Do You Feel Lucky?

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

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The "Super-Mom" Phenomenon

I have no interest in saying anything about this. If people want me to talk about it, feel free to provide raw material in the form of comments, and I will edit various contributed sentences together into a coherent gem.

At some later point.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Satan Plays the Averages

Let me ask you something. If you were The Devil. Let me hold off on the rest of the question, so you can sink into the role a bit. Okay. Let's say that you're The Devil. And some jerk is up there on the surface, loudly offering to sell his soul to you - The Devil - in exchange for certain concessions. Are you going to just hop to it, appear in a clap of thunder and brimstone and say, "at your service?"

Suppose that you know enough about this guy to feel 95% certain that he's going to end up in hell anyway. I mean, come on. Anybody that blithe about the have to be pretty sure his soul is already in the bag, right? Pretty much? Are you going to expend your infernal energies on a done deal?

Hell no. What would be the point? You're The Devil! You're not God. You have a finite amount of power and influence - not an infinite amount. You need to put that diabolical mojo juice where it will do the most good*. If you can catch a real sainted granny in her moment of despair, where she'll do anything to save her beloved granddaughter from leukemia - well, that's a bargain you need to strike! Not so, with some jackass who just wants to be a rock star. You're going to get him anyway. Might as well let him have a miserable life into the bargain!

The Devil's not an idiot.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My Fingertips Hurt!

I have not been holding up my end of the bargain lately, vis-a-vis my poor guitar. I am supposed to play at least 3 songs a day, and more than that when the mood strikes me. Yet in the past 6 months, I've been averaging only 0.416 songs per day! Pathetic. And it wouldn't even be that high, if I hadn't blackmailed myself!

What happened was this. Beginning in August, I recommitted myself to daily guitar practice in a very serious way, and it just didn't take. I wasn't doing it. And so as September loomed, I took a drastic step: I swore that for the entire month of September, I would log every song played during each night's practice. And if by the end of September, I had failed to average at least 3 songs per day for the month, then I would post that shameful song log of failure right here on the blog for anyone to see!

What makes this an especially deadly threat is that I'm ridiculously overprotective/paranoid about my songs. I'm worried that even disclosing a song title could jeopardize the whole song - like somebody could reconstruct the whole thing just from the title! It's not that I think they're so great...but it's just that they're mine. I'm extremely protective of that. Except for when I'm performing them live, I never give out my song lyrics to anyone. The exceptions to could number them on the fingers of one hand. After it's been through an industrial-machinery accident.

So to hold that dire threat over my own head - that I would have to post all those song titles of mine online if I don't come through - that has had a really powerful effect. Several effects, in fact. Firstly, the idea that I might end up posting the list has made me reluctant to repeat any songs. For fear that it would give the impression that I'm short on material. As a result, I'm rediscovering a lot of my old jams I haven't played in years!

Secondly, I find I'm choosing songs to play based on how dramatic (or at least, how not-blatantly-awful) the song title sounds. Which is a bit of a mixed blessing. For instance, at this rate I won't get to play "The Dawn of The Attack of The Endangered Species List!" Because...let's face it, taken purely in terms of a song title...that sucks.

Thirdly, I'm realizing that of my 300+ songs...there aren't much more than a quarter of that number, that I really remember how to play (translation: that are any damn good). I wish I'd taken more detailed notes. I know that I've got the trickier parts for all of these songs sketched out over an endless series of audio cassettes, but...who wants to dig back through that? Boring!

But the single biggest effect of this whole blackmail practice regimen is that I'm absolutely killing my fingertips, scrambling to catch up from my early slack disregard of the deadline. Because, let's be honest: I'm going to hit that total. I'm not letting you people see all my best song titles. That's just not an option.

No offense.

Anyway, my calluses are coming back big-time! I'll have to start smoking again. So I can stub out the butts with my fingertips, like a badass!

Ah...those days.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oh I'm Sorry, Were You Joking?

I never care whether anyone might be joking or not. I find that it doesn't make a bit of difference to how I ought to respond.

Consider: if someone says something insulting to me, and they are in fact (beknownst to themselves) only joking, then the funniest thing I could possibly do is "play along," by acting as though I'm taking them seriously. By responding as if they were in fact being perfectly serious. Right? Why not! It's a joke, right? Sure. You want to play along, keep the joke going. That's what I always assume. They must just be I should "play along."

Whereas, if by some bizarre chance the person is being serious...with that ridiculous crap they just said...well, that just makes my response even more appropriate. By "playing along," I've just given them a seemingly perfectly serious withering comeback to their idiotic remark. And yet, if I had laughed at them, they would have been insulted!

When doling out the seemingly perfectly serious comeback, it's important to keep it on the same level of humorousness. The trick is to avoid escalation. Otherwise, the entire exchange could become entirely too funny.

I've had to develop this method because I find that I tend to assume that everybody must be joking. I mean, they have to be, right? How could they not be?! I mean, damn.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just a Short One

I'm just going to do a short one today. I don't really have the time to do anything really belabored or involved. But I was wondering about something odd. It seems like an article-writer in the print press, one of those column-writing people, a humorist for instance...the sheer amount of words that gets put out in each column is pretty substantial. Someone mentioned Dave Barry before. One of that guy's essays would - if you put it into a blog post - it would just keep going and going on forever. It would be huge! You'd be halfway through it, "get to the point, dude!" Yet, when you read that same essay in the paper or in a compilation of some kind, you say to yourself, "Humorous! Delightful! Bite-sized!"

Why is that? Is it the glow of the screen? Is it to do with electromagnetic field interference from the computer, disrupting your brain's beta waves? Or is it some unknown third factor. What is it, that makes light-hearted writing wear on the reader at an accelerated rate online, as opposed to in print?

Apart from the noticeable and substantial drop in quality, obviously.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Decision Time! Where Do You Stand?

It's election season again and as usual, the rhetoric is flying thick, fast, and dull. I thought I'd take this opportunity to size up and whittle down some of the more provocative measures on the ballot, for those of you voting at home. LOOK INTO IT! DECIDE!! Vote.

Some of this election season's more contentious ballot measures include:

* THE BAN ON "ASSAULT DOGS" - This idea for a ban on "Assault Dogs" obviously has a great deal of deep-seated broad-based knee-jerk popular support. But I don't think they have a winner this time around. The measure as written is simply too ill-defined. They left the language open to too many cans of worms. Why risk all that inevitable room for misinterpretation, when what we really need is a better measure with more clarity on it? I'd take a pass on this one, and propose in its place a ban on all dogs.

* SAVE OUR SCHOOLS AND LIBRARYS ACT - I'm not kidding. That's actually how they're spelling it on the ballot! This measure deserves to go down on that basis alone. That's pathetic.

* THE LOCALLY-ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT - I sympathize with what they're trying to do here, but I think we should just stick with the federal list. We simply can't support the additional bureaucratic infrastructure that this would require if we really wanted to do the job right. Plus, the way it's written could conceivably confer "locally-endangered" status on random exotic creatures that are just passing through the County! As part of a travelling circus for example. No good.

* REDUNDANT LEGISLATION CONSOLIDATION ACT - This was already passed in '78, but never put into action. It's still right there on the books, if they really want to start enforcing it. There's no reason to pass it twice.

* SUPPORT THE LOCAL ECONOMY REFERENDUM - This well-intentioned but poorly-drafted measure is just too vague for me to even comment on the specifics. If they had bothered to include any specifics, maybe I could comment on them. As it is, it's just sort of a rah-rah let's-do-it statement that means nothing, and doesn't deserve to pass.

But don't take my word for it. Look into the issues themselves! Learn both sides of everything. Make the issues your own. Own them. Then you'll be in a position to decide what's best for all of us! And then, when you feel that confidence that comes from really boning up on the nitty-gritty of it all...get out there and vote.

Remember, if you don't vote...that's like you're just voting for whoever wins.


Friday, September 22, 2006

I bet it ends up being something embarrassing

Now I've got this stupid song stuck in my head. Well, not a song, really...the intro to a song. Normally if I have part of an unknown song stuck in my head, I can just keep unspooling it until I get to the part I can recognize. In fact, just the other day (on a long walk), I listened to the first 6 tracks of Def Leppard's Hysteria, entirely from memory. But this one is stuck on the intro. It won't unspool. I've got 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..."

Like that. At first I thought, who is this? It's jaunty! It sounds very 80s. Listen to that drum sound! Is it something from one of New Order's post-2000 albums? That guitar, I'd swear that was Johnny Marr playing. Could it be Electronic? Is it mid-period The The? Then again, maybe it isn't Johnny Marr at all. Could it be actual 80s rather than just a latter-day facsimile? I wonder if it could be the Fixx. Or even Bowie? But it sounds too upbeat somehow. Almost like the Miami Vice theme or something.

Then I started to worry that it wasn't a real song, but part of a score to a movie I'd seen enough times for it to stick. How was I supposed to track that down? I tried to mimic the sound to different people using various vocal methods. I drew a series of blanks.

Then I began worrying that the sound of it is changing, the more I try to figure out what it is. I'm no longer certain that it's the same exact riff stuck in my head. People are telling me, "that doesn't sound like how you did it before. Are you sure this is a real song?" That's a little insulting, frankly. But even I have to ask myself that, because, I'm not entirely sure anymore.

I bet when I finally figure out what it is, it's something really stupid. But at least I will know! It will be worth it to know. To quote the shot guy lying in front of the bank when Dirty Harry finishes his little speech and starts to walk away, hey mister, "I gots to know!"

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Female Form

I'm ashamed to admit that most of the time when I see a woman, my instinctive reaction is to wonder what she looks like naked. I don't know why this is. It's just something that clicks in automatically, in a sort of careless, almost subliminal way. I'm talking more about out-and-about, walking or driving down the street maybe, in a casual situation where me picturing her naked is probably the only interaction she and I will ever share. It goes without saying that in a more personal environment or even a work environment, any time there is more meaningful interaction to be had...that immediately supersedes any idle nudity musings. I'm not some kind of lecher.

Which, I even had to look that up! To see just exactly what I meant. That goes to show exactly how much of a lecher I am not. Apparently a lecher, or someone who is lecherous, or someone given to lechery, this person is so fixated on the sexual aspect of femininity that it interferes with his ability to form healthy relationships with women. Basically we're talking an excess of prurient interest. That's not me! I have deeply satisfying relationships with women, on many levels. Always have.

And I stress that I'm no sort of blatant ogler. When I see a woman, I look at her with respect for her totality of being. I take in the whole picture. I'm not going to look her right in the goodies! No way. I have excellent peripheral vision. Besides, I'm not a pig. I'm not some kind of pervert, with no social instincts or sense of propriety.

In fact, I really don't know why I should feel ashamed at all. I shouldn't feel ashamed. After all, I ought to point out here that I am in fact an artist, and so when I look at a nude woman, I am capable of seeing her nudity on a more elevated level than maybe other guys might. To my trained eye, that nudity can be viewed from a purely aesthetic perspective, or even a symbolic one. I can do this even with raunchy poses involved. I can look beneath (or "above", or perhaps "right at") her mere clotheslessness, to perceive the universal nudity of all women. All humanity, really - if we're talking universality, that includes males as well as females. I just don't personally tend to literally perceive it in male terms. Art can be pretty subjective.

Speaking of subjective, I don't objectify women either. That's more your sculptors who tend to do that.

And yet...despite all of the above, I do feel ashamed. Ashamed to admit it. When if anything, it should be society's shame - not mine! It's a sick sort of society that makes a healthy-minded guy like me feel ashamed about a thing like that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

They Paved Parking Lot...and Now It's A Paradise

The parking lot resurfacing is finally done. I've been parking on the street now for two and a half weeks. Some mornings, I can't find my car. I have to walk all the way around the block from 46th to Clares Street to...the other street on the other side...all the way around.

One morning, I came out to the street and two cars had bumpered me in by inches! One of them was actually touching me. Neither car had been there when I parked the night before - there had been two other cars there, and I left them both ample room. Actually, that brings up the one enjoyable thing to come out of this street-parking ordeal; a pleasant and unexpected discovery: my parallel-parking skills have become almost extrasensory! At some point during the years that have passed since I botched that portion of my driver's test, I have developed an uncanny-like sense of where to stop, when to cut the wheel, how to angle back - bang! I nail it every time perfect. It's intense.

Anyway, I stood looking at my car, ziplocked into its space by these two fellows. I was stunned to realize that I had absolutely no idea what to do in that situation (I wonder how many other situations there are like this? I need to give it some more thought at a later time). It was about the time of morning when a lot of cars on the street were clearing out, people leaving for work - but no sign of these cars' owners. Neither vehicle had left a helpful note with a phone number to call. I walked back to my house and called work to let them know I was running late. Luckily, one of the cars was gone when I got back.

The next evening as I drove along looking for a spot, I passed that same section of street. There was a wide bluish sparkle of auto glass, right around where the front car had been parked. I think he must have pulled the same trick on someone else, who unlike me knew what to do in that situation.

Thank God that's all over now! The new lot is beautiful. A flawless stretch of thick deep-black, with straight white lines marking out the spaces in orderly fashion. No buckled humps of cracked asphalt where the tree roots got pushy. No judgment calls to make as far as where one spot ends and the next begins. My parking lot is so beautiful, I want to spread out a blanket and have a picnic there.

Maybe I will.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

CEO Beginner's Guide, Lesson 17b: What Are Employees Used For?

As a first-time CEO, you know what employees are. You see them throughout the building, sitting at desks, writing things down, working at various machines such as lathes or computers, interacting with other employees and with management, speaking on the phone. In lesson 17a, you learned how to distinguish an employee from various other persons who may be in the building.

So you know what they are, but it may not be immediately apparent what your employees are for. A good CEO not only has to be able recognize what an employee is, but also what it is good for. Today's topic will walk you through some of the basics.

1) Giving you reports. You can pretty much tell any employee to give you a report on anything, and they will have to do it. This is just a good way to make sure that the employee is on top of their area. It is not usually necessary to read the report, since the employee will leave out anything that is likely to upset you. Simply going through the process of putting that report together will prompt that employee to identify those problem areas. The employee will then say, "I had to leave this out of the report, so I better see that it gets fixed RIGHT NOW." Thus, reports promote efficiency even if you do not read them. NOTE: In the event of an unfixable problem, the employee might decide to leave that problem in the report. It might be worthwhile to skim the report just in case, so that if the employee has drawn your attention to a problem that is unfixable, you can then direct the employee to fix it.

2) Delegate your own work. If you have any inconvenient work tasks that you understand well enough to explain to an employee, you can simply have the employee do it instead. If you don't understand the task well enough to explain it, don't let that stop you from delegating it. The employee can redo the task as many times as necessary, until the end result meets your high standards. For exceptionally complicated tasks, promote teamwork by delegating the task to more than one employee.

3) Boosting morale. Morale is actually more important than it might seem, since it has been shown that many leading business management manuals consider it to be very important. If used properly, employees are well-suited to boosting morale. Allowing or directing employees to take part in brief gatherings for cake or snacks on "special occasions," to participate in faith-neutral seasonal-themed workplace decoration, and even to engage in periodic light banter with each other (within reason) can foster the overall appearance of a happy and productive work environment. This reflects well on you, as long as you do not get carried away with the concept. IMPORTANT: Do not participate personally in any of this. You are trying to convey the idea of a workplace where frivolity is tolerated - not encouraged. Nothing is more demoralizing to a company than a CEO setting a bad example.

4) Providing the explanation for failure. This is the chief purpose of employees. It is important to identify which employees should be singled out as the reason for the failure of any given program, or the business in general. If the employees in question are equally valuable as workers, try to shift the blame to employees who exhibit the highest morale and the greatest degree of dedication to the company. These are the employees who are less likely to quit when singled out for blame.

You will find that as time goes on, many other uses for employees will suggest themselves. Some of these uses will be covered in the more advanced lessons. Some uses could not be officially included in the lessons for reasons of legality, but should be plain enough to you and fairly self-explanatory. In the meantime, these four should be enough to get you started.

Monday, September 18, 2006

We Need Practical Environmental Solutions! #1: Global Warming

These days, everybody is concerned about the environment and I want to make sure I'm doing my share of being concerned. It seems to me that there are some practical solutions to these problems that people are just overlooking for no good reason. Take your global warming problem.

Let's be honest here. People don't really care if it's a little toastier in the wintertime or a little balmier in the summer. Well, maybe some people care about that, like if they live on the equator. But not most of us. There's only one thing that's really got most of us worried here, and it isn't the delicate interconnectedness of all things. It's the rising tides! That's what we're worried about. Too much water in those ice caps! We don't want to go under.

Well, that's easy enough to fix. Problam isn't Global Warming. The Problem is Global Wetting! The system is too bloated. All we need to do is drain off that excess fluid.

Earth needs to take a leak.

It should be easy enough to design some sort of curved, flexible pipeline from the ocean floor all the way out to the toposphere (or outersphere or uppersphere, or whatever they call it - where the air ends). The combination of the tremendous pressure of the ocean depths, the pull of the vacuum of outer space, and the force of Earth's own rotation (which the pipeline would be perfectly aligned to take advantage of) will create a suck of monumental proportions, drawing off that excess water and allowing us all to live on in comfort, enjoying the warm weather without fear of flooding out our favorite beach resorts.

Of course, the whole operation would be carefully controlled, to ensure that the suction doesn't fly out of control and drain all our water off, leaving us with a desolate, barren, desert planet. Which is what I'm pretty sure happened to Mars.

And to those caution-mongering luddites who would say "but what if we decide we need that water later on?" My reply is simple: "Easy. We just aim it at the moon!" All we have to do is direct that steaming jet of salty wetness at the moon, and let gravity do the rest. In no time at all, we'll have a giant salt water reservoir orbiting the planet.

It's not like we're doing anything else with that thing. And think how pretty it will be! An azure orb, our own beautiful white moon covered with pristine blue waters. "Once in a blue moon" will be just about every night! Talk about a win-win situation.

I've got some other good ideas too! We'll get to those as each crisis becomes more acute.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

C'mon!! Take a Shot!

Oh yeah, is that right? Last person who said that to me was kidding. Next time you say that to me, you better enjoy it because there won't be any time after that! That's right. You know what I'm talking about.

Come on, mister tough-talk! You think you have something to say? You think you have something for me to listen to? EDUCATE me! I'm all ears. I leave punks like you in the garbage. You and your clever little remarks. Your skull isn't going to feel too clever when it caroms off my fist! I'm going to rip your toe off and shove it up your nose. When you step to me, you'd best bring the house, the garage, and the damn veranda! In fact, don't even think about stepping to me. Because stepping to me is a thought too stupid for even your feeble brain to grasp! If you step to me, I will put you in a hole so deep, you'll have to dig down to get out of it!

You want to knock me better make sure I'm already knocked out first. Because'll wake up, look my fist up in the dictionary...and you STILL won't know what hit you.

That's all I got. If I think of any more good ones, I'll edit them in later.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Personal Equinox Comes Early

Personal Equinox Comes Early This Year
Sep 16, 6:28 AM PDT

The Inner Associated Press

SANTA CRUZ, CA - My inner meteorologists today hailed the early arrival of my Personal Equinox, the earliest such Personal Equinox on record since 1992.

The Personal Equinox is said to occur each year with the specific combination of two meteorological events: it is the first time during a given year that I leave work in the evening after the sun has already set, and return to work the following morning before the sun has risen. This event heralds more of the same, and is generally looked at as a harbinger of dour moods and solemn observances throughout the inner landscape.

Inner officials downplay any suggestion that the early arrival is cause for concern, amid speculation that this unexpected event may be linked to global climate change and/or the fact that I am an idiot.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Special Guest Shot: Prominent Local Businessman Sal Dinaldo, pt1

dogimo: I'm here today with Sal Dinaldo, prominent embattled local businessman and co-owner of...

Dinaldo: Owner, not co-owner. I took that f___er's name off the papers. He doesn't work for me any more, he never did an honest day of work in his life in the first place! It's "owner."

dogimo: Owner it is. In any case, Mr. Dinaldo, you...

Dinaldo: Please. Call me Sal.

dogimo: Sal it is. Sal, everyone knows that over the past six months, you've become embroiled in a very high-profile...

Sal: Shut up! Next question!

dogimo: ...

Sal: Are we done here? Are you wasting my time?

dogimo: Sorry, sorry. Over the past decade, and prior to the events of the past six months, you've...

Sal: ...which we are not f___ing talking about...

dogimo: ...shot to considerable prominence as one of the greatest success stories on the local and greater tri-county area business scene. To what do you attribute your remarkable successes?

Sal: Well, it's quality f___ing service. That's our landmark, that's our guarantee. When it comes to quality service, we don't just know we're the best, we are the best. Nobody can tell me about my service, because I am there every day, personally, in the trenches. I set the f___ing tone myself. Just the other day, some customer comes to me with a f___ing ridiculous story that clearly never happened. I told him, "Get Out! Leave my store! That's not the way we do service around here." What is that anyway, a joke? You go someplace else if you want to tell your filthy f___ing lies. My people are my gold, I don't allow anyone to say that.

dogimo: Don't you think...

Sal: Let me finish here.

dogimo: Sorry.

Sal: This whole problem that's developed, that's the whole problem right there. People nowadays just don't seem to understand that the relationship between the customer, and the quality service we provide, it can be highly personalized. If that customer is loyal, a good customer, we reward our customers for that. There are discounts, there are incentives. There's a mutual reward system, that has to be looked at in a very unique way. An affectionate, loyal customer is a prize that I value very highly.

dogimo: Well, sure.

Sal: It only stands to reason. For example, just for example, if an attractive customer decides on her own accord that she wants to give me a b___j_b, I value that very highly. That's a valuable customer! It's only fair that I would give that customer 10% off. There's nothing underhanded about any of that. But you have to have a coupon. I always give a coupon. You can't come in with no coupon, claiming you did what you did, demand 10%. Where's your coupon?

dogimo: It's a reasonable question.

Sal: Look, I am probably in trouble with my lawyer just for even saying that, but to me, that should go without saying. That shouldn't even be a question.

dogimo: But in this particular claim...

Sal: That's not even being discussed! I never discussed that. My above remarks were as a purely hypothetical stance, such that anyone would find reasonable. With the individual in question, she never gave me any b___j_b!...yet claimed to! Where was her coupon? I always give a coupon. I intend to prove as a fact that it was my ex-co-owner and no-good twin brother Bobby. That cheap b_____d never gives a coupon.

dogimo: Wow.

Sal: I cannot stand the slanders, but my lawyer would say I've said too much just by defending my good name.

dogimo: Yeah, but what does he know?

Sal: You shut your face. He's a very expensive lawyer, he knows more than you do.

dogimo: Good point. Listen, I'd like to talk about some of the exciting promotions you have in the works for the big Fall/Winter season. Can you tell me a little about this whole "America First!" promotion?

Sal: Exciting is exactly the word. We're trying to turn a bad thing into a good thing here by getting the word out about what makes us #1 in quality and value. Publicity is bad, if it's bad, as the saying goes. But you can always use good publicity.

dogimo: I think you're on to something there. Let's take a break and when we come back...accentuate the positive.

Sal: I appreciate that very much.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Am I Too Nice?

Do you think I'm too nice? Do I come across as being too nice, too inoffensive? Too sweet? Too even-handed and fair-minded on all issues? Too willing to forgive others? Does it seem sometimes as though I give short shrift to my inner belligerent dickwad? Perhaps it seems as though I lack an edge. Does this quality of too-niceness make me seem boring? Does it lull you into a sense of safety around me?

Some guys complain about that sort of thing. When people tell them they are too nice, too sweet, too good to others, they grow defensive and become hurt. Sometimes they may cry about it, later on, secretly at home. That seems weird to me. Personally I don't really mind too much, being perceived as too nice. It doesn't really bother me at all. In fact, I find that it can often be turned to my advantage. Decisively.

I'd give you some examples, but I don't want to brag. Not my style. But I tell you what...I am pretty nice, though!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sneak Preview #1

Here at Consider Your Ass Kicked!, we sometimes find ourselves scrambling to keep up with all of the exciting topics in the works. To keep you, our most valued reader, from feeling "out of the loop," we like to hit you from time to time with an eye-popping Sneak Preview of some of the things you may feel free to expect in the coming unspecified time period.

Without further ado,'s Sneak Preview #1:

Was Jesus Gay?
Fresh evidence strikes at the very foundation of the so-called "Da Vinci Conspiracy"!

The Big Bang...? Never Happened.
New theory that Creation was faked, infuriates both sides!

James Bond vs. Godzilla
A point-by-point comparison of the two most prolific, globally-successful theatrical film franchises running, with an analysis of what the future may hold for these two celluloid superstars. HOT HINT: can you say crossover?

Who Is To Blame?...and Why?
A scholarly attempt to examine our society's need to affix the blame elsewhere, and to identify the culprit or culprits responsible for this disturbing trend.

"Please Forgive Me": The Anthology Reviews
A track-by-track in-depth analysis of Bryan Adams's legacy in 36 installments.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Songwriting Tips

So anyway, I write songs, but I've never been too clear on why. I don't seem to have any particular desire to make that my trade.

Anyway, it's pretty fun. You should try it. Your first five will suck, be prepared for that. But at some point during the writing of your first ten songs, you will write the one that you think is really good...the one that convinces you, "hey, I can do this!"...the one that you only look back on years later and say, "hey...that one also sucked."

But by then it will be too late: you're already a songwriter!

So anyway, here's the way I go about it. First off, ironclad rule #1: Never don't write a song. If a song idea comes to you, and it's trying to come through and it's trying to get written, then don't not write it just because it's a really dumb idea. A really dumb idea, well-executed, can be an incredibly great song! I won't mention any examples, because I'm sure somebody would find some way to twist that into an insult.

Second off, ironclad rule #2: it is not the song's job to perfectly reflect your feelings. It is your job to perfectly reflect the song's feelings. You need to find the best angle in, to whatever the subject of the song is. Discard whatever you have to, to make that song the strongest it can possibly be. Discard even yourself! If the core message of the song would feel so much stronger coming from someone else, then write it from that perspective! But even if you're writing from your own perspective, have to be able to let the song steer the way and tell its own truth. Don't force it to tell your truth. Let it take over and say what it wants to say.

You can always edit it later on, if a better approach comes to you. I often find that I've started out to write a song about something specific in my own life, only to end up writing a really good song - but a song that no one would recognize as having anything to do with the initial situation that inspired it. The song takes over if you let it. And initially, the more you give that song free reign, the more you find it telling you things that would never have occurred to you on your own.

Next time on "Songwriting Tips": what to do when that song starts bossing you around.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

"The Banana Ran Down the Street Shouting Psalms‚" And So On.

The banana ran down the street shouting psalms. The apple in his proud blue suit stepped out to intercept, fumbling for his shiny badge. But the banana had already peeled on out of there. Farmer Psychoses, observing the scene, reflected silently upon the need for a stricter enforcement. But as the bible once said of a similar topic: a man had two servants. One of them, he paid handsomely in 50 shiny sheckels. The other, he had stripped to the waist and publicly whipped. For who shall question the master of the house? Likewise, go and do the same.

A passing Reverend Plum objected to a small detail in the narrative, but chose to keep it to himself in favor of fleeing from the approaching lions. But he needn't have bothered; these lions were only interested in the cultural attractions. Said Lion Alpha to his two subordinates: "I'll let you two choose the movie this time." Observed Lion Beta in a stage-whispered growl: "he's only saying that because none of us can read English." Luckily, Hetty the Helpful Lionness at the ticket window was able to translate the titles of today's Films Now Showing, and our three lions went in to enjoy a documentary feature on the Whales of Many Nations.

special thanks to s. for the suggestion

Friday, September 08, 2006

My Theory Is...

My theory is that all the food in Heaven was boring, so God set us down here with limitless imagination and limited resources to see what interesting dishes we could come up with. Basically, I see God as a cosmic Chairman Kaga from Iron Chef.

The signal phrase of creation was not, "Let there be Light" but rather, "Allez Cuisine!"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Football Needs A Theme

Football needs a Theme Song, man. Yeah, I know each network's sports coverage has some fanfare of trumpets blazoning out all over the place. But I'm not talking about instrumentals. I'm talking about something catchy! You know what I mean!

FOOTBALL!!!* - any time you get it something
FOOTBALL!!! – any time you get it free
FOOTBALL!!! – any time you something something
Not gettin’ hassled, not gettin’ hustled
Keeping your head above water!
Makin’ a wave when you can!
TEMPORARY LAYOFFS!!!! (foot ball!)
Easy credit ripoffs!! (foot ball!)
Splashin' and survivin'!! (foot ball!)
Stuck in a muse-um!! (foot ball-alll!)
Ain't we lucky we got 'em...?
Bum, bah-doom-bah-doomp doomm,
(soulful vocal ad-lib)

Something like that. Only make a little more effort to change the lyrics. "Tryin' to make the Play-offs!! FOOTBALL!!!"

Perhaps the above could serve as a stop-gap theme until a more suitable theme can be commissioned by the League.

*sung to the tune of "The New Official Theme to Football"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Few More Notes About The Blog: Originality

Another thing is that, up to this point, all of the blog entries have pretty much been composed originally for the blog. But I think I've established the tone to the point where I can branch out a little, maybe include some more classic material occasionally. A rant that I originally tossed off in an e-mail. An old diary entry - something from the old "acoustic blog"! Something from an old post of mine on a message board somewhere, picked up, dusted-off and fleshed out a little.

(I never actually kept a diary. That was just an example.)

I won't add a disclaimer to any of the old stuff. I'll toss it in there just as if I just came up with it. But if any of you catch the reference, feel free to call me on it in a comment! "Hey, loser! Run out of material? You posted this on the Brunching Shuttlecocks discussion board 3 years ago!" But be sure you can substantiate that claim. Because I never was on that discussion board. So I think we both know who is telling lies!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Another Thought of the Day

I don't want to die doing something I love. That would ruin it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Few Notes About The Blog

I probably should have mentioned this before, but it seemed fairly obvious.

Because I'm pretty new at this blog business, I just look at a blog entry the same way I'd look at writing a song. Doing the right thing to make the song's point strongest is more important than making the song some sort of accurate portrait of my own personal feelings. Same thing with a blog. Or at least, with this blog. Most of the entries are meant less as autobiographical and more as unto themselves. Which includes things like grammar. If the voice that would say that message best would say it a little ungrammatically, then so be it. Comma splices...who even cares about comma splices? It's a non-issue. If I was writing a term paper, I'd leave out the comma splices. I'm not stupid. I'd also have put, "If I were writing a term paper." But I'm not! So get off my back!! Like I care about grammar. Grammar is for lesser fools than I to concern themselves with.

So anyway, all of these entries are intended as basically in-character dialogue. No, I don't mean "monologue," or "soliloquy." Those have different connotations. Me no like. But the main thing is, the character in question might not necessarily represent me or my views per se. Because, who wants to read about that? My views are unfunny and uninteresting. My views are the simple pinnacle of what sense and reason have to offer, as far as views go. And that ends up being pretty damn boring stuff, blog-wise. Believe me, you don't want to read about my views.

So I thought I'd just put that out there. As a little disclaimer. Of course, the voice might be just plain old me (if that's what's called for). But you usually can tell those ones right off.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Tragic Flaw

The funniest thing about reading Sophocles'd expect those ancient dudes to be really different from us, different in mind or character in some way that reflects the gulf of ages that lies betwixt us. Unso. They're the same people we see around us today. Not literally the same set of individuals, of course, but the same set of flaws.

The difference is, we seem to have lost hold of the concept that a flaw can be heroic in some way. The tragic flaw. The crack in the noble facade, that causes the whole thing to crumble. That humanizes the hero in the end, at great personal expense.

The ancients had a concept of a hero as a noble and wholly-admirable character, but with that one tragic flaw that leads to ruination. Our modern hero tends to be a character who consists of almost nothing but flaws, but with that one shining ability - often mere sheer determination - that leads to redemption. It's very interesting to me, to look at the two types side-by-side. The hero as perfection personified - but with that one flaw that undermines everything; versus the hero as imperfection personified - but with that one virtue that redeems everything.

Of course, there were heroes that fit our more thoroughly-flawed mode, even back in the days of antiquity. Hercules comes to mind. That guy was a walking catastrophe, and one not waiting to happen either. And of course today...there are still some heroes in the old mold. Paragons of Right and Virtue. But the general archetype seems to have changed, and even our old-school heroes seem to have lost the tragic flaw. Unless kryptonite counts as a tragic flaw.

I'd guess that the tragic flaw is just collateral damage; a casualty of the demise of nobility itself. We're not too big on nobility as a virtue these days.

But you know what? I don't think the ancients were either. The whole purpose of that tragic-hero setup was to have the big payoff at the end, where the too-perfect hero is brought crashing down to Earth.

We all love a happy ending.