Update: Merry Christmahannukwanzaa and Announcement

December 20, 2010

Dear Readers,

It’s been awhile since we last talked. The one-man Two Cents editorial staff has been undergoing “organizational re-structuring” over the last few weeks. Hence, an inexcusable dearth of fresh content. Fear not. The pen shall strike again soon.

In the new year, you can expect sharper, more timely articles with a greater emphasis on reader participation in the Two Cents conversation. We* don’t intend for this confab to be strictly unidirectional; we* aim to be a collaborative community.

In that spirit, anticipate more open-ended discussions, with the main article serving as a conversation starter and not as the final word. We* will also open the floor to guest posts and contributions; quality control, mind you, will be rigorously enforced.

We hope this greeting finds you well and that you and yours are not nameless victims of the impending Snowpocalypse.

-The Two Cents Editorial Staff

*I…we…the “royal we.”


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Annie and Troy’s High School Reunion

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This summer, I attended my ten-year reunion with a strange self-conscious mixture of bravado and trepidation. Funny that it took a goofy slapstick NBC sitcom to drop the high school baggage I didn’t even realize I carried.

by Scott Daniel // December 7, 2010

Popular jock or invisible geek? Green jacket, gold jacket, who gives a sh...This is a legacy post from my previous blog, the d.c. diaries. I re-post it here on Two Cents Richer after purchasing the first season of Community on DVD. That show just flat out gets me.

As I ambled through the skywalk at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in my hometown of Sparks, Nevada, my mind wandered to television. My brain does this frequently, considering how often I have turned to the boob tube for comfort in my recessed state. This time, I reflected on two of my closest fictional friends, friends I made in a haphazardly constructed Spanish study group that meets every Thursday evening: Annie Edison and Troy Barnes…

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The Great Toys ‘R Us Traffic Jam of Twenty-Ten


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This might be an unreasonable question, but I still have to ask it: Is it really necessary to buy your kid a Sing-A-Ma-Jig before the glazed ham has even cleared your colon?

by Scott Daniel // November 29, 2010

Black Friday LineTraffic crept at a snail’s pace for more than a half-hour on the West Baltimore Pike late Thursday evening. We left a family friend’s home in Kennet Square, Pennsylvania, at around 8 p.m. after a plentiful Thanksgiving bounty. The trek back home to the other side of the Philadelphia suburbs was long enough by virtue of distance alone. The sluggishness occasioned by the unexpected congestion threatened to keep us on the road until Black Friday.

Surprise bottlenecks like this one often give rise to speculation that ahead lies a gruesome car accident or a set of orange vests and traffic cones. That was certainly my theory. After twenty agonizing minutes trapped in the stock-still Cherokee, slowly, but surely, the gait of the autos ahead hastened. Fifty yards later, we cocked our heads to the right to catch a glimpse of the nuisance fluorescing in the distance. The glowing letters affixed atop the God-forsaken Toys ‘R Us cast the luster of mid-day upon objects below. A throng of vehicles, driven by people we can only assume are physically adults, poured into the parking lot to join scores of others queued single-file in the relentless cold.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Mom whispered in dumbstruck awe.

I was right. It was Thursday, and we were still on the road for the early arrival of Black Friday.

Really? Really.

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Toast, Jelly Beans, Popcorn: Essential Ingredients for a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

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Even in the face of economic woes, family strife and airport molestation, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving still supplies the raw ingredients of gratitude.

by Scott Daniel // November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Charlie BrownTomorrow will be one of two things for you. It will either be a time of festive joy and merriment or a time of deep sorrow and self-loathing. Irrespective of your circumstances, the choice is ultimately yours. You alone cast the deciding vote on the quality of your Thanksgiving.

This is true even for the two classes of people who can stake the greatest claim to gloom this holiday season: those who have been sexually jostled for the sake of national security, and fans of the Dallas Cowboys. I know this because the most miserable wretch in pop cultural history managed to pull off a Happy Thanksgiving in spite of the indelicate thanklessness of his closest friends.

Charlie Brown has little to be thankful for. At eight years old, he has succumbed completely to male pattern baldness. He is remarkably unathletic: hitters regularly send his patented straight ball into the Peanuts equivalent of McCovey Cove, and his placekicking prowess is on par with that of Ray Finkle. He can’t get a date or even a cheap valentine, his pet beagle is a Germanophilic World War I re-enactor and all the adults in his life speak nothing but gibberish.

You should thank God every day that you aren’t Charlie Brown. Hell, the kid can’t even prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, relying on Snoopy to supply his friends with hearty helpings of toast, jelly beans and popcorn. Yet for all of Peppermint Patty’s grousing about the eclectic and informal spread, these three delicacies are more than food. They are metaphors for the sort of gratitude we ought to express every day.

Is he really going to try and extrapolate larger meaning from a cartoon again?

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Kill the Smurfs: South Park Explains Why I Hate Boise State

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Nevada fans hated Boise State long before it became fashionable – and for different reasons than the BCS elitists. As our annual Thanksgiving showdown approaches, South Park provides unwitting insight into what animates college football’s obscurest rivalry.

by Scott Daniel // November 19, 2010

I will never shake the memory of the first time I saw it in person: October 29, 1988, three months shy of my seventh birthday. It was just as breathtaking and bewildering then as it is now. Dad pulled me by the hand up the steps to our seats in the upper deck on the western sideline; Mom followed a few paces behind. Every so often, I swiveled my head to survey the ground in puzzlement.

“Dad?” I asked. “Why is the football field blue?”

Dad shook his head, avoiding eye contact with the orange-clad hometown fans. “I have no idea, Scott,” he breathed as he pulled me further. “I have no idea.”

We still don’t. If I could posit the question again today, I would ask, “Why the hell is the field blue?” But that’s just 22 years of spite talking. That fateful Saturday evening in the capital of the Gem State, with the field glistening in the lights as no field should, I learned to hate the Boise State Broncos as I watched them deal my beloved Nevada Wolf Pack a 40-28 loss.

That animosity has run deep in Reno and Boise since the 1970s. The Broncos’ recent national success has only intensified the hostility from our side. I have long grasped at straws to explain this pathology in my own words to college football elitists.

So I’ve decided to let Eric Cartman and his friends explain.

WARNING: South Park is occasionally crude and offensive. Then again, so is Boise State…

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Everyone Was “Fair Game”: A Cinematic Revisitation of the Hazards of the Bush Era

Director Doug Liman’s depiction of the Valerie Plame scandal serves as a timely and poignant reminder of the real legacy of the Bush Administration.

by Scott Daniel // November 16, 2010

Earlier this year, a group of anonymous business owners erected a billboard along Interstate 35 in rural Eastern Minnesota. The sign depicted a photograph of a gleeful George W. Bush in a light charcoal suit, grinning and waving to the camera. To the left of the photograph, a set of unmistakably bright gold block letters shouted, “MISS ME YET?” The subtext was transparent. America is stagnating. The Obama experiment is a failure. Dubya wasn’t so bad, after all.

Into this atmosphere re-enters Bush from stage right, with a new set of memoirs and a whistle-stop tour on the interview circuit to make his messy bedroom cleaner by comparison. In Decision Points, Bush attempts to provide moments of clarity designed to engender understanding of, if not sympathy for, his corroded legacy. Thankfully, W’s whirlwind of revisionism coincided with the release of Fair Game, a damningly accurate portrayal of how the Bush White House intentionally sabotaged the life and career of former CIA classified agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

I would give you a spoiler alert, but those don’t apply to true stories in the public domain.


V for Veteran

Remember, remember, the eleventh of November, our brave men and women who fought. I see no reason in this autumnal season why these heroes should e’er be forgot.

by Scott Daniel // November 11, 2010

There is a daily tradition observed on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, at a sunken angular gabbro wall whose point wedges awkwardly betwixt Henry Bacon Drive and Constitution Avenue. Etched upon that wall are the names of 58,175 men and women who perished in the jungles and the villages and the beaches of Southeast Asia. The keepers of the tradition seek the names of beloved and of strangers and, with pencil and the frailest of parchments, rub their names into tokens of remembrance. I never made such a rubbing, but I did once chance upon the occasion to seal one name forever in a photograph.

Marcus Asplund. My great-uncle, my grandfather’s brother, who died in 1968, fourteen years before I even entered the thought of another. I have no real memories of Marcus. I suppose the borrowed collective reminiscence of my kindred must do.

I don’t possess the imagination to envision what Marcus and countless others have endured to defend our freedoms. This truth is no cliché. Our country twice came perilously close in the last century to its outright subjugation or destruction – during World War II and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Our veterans do not celebrate or derive pleasure from the use of force and the instruments of war. Humans, unfortunately, are often want for goodness, and thus our freedoms float in an ark on a dangerous sea. We who love freedom require assistance.

It may be true that the pen is mightier than the sword, as the saying goes. But my pen cannot write without it. We should all be thankful to our veterans. To our heroes.

Today I pay tribute to those I know personally who serve or have served our country in peacetime and war, at home and abroad. I only ask the forgiveness of any of you whom I may have forgotten:

  • Joshua Byers (K.I.A on July 23, 2003, outside Ramadi, Iraq)
  • Clarence “Jack” Daniel
  • James Anderson
  • John Vialpando
  • John Wrightman
  • Daniel Wrightman
  • Brian Murdock
  • Sean Freeman
  • Alex Kwon
  • Mariano Corcilli
  • Matthew Henderson
  • Salua Baida
  • Chris Czaplak
  • Stephen Wiley
  • Megan Romigh
  • Teofilo Espinal
  • Ramin Chowdry
  • Sam Macaluso
  • Patrick Yee
  • Brad Platt

We are all in awe of and honored by your service.

Photo credits: Soldier Support Project Inc.; Boots Stores by Charles Baker


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