Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Home for the Holidays

...So What That Let You Know?

That's right: temporary suspension of blogging activities for the next twelve days. But I'm not leaving my core readership entirely bereft! In the tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas, I am posting Twelve Thoughts of The Day to see you through.

Some will be pithy, others simply vapid. Some vague, others more detailed than you'd like. Some just interesting little quotes, others not interesting at all! It just depends on what I can come up with. Without further ado, I give you - the Twelve Thoughts of The Twelve Days of My Christmas Trip!

Dec. 22nd: "I was as busy as a one-eyed man in a staring contest!"

Dec. 23rd: "The more you enjoy solving problems, the more fun life is."

Dec. 24th: "If you're morally bankrupt, it doesn't even show up on your credit report!"

Dec. 25th: "The afterlife is the original pyramid scheme."

Dec. 26th: "Expert opinions do not outrank facts."

Dec. 27th: "Referring to yourself in the third person does not make you seem more objective."

Dec. 28th: "Siding with authority does not mean that you have authority."

Dec. 29th: "The problem with personal experience is, it may not reflect reality."

Dec. 30th: "Jargon is the refuge of those who aren't smart enough to confuse people with real words."

Dec. 31st: "That reminds me, you ever hear the one about the blonde comedian who kept telling polish jokes?"

Jan. 1st: "The optimist tells it like it ought to be. The realist tells it like it is. The pessimist tells it like it will be."

Jan. 2nd: "More has been read between the lines than ever was written there."

Alright, that's all for now. Don't bother trying to break into my house while I'm gone. The cats are both heavily armed.

Although, I suppose I can throw in one for today too. Here it is! "Don't promise me the moon and give me Deimos!"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Garn Stackelberg, Pioneering Sports Speechwriter 1925-2006

Garn Stackelberg left the world silently today, in his sleep, comfortably abed at home. It was how he would have wanted to go. Stackelberg wasn't one for dramatics or for drawing attention to himself. Yet perhaps more than anyone else, this quiet, unassuming man changed the tenor and tone of professional sports over the past 40 years.

It was in 1967, at 41 years of age, that Stackelberg (then a struggling political speechwriter) found he had come to the end of his rope. "Garn's stuff...it just wasn't incendiary enough for politics. Wasn't polemical, didn't rile people up," says Dick Wannick, a close friend of Stackelberg's from his political days. "Garn's gift was the exact opposite of that."

"He wasn't trying to blaze a trail or make a name for himself, he was just trying to make a living," says Joe Rotola, one-time head of publicity for the NFL Player's Association. "He was having more and more trouble landing gigs, writing speeches for more and more small-time politicos. Finally, I just said, Garn - why don't you give this a try?"

Jean Stackelberg, Garn's widow of fifty years, insists that the idea was all Garn's. "Oh, no, that Joe Rotola has been telling that story for years. He would tell that story right in front of my husband! Garn never cared. He didn't want any credit for himself. That was his style! But I assure you, the seed was planted years before he met Joe. We were watching the Packers win a game, Garn and I. It was a big game, I forget which one, but one of their receivers afterwards, well, he was pretty full of himself and he said some unfortunate things about the other team. Garn just shook his head and said, 'now that guy needs a speechwriter!'"

Soon, Stackelberg had struck out to become that speechwriter."You have to remember, when he first got into sports speechwriting, there was no such thing," Rotola laughs. "Guys would be saying all sorts of crazy things after games, causing all manner of brou-ha. It was funny on one level, but not for me in my position! When we brought Garn in, he really ignited. This was what he was made for, these were the speeches only he could write. He had a feel for that."

Stackelberg immediately made his mark with the bland, inoffensive style that has since come to dominate the world of pre- and post-game soundbites. Such phrases as, "We just need to play how we know we can play," "Well, they have a great team, you have to give it up for them," "It wasn't any one person's effort," "We knew that if we played our game, we had a good chance of coming off the field with a victory," "We need to take it up to the next level," and "We just didn't get it done out there today," phrases that today are part of the landscape, all are now widely-acknowledged as Stackelberg's work.

But the man himself was very humble about his pioneering work and huge influence. In a rare interview with SportsTime in 1997, Stackelberg was quoted as saying, "Well, I'm honored of course, but the credit really goes to the whole team. My editor, my agent, the players and coaches who really step up and deliver for me - where would I be without them?"

"I can't believe he's gone," muses Wannick. "But in a way, he'll never be gone. Every time I see a player step up to the microphone and say 'I knew that if we could dig deep, pull together as a team and play like we know we're capable of, good things will happen,' or when a coach says, 'We can't just keep beating ourselves with these stupid mistakes,' - that's Garn right there. He lives on in that."

Garn Stackelberg died in Ft. Leroy, Louisiana, December 19th, 2006. He was 81 years old.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Spiders Are Our Friends

Today I was late to work because I was trying to get a spider out of the house, and he wasn't cooperating. I could have just killed him I guess, but I didn't kill him, because "spiders are our friends."

Are they really our friends? What kind of friend keeps showing up inside your house - uninvited, unannounced - despite the fact that every time you see him, you grab him and throw him out the back door into the bushes?

Next time a friend does that, I'm going to take a rolled-up newspaper and hit him as hard as I can right in the body. If he lives, he's a friend.

If he dies...he was probably just a spider.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A thought of the day

Sometimes you just have to position the Gordian Knot beneath the Sword of Damocles.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I bet it ends up being something embarrassing Pt.2

This is a followup to my September 22nd post I Bet It Ends Up Being Something Embarrassing, where I complained:
I've got this stupid song stuck in my head...the intro to a song...just a few bars of the very beginning: a couple boom-thumping drum beats ("BOOM -thump- BOOM BOOM"), then what sounds like a skittering guitar with some effects on it, very synth-sounding (possibly not a guitar at all, could be a straight-up synthesized riff): "dweer-ni-ih dwaar-ni-ih dwiih-na-ih-na-ih-ah, dweer-ni-ih dwaar-ni-ih dwiih-na-ih-na-ih-ah..."
Anyway, I found out what it was! After all that time. Can you believe it? I believe it! I never gave up hope on finding out. That says a lot about me, I hope.

Anyway, it's "This Town" by Elvis Costello, off his adored and ignored nineteen eighty-hum album Spike, The Beloved Entertainer. Can you believe all those people not knowing that? Go and listen to it. Just you go and listen, and then come back and tell me that I didn't describe it to a "t"!

boom. BOP boom boom BOP! dweer-ni-ih dwaar-ni-ih dwiih-na-ih-na-ih-ah, dweer-ni-ih dwaar-ni-ih dwiih-na-ih-na-ih-ah...

Good song, too! Not embarrassing a'tall.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Beatles

Looking back and reevaluating their legacy with the benefit of hindsight and history, I think we can safely conclude that while the Beatles did not suck, they were nowhere nearly as great as initial reports would have had us believe.

I'll elaborate on that in another couple of decades. But I think you already kind of know what I mean.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Fought In Vietnam!

Well actually, I got into a scuffle with some drunk in a bar in Saigon, when I was over there on a business trip. But it's still a truthful statement.

What I mean by that is, it would be a truthful statement, if the above anecdote were true. The plain truth is that I have never personally actually been to Vietnam. The point I am trying to make is, you have to be careful how you interpret someone's statement. It might not mean what you think it means. Plus some people just lie their asses off at the drop of the hat for no reason.

That's something for you to consider, next time someone says something to you that you might want to interpret in a certain way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

For One Brief, Awful Moment...

...I thought my life was about to end. I rolled out of bed and hit the floor as the cats scattered. Okay, there are only two of them, so I guess they more "separated." My eyes bugged as the loud bang at the front door - the sound that had awakened me - repeated itself. And once again - intensifying with each strike. This wasn't someone trying to summon me to the door, or even just trying to get in - this was someone trying to break down the door. Not sure I could make it in time, I shot out of the bedroom and dove over the living room couch, twisting neatly in midair to slide down between the couch and the wall.

Not a moment too soon. The second I settled, I heard the stubborn door finally surrender under the force of some gigantic blow. The entire front door flew the length of the living room and crashed into the sliding glass door to the back patio, sundering the glass outward and finally settling into the torn and wrecked mesh of the screen.

"Culgrew!" barked a harsh voice. "We know you're in here, Culgrew! Where's the gold!"

"My name's not Culgrew!" I answered, confusing them as to my location by bouncing my voice off several walls. "You'll never find me, and you'll never get the gold!" I thought for a moment. "Go away!"

"Fool! We'll tear this place apart!" a second voice half-hissed, half-shrieked.

A tense moment of silence followed. Then, as if at some silent signal, the thunder of guns boomed out - almost unbelievably loud in the cozy enclosure of the small but comfortable house that I'd made a home. A grimly measured fusillade of hot lead - I felt the sturdy couch vibrate with impact after impact, saw the wall above me pock with holes, felt the dry plaster raining down, dusting my hair and clothes. In the kitchen, windows shattered and dishes crashed. All over the house, framed pictures cascaded from the walls.

After what seemed like solid minutes of bombardment, the noise ceased and a deafened silence washed in to fill the void. The dust began to settle across a carpet of the wrecked pieces of my life. In the kitchen, fragments of glass and china lay collaged in a violent kaleidoscope of mingled shards. I could hear something ceramic rolling to a stop under the kitchen table.

"Well, Culgrew! Had enough?" growled the first voice.

A long pause.

The second voice spoke in a nervous sotto voce: "What are we going to do? We can't find him in OOF!" He was cut short by the deep thwunk of a fist or elbow, striking him somewhere solid.

"How many of you are there?" I called.

A short pause. "Two!" said the first voice. He sounded like he meant it.

"That works," I said, and suddenly my lithe, muscular frame shockingly altered shape in a braced lunge - my hands on the wall behind me, both legs suddenly pivoting straight out like pistons, flinging the heavy sofa across the intervening space in the tick of a breathless second! I vaulted to my feet as the huge, tweed-upholstered bulldozer of a sofa bowled into the intruders, smacking them into the far wall with a pop and a heavy crunch. As it rocked to a stop, I was already on top of the two stunned men - my shoulder arriving like a battering ram, slamming the big one's head back into the plaster with the full weight of my body behind it.

"Hey! Now! How do you! like! That!" I queried, as I disarmed and harried the two with brutal, crunching blows to the face and abdomen. After a few more strokes, I stepped back and surveyed my work. Neither of these guys would be giving me any further trouble! But I still had a problem: how had they found out about me?

A sudden indistinct blur out of the corner of my eye gave me to understand that I had yet a more pressing problem - but too late! I half whirled to face the third intruder, and got my own red foot-long Maglite flashlight right in the skull, swung hard by somebody with a lot to swing with. I didn't even see stars, just black.

When I came to, I was back in bed. I rose uneasily, looking around. The room seemed to be in order. I padded silently out of the bedroom, then froze, flabbergasted. The whole house was back in order. Front door back on its hinges, sliding glass door repaired, bulletholes spackled so expertly even I couldn't see the marks. Dishes back in the dish rack, pictures on the walls. Couch sitting serenely! I couldn't believe it. The fixup job was just too thorough. Was it possible it had all been a dream?

"Wait a minute!" I started, with a yawning shock of horror. "Where's my gold!?"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Secret Too Bold To Be Told

There are three things about which I cannot tell you. The first is something I've known about for a long time now. Let that one go. Even if I told you, there would be nothing you could do about it now. You're better off not knowing.

The second is breaking news. There's no covering this one up. You're going to be hearing about it very soon now; in fact, by the middle of next week, take a look at the newspaper - look for the most shocking, disturbing story on the front page. That's it. That's the one I can't tell you. When you see it, hopefully it will make sense to you, as to why I can't say anything now. You would do the same in my shoes.

The third thing is another kettle of brisket entirely. This is a secret so grave, that no one can tell it and live to tell the tale. A secret so bold, that it cries out to be kept silent. A secret so delicious, that generations of blabbermouths have taken it to their graves gladly. No human eye has glimpsed, nor human tongue told, the secret that I am not about to reveal to you now. This is the sort of secret that could reach down and jostle the foundations of bedrock notions held as commonsense truths throughout the civilized world. A secret like this could root out the skeletons from the dank and privileged closets of the high and monied, could expose the shameful lie hiding behind all major world religions and bring heretofore respected public institutions tottering to their knees.

You may ask, how did I come to know this secret? That, I'm afraid I can't tell you. The true tale of how I came to know the secret is nearly as terrible as the secret itself. Simply know this: I know what I know. And I am not going to tell you.

Nyah.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Picked Up Cell by Stephen King

Got it at the airport bookstore yesterday. Took me long enough. When the thing first came out in...God! It was January! What the? Anyway, I when it first came out, I read some of the notices and a small portion that had been excerpted in an entertainment magazine, and I said, "ooh, looks like a good one this time! I'm getting that." Then I got to the bookstore and of course, BWONG! Giganto hardcover version.

I always forget about that. There's this long period of time on any "hot" book, where it's only available in the death-to-extra-trees edition. I suppose this is somewhat analogous to the theatrical release of a movie, and then the long wait before it finally comes out on DVD. I never minded that, though, because I love going to the movies. But where books are concerned...I don't have acres of bookshelf space to be storing chunky volumes, and I'm sorry Mr. King, but I'm probably going to be reading this thing in the tub anyway, or lying on my back in bed. Might as well wait for the little edition and save on wrist-strain.

Still, I had made the decision to get the book and I stuck with it. I would glance at the "K" section of the fiction shelves every so often, whenever I found myself strolling through bookstores and happened to remember to look. Finally, the paperback edition came out this month. After almost a year! Seems pretty long to me. For a while there I thought they maybe were making us wait for the movie!

Anyway, I've picked up a copy, and I'm four or five dozen pages into it, and it looks pretty gripping. I'm glad I decided to give it a read. But I tell you now - if it turns out to be the goddamned Devil behind the whole thing yet again, I am never buying another fucking Stephen King book as long as I live. Does humanity pose no threat at all? Can't we come up with ONE decent world-ending problem by ourselves? Must we rely on Satan for all of our plot machinations?

I'm sick of all this Diabolus Ex Machina.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Snooty Review of The Cheesecake Factory

I had never been to The Cheesecake Factory before, though I've seen them around. But tonight, having picked up my companion at the airport and rushed straight to the gigantic mall so that she could replace some of the key facial and toilette products that (being liquids) had been stowed in her checked baggage which, alas, dematerialized en route to SFO, and, finding ourselves starving and the Cheesecake Factory so close to hand, we decided "let's."

The vaulted ceilings, rococo design elements and art deco colonnade made as if to prepare me for the sprawling profusion of the menu - yet still it was too much to take in. Page after laminated page of Italian next to Thai next to Tex-Mex next to good ol' fashioned Meat Loaf (excuse me - "meatloaf" - not the singer) next to filet mignon, next to (swear to God) Hungarian goulash, and on and on. I just chose the first thing that looked likely, and an ice tea to go with it. My date ordered a mixed greens salad and a chicken piccata.

We also ordered a cheesy spinachy dippy thing, but this never came, so que sera sera I guess.

The people seated next to us, two young men and a young woman, regaled each other (and unfortunately, us) with tales of Rome, particularly of the Vatican and its amazing Swiss Guard, who apparently dress like court jesters but carry poleaxes, may or may not actually be Swiss, and may or may not have uzis tucked away "just in case things get serious." As our beverages arrived I caught my sweetheart's eye and suggested that now would be a fine time for one of our special haughty and erudite conversations. She demurred (tired out from the flight).

My ice tea was tinged with raspberry. Apparently people are still doing that.

When our salads came, they were enormous; but as we both were famished this was looked at favorably. My endive pecan salad with bleu cheese was very self-assured, and with good reason. The Belgian endives, radicchio, and arugula, accented with glazed pecans, just enough crumbled bleu cheese, and a touch of vinaigrette - this approached to as perfect an expression of the "bitter greens" school of the salad-maker's art as I've had in a long time. It lacked but one ingredient that could have tied it all together and made it sing: where were the hearts of palm?

Across the table, she pronounced her mixed greens salad "solid," and I had no desire to gainsay her on the point (but was that iceberg lettuce in there??).

Our entrees arrived - to our momentary confusion as the appetizer we'd ordered was yet to make an appearance - but one glance at those laden plates gave us every assurance that no further appetizing would be necessary. My darling's chicken piccata was surmounted by a heavenly mound of angel hair pasta, which in turn was surrounded by mushrooms, plump and delicious. The chicken cutlets themselves were done to a golden turn. An A+ plus for presentation, and though I couldn't bring myself to try a full bite of it, I did dip a bit of oven-fresh squaw bread into the sauce, and found it quite saucy! Full of an agreeable zing, for which the capers must justly be credited.

The reason I was reticent to dig into my love's chicken piccata was that I had my own hands full with the Tons Of Fun Burger that I'd ordered. Two all-beef patties, "secret sauce," lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun. Wait! Does that sound familiar? That's right - it's the Big Mac! Which was pretty much what I'd guessed from the menu entry. The description of the dish led me to expect what a Big Mac might be if someone tried to make one from scratch with real ingredients. And I must say, this burger approached to that lofty expectation. A solid two-handed burger, with the unexpected bonus of some quite lovely and light-tasting fries to go with. I found myself oversalting the fries to further echo my golden early memories of McDo'.

The party at the next table had moved on to the topic of music. One of the lads was talking about the Manic Street Preachers, leading the lass to inquire, "who are they? I've never heard of them." Laddie replied, "oh, you probably wouldn't have. They're more of a European band."

I very nearly smiled.

By then it was time to think about dessert, and the thought that immediately came to mind was, "are you insane? After those portions?" But it was, after all, The Cheesecake Factory. And I do so love cheesecake. I found I hadn't the heart to leave without ordering a slice - although certainly not a slice adulterated with all manner of chocolate peanut-butter cup brownie crunch madness! - styles towards which they seemed to have a pronounced leaning. I'm more of a purist. I ordered a slice of their classic cherry-preserves-topped plain cheesecake, "to go."

I'll let you know how that turns out.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fluffy Scrambled Eggs

What's the secret to coming out with perfect, fluffy scrambled eggs every time? Have me do it.

I love scrambled eggs. I love that something so delicious and satisfying, such a perfectly-realized food, can be so simple. So easy to do. Plato believed that it was impossible for perfection to be realized within the tangible world. I would like to serve him a plate of my scrambled eggs!

I love cracking a succession of eggs into a bowl one after the other, one-handed, without getting a particle of shell in or breaking one single yolk. I always feel a little bit wistful when I see all those perfect yolks floating in the bowl. "You guys should be fried eggs," I say. But I go in nonetheless and I break them up with a fork, pouring in the milk as I whisk and stir, whisk and stir.

My single favorite moment of the process is lifting the bowl over the stove, still whisking with the fork, and pouring the egg mixture out into the lightly-buttered pan to that gratifying sound - a soft hiss and a sizzle - of egg hitting hot pan and spreading out.

The greatest thing about it is, anybody can do it! I don't claim any special gift. I don't say I never get a piece of shell in the bowl. I'm not perfect. If I get a little speck of shell in there, I pick it out.

I do kind of wish I had some orange juice, though. I tend to fail to plan ahead, and then find I don't have all the accompaniments on hand.

People Seem To Like Me

People seem to like me. I have no idea why. I'm aware that I am good at doing certain tricks and things, small feats of conversation. I'm told that I have a great sense of humor. I don't know what it means. I think everything's funny. I've just learned to limit my remarks to what other people will think is funny. In those social situations.

But I feel like I'm not even good at that anymore. The small joy has gone out of it for me. I feel like a fake, a huge fake. Not a fake as in I'm really one thing, and I put on or pretend to be something else. More like a fake as in I'm not anything, not anything at all.

I am cut off, as we all are cut off. We spend our lives trapped in our own selves, never knowing whether other people really feel as we do inside, or whether no one does - and no one knows. I feel like I never have had and never will have a connection to anyone, that our connections that we tell ourselves we share are all either purely surface, or purely illusory. Nothing gets in. We are locked out from each other.

I wonder whether every interaction we have is just people going through the accepted motions, repeating the scenes and displays and interactions we've seen; acting, interacting the way that we've been shown how, on television, in the movies.

I feel as though I and everyone I know are play-acting our parts, parts that we write as we go along. It's strenuous, writing your own dialogue as you go along. Sometimes you have a conversation that could have been extremely important, could have meant something. But you fuck it up. And then you tell yourself, it wouldn't have meant anything anyway. Because nothing does.

After a certain amount of time you realize that you always have felt this way. You just weren't as aware of it before, but it's always been there. The isolation. The hollowness. The lie.

Unfortunately...no one can be told about the Matrix. You have to see it for yourself.

Friday, December 08, 2006

On Hypocrisy

One thing I hate is when somebody gets accused of hypocrisy just for changing their mind about what they believe in. It would be pretty poetic and I would love it if I could use razor-like logic right now, to demonstrate that those making such an accusation are, in fact, hypocrites themselves - but I don't really see the angle in to that argument right now. So I'll let that one pass.

But the fact is: people are allowed to change their minds, change the way they live, change what they believe in. It isn't hypocrisy. You may be a teenager who believes in God, Jesus, 10 commandments, the whole kit. Then later on, you may at the age of 60 decide "hell with all that! From now on it's hard drugs and celebrity prostitutes for me!" This is not hypocrisy. To believe in one thing, and then to go on to change your ways or your beliefs, is not hypocrisy.

For that matter, other things that are not hypocrisy include:

1. Subscribing to a portion of a particular belief system / philosophy / party political platform, but not all of it - you're not required to swallow the whole bill of goods just to satisfy other peoples' stereotypical impression of how "that type of person" is "supposed to" believe and act!

2. Giving different advice to two different people on what each should do - they're different people! What's good advice for one may not be the same as what's good advice for the other!

3. Giving another person advice that you wouldn't necessarily follow yourself - astute readers will have noticed that this is identical to #2...and for the same reasons.

A word about "do as I say, not as I do" - this is the standard nutshell definition of a hypocrite. But is it necessarily hypocritical to tell someone to do one thing while you yourself do the opposite? Is a Catholic priest hypocritical to advise someone else to get married? What if you're a professional daredevil and you tell the people at home not to try this? Suppose you're a doctor who smokes. That's bad enough, but should you also tell your patients to smoke, so as to avoid being a hypocrite? Let's take more extreme examples: what if you're a drug addict? What if you know it is killing you, but you just can't stop - and then you turn around and tell someone else not to do the drug? Are you a hypocrite? What if you are a mass murderer, only just sane enough to be able regret your homicidal binges - and so you tell people they should not kill others? Is that some kind of hypocrisy or what? And, would that make it bad advice if it was?

What if you are for lack of a better word a sinner, and it's killing you inside, and you know whereof you speak. What if you have tried as hard as you can to reform whatever it is that you do, whatever it is that is cutting you off the rest from humanity, or from the grace of God, or from whatever you might conceptualize that as. Think of the worst thing possible. Now imagine you are one of those driven to that act. No one is forcing you to do it! But you've succumbed to the urge nonetheless, and you really feel that your next step should be to kill yourself. Because what you did, is just that bad.

If you speak out against it, against what you did...against the worst act possible, that one human being can do to another...are you being a hypocrite?

I don't know, but I don't think so. We may not all be out there committing the worst possible act. Nonetheless: we all fall, and we all fail. If failing meant that we could no longer say what we believed to be right, then all of us would be utterly lost, and...there would be no more guides.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wassails and Yuletidings, Ye All

When Christmastime
shrieks by overhead,
and your Christmas thoughts
close in around you,
repeat to yourself: "it's just once a year"
it's just once a year, when that magical time
comes crashing down
and crushes our souls
into sugarplum pudding.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Godzilla: Are We Better Off Without Him?

It may seem at odds with my hard-nosed position on Superman in the previous post, but I've always sort of wished that there was a Godzilla. This, despite the mayhem and destruction that always seem to prance hand-in-hand with the big "G" as Godzilla fans, or G. Fans as they refer to themselves, refer to him.

Godzilla is a natural disaster with personality. I know, "we have more than enough natural disasters as it is." But suppose you could add Godzilla to the mix, without increasing the total natural-disaster "pie"? If you could take a bunch of your regularly-scheduled natural disasters of comparable magnitude off the board, and replace them with Godzilla, wouldn't you do it? Wouldn't you just about have to do it?

The thing is, all of your other natural disasters are too implacable. They don't even know you're there. They're just spiraling or surging or buckling along the lines of least resistance, and there isn't a thing you can do about it. You can't really reason with Godzilla, either, but at least you can anthropomorphize the brute! At least you can have a sense that the disaster happened for a reason - even if the reason is only that Godzilla doesn't like the cut of your city's jib.

Another point is that, under the right conditions, and given a streak of luck or two, a Godzilla event can be managed. Possibly even, minimized. You can throw all your Godzilla Defense Forces into the field, lull Godzilla into a false sense of security by pounding him with several hundred tons of conventional ordnance (to which he is manifestly immune), then use the recorded calls of seabirds to lure him across a nearby plain and right into the handy row of tricked-up super-high-voltage towers. This sort of thing doesn't hurt Godzilla, but he's a pretty good sport about it and will usually wander off back to the ocean again afterwards, if you can pull it off with any sort of panache at all.

It's no use fooling ourselves, though: Godzilla cannot be stopped. Not by conventional weapons. Not by nuclear weapons. Not by germs and not by Superman. Nothing Can Stop Godzilla.

The best you can do is hope he changes direction.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Superman: We're Really Better Off Without Him

Yeah I know, he'd be real useful to have around in a pinch. But when you really look at the question from a few angles, you'll probably admit that overall, we're much better off without Superman.

First of all, superheroes always seem to attract super-villains. At least that's one thing we in the real world don't have to worry about, right? Criminals who sneer at the laws of physics! We don't need that. Every time a super-powered costumed adventurer pops up in the movies, it always seems like an equally-dangerous super-maniac pops up pretty quick to challenge him. And generally, more than one will pop up! Each of your superheroes tends to breed a whole stable of super-enemies, pretty quickly. That's what comes of needing a new menace each month in your comic book. But in real life, you just know that those first six or eight month's worth of super-villains (each of whom alone is bad news enough to hard-press the hero) would just pool their forces and clobber the guy.

Plus, every time those guys get into fights in the city, somebody always starts throwing cars. I don't want somebody picking up my car and throwing it at anybody - especially if I'm in it.

Second, and more importantly: just imagine the impact that a real, live Superman - active in the real world, flying around dealing with real disasters - imagine the impact that such a being would have on our entertainments! He would totally ruin all new action movies, just by existing. You could no longer suspend disbelief. Everybody would be sitting there in the theater going, "Come on! This crisis has been going on for twenty minutes. Totally unrealistic! Superman would have swooped in and mopped everything up easy by now."

Call me a fool, but I don't want to live in a world like that.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Road Safety Corner #2: How To Merge, Damn It

It almost constantly strikes me how many people out there don't have the slightest understanding of how to negotiate a merge. Or perhaps I should say, it constantly almost strikes me.

I'm not talking about a situation where the highway is rolling along at or near the speed limit, and one or two cars are trying to enter via the on-ramp. That's a self-explanatory situation. Nobody needs any pointers on that. That's not what I'm talking about, when I say "negotiate a merge." No, I'm talking about where two completely full lanes of traffic are merging into one lane. This is a very low-speed, stop-and-go operation, and honestly - the requirements of safe driving and courtesy should be self-evident. The rule is as obvious as it is simple:

"ONE AHEAD, ONE BEHIND."

It doesn't matter which lane you're in. It doesn't matter which lane would have had the right of way, if there had been no traffic backup. When two full lanes are coming together, there's no "yield to the right" or right of way given to one lane over the other. Anyone who thinks there is, is either an idiot or driving a cop car (in which case, "yield to the cop car" applies). Just think about it, even for a second! You're sitting in your lane saying, "my lane has the right of way, so nobody is going to get in front of me!"? Exactly how the hell would that work, Clarence? Should the entire other lane sit there forever, not moving at all until all the traffic clears?

Wake up! Lane-based right-of-way doesn't even apply in this situation. There's only one way to handle it fairly. You let one car in ahead of you, and one comes in behind you. Everybody equal. Everybody lets somebody in. The idea involved goes all the way back to principles of natural law.

All of you dirtbags riding up on the bumper of the car ahead of you, determined to let nobody from the other lane in - what makes you so special? Is it just the fact that you are a dirtbag? Or do you have other, hidden qualities besides? Qualities that decree that you among everyone else in your lane should be exempt from having anyone merge in front of you?

You're not special. There's a whole lane filled with cars, right next to you. You are going to be putting your car in front of one of them. So you let someone else in, in return. It's the least you can do.

And while we're on the subject - let only one car in. You're not doing anybody any favors by letting in a whole group of cars! Screwing up the merge order, forcing everyone around you to re-jockey around. Nobody needs to let in more than one car, but everybody needs to let in one.

One ahead. One behind. Simple.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Life Has Gone Wrong Somehow

I can't put my finger on it. Most days, my life seems okay. But then there's something missing. Or if there isn't something missing, then it must be that there's something there, that shouldn't be. Either that, or both. But whatever it is, my life...has gone wrong somehow.

We don't feel nostalgia for the past. We feel it for the future. It wasn't what we were doing then that was so golden, but what we were envisioning. All those futures that we saw for ourselves. At first, they kept pace with us seemingly right at their heels. Then they receded further and further out of reach, until we gave up and began envisioning something else. We miss them. We miss the futures we thought were ours.

A lot of people love me a lot. That ought to be enough for me. Shouldn't it?

When I pass a happy dog tied to a pole outside a restaurant, I ask myself, "why can't I be like that?"

I have never fallen out of love with anyone I've been in love with. No one else ever seems to have this problem.

I should shut up about it. I should probably shut up about it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hate Part 3: Hate Explained

I think that white people who are racists against blacks only act that way because they are afraid that deep down inside they might really be black.

I don't know what's up with the homophobia though.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Open Dream Journal #10: Watch Out!

I dreamt I was driving down my street a little too fast, and suddenly I ran over a whole bunch of babies. I wasn't driving my regular Toyota Tercel, I was driving an unfamiliar car, a red sports car.

This car was loaded. Macked-out. It had a booming stereo, 7-speed manual transmission, deluxe interior with ultra-comfy bucket seats, fat tires, and some kind of a honey of an engine under that hood. I don't know what make or model it was, but its gleaming midnight-red body was muscular yet curvaceous. It had swoopy lines and sharp angles, reminiscent of a cross between a Corvette Stingray, the early Dodge Viper, and the Mach-5. It even had control buttons on the steering wheel, somewhat similar to the layout on the Mach-5! But these buttons didn't control any special arsenal of weapons and gadgets. Just the normal functions of a sports car.

I tell you, I have never in real life sat in the pilot seat of a machine like that and thrilled to the ROAR of the engine, as I idly gunned it. It had a whole different sound and feel to any other car that I've ever driven. Probably because it isn't a car that exists in reality, but the thrill of it sure felt real. This wasn't one of those cars that insulates you from the feel of the road. This was a car that puts you in tune with the thrum and vibration and pulse of its tires and chassis and engine, a car that makes you part of itself; as you rocket down the road, savoring every pitch, swoop, and turn, feeling the vibration of the pavement as the tread of your four wheels grips it and hurls it behind you!!!!

One sweet ride, man.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

#1 at FIGHT!

No six human beings together could take me in a fight. That's any 6 human beings on the planet - the next best 6 at fighting in the whole world. I say, "the next best 6" because I, of course, am the best. I am #1 when it comes to FIGHT! So it wouldn't matter which 6 people you chose to come at me. You could pick numbers 2 through 7, wouldn't make a difference. They couldn't beat me even all coming at me together, in concert. Which just demonstrates the severe drop-off, the sheer gap in fight skill between me and the next one down. I can take all six of the next ones down. I can take them down.

But what about 7 people together, you ask? Well, let me explain a bit, let you in on the mechanics. If it were the 2nd- through seventh-best together, plus some random guy...he isn't going to make such a difference. They're still all going down. He might distract me a bit, but that's not going to help anybody out! However, if that 7th fighter was the 8th best in the world...then the seven of them together could take me out. That's why I drew the line at six in the first place. It's a safety issue.

I don't mean my safety! I mean theirs. Those seven or eight people would beat me in the end, sure. But they're not going to win unscathed. I mean, these are among the ten best fighters in the world! I know who they all are - I know them on sight. They're normally scattered all over the world, so the only reason for me to see even any four of them together at one time is that they're coming to take me down. I see four or five of them together, too many familiar faces at once - I know what's coming. I know the score instantly: it's going down. I'm neither blind nor stupid! And in a situation like that, I can only assume that it's my life in danger. In a situation like that, I will respond with ultimate force. I am perfectly justified in doing so.

That is why I say, it's their safety. Because even in that losing effort, I am going to take at least several of them out - for keeps. But it's fucking sad for it to come to that. What can I say, they should have known better. Shouldn't have come after me to take me down.

They can't stand me being so much better, is all. Can't stand me being #1! They want a #1 they can push around a bit. The current #2, heck - numbers 3 and 4 together could take her out. That's what they want. That's exactly what they don't get, with me. My margin of skill is simply too excessive. I'll bump into a couple or three of them together sometimes, every now and then. At a convention or something. I'll be smacking them each in the head, pushing them against each other. You know. B-b-b-b-b-b-ing their lips and shit. They don't even try to stop me. What can they do? They know I've got it ALL OVER them! They just say things like, "hey come on man!" and "oh, real mature!" I always get a good laugh on that!

That's the reward I get, for a lifetime of hard work and dedication to my discipline. I get to be the best.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

a thought

No paranoid is satisfied until he turns everyone against him.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A bird lies dead.

A bird lies dead
in the first frost of late autumn.
A dead sparrow, I think.
Something small, brownish,
dead at any rate. One
of the birds that hop,
not walk.

I think of the birds
that you see, turning as one
in numberless flocks, wheeling
and contracting - individual birds
beating wings so hard, you picture
tiny looks of concentration
on each birds' face.
The whole flock
appears at once, rushing up
into the air in one great shape,
as if at some sudden
invisible call.

Was it the cold
that stopped its puny heart?
Or did the cold come after -
drawing a cold blanket over.
Frost feathers frozen windows,
and no two snowflakes are alike
they say; nor any two feathers
on this little dude.
Poor guy. His head lies cocked,
as if listening.
I think that he died
waiting

waiting
for the call to take off.

Can of Worms

I bet if they sold cans of worms, a lot of people would buy one just to have a handy metaphor.

I would really love a can of worms for my desk. A realistic-looking Campbell's can, that old red-and-white label, only with the word "WORMS" on it instead of "CHICKEN NOODLE." That would be neat to have handy! Whenever the situation demanded it, I could pick it up, show it to the person bothering me and say, "do you really want to open THIS?"

No. No, you didn't. I didn't think so.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Biscotti Pt. 2

Perhaps I should have said, in the previous installment about Biscotti, that people used to like biscotti. Because, it seems like there's a little bit of low-level biscotti backlash out there. It's no longer looked at as a yummy treat, so much as a nearly-passed passing fad.

Well, I don't know why that is. I mean, people still drink their espressos and cappuccinos like they're going out of style, don't they? And what goes better with that? Give biscotti a break!

It's really just cookies.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Self-Reflection

I just spent some time looking myself in the eye, and I found the experience to be a pleasant one. Long I stood, gazing into those unguessed depths. My own depths - heretofore unguessed! At least by me.

Depths of cruelty. Depths of curiosity. Depths of despair. Depths of lust and perversity! Depths of mercy and hope. Depths of simplicity. I think that I scared myself - but then quickly I reassured myself again. Then I started making funny faces.

Taken as a whole, the experience was quite enlightening! I recommend it to all, as a spiritual exercise.

WARNING: Always consult your karmaologist before embarking on any sort of spiritual exercise regimen.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Beer Appreciator

I'm a real appreciator of fine beers and ales. You could say I'm a lager snob, I don't deny it. But I like all styles, as long as they're done well. I like lagers, ales, stouts, porters, wheats, barley wines. And that's not even counting all of these so-called fruit beers. Which, admittedly, I'm less keen on...but even there, I've tasted some exceptional examples of the craft. So I keep an open mind, always.

When I'm evaluating a beer, instead of drinking it straight from the bottle or can, I always like to pour it out into a pint glass so I can appreciate the color and all that. Give it a bit of air, you know. But you have to be careful to check the glass first! Nowadays I always check. One time, I didn't check, and after pouring out the entire contents of a truly beautiful brew, I noticed a little dead black bug floating on the foamy surface of the amber waves of ale! I was so furious at the prospect of having to dump the whole glass untasted that instead, I deliberately ate the bug!

It was okay.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Special Guest Shot #3: Benjamin Semper, Covert Government Operative pt1

dogimo: Today we are very pleased to welcome a pretty exciting guest to the program, a man whose name you probably have not heard before: mister Benjamin Semper. If you haven't heard of him, rest assured it's for a good reason: Ben Semper was a highly-placed covert government operative back in the late 80s to mid 90s.

Semper: Small correction. I was not in fact a Field Operative for the majority of my tenure. There were some occasions when I did operate in the field, in the capacity of Junior Associate Operative attached to certain of the units that I helped to bring into being.

dogimo: Ah, thank you for the correction. The amount of info that I had going into this, pretty sketchy. So you were more a shadowy power behind-the-scenes?

Semper: Yes, well, more than you might expect. Primarily, I was a grant writer.

dogimo: I see! Which...that is a skill in high demand, in many fields. I'm a bit surprised to think of espionage as one of them.

Semper: You would be correct to be surprised. I myself was surprised when I applied for a position as a grant writer in the political science department at [ CLASSIFIED ] University, only to be handed secrecy agreements to sign, and to be told by my interviewers that they were recruiting not for a university position but for the government.

dogimo: But why does the government have to write grant proposals to itself? Isn't that just more unnecessary bureaucracy? Can't you just, "Get 'er done"?

Semper: I hate that saying. Don't say that. To answer your question, in the old days we didn't have to. But then, by the late 1970s, when the brakes were being put on a lot of Intelligence programs and spending across the board, Congress was looking to find ways to institute some controls on the process. One of the things they came up with was grant proposals for any new programs requiring funding.

dogimo: And these proposals would be approved by whom?

Semper: Formally, approval or rejection was determined by a small joint committee composed of representatives from each key agency plus 2 members from each house of Congress, reporting directly to the Covert Intelligence Oversight Subcommittee, which at the time was housed within a permanent sub-joint subsection of the subcommittee on appropriations within the House Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate. But during my time, all the real decisions were made by this guy we called Blackhead. That's a code name.

dogimo: Was he black? Did he have acne?

Semper: I never met the man. I think it's just a name they came up with when they were working up the new code name list. Of names to give out. There's an alphabeticized list, you get what you get.

dogimo: Do you have a code name?

Semper: I had several, for the different missions that I was attached to. That's all classified, I can't tell you any of them.

dogimo: No cool ones, huh?

Semper: It's classified.

dogimo: So tell me, when you were writing up a grant proposal for a new project or mission, what sorts of strategies did you use to get it approved?

Semper: Well, it was a pretty difficult time for a while there. All of the pressure was in the direction of cutting back, not expanding into new operations. But after a while, I was the one to figure out that the guy making the final decisions had a real thing for acronyms. That was the breakthrough. After that - you still had to take pains to make your proposal smack of fiscal responsibility, but if you could dress it up with an impressive acronym, you had a better than even chance.

dogimo: I love acronyms. Do you have any acronyms that you came up with that you're particularly proud of?

Semper: There were a few. I guess if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the Covert Operations Strike Team Expeditionary Force For Extralegal Commando Type Insertion Via Espionage.

dogimo: ... gimme a second ... say it again!

Semper: "Covert Operations Strike Team Expeditionary Force For Extralegal Commando Type Insertion Via Espionage"..."C.O.S.T. E.F.F.E.C.T.I.V.E."

dogimo: A-ha...! Nice. Covers both key areas of concern.

Semper: Fiscally responsible, yet...

dogimo: ...badass.

Semper: To put it delicately.

dogimo: Which illustrates what I've always said, a little Intelligence goes a long way!

Semper: Indeed it does.

-END OF PART 1-

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody

I was out of town. I just changed the date on it so it looks like it's not two days later.

That was some goooood sweet potatoes. She said just a little tweak of orange juice in there, a little dap of maple syrup - that's it!

They tasted like just great sweet potatoes, not at all like there was anything else put in there.

Sometimes the simplest secrets make all the difference.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another Thing I Only Just Realized, That Everyone Else Probably Spotted Right Off

Pre-blended yogurt is just a scam so they can put less fruit in!

Another Great Opening Fizzles

Christianity encompasses four central mysteries. There is the Incarnation, there is the Redemption, there is the Resurrection, and there is the Final Judgment. In today's installment, we will be examining what makes a perfect burger so perfect.

A perfect burger needs to be thick - but not too thick. It should be juicy as well - but not too juicy. The bun should be soft but dense, able to stand up to the juices without getting soggy or falling apart. Seeds on the bun or a toasted bun are optional.

Toppings should consist of (top-to-bottom): one crisp leaf of fresh lettuce, one fat beefy slice of a Jersey-Fresh tomato, and one thin cross-section of an onion - with every other ring removed. Condiments should be limited to ketchup, which should be poured directly onto the onion - so that the ketchup gets into the onion gaps, and the ketchup and onion can really commingle flavors.

Underneath that goes the patty. The thing that everyone seems to forget these days is that - I don't care how rare or how well you want it on the inside - the surface of that burger must be charred. Not burnt. Charred. That's where a good 60% of your flavor comes from - those little charred bits.

Mmmmm-m. That's what I call a perfect burger! What do you mean, cheese? That wouldn't be a perfect burger! That would be a perfect cheeseburger.

NOTE: for ease of assembly, do not attempt to assemble the burger top-to-bottom as described above. Instead, put it together in reverse order - starting with the bottom bun, patty on top, onion (ketchup on top), tomato, lettuce, top bun! If you really, absolutely must employ mayonnaise, or mustard, or both - the place for those condiments is on the bottom bun. Spread the mayo on first, then the mustard. Your burger will no longer be a perfect one, but I suppose you know what you're getting into.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Subject: Fw: FW: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT OUT OF LIFE?

I include the below as a blog post because I do not know 10 people.

> > YOU KNOW ME I NEVER FWD THESE, BUT COME ON!!
> >
> >
> > * A WOMAN IN DECATEUR BROKE THE CHAIN AND WAS
> DRAGGED BEHIND A CAR, HER KNEE GOT SCRAPED UP PRETTY
> BAD
> >
> > * A MAN IN WISCONSIN OPENED A BUSINESS ONLY TO
> WATCH IT FAIL. HE SHOULD OF KEPT THE CHAIN.
> >
> > * WHEN A POLICE DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER BROKE THE
> CHAIN, HE WAS BOUGHT UP ON CHARGES!
> >
> > * A WOMAN WHO SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER BROKE THE
> CHAIN. NOBODY EVEN KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED TO HER.
> >
> > * WHEN RALPH OF NEBRASKA CITY KEPT THE CHAIN, HE
> FOUND HIS WALLET THAT HE LOST
> >
> > * DESIREE OF NORTH CAROLINA WAS GOING TO BREAK THE
> CHAIN. LATER SOMETHING HAPPENED TO CHANGE HER MIND!
> AND SHE SENT IT ON TO 10 OTHERS. WITH HER LUCKY
> HUNCH, SHE THEN WENT AND PURCHASED A LOTTERY TICKET.
> >
> > MEANWHILE:
> > * JOHN FROM THE HARDWARE STORE NEVER FORWARDS
> IT ON. WHY DO YOU THINK HE WORKS IN A HARDWARE STORE??
> >
> > * MICHELLE FROM DECATEUR IS THE SISTER OF THE
> WOMAN WHO GOT DRAGGED BEHIND THE CAR. YOU CAN BET
> THAT MICHELLE KEPT THE CHAIN! IN FACT, IT WAS
> MICHELLE WHO SENT IT TO HER SISTER.
> >
> > * SHE WAS ALSO THE ONE DRIVING THE CAR.
> >
> > * RICHARD FROM JONSON COUNTY SENT THE CHAIN ON TO
> 10 FRIENDS. HE WAS SELECTED FOR A NETWORK REALITY
> SHOW!
> >
> >
> > IF YOU ARE THE TYPE PERSON WHO WOULD OF FORWARD IT ON, YOU BETTER FORWARD IT! TO AS MANY PERSONS AS POSSIBLE - HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU KNOW? PROVIE IT!
>
> IF YOU ARE NOT THE TYPE PERSON TO FORWARD IT ON, THEN I WILL TELL YOU A JOKE OF A SECRET IT IT IS JUST A HOAX. I MADE UP ALL THE HAPPENINGS AS A JOKE ON THE OTHER GUY. YOU SHOULD FORWARD IT TOO MAKE FUN OF AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE! TO BE TAUGHT A VALUABLE LESSON NOT TO! .
>
> ESPECIALLY IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO FORWARDS CHAIN-STYLE E-MAILS TO YOU THEN YOU BETTER SEND THEM THIS ONE. IF YOU DON'T, MAYBE SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN TO THEM.
>
> > YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE
> IF YOU DONT

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A penny for your thought of the day

I like to think of all times and places as equally unsuitable.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

You KNOW it.

For some reason, I'm incapable of responding appropriately to the sort of light, breezy greetings that pass between people who pass each other in the halls, or on the street. You know, that sort of,
Person 1: "hey, what's up?"
Person 2: "Nothing much, yourself?"
Or,
Person 1: "How are you doing?"
Person 2: "Doing good, doing well!"

It seems so simple, but I can't seem to process in time to give back a sensible rejoinder, without an unnatural lag-time that makes it seem forced. Most of the time, I'd just guess - leading to uneven results:
Person 1: "How's it going?"
Me: "Nothing much, yourself?"
Or,
Person 1: "What's up?"
Me: "Outstanding!"
Or,
Person 1: "How have you been?"
Me: "Nothing!"

Over time, I fell into the habit of responding to all comers with something that may not necessarily fit, but it wouldn't be clearly wrong...because it wouldn't be the obvious response for any of the other common greetings, either. I've gone through several of these "designated reply phrase" standbys, but the one that's stuck with me is: "You KNOW it." It works pretty well for just about anything:
Person 1: "Hey hey! How are ya?"
Me: "You KNOW it."
Or,
Person 1: "What's up?"
Me: "You KNOW it."
Or,
Person 1: "Where have you been?"
Me: "You KNOW it."

I think that ends up being a more indicative answer than any of those cliché responses anyhow. It's indicative of me, of what's up with me, of how I'm doing, of where I've been.

That's just how I do it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Black Ops Reminiscences

I thought back to my early days with the Agency. Back then, back when I'd first transferred over from the Company, some of the others and I formed a little outfit that we liked to call "the Project." We were putting together a program known only as "the Operation." Only a few members of the Project knew that the outcome of the Operation, if it went according to program, would result in a huge shakedown at the highest levels of the Agency. At least, that was the Plan.

As the "outsider inside," having only just come over from the Company, my knowledge and insights would be crucial. Certain phases of the Operation were wickedly subtle, and my information, along with my personal knack for inscrutability, was to play a key part in the central deception involved.

But there were other phases that were not so subtle. Phases that required more direct action: intimidation, even elimination. There was one man in the Project whose Job it was to handle such Tasks. He reveled in it. To the targets he hunted for us, he was known by several names: "The Devastationer"..."The Destructicutioner"..."He Who Hunts Us." But none of us knew his real name. His whole life was a trail of blind alleys, false fronts and conflicting loyalties. And when everything went South, he was left holding the Bag.

Now it seemed likely that some of those chickens were coming home to Roost.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

LABOR DAY: A CELEBRATION

Labor Day is nigh upon us again, and we're all in the mood to enjoy so many things. The waning days of summer...the first brisk hints of autumn in the air...cookouts, school semesters, a 3-day weekend...the start of the Football Season! So many things. Yet how many of us take time out to meditate on the whole purpose and theme of Labor Day? That's right! I think a little history lesson is in order.

As we know, the modern era of the Organized Labor Movement was born in strife and struggle. The largest, strongest league of workers in the country - the AFL-CIO - was troubled by the emergence of an upstart league calling itself the NFL-CIO. The battle for superiority between the two was fought in the court of public opinion. NFL-CIO officials charged that the established league had grown complacent and boring. The AFL-CIO countered with the claim that the new league was all flash and no substance - sure, they could put points on the board, the negotiating board, but what about defense? Could they hold onto those gains? Could they prevent the opposition from making gains? What about pounding it out in the trenches, getting the job done with a smash-mouth run-first approach to labor negotiations? Eventually, the war of words died down, and the two rival organizations merged to form a stronger whole. One that catered to both styles, but was plagued by pointless strikes, salary-cap disputes, and free agency.

Such is the unavoidable story when it comes to organized labor. But I think it holds a lesson for us all: the gains made are more than worth it. It is common knowledge on a bumper sticker seen frequently enough: "The Labor Movement: The folks who brought you the weekend." It's true. Before laborers banded together to force change, employers could make you work all over the place and whenever they wanted. Then came the weekend...and finally, we could all exhale a sigh of relief, for at least a couple days (or 3 days, in this case). Over time, that weekend became a deeply-embedded, ingrained part of our culture and our society.

But consider this: walking among us, almost impossible to distinguish with the naked eye, are people who do not observe the traditional Saturday/Sunday weekend. Some of them are waiters. Others are emergency workers. Others attend gas stations, or provide security at functions. There are a whole host of businesses that remain open on Saturday and Sunday, and whose staffs must perforce toggle their schedules to cover those shifts. They end up with weekends on Monday and Tuesday, or in the middle of the week, or at random times. They go to work on Saturday and Sunday and sleep in on days you or I might be at work. Our first impulse is to let our hearts go out in sympathy for these poor folks, and it's a good impulse. But consider this: owing to their weaker ties to society at large, these people may very well be more likely to be sociopaths.

I think it's important to think about. I think it's important to meditate on the various aspects of labor, and the workplace, and the workforce, and particularly our heritage regarding these important things and ideas. And if you see any organized laborers over the next few days, take some time out to give them a big thanks on behalf of a grateful nation. Organized Labor: The Folks Who Brought You A 3-Day Weekend.

Here's to ya.

note from the management: We apologize for the delay in publication on this feature. My volunteer fact-checker went on strike. I can't be certain at this point, but I think she might be a sociopath. I have certain suspicions.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Certain Words Are Extra Hurtful pt.5

Now that we've thoroughly examined the problem, what can be done about it? Well, I have to say that current efforts as they stand are not getting the job done. It used to be, if anyone said a cussword on tv or wherever censorship held sway, a piercing *BLEEEP* would obliterate the entire word. Maybe take the tail end of the leading word and the tip of the following word with it! Depending on how zealous the censor was.

But that didn't last. After a while it became acceptable to bleep only the stressed syllable - but this made it perfectly obvious which curse was being uttered! It didn't stop there. These days, if the offending word is bleeped at all, you'll only get a meager picosecond blip of a bleep that doesn't so much as cover the vowel sound all the way. You end up hearing (sound magnified 5x to illustrate): "fffffuu*uuccccckkkkk!" - a tiny asterisk of a bleep that only serves as a decoration in the middle of the obscene vowel. The profanity is not the slightest bit obscured!

I think that if people were serious about bleeping curses, they'd bleep the consonants, not the vowel. Then you'd have some actual obscurantism going on: "Hey *o****-*u****! What the *e** are you doing over here? I just saw your *i*** over at Shelby's house, man, she was all *u***** *i**a* and putting her *i** and a** all up in Jerome's *a*e - and he's a *a**o*, man! That's just not right."

Another problem is these sound effects. At some point people began substituting random sound effects - gunshots, car horn blasts, animal noises - for the traditional *bleep*. This tends to undermine the seriousness of the underlying censorship. A favorite example from the early days of the trend is "The Humpty Dance" by the band Digital Underground. With words being "bleeped" by hi-hat cymbal and the trumpeting of an elephant, the line becomes: "Oh yes ladies - I'm really being sincere, 'cause in the [ tss-tss-tss ] my Humpty-nose will tickle your [ rrrRRRARHH!! ]." This sort of thing just makes using profanity seem even cooler. Besides which, the uncensored line is actually: "in the sixty-nine my Humpty-nose will tickle your rear." The number "sixty-nine" and the word "rear" are not profanities. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But by deliberately censoring non-offensive words, the song boosts its "outlaw" glamour quotient - it conveys the impression that it contains more profanity than it actually does. Such practices openly mock the very idea of censorship.

But then again, so do I, occasionally. So like I said, what can I say...it's a complex issue.

Poetic Interlude, almost

I have a poetry blog too! I'm not going to tell anyone where it is. It's hidden from public view.

It's really great. Some pretty sweet poems on there. I stick a poem in there whenever I hear that sweet song of the muse.

Which is ALL THE TIME.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Certain Words Are Extra Hurtful pt.4: The N-Word

And then, obviously...certain exceptions must be made. The N-Word, for instance. It's like Hitler. Even people who don't believe in Hell, generally concede that Hitler is there. It's sort of "understood." And even people who, like me, decry the very idea that certain words, just in their combination of sounds, are somehow "bad" - even people like me have to admit that the N-Word sort of rises above that. The N-Word is worse than bad. It's impossibly bad. It's irredeemably bad. How bad is it? It's so bad, it's like superbad. It's superbad TNT.

Although, I have to admit this: I am a bit confused as to why it was acceptable sitcom dialogue back the '70s. Either it's just a cyclical thing, and it will eventually calm back down again, or else...a far more frightening scenario: the N-Word is getting progressively more offensive as time goes on. It's becoming more and more bad. And it's already the baddest bad word on the books! How much worse can it get?

It could get worse. I picture it just getting more and more bad until it has become like one of those Unconscionable Curses like in one of those Harry Potter movies, so that whenever it's uttered, the Ministry of Profanity will sweep in on brooms (or something more suitable, I don't know, the "this situation" equivalent of brooms), and haul you off to Azkaban (or I don't know, some bad-word-themed equivalent. Asskablam? No, that's too potty-mouthish...not the sophisticated mark I try to aim for in here).

Anyway, it's a weird situation, there are a lot of confusing aspects as to just how and why it has grown to the status that it currently enjoys, and I'm not sure what to do with it. But I'm pretty sure I have to put it down as an exception to the rule. The N-Word is a genuinely bad set of syllables.

So don't say it!

If you're white.

You know what? I think I just realized what it is. And I think it makes sense. It's that African-Americans, as a people, have been put through so much agonizing b.s. by White America, that if they have decided as a group that they want to get excessively hysterical and sensitive about a two-syllable word...then honestly, the least that White America can do is humor them on that. And while I think that's essentially a patronizing, condescending stance for White America to take, to think it can just pat them on the head and refrain from using their special word, and that makes everything else all good...meanwhile continuing to perpetuate the same systems that keep their young men killing each other or rotting in prison, that keep their youth ensared in a street-minded pop culture that denigrates education and glorifies...

Wait. Can I say "denigrate"?

I think I can. Yeah, I can.

Anyway, that's all getting too complex. Point is: the N-Word is bad. And White America is exploiting that fact in some way, I'm sure of it. To draw attention away from...something.

It's a complex issue.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I Assume. So?

You know what happens when you assume, don't you? Sure you do. When you assume, you accept a proposition as true without proof or demonstration.

It's a little bit like what happens when you suppose, or when you presume, only then it wouldn't make such a funny little explanation on Barney Miller or whatever dumbass sitcom that was, where it seemed so funny and clever, to make an "ASS" out of "U" and "ME."

But let me ask U something. If U assume...how does that make an ASS out of ME?

I'm willing to go to bat for the word "assume," and say that it doesn't even make an ASS out of U. It's pretty sad, really. We have at least a couple of generations of adults now, who profess never to assume anything, purely on those grounds. They wish not to make an "ASS" out of "U" and "ME." While I call that mighty considerate of them, they're really just making asses of themselves with the claim that they don't assume. They assume plenty. They assume all the live-long day.

Assumptions cannot be avoided. Everyone builds their daily routine almost entirely upon assumptions. We act and plan based on what we assume will happen - all sorts of things that, upon examination, are clearly beyond our direct control.

Those of us who drive down the street assume that other cars will obey traffic laws. Oh sure, we're all very alert with it. We tell ourselves that if the other guy runs a stoplight we can pull out a slick maneuver, but come on. Really. When you're driving at night, watching a row of onrushing headlights whiz past you on the other side of the road, with nothing between you but two lines of paint on the blacktop - you are dead, if one of those pairs of headlights drifts over into your lane. You assume they won't. You know such things happen, but you assume they won't.

When you go out to eat at a nice restaurant, you assume you won't end up with a case of deadly food poisoning. Such things happen, but you assume it won't happen to you. If you have a love, you assume he or she won't cheat on you. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, you assume.

There's nothing wrong with, certainly nothing stupid or asinine about making assumptions. You just have to be aware of the assumptions you make, and you have to be willing to test and examine them. You can't close your eyes to evidence that contradicts your assumptions, but neither can you function without assumptions. It would not be possible to live a normal life, without acting upon the presumed truth of a thousand little assumptions that one's life will continue normally as it has done (which generally, it does).

Everyone assumes, and it doesn't generally make an ass out of anyone. It's when you presume too much, that you make an ass out of yourself!

But I suppose you already knew that.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Certain Words Are Extra Hurtful pt.3

It's a complex issue, it's a complex issue. I just have to say, I have to clarify - I personally am all in favor of observing the proprieties. When I'm out and about amid strangers, I've got a mouth on me like a churchmouse. The whole point of the initial post was not that I advocate people using more profanity. Far from it. The point was simply that if you let someone offend you, if you let someone get to you simply on the basis of a "bad word" - that's just your own fault. And you're an idiot. There's no such thing as a "bad word." There are only arbitrary syllables that refer to objects and concepts. If you want to get offended by the object being referenced - fine. If you want to get offended by the concept being referenced - fine.

But don't get offended by the syllables! That's just childish voodoo nonsense.

So anyway, like I'm saying - I'm not talking to people who might or might not want to cuss, telling them "go ahead, dog!" I'm talking to people who might want to get offended by other peoples' cussing. I'm trying to be sympathetic. I'm trying to tell them - hey. Why on earth do you want to give people the power to upset you so easily? If you insist on being offended by any particular word, that is power that you give to every idiot in the world who would like to offend you. And hey, that's your decision - but it's also your fault. You're like the little pig who foolishly builds his house out of glass. Don't go blaming big Mr. Wolf, who comes around throwing those stones.

He don't mean nothing by it. It's just his way.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

11/11 11:11!

This should be some kind of holiday or something every year. A holiminute. It should also be observed twice that day, 11:11 AM and 11:11 PM. Or better yet! The party could commence at 11:11 AM and continue raucously until the stroke of 11:11 PM. I tell you, that would be cool. I mean, New Years? Who cares. Big deal. That's just one/one. This is ELEVEN/ELEVEN.

Certain Words Are Extra Hurtful, pt.2

Just a quick postscript, a quick addendum to the main article, I didn't want to put this in there since it would tend to dilute the argument, but obviously...I don't think I even really need to say this...but you just don't swear in front of a lady.

That ought to go without saying. I just want to be clear about that. I'm not up here, trying to abolish societal norms! Not even the antiquated ones. Those are the cutest norms in the bunch.

And take your hat off when you sit down! Holy cow, man. Were you raised in a locomotive?

Certain Words Are Extra Hurtful

subtitled, "...If You're A Moron!"

Profanities and slurs are the resort of idiots who wish they were smart enough to hurt your feelings using real words. But they're not smart enough. So why are you giving them a free pass?

We're all perfectly aware that every single "bad word" has a number of polite synonyms, words that refer to the exact same thing, yet are somehow acceptable to use...because they use a different group of sounds to refer to the exact same thing.

If you're a parent, why are you teaching your kids to perpetuate this nonsense? "Listen kids, if anyone uses this special bad word on you, that means you have to get really upset...because it's a BAD WORD." Why not a more positive message? "Listen kids, you shouldn't use that word, because there are a lot of morons who think that it's a special 'bad word,' with special powers to upset them. You know that it's just a group of sounds like any other word! But you still shouldn't use it, because it isn't very nice to be mean to the morons who don't know any better."

If you yourself are offended by profanity, then you are a fool. You deliberately and knowingly hand the whole world a magic button: "Just press this button to piss me off! Take advantage of my weakness, world! All you have to do is say one of these BAD WORDS, and I will get upset! You don't even have to trouble to put any thought into it!" Next time someone "upsets" you with profanity, take a moment to remember that it's your stupid fault, not theirs. You have the stupidity to invest a cluster of harmless consonants and vowels with special hurtful power. All they're doing is taking advantage of that power, that you freely give them.

Profanity. Sheesh. Don't be so weak-minded. Don't be such a sheep. Don't give people power over you that you don't want them to have! And if somebody wants to insult you...at least make them work for it just a little. Don't hand them a free pass and then blame them for using it.

Note that the above post contains no bad words, yet it still manages to be pretty damn insulting.

Whoops. Sorry! Slipped out.

Friday, November 10, 2006

HOLY SHIT!

Scissors were invented by Leonardo Di Vinci!

Did you guys know that? I didn't know that! Why don't they teach that in schools? How come he's not getting any props for that? Scissors!

I mean...he gets plenty of credit and acclaim in general, but, scissors, man! That's more important than any of the other crap he put together. When was the last time you snipped an important snippet out of a magazine or a newspaper using the Mona Lisa?

You go, Di Vinci! You're back on my good list. After that crappy movie of yours.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Road Safety Corner #4: WHAT A SWEET MOVE!!

That guy's my hero. I never saw such a thing. I was in the passenger lane, with a blue BMW sedanwagon in front of me. There's this mo-ron teal Honda Civic in the passing lane who is basically pacing the BMW. He's not passing, just staying a little bit ahead - keeping his rear bumper level with the front bumper of the car in the right lane. Ahead of this little rolling roadblock, a mile of pretty clear road.

Suddenly here comes my hero in the tan Camry! At first he looked just like an asshole - what's he doing? Zooming up in the passing lane with his right turn signal on! Passing me, drawing about level with blue BMW, riding Teal Civic's ass. But then the whole thing unfolded miraculously - and I think it was because of the turn signal! I'm sure Civic would have felt very smug about himself to just sit there forever resisting Camry's progress. I've seen that play out a thousand times. We all have. But something about that turn signal being on...it woke everyone else up to the realities of the situation. BMW sees what's going on, he starts slowing up. The gap is widening, Civic has the choice to either move it over or sit in his lane and get blown by on the right. He sits. Camry blows by courteously. After a few moments, Teal Civic sheepishly follows suit and moves over.

It never even occurred to me to do that! But it really does send a nice message. It fosters good communication all over the road. To the idiot in front, sitting in the passing lane but not passing, it's a little pointer, a little hint - get over! I plan to get over. You should get over! To the good drivers already in the passenger lane, it broadcasts your intention clear as day. You're not some asshole tailgater, you're the simple victim of a mo-ron who shouldn't be blocking everything up in the first place. When a good driver sees that...he's going to help you out, create an opening for you. Good drivers know it takes teamwork out there on the road, to help circumvent the morons.

One crucial point, and Camry even got this right: if you're in the passing lane, and you're not passing, get over. Everyone knows that. If you're in the passing lane, and you're not passing because of a moron ahead of you also not passing, still get over. Once you find yourself in the passenger lane with a clear road ahead of you, it's not your fault that you pass the guy on the right, just going your comfortable and safe speed. But - and this is the crucial point - once you get past him, DO NOT immediately swing back over into the passing lane! Only move back over into the passing lane if you're coming up on another car to pass.

Because if you immediately swing back into the passing lane, despite a perfectly clear road ahead, you are basically saying to the moron: hey, bud, you're doing nothing wrong. It's perfectly okay to be in the passing lane when you're not passing. It's okay to have a mentality that says, "the passing lane is my lane, by divine right!" It's okay to be an asshole.

But if you keep it in the right-hand lane as you glide down the road, then you're saying "check it out, peoples: only a real DICK hangs out in the passing lane when he's not passing." That's what I call, "Good Exampling" them. Tan Camry good exampled 'em. He taught the whole road a lesson that day.

My eyes are misting up.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

INSANE-AWAY!

We here at Vision/Intelligence Ltd. feel that Marketing should be firmly in the driver's seat when it comes to Research & Development. Our sharpest Marketers come up with an idea for a product, based on where we know the demand will be in the marketplace. Then, they task the R & D folks to create that product!

Take mental illness. Big problem? You bet! Big market? Bigger every day! It's almost like the stuff is contagious. Well, the right product can be just as contagious. Take a look at the promo for our brand-new proposed forthcoming smash-hit formula, INSANE-AWAY!

(screen goes dark)

( 5 )
( 4 )
( 3 )
( * )
( * )

(scene: a robust and genial spokes-scientist in Armani lab coat, examining two bubbling test tubes which he holds at arms' length while squinting)

SCIENTIST: (noticing camera) "Hello! Are you troubled by mental illness?"

(walks forward as camera pulls back revealing a table with an orderly arrangement of scientific apparatus - deposits test tubes into a rack containing many bubbling colors)

SCIENTIST: "Hey, look at this guy!"

(disheveled MAN in striped shirt is wrestled into frame by two burly ORDERLIES holding him by both arms - MAN glares wide-eyed, grinding his teeth and spitting, struggling with all his might)

SCIENTIST: "What's wrong with him?"

ORDERLY #2: "This guy's crazy, boss!"

SCIENTIST: "Tsk. We say 'mentally ill' here." (now looks hard toward camera, concerned and sincere as camera slowly pulls in to frame his face) "But what can be done for the poor wretch? For years, medical science has resorted to ineffectual treatments such as pills, and boring therapy sessions. These remedies were hit-and-miss at best, and relied too heavily upon the crazy person's desire to stick to their course of treatment." (breaks into wide grin) "But now there's something better!"

(product shot)

SCIENTIST: (voice-over) "INSANE-AWAY foaming spray!"

SCIENTIST: (walks back into frame, shaking a rattling can of INSANE-AWAY) "Nothing could be easier! Spray directly onto the face and head!" (sprays onto face and head of MAN)

MAN: (struggling even harder)

SCIENTIST: "...wait for the foaming action..."

MAN: (slowly calming as the foam rises)

SCIENTIST: "...then wipe, with a clean lint-free rag!"

MAN: (face revealed, surprise and confusion giving way to blubbering tears) "My mind! You've given me back my mind!" (sobbing freely, straightening up and burying face in his hands as ORDERLIES release his arms)

SCIENTIST: "One spray does it! Repeat every 20 minutes for best efficacy! INSANE-AWAY!"

(screen goes dark) END CLIP

That's only one of the many exciting products that we're hard at work developing. Got an idea that's a sure-fire money-maker with proven demand? What are you waiting for! Bring your idea to us!

We'll take care of the rest.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pass It On!

I can drink milk with just about anything.

Milk is strong. It builds good bones, and teeth.

One time this guy was trying to tell me about all the pus that's in milk. He read about it in a protest magazine. I said, buddy! You and your pus. I bet the dairy industry has had standards for pus in milk for thousands of years, like acceptable bug parts in ice cream or anything else. All you alarmists do is jade people.

I mean, if he was trying to say, "oh milk was fine and healthy before, it's only bad recently" then I'd be like, well let's go put on a coalition then, and get back to the glory days! But no. He just somehow felt sincerely that milk is just an intrinsically bad thing, that needs to be stopped. I was like, I'm sorry pal, but where exactly does pus intersect with morality? I've been drinking milk laced with sweet pus my whole life, and I'm not going to stop now. I suckled pus from my dear mother's teat, and I'm here to say I'm none the worse for it.

Hell, speaking of which, have you even TASTED soy milk? If you haven't - don't. It's awful! You'll wish you had a big glass of pus to wash your mouth out with.

Still, I admit I wish there was some beer in the house. Or even Coca-Cola. Because, milk with pizza is one thing I can't abide.

I think it clashes with the cheese pus.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Favorite Word In french

It isn't merde! It's oiseau.

That means bird. Is not oiseau so much more beautiful than bird? Le oiseau, say sont day creme de la soundyness.

french is such a beautiful language. You see how I take pains to decapitalize the "f" in "french"? This is out of consideration for their own native habits. The French themselves always lower-case the name of their language. When speaking of the people, it is "les Français." But when speaking of the language, it is "le français." This is a mark of the deep humility with which the French people regard their language, which they prize dearly above all others. They take great pains to protect the language from corrupting influences such as time, and humans. They even have a governmental agency, Les Langues D'Or, loosley translated as "The Federated Alliance of Eternal Linguistic Purity."

Their government charter, the number and the identities of their operatives, the scope of their influence, and even their origin are all shrouded in mystery. But one thing I can tell you is that they take their language very seriously. These folks will not tolerate whatever the french equivalent of a split infinitive is, I can guarantee you that.

But hark! Listen to the beautiful sound of the oiseau. Can you blame them, for wanting to protect that?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Is that last post here?

It was here, now I don't see it.

Okay, it's showing on the main page but not my thing where I can mess with it.

It's a little strange if you ask me. Maybe there's a problem.

I'm going to go have some pasta.

My E-Mail Love Affair...with a GHOST!

("Reader's Digest" version)

I've always believed in a spiritual explanation of the world. Now, after the shocking turn of events, finally I know that I have been right all along. But what am I doing? The proper place for a story to start is at the beginning!

I have always been a good girl. Mother says that I have more sense than father has. So imagine my surprise, to find myself caught up in any wild doings! At the close of this past July, I had just broken up with my boyfriend Johns Stevens Phillips Matthews, and was having second thoughts. I remember that I took a walk through the graveyard to clear my head, as I often do, when things feel as if they are closing in around me. It was a foggy morning in spite of the heat, and I very nearly stumbled over a marker that had been all but obscured in the fog. It was very odd, but somehow I lost my shoe when I tripped. I couldn't find the shoe anywhere. It simply vanished! I searched and searched.

Later that day, I was in my bedroom on my computer. I was debating whether to send the angry version or the sulky version of my e-mail reply to Johns. He can be such a dear sometimes, but the way he behaves in school can make me so mad! Before I had a chance to decide, I noticed a new message in my inbox, with a subject line that said: "You lost your shoe"!

Amazingly enough, someone had found the shoe that had disappeared so thoroughly from the graveyard. It was a boy named Jeroen Wren, who had contacted me using the e-mail address that I carefully print on the label of all my belongings.

His first e-mail to me was funny and sweet. He almost seemed apologetic about finding the shoe! I felt so instantly warmly towards him that I impulsively clicked "send" on the angry version of my reply to Johns, and deleted the other version. I then replied to Jeroen introducing myself, and asking why I hadn't seen him before at school, or around. I know just all of the kids in town! I thanked him for finding my shoe, and offered to meet him so he could give it back.

I was getting up again from my computer again when his reply appeared - just that fast! He seemed so shy, and he explained that the reason I hadn't seen him at school was because he was home-schooled. "Oh, that's just awful! You poor dear!" I thought, but I didn't type it of course. He told me there was no need to arrange a meeting, that I could go and get my shoe at any time. He told me how to find it where he had hidden it, in a secret nook of the big oak at the center of the cemetery. I knew exactly which tree he meant! That was my favorite tree in the whole cemetery.

I wasn't sure whether this was some joke, but just the way he explained himself and he seemed so shy - I didn't think he had it in him to play a trick. And how could he have arranged to have my shoe come off? It didn't make any sense. I held off replying, got changed and went straight to the big lonely oak. It's such a beautiful, safe tree! I often climb it, just a little bit up, and sit where the two biggest limbs come out from the front of the trunk. I sit there when I want to think. No one ever sees me. And right there in my favorite perch - in a nook I'd never taken notice of before - was a shoebox from Kiernan's Department Store (which closed before I can even remember!). And inside it, wrapped in faded gray tissue paper, was my shoe!

There was no note or anything. I even looked inside the shoe! Puzzled, I walked home with my shoebox and returned to my computer.

Then began a long exchange of notes and letters, carried through the electronic wires between Jeroen and I - tentative at first, but we so took to each other that after only a short while it was as if I had had a friend for life and never known it! As weeks went by, I tried to draw him out. Tried to get him to agree to meet - at the ballpark, the library, anything. I began to be sure that his parents were some sort of nuts, who kept him from going out into the world at all - though he certainly never said anything of the kind to me! But something was sure weird.

Little did I know! Little did I know, up until the day when my whole world turned upside down - when the puzzle finally started making sense, but everything else stopped. It was only last week. I was walking in the graveyard again, and I came to the same fateful marker that had caused me to trip, all those months ago. I'd been feeling so hopeful about Jeroen and I. I was beginning to feel certain that the mysterious wall between us would break through, and we would meet soon! I can't describe how it is when I get one of my feelings. When I just "know" that it's right - and sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't, but it always turns out to be something very significant! I could feel how close we were to being together. I knew it was going to be right, this time.

As I walked closer to the marker, I felt that in some way, this plain flat marker was responsible for bringing Jeroen and I so close to being together. I was curious. I wanted to see who was there - and to thank them. And of course, that's when I had the shock of my life! Because the marker said: "Jeroen Wren." Same age as me, only dead in the ground for a dozen years. I couldn't believe it! All of those beautiful e-mails he crafted and sent with love, all of the secrets I confided in him, and here he had withheld the greatest secret of all: the boy I had fallen in love with...was a GHOST!

It was a bumpy adjustment at first, but my shocking discovery really did resolve a lot of the unpleasant questions I'd had! Soon, the secrets between us had been cleared away, and we were closer than ever.

I love him. We'll be married when I die. Jeroen wants to do it right away, but I told him that we should wait one year.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Diving In With Both Feet To The Dot Com Boom

I've made a decision: I'm starting a website and making a ton of money. I'm going to come up with a great website name and register the name, and then make a ton of money off how great my idea is. I'm thinking something like www.automaticsoupphone.com. Automatic Soup Phone dot com! Nobody will have thought of that.

What the website would have on it, would be all great website names that nobody would have thought of, and I could sell them. That would be my bumper crop of income.

And there's another one: www.bumpercropofincome.com

I have way too many of these.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Biscotti.

People like biscotti, because it's really just cookies!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints Day

November 1st. All Saints Day. A cool holiday! A lot of people don't know what it means, though. So here I am, to explain the official Catholic explanation.

As we know, all the folks up in heaven right now are basically Saints. As a human soul, if you get into Heaven before the Day of Judgment, then you're automatically a Saint by definition. Your high-profile Saints, they may have been declared and recognized as such, but that official recognition isn't what makes them a Saint! They're Saints just by virtue of the fact that their blameless lives of virtue allowed them to go straight to Heaven when they died. All the other souls are either sleeping it off until the Second Coming, or else they're cooling their heels in Purgatory, atoning for their sins; or else they went to The Other Place (that would be Hell). There used to be another Other Place called Limbo, but it proved politically unpopular and it was eventually shut down when funding was cut off.

Now, a lot of your poster-boy, poster-girl "declared" Saints, they have feast days of their own, days specifically set aside for their veneration, to celebrate their saintliness. All Saints Day is for everybody else. The Common Saint; St. Joe Average, if you will. All Saints Day celebrates those Saints whose blameless lives may not necessarily have caught the eye of the Saint-Verification Squad, perhaps due to the excessive meekness and simplicity of their nonetheless saintly lives.

Now what happens on All Saints Day is, any prayers being offered up today, instead of being routed through the usual patron Saint for whatever the problem is, every incoming prayer is declared "up for grabs." The established luminaries sort of take a step back, and let the no-name up-and-comers scramble to fill the gap, to step it up, to take their game to the next level. It's a real annual event up there in Heaven! They're planning and organizing weeks ahead of time, there are banners and scorecards and celebration rituals and all that. Last year's winner, St. Ornistheus (a Cypriot who died in 1191 - first-time winner, a real dark horse and a great human-interest story) was put in charge of Incoming Prayer Distribution and declared the unofficial Patron Saint of Receptionists. An important post!

Who will be the big story this year? We'll just have to wait to find out. It's all up in the air at this point.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Costume Ideas!

Now is a good time for Halloween Costume Ideas!

I can never think of a good one until it's too late to do it right. That's why I'm going to put these down now while they're still fresh in my mind.

Note that these aren't costumes I saw today on other people, these are ideas that I had (too late), or ideas that I had last year or the year before, also (too late) but I somehow managed to forget them by the time it wasn't (too late) anymore.

Group costume: Christmas Carolers! So many people are very sensitive about "rushing" the Christmas Season. How great would it be for them to open the door for the next group of same-ol' trick-or-treaters, only to be confronted with a bunch of angelic kids in choir robes with songbooks, singing "Gloria In Excelsis Deo"? The only problem would be, I think that it would have to be actual kids to do it right, and I think kids might be too senstive to put up with the kind of reactions they might get from some of your real Grinches out there. I'd hate anybody to start crying.

In a related semi-Christmasy costume suggestion, I think you could do an Elf, like one of Santa's Elves (pointy toes, leafy fringe, goofy hat), but instead of green and red or yellow the elf could be in black and orange elf-garb. The Halloween Elf. This might be a more subtle way to reconcile the two warring factions.

Goth Businessman! Nothing Christmasy about this guy. Black suit, black tie, black-dyed hair (optional blue streak), pallid complexion, black nail polish, black eye makeup, silver clip-on skull earing/other deathly accessories (GO EASY ON IT. He's a businessman!), black shoes and socks, white shirt (but should be something antique or Victorian), black briefcase with silver-studded pentagram and borders. The studding would be easy, a friend of mine makes jewelry and funky accessories, and she has a studding-gun. Ideally the briefcase should be full of white pages covered with one ominous typewritten phrase repeated over and over. Don't show anybody what's in the briefcase! It's just there as a hidden character bit, to help you with your motivation.

This next one is a really good one, and I actually thought of it early enough to do it, except that I have no idea where to procure a giant apple suit. Still, I figure anything's possible with a year's lead time. What you'd want is to start with something like the fruit-of-the-loom-guy's apple suit. A big red apple. Then, you construct a number of big razorblades (scaled to fit the size of the giant apple). Then you put the razorblades in the apple! Leave it so there's enough sticking out to identify them as razorblades. It's The Halloween Razorblade Apple! That's a bold warning to children and adults alike, and there's nothing like a strong social statement to drag in the votes at the inevitable costume pageant.

This last one is what I'm almost certainly going to be next year: Dark clothes. Long, dark coat. Gray scarf. Long hair, pulled back into a pony tail. A bloody gash on the head (nothing too serious). Sort of a bronze ancient-looking armor breastplate (carried, not worn!). Dazed look, bizarre enthusiams; wandering around appreciating things like the color of objects and the smell of hot coffee. Possibly, stalk anyone dressed as a gymnast or circus acrobat. It's Damiel, from Wings of Desire of course!

Anyway. Happy Halloween.

Describe the Sensation

The sensation was as vivid as battery acid on the tongue. Not the prosaic sensation of what battery acid actually feels like, tastes like, on the tongue - the sensation that those of you who have actually tasted battery acid might recall or describe - but the infinitely more vivid idea of that sensation that the rest of us have; having never actually tasted it.

That's what it was like.

Monday, October 30, 2006

In Defense of This Blog

Some have questioned the point of this blog. Some have charged outright that it has no point. Some have claimed "it isn't funny, if that's what it's supposed to be!"

To these doubters and naysayers, I have a thing or two to say. First, they should check out the very second post of this blog, where it is clearly stated that the points of this blog are threefold: to examine the relevance of postmodern thought and theory in an increasingly post-postmodern world, to crusade against the run-on sentence, and on top of that, a third thing. So so much for "no point"!

As to "not funny": I never said it was supposed to be hilarious. But anybody who doesn't find it to be at least intermittently mildly amusing needs to get their amusement bone checked. Because, even though I'm biased, some of this stuff has been pretty decent by most unbiased standards. Even though I'm biased. To substantiate that, maybe I'll figure out how to put some kind of sidebar on, with links to my top 9 favorite posts at all times.

Anyway, a lot of the time I'm not trying to be funny. Like this: Edward G. Robinson is wonderful in Double Indemnity.

Damn right he is. Only a fool would dispute it! Is that funny? Have you seen the film?

I think maybe people ought to just stop criticizing something they know nothing about.

Someone once said, "Mold is disgusting, but it isn't particularly interesting." I think that's a cop-out. I think that the real truth is that we don't want to examine it too closely, for fear of what we'll find!

Just the other day I was wondering, how does the mold know that the bread is ready? And then I realized that's a silly question. The mold can't know. The only possibility is that the mold is everywhere, all over everything already, and it only begins growing once something becomes spoiled enough to support the growth of mold. But the mold is already there. Everything in that refrigerator is already dusted with a fine coating of mold spores.

The point of that little digression should be obvious to anyone.