Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Hairshirt Back to School Horoscope
Aries: You just can't wait to get back to school so you can share with all your friends the fact that you've renamed your penis "The Dalai Lama".
Taurus: Your first day of school doesn't go so well, Taurus, when bullies steal your lunch money. You just need to remind them that you're the principal and you won't stand for such behavior and you're going to tell on them.
Gemini: You're all set to begin your senior year, having spent the summer in front of the mirror in your room practicing your best "disaffected" look. So, y'know, whatever.
Cancer: Back to school is truly your favorite time of year, Cancer. With the kids out of the house, you finally have the time you need to drink until you pass out.
Leo: Having graduated from college, you're now faced with the first September since you were five that you're not going back to school. Which gives you a perfect excuse to indulge in some pathetic early-twenties navel-gazing that will make anybody around you over the age of thirty want to rip your stupid fucking head off.
Virgo: Your one goal for this school year? Successfully taking a dump in the football captain's locker. Live your dream, man. Live your dream.
Libra: Back to School means one thing and one thing only to you, Libra: the court order keeping you one hundred yards from elementary schools is back in effect.
Scorpio: This is a very, very special time for you Scorpios who are entering your first year as a teacher. This is the moment before your dreams come crashing down around your ankles and you start learning just how painful life can be. Enjoy!
Sagittarius: Moving away from your family for the first time and starting college among a campus full of people you don't know can be a daunting prospect, Sagittarius. Fortunately, you do this armed with the fact that you were voted Most Likely to Succeed by your high school graduating class. Make sure you mention that whenever you meet someone new.
Capricorn: Ah, Back to School. Finally, the start of a new high school football season and the resumption of your quest to force your 5'3", 115 lb son live out the sports dreams you never got to. It's what having kids is all about, Capricorn.
Aquarius: As you nervously approach your first full day as Head Cook in an elementary school cafeteria, please keep one hard, fast rule in mind: You can't go wrong with Pizza on a Bun.
Pisces: This year, you're sure to make the cheerleading squad, Pisces. Who cares if you're thirty-five and a dude. You've got spirit; you've got skills.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Proud to Be a Teacher
I've never done this before, but I'm so very, very horrified by this that I had to spread it around.
We are a doomed, doomed people.
The Power and the Gloryhole
Good lord. Tell me, are there any hard-core family-values conservatives serving in our legislative branch that don't secretly dig dude-on-dude butt sex?
Man, the G.O.P. sure is full of boner-hungry old guys.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Alberto Gonzales Resigns After Bill of Rights Files Rape Charges
Wow. So I'm just wondering: is this another example of the Bush administration vehemently maintaining one position for months and months only to then go back on its word? Or is this more another example of a scumbag distancing himself from the moldering corpse that is the Bush White House?
Whatever it is, good fucking riddance.
Let's not kid ourselves, this doesn't mean that Gonzales is suddenly going to spill his guts about the attorney firings. It doesn't mean that we're going to get some kind of miraculous reversal of the administration's whittling away of our civil rights. It certainly doesn't mean that Bush is going to say Gonzales is gone because he was a gigantic douchebag who used the constitution like toilet paper.
But it's kind of nice all the same. Bon voyage, asshat!
Damn You, Michael Bay!
Just saw a report that Owen Wilson tried to kill himself yesterday by taking a bunch of pills and slitting his left wrist.
You have to wonder why such a successful actor would reach that level of self-loathing. My guess is he accidentally watched himself in Armageddon.
Stop Her Before She Directs Again!
I throw a lot of insults Michael Bay's way. That's because your average six-year-old could do a better job directing a movie than the dipshit who shoved Bad Boys II and Pearl Harbor down our throats. Seriously, why is he still allowed to make movies?
After last night, though, I would really have to put Nancy Meyers right next to Mr. Bay on my list of Directors Whose Work Makes Me Want to Slit My Wrists. It's a list I've been keeping since, as a five-year-old, I insisted my family walk out of of One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing because I found the story so implausible. I really felt Robert Stevenson's work had fallen off since Son of Flubber.
Ms. Meyers, you may be aware, was the woman who gave us What Women Want, the film which featured the hilarity of Mel Gibson trying on panty hose. She was also responsible for Something's Gotta Give, which asked us to believe that, A) Amanda Peet would fuck Jack Nicholson; B) Diane Keaton would dump Keanu Reeves for Jack Nicholson and C) audiences would want to think about Jack Nicholson having sex. If you listened closely, you could actually hear audiences shudder.
Meyers is also responsible for last year's The Holiday. This is a film that I'd talked my wife out of watching at least half a dozen times when it was in theaters and when it was first released on DVD. I did this by desperately throwing up as many other movies we should instead as I could think of. I think one time, I faked a bursting appendix to get out of watching it. Last night, it finally caught up with me. I barely survived.
This movie is so shitty, on so many different levels, I scarcely know where to begin. Let's start with the fact that Meyers didn't so much write a movie as she just spent a week or so watching other movies and copying down bits she liked. And the worst part is, she didn't for the most part crib from movies that were all that great themselves. Seriously, she ripped off Bridget Jones' Diary, Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail all in the first fifteen minutes. There are a number of scenes of Kate Winslet's character picking out movies from a huge DVD selection and I honestly think that's because, at some point during the week when she was copying down scenes from other movies, Meyers must have thought, "Oh my God! I should include a scene based on my looking for scenes! This shit practically writes itself!"
This shit had to write itself. Because Meyers certainly doesn't seem capable of the job. Sweet mascara-wearing Christ, this is a clunky script. I truly think that she could've handled the exposition better by just having the actors each read a half-page description of their characters' background straight at the camera. There's a scene toward the beginning where, during a fight, Edward Burns--and thank Zeus I didn't have to watch more than five minutes of an Edward Burns performance--gives us a handy checklist of all the faults of Cameron Diaz's character so that we can all know, "Right, well I guess these are what she's going to be working on for the rest of the film."
Neither of the romances are in any way interesting or believable. Meyers tosses in cute kids and old people to distract from the fact that neither of the romances are in any way interesting or believable. Meyers is such a shitty director that she made Jude Law un-charming, Jack Black un-funny and Cameron Diaz mind-blowingly annoying. And just let me say that any movie that wastes Kate Winslet like this deserves to be beaten to death and set on fire in an alley. Winslet is one of the best actresses going these days and I really hope that she got a great big pile of money out of this so she can go back to making movies that don't make people want to hang themselves.
So, word of advice if anyone ever tries to get you to see a Nancy Meyers film: if you absolutely can't talk your way out of it, just make sure you bring a samurai sword upon which you can impale yourself when the pain becomes too great to tolerate.
Friday, August 24, 2007
A Bit Less Green
I did it today. I finally broke down and set aside my issues with the two-party system. I went online and printed out the form I would need to fill out and send in in order to re-register as a Democrat.
I've spent the last five years as a registered Green. I did this because limiting ourselves to two parties generally means choosing between the hand-picked candidates of various corporations. This is going to be made even worse when the primary date shuffling comes to an end and the first states kick off the voting in fucking late October, meaning voters will have goddamn no time to get to know candidates and it'll come down (even more so) to whoever gets the most corporate money at the outset. Feh.
Anyway, the reason I'm doing this is basically so that I can vote for Barack Obama. I've been impressed with Obama since I first heard him speak and this may be my only chance to vote for him.
Now, I grant you that we're still really early in the process and he could very well prove himself an idiot between now and whenever New York State eventually ends up casting its ballots. But from what I've seen so far (No Nukes! End the War!) I really don't see that happening.
I'll still vote for Green Party candidates in the general election. The more votes they get, the better. But it's not like I was making any huge impact in Green primaries anyway. In fact, I don't think I ever once had the option of choosing between two of 'em.
This way, I know I'm going to be able to do my part to keep Mike Gravel from snagging the nomination. I just don't think America is ready for a Cranky Old Man to be president.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
On the one hand, this is great. Let's never forget that the elderly are people with the same needs as anybody else.
On the other hand, now I'm going to spend the next week or so trying to get the image of Wilford Brimley and Jessica Tandy going at it doggy-style out of my head. Thanks, scientific community.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Redundant: See Redundant
It's odd. I've come across the movie Poseidon about half a dozen times over the last few months on HBO. It's always when there's nothing else on and I'm just flipping around, trying to find something I can tolerate.
Anyway, I always seem to catch it at different points in the story, but I can never tell if it's a scene I've seen before or not. And then today, I realized that's because every goddamn bit of the movie I've seen is exactly the same. They can't stay where they are, because the water's rising. So they find a way out. Then they can't stay there, because the water's rising. So they find a way out. Repeat ad infinitum.
The whole goddamn movie must be the same scene strung together over and over. And this got released to theaters?
Aries: Good news for Aries folks with a patriotic bent: your state has just decided to move up their 2008 presidential primary to this coming weekend! Enjoy the incredibly fucked-up democratic process!
Taurus: This is your day for decadent indulgence, Taurus! So go on, eat all the deviled eggs you please. Just be aware that any indulgence that doesn't involve deviled eggs will be met with deadly consequences.
Gemini: A great day for family activities. Spend some time with your loved ones, especially the children. Unless that restraining order is still in effect, in which case you're probably going to need to stay at least thirty yards from anyone under the age of 12.
Cancer: As you kick back in your room and listen (again!) to the soundtrack from High School Musical 2, you can't help but ask yourself if life could possibly get any better. The answer, of course is, for you, probably not.
Leo: This week, Leos are faced with temptation to stray. Someone has a secret attraction to you, Leo, and the strength of your current relationship could be put to the test as you decide whether or not to give in to your urges. If it helps you decide, you might want to know that this person with whom you'd be cheating has crabs. A lot of them.
Virgo: That future you've been dreaming of for so long is finally here, Virgo. So what, exactly are you waiting for? Go on eBay right this second and start selling your used underwear to anonymous perverts! Live the dream!
Libra: Be aware that, although you're telling everyone that you're currently reading this, most people are aware that you're actually currently reading this.
Scorpio: This week, Scorpio, you'll find yourself exploring a darker side of your personality of which you may have been totally unaware up until now. This is okay. There's good and bad in all of us. So, as you're climbing off of the corpse with which you just had sex, take a moment to forgive yourself.
Sagittarius: You just can't look at pictures from this week's Montebello Summit of North American leaders without wondering, "Hmm... Would I rather have a president that was short, one that was boring or one that was incredibly fucking stupid?" This is, indeed, a question for the ages.
Capricorn: There are good fungi, Capricorn, and bad fungi. Truffles, for example, are wonderful fungi. Whatever it is that's growing in the cereal bowl you've left in the sink since last month would fall under the "bad" category.
Aquarius: Now's the time to tackle that big project you've been putting off, Aquarius. Let's face it, your fat rolls are not going to clean between themselves. So get out your bathing stick and get to it.
Pisces: You're a romantic at heart, Pisces. This does little to explain your massive monthly spending on porn.
Monday, August 20, 2007
When you're dealing with infertility issues and the doctors can't seem to tell you just what the righteous fuck is going on, you can find yourself a little desperate for answers. Even if they don't make sense. If someone were able to conclusively tell you, "Yes, you're having problems with fertility because you wear shoes, which are too constricting on your bio-progenitive aura," you might actually consider trying a year barefoot.
It's maddening. Especially if you're like my wife, who really can't stand not having answers. Over the last two years that we've been dealing with this, she's logged a good three thousand hours googling different theories about why this is happening. Sometimes, she runs across things that sound fairly plausible and half-convinces herself that our problems stem from something she did.
All I can do at times like that is to remind her that outside factors like whatever behavior the internet tells her may be responsible rarely have any affect on pregnancy. This is what doctors have told us, anyway. But it's such a goddamn unsatisfying answer.
Which is why my wife and I did what we did Saturday night. We'd gone to see the last half-hour of an update of The Orestia in the park. Sure, we could've shown up on time, but all the good stuff happens in the last half-hour anyway. As we walked back uptown, we talked about our problem and somehow--I really don't recall how the hell the idea got placed on the table--we decided that we should consult a psychic.
Not wanting to pay exorbitant Upper West Side psychic prices, we headed for home, as there's a psychic literally around the corner from our apartment.
Seeing a psychic is one of those ideas that sounds good for the first few seconds after it's brought up, but fades somewhat in the sober light of a minute from now. And, as we stood outside, looking up at the sign promising a $2.00 Special! I had second thoughts. Buyer's pre-morse, if you will.
As it turns out, my feeling that we shouldn't be spending money on this was the closest we got to an actual precognitive experience that night.
A very nice young woman answered the door and invited us in. She ran down her list of mystic options for us. These included the advertised $2.00 Special, which was a "personality profile" based on some tarot cards already laid out on her table. That one didn't sound like it was designed to answer specific questions. Then there was the $30.00 full-tilt tarot spread. That one seemed a mite expensive for a whim. So we settled on the $15.00 palm reading, which had the advantages of being more extensive than the Special, but more justifiable than going whole hog.
So I sat down in the chair--not entirely sure how it was me who got to do the honors on this--and the young woman sat down opposite me and took a look at my palms. She launched into her reading, precisely none of which had any bearing whatsoever on our fertility problems and all of which sounded about as spontaneous as Miss America speeches from contestants who want to work for world peace.
I didn't want to be rude. I did my best to nod appreciatively here and there and generally act like I knew exactly what she was referring to. But what I was mostly doing was trying my level best not to look at her boobs, which were kind of right there as she leaned in at me. I made certain to shuttle my eyes directly back and forth from my palms to her face and nowhere else. Someone may be shovelling a bucket of bullshit at your feet, but that doesn't mean you should be impolite.
Despite the utter and complete crap that was this reading, I didn't get down about being taken advantage of until she tried to upsell me. The palm reading, you see, is just kind of a quick sketch. To really go in-depth, she would need to take some questions from me and then, I don't know, sit up all night consulting her runes or something. This would be a complete aura-workup and would run a bit more, but it would be a lot more detailed. I said no thanks, that we'd just take the canned palm reading and be on our way.
I handed her a twenty and didn't tell her to keep the change. I should feel bad about that, I suppose, but I'd already dumped fifteen dollars down the crapper. I don't feel it's necessary to tip a three-card monte dealer, either, by the way. She went in the back in search of change, but could only find three stray ones. I had to admire her grim determination to get a tip out of me whether I wanted to give her one or not. My wife and I chose not to fight for our two hundred cents and we headed down the stairs a little wiser about cheap psychics and nowhere closer to knowing whether or not we'll ever have a kid.
I should take a moment here to note that I don't actually think all psychic readings are bullshit. I'm not saying that I believe there's any sort of truly supernatural contact with the misty netherworld or anything like that, but neither do I think tarot is useless.
I had a roommate in college who was a Wiccan and did tarot readings for just about everyone in our house over the course of the year. And there was something to it. There was. I believe that tarot is a useful tool to help you figure out what's going on in your own head and where you need to go. I think that what you see in the cards can help you determine what you really want to do.
But anyone who tells you it's more than that just wants to get you to upgrade to the full aura work-up.
Friday, August 17, 2007
I Just Love Ol' Arkansas
Hey! Anyone wanting to marry a six-year-old should get themselves to Arkansas post-haste, before the state legislature undoes the best Whoops Legislation since Kentucky legalized rubbing one's balls onto passing cars during a drunken session in 1978.
Oh, Arkansas. Please always maintain that Mayberry innocence that allows the rest of the country to feel vastly superior to you.
Get Outta Here
Since it's the third Friday of the month, I'm sending folks on over to Ask Hairshirt for the day. Bon voyage!
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Back to Ohio
Just got back from Ohio, where I spent a few very nice days with my family.
More specifically, I spent five very nice days and one very painful goddamn night. I won't bother you with too many details about the pleasant stuff. Suffice it to say, it involved lots of visiting with my nephew. Pretty damned cute, no?
My friend Keith and I also put in some work on our synchronized swimming routine. We're still working out the choreography, but I'm pretty sure we're going to wow them in Beijing.
But then there was the painful bit. The night of pain involved, as most pain does, professional baseball. There were many layers to this baseball-related pain. It was like a malevolent lasagna. First, there was the fact that we were seated literally in the corner. This chart doesn't even include our section, but we were basically sitting just before the point where the seats curve around and face the infield. So we had a great view of Trot Nixon standing around, but we had to turn severely to our left if we wanted to see any actual play. Which meant that our view was obscured any time someone in our section decided to leave their seat for any reason and walk up or down the aisle between us and the action.
I need to say right here and now that this is not a criticism of the person who bought the tickets. These were "best available" seats and, under normal circumstances, even with the hordes of people whose quests for beer, hot dogs or bladder relief occasionally prevented us from seeing Jhonny Peralta strike out, the seats themselves were not that bad.
No, what made the seats unbearable was the fact that we were trapped within a huge fucking section of Detroit Tigers fans. What made it more unbearable than that was the fact that these were some obnoxious goddamn Tigers fans. What took the unbearability to Abu Gharibian levels was the fact that Tigers bent the Indians over in the tenth inning and sodomized them like a tax-cheat in prison. It's goddamn humiliating to be in your home stadium and to have to endure taunts from drunken Michiganians. My only comeback was, "Hey! Your state's so fucking lame it's split in two!" Which did, I can proudly say, make one or two of them cry.
I always kind of liked the Tigers before now, if for no other reason than that Magnum, P.I. always wore a Detroit cap. But now? Fuck the Tigers. I hope their natural habitats are destroyed by encroaching development. Pricks.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Aries: You're all for the Bush administration's plan to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group. In fact, you're hoping they'll keep going and name Sean Penn an enemy combatant.
Taurus: There's a potato salad in your immediate future. Sadly, it has too much mayonnaise.
Gemini: Your grandmother's 80th birthday party is not the proper place to show off the picture of Barry Bonds you just had tatooed on your penis. Probably, that should go without saying.
Cancer: Got a little riddle for you. What's the difference between your opinion on Barack Obama and your underwear? You've changed your opinion on Barack Obama in the last week. Do some fucking laundry, Pigpen.
Leo: Don't forget you've got a dental appointment this week. It's really sad that you need a random horoscope to remind you of this shit. You need a day-planner.
Virgo: Flat-head? Phillips? Who cares? You just plain love screwdrivers.
Libra: You're in for some interpersonal drama at work this week as you and a co-worker face off over which font to use for a memo. I didn't say it was going to be cool drama.
Scorpio: It's great that you're so fond of cheese, Scorpio, but do you truly need to melt it on your cereal?
Sagittarius: The man with a watch always knows what time it is. The man with two watches is never sure. Which raises the question, what kind of asshole wears two watches?
Capricorn: Thirty years after Elvis's death and the wounds still haven't healed, have they, Capricorn? Ssshh. It's okay. Let the tears come.
Aquarius: This is the time to start trying new things, Aquarius; things like shutting the fuck up on occasion. That'd be novel, wouldn't it?
Pisces: Your commitment to environmentally-friendly innovation is admirable. However, do you really think the public at large is going to go for condoms made from processed sun-dried tomatoes? They're just so damned salty.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Bon Voyage, Douchebag
So the news comes out this morning that Karl Rove is to resign at the end of this month. After six years of malevolently steering George W. Bush toward whichever policy decisions would prove most Machiavellian, Rove chooses Summer 2008 to bail. And now we are all left wondering...why? Why now? What's coming around the bend to force this move? What could possibly be happening that would make this pudgy, evil fuck abandon his captain? Here are some theories:
But whatever the reason, I think we can all agree that Rove is a giant fucking evil prick.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
I've Got Your Magic Screen Right Here
I just wanted to take a minute to address the fine folks at Sprint:
Hey Sprint-folks. How're you doing? Good. Good. Glad to hear it. Listen, you should be aware that no children--absolutely fucking none--dream about a goddamn "magic screen". If I was a kid and I fell asleep and had the opportunity to dream about anything in the world I wanted and what I dreamed about was a "magic screen", I would wake up and smack myself in the head with a frying pan in the hopes that maybe brain damage would make my dreams more interesting.
So, while I know that there are plenty of people who dig your little time-lapse glowstick extravaganza (I'm not one of 'em, by the way; I think it looks retarded) you really need to lay off on playing up the whole "magic screen" thing. Your screen isn't magic. It's soon-to-be-outdated technology that's getting its ass handed to it by Apple.
Primarily We Roll Along
This is getting fucking ridiculous, people. What is up with this severely retarded need that states have to have their primaries be the first in the nation? New Hampshire and Iowa have been first for a long, long time. Has it made them cooler places to live? Has anyone ever overheard any distinguished college grads trying to decide where to take their bright futures saying something along the lines of, "Well, Dad, New York is the financial capitol of the nation and Virginia is home to an array of high-paying tech jobs, but I'm really thinking that I want to go to Iowa, so I can vote first."
Seriously, what do these states get out of holding earlier primaries? Candidates are forced to spend more time there? Yahoo! I know that, if I was a state legislator, my priority would definitely be to try to secure more face time with Sam Brownback and Dennis Kucinich.
Maybe the idea is that these states want to lessen the amount of time they're forced to deal with fucking televised campaign ads. I guess I can sort of almost see a point to that one. Maybe.
But there's a downside that far outweighs the beautiful notion of fewer shitty commercials. One part of that downside is that we lose all the good bits of a long, drawn-out primary season. Opinions of candidates can change over time. As the country gets to know a candidate better, we can come to the realization that they might make a much, much shittier president than we'd initially thought. If we take our time with the primaries, we have the opportunity to see the full flower of a given candidate's shittiness and deny them our vote.
With a rushed, compressed campaign schedule, we're more often casting our votes based on first impressions. That's not good. Hell, Charles Manson might make a good first impression. But, give the man some time and you know he's going to carve that swastika in his forehead. I worry that we're not giving these candidates the opportunity to carve their own forehead swastikas.
Then there's the fact that a compressed primary schedule really plays into the hands of the money people. You know, the ones that are truly choosing our nominee, by virtue of controlling the purse strings. You shorten the primary season, these scumbags will be even more likely to agree in advance to whom all their money's going to go.
Bottom line is this: states' rights aside, the federal government needs to make primary scheduling a big part of a massive overhaul of the election system. Otherwise, these fucking states are going to continue to act like seven-year-olds setting up competing lemonade stands and we're going to see the first primaries for the 2012 election coming sometime around 2009.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
The Hardboiled Hairshirt Horoscope
Aries: You're about to meet a tall blond; the kind of dame who'll make a guy eat his own heart out and then have him clear the table and wash the dishes.
Taurus: You feel lousy today. You're feeling like two miles of bad road that's just served as the parade route for a bunch of incontinent elephants.
Gemini: Regret is gnawing at your gut like an insistent beaver. Could you have done things differently? Would the old man have stood a chance in hell either way? Who knows. "What if?" is a sucker's game.
Cancer: You're about to stare down the business end of a .44. You'll use a voice that's pure caramel to try and calm this punch-drunk jamoke down while you slide your eyes around the room, looking for the nearest exit.
Leo: A sap is going to walk into your office today, looking for all the world like the loneliest guy on the planet. Brown coat. Brown shoes. Brown hair. A face that's been a lot closer to an open gas oven than it has to a razor.
Virgo: You're scared. Someone peeled off all of your skin and replaced it with goosebumps.
Libra: You're feeling old. Your bones creak like your grandma's old screen door and you've got about as much energy as a twenty-year-old Duracell. Still, would you give it all up if you could be some snot-nosed punk kid again? Wait, better not answer that.
Scorpio: You need a drink. There's nothing wrong with you that a handshake with Johnny Walker can't fix.
Sagittarius: You're tired. For three sleepless nights in a row, you've been chasing the Sandman, but the clever little bastard won't spare so much as a grain.
Capricorn: You've got yourself a feeling today that something just ain't right. Everything looks normal, but the hairs on the back of your neck are standing up like soldiers on parade.
Aquarius: Bad day for crowds. Every stranger's face on the street feels like it's filled with hate just for you. Maybe it's just your conscience. Or maybe they know. Maybe they know all about your little secret.
Pisces: You're going to take her in your arms and kiss her like a drunk kisses his gin bottle. She'll say, "No, I can't. This is wrong!" You'll shoot back, "Who are you kidding, sweetheart? A dame like you loves wrong like a Baptist loves recipes that use mini-marshmallows."
World Gone Mad
It's been a decidedly bizarre, post-apocalypticky, Twilight Zone-ish morning around here.
I woke this morning to a repeat of a problem I'd had earlier this year with my iPod. It's just not working. It tells me that the battery is low and that I should charge it. It tells me this after sitting plugged into the computer all night, charging. The last time this happened, I stood in line at TekServe for a half an hour, the technician plugged my iPod in to her computer and the problem magically disappeared. So I'm not panicky this time, but neither do I want to go through that hassle (and embarrassment) again.
On top of that, my cell phone decided to bug out on me. At times this morning, it hasn't been able to even connect. At other times, it's connected, but without giving me the ability to hear anything, which makes for a fairly pointless phone call. At still other times, it's been fine. Almost as if the phone was fucking with me. Like it was a sentient--and malevolent--being.
Then there's the biggest problem, which is that it rained last night. Oh no! Wetness! Not normally a huge deal, but this rain has played havoc with the New York City transit system. Flooded tracks, delayed trains, entire lines shut down. Not fun.
I discovered this as I was standing in my usual place on the 135th St 2/3 Bronx-bound platform this morning, wondering why I'd been standing there for so long. Walking back over to the entrance, I noticed that the station agent was turning people away, which I took to mean that there wasn't a whole lot of point to my being there, either.
I tried calling work to let them know I was going to be running late. Which is when I discovered the problem with my phone. Dashing back to the apartment, I checked online, saw that another train line which goes somewhat close to my school appeared to be running. So I hauled my cookies through the hot, sodden air, along sidewalks filled with pissed-off commuters and sat down to wait for the Uptown B train.
I should pause here to mention that I had a book of three Raymond Chandler novels with me, so the time I spent waiting during all this was actually somewhat enjoyable, if oppressively humid.
Uptown I go on the D train, which was substituting for the B. I get out somewhere in the vicinity of PS/MS 279 and hike the rest of the way to work. And then the Teacher in Charge (the poor guy who's been stuck with most of the work this summer as the administrators enjoy time away from the building) tells me that, after I'd spoken with him, he'd talked to the principal, who'd said I should have just stayed home.
'Cause, see, there's really no work for me today. We did the testing Monday and yesterday. Today is just make-up testing and there are already more than enough teachers to take care of that. Other teachers were making use of this time to work on getting their rooms ready for fall. I don't have a room. I could, I suppose have worked on getting someone else's room ready for fall, but I'm just not that nice.
So I clocked out and headed to the train. Which I figured would probably be running at least semi-normally by now.
And it kind of was. But it kind of wasn't. Luckily, the really bad flooding is downtown from our house, to there were trains going where I needed to get. Unluckily, the trains were monstrously overcrowded. The first train I was on wasn't so bad, I guess. I had to stand. But there was ample room if I wanted to, say, move my arm three inches.
This was not the case on my second train. Ye gods. I didn't even try to get on the first train to pull into the station. There was no room when it got there and then the fifty million people on the platform with me tried to cram themselves in, too. I sat back and laughed. The second train to pull in wasn't quite so crowded, but it was doing a pretty good imitation.
I was the last one to squeeze myself in, which meant that I had to tuck my ass in to avoid getting my buttcheeks caught in the closing door. And then I had the pleasure of standing cheek-to-jowl with other highly annoyed folks who'd also been standing on a hot, humid, stinky subway platform. I was standing close enough to feel the sweat that was running down their bodies. I only had to go one stop, which would have been relatively painless, except for the fact that the train was delayed a whole bunch of times in between the stations. Your arm gets damn tired when you're unable to put it down for fifteen minutes, let me tell you.
But now I'm home. The air conditioning is fully functional. I'm done with work for the rest of the summer. I've got tickets for a They Might Be Giants show tonight. Pretty damned pre-apocalyptic, really.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Hairshirt News Brief
Director Michael Bay was called yesterday to give testimony in the trial of record producer Phil Spector. Courtroom observers stated that Bay's testimony was poorly edited, hard to follow and uninteresting.
Witnesses say that, after leaving the courtroom, Mr. Bay went directly home and masturbated to his own picture on top of a pile of money.
Monday, August 06, 2007
The Running Man
So the thing is, I talk about running in casual conversations. I don't, I don't think, bring it up obnoxiously. ("Oh, man. This is good cheese dip, Marv. I can't wait to get out and run later.") It just sometimes comes up in conversations.
I've been running for a couple of years now. Almost exactly a couple of years, in fact. It was right around this time in 2005 when my friend Salim scored me some free running shoes and took away my last excuse to not join my wife in her exercise.
But, though it's been two years, they've been spotty years. They've been two years with some gaps in them. When my wife miscarried, we tended to be too goddamned depressed to run. And there were other times when I just went through periods of great sloth. You know how it is. And if you don't know how it is, kiss my ass.
I've been pretty good for the last few months, though. My wife and I really have been putting forth a little more effort. And, since she's now working a job that doesn't have a four-hour round-trip commute every day (I'm not kidding, folks; she was driving to the ass-end of Long Island five days a goddamn week) we've had many fewer days when we were too tired and just said "To hell with it."
So, while this increased fidelity to regular exercise hasn't yet done anything too spectacular to my physique, it has made me a somewhat more confident runner.
Which is why, last week, I off-handedly said to my wife, "Hey, why don't we try going all the way around the park this weekend." It was one of those things you say when you're just about finished with a wimpy two-mile run and feeling all cocky about yourself for no valid reason.
I basically forgot about mentioning this until my wife called me up on her way home from photographing the New York City Half-Marathon Sunday morning. She said, "So...you ready to run the park?" I don't remember clearly, as a fog of panic set in at this point, but I think may have hung up the phone in lieu of responding.
She was not to be put off by such clever maneuvering, though. She renewed the subject when she got home. I tried to convince her that my leg was broken, going so far as to wrap a roll of wet paper towels around my femur and pretending that it was a cast. She wasn't buying it, though. She got indignant. Something about me "going back on my promises" or some such nonsense. She insisted. She went, in fact, so far as to threaten to poor my delicious beer down the sink.
And so I relented. I mournfully pulled on my stink-resistant running shirt. I hiked up my ball-cradling Sports Briefs, shoved my keys in my little shoe-purse and we headed out the door.
For anyone unfamiliar with Central Park or with running therein, it looks a little something like this, only less flat and jaggedy. Our normal run is from the top of the park, at 110th, down to Columbus Circle. It's only three miles, but it's got some hills and it makes us sweat enough that we feel like we've done something.
So what we did yesterday was our normal run, and then another one on top of it. We ran six miles, which is the farthest I've ever gone. I don't remember, because everything became hazy toward the end, but I think I might've been crying for the last 3/4 of a mile. I didn't crap my pants, like the marathon runners do, but that's probably just because I hadn't eaten that morning.
Anyway, I did it. I did it and now I can get all smug whenever I want and say, "Yeah, I'm going to go run six miles. Hey, enjoy that funnel cake."
Friday, August 03, 2007
Hot, Fat and Sweaty
New York is disgusting today. It is. I love this town, but there's a reason people fucking leave in August. That reason is the undeniable fact that, in August, all the grime that normally has the courtesy to stick to the sidewalk is washed from the concrete by humidity and spends four or five weeks hanging out in mid-air. I've been out of the house several times today and, each time I come back, I feel like someone airbrushed me with sawdust and melted taffy.
Despite this misery, I took the sunny-day-off opportunity I'd been handed and spent some time in the Sheep Meadow playing frisbee with my favorite quasi-socialist. And it was fucking hot out there. Even in the incredibly pleasant, grass-covered loveliness that is Central Park, it was hot as balls under that blazing sun. How hot was it? It was so goddamn hot that I swallowed my thimble-full of pride and actually took my shirt off.
This is, you have to understand, borderline-traumatic for me. I'm flabby in that unpleasantly walrus-like way. Over the last five years or so, my chest hair decided it was more mature than the rest of my body and turned prematurely grey. My back hair isn't grey, it's just plentiful. On top of that, thanks to a marathon bike ride my wife and took a couple weeks back, I have the worst farmer tan outside of Iowa.
But it was so goddamn hot today. Did I mention that? So off came the shirt and my pasty, fuzzy, jiggly torso was put on display for all to see. It was a good idea, despite the PTSD I'm likely to suffer, 'cause after five minutes, I was sweatier than Charles Laughton in a sauna.
It didn't help matters that, fifteen minutes into our game, a couple of college-aged guys started playing a hundred yards or so from us. They were all tan and shit, and looked like hadn't yet discovered that one can lead a life without sit-ups. I felt utterly troll-like in comparison.
But fuck it. Sometimes, you've just got to do what feels right, even if several hundred New Yorkers vomit up their lunch at the sight of you.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
The Root of All Whining
So not only have I given up my precious, precious two-month summer hiatus to teach unenthusiastic kids remedial math skills, it now appears I may have been doing it free.
Okay, not really. At this point, all I know is that, after weeks of uncertainty and kvetching over when the hell we were going to get paid for hauling our asses to the Bronx four days a week when we should be home sleeping (or drunk (or drunkenly sleeping)) everyone else I've talked to received their checks in the mail yesterday. They were all very happy. The pricks.
Myself, I was pouty. "Mo-o-om! How come he gets a check and I don't? God! It's so unfair!" No real alarm bells went off. I just told myself, "Hey, these things happen. It's a bureaucracy and sometimes you might be waiting an extra day." I figured my check would be waiting in my mailbox when I got home.
Except that it wasn't. Which is when I started getting pissed. Stormed up the stairs. I slammed the door. I threw the mail which had dared not include my check down on the coffee table. I yelled at the dog for dropping his slobber-filled stuffed moose on my be-flip-flopped foot.
Fortunately, the Dept. of Ed. website provided me with all sorts of contact phone numbers so I could get in touch with someone who might be able to answer my pimp-like question, "Where's my fuckin' money?" Unfortunately, the folks at the D.O.E. don't feel the need to actually answer these numbers. The best I could do was leave a couple of messages and send a plaintive e-mail.
Now, I know--rationally, I know--that my check is out there someplace and it'll turn up eventually. It's just apparently going to be something of a hassle. We still have my regular salary and my wife's salary, plus what I make donating plasma every Tuesday night in the PlasmaVan outside the shelter. It's just that, when you expect to be getting some money, and everybody else is getting theirs, you find a little panic seeping in. "Are you trying to screw me? I'll show you who you're screwing with! I'll rip your fucking balls off, saute them in truffle oil and fucking feed them to you, jackass!"
Summer school blows.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Aries: If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it might be some kind of pervert in a duck outfit, looking to score with a duck.
Taurus: Early to bed, early to rise makes you fucking dull.
Gemini: You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you're not fulling anyone with that sock you've stuffed in your underwear.
Cancer: Let sleeping dogs lie, unless they're lying on your bed while you're having sex. There's just something kind of skeevy about that.
Leo: One in the hand is worth two in the bush. Unless we're talking dirty, in which case it's the other way around. Hey-o-o-o!
Virgo: Don't take any wooden nickels. Because nickels aren't actually made out of wood, see, they're made out of copper and nickel. So, if somebody gives you a wooden nickel and you try to spend it, the guy at the store is going to go, "Hey, this isn't real!" and he's going to be all pissed. So make sure you don't take any.
Libra: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Fortunately, you're poor as dogshit, so you'll just zip right in there.
Scorpio: The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. See, you go through the stomach, climb up the esophagus, hang a left and you can't miss it. If you hit the uvula, you've gone too far.
Sagittarius: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, because they never brush their teeth, so they've got breath like ass.
Capricorn: Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Unless the person you've loved had herpes, in which case it really is better to have left that shit alone.
Aquarius: Neither a borrower nor a lender be, especially of soap. You really don't want to loan your soap out. Half the time, it comes back with pubes on it that you didn't put there.
Pisces: The meek shall inherit the earth. And, when George Bush and his friends are done with it, there's not going to be a whole hell of a lot left of it, so enjoy!