Friday, December 29, 2006

New Year

The New Year is upon us like a drunken frat boy upon your teenaged daughter. And the word on the street is that this New Year has busy hands.

Speaking of busy hands, my hands have been dramatically not busy lately, as I continually experience new depths of idleness. No one at work is motivated anymore, and it's just as well, seeing as the billable work is going away faster than Rick James CDs from the bargain bin when the Irony Club's tour bus stops at the outlet mall music store.

You know your work is no longer interesting when you think, "I wonder what wikipedia has to say about salt water," and then end up reading the article about salt water, the one about sea water, and the one about sea level.

But a year is ending. This was the first year I ever developed concrete goals before the start of the year. I had twelve goals, three in each of four categories: personal, professional, familial, and educational. I achieved one of my familial goals and all of my educational goals. I am very close to accomplishing my three professional goals. I possibly have accomplished another familial goal (we won't know until Persephone either starts menstruating or not). One of my personal goals--read 25,000 pages--will not be met, but I will top 21,000, which will be my best year so far (I was over 20,000 in 2003 and 2004). So overall, I'm pretty happy with my progress.

I've got twelve new goals lined up for next year. We'll see how those go. I didn't used to be a "goal" type of guy, but now I guess I am. It's funny how life can surprise us, like next week when life surprises me with unemployment.

Movie Quotes

There are two particular movie quotes that I think sum up modern western society pretty nicely. One is from Napoleon Dynamite, and the other is from About A Boy.

As they reside in my memory (which should be pretty accurate, but maybe not), they go something like this:

Napoleon Dynamite

UNCLE RICO: Now, if you invest in the 32-piece set, I'm gonna throw in a free gift.

LANCE: So what's the gift?

UNCLE RICO: [unveils mini sailboat] I bet you folks don't have one of these.

LANCE'S WIFE: [sotto voce, stridently] I want that.

Oh, man, that slays me every time. "I want that." Why? Just because she doesn't already have it? I think what makes it stand out the most to me is how true-to-life it is. All it takes is some shiny packaging and some footage of girls in bikinis using a product and having fun, and suddenly my brain says, "I want that." I'm an idiot, just like Lance's wife. (Incidentally, I also love the looks of reproach and shame that Lance and his wife exchange after Lance tries unsuccessfully to tear the "NuPont fiber-woven bowls." Priceless.)

About A Boy

MARCUS: Of course you can't help me. How could you? You're just a stupid person who watches TV all day and buys things.

Again, a concise summation of my existence. I would have that placed on my tombstone--"Here lies a stupid person who watched TV all day and bought things"--but I plan on being too destitute for a tombstone. If I had to hazard a guess as to what would happen to my remains, I would say the local government authority would get stuck with the tab of cremation, and then they would recoup some of the expense by selling the ashes to a rat poison company. The Circle of Life, my friends. The Circle of Life.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Movie Reviews

Firstly, I don't think I mentioned yesterday that it was my birthday. Yee. Haw. I am now twenty-nine, which means Persephone still will get mad at me when I tell her I'm thirty, but now I'm much closer. (When we saw my dad last week, he wished me a happy thirtieth birthday. He really thought I was turning thirty.)

Secondly, I got bored and frustrated Tuesday night, so I shaved my beard. I originally started growing it in October when it first got cold, and my intention was to keep it until the spring equinox. I thought it was a great idea to use my natural mammal qualities against the weather. Suck it, weather! Yeah! But then I realized that it really doesn't make me any warmer, and it's not really that cold so far this winter. I left the moustache, though, because it was my birthday, and I am worth it. Persephone hates the moustache. Well, then I guess it's a good thing she can't grow one.

Thirdly, I have seen two movies over the last two days, and so I will now review them.

The first was You, Me, and Dupree, which Persephone rented from the grocery store (Midwest grocery stores ROCK!) because it has Owen Wilson, and we think he is funny. Owen Wilson and Hugh Grant in the same movie would make our heads explode from laughter. But anyway, as for this movie, I guess it was all right. There were some funny moments, but even The Family Stone had at least one funny moment (when Luke Wilson stands up on Christmas morning and buttons his new jacket he's wearing overtop of his pajamas).

My biggest problem with Y, M, & D was the fact that Kate Hudson gets so angry with Matt Dillon for allowing his work to get out of control, but Matt Dillon is working for her dad. She never takes that into account. Also, it was weird that Amanda Detmer was listed in the opening credits, but she has one speaking line, delivered from off camera. Couldn't they have just hired a producer's sister and saved some of the (wikipedia says) fifty-eight million dollars of production? Still, though, it is better than the new Planet of the Apes, but then, so is getting a colostomy bag.

The second movie was The Devil Wears Prada. I was not expecting great things from this movie, and frankly, I was a little pissed I had to watch it on my birthday. I alleviated some of that anger by multitasking, making my reading schedule for next year while we watched. I used to like Anne Hathaway, but now I think she's just a whore. Not "Lindsay Lohan" whore, but still a whore. But the movie was pretty good. I liked Stanley Tucci's character, and wish all gay men could be so non-flamboyant. But the problem with this movie is that, while all her friends are getting down on her for getting caught up in the world of fashion, that's not what was happening. She was caught up in her job, which is a way different thing. Also, the movie tried to end about eight different times. And, her boyfriend asks her to move to Boston with him, but then she goes and gets a job in New York.

Still, way better than the new Planet of the Apes.

Fourthly, I just realized that, as much as I try to dress it up, my job really is nothing more than comparing two sequential numbers and making sure the odd number is higher. For ten hours a day.

Fifthly, another firing occurred while I was writing this e-mail. And it wasn't who needed to get fired next. Down in flames, baby. Down in flames.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"I'm Back!"

That's right, fools!

I had a pretty good Christmas, and our house wasn't burglarized, even though I told you we were not going to be home, which proves that no one reads my blog. Which is just as well, since it is all crap, anyway.

A couple words that have been on my mind lately:

  • CLOSE (adj.) and CLOSE (v.): one means "near," the other means, "not open," but they are spelled the same way. Where it gets really weird is when you add an R, since CLOSER is an adjective and CLOSER is a noun, so you can say, "When the manager wants to bring in a pitcher from the bullpen to end the game, he usually opts for the closer closer."
  • PROPHESY (v.) and PROPHECY (n.): what changes between the two spellings is the consonant, but what changes between the two pronunciations is the final vowel. I don't know of any other words where a change of a one letter changes how you pronounce the rest, aside from vowels and diphthongs and whatnot.
  • RECORD (v.) and RECORD (n.): another one of those words that changes its stressing depending on if it's a noun or a verb. The verb is stressed on the second syllable, while the noun is stressed on the first syllable.

Since today is my birthday (don't even try to wish me happy birthday now--you've had several paragraphs to do it already!) one of the women with whom I work has purchased my lunch, which I am eating right now. The only thing better than pad thai is free pad thai. (Well, that and an Italian Night Club with hot peppers and no onions.)

My grades for last semester: three As and a B. Piece of monkey crap. I've been upset about that for a week now.

I got the latest album by The Killers for Christmas, and let me just say, I like it a lot. The wikipedia page says it has met with "mixed reviews." Well, if you are one of the mixed reviewers, you can just lick my taint spot, because that album is the finest rock and roll album ever created by man or machine or animal (monkey included).

I also got some books for Christmas, about which I am very excited: The Implosion of American Federalism, by Robert Nagel, King Lear, by William Shakespeare, The Way We Live Now, by Anthony Trollope, The Case for Democracy, by Natan Sharanksy, Because He Could, by Dick Morris, and In the Presence of Mine Enemies, by Harry Turtledove.

AND, I got four new counties on Christmas Eve, bringing my yearly total to 102, which is my best year since I was four years old and we drove to Florida and back. My latest counties are Sainte Genevieve MO, Perry MO, Randolph IL, and Saint Francois MO.

That is all.


Title from James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thing."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm In Ur Computur Wishin U a Merry Christmas

I'm going to be busy for the next couple days, so if you're going to be wanting a new blog post, you'll find yourself sucking the hind tit!

Suck it hard, baby!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"I'm Just Sitting Here Watching the Wheels Go Round and Round"

It has finally happened: we've run out of stuff to do at work. And the real pisser is that I just made the last task I had take a week, hoping that, maybe by the end of it, we would have more work. But nope.

Well, there are things to do on my projects, but they've all been taken by my coworkers, who also have nothing to do. My boss and my project manager are trying to come up with something for me to do. So I guess I don't have to feel any guilt about surfing the Internet, which is what I'm doing right now.

It turns out Free State High School's basketball team is 3-2 so far this year. Go Firebirds! As for my alma mater, Adolfo Camarillo High School, they are 4-4 right now, but at least they're better than those rat bastard Rio Mesa Spartans, who are 3-5. Go Scorpions!

It turns out we are going to miss the first Free State vs. Lawrence game this year, because it's while we'll be driving to my parents' house in Saint Louis. (Read: please rob me during the game!) We also will miss the ACHS vs. Rio Mesa game, because it's on the day we're flying in to Los Angeles. (Read: rob me again in a few weeks!) This is the boring crap I come up with on the Internet when I have nothing to do at work.

My boss just got called in to talk with the president of the company. I wonder who's getting the axe.


Title from John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Little Shakespeares Everywhere

I've started a trend. It's less annoying than the Macarena, and maybe longer-lasting.

Persephone came up with a word that changes its pronunciation depending on its part of speech (as detailed in her comment to my post "Vocab Up the Wazoo"): delegate and delegate. When she told me about it, I realized it also works for litigate and litigate.

A guy with whom I work just e-mailed me that "express" also works, but I don't see how. I'll have to ask him about it.

[time passes]

Following our discussion, I don't think he's making sense, so forget that one.

More Good News

So there's this literary journal that just started last spring at KU called "Comma, Splice." I submitted two stories to them last month and they e-mailed me this week to say that they are going to use my story "Simeon and Levi" in this spring's edition. So snaps for me, I guess.

Here's the kind of funny thing: I wrote that story about two years ago, always with the intention of editing it and rewriting it to make it good enough to publish somewhere. Then I found out about this journal and decided I should submit some stories, but I kept putting it off. I didn't want to look over my stories and realize just how bad they were. Finally, it was the last day to submit and I had Persephone read through my stories and pick two to submit, and I just submitted them as they were. (This is my secret modus operandi of underachieving: if they hadn't selected either of my stories, I could blame Persephone for not picking my best work, or I could tell myself, "Well, it didn't work out because I didn't try my best." I should write a book of tips on how to suck at life.)

Anyway, they picked one to publish. But I haven't read the story in about two years, and I don't exactly remember how it goes. I remember the premise, and the ending, but the rest of it will be a surprise when I see it in the print this spring.

So if you want to read a crap short story from a no-name author, check out the next edition of "Comma, Splice." They don't have much of a web presence, so you'll have to look around some Lawrence, Kansas, coffee shops come this May.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Time

The earth's rotation has reversed itself. This day will never end. I have been at work for only five hours, but it feels like sixty years. I have five more hours until I get to go home. I don't think that time will ever come.

I've always been intrigued by the lack of thought that goes into some people's concepts of time. For instance, although the world is now rotating in reverse, I realize that my wristwatch did not get the memo, so I don't expect it to run backward. Also, I don't expect to live forever. That would be like driving in a car at a constant rate, but somehow the definition of a mile is suddenly stretched to infinity. The numeric value of speed becomes zero, but you haven't stopped moving. I will live maybe fifty-five more years (as measured before today's cataclysmic change in time computation), but the date of my death will be the same as today: December the Whateverth, 2006. (What IS today? The 14th? The 15th? [check] It turns out it's the 15th. Huh. Who knew?)

If a thousand monkeys sorted through a billion marbles, looking for the one marble that was a perfect sphere, and I had to supervise them to make sure they didn't start shirking or anything, to make sure they only took their smoke breaks as per the union contract and all that, I don't believe I would be any more bored than I am RIGHT NOW. And NOW. And...NOW.

Do you think that random people I've known throughout my life search the Internet for me as frequently as I search the Internet for them? Or is it just a result of my working at such a boring place? I think it might be the latter, seeing as the importance of web-based research rises exponentially as your foregone uses of time get boring as hell. For instance, I read fark.com every day at work, but it's not really worth my time on Saturdays.

So, to recap, I'm super bored, and as soon as I end this post, I've got to find something else to do, so that's why I just keep writing.

Crap. I can't think of anything else to write.

Ire!

I am red angry!

I took my last final yesterday, so to celebrate being (temporarily) done with school, I decided I was going to watch all three extended-version Lord of the Rings movies after work. I expected my wife to put the kibosh on that idea, though, because it was a work night, and true to form, Persephone said I couldn't do it. So instead, I watched Click, which we had checked out from the library, and then I went to the library and got two more movies. One was Kind Hearts and Coronets, which I haven't watched yet. For the other one, I wanted to get the original Planet of the Apes, but they didn't have it, so I got stuck with the new Planet of the Apes.

Click was actually kind of good, and it made Persephone cry. I said to her, "You might be the first person in the world to ever cry at an Adam Sandler movie." But let me tell you about Planet of the Apes.

Worst. Movie. Evar.

I have never been so angry about a movie in my entire life. Part of the problem was the DVD skipping, which bugs the crap out of me. Two things infuriate me quite easily: skipping DVDs/CDs, and audible bass coming from cars in the parking lot or the neighbors' houses. [Editor's note: actually, lots of crap infuriates me.] But the skipping DVD was the least of my problems with this movie.

First of all, all of the good parts about the original movie were completely gone. Instead of the whole "Oh, it's really Earth!" thing, it turns out he's not really on Earth (as witnessed by the weird planets hanging around when he finally gets in a ship and leaves). Without accidentally being on Earth, there is no commentary on humanity.

Instead, a genetically-altered ape named Semos killed some humans and started a colony. And there's a bestiality love triangle that makes no sense. The space man and the ape woman kind of have some tension, but that's understandable, because they interact. The feral human girl, however, does nothing except show up late for the Red Sonja costume contest. I watched a good deal of the middle of the movie at double speed with the captions on.

The "point" of the movie, if there is one, seems to be the whole "apes and humans can live together" lesson that one would expect. There's some epic final battle, and just at the height of it (after a gorilla and an orangutan fly through the air at each other), the chimpanzee that the space man was trying to find at the beginning of the movie (before the electrical storm pushes him forward through time (!)) lands in a ship. So the humans and the apes never have that "We're part of the same group" moment. The space man kisses the ape girl good bye, then he runs over and gives a bigger kiss to the feral human girl, to whom he's said almost nothing all movie.

You don't get to kiss two girls good bye at the end of a movie. The ape girl wants him to stay, but he basically says, "You can't be serious; you're a monkey," and leaves. Conveniently, the electrical storm is still around, right where he left it, and instead of pushing him further forward through time, as it has done twice now, it miraculously pushes him backwards through time. Well, now, doesn't everything just work out perfectly for Leo Davidson, USAF?

Not quite, for when he gets back to his own time, he decides to crash land on the Mall in Washington (a perfectly legitimate place to crash land a spacecraft, by the way), and what to his wondering eyes should appear but a Lincoln Memorial with an ape Lincoln inside? [Editor's note: Ape Lincoln. That's pretty funny.] An ape Lincoln who, it turns out, is really the same ape as the one he battled earlier, when he was 500 years in the future? What?

And the movie ends.

I watched the last scene over again, with the director's commentary on, because I had to believe Tim Burton would say something like, "I feel so ashamed of this part," but instead, he was talking about how everyone on teh Internets hates the ending, but he likes it. He said, "I wouldn't have added more material, if I could." If you could? You were the director! If you couldn't, who could? The movie sprung from your head in its current form?

Now I'm all angry again, but at least I get to watch Kind Hearts and Coronets tonight, which features Obi-Wan Kenobi trying to kill Prince Feisal of Arabia. That should make for some interesting dialogue. ("Only a master of evil, Darth." "What I owe you is beyond evaluation.")

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Saboteurs!

A lot of my blog postings are e-mails I send from work to my super-secret e-mail account that automatically posts to my blog. The format is usually all screwed up, though, so I have to wait until I go to the library and edit the posts to remove random line returns and whatnot, but the content is mostly generated on company time.

Until now, it seems. The last several times I've tried sending an e-mail from my work account to my blog, it has been returned as undeliverable. I don't know if the problem is on the blog end of things, or here at work. Maybe they are monitoring my activity and intercepting my posts before they can reach the light of day. Maybe I should use this opportunity to reveal my syphilitic condition, and see if any of the IT guys start keeping their distance.

Updates:

  • plan to eat at Salty Iguana tonight
  • sold books back and am now loaded down with cash
  • first grade is posted on the Internet, and it's an A
  • since my boss jokingly left me in charge while he's been out of town this week, I wrote up reprimands for everyone in my office, and I plan to fire someone on Friday

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Good News

p>I had a Jimmy John's Italian Night Club with hot peppers and no onions for lunch today. The following could also be considered good news:
  • I am done with three of four finals now, and I feel pretty good about my chances to earn four As.
  • I found out recently that I am going to be a weekly columnist in the University Daily Kansan next semester.
  • I finished watching the fifth season of "Alias" last night. I think it's the first time I've ever seen every episode of a TV show. There was a point where I had seen every episode of "NewsRadio," but then they kept making new ones.
  • I just got a free smoothie from Juice Stop because a guy I work with bought one for me.

Now for the bad news:

  • I decided a few days ago that getting fired would be a really good career move right about now. If I get fired, I will get a severance package and then collect unemployment. I think I might have a student loan lined up that will cover my costs of living, and that will give me all the time I need to concentrate on school next semester so I can do really well and make myself an attractive grad school applicant. The other option is to wait around until the company goes under, or until I quit, and in both those scenarios I get nothing out of it.
  • But one of the other women here has been involved in a week-long argument with Walt. This diverts his negative attention away from me. (That sentence seems to imply I'm a woman. Rest assured, I'm all dude.)
  • And I sent out an e-mail designed to enrage Tito, wherein I called the KU basketball team "the second best team in the State of Kansas" (ranked behind Wichita State), but instead of drawing Tito's ire, it pleased the company's president, a WSU alumnus.

So, as you can see, you have to take the bad with the good.

Vocab Up the Wazoo

Another word that changes pronunciation depending on its part of speech: record. When used as a noun, the first syllable is stressed, but when used as a verb, the second syllable is stressed. Also, the pronunciation of the vowel in the second syllable is very different. More so than in a permit/permit, proceed/proceed, or attribute/attribute pairing.

I took another final today, and when I turned it in, I told my professor, "Here's your answer key right here." She thought that was pretty funny. I wonder if that means she doesn't think I know the answers.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Enemies

First of all, to the thousands of perverts who are reading this article: you've misspelled "enemas" in your search parameters. As for the rest of you (are there any?), I happen to know a thing or two about enemies. Now, there are two ways to rack up as many enemies as I have managed to accumulate: you can be a hateful person, or you can run up against hateful people.

I am not a hateful person. But it seems that the entire rest of the world is full of hate. Chalk full. Bursting-at-the-seems full. At a Thanksgiving dinner of hate, these people are the ones excusing themselves from the table to self-administer enemas in the bathroom, freeing up room for more hate consumption. (Hey, it turned out that this post really IS about enemas.)

Most of the time, these people are middle-aged female office professionals, which is just another name for "hateful people." But every once in a while, there's a wild-card in the bunch.
One of those wild-cards is this guy I work with. Let's call him Walt. Walt is so full of fate that he once went to Disneyland on a hot day, and the hatred in his sweat turned the Happiest Place on Earth (not to be confused with Tijuana) into a vile cesspool of murder and deceit (not to be confused with Knott's Berry Farm).

A couple months ago, I had a run-in with Walt, wherein he told me I was wasting his time, so I reminded him that he was, in fact, merely doing his job, so he flew into a Vesuvian rage that I would dare tell him what his job is, so I asked him who else in the company does what I had asked him to do, and he said only he does, so I said, "So it's your job?", so he went to my supervisor, and now I am not allowed to talk to Walt.

That's right: I am not allowed to talk to Walt. Anything I have to say to him is supposed to go through my supervisor. But here's the most recent development: Walt just said hi to me. I had to say hello back. Am I going to get fired for this? (I hope so. More and more, getting fired is looking like my best possible career move.) And what percentage of my enemies actually receive enemas? I guess there are some things we were never meant to know.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Randomness

Firstly, more vocabulary. I found a sheet of paper that records the actual invention date of "threve" (Jan. 2005) and "Trump classy" (April 10, 2005), as well as another phrase I forgot I had invented: EATING CHIPS (March 29, 2005).

"Eating chips" is wasting your life in worthlessness. Used in a sentence, one would say, "He spent his early twenties eating chips." And my original definition for "Trump classy" was faux class, where the owner thinks the item imparts class but really it points to bad taste.

Secondly, I am a little bit excited about the prospects of casually mentioning to Tito at work that, right now, KU has the second-best basketball team in the State of Kansas. However, today is Friday and Tito's going to be out of the office on Monday, so I need Wichita State to not lose until Tuesday. Come on, Shockers, don't let me down!

Thirdly, I wasn't too satisfied with the Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo. I could identify the chicken bits, and there were things in it that looked like shrimp, which I am assuming might be the crawfish (I'd never had it before), but then there were these pieces of animal carcass that resembled sausage, and that creeped me out. I don't really like eating sausage because the outside is so crunchy, it's like you're actually biting into an animal. Truthfully, I don't like eating bratwurst, but I do it anyway because I like the idea of eating bratwurst. And the gumbo gave me the stinkiest gas I have had for months, and then the turd I took later that evening was disgusting in about eight different ways. (Never let anyone tell you my food reviews are not thorough.)

Fourthly, I'm in the library right now, supposedly reading for my microeconomics final, but I just saw my last post about Jimmy John's, and now I really want to go get an Italian Night Club with hot peppers and no onions.

Fifthly, now that I'm not at work, I can tell you about how much it sucks: a lot. The other day was my one-year anniversary of working there, and I wanted to scoop out my own eye with a spork (we've been watching "Alias" on DVD lately). All the bosses tend to go home around five-twenty or so, and then there are three of us who stay until six. That is when we talk freely amongst ourselves. I said to the other two, "If I could get more money in student loans, I would quit this place tomorrow." So I decided to see if I could get more money in student loans. I have some lender (I am such an idiot that I almost wrote the word "loaner") sending me paperwork that, if it's legitimate, will allow me to get a way less stressful job before next semester starts.

See, I didn't do too well in college for a year or so, and now that I am wondering if I should go to graduate school (mainly because I don't know what else I would want to do), I need to do extra well for the next year. I want to have the time to volunteer as an assistant to some of the professors, and I want to do the work necessary to graduate with honors. I don't think I can do those things if I am taking fifteen hours and working twenty-nine hours. I got lucky this semester (Intermediate Microeconomics, Intermediate Macroeconomics, Economic Growth and Development, Language and the Mind) that I hardly had to do any homework, but next semester won't be like that (Money and Banking, International Finance, Political Philosophy, Western Civilization II, and Calculus II).

I seriously think I am going to go to Jimmy John's right now.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Gettin' Hassled By the Man"

So my company has these billability targets, and they are constantly revising them upward as we continue to flounder. When I started here, it was 32 hours out of a 40 hour week. Then it was 36, then 38, then there was a brief mention that, hypothetically, there was no reason it couldn't be 40, then it sort of went back to 36, in that we all hit 36 now and no one complains.

About four months ago, I went from full-time to part-time so I could go back to school. Now that I work 29 hours a week, my project manager and I have taken that 36/40 ratio and applied it to 29, aiming for 26 hours of billable time each week.

Two weeks ago, my supervisor e-mailed me to say I was not billable enough, and I should be billable somewhere between 28 and 29 hours a week. I think it is just the beginnings of a paper trail for when they fire me, so I responded with figures from my charge sheets, showing that I am consistently above the 36/40 ratio expected of other employees.

I also happened to mention (since most of the time we have a pretty relaxed corporate environment) that half of my non-billable time each week can be attributed to taking a crap every afternoon. Just sayin'.

This week, now, there has been a picture posted in the bathroom. It's one of those Internet memes about how the company can't afford bathroom breaks, so they will install toilets at everyone's desks.

If they took half the energy they spend pestering employees, trying to get another nickel's-worth of productivity out of them, and put that energy into securing more actual work for the company, we could all go back to 32 hours of billability and free lunches a couple times a month. However, I suspect they have some enormously-expensive e-mail spying program that is going to intercept this message, thereby saving the few cents it cost them while I wrote it.


Title from Sublime's song "Garden Grove."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Friend Is a Four-Letter Word (Actually, It's Six Letters; I'm Not an Idiot)

So here are two stories I have recently learned about friends, and what I make of them. (What I make of the stories, not the friends. The only thing I know how to make of a friend is an enemy.)

The first is about a girl in my linguistics class. The lecture meets twice a week, and then the discussion group meets on Fridays. We sit next to each other in discussion and talk about random things, but she studiously avoids me during lecture. Three weeks ago I ended up walking out of lecture next to her and she did not acknowledge me in the hall. Then, suddenly on the stairs, she said, "Are you going anywhere for Thanksgiving?" It was weird, like we were prisoners in a work crew who could only talk without looking at each other for fear the boss would see us.

Well, today was the last lecture of the semester, and we had to fill out instructor evaluations. I had quite a bit to say in mine, so I was the last one to leave. I had noticed this girl (I'll just tell you her name since not even I know who she is) Katy leave much earlier. Anyway, when I left the room and got to the stairs, there was Katy in front of me. We talked some while we walked to the library together. So did she wait to talk to me because we're friends?

Now for the other girl, who gets a synonym because what I have to say about her is not so glowing. Let's call her Phyllis. We have two classes together, one right after another, and over the course of the semester, we've become friends of sorts. We walk between classes together every day now. After the second test in one of the classes, I mentioned that I would like to study for the final with her study group, since my study group was teh suck. She said sure, but over the last week, as her group has been making plans to get together and I have been kind of trying to be invited, she has ignored me. And today she said to the other three members of her group that her apartment was a good place for them to meet because, "There are four chairs at my table." So are we not friends?

Friends have always been lame to me. I don't think anyone is ever really a friend. The people who are your friends only seem that way due to outside forces. Your workplace friends will never see you again once you get fired. You might try to initiate contact, but it is always awkward for them. I don't think a real friendship between two people can last longer than a decade at the most. By that time you have done too many things that the other person knows about and hates, and vice versa. And that decade time-frame is for even the best of friends. Most people will fall out of friendship within a year.

I've got this guy in my microeconomics class whose phone number I have, but if I ever called him up on a Friday next semester to see if he wanted to hang out, that would be awkward. I've got a guy I work with that is my work friend, but the few times we have tried to do something outside of work, it has been weird. I think most people like the idea of other people being their friends, but no one wants to be a friend to other people.

PS: Things are looking up in the "take this job and shove it" department. Details later.


Title (partially) from Cake's song "Friend Is a Four-Letter Word."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"The Future is Now"

I had a whole post written when I realized, "I don't want to tell this crap to teh Internets," so I erased it all and you get NUZZING, suckers!

I've got a week left in this semester and I have four A's, although two of them are just-barely so, which means I have to, like, study for the finals and stuff like that.

In other news, KU lost to another unranked team, which made my Monday just a little brighter when I found that out. I decided that the best scenario for me would be if KU had a completely winless season, which would break the arrogance of all the fans like Tito, and then went back to winning, so I could be a fan of my own school like I should.

I haven't had an Italian Night Club with hot peppers and no onions since last Thursday. Today, work is ordering lunch for us (probably to soften the blow when they announce the fact that we're closing our doors) and I have ordered the chicken and crawfish gumbo from Free State Brewery. I'll let you know how that goes.

I've been on a spicy food kick for about three weeks or so. I think I already told you about this. Now I get hot peppers on everything, and a few nights ago I put chili powder on some tortellini casserole Persephone made. I'm an addict, now. The good news is, unlike most addicts, I can stop anytime I want to. I just don't want to right now.


Title from The Hudsucker Proxy.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hungry

Man, am I hungry right now. I could go for a steak sandwich from Pepperjax, with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and jalapeños. Or an Italian Night Club from Jimmy John's, with hot peppers and no onions.

Can I just tell you how much it sucks that the people in my work are so lame. I've worked here for an entire year come next Tuesday, and everybody else gets their birthdays celebrated, with free lunches and cards, but they didn't do mine last year and they are getting ready to not do mine again this year. So I kind of mentioned today, hey, can you make sure I get at least a meal out of it, since I work a weird schedule now and most of the time they get their free food while I am out of the office. But the popular idea right now is to turn the birthday lunch into an evening of drinking at Free State Brewery, and I don't drink, or want to spend any more time than necessary with most of the office folks. So the company is going to get them loaded, while I am going to get nothing.

Many days, I'm almost glad we're going out of business.

Weird Words

How weird is the word "fiery"? The root word "fire" is pronounced the same as the first two syllables as "fiery," but you have to switch the order of the R and the E to get what you want when you add a Y.

PS: Another complete stranger has commented on my blog. So are there really tons of you out there, reading this crap? For a while I thought it would be cool to become a blog that strangers checked back on regularly, but then I realized that it wasn't going to happen, so then I wanted my blog to be some place where I could write stuff and my wife would read it sometimes, but then not even that happened, so now it's just a place for me to say what I would say to people if they cared what I had to say, and so far that's been working out for me pretty well.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jimmy John's: Follow-Up

I can't overstate this fact: the Italian Night Club with hot peppers and no onions has to be the greatest sandwich ever invented in the history of man. If my wife and children ever die and I survive alone, I will eat one of these sandwiches every day. And the one I just had did not make that much of a mess. (But delivery just took almost an hour, even though I work only two blocks from the store.)

Jimmy John's

There are a number of things I love about Jimmy John's sandwiches.

  1. 1. They are very tasty.
  2. 2. They are very cheap.
  3. 3. They deliver.

But there is one thing I HATE about Jimmy John's sandwiches.

  1. 1. The innards slide right out of the bread.

I think it has something to do with the manner of preparation. It seems the first thing they put in the bread is mayonnaise, then cheese, then everything else. When you bite one end of the sandwich, the pincer action of your mouth forces the meat, cheese, and vegetables--lubed up with the mayonnaise--out the other end.

I talked about this with a co-worker of mine, and he said his solution is to not eat the sandwich from end-to-end, but to eat it more like an ear of corn or a typewriter (it turns out there is a way to eat a typewriter).

So I gave that a try two days ago. Persephone brought me an Italian Night Club with hot peppers and no onions, and I ate it by pitting the pincer force of my mouth against the joint of the bread. Well, my mouth was too strong for the bread. I ended up forcing the innards out the back of the sandwich, which turned out to be messier than having it come out the end.

So I still don't know how to eat a Jimmy John's sandwich. If anyone has any suggestions, I am willing to give them a shot.

PS: My bus never came this morning, so I spent nearly an hour waiting at the stop until the dispatcher I called on my cell-phone sent around a special van to pick me up. According to the bank sign next to my bus stop, it was 16 degrees. When I got to work, weather.com said the wind chill-adjusted temperature was zero. This means that, two hours later, I am still having trouble typing. And when the van got there, they STILL charged me fifty cents. So now I get to pay to be late to work.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Weather Changes Moods"

Yesterday was a balmy 74 degrees. Today is 27, with a wind-chill that feels like 17. That's quite the temperature swing.

I had to stand outside waiting for a bus for 40 minutes today. Even though I was wearing gloves, my hands got so cold that I am still having difficulty typing, over an hour later.

In conclusion, the manufacturer of my gloves should die in a fire. There is no label inside them, or else I would specify the make and model. They are black and white wool with brown leather patches shaped like handprints on the undercarriage.

I don't want to switch to ski gloves, though, because they look lame when you're not skiing. I want a civilized-looking glove that keeps my hands warm. Come on, Science! Do something useful!


Title from Nirvana's "In Bloom."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Down in Flames

I have never actually said where I work, but an enterprising reading might be able to figure it out, so I don't think I should go into great detail about anything here, but let me just say this: it sucks when there is a weak link at the company, and somehow that person manages to obtain some sort of immunity, so every time he screws up, management comes after the other links and tells them, "You need to shape up or you're out of here!" No, friends, there is only one person who needs to shape up, or we're all out of here.

My only concern now is to make sure I qualify for unemployment benefits when the company decides to fire me. I bet they will do it the week before Christmas, because that's the type of bastards they are.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mean Blog Readers

A couple months ago, Persephone was featured in the local paper in one of those "person on the street" articles. They asked her a question and then took her picture. The discussion thread for the online edition of the article, though, was full of hateful people criticizing her response.

Today I happened upon a blog where a woman posted a different picture every day. They were supposed to be neat pictures of nature of whatever. Her husband wanted her to post a picture he took of her leg while she was getting into the car, so she did. The discussion thread for that post had five people telling her that her legs were gross, and one guy who posted his e-mail address in case she wanted to have sex.

I seriously hope that all the posts were jokes. People aren't that worthless these days, are they? It kind of makes me glad that nobody reads my blog.

Speaking of nobody reading: my wife told me a couple days ago that she had checked my blog. I said, "I don't think you did, because there is a post there about how long it will take you to comment and you haven't commented on that post yet." She said, "I read it, but I didn't comment." So maybe there ARE people reading my blog, they're just too lazy to make themselves known. But if their manner of making themselves known is to criticize my legs, it's probably better this way.

Vocabulary Test

I tried posting this twice from work, but our e-mail was down. If I can't post to my blog from work, there's really no reason for me to go in anymore, but that's beside the point right now.

Here's the point of this post: I've invented another word.

ROOVES: the plural of "roof." When a knife is joined by his cousin, they become two knives, and the same thing happens for half/halves and wolf/wolves, so why not with roof/rooves? I say, "It's about time!"

When I was discussing this with my wife this morning, we starting thinking about other words for which the "F to V" rule works or doesn't work. Proof/proofs, goof/goofs, and poof/poofs all go counter to the rule (the word "proves" isn't the plural form of the noun).

Another weird one is the word "booth," which becomes "booths," but the "th" goes from unvoiced to voiced, like the difference between the word "thee" and the first syllable of the word "thesis."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Root, Root, Root for the Visiting Team

So here's the deal: I attend the University of Kansas (cunningly disguised as KU), and I root against the Jayhawks.

I wish I didn't. I wish I could root for KU like I should. I used to root for KU, before I moved here and started school. But now I can't.

KU fans are insufferable poor sports. They have taken ordinary team pride and turned it into team snobbery. Any basketball poll that doesn't have the Jayhawks ranked #1 is a direct result of "east coast bias." Any time the football team wins half their games, they deserve a bowl bid. I don't root against the Jayhawks as much as I root against their fans.

I work with the king of all Jayhawks apologists, Tito. He can tell you why Butler and Bucknell should have been seeded higher than they were when they eliminated Kansas the last two years in the NCAA tournament. He can tell you how Danny Manning once took a dump that smelled like roses and was made of solid gold.

Last March I had to go to Santa Fe with him for work. He was going to pick me up Monday morning at six for the drive to the airport. The night before was when the NCAA announced the tournament seedings. With no prior knowledge of the outcome, I told Persephone, "I really don't want to ride to the airport with him and have to listen about how the Jayhawks are a #4 seed but they should really be a #3 seed." The next morning, THAT WAS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED.

I told him that, had KU not upset Texas in the Big 12 tournament, I didn't think they were good enough of a team to get a bid at all. It was at that very moment that he stopped thinking we were friends.

A couple weeks ago, I took my kids to sit on the hill above Memorial Stadium and watch the first half of the football game between KU and Oklahoma State. We had to leave at half time to go pick up Persephone from a church event. The score was 14-0, KU. Oklahoma State had failed to score after having a first down on KU's two yard line. As we left, Crazy Jane said, "Who won?" I said, "No one yet." She said, "Who's going to win?" I said, "Well, KU is winning right now, but given how they play football lately, Oklahoma State has a shot." KU lost, 42-32.

The next week, Persephone was on the Internet checking her e-mail and she said, "KU is beating Baylor right now, 35-17." I said, "I wonder how they're going to lose that game." KU lost, 36-35.

Last night I was trying to go to the library and I couldn't find a parking space because the basketball team was playing. About an hour after arriving on campus, I finally got to a computer in the library. While I worked, I tracked the game's progress on foxsports.com. I might have been the only person in the library rooting for Oral Roberts University, which ended up winning, 78-71.

Tito is out of the office for the rest of the week, but I am sure he will return with an excuse about how Oral Roberts should have been ranked in the top ten, or about how KU was thrown off when Mercury traveled in front of the sun. Thug millionaire trainee Brandon Rush already blamed it on the fact the team appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated last week.

This Saturday, I'm hoping K-State beats the football team and ends their chances at a bowl bid. Maybe KU fans will blame that one on Britney and K-Fed breaking up.

Your Favorite Blog Sucks

So my blog formatting sucks, because most of my posts are e-mails I send myself from work, and the non-HTML format that our IT Nazis make us use for e-mails makes all my line breaks look like teh suck.

Random question: I have been thinking about a joke I saw in a movie and I can't remember which movie it is. Some awkward character tells this joke to someone else: a guy in the military named Johnson has a mother who dies, and Johnson's commanding officer is notified. The officer thinks, "I don't know how to break the news to Johnson." So the next morning he has his platoon line up and he says, "Everyone whose mother is still alive, take one step forward. Not so fast, Johnson."

What movie is that?


[Editor's Note: many of the formatting issues I complained about in 2006 have subsequently been corrected.]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"I Remember...The Alamo!"

I remember the last word I forgot yesterday: attribute.

PS: Horrendous computer error when I got to work today made it so I couldn't do anything for over an hour. Hurray!


Title from Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Blinded Me With Science"

Now that this is nothing but a forum to entertain myself (not like that, perv!), I have all kinds of things to write. For instance, I work at a computer that faces away from the business's front door. Across the street is an art gallery with an illuminated sign out front. When I look at the reflection in my computer screen, I can see the sign lit up, but I can also see the glass door of my workplace lit up where the light is passing through it, which is something I could NOT see were I to turn around and look at the door. That's pretty cool.

PS: My wife is puking today. That means our kids are doing whatever they want, so when I get home from work, they will have turned the living room into a disaster. But at least they are having more fun today than they have in a long while.


Title from Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science."

"Language Lessons"

So, here are three new words or phrases I've invented over the past couple years. I know nobody reads this, but I am posting this here so I will have them written down in a place I can find, instead of jotting them on tiny scraps of paper I end up losing.

  • THREVE: a word that means "all three," like how "both" means "all two." So when there are two things on the table and you say, "Give me both of them," you could also say of three things, "Give me threve of them." You can NOT use this word with the word "all," such as "Give me all threve of them." You would never say, "All both," so you can't say, "All threve."

    Immediately after inventing this word while riding in the car with my wife, we parked in front of my parents' house and I was about to take three things to the door, so I got to say, "Hand me threve of them, please."

  • TRUMP CLASSY: a word that describes something not classy at all, but very expensive, so the person who spent all the money thinks it's classy.

    For instance, many of the expensive things purchased by Navin Johnson in the movie The Jerk are Trump classy. Named after the king of Trump classy, Donald Trump.

  • FERPECT: a word that means "perfect" when used sarcastically. For instance, when you try to toss something into a trash can with precision, only to have it miss the can and burst open on the floor next to it, you could say, "Ferpect."

    I think it is best to use this word when your efforts have brought about the worst-case scenario, perhaps a scenario that would not have happened at all had you not tried to do the opposite.

So, there are my new words. Use them a lot. That would be totally rufus.

Since I'm now only using my blog to write notes to myself, I'll include this little bit about a hobby of mine: finding words that are pronounced differently when used as different parts of speech. For instance, "SUSPECT," "PERMIT," "PROJECT," "PROCEED," and there was one more I just read yesterday in a book called Monetary Policy and Bretton Woods, but I can't remember it now.

Also, I am intrigued by words that change the stressed syllable when it is made into an adjective, like "PHILOSOPHY" and "PHILOSOPHICAL" or "ECONOMY" and "ECONOMICAL." So keep your eyes open for any of those.


Title from Better Off Dead.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Testes, Testes--One, Two...Three?

A simple experiment: how long will it take for this post to get a comment?

My guess: three months, and only then because my wife will accidentally go to my blog when she means to go to her blog, she will see there is a post here that is waiting for a comment, and she will write something out of obligation.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Grab Bag!

Follow ups:

  • Crazy Angela, she of the misplaced boobs, has been fired.
  • I no longer have to go to New Mexico with Tito every month.
  • Grunty Joe is talking a little more than he did.
  • The lady on the bus who thought I was stalking her started riding again. That went on for about a month, until three months ago when I had to get off the bus at her stop to pick up our car from the shop. Even though I already knew about it, I called my wife and pretended I didn't, just so this lady could overhear our conversation and know that I wasn't following her home or anything. It didn't matter; she hasn't ridden the bus since then.
  • Angela of "Angela Wants Cake" is not, in fact, Angela of the Wayward Mammaries. Well, at least as far as I know.

TLAPD can DIAF

Talk Like a Pirate Day. I don't even know where to begin.

Since we're on the subject, let's talk about the Impressionists. You know, the whole idea behind impressionism was that it was impossible to ever paint a picture of a tree (or anything else, for that matter), and that all we could hope to do would be painting the impressions of a tree registered by our minds. Thus, the object cannot be represented without being affected by the observer, and then who's to say I'm ever seeing a tree? I should just call it like I see it: a collection of brown and green, and those cotton-candy like spiders' webs that only grow on trees in Missouri.

So I cannot write about Talk Like a Pirate Day without taking into account the fact that it is I who is doing the writing. And I am not in a position to be a big fan of TLAPD. Because I work with Tito, and he is a worthless jackass who can suck the soul out of anyone, much like a dementor.

Tito celebrates TLAPD with élan and whatnot. He has shirts that feature "funny" pirate-themed logos. He has been to see all of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. And, like some anti-Midas of comedy, he takes everything funny that he touches and turns it into crap.

Have you ever known someone like this? We had a guy in our high school circle who did it so effectively that we called him "Conversation Assassin." No matter what the topic, when he put in his two cents, no one wanted to live anymore.

And what is with manufactured holidays, anyway? It's not just TLAPD. There is this one on the first Friday in May, and another on March 14. As far as I'm concerned, they can all die in a fire. (Except for that second one, which leaves me intrigued and willing to learn more.)

Follow up vote: Do you hate manufactured holidays? Yes, or no. Explain, if you want.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Crazy Angela

So the other day Angela came over to my side of the office and started talking about swarming bees. And she said, "You know why they swarm, don't you?!"

I said, "Because they're mad?"

She said, "No! Well, yeah! But it's because they've been Africanized! Bees didn't used to swarm before the introduction of African bees!"

I said, "Angela, that's racist of you to assume that an animal can only demonstrate aggression if it's from Africa."

She said, "I saw a show on it!"

I said, "Bees used to swarm all the time."

She said, "No, it was on a show I saw!"

I said, "I am quite familiar with the plight of Yogi Bear, and every time he and Boo-Boo would steal their picinic baskets, they had to high-tail it out of there before the bees came." She left in disgust.

A little later in the day, I called her up and said, "And another thing: Winnie the Pooh always had to run away from swarming bees and he's a European bear and--" but she hung up on me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Lot of Angina

Random Dialog:

MIDDLE AGED MAN and FEMALE DOCTOR, in office.

DOCTOR: How are you feeling?

MAN: My heart?

DOCTOR: Well, sure, I guess.

MAN: It's been okay.

DOCTOR: And besides that? How are you feeling about your heart?

MAN: What, you mean am I nervous?

DOCTOR: Sure. Anxiety would be perfectly normal.

MAN: Well, I am nervous.

DOCTOR: Anything else?

MAN: I just, I have conflicting emotions, you know what I mean?

DOCTOR: [sympathetic noise]

MAN: I mean, on one hand I'm scared of what it can mean, you know? I mean, I'm a pretty young guy. But on the other hand, I'm kind of excited, because I can tell people I've got angina, and if I say it just fast enough, they'll be, like, "Wait, what did you say?"

DOCTOR: The word "vagina" is not a funny word.

MAN: Then why am I laughing?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Amateur Laboratory Testing

So that woman I work with, the one who laid her boobs all over me, turns out to be--sit down for this one!--a freak.

"How so?" you ask. She's one of those people who favors animals to humans every chance she gets. One co-worker was recently expressing concern for a friend of hers who was reentering an abusive relationship. The boob wack-job, though, upon hearing the story, was concerned for the battered woman's dog. At no point in the story was the dog threatened, but a woman being beaten in fact hinted at the specter of an animal being beaten in theory, and that was truly horrifying.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent her an e-mail that said I wouldn't be able to make a meeting time because I had a previous commitment to beat my dog. She came over to my desk to berate me, then left fuming. Others warned me that she did not tolerate jokes of this nature. So a few weeks later, when talk turned to "what would you do if you had a million dollars," I said I would buy abused animal shelters and turn the animals out into the streets. She came over to me and grabbed my face, a hand on each cheek. I said, "You're invading my personal space!" She backed off, but ever since then, her attitude towards me has been decidedly cooler.

So today I was taking a leak in the bathroom, and right in front of me was some sort of cleaning agent, and the back read, "Harmful to humans and domestic animals." I took the bottle over to this woman's desk and showed it to her, saying, "Your domesticating your dog has weakened it. If it were wild, it would be able to withstand this chemical." She said the wording was probably the result of some law that required them to not mention wild animals unless they tested it on wild animals. I said, "Well, I could do them a favor and take it home with me and conduct some tests on wild animals in my backyard."

She failed to laugh. Which just goes to show, some people are completely crazy, because that was funny.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"Temptation, Frustration/So Bad It Makes Him Cry"

Okay, that might be overdoing it. I'm not frustrated to the point of crying, but I'm frustrated nonetheless.

First of all, I'm a horrible person for using the word "frustrated," when I decided over a year ago to replace that word in my vocabulary with the word "challenged." So forget everything you've read and let's start over: I'm challenged.

Firstly, I'm challenged by my apparent inability to, in the words of P.G. Wodehouse, keep the wolves away from the door. It doesn't help any that every single piece of machinery or electronic equipment we own breaks more easily than Lindsay Lohan's rehab promises. It has gotten to the point where I actually dream of becoming rich solely for the purpose of taking my Ford Taurus station wagon to the mechanic and telling him, "Fix it all; money's no object."

Secondly, I'm challenged by my work environment, but since they are probably monitoring this e-mail, let me just say this: you guys are the best! Keep it up!

Thirdly, I'm challenged by my non-talking son, Grunty Joe. He turned two last week but he still doesn't talk. He's even started the preliminary steps of potty-training, but he has only put together ONE two-word phrase in his entire LIFE when he told my brother, "Hi, Brett."

Fourthly, I am challenged by the state of the world today. Particularly our federal government, vis-à-vis how much it sucks. The most challenging part of it is the thought, "What can I do about it?" Nothing. I'm one guy, pissed off and alone. Meanwhile, millions more Americans vote each week for "American Idol" than will ever vote in a congressional election. How do you convince people to care about something that, as far as they can tell, has no bearing on their lives? Congress tells us it's Big Oil's fault we can't afford gas, it's Big Tobacco's fault we get sick, it's Big
Healthcare's fault we can't get better, and it's Big French-Fry's fault we're so fat. Curiously, though, they are silent when the subject becomes which of life's ails we can blame on Big Government.

YOUR CONGRESS ACTUALLY THINKS YOU'RE STUPID ENOUGH TO TAKE A ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR CHECK AND STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT GAS PRICES. And why not? They've already proved that you'll sell yourself for money. All they have to do is propose a new entitlement program and you'll crap your pants trying to wrestle your way into the hand-out line. Like the joke attributed to Winston Churchill, they've already established what type of girl you are; now they're just bargaining over the price.

Well, I can't decide if it will alleviate or exacerbate my challenge if I were to try to do anything about it, but I've tried ignoring it and that doesn't make the challenge go away. So I'm going to expand my blog here with the simple purpose of changing the state of the world today. If I have to be challenged by life, I might as well pick my own challenges.


Title from The Police's "Don't Stand So Close To Me."

Monday, May 01, 2006

"Yackity-Yak Is Back Again"

Okay, first order of bidniz: I recently changed the format of my outgoing e-mails from work and now anything I post on my blog via e-mail comes out looking lame. Until I have the time and/or inclination to log on from home and fix it, along with all my numerous typos, it's just going to have to stay that way.

But here is the point of this post: the people at work are so annoyingly loud! Talking all the time, without saying anything. And since Tito is the worst offender, and I sit right outside his office, I have to hear it all the time.

Last week, I was away form my desk and returned to find Tito regaling my cube neighbor with some story about who-knows-what. I sat at my desk and started typing something or other. The telephone rang and the woman to whom Tito was speaking answered it. He kept going. A friend of mine in the next cube over sent me an IM that said, "Who's he talking to now?" The answer was no one, but he had started a story and was going to see it through to the end. I kept on typing, never turning around or giving any indication that I was listening. The woman on the phone had a conversation, then transferred the call, then hung up just as the story was ending. "That's funny," she said. She was right; it was funny.

A couple days before that, it was too loud even for my headphones. Two of the people from the office were in New Mexico for the week, but instead of making the place quieter, it actually made it louder, since the worst noise offenders were left behind and they thought, "There are fewer people now so I can talk louder without any implications." A spirited four-party conversation broke out right in the opening of my cube. I put on my headphones, but not even that could help me. These are the same people who get mad when I play basketball with my friend on the mini Nerf hoops in the office. Why have mini Nerf hoops if we can't use them?

Upon further genuflection, this is a pretty weak post. Most of my posts are pretty weak posts. So, let's shift gears and talk about the Clippers.

Clippers, baby! Yeah! I have been a Clippers fan since I moved to Los Angeles. I watched every game of their two playoff series against the Utah Jazz, and I was irate both times the Jazz won. The Lakers are broke and busted; the Clippers are the new hotness. (Those Clippers, they're so hot right now!)

Now that I have moved out of Los Angeles and have not hooked my television up to the outside world, the Clippers are hot again. This is in keeping with the Steelers, my team since birth, winning the Super Bowl the year that I can't see it. If this pattern holds, the Pirates (currently the worst team in baseball) will win this year's World Series, and the Penguins will somehow win the Stanley Cup, even though the playoffs have already begun and the Penguins are not participants. Actually, I'm quite surprised the Pisces did not reconstitute themselves and storm through professional basketball, just like in that movie The Fish That Ate Pittsburgh, which movie I watched as a kid, more than once, because it was about sports and about Pittsburgh.

In conclusion, nothing can stop my teams, baby. Nothing.


Title from Frank Black's "White Noise Maker."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"No Yelling on the Bus!"

For the last five months, my primary mode of transportation to work has been the city bus. Now, I know what you're thinking and I want to tell you that you are wrong, I do NOT clean houses for a living. Somehow, though, I still ride the bus to work.

The people who ride the bus are baffling. As are apartment people, for that matter. You see, when I moved to an apartment, I thought our neighbors would be paragons of civility. I mean, why would they be loud when they knew I could be loud in return? It seemed to me that house parties and loud sound systems were for houses; apartment people kept it down.

Of course, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Apartment people (and now I've discovered that the same holds true for townhouse people, as well) think more along the lines of, "If I'm as annoying as possible, I won't even notice your feeble attempts at annoyance." Thus the answer is not to keep the stereo turned down, but to get a stereo with a maximum volume higher than your neighbors, then turn that sucker up to eleven.

Well, bus people are the same. I thought there would be some sense of community, since I see these people every single day, twice a day, five times a week. Perhaps an acknowledgement, if nothing more than a nod. But the most regular riders on my bus (Number Six, Clockwise mornings, Counterclockwise evenings) intentionally avoid eye contact with me when waiting for, entering, riding on, or exiting the bus.

Although, by being a regular rider, I am something of an anomaly myself. Most people ride for a few weeks at a time, then never come back. There have only been two people who have been on the bus as frequently as I have for as long as I have: a guy with earrings and headphones who gets on at my stop and off a mile later, and a girl with a large mole on her forehead who gets on after him and stays on past my stop.

There was a regular rider, a woman with a purple scarf and knitted cap. She got on right before the earring guy got off. One day, though, I had to take our car in for service, so I drove to the station and dropped it off, then waited for the bus at the corner. Well, it was the corner where the woman with the purple hat got on. When she showed up at her stop, I was sitting there, reading a book. She was not on the bus for the next month, rode once more, saw I was still there, and has not been back since.

Riding the bus should be like a party! There are enough creeps and weirdos on the bus, anyway. I want the regulars to be friendly and the wack-jobs to keep quiet, but as soon as some regular thinks you might be stalking her, she starts carpooling or something.

And another thing: she might have been the cutest lady on the bus, but it doesn't take much to win THAT contest. I have better things to do with my time than to stalk marginally-attractive women. Like buying the biggest stereo I can find, one with specially-made knobs that register up to eleven.


Title from Billy Madison.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

New Mexican Cuisine

Last week I was in Santa Fe again. Tito was there again, and so was another coworker, Arty. Since there were three of us, I couldn’t do my own thing with impunity the way I did last trip. Instead of two people who were eating alone, it would be one guy who wasn’t eating with “the group.” So the first day we went to lunch and Tito blazed a path to Marisco's. We arrived at eleven-thirty, but the place was closed. The sign said they opened at eleven. We didn’t know if they were closed for the day or just operating on a looser interpretation of “eleven” than ours.

That night, after I blew off the “group” and ate by myself at Red Lobster, Tito and Arty went back to Marisco's. Still closed. Tito was so distraught that he then went looking for their second location downtown, where he got lost. We work for a map company. He gets lost with stunning frequency.

The last day we finished a little early and headed back to Albuquerque. I suggested we eat lunch at Sadie’s, since past statistics indicated I had a 100 percent chance of sitting next to Lily on the plane home, and it would be awkward for me to say, “I’m still ignoring your restaurant suggestion.” So we headed to Old Town, where I remembered Lily saying it was.

Lily was wrong. Or I remembered wrong. Or both, but not neither, because Sadie’s was, in fact, NOT in Old Town. Actually, it was quite distant. So we ended up parking and walking around looking for another restaurant. There are few things so soul-crushingly awkward as being a tourist with two guys from work. Finally, a woman in a gift shop suggested Monica’s El Portal, so that was where we went.

Here’s the problem with “authentic” cuisine, and with the whole “anti-corporate” mindset in general: people want all the benefits of big business without actually involving big business. For instance, everyone wants unlimited chips with their meal, but only large chains manage to sneak the cost into everything else all over the country. Mom-and-Pop places give you a thimble-full of chips for free, then charge a dollar-fifty for each additional thimble. I don’t begrudge them this--I understand why it happens. But the guys I was with, after spending three days trying to outdo each other’s distaste for chain restaurants, complained vociferously about the stingy chip service. Drinks, also, were non-refillable. More complaining. Meanwhile, they took the occasion of actually having me at a meal with them as an opportunity to stick me with the bill for all three of us. “You’ll get reimbursed,” they reminded me, as if it made it okay. Somehow, though, reimbursement didn’t make it okay enough for THEM to pick up the tab. And while I was being given the bill, the waitress took away my last sopapilla. I was going to eat that!

The good news was that I didn’t see Lily at the airport, so I didn’t have to explain the Sadie’s fiasco. But I did manage to sit on the airplane next to a sixty-year-old woman in a hot-pink cowboy hat. Somewhere in America there is a girl who thinks, “I’ve got the coolest grandma EVER!

Monday, April 17, 2006

"East of Omaha"

One of the most gratifying parts of my most-recent county-gathering trip was that I have finally driven on “a long and lonesome highway east of >Omaha,” but I didn’t quite “listen to the engine moaning out his one-note song,” on account of the screaming kids in the backseat.

The point is: eight new counties. Seven of them in Iowa and one in Missouri. A few highlights of the trip are as follows:

  • I ate catfish at Cracker Barrel in Council Bluffs.
  • I stopped at Gerald Ford’s birthplace, even though, technically, Gerald Ford was never born. Omaha has a knack for marking the sites of birthplaces after the buildings are gone. Malcolm X’s birthplace used to be marked by a sign in an empty field. The sign is gone now. And the house where Leslie King, Jr. (the president later known as Gerald Ford) was born burned down nearly 35 years ago. But at least the site is now a park, while Malcolm has a weed-covered lot.
  • My wife went incommunicado for a while at the zoo in Omaha, leaving me convinced that someone had absconded with her and our kids.
  • I discovered that having your wife go incommunicado is not as exciting as having your wife go commando.
  • We stopped at the Danish Cultural Center in Elk Grove, Iowa, where my wife and kids celebrated their violent Viking heritage and celebrated my victimized Slavic heritage by cowering in fear of them.
  • I raided a state welcome center, coming away with about three thousand tourist pamphlets.
  • My seven new counties in Iowa mean I am past the twenty-percent point for that state.
  • My one new county in Missouri has raised my Missouri total to 75, which is my highest total for any state (second place is Virginia with 72).

That’s all that’s new and exciting for me. How about you?


Title from Bob Seeger's "Turn the Page."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Neck Stabbing, Coming Soon

I work with a woman who, when she becomes frustrated, threatens, “I’m going to stab you in the neck!” It always makes me laugh. Sometimes I try to remind her of frustrating things just so I can hear her say it.

Well, I have my own urge to stab some necks. Of course, these days you can’t really say anything like that, right? Next thing I know, I’ll be sued. But it’s not really like I own anything worth taking away from me. I doubt an auction of my possessions could yield sufficient funds to justify a lawsuit, so I can threaten people’s necks with impunity. (Watch out!)

Do you want to know what is most frustrating to me: when something has the potential to be good and it isn’t. For instance, I was not too angry when I got done seeing the movie Big Top Pee-Wee. Yes, it sucked, but I never expected it to do anything but suck. In fact, I would have been disappointed had it NOT sucked. But when I got done seeing Pleasantville, I was disappointed, because it could have been a really great movie but instead it turned out to be, “Hey, sleep around because only closed-minded bigots from the days of black-and-white TV still believe in morals and ethics.”

Well, my job (the place where I am right now as I type this and they monitor my every keystroke) is disappointing because it had the potential of being really great and instead it has turned out to just suck. And it's not just sucking any teat—-it’s sucking the hind teat, the one right under the sow’s anus, so as it sucks it gets crap released on its head. That’s my job, in a barnyard analogy.

Do you know who reads my blog? You and one other person. That’s right. Only the two of you. That’s no hyperbole. That’s an accurate assessment of the futility of my efforts. And my blog started as an accident, anyway. But then I got all excited when I had that unknown guy comment on my post about New Mexican cuisine, which got my hopes up, only to be crushed on the rocks of reality. Two people. That’s not even a blog. There have been postcards with larger readerships than that. Most postcards, probably. Any time you've received a postcard and said to a friend, "Hey, check this out," that postcard had a higher readership than my blog (you, your friend, and your mailman).


FOLLOW UP: How much does my job suck? Use a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 equals the complete absence of a vacuum and 10 equals the distant reaches of space. The answer is 9.2, or slightly less than a Leif Garrett/Freddy Prinze, Jr. buddy picture starring Phyllis Diller as Freddy’s romantic interest.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Judging Things By Their Covers Works Surprisingly Well

I was at the library yesterday and I was pretty bored with my book (IRS tax policy vis-à-vis tax-exempt organizations in the early 1960s), so I knocked off reading a little early and I went to browse the CDs and movies. Our area of the country was put on alert for The Mother of All Tornadoes yesterday, which would mean Persephone’s book club would be canceled and I would not be able to use our computer, so I got a couple videos we could watch, just in case we were going to die. However, much like its similarly-named predecessor The Mother of All Battles, the storm didn’t turn up and the weather was great.

While I was in the CD section, though, I got a couple albums to listen to at work to drown out the inane chatter of Tito, now that my desk is right outside his office. I saw a CD entitled “Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs.” It had a funny title and a neat looking piece of art on the front, so I got it. I figured, “It’s free.” And I was right about that. It was.

Here’s the best part: I kind of really dig Andrew Bird. I listened to it that afternoon at work, then again last night at home. This morning I’ve been repeatedly thinking of a line from the song “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left.” And all because I liked the cover.

I’ve had similar experiences of selecting things based on trivial criteria, and they usually turn out well. Like my wife. (Just kidding!) But I think I would like the band Bad Astronaut because they have nice looking cover art and they have a funny name, my same criteria for selecting Andrew Bird. I mean, if things like that weren’t important, no one would put any time into them. The entire world would be like the episode of “The Simpsons” when the IRS took over Krusty’s show and renamed it “The Herschel Krustovsky Clown-Themed Children’s Variety Program.”

A name accounts for something, and so does a cover. It would be foolish to intentionally ignore something so important as the cover, just because you want to appear more erudite than others. Sure, some covers are wrong indicators, but if all covers were wrong, or even most covers, there would be rioting in the streets and covers would be banned, replaced by statements such as: “Poor-Quality Fictional Work,” which should probably be the subtitle of my first novel.


FOLLOW UP: How easy do I have to make this for you? EVERYONE’s had an experience with “judging a [thing] by its [other thing].” Discuss.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"You Get a Line, I'll Get a Pole..."

It turns out that old song just represents the trappings of the bourgeois elite. Who needs a line and a pole to fish when God gave you two perfectly good hands? (Editor's Note: If God did not, in fact, give you two perfectly good hands, dude, I'm so sorry; I didn't know.)

I speak, of course, of noodling, the most abhorrent practice to take place in water since Rob Schneider scored with Kirstie Alley in the hot tub at the local homeless shelter.

Catfish have come to dominate my life lately. Here is how it happened:

Last Tuesday I went over to the other side of the office and saw an empty plate with a container of tartar sauce on a woman’s desk. (Sidelight: said woman mysteriously stopped working here today.) I asked her if she had had fish and chips for lunch, and she said it had been catfish. I said, “I see catfish on the menu at a lot of places and I’m scared to try it because I’ve never had it before.” She recommended it. A neighboring woman overheard us and asked if I had seen the documentary movie, Okie Noodling. Despite my urgent pleas that she desist, she went on in great detail about exactly how noodling is done.

I came back to my desk and spent some company time looking up noodling on the Internet. It turns out that a former Miss Teen USA once told the judges that she enjoyed hand fishing, a synonym for noodling. And yet, she still won, which goes to show the judges had no idea what hand fishing was.

Quick synopsis of noodling: you get in the river and dive under the bank to stick your hand in a hole, hoping it has a catfish and not a snake or a snapping turtle. Should you turn out to have found a catfish, you let it bit your arm, then you grab it by the gills and try to wrestle it to the surface before you drown. I guess there is some debate among noodlers whether or not you should use a glove. Without a glove, a catfish can tear the flesh from your arm, but with a glove, it’s harder to tell when you have a catfish.

I went out of town that evening, driving to Columbia, Missouri with a coworker. One day our meeting ended a little early, so he wanted to go to Bass Pro Shop, a mammoth outdoors store, complete with its own ten-acre outdoor lake. He browsed for fishing things while I realized there was a whole nother sect of the Common Man with whom I had nearly nothing in common. I love baseball and bratwurst, but when they start to delve into sport hunting and NASCAR, I bow out.

Well, in Bass Pro Shop was an enormous fish tank with a lot of different fish bumping their heads into the glass. Up swam a sizable catfish (although according to the Internet, they can get much, much larger). It was easily the ugliest fish I had ever seen.

But on Saturday my family and I went to some buffet restaurant in Nauvoo and they had catfish. It was the perfect situation: if I hated it, I hadn’t just wasted my entrée. I could go back and get more of something else. So I tried it. And it was surprisingly good. I made Persephone try a bite, and then I even talked Crazy Jane into it. (Grunty Joe refuses to eat most things that aren’t applesauce or bread.)

Now I want another opportunity to eat catfish. The draw might be powerful enough to entice me to go noodling. And let’s hear it for the coolest Miss Teen USA ever, Kristi Addis.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Counties Up the Wazoo

Fools!

I was out of town for bidniz again this week.This time I went to Columbia, Missouri, which, despite it being in Missouri, was actually pretty nice.

Thursday evening, however, I was sitting in my hotel room at about seven in the evening, reading and writing, and the tornado sirens went off, so I took my stuff downstairs to sit in the lobby. The lobby, though, was full of windows (and a piano that had a large sign reading, “Please Do Not Play the Piano”), so they made us all sit in the first floor hallway. It was a nice way to get to see who else was staying in the hotel (including a math team and the Southern Illinois University girls' cross country team), and all the US Bank employees who were having a meeting in the conference room. About a half-hour later the tornado watch expired and we went back to our rooms.

The best part of the week, though, aside from eating lunch at Shakespeare’s Pizza, was the weekend trip. Persephone drove over with the kids (Crazy Jane and Grunty Joe) to pick my up Friday afternoon and we drove up to Keokuk, Iowa. This was not my first time spending the night in Keokuk, but it might be my last. Every time I go, I am less impressed with Keokuk and more impressed with Fort Madison. We might make the switch next time.

But we are all losing sight of what’s most important here: the counties I visited.

I got fifteen new counties, putting my total for the year at eighteen. Friday I got: Macon MO, Knox MO, Adair MO, Schuyler MO, and Scotland MO. Driving home on Saturday, I got: Van Buren IA, Davis IA, Appanoose IA, Wayne IA, Putnam MO, Sullivan MO, Mercer MO, Grundy MO, Linn MO, and Livingston MO. This means my overall total is now 652 (20.82%), while my Missouri total is 74 (64.35%) and my Iowa total is 13 (13.13%).

“Top ten states?”, you ask? Here they are:

1Utah29/291999
2Arizona15/152005
3Wisconsin49/7268.06%
4California39/5867.24%
5Missouri74/11564.35%
6Kansas65/10561.90%
7New Mexico20/3360.61%
8Nevada 10/1758.82%
9Virginia72/13453.73%
10Ohio39/8844.32%

We had a great time in Nauvoo. We learned the commands for directing an ox (Gee” with a hard “G” for “right” and “Ah” for “left”), both of our kids petted the oxen, and I ate catfish for the first time, which was fantastic enough of an experience that it should probably be its own post. Anytime I wonder why no one reads my blog, all I have to do is remember this moment, when I thought, “My eating catfish for the first time was fantastic enough of an experience that it should probably be its own post.”

FOLLOW UP: You people don’t take your assignments seriously enough. Tell me what your most-interesting county-getting experience has been. Is there a particular county you enjoyed visiting, or a funny experience that happened there? Respond now!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fifty Two!

So what’s with the number 52? Here is the best explanation I can come up with, with the caveat that I might be completely wrong about this. This is only my understanding of why we did these things, like a five year old explaining Christmas presents. He might not know why they’re there, but they’re still there.

Fifty-two is the coolest number on earth, namely because it is an amalgam of the two numbers which are tied for second place: fifty, and two. Fifty is a cool number because, when used as an adjective, it succinctly describes anatomical conditions present in both sexes: pointy boobs and uncircumcised penises. This is because both of these conditions were prevalent in the Fifties. My circle of high school friends had need to discuss these things because my one friend Jon briefly dated a girl (known as Dead Rat) with pointy boobs (also known as torpedoes, or bananas) and one guy we knew was famously uncircumcised, which we needed to talk about frequently. Don’t ask why; this was high school.

Two is a cool number because it ends in an “oo” sound. Any word that ended in “oo” (or, “ool,” which we shortened to “oo’,” as in “schoo’”) was said with a particular style, sort of like a drunk guy trying to moo like a cow, but more belligerently. It helped to achieve the right voice by raising your eyebrows and elongating your face while you said it. Actually, any one-syllable word became cooler when said that way. For two-syllable words, you would say the first syllable that way, but then say the last syllable in as high a falsetto as possible. We were, in retrospect, quite bored.

So if fifty is cool, and two is cool, it is self-evident that fifty-two is even cooler. What cinched it, though, was when we found out that Jon’s dad was born on 5/2/52. It was almost like a sign from heaven.

Thus, to show Jon I am still his friend, even though I do not talk to him much, I take pictures of every State Highway 52 sign and mail them to him. Not every state HAS a Highway 52, though, so I have not gotten Nevada or Arizona, but I have gotten California, Utah, Kansas, Missouri, and now New Mexico.

As a PS, Jon has often-times bemoaned his role in beginning the fifty-two crazy. People he hardly knew would steal the table numbers from Carl’s Jr. because it had 52 on it, and then present it to him. He said it came up too frequently for his tastes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Two More Counties!

All right, Poindexter! Listen up: I got to go to TWO new counties last week. Here’s the general synopsis of events:I had to go to New Mexico with Tito again. This time I got out of having to eat at Los Mariscos, which was nice. We argued about basketball and popular music, and I had some very good meals. “What meals?” you ask? Well, I had some shrimp/scallion/lobster/cheese thing at Red Lobster that was SO GOOD I went back a few days later and ate it again. (Yes, I know I belittled the idea of eating seafood in New Mexico, but this was a national chain, not a mom-and-pop place.) I also had tilapia at Denny’s that was very good, and a shrimp pasta bowl at Applebee’s. (Okay, it turns out I eat nothing BUT seafood in New Mexico. Probably because it's the only dish not served under a mountain of undrained green chillies.) So much seafood because I am as big as a house. Sort of.

Anyway, here was the good news: Tito was going home Wednesday afternoon and I was staying until Friday. Due to Tito’s anal-retentive nature, I dropped him off at the “sunport” five hours before his flight, so I had plenty of time to drive to Catron County, where I saw the Very Large Array (the field of radio telescopes from the movie “Contact,” which movie sucked), and I saw State Highway 52, which holds special meaning to my circle of high school friends. I’m not sure I can explain that, but maybe some other time I will try.

The next day I went to Española for work, and on my way back to Santa Fe to eat at Red Lobster again, I went to Los Alamos County. That was especially gratifying to me because it had been over ten years since I had gone to the surrounding counties. Ten years of having a tiny little hole in the middle of my map of counties visited. Two years ago I went to San Miguel and Dolores Counties, Colorado, which had been a hole in my map since 1983. That was very satisfying, as well.

So there you have it: two new counties. Also, yesterday at work they began entertaining the idea of allowing me to go to southern New Mexico sometime in the next two months or so, and that would yield a lot more counties.

Two interesting sidelights of this trip: the desk clerk at my Albuquerque hotel was clearly insane and she nearly drove ME crazy when she took an hour to check me in. And every time the phone rang she would say, “It’s a great day at the [name of hotel chain affiliated with Marriott]."

Secondly: I sat next to the same woman I sat next to after my LAST trip to Santa Fe. Her name, her REAL name, since I don’t even know her, is Lily and the nicest part about flying next to her is that she doesn’t try to talk to me while I am reading. Although, last time I sat next to her she told me I should eat at Sadie’s in Albuquerque, and I haven’t done it yet. What were the chances of ever being called on the carpet for ignoring a stranger’s restaurant recommendation?

FOLLOW UP: Virginia is too snooty to pretend to be snooty for the purposes of comic relief, so we’ll have to let that go. I think you all (meaning Virginia and Persephone) should write about loser hobbies you have, like me and my county gathering, that you know other people think are lame, but you still like to do them anyway.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hi-Diddley-F'ing-Ho, Neighboreeno

Why is everyone so unfriendly these days? In particular, our neighbors. Their name is something impossibly German like Schlitzmeier, only different. They refuse to talk to me unless I corner them, and even then sometimes all I get is a nod.

Part of it might be because of how things have gone since they moved in. There is one parking space that is closest to both their place and ours. We had adopted it as ours because we have two kids to get in and out of the car, while they have two cars and no kids. However, for the first several weeks after they moved in, it became a contest to see who could get home first to park in that spot. Our three year old, Crazy Jane, would ask us three-year-old-type questions like, “Why are they in our parking space?” She would usually ask this while we were walking past the Schlitzmeier’s place. (I didn’t even have to bribe her to do it.) Within a few weeks they resigned the spot, but since then the husband has said just about nothing to me.

Then they have this dog, a little yappy dog that barks at seven-thirty when they leave for work and wakes up Crazy Jane. All winter long when they took this dog out to allow it to crap, they would stand on their porch and the dog’s crapping ground was defined by the leash’s radius, meaning the entire lawn area in front of our house was included. So now I’ve got two kids, but my yard is a canine toilet. Of course, they made no effort to clean up after their dog. And the lawn to the other side of their door, in front of their house, was bare of feces.

Several times we came in from the car only to find our kids had picked up dog crap on their shoes. We started having to keep our kids off the lawn. Crazy Jane would ask, “Why?” and I would say, “Because it’s a dog poop minefield.”

People sometimes complain about their kids asking inappropriate questions, but sometimes the easiest way to take care of an awkward situation is to allow your three year old to see it. Uncomfortable questions are bound to follow. Well, the dog crap has abated somewhat, but now the wife has nothing to say to me.

I say hello to them every time I see them, but they usually answer with a grunt or nothing at all. There’s not really a satisfying way to end this post, seeing as they just piss me off with their unneighborliness and whatnot. It’s not like our kids make a ton of noise and keep them awake or anything. When it snows they just walk on top of it, making it into ice. I shovel their walk and salt their steps. They say nothing. We found their car keys in the door of their car while they were out of town for the evening. We brought their keys in and left a note at their house. When they got their keys from us, they told us no one would have stolen their car, anyway. Maybe that was German for “thank you.”



FOLLOW UP: Only one person responded to the “embarrassing moment of television” request for submissions. Yes, ONE person. That’s it. I know at least TWO people read it, one of whom was my WIFE. Anyway, Virginia’s moment of TV watching was pretty good. It reminded me of when I was watching Jeopardy! last month in Albuquerque and the question was about which year Nixon and Kennedy had their presidential debates. The contestant answered, “1962.” Now, I happened to know the answer was 1960, but I didn’t expect everyone to know that. I did, however, expect people to know that 1962 was not a presidential election year. Get the answer wrong if you must, but get it wrong by a multiple of four.



DISCUSSION QUESTION: Is there something inherently snooty about Virginia’s snooty mocking of a poor, scared television contestant? (The answer is yes.) Is it just merely snooty, or is it quite snooty? Exactly how snooty would you say it is, on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 1 being Inbred Hillbilly and a 10 being Wealthy Dowager? (The answer is 8.37.) Since apparently no one reads and comments on my posts aside from Virginia, I look forward to a vehement denial of snootiness. That would be just the sort of snooty thing I would expect.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Cringe for All Seasons

Last week I saw the most embarrassing thing of my entire life, and it happened to be on C-SPAN.

Since our television at home is only hooked up to our VCR and DVD, I have to get in all my time-wasting while I am in hotel rooms. I was supine on a bed in the Albuquerque Journal Center Marriott Courtyard (very nice rooms, by the way) watching a taped-delayed broadcast of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. I think it wasn’t aired live in case his boob fell out.

Well, Justice Scalia went on for a long time about the efficacy of using foreign law to interpret our domestic Constitution. I found the entire thing quite riveting, but I understand if my one-sentence summary of it was too boring for you to read through to completion. I, however, thought he did a real bang-up job.

When he finished, the moderator got up and thanked him for coming, then said he had agreed to take questions. That should have been my first signal to turn it off. Any time you allow no-names to ask questions of important people, the “questions” are mysteriously void of requests for information, yet somehow jamb-packed full of attention-grabbing witticisms. I hate people.

The first questioner was a Scalia-lover who gave him an “aren’t you really saying what you say you aren’t saying (wink-wink, I’m so clever and you and I will become fast friends through our mutual superior intellects while the rest of these Neanderthals lick the dust from our boot heels and explode their brains trying to understand the merest trifle of our conversation)” type of question. That should have been ample warning. “Turn it off!” my brain should have been screaming. But like an idiot, I kept watching.

Then came the next questioner. He stood up and even before he spoke his very appearance called out, “I’m an insufferable boor.” Think of a man with all the self-congratulatory effrontery of Professor Frink without any of the humor. He seized the microphone and said in a smarmy voice, “Well, we’ve just heard the opinion of the great Anton Scalia.”

Justice Scalia said, “It’s Antonin.”

The guy blustered on, but not before my psyche was irreparably damaged. The guy just tried to belittle a Supreme Court Justice on national (albeit C-SPAN) television and he DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HIS NAME. I immediately had to turn the channel, and I avoided the program for the rest of the evening (C-SPAN programs tend to run six hours each, unless it is Prime Minister’s Questions, which is seven-and-a-half minutes.) But the damage was done. It was easily the most embarrassing thing I had ever seen.

The previous winner had been a scene from the movie First Kid. When I was a senior in high school my group of friends decided that the funniest comedian in the history of the profession was Sinbad, and we watched all of his movies, which included the Disney movie where he played a Secret Service agent who teaches the president’s hopelessly-nerdy son how to be cool. Sinbad accompanies the kid to a school dance, where it is revealed the kid doesn’t know how to dance. Sinbad takes up a position on the side of the dance floor and starts dancing (since all black people can dance well, obviously) and the kid just mimics Sinbad’s moves. When we were sitting in the theater (yes, we saw it in the theater) and the kid was dancing, I had to look away from the screen, when I noticed that all my friends were also looking away. It was too embarrassing to watch.

That moment had held the record for over ten years, but now it has been surpassed and I don’t think anything can ever top this.


READING COMPREHENSION:

What was the author’s most-embarrassing television-viewing moment? What is yours? Send a post and we will compare. Should you lose, the author will mercilessly mock you in his next post. Should you win, the author will never admit it.