Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Monday, July 31, 2006
Every Breath You Take
This morning, I was made aware of a health threat facing our nation. Workers in snack factories around the country are developing serious illnesses from breathing in the powdered butter that is sprayed on bagged popcorn.
I am horrified by this. That in our day and age, we can have so little regard for our workers that we allow them to be sprayed with deadly powdered butter. What kind of world, I asked myself, do we live in? And then I answered, "Apparently, the kind where people get powdered butter in their lungs." I decided to do a little research (mostly on Wikipedia, because I'm lazy and I don't really care about getting actual "facts".) I found a growing number of work-related pulmonary illnesses that, if action is not taken now, threaten to decimate our country's workforce over the next decade.
Cheese Lung--Workers in a Lean Cuisine plant in Raleigh, NC have been reporting an increase in workplace accidents involving the cheese the Stouffers company has been using in it's Pasta Prima-Tasty entree. Some Lean Cuisine employees have inhaled a significant amount of the crumbled parmesan and have reported symptoms including difficulty breathing and a delicious pizza-esque smell every time they sunbathe.
Pube Lung--Arthur McNab, an employee at a small pubic toupee factory in San Francisco, is suing his employer for health problems stemming from his daily exposure to dangerous pubic hairs. In his deposition, McNab says, "Two weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't breathe. I then coughed up a hairball the size of a tangerine that landed in my wife's lap."
Bullshit Lung--Mel Gibson's personal assistant came forth yesterday, after revelations about Gibson's anti-Semitic rant while being arrested for drunk driving. The assistant, who did not want her name released to the press because she's always thought it sounded too butch, says that she's developed asthma-like symptoms after two years of working for Gibson, during which time she's been forced to breathe in all of the rancid bullshit that streams forth from his mouth on a daily basis.
Dada Lung--Almost a dozen employees of New York's Museum of Modern Art have been hospitalized with a condition that seems to have been caused by their close proximity to works of art by Tristan Tzara, Hugo Ball, Marcel DuChamp and other abstract artists from the post-WWI era. Doctors at Columbia University Hospital have speculated that the museum workers inhaled dust and paint flakes from the art work. When asked how she was feeling, one MoMA employee replied that she was "elephant wheel".
Ling Ling Lung--Zookeepers at the National Zoo in Washington are coping with an outbreak of this disease which is caused by the inhalation of panda feces. Victims suffer from obesity and an overwhelming craving for bamboo.
We need to do more to protect our nation's workers. And the government needs to provide incentives for our medical research companies to find cures for these diseases. Only through strict regulation of industry and rigorous scientific experimentation will we wipe out lung diseases.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Support Our Troops (as long as they don't fuck guys)
This story makes absolutely no fucking sense to me. An Army translator--one of the absolutely precious, most decidedly necessary kind who speaks Arabic--was kicked out of the service because he's gay. How in the name of Charo's plastic surgery have we not gotten past this shit by now? Seriously, we have a desperate need right now to have specialists in the armed forces who can speak the language of the people whose acts of violence are the justification for all the ramping up we've done, but we've kicked out, according to a story on Salon.com, fifty-five of them because of who they sleep with. Sweet merciful pasta-making Jesus, that's stupid.
This is the 21st century. Wouldn't you think that, by now, we'd be at least marginally more intelligent than to think that homosexuality is a liability that completely undermines someone's desire to serve their country? Were they worried that he wouldn't be able to translate properly because he'd have a dick in his mouth? I just don't get it. I don't get how gays can still be discriminated against. Legally.
I remember well when Don't Ask, Don't Tell was implemented as policy. I remember because Bill Clinton had been elected after promising to work towards a number of fantastically progressive ideas, like universal health care and gay rights. And then he caved and we wound up with this crappy, massively retarded way of handling things and we've been stuck with it ever since.
I suppose we should be glad that Bush and his vampires haven't had the opportunity to roll things back even further, maybe make it standard to have gay soldiers taken out and stoned.
About one in ten people in the country are gay. That's a big chunk of people. No matter what your feeling on homosexuality, I don't see how anyone could argue that it's a good idea to bar ten percent of Americans from serving just because of who they'd jack off to when away from their sweetheart.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell doesn't work. It's yet another goddamn example of Separate But Equal that this country tries to put forth as fair when applied to homosexuals. And it's high time we scrapped it in favor Don't Give a Shit, Doesn't Matter.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
People seem to have this really ill-conceived notion that the best perverts reside solely in big cities. They think smaller towns or more rural areas are inhabited by people who are once-a-month missionary only, except for the occasional farmer who bangs a sheep.
Well you are wrong, my friends! Read this one and weep!
It seems that my home county, the great and mighty Mahoning, is home to a national news-making sicko! This guy sucked on some unwilling gal's toe in a library in Boardman. I'm in Boardman nearly every time I go to Ohio, sometimes grabbing an Orange Julius at the Southern Park Mall, sometimes just browsing for porn on Market Street.
My God, this guy might've waited on me in Dillard's! What if he was admiring my feet? I mean, I've got some damned handsome tootsies here. Even I have a hard time resisting them sometimes.
It's so awesome that Mahoning County is in the national spotlight for something aside from our corrupt former Congressman, Jim "I Wear a Birdnest on My Head" Trafficant. Makes me proud.
Someone Save Our Young Stars!
Oh my! Oh dear! Poor Lindsay Lohan has been taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion! The poor thing. Why, she's just been through so much lately, what with the hectic movie schedule and the hanging out with friends at an opened-just-for-them Disneyland, I don't know how she manages to go on. And now this.
My, movie stars certainly do seem to suffer heat exhaustion more than ordinary slobs, don't they? Well, they just work so very hard on those fantastic movies we all love, it's understandable. They're out there in the heat and the lights for minutes at a stretch before they can retreat to the soothing coolness of their air-conditioned trailers. It's got to be just torturous.
Now, I just know there's going to be people saying awful, awful things about poor Lindsay, like that she probably had a little too much cocaine or that she maybe just got exhausted being such a whore. These people ought to be ashamed of themselves! Imagine, passing judgment on someone before you've walked a mile in their five-thousand-dollar-but-given-to-them-free shoes. For shame!
I say: Have courage, Lindsay! We're with you! You tell those slave-drivers you're working for that they can just by God figure out a way to air-condition the outdoors, if they expect you to show up to work on their stupid film. You deserve everything you've got, sweet-heart. You're not a spoiled, untalented waste of space at all!
Hope I Die Before I Get (Three Hundred Years) Old
Atul at Things I've Noticed is writing this morning about immortality. Not so much in the sci-fi, Vandal Savage sense of the word, but more in the "this shit could happen" sense.
Now, I personally think immortality would probably suck. Unless you're Dorian Gray-ing it and staying perpetually young, you'll be spending the bulk of your long, long life as a jogging-suit-wearing, bingo-playing resident of Sun City, Arizona. And, while that wouldn't be bad for a couple of decades, I'm thinking it would really start to suck when you hit the fiftieth anniversary of your first set of dentures.
Besides, we are meant to die. It's part and parcel with the whole living thing. It's natural. It's not a bad thing. So I don't see how putting it off an extra century is a great idea.
Go on over and let Atul know what you think.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I missed something a few days ago. As of Sunday, I've been writing this shit for two years. I started Hairshirt with a promise to help my readers enjoy misery and I like to think that the world is a more miserable place now than when I started.
So here's to everyone who's stopped by on occasion to be made that much less happy. Thanks so much.
Aries: Peanuts are delicious, but your idea to market a peanut-flavored beer will most likely prove unwise.
Taurus: You need to stop running from your fears, Taurus. Stand and face them. Just make sure you're not standing in a puddle, because then your shoe will be all wet and it's really difficult to face fear with wet feet.
Gemini: You will need to make a decision between your loved ones and your desire to set the World Record for Longest Toenails. If I might offer some advice here, your family's great and all that, but those toenails are your ticket to the glamorous world of freak-show performers.
Cancer: The situation in the Middle East has you very tense and nervous, Cancer. Rest safe in the knowledge that President Bush is taking the bold, decisive action of doing not much of anything.
Leo: Your date this evening will go much more smoothly if you abandon the idea of using "Careless Whisper" as your "killer make-out song".
Virgo: Hard as it may be to believe, the Bow-Flex you just ordered may not make you look like Angelina Jolie with just a twenty-minute workout three times a week.
Libra: The modern world is an amazing place, with technological marvels that would have seemed unthinkable even twenty years ago. Why then, you wonder, have we come no closer to the mass-production of Pleasure-Giving Fembots?
Scorpio: Do not be afraid; no-boil lasagna noodles are not, as you seem to think, the work of the devil.
Sagittarius: Writing "This machine kills fascists" on your dulcimer does not make you the modern-day Woody Guthrie you seem to think you are. Nor does your repertoire of Gordon Lightfoot covers.
Capricorn: Take advantage of the beautiful summer day. Go out and enjoy the great outdoors. If you have to, grease yourself up with Crisco so you'll fit through your front door.
Aquarius: Do you really think your grandmother is going to use that Bungie Jump gift certificate you got her, or are you secretly hoping she'll suggest that you go instead?
Pisces: You lose your enthusiasm for translating Hamlet into Pig Latin after about a half a page. And the world is a better because of it.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I had a very fun day last week. I had the task of putting a new air conditioner in our bedroom, which, up to this point, had lacked one, which meant that sleeping there was often somewhat like sleeping in a convection oven. (Full disclosure: I probably don't have a gripe coming, as the air conditioner was given to us by some friends of ours for absolutely nothing and even dropped it off at our apartment. Now that I think about it, that probably didn't warrent a "full disclosure", but I've never had occasion to use that phrase, and I was really keen to work it in somewhere.)
Putting in an air conditioner isn't that huge a deal, really. The worst part, usually, is hauling it down (or up) from wherever you've stashed it during the wonderful, wonderful months when you don't need the fucking thing. But this was a little different than the usual instalation ballet. Because I was putting this one in a window where we hadn't had an air conditioner before--and because we live in New York City, where people spot-weld their beds to the floor to prevent someone stealing them--I had to, before I put the unit in, remove the window guards.
The theory behind window guards, I guess, is that it stops people who want to go through the incredibly difficult burglary method of shimmying up to a second-floor window, sitting on the ledge until they pry the thing open, and then finding a way to take your couch back out the same window. I guess they're also supposed to stop children from being thrown out the window by a pissed-off babysitter. They're really ugly things (the window-guards, not babysitters) that mostly serve to make you feel like you live in Beirut. And they're installed, invariably, with one-way screws.
I don't get one-way screws. If a burglar is slick enough to sit on my window ledge with a screwdriver and remove four standard screws without being caught, he's a good enough thief to not be even remotely interested in anything I've got for him to steal. The only real purpose I see to one-way screws is maybe a cooperative cross-over deal with pharmaceutical companies to bolster the need for high-blood-pressure medications among American males. If you've never seen one of these little fuckers, they are, basically, a standard slotted screw with a tiny little skateboard ramp on each side, so that a regular screwdriver can put one in, but can't take it out.
Actually, fucking nothing can take it out.
The first time I installed an air conditioner, years ago, I basically ended up ripping the goddamn window guards out, Hulk-style, because I got so fucking frustrated. I didn't want to do that this time, so I asked my landlord, and he said he just bought the proper tool. An amazing concept. So I went to my neighborhood hardware store. After a quick, fruitless search in the aisles, I asked the cashier for help, figuring that she wouldn't know what the hell I was talking about and fully expecting a half-hour search through the entire store for some obscure tool.
Instead, she reached right below the counter and handed me what was basically a screwdriver, but with a flat end, from which protrude a couple of nubs. She had a smile on her face as she handed it to me, which should have tipped me off to the hours of misery in my future. But I'm stupid, so I just pulled out my debit card. She smirked even more as she said, "Now, there's no refunds on these." I thought, "Wow, do I look like the type of scumbag who'll buy a tool, use it for twenty minutes and then try to return it like a bridesmaid dress?" Again, I'm stupid.
The fucking thing was, of course, utterly ineffective. Looking at it, and looking at the screws, I had to wonder how the hell the thing is even supposed to work. It doesn't fit into a groove or anything. It looks kind of like it's supposed to nudge the screw loose or something. I don't know. Really, the only use for the tool was to smack myself in the head with it until I didn't care that the window guards were still in.
I thought maybe I'd picked the wrong size remover. (There are apparently more than one size of these fucking screws.) I went to a better hardware store, where the clerk--who clearly didn't enjoy working with inferior beings who don't have the Home Depot catalogue memorized--slapped into my hand a specialized bit that I could use with my drill. I fairly danced back to the subway, so incredibly relieved that I was going to have no more trouble with the screws.
The bit was, naturally, kind of useless. I don't know if, again, the bit was meant for a different size screw or if my screws were just too stripped from my earlier manual attempts or if the whole thing is some sort of Skinner-esque study of male rage. I tried, as patiently as I could, to line the goddamn bit up with the screw perfectly. I pressed with all of my unimpressive might. The only time the bit moved the screws at all was when I lost my temper and just pounded the goddamn thing into the screw repeatedly.
In the end, I had to use a pair of vice grips, which didn't really fit into the space where the screws were. I moved the screws about a fifth of a turn at a time and took about an hour and a half to get all four of the fuckers out. I'm seriously considering leaving teaching and starting a nonprofit to lobby congress to outlaw one-way screws. Anyway, whatever the effort, I got the job done.
And then my wife came home and suggested that the air conditioner would work better if it was in the other window.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Tap Dancing in Skis
I've started DVRing the Sunday morning talk shows, because I so rarely have the chance to sit down and watch them when they're on. So it wasn't until about an hour ago that I got to watch presidential Chief of Staff Josh Bolten avoid saying anything of substance when Tim Russert pressed him about Bush's indefensible position on stem cell research.
It was truly appalling. Russert played a tape of Tony Snow telling the White House press corps that the president believes, unequivocally, that destroying embryos for the purpose of stem cell research is murder. Then Russert pressed Bolten on the issue, pointing out that Snow is the official spokesman for Bush and asking if that is, in fact what the president believes. That would make sense, seeing as how the official spokesman said it and given that the president used his very first veto to once again keep the scientists working on stem cells from receiving adequate funding.
But no, it appears that, even though he's very publicly come out against stem cell research, Bush is also for it, in some weird, apparently indefinable way.
Bolten: It's a very delicate and difficult balance that the, that the president has tried to strike here between the, the needs and desires of science and the morals and ethics that, that our government leaders are, are charged to, to try to sustain. On the one hand, the president recognizes that embryonic stem cell research has, has promise, unfulfilled as yet, but a, but a great deal of promise. On the other hand, the president believes, as, as do millions and millions of Americans, that that fertilized embryo is a human life that deserves protection.He then went on to talk about the kids that appeared in that ghastly fucking photo op last week, the "snowflake children," which is just such a nauseating term. "They're the Daffodil Kids!" "They're the Lollipop Guild!" "They're the Li'l Rays of Fucking Sunshine!" He pointed out that none of these kids would be alive if mean ol' scientists had been allowed to smash apart the embryos they came from in order to harvest stem cells. Russert asked if Bolten was suggesting that every single embryo that's sitting frozen in a fertility clinic would be adopted as long as they weren't used for research, instead of being tossed in the clinic's incinerator with the coffee grounds. blah
BOLTEN: No. They're not likely to be, and that's, that's, that's very sad for this country.And instead of conceding the point that these embryos are just fucking going to waste when they could be used to potentially save lives around the fucking world, this stuttering assbag defended Karl Rove's completely unfounded assertion that adult stem cells have shown much more promise than embryonic ones. He stuck to his fucking talking points like glue, repeating over and over that it's a "very, very difficult balance" between science and morality and trying to put forth how much the president has "struggled" with this issue. I'm frankly amazed that he could say all this shit with a straight face or without being struck down by fucking lightning.
Is it just that Bush is physiologically incapable of changing his mind on an issue? Is that why he's stuck to his rusty and misfiring guns on a topic on which so many Republicans and Democrats agree? Or is this yet another example of blatantly playing to his base, trying to make sure that the folks who thump their bible the hardest come out in November to stop Satan's hordes from experimentin' on babies and allowin' fags to marry (and then helping keep Republicans in charge of congress while they're there)?
My money's on that last one.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
That's What I Wa-a-a-ant, Yeah
RW over at Chasing Vincenzo has a little dream. It's not much, he'd just like to have enough money to live comfortably. Really comfortably.
I'm in complete agreement with him on this. I do not--never have, really--want millions and millions of dollars. I don't need to have a diamond-studded jockstrap. I don't need to have a different Hummer for every day of the month. I don't need to have enough cash on hand that I can build a money igloo in the living room.
Just not having to worry about things would be enough.
So go read what RW has to say on the subject. And have a lovely day.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Aries: Your dream of a career in child-care really kind of seems like a non-starter, given the ten years you served in prison for manslaughter. Have you considered working retail?
Taurus: After five long years of waiting, the drinking game you invented in which players take a shot every time Bush vetoes a bill looks like it's finally going to get off the ground.
Gemini: Geminis will spend a good deal of time this week pondering exactly why it is that news organizations who interview people on the street to get the public's view on important news stories invariably talk to the biggest fucking dribbling idiots imaginable.
Cancer: Your sexual partner is not nearly as interested in playing "pirate games" as you are. Really, you ought to just wash that peg leg and take it back to the costume shop.
Leo: An innocent craving for split pea soup leads to your incarceration this week. Try sticking with corn chowder.
Virgo: When looking at various methods for coloring your hair, you probably ought to cross spray paint off of your list right at the start.
Libra: You really need to stop believing everything people tell you. For example: shoving batteries up your ass will not give you more energy.
Scorpio: There is something seriously wrong with the fact that you masturbate while thinking of those fucking Fanta commercials.
Sagittarius: You're terribly upset this week about the unrest in the Middle East, mostly because it's threatening to disrupt your planned Beirut vacation next month.
Capricorn: The fact that your grandmother dated a Navajo is not going to get you a discount on drinks at the casino.
Aquarius: Your social life continues its tragic downward spiral this week as you go on a blind date with someone who likes to dress up like Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides from Dune. When he tells you that "fear is the mind-killer", just nod your head in agreement and get out at the first opportunity.
Pisces: If you're trying to impress people at dinner parties with your knowledge of art, at least get your facts straight. The Dada movement had nothing to do with taking pictures of babies. You're thinking of Anne Geddes.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot
It's fucking hot in New York right now. Highs are in the upper 90s with humidity that makes it feel like 104. This means I'm having the usual problems (nasty smells, personal comfort issues, etc.) that accompany this weather. So I went to a site the National Institutes of Health has set up to give the public tips on how to stay cool during the current heat wave. They had a number of really helpful suggestions, including:
Monday, July 17, 2006
I'm a Shitty Taskmaster
My mind is not a tidy place. It's easy for me to completely lose track of whatever the hell I'm trying to do and look up four hours later to discover that I have wasted the bulk of my day. Which means that there is a very real danger of my summer vacation slipping through my fingers like so much melted jelly. (I was going to go with "sand" there, but somehow I like melted jelly better. You ever try to keep melted jelly from running right through your fingers? Ain't easy.) Part of the reason I took a job as a teacher is so that I could use the summer months productively and get some writing done, so sitting on my ass for two months solid is not an attractive prospect.
Since we got back from our Independence Day trek to Ohio, I've kept myself on a schedule. It starts early, as my wife has to get up insanely early for work anyway and I like to make her lunch before she goes. I've blocked out time to go to the park with my inadequately-exercised dogs, so that they can run around off-leash. I've nailed down times for me to exercise, as I hope to not be quite so disgustingly flabby come autumn. And I've got big chunks of time dedicated to nothing but writing. I've got specific times to blog, designated sections of the day to work on finishing the third draft of a screenplay I'm working on and even twice-weekly sessions of writing stuff to submit to magazines.
I've mostly been doing okay with it. My dogs got plenty of run time last week. I dragged my ass to the gym even more than I'd vowed to. I'm two-thirds of the way through the rewrite. Then I hit today.
My poor wife had to get up extra early today, as the car is in the shop and she had to catch a surreally early train to get to work on time, so I was up early, too. (Although I didn't make her lunch, a fact which haunts me still.) I walked the dogs. And then...
And then I went back to sleep. I couldn't help it. I was tired. Oh, so very tired. And then, when I got up, I sat around for awhile. Sat around. I went out and did a few errands. Now, I have other stuff I have to get done and what worries me is that, if I deviate from the schedule once, that I might end up deviating from it frequently. What happens then? I wake up and it's August 31st and I have to go back to work and I don't have anything done.
You know who I blame for this deviation from my schedule? Bush. Fucking assbag.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
The Secret Origin of Married Man
So this weekend--specifically Friday--was a significant date around here. Twelve years ago on Friday, my wife and I went out on our first date. Exactly eight years after that, we got married. It was, then, our twelfth/fourth anniversary. That's fairly impressive to me, considering that my longest relationship prior to that had been four months.
I don't think I've ever written here about exactly how all of this came about, so let me take this opportunity to rectify that.
I was living in Phoenix, having moved there after I graduated from college. I moved to Phoenix because... Y'know, I don't think I really know why the fuck I moved to Phoenix. It was far away from home, I guess, and I was feeling the burning need to just experience something completely different than what my life had been like up until then. My favorite uncle lived in Phoenix, though, so I knew that, if I was arrested, I'd have someone who felt duty-bound to bail me out. Always nice to have that. I'd planned to work on my writing, which is a good thing, because it's not exactly like Phoenix was bursting with opportunities for an actor. I did one show while I was there: a dinner theater production in Sun City in which I played a ninety-year-old guy. It wasn't pretty. The audience, already upset that they were getting creamed corn instead of peas, threatened to erupt into a very arthritic riot when they realized that I was in my early twenties. If they'd had the strength, I'd have been lynched.
Anyway, I was working in the receiving department of a giant chain bookstore (actually, I was the receiving department of a giant chain bookstore) after a brief, but disastrous, tenure at Mail Boxes, Etc. I liked working in the receiving department, because I didn't have to deal with customers. I got to basically be on my own in the back room all day, listening to music and drinking way too much coffee. If I'd been one of those people who are good at going to work high, it would have been perfect. I was never even slightly good at going to work high, so I never took advantage of that perk.
It was also nice because the booksellers stocking shelves would come back to load up their ridiculously ineffective carts, which meant that I often had visitors, but that they didn't stay long enough to become really bothersome. The cool ones would linger and talk, though, as it was a break of sorts. There was this cute girl who lingered from time to time. Petite, brunette, excellent eyes, wonderful laugh.
I was in the break room one day, eating my daily ration of two microwaved hot dogs (I lived on one package of hot dogs per week) when this same girl was on the phone with the weasly little fuck with whom she'd recently broken up. I did my best to keep my nose in whatever I was reading as she yelled at him. She got off of the phone and made some comment about what huge assholes men are. I told her that, as a man--my new-found ability to grow a moustache gave me the right to call myself such--I resented this generalization. I thought, after that, that I noticed her hanging out a bit more in the receiving room and even being, dare I say it, ever so slightly flirty.
So I screwed my courage to the sticking place and I called her up and asked her what she was doing the following night. She was highly annoyed, as she thought I was going to ask her to work for me. Which doesn't actually make much sense, as we did completely different jobs; it would be a bit like a hospital janitor asking a doctor to switch shifts. Eventually, I stammered out an invitation for her to accompany me to a preview showing of The Client. She accepted.
As my car was at the beginning of a nine-month period of sitting fallow because I couldn't afford to fix it, I asked if she'd mind driving. Classy. We got to the theater hellaciously early, 'cause that's what the ticket said to do, and we staked our place in line, which just happened to be immediately behind a guy who apparently did nothing but go to movie previews, giving him an expertise that he thought would prove very useful to the theater staff, to whom he offered various suggestions on how they could run the proceedings more efficiently. Experience had also taught this guy that it's a lot better to bring your own snacks to these sorts of things, so he carried a cooler of drinks and yogurt. He ignored the "Dude, don't talk to us" vibe that I'd been trying so hard to give off and regaled us with the very newest O.J. Simpson jokes, this being not long after The Juice's famed Bronco ride. Then he ended a sentence with the phrase, "...that's because I have a head injury." I think I might have chuckled at that, thinking he was continuing his attempts at humor. He said, "No, seriously. They haven't put the plate in my skull yet, so I've got this gap." He pointed to his head, which we could see was, indeed, concave. He invited us to touch the soft spot. We declined.
The doors opened, fortunately, soon after the soft-spot moment and we filed in and took our seats. We enjoyed some more conversation and then we enjoyed the thrilling suspense of a John Grisham plot. After the show, we stopped off at a Denny's, where I wowed my date with my spectacular "coffee shots" shtick, which was, at the time, my only means of impressing girls.
She drove me back to my place and we sat in the parking lot and talked for another hour or so. Finally, she got tired of waiting for me to make a move and kissed me. Which was exactly how I'd planned it. Oh yeah.
About nine months later, we moved to Seattle together and I began the long, slow process of convincing her that it wouldn't be that stupid of an idea to marry me. Took me eight years, but I landed her. So now we've been together for a decade plus two. And I still don't have my own car.
Happy Anniversary, honey.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Seven Thousand Words You Can't Say on Television
A couple of summers ago, I read a quartet of similarly-themed novels one after the other. I started with Orwell's 1984, then moved on to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I then read Fahrenheit 451, the only one of the four which I hadn't read before, which is strange, given that I cut my eyeteeth reading Bradbury in junior high. (I don't know exactly how I made it to junior high before cutting my eyeteeth, but there you go.)
These are all excellent novels and each presents its own variation on the theme of government gone wild (just like Girls Gone Wild, but with fewer boobs and more fascism). They're scary novels and really get you thinking about what happens when we give the people who control our country too much power. Kind of like how the Bush administration is right now.
I was cruising around the internet, doing a little light breakfast reading and I happened upon a blurb in Salon.com's The Fix, which mostly does gossip and snarkiness (in a good way). This morning, though, they referenced a Reuter's article on how the FCC is going to start cracking down on live broadcasts of sporting events wherein a fan or player throws out an f-bomb or two in all the excitement and happens to get picked up by the microphones.
This is getting ridiculous, folks. Because of a few noisy assbags like James Dobson, we're going to strip away the freedom of millions of Americans to watch adult-oriented programming? Because a handful of bible-thumpers are too moronic to know how to work the V-chip on their TV, we're going to make cable networks so fucking paranoid that they won't show anything more controversial than Freaky Friday? (And I'm not talking about the original Jodie Foster version, people, the one Julie Harris tells John Astin to kiss her rosy-red ass; I'm talking about the tepid remake that foisted fucking Lindsay Lohan on us for the next decade.)
When my wife and I were visiting a friend in Spain a couple of years ago, we watched a bit of television (because what the hell else are you going to do in Spain, I ask you). And, man, one TV-movie we watched had sex scenes graphic enough to give the pope a boner. (Knick-knack, paddywack, give the pope a boner! I like that!) It also had acting worse than your average elementary school Christmas pageant, but that's neither here nor there. This wasn't on a premium cable channel or anything, mind you, this was on the Spanish equivalent of FOX (which I guess would be ZORRO).
I'm not saying that we need to have nekkid tatas bouncing all over the place on Good Morning, America or anything. But it's one more example of how our politicians go on and on about defending our freedom and how much more repressive every place else in the world is when they're doing their fucking utmost to strip those freedoms away from us. It's not really as big a leap as you might think to go from banning a list of curse words from the airwaves to banning criticism of the government. The only freedoms Bush and Co. are interested in defending are their freedom to make more money and inflict their will on the rest of us.
This crusade by the FCC needs to be stopped. We need broadcast and cable networks to put out some of the raunchiest shit they can find and then challenge whatever fine the FCC imposes in court. And we need to get these conservative nut-garglers out of office.
Because, someday, I want to be able to see Charlie Rose tell a guest to fuck a goat.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
The Terminal 2: Electric Boogaloo
Steph at the Incurable Insomniac has a fondness of airports. I'm thinking this is something that's only possible if one has never flown out of Newark.
Anyway, head on over and see what Steph has to say.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
"Posting on my Blog"
I wound up--never mind how--on the Wikipedia page that has slang terms for masturbation. It's awesome. I recommend that everyone go and look at it right now. For anyone too lazy to click the link, here are some that I really love:
Aries: You're thrilled by news of a study which finds that psilocybin has wonderful spiritual benefits, which you've known for years. You're a bit peeved, though, that they fail to mention how Phish concerts and Burning Man enhance these benefits so very greatly.
Taurus: Take advantage of the warm summer weather to spend time outside with your family. Or with someone else's family, if yours sucks.
Gemini: You're feeling very flag-burny today, Gemini. Go ahead! It's legal! Hahahahaha! Foolish, foolish congress!
Cancer: This week, Cancer, you once again find it very difficult to stick to your self-imposed "no peanut butter, bacon and mayonnaise sandwich" rule. Don't be so hard on yourself. That's a delicious sandwich that almost anybody would have trouble resisting.
Leo: You find yourself looking for a good way to give something back to the community this week, Leo. Just a suggestion, but you might want to try not walking back and forth in front of your windows naked. I'm sure the community as a whole would appreciate that.
Virgo: A simple trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond for a quesadilla maker ends in bloodshed, Virgo. Maybe you need to ask yourself if you couldn't just make the goddamn things in a frying pan.
Libra: Your enjoyment of So You Think You Can Dance is no longer ironic. What the hell happened to you, dude?
Scorpio: Think of your current situation thusly, Scorpio: poison ivy is God's way of teaching us that shitting in the woods is best left to bears. So it's not painful discomfort and the inability to sit down, it's a life lesson.
Sagittarius: Perhaps it's best this week to let sleeping dogs lie, Sagittarius. Cats, however, you can feel free to kick the shit out of.
Capricorn: You're in a romantic mood today, Capricorn. This is a good time to do something special for your mate, like planning a surprise picnic dinner or taking a shower for the first time this week. Either one would, I'm sure, be appreciated.
Aquarius: The day starts off promisingly, then you get "Too Shy" from Kajagoogoo stuck in your head and everything goes downhill from there.
Pisces: You get a big surprise today, Pisces, when you discover that your neighbors have been saving all the dogshit you've failed to pick up over the last two months and are sending it to you via UPS. You've got some very creative neighbors.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
About a year and a half ago, I wrote about some of the things that can go horrifically wrong when people try to kill themselves. I said,
This adds credence to my position that suicide is the stupidest fucking thing you can attempt.
This adds credence to my position that suicide is the stupidest fucking thing you can attempt.
It seems that Doctor Dipshit was going through a nasty divorce and wanted to kill himself to strike out at his now ex-wife. Bravo, idiot. Now she's certain to see what a wonderful guy you are and come running back! Mission accomplished!
My wife was reading up on this last night and found out that the building this butt-juggler owned and destroyed had landmark status, meaning that it had some historic or architectural significance, which is now lost to the city forever because this whiny little ass-pimple couldn't cope. Dude, you're a millionaire doctor living on the Upper East Side in a townhouse that you fucking own. Try being a crackhead, then tell me you've got it bad.
For the millionth time: suicide is fucking stupid. Unless you're terminal and in unbearable pain every day; unless you are being held for years without trial and tortured regularly by a fascist administration; unless you are trapped in a marriage to Tom Cruise, there is not valid excuse for it. So suck it up and deal.
Monday, July 10, 2006
The Art of the Hissy Fit
I have a temper. I come by it honestly. Family lore holds that my maternal great-grandfather, a Swiss farmer, once shoved a hand-grenade up the ass of a goat who'd eaten his favorite shoes. I try, though, not to let my temper get the better of me and goad me into, say, yelling "Lick my ass!" to a group of pipe-wielding teens on the subway. I've always made it a policy to not vent my spleen on people, except for a period in my early twenties when I routinely yelled at bank clerks, and, honestly, they usually had it coming.
So what exactly, you're asking yourself, do I do with this volcanic rage when it boils up within me? Does cartoon steam shoot from my ears while my eyes roll wildly in their sockets? Do I turn green and grow four times my normal size, shredding all of my clothes with the exception of my miraculously stretchy pants? Do I spit nails? The answer is: none of the above.
Instead, I bust a tantrum. Aw, yeah.
There are a number of ways to do this, and it's really a good idea to try to match the type of tantrum with the situation, maintaining a sense of hissy fit aesthetics. All of my tantrums involve taking my anger out on inanimate objects--with one exception--which I find is a good way to avoid assault charges. [Note: Hairshirt does not guarantee that the following tantrums will not lead to assault charges.] So let's take a quick look at a few types of anger physicalizations and the best times to use them.
Punching--When I was young, I engaged in a lot of punching of doors and/or walls. Punching is a very showy type of tantrum. It very clearly expresses just how pissed off you are and is also fairly threatening, letting the person who has pissed you off know that they're goddamn lucky you chose to pound your fist on a doorjam instead of their face. I have used punching less and less as the years pass because I've become convinced that repeated punching turns one's phalanges into a fine powder over time. Punching, then, should be used sparingly and only if you're not already arthritic.
Slamming--Slamming is the violent closing (or opening or opening and closing) of doors, cupboards, drawers, basically anything that opens and/or closes, with the exception of, say, jars. You can slam the lid down on a jar, but then you have to screw it on and it's difficult to look threatening when screwing the top on some mayonnaise. This is a really nice punctuation when leaving at the zenith of a fight. It's also effective when you're arguing in a very calm, steady voice, but want to give things that undercurrent of anger. Slamming is one of my personal favorites.
Throwing--Breaking things can be a fantastic spit valve for your blood pressure. Instead of your head exploding, you're destroying an innocent vase (especially good if you're a housewife in a 1950s movie). When I lived in the country as teenager, I would sometimes take expired dairy products from my mother's refrigerator and throw them at a tree across the road from our house. This served the dual purpose of getting rid of moldering cottage cheese and providing me with an incredibly satisfying tantrum. The trick with this one is to make sure you're not so enraged that you throw something about which you actually give a shit. After I shattered my favorite Revell model of Boba Fett's Slave I, I laid down a strict "look before you hurl" rule that's served me well ever since.
Intense Petting--If you hit your cat, you're an asshole. It's that simple. Chicks hate abusive pet owners. Which is why, when you discover that your dog has left shredded sanitary napkins up and down the hallway, you should try my patented Intense Petting. You simply look the dog/cat/fish square in the eye, maybe allow a menacing smile to cross your face, and you pet them, firmly. Put some tension into your hand and make sure you're petting down the entire length of their back. To anyone looking at you, you're an incredibly understanding guy. But the pets know. Oh, they get it. They understand, "Wow, this dude is powerful and, if I take a shit in his closet again, he's going to be tearing my fur out instead of smoothing it into place with his mighty hands."
Having these releases has prevented me, over the years, from getting so angry that I, say, slam my head into the chest of an opposing player during the championship game of the World Cup. It's one of the many reasons why I'm as incredibly cool as I am.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
You May Not Kiss the Bride
I don't get people. I really don't. Tell me--somebody, please tell me--exactly how allowing homosexuals to wed will cause the institution of marriage to crumble like the walls of Jericho (or something else that crumbles; maybe a delicious cookie like a snickerdoodle). I can't wrap my mind around it.
You get hysterical bible-sucking troglodytes like Rick "I Had My Asshole Sewn Shut 'Cause It Offends Me" Santorum who say utterly ridiculous things like permitting gay marriage will lead to people marrying llamas or six-packs of Old Milwaukee. ("I now pronounce you...refreshing!")
I heard someone, after a New York appeals court passed responsibility for action on to the legislature, say something to the effect that banning gay marriage would encourage straight couples who get pregnant out of wedlock to get married themselves because there won't be gay couples to adopt their babies. (Okay, that's not exactly what this pinhead said, but it's as close an approximation as my tiny little brain can come up with and, I promise, what this yutz actually said was equally as moronic.)
Where do these people get their ideas? Does Santorum actually have constituents come up to him and say, "Senator, I jest wants you ta know that, if they pass a gay-type marriage thing, I'm proposing to mah toaster"?
Are there really legions of young people who will refuse to get married because lesbians can do it, too? "Becky, I love you and I want to be with you for eternity, but marriage is now a meaningless sham and an abomination in the eyes of the lord, so we'll just have to forego physical intimacy forever and live loveless, chaste, frustrated lives."
And I'm absolutely appalled at the number of otherwise respectable politicians who are so completely fucking gutless that they won't come out in support of this. When the hell are we going to get some goddamn Democrats who aren't afraid of stating an opinion stronger than "I am proud to say that I support oatmeal!"? We need leaders to lead, not to parrot back opinion polls to us. You can take into account what voters want without making yourself a goddamn slave to it.
But no. And so gays are left waiting for state legislatures to do something to help them. Which means they'll be stuck in the same "How about civil unions instead?" limbo forever, unable to make decisions for their dying partners, vulnerable to denial of health-care coverage under their boyfriend's/girlfriend's plan, relegated to second-class citizen status.
Separate but equal didn't work for segregated schools in the middle of the last century and it doesn't work for marriage today. Our nation's leaders need to wake up to that fact. Plus, I really want to marry a bowl of ravioli.
Friday, July 07, 2006
So I'm enjoying the hell out of my first full week of summer. I've been taking my dogs on extra-long walks. I've been catching up on my laundry. And I've been taking full advantage of the painfully short blueberry season. I've made pancakes and I've made my favorite French blueberry pie. I've also expanded my blueberry repertoire somewhat by making a blueberry tart with lemon curd. I've never made curd before, and I've found that I like it. I like curd. Who knew?
But life isn't all sunshine and lemon drops. There's been a dark side to this time off. For example, I've been watching Wimbledon this week and I've once again had to sit through Rafael Nadal and his incessant grunting. The boy is hitting the ball so hard every time he hits it that his arm is apparently in danger of coming off. Or is grunting a Spanish thing? Do Spaniards grunt when they're, say, pouring a glass of milk? One wonders.
Even worse than Nadal, though, are the commercials I've had to sit through while trying to enjoy a rousing episode of Jeopardy. I'm assuming the commercials shown during Jeopardy are, for the most part, the same nation-wide.
If that's the case, then perhaps some of you have seen the commercial for Activia. It's a yogurt. But it's not just a yogurt. The set-up goes something like this: A young woman studying, possibly working on her doctoral thesis, possibly plotting to rob a local Chuck E. Cheese. Her roommate (sister? lover?) enters and says, "Hey, you want to go out?" The studier replies, "No. I'm bloated and I've been irregular. The roommate responds with, "I used to have that problem. Now, I eat Activia every day."
Activia, you see, helps you in some way to expel waste products from your body. Now, what I'm wondering is, how the hell often do you ask someone to go do something and the excuse they give you is that they'd rather not because they haven't been able to take a shit? I know I've never given that excuse to anyone. Are there things that you can't enjoy with your friends when you've been unable to evacuate your bowels?
Also, do I really want to eat a yogurt that's designed to move things along down there? What if you're feeling okay, colon-wise, and you mix up Activia with your regular brand of yogurt? Will you have yogurt-induced diarrhea?
And this disturbing roommate ad isn't the only Jeopardy commercial that worries me. There's also the utterly baffling spot for "Head On". They don't say what it is. They don't say what it does. They simply show a generic woman rubbing a stick of something above her eyes while some over-caffeinated announcer fairly yells, "Head On! Apply directly to the forehead! Head On! Apply directly to the forehead! Head On! Apply directly to the forehead!"
That's it. Just the same screechy sentence three times in a row. What the hell is this stuff? Is it some sort of acu-pressure deodorant? Is it a soylent-green-esque wonder nutrient? Why do you apply it directly to the forehead? None of these questions is answered.
And so I remain confused and disturbed. Excuse me. I'm going to eat some plain old non-laxative yogurt. Maybe I'll put some blueberries in it. Blueberries! Apply them directly to the yogurt! Blueberries! Apply them directly to the yogurt! Blueberries! Apply them directly to the yogurt!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Ville over at This Is Where I Talk & You Listen is making her inaugural Roundtable post today and she's holding forth on the subject of overly precious tots on commercials. I don't know how you feel about this, but I personally don't think there's been a decent child actor in commercials since Mikey liked it. Of course, that's just my opinion. Anyway, head on over and tell Ville what you think.
The Idiot Pool
My wife and I spent the recent July 4th holiday in Ohio, visiting my family and helping out a little bit with the arts festival my mother started. That's right, I said she started an arts festival. She was sitting around a few years ago, probably petting a dog--'cause that's what she does--and she was hit with the notion that the town my parents live in needed a group to promote the arts. So she founded one. Then she decided that it might be a good idea to gather local and regional artists in one place so that people could see their work and be exposed to a nice variety of creative endeavors. So she did that. Which is pretty impressive.
The weekend wasn't all about carrying heavy-ass bleachers across parks so that three people could sit on them to listen to a crappy dulcimer and zither group, although we did that. (I should point out that dulci-zithering is not indicative of the festival as a whole; it was, instead, the one ghastly low point.) We also spent some time swimming in my parents' new pool. Pools are very nice, especially when they're not open to the public, which greatly cuts down on the danger that a group of teenagers will point at your flabby, gray hair-covered chest and giggle endlessly. Instead, it was my family who pointed at my flabby, gray hair-covered chest and giggled endlessly. So that was fun.
My dad's wanted a pool ever since I can remember. He used to dump some chlorine in the bathtub and try to swim laps, but it wasn't really the same. It was nice, then, to see him finally get something he's been after for so very long. It's kind of like how Karl Rove would feel if, at long last, he got rid of the Bill of Rights.
I was so impressed with the pool that I'm considering putting one in our apartment. We could clear some space in the living room. Except that, now that I think about it, I'm reminded of another 4th of July and another pool...
(insert harp music and wavy-screen technology)
The summer of 1991, I had put together my first improv troupe. We picked the staggeringly original name Spontaneous Combustion. The group went down in flames after being hijacked by a member who wanted us to teach empowerment/self-expression workshops using improv to draw people out. *shudder*
Anyway, that's really neither here nor there, except that it explains why, instead of returning to my parents' house for the summer, getting a job, living rent-free and banking some cash, I decided to stay in the town where my college was so that I could work with this ill-fated group. I'd lived on-campus my first two years in school and had never hunted for an apartment before, so I had no real idea of how to go about it. I answered an ad for a sublet not far from campus.
The sublet was half of a room in a two-bedroom apartment, living with three other guys who'd lived together for a couple of years in one of the dozens of crappy apartment complexes near the campus. They seemed okay. Nice enough. I didn't like the process of looking for an apartment enough to hold out for something better, so I took it. And thus began probably the worst summer of my life.
The guys I was living with seemed to be in school not so much to learn or to find a direction in life, but more to advance the cause of binge-drinkers. And they took that mission seriously. These guys partied all the fucking time. They threw a party the first night I was there, in fact. A loud, drunken, pass-out-in-your-own-vomit party. Now, I'm a shy person. Really. And I'm especially shy--to the point of social anxiety disorder, in fact--in a room full of people I don't know. So to be confronted with a whole hoard of word-slurring strangers was not fun for me. 'Round midnight, I ducked into my room and tried to go to sleep. The party, of course, lasted for a good while longer. I remember, at one point, they needed someplace to throw a girl who'd passed out and I think they'd forgotten that they'd rented my bed out, so I came very close to having her thrown on top of me. I lay in the dark, cursing my poor decision-making skills.
The whole summer went by in much the same manner. These guys worked together as house-painters, but it rained quite a bit that summer, so they were around a lot. I reached the conclusion that they were basically frat guys without a frat. Which, I guess, means that they were smart enough at least to avoid paying for friends. One of them was running a food stamp scam of some kind, so at least there was always food in the house, some of which I swiped from time to time, as I was working part-time at a costume shop at the time and couldn't afford to do things like eat. They bought a puppy, basically so that they could tie a bandana around its neck and teach it to drink beer. They kept a tank of pirhanas who they fed bologna. They put a kiddie pool in the living room, mostly, as far as I could tell, so that they could throw girls into it at the many, many loud, obnoxious parties they threw. I spent more than one night sleeping in my car.
July 4th, desperate to spend as much time as possible away from these pinheads, I went to hang out with a friend of mine and his girlfriend, who lived in a nearby town. We went to a fireworks display and had some beers, pretty mellow stuff, which was nice. After the fireworks, I said goodbye to my friends and went back to find the apartment looking somewhat like a post-bomb Nagasaki.
Apparently, everyone had gotten very drunk early in the day, as there were no houses to paint on Independence Day. One of the drunkards then got hungry and decided to fry him up some tater tots. He dumped some oil in a pan, put the tots in it and set it on the stove, then wandered away. A little while later, he smelled something burning, remembered that he was cooking and went back to the kitchen to find an oil fire on the stove. Being stupid, he grabbed the flaming pan and started running through the apartment, with the intent of taking it out the front door and, I suppose, hurling the flame at his enemies. He got about four steps out of the kitchen when he realized that carrying fire isn't fun. As his arm was burning and he didn't want to follow through on his outdoor plan and going back to the kitchen seemed like too long of a trek, he did what any utter moron would do. He threw the oil fire into the kiddie pool in the living room, upon which the oil fire became a fireball that knocked him on his ass, blackened the walls and melted the drapes.
I moved out fairly soon after this and have never sublet an apartment since. Now, looking back after fifteen years, I guess the lesson I learned is that only idiots put pools in their living rooms. Also that you shouldn't buy a dog--even if you really, really want to teach it to drink beer--unless you're willing to house-train it and you're not borderline retarded.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Aries: This week, you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, as you are asked to pass the dutchie from the left hand side and you don't really wish to. It might be wise to compromise and pass it from the right hand side instead.
Taurus: When forging a prescription for OxyContin, try to come up with a better fake doctor name than "Doctor Pepper".
Gemini: A chance encounter this week could lead to a sizzling romance. Of course, the odds of this happening might pick up a bit if you'd remember to clean your dentures more than once a week.
Cancer: Between the World Cup, the Tour de France and Wimbledon, you're seriously sick and fucking tired of pussified European sports. Remedy this with an hour or so of EPSN 2 Dwarf Tossing coverage. Now that's manly.
Leo: You've always found the idea of genital warts kind of hilarious. Well who's laughing now, lumpy? Who's laughing now?
Virgo: A sound fiscal policy will only go so far toward getting you laid.
Libra: You find yourself panicked this week when your husband only gives you forty-five minutes notice that he's bringing his boss to your house for a delicious home-cooked meal. What a wacky situation! What zany solution will you come up with?
Scorpio: You need to break the habit of naming the mice you find in your glue traps.
Sagittarius: Sagittarians looking for a new job this week would do well to remember that, while it might seem a great idea at the time, few prospective employers like to find "Boob Inspector" listed under "Employment History".
Capricorn: The thunderstorm outside your window is not a fucking metaphor for your tempestuous life, it's the rapid upward motion of hot, moist air.
Aquarius: You love when your dog affectionately licks your face, which is fine, but you should know that he frequently eats turds from the litterbox.
Pisces: You can't really be considered an aficionado of classical music when the only Mozart song you know is "Rock Me Amadeus".