Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
It's probably too small, blurry and generally iPhone-camera-ish to be made out, but this is a picture of a truck that was parked outside the run-down little department store down at the end of our block.
I don't know if, in fact, the entire truck was full of what was advertised on the outside, but I like to think it was. Y'see, the truck purported to contain Kim Kardashian's new signature fragrance. I couldn't tell from the ad what the perfume is called, 'cause all the target demographic would care about, I'd guess is that it's Essence of Kardashian. So let's go ahead and assume the perfume is called Giant Fucking Ass.
The whole reason I took this picture, the whole reason I'm writing about it is the tagline at the bottom of the truck ad, which, again, I'm sure you can't read. It says, "The voluptuous new fragrance from Kim Kardashian."
In what way can a smell be voluptuous? Does each particle contain some fat cells, so that it makes your nose curvier upon entry? Is it a scent meant to be smelled only when it's rubbed on the chubby thighs of a fame-whore? Is it high-caloric, so that it will pack the pounds on anyone who sprays it on themselves?
I don't get it. It makes about as much sense to me as someone choosing to watch a show about a bunch of rich douchebags who do nothing but shop and make sex tapes.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Shoulda Had Nip-Guards
Ran a race in the rain this morning. Really, really goddamn wet. Which meant that my shirt and jacket got soaked and clung to me. That's embarrassing as it is, having to pull the shirt away from my flab periodically.
But the worst part of that is that the shirt was rubbing up against my sad, tissue-paper-strong nipples the whole four miles. And that means that my nipples have been on fire all day. Ouch.
They didn't start bleeding or anything, which is nice. But, still: ouch.
Tender nipples. My achilles heel.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
It's Your Kids, Marty! Something Has to Be Done About Your Kids!
When you're trying to have a kid, you have some vague sense that your life will change. You have lived childless up to a certain point and you know things will be different to some degree, but there's no real concrete knowledge of what lies ahead. There can't be. You haven't experienced parenthood, so there's no way to know what it will be like for you. It's like a hearing person vaguely thinking about what it'd be like to be deaf.
Not that I'm equating parenting with hearing loss. Bear with me a moment.
I'm sure that anyone trying to become a parent has read enough or talked to enough people with kids that they know that you worry about the child. You worry when he's crying and you don't know why. You worry when he has a fever. These are things that are scary when the kid is brand new, but it's stuff you get used to.
The type of worry I wasn't prepared for, and the type of worry I've been having lately, is the worry about what type of person my kid is going to turn out to be.
I have had near-panic attacks that my kid is going to grow up into someone screwed up. This could be because I'm looking at myself and my own failures and freaking out that I'll pass them on to him. This could be because I'm working this year with some students who have a shit-ton of issues and are so very, very difficult to deal with because of that. This could be because my kid is two and a half and I worry that every shrieking fit or refusal to do what Mommy and Daddy ask him to do means that he's got Oppositional-Defiant Disorder or something.
Let me pause here to state for the record that my kid is awesome. He really is. He's so smart. He's funny; not just silly in the generic toddler way, but actually possessing what appear to be comedy chops. He's very sweet and helpful and outgoing and charming. He's fantastic.
This worry of mine is not because I see anything in him that leads me to think he'll grow up to be an asshole. It's just my usual paranoia about my ability to do anything, which would include parenting.
What if he gets caught up with the wrong crowd in high school and starts using drugs? What if he's mean to the class outcast? What if doesn't like his parents and acts out accordingly? What if he finds Jesus?
Yeah, I worry about car crashes and muggers and all those things that could potentially hurt him. I put those things firmly in the category of Shit Over Which I Have Zero Control. But this other stuff, this stuff about him not growing into a good person, this falls under Things That Could Happen If I Don't Do My Job. And it's fucking frightening.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Who's the Dick?
My wife and I went for a run yesterday. We ran a route we run frequently, from her office in Long Island City, across the Queensborough Bridge (it's not the "Koch Bridge", goddammit) and over to the park, then across Central Park South. Not a long run, but a nice one.
We usually stop at a little newsstand by the Columbus Circle subway entrance to grab a Gatorade. We did this yesterday. My wife stood with the kid in the jogging stroller while I ran in and got the drinks. I brought them back out, cracked hers and handed it to her, only to find that the top of it was frozen over. Fortunately, we were able to burrow a hole through the tundra and get her straw through.
Mine was a different story. I opened my lid to find it was frozen more or less solid. So I took it back in and showed it to the guy behind the counter. I said, "Hey, this is frozen solid." He said, "Did you open it?" I confirmed that I had, in fact, opened it, which was how I knew it was frozen solid.
And here's where the title of this post comes into play.
The guy says, "Well, it's open. What can I do with that?" The implication here being that he is under no obligation to switch the drink out for a non-frozen one
I replied, "You can give me one that's not frozen."
"You opened that."
"I can't drink this. I bought this because I need something to drink now."
He caved, I grabbed a new, more liquid-y Gatorade and he angrily told me to take both of them.
So...am I the dick for insisting that he give me a new drink when I maybe should have noticed it was frozen before opening it? Or is he the dick for not being more accommodating to his customer?
Either way, it sure was nice having a free, cold Gatorade waiting in my refrigerator when I got back from my run just now.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Logical (Y'know, Like Spock)
I've long said that one of the reasons I'm an atheist (I have upgraded from agnostic, I guess, over the last few years) is that I can't stomach the hypocrisy of an religion that says, "Hey! You know all those thousands of other religions that have popped up over the course of human history? Well they got it wrong. Only now, now that we have come along, has someone finally figured this whole God thing out."
To me, it's a matter of simple logic. You weigh the odds and you have to reach the conclusion that none of these folks have it right.
I've always used a similar train of thought to back up my belief that there's life on other planets.
Okay, hear me out: There are an infinite number of planets. Infinite. Scientists are all the time discovering planets that are about the same distance from their sun as we are from ours. Does it truly make sense that, of all the planets out there that are in a position to support life, ours is the only one that did? To me, that's akin to our former belief that the entire universe revolved around our world. It's terracentric bullshit.
So I was gratified to hear Marc Kaufman back up my thoughts in a recent Fresh Air interview. Kaufman, a science writer for the Washington Post and author of the book First Contact, was talking about how we've found all these various types of life in places on our world that we had always thought utterly incapable of supporting any life. He said that scientists have found that, wherever life could, theoretically, exist, it does exist. He spoke about Mars and about evidence of microbial life that's been found in recent years. He talked, further, about all these other infinite, potentially life-bearing planets I referred to before. Life is out there. It's just logic.
He talked, as well, about scientists--including Stephen Hawking--who are of the opinion that efforts to contact these aliens might be a really bad idea, as they could be genocidal douchebags with big guns, but that's a whole other scary thing that I won't dwell on now.
I'm not saying, to be clear, that I think every yokel who claims he was anally probed by the Predator is speaking the truth. I'm not saying I buy into every half-baked Area 51 theory going.
But I just can't believe that, given the vastness of the universe and the, again, infinite number of planets out there, there aren't other places where life--whether microbial or bipedal; friendly or malevolent; primitive or space-faring--exists.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Making an Effort to Not Warp My Child's Brain
I can be a cynical bastard. I really can. But there's really no place for cynicism when you are reading books to your kid.
When your kid comes running up to you with some book you can't stand and insists--insists!--that you read it, there's no good choice but to do your best to put out of your head how much you despise the goddamn thing and try to make it pleasant for all involved.
'Cause, if you sit there and act snide or snarky, you're taking the joy out of the experience for your kid.
Let me give you an example.
I love Richard Scarry. I bought my kid the big-ass compendium of Richard Scarry's stuff a couple years back--the same one I had as a kid, minus the one story where the Yukon bear takes his kid out and they hunt baby seals (not a joke)--and he loves it, too.
Now, some of the writing in the book is not top notch. There's a story called "Polite Elephant." It's meant to begin teaching kids manners, which is important if you don't want your child whipping it out in public and pissing on someone's shoes.
When I first read the story after not seeing it for thirty years or so, Polite Elephant came off kind of like a serial killer. "Polite Elephant knows that some rooms are for sitting...and others are for playing." "Polite Elephant is very careful when he plays with someone else's toys." And, when you think about the story in that light, it's goddamn hilarious.
But my kid really likes the story. And I can't read it multiple times every week making fun of it. So, I have learned to put my damaged brain aside and just be sincere when I'm reading. I think we're all better off for it.
Still, I am occasionally tempted to have Papa Bear tell Goldilocks to "...get the fuck out of our house, bitch."
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Fuck You, Mark Twain
I'm not an idiot.
People who have read this blog before may take issue with that statement, but let's just agree to table any argument on my idiocy and just go with it for now.
I'm not claiming to be an intellectual, god knows. Get me too far into abstract thought and I tune out and my mind starts playing the Jetsons theme. I'm not a scientist or a professor of philosophy or an engineer because I'm not that goddamn smart.
But neither am I sitting down on the couch, swimming in delight at a Mama's Family marathon on The Yokel Channel.
However, I've been feeling a bit cerebrally insecure lately. Rather, the New York Public Library has been making me feel a bit cerebrally insecure lately.
I love the library. I think it's one of the best things that's done with public money. Using the library makes me feel like I've learned a lesson in life. That lesson is, "If you buy books at the same rate you buy, say, coffee, you will be poorer than you'd like and you will have no room to move around the dwelling that was your home but is now a hardcover habitrail.
One problem I run into with the library is that popular books are reserved by a lot of people. So, if it takes me longer than the allotted time to read it, I'm racking up fines. This makes me resentful of the book. "Stupid book," I think. "You're costing me money. I have no desire to spend time with you." And so the book sits and the fines skyrocket and I'm unhappy and the person waiting for me to return the book is unhappy and the author is probably unhappy that his/her work is sitting, unappreciated.
This has happened to me three times lately, all with biographies that I'd been really excited to read.
I've read the first two books in Edmond Morris's Teddy Roosevelt trilogy and loved them. These are thick books, though. Not something I can zip through like an Encyclopedia Brown collection. I didn't necessarily want to splurge for Colonel Roosevelt when I could order it from the NYPL, so I put my name on the list and waited. I got a few chapters into it (about as far as his European tour after he'd been on safari) and it came due. I held onto it for a few days, but it became increasingly clear that I wasn't going to get through the damned thing without eventually owing as much in late fees as I'd have spent if I'd just purchased it at Barnes and Noble. So I returned it.
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow was the exact same thing. Good book, but I couldn't get it read in the tiny little amount of reading time I have every week.
But the Mark Twain autobiography takes the fucking cake. Last year, it was huge. Everyone was reading that thing. When I put that thing on hold, I was 257th out of 257 holds. I waited for goddamn months.
Finally, it came in at our local branch and I lugged the fucking thing home and plopped it on a shelf and it just sat there, mocking me; daring me to try to finish it. "C'mon, shitbrain," it whispered, "try. Just try to read more than a third of me before you have to return me."
"Go to hell!" I yelled at it. "I finish books all the time! I'm smart!" The book chuckled, coldly.
I never even opened it. The due date came and went and I resented the book more and more. Twain looked at me with his malevolent, folksy eyes from the cover. "Fuck you, Mark Twain," I said. "The Innocents Abroad was a snooze-fest!"
In the end, Twain beat me. I returned it, in defeat. And so I've learned another lesson: don't check out gigantically fucking thick books from the library if you're not going to able to renew them. Also, don't talk to books. It's a little crazy.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Sweet Fucking Jesus, No
They really ought to call this Joel Schumacher Presents: Batman Live!
This is a picture from the London production, I guess. I can smell it across the Atlantic.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Wonderful, Vital Shows
The "dangerous job" sub-genre of reality show has been around for awhile and shows no signs of abating, sadly. There are legions of devoted fans of shows like Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers and their ilk.
Now, the Travel Channel has come up with another variation on this beaten-to-death horse: Triple Rush. Bike messengers! Extreme! Dangerous! Those bike shorts ride up, man! And sometimes, like, your shoelace could get caught in the chain and shit!
You gotta wonder what other EXTREME ideas Travel Channel has in store for us.
Friday, April 08, 2011
Shut It Down
This is it, folks. The big day has arrived and neither side shows any intention of backing down. There's a very good chance that this government shutdown is going to happen.
I don't believe I've mentioned it before, but last year, I was appointed by my congressman, Charles Rangel, to the House Citizens Response Advisory Panel, a group designed to keep the lower house more in touch with the thoughts of everyday people like teachers, bloggers and Real Housewives fans. (Guilty on all three counts!)
Through my H-CRAP connections, I'm privy to some goings-on behind the scenes in Washington. And so, I'm a little better-informed than the average American about just what this shutdown might entail. Let me go over the highlights for you: