap) is a later 20th-century occurrence. And then there’s always the twist that happens in all these deals with The Dark Lord, and he leaves me in the Land of the Lost where the sleestaks make me their brood queen. No thanks.

Rock ‘n roll – Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Robert Johnson, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and all the other members of the 27 Club, not to mention the likes of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Sid Vicious, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Freddie Mercury and most of The Ramones—selling your soul to rock ‘n roll ain’t no bargain.

A night with Salma Hayek – Obviously, I’m married and would never swap my wife for Salma Hayek because … okay, I can’t type that with a straight face. (Sorry honey!) Still, maybe I’m an eternal optimist, or incredibly delusional, but if it came to it, I think I can pull this one off without the devil’s intervention. I’m smart, I’m not a horrible toad, I can be charming— it could happen, right? Right? Plus, even though Salma is muy caliente right now, who knows what she’ll be like in a decade or two. (Riiight.)

World peace – Pretty sure even Mephistopheles can’t bring this about, so why agree to it?

More time – Yes. This is a deal I’d take. I’m not saying that I want to live forever—existence would suck beyond belief if my wife and kids weren’t around—but if there were a way to get more hours in a day, or stop the world for a few years just so that I can catch up with all the projects I want to do and visit with all my friends and family, I’d definitely agree to that.

Okay, now that I know what I want, all I need is Old Scratch with a contract …

Jan 212012

Okay, this isn’t exactly a full rayality primer, but since this is my website, this stuff should be about me!

To get you started, here’s a short quiz to give you a better picture of me and some idea (or warning) as to what you might expect here. The CORRECT answers (and more) are after the jump:

1. In 8th grade at John F. Kennedy School in Milford, I:
a. accidentally got a tattoo of the Foghat logo.
b. accidentally locked braces with Karen Loch while playing spin the bottle.
c. fist fought Ed Taylor on the front lawn of the “pink house” on West Avenue, where all the after-school fights were held.
d. won the broad jump at field day with a leap of 13 feet, 6 inches.
e. all of the above.

2. At Boy Scout summer camp at Camp Sequassen in Winstead, I:
a. got my first aid, canoeing and swimming merit badges.
b. got poison ivy so bad that I had to be sent home.
c. learned that everything—EVERYTHING—will burn in a sweet, sweet raging campfire, with the exception of glass and tooth-paste tubes.
d. liked to feed the racoons.
e. won the greased watermelon competition for Troop 14.

3. In the Jonathan Law High School Class of 1983 (yeah, I’m that old), I was voted:
a. most likely to succeed.
b. most witty and most talkative.
c. most athletic.
d. class clown.
e. most likely to end up living in a van down by the river.

4. During my college years at Southern Connecticut State University, my nickname was:
a. Boom Boom.
b. The Sledgehammer.
c. Shoes.
d. Rayven Thunderlove.
e. I didn’t have one.

5. Which of these celebrities were totally in to me when I interviewed them? (And I have actually interviewed all these people!)
a. Ann Margret.
b. Kate White, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan.
c. Debbie Gibson.
d. Tony Curtis.
e. All of the above.

Okay, hit “Continue reading” to find out the answers …

Continue reading »

Jan 132012


A long time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away . . .



It is a period of civil unrest.
Rebel bloggers, striking
from anonymous places, have posted
countless entertaining stories across
the limitless bounds of cyberspace.

During the early days, one
blogger was
discovered and exposed,
ultimately forced to

blow up his old site
as if it had
been the

No longer pursued by
humorless agents, that
cranky old blogger

has now returned
to post
in the hopes of
once again adding
his craptastic views to the
blogosphere ….


So yeah, I’m blogging again.

I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but the plan is to create something here that’s a little bit of all the things I do and have done, hopefully churning out something that’s entertaining and worthwhile as well as totally in my own voice and on my own terms. No more hiding behind (poorly constructed) pseudonyms or running from what I dare to write.

What could possibly go wrong?

By the way, you may have noticed the brandy new, full-service site here, which I totally built myself! [*runs thumbs along Urkel-like suspenders, sprains shoulder attempting to pat self on back*] Okay, I got a few tips from someone who knows what she’s doing, but I did all the actual work myself, although I’ve already got someone making me a better banner. But things like the tabs, Flickr stream and written content–all 100% me, baby!

As you can see, I have my “legitimate” work here as well as some of the “illegitimate” stuff that I do (and have done). It’s a Ray Bendici Open House, so feel free to poke around, go through the stuff I’ve been keeping in my closet, open my junk drawers—just don’t complain if you find something you didn’t expect (or like).

Thanks for coming by. Let me know how you like the new place …