Do You Feel Lucky?

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

Monday, February 26, 2007

Marxism is the Opiate of the Proletariat

Marxism is the opiate of the proletariat.

I just want to get that on record, because as far as I can tell, no one else has bothered to point that out yet. And I think it might make for a sweet bumper sticker someday.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The ScarJo Effect

I give Jennifer Lopez all the credit in the world. As far as I know, she was the first actor to come up with a cutesy abbreviation of her name for self-marketing purposes. I'm sure other people will dig out a bunch of crusty historical antecedents from Vaudeville days or whatever. I seriously doubt these pioneers were on J-Lo's mind when she made that leap.

And she leapt, and everyone loved it! Admittedly, they loved it mostly because they thought it was ridiculous. The first wave of "imitators" were almost all people making fun. But it was undeniably a cute little nickname for her. There was no not letting it win you over. Pretty soon, the imitators were being sincere in their flattery. And after an amazingly short period of time, they were no longer even imitating her. It had become its own thing. The little trunc'd syllable nickname was firmly established.

But it's gone far enough. We now have gossip columnists clepening people with awkward handles such as "Scar-Jo" for Scarlet Johanson. Now I admit - her name is a problem for those who have to type it. Scarlett Johannessen? Scarlet Johansson? Scarlett Johannsen? Okay, they might have a point with her. But the end product sounds grotesque! That needs to be part of the consideration, when coming up with these. "Scar-Jo!" It sounds like a disfigured medieval jester. "Come forth, Scar-Jo! O hideous one! Regale us with your mirth and antics!" Some celebrities - the name just doesn't lend itself to the treatment. You need to let it go.

We can't let this trend go unchecked. Are we to reconcile ourselves to hearing entertainment wonks asking questions like, "Sure, his turn in that Tru-Cap biopic won him top accolades, but can PhiSeyHoff make the leap to bankable lead?" That's pronounced like his actual truncated syllables. You might render it phonetically as, "fih-see-hoff."

Ah, I don't know. I've run out of things to say on this. I declare my point made. Here's to ya, "J. Lo"...jay to the el oh. J- e- l-l- o. Julia Roberts is just lucky she came along too early to be christened "Ju-Rob." Let's hope they don't start making this trend retroactive.

Next I find out my Grandmom Jane is insisting on everyone referring to her as G-Mom J.

The ScarJo Effect 2: Revenge of PhiSeyHoff

An historical note: obviously I am aware that from the early days of the old school rap game, gentlemen with names such as Mohandas Dewese would get on the mic under noms-de-guerre such as Kool Moe Dee for instance. It's a clear antecedent, and many of these people are revered pioneers of the form. Yet to the culture at large, on a scale of sheer tabloid notoriety, we have to admit that these guys were basically nonentities.

When Jennifer Lopez came out and did it, steeped as she was in a hip hop / smoothed-out R&B background (with a pop appeal to it), calling herself "J-Lo" must have seemed like a perfectly natural move to her. It was also quite easy for those familiar with the norms and customs of hip hop to contextualize. But to the covey of mass-culture entertainment mavens, here was something new and novel! Hence the splash. Hence the subsequent latching-on and proliferation. And ultimately, perhaps inevitably, we find ourselves mired in this sad overkill type deal.

Just pointing all that out. That smidge of historical context. Lest somebody try to tell me I didn't already know! One thing you can take for granted around here: somebody's always acting smart.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

After a Good, Pounding Rain

After a good, strong, pounding, soaking rain, it's funny to see the blooming acacias with their branches drooping and their proud, bright mustard blooms dimmed to a pale, washed-out yellow-green. Under each tree, a wet yellow carpet of thick pollen, washed from the branches to paint and stain the asphalt and grass.

The acacia trees have been going CRAZY. I don't know if you have these where you live. 9 out of 10 parts of the year, they look just like ordinary trees. You couldn't pick one out of a lineup.

But then, as it starts coming on to spring...whoa, nelly! They start blooming like the bejeesus with bright yellow pollen! The whole tree turns yellow.

And they're all over the place! I only just started noticing it last spring, maybe the spring before. They're everywhere! How can that be? These are full-grown trees we're talking about. It takes many years for one to grow that big. Yet I really feel like a few years ago, there weren't these continuous groves of yellow acacias stretching along Hwy 17 every day as I drove to work. How could they just "pop up"?

Unless...maybe they don't reproduce as other trees do. Maybe they spread by "taking over" neighboring trees, year by year, until there's nothing but an unbroken sea of yellow! Because, I stress that in the off-season, they just look like any other tree. You wouldn't know when a tree was "taken over" until next spring when the yellowing begins! A controversial theory I admit, but also a scary one.

And if that's so, then I've just discovered an important little-known fact in the world of botany. Is there a Nobel category for botany? I have a pretty strong case I think. That's a sweet Prize. I'd love one of those!

The Nobel Prize.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Not really anything formal. I've just been getting slammed at work. There are all these other emotional entanglements as well. I'm stuck doing two jobs at once, and the extra job is because of a person leaving the company who was, really...the last person I would have wanted to see leave! We worked very closely together, and she was just...great. You know?

It's to the point where for me, it feels as if that personal angle overshadows all of the purely pain-in-the-ass work concerns. Even though I know that the workload is the part that has me crushed and struggling through the days, and coming in weekends, it isn't hitting me as hard.

So the upshot is, work is work. Which sucks for me, because I'm not used to that. For a long while there, as hard as I worked and as much as I got done, it wasn't work. It was something I looked forward to, something to get me up in the morning.

I guess the old Cinderella song is true: you don't know what you got. 'Til it's gauooaunnnnnn.

Anyway. Great working with you! Good luck in all your future endeavors.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Special Valentine

So here's what I was going to do. I was planning to make you a Valentine myself! Make it with my own hands. You know how sometimes, you can picture something so perfect in every detail, and you know exactly what you're going to do and how you're going to do it, it's already so perfectly realized? That's this Valentine I had in mind, for you.

I was going to make it from heavy stationery of a deep, dark Prussian blue. Yes, I know, that somewhat rips off Tom Waits. But if you go to all the trouble to make a Valentine, and you use perfect as I'm going to make it, anybody is going to think it's store-bought and of machine manufacture! Because that's how fully, perfectly conceived this was. High-quality.

I was going to cut out a large heart, of slightly off-kilter shape, higher than it is wide, and border it in perfect white lace. Don't even ask how I'd get the lace shape to match the off-kilter heart - don't even ask that, I'm telling you I had it dialed in. That would have presented no problem. No problem. And on the reverse of the heart, in a white heart pasted onto the back - a white heart only slightly less large than the blue heart, so that it would be edged in Prussian blue - I would have written my heartfelt message.

That's where the whole thing broke down, actually. Because, I could not think of anything that I would be able to write there that wouldn't seem flippant - compared to how beautiful and perfect this heart was.

In a greater sense, that sums up a lot about the difficulties I have expressing myself.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Workin' Hard, Or...?

Working hard! Working hard working. Hard working hard, working hard working hard working hard working hard. Working, hard working hard, working hard working. Hard. Working, hard working.

Hard working hard, working hard working hard working, hard working. Hard working, hard working. Hard working...hard working hard, working hard; working hard working hard. Working!!! Hard working. Hard working hard, working, hard, working hard working hard working hard.

Working hard working hard - working! Hard, working, hard. Working. Hard working. Hard working! Hard working hard working; hard working...hard! Working.


Working hard, working, hard working...hard working hard. Working hard working hard working hard working, hard working hard working hard. Working hard. Working, hard working! Hard working! Hard, working, hard. Working hard working hard working hard working. Hard working hard, working hard working hard. Working hard working hard; working hard working - hard! Working hard. Working hard working, hard working hard.

Working hard. Working hard.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Valentine Poetry Contest - Status Update

I couldn't hack it! I just wasn't able.

Oh, I sent in a poem. But I just don't like its chances. It's a bit its depiction of love.

The problem was, I started out of the gate going great guns, poem after poem...but they all were more making fun of the idea than anything else. You're not going to win the prize with that!

Then a bunch of f'd up stuff happened, including a friend of mine getting badly burned in a kitchen accident and I had to take him to the hospital, plus my girlfriend was out of town. In short, I was short on romantic inspiration of the type needed to write a prize-winning Valentine's Day poem.

Finally I realized it was the day of the deadline. Still feeling uninspired, I combed through some recent doodles and found one that, if not quite the right tone, at least took the idea seriously. By then it was too late to mail it, and I'd left the copy of the paper at home (I was at work). So I looked up their website and...needless to say, it was not well-maintained. But I was able to dig up the article on the Valentine's Day Poetry Contest 2004, and I just sent it in to the address listed there:

Now I find out that 1) the deadline was for noon on the 7th (I sent it in at 2pm), and 2) the e-mail address for this year's contest was editorial@, not info@.

I bet they don't even give my poem a chance. It's a shame. It's a good poem.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

You Asked For It, You Got It

Unless I misinterpreted what Steve Young was trying to tell us in those Toyota commercials during the game, that thing...the Prius, or whatever...gets better mileage in the city than on the open road!

Which makes a certain amount of sense when you factor in the regenerative braking. Oh, and by the way, Steve! In that little dialogue bit between you and your friend with the goatee, where you're telling him all the little features and you mention the regenerative braking and he says, "I don't even know what that means," and you reply, all abashed, "I don't know what it means either..."? Don't play coy with us, pal. You've got a law degree from Brigham Young University. We all know that we'll be seeing you as our U.S. senator from either California or, more likely, Utah at some point within the next 6-10 years. You're not fooling anybody, playing dumb. Even I know what regenerative braking means!

That's because I came up with idea. Now, don't mistake me, I'm sure the talented engineers at Toyota Corp came up with their own version completely independently of mine, but I came up with that idea many years ago, must have been well over 15 years ago. I remember that it was the first time somebody explained to me how an alternator works (I forget now). Something just clicked in my head, which happens, and my immediate response was "well, why can't they just harness the energy that is being bled off and lost when the brakes are applied - all that kinetic energy, wasted, turned into heat and friction! - why can't they reclaim some of that energy, use that as a supplemental power source?" I could tell the guy was pretty impressed by my idea, but he was basically like, "look, do you want to pay extra for a new alternator or do you want the rebuilt one?"

Hey. I never thought of this before, but I bet that bastard took my idea straight to Toyota and sold it for a boatload of simoleons. In fact, as it happens, he already worked for Toyota!

Well, heck. It doesn't really bother me. I'm just happy that something I came up with can help the world to make the environment a better place for people to be able to take care of. That's my bottom line.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pro Bowl Mania!

MARK MY WORDS. This weekend's NFL Pro Bowl is going to be a debacle. It's going to be the worst Pro Bowl ever. How can they expect these teams to come together on the field, after only one week's practice?

The Pro Bowl is supposed to be a showcase for the top talent in the league, displaying their precision and athleticism to the delight of all those soon-to-be-suffering NFL fans. This is the last taste of the year. The Pro Bowl is our one shot of methadone before withdrawl sets in. This is all we're going to get.

So what do they do for us? What do they do to give us a nice game, a nice going-away present, to thank us for all our devotion and support? Do they give it a decent 2-week gap in between the Superbowl and the Pro Bowl? Let the players have some breathing time to hang in the tropical Hawaiian breeze and feel each other out, mesh with each other as teammates under the steely-eyed guidance of their conference's Coach of the Year?

No! They don't do that! Although it seems to me that they always used to. But no! It's the Superbowl one weekend and the Pro Bowl the next. What kind of quality product do they expect those coaches to be able to assemble on such short notice? What kind of precision display of flash and firepower are we going to get? Even the two best coaches in the league can't turn a gaggle of preening hotshots into a real team in one week's time!

It's fucking disgusting. I predict a bumbling mess of an embarrassment of a game. I expect to see more turnovers this Saturday than there were in last Sunday's game, even!

I can't stand it. They can't even take the time to give us hard-working fans a decent send-off for the season. Who is responsible. Who is responsible.


Monday, February 05, 2007

The Big Bopper Story

So I read a couple weeks back that they were going to exhume the Big Bopper and see if a long-past-post-mortem examination would yield any clues as to what exactly happened in that doomed airplane, that fateful, fateful night. I think they were going to x-ray his skeleton and maybe see if they could tell whether he must have died immediately in the crash, or whether he might have survived for a little while after only to die in the cold cold of that frigid Iowa farmland night, or maybe he might even have been shot!

No, really. They seemed to think it was a possibility that he might have been shot.

Now, none of that made much sense to me, just from reading the article. "What exactly is the angle here?" I asked myself, and I had no ready answer. But after a while I think I figured it out: they're going to come out with a big-budget Big Bopper biopic!

I never liked that term: "biopic." It looks like it should be pronounced so as to rhyme with "myopic," and it sounds like an unpleasant medical procedure where they poke you in the eye. Albeit, that's a fitting descriptor for most biopics.

Anyway, we've seen La Bamba and we've seen The Buddy Holly Story. They're both good movies, but they share a problem: that ending. It's too abrupt. It's like the movie just ends in midair, when it feels like it should be only the middle! Plus, not to mince words, but it's a real downer. But hey! What if by answering a few previously unasked questions, we could provide a new twist on that ending - and a more satisfying dramatic arc overall?

Here's how I would envision the film: it would open right at the git-go. Those three rock legends board that fateful plane, and the plane takes off, and there are some quite witty dialogue exchanges where Holly and Valens both hail the Big Bopper AKA "Jiles Perry Richardson" as fully their musical equal, to the Bopper's humble protestations. Then they all settle in and begin playing a round of cards as the Bopper divulges his secret - he is in fact a swashbuckling government agent! As his tale told in flashback fills the screen, the film begins in earnest...

Cut to the early years as young Jiles Richardson, a talented up-and-comer, is courted by the United States Government to help them wage a desperate struggle. Rock and roll threatens to undermine society as we know it - and yet, courageous and altruistic individuals highly-placed within the government believe that the influence of rock can be turned to the good of all! Jiles agrees to join their covert program. He is then code-named "The Big Bopper," given extensive training in combat and stealth techniques, and sworn in as the star operative for the Alert Covert Rock Operatives National Youth Movement. His job is to infiltrate the world of rock and roll from the inside, so as to help direct its raw fury and power to good ends instead of bad!

For beknownst only to the members of A.C.R.O.N.Y.M., there exists an evil mastermind named Garfield Nastov - a former government agent gone bad, a washout from an earlier black-ops program involving barbershop quartets. Posing as anything from an unscrupulous piano-man to an unscrupulous booking agent, Nastov has managed to worm his way deeply into the rock and roll establishment, recruiting agents of his own and laboring to make rock and roll work for the cause of evil!

We see the Bopper's career progress as he builds his musical reputation and clashes in secret with his arch-nemesis Nastov, all culminating in the show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The Bopper's performance is an absolute triumph. Then they all go off in the plane and we're back to where we started, on the plane.

Fade back from flashback. Cue the twist ending.

Three of Nastov's key terrorist henchmen have stowed away on board that very plane! They hijack the plane, but our heroes fight back with the Big Bopper leading the fray! They win, but the plane is going down! The Bopper seizes the controls (the pilot was killed in the scuffle) and pulls out a miraculous emergency landing! Then we see how Valens and Holly, so impressed by a man they now realize is not only a musical giant but a true national hero, pledge their lives to fight in the service of that same cause. They tragically have to fake their own deaths, in order to fight on secretly as governmental special agents. This is necessary in order to lull Nastov into a false sense of security by letting him think his evil plan was successful in killing them.

Which neatly sets up the sequel! In the sequel, the Big Bopper, Valens and Holly get down to business averting threats, kicking ass, and secretly shaping rock and roll to the ends of good instead of evil in the dangerous world of high-stakes counter-espionage!

So as you can see, there's really a lot of story potential there. I eagerly await the Bopper film, and I think that if done right, it could lead to a new kind of appreciation for one of rock's underrated icons.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

XLI part II

So anyway, any images, accounts, or descriptions of the game are prohibited without the express written consent of the NFL. But I think that under "fair use" provisions I am allowed to say "it sucked!"

Not really, actually. It was pretty sloppy, that's for sure! But overall it was a pretty decent game of football. Not an epic contest for the ages, but then those are pretty precious rare when it comes to the superbowl.

There seems to be a pretty wide range of reactions to these "big games" anyhow. I thought that Titans-Rams superbowl was a great damn game! But my girlfriend says she was bored stiff, because neither team was one she cared about. There was no hook or story about that confrontation that appealed to her. Well, I agreed with her there - Titans? Rams? In the scheme of things, who cares? But I still thought the game itself was a classic.

So who's the purer fan? Me, because I can watch a game between two teams I could care less about, and still be on the edge of my seat as long as the action on the field is good? Or she, because she has the more emotional approach and cares...needs to care, needs to have something invested in one of the teams on the field, in order to get into the game? Am I just a cold and shallow appreciator of mere procedural excellence, without the imagination to truly immerse my heart in the love of team and the unfolding drama of the individual personalities involved? Or is she a dilettante who can love the game in its dramatic aspects, as long as there's a story on the field that interests her, but lacks an appreciation for the pure fundamentals of the sport?

Well, obviously I'm the purer fan because she roots for the Raiders! But apart from that I think it's a valid question.

Superbowl Sunday!

A lot of people predict one thing earlier, and then later they go change it. Well not me. I am staying with my original pick. My prediction for today's game? It's the Cowboys over the Ravens in a laugher:

27 Cowboys
12 Ravens

The end score seems deceptively close due to the Ravens' "face-saving" late TD with a minute left and the game already decided (failed 2-pt conversion attempt).

That's my prediction. Hail to the record 6-time Superbowl Champion Cowboys!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Me Then vs. Me Now

Today I can stand up before you and say that I'm in the best shape of my life. What's my secret? Dishonesty. I lie my ass off when I say that. Obviously, I was in the best shape of my life when I was 19. Kinda scrawny-looking to look at, in a Bruce Lee sort of way, but that scrawn was 99% muscle. I was weighing in at one hundred fifty-five and benching two-sixty-five, so. That's pretty damn atrocious in my book. Nowadays, you could probably flip that statistic around and not be too far from the mark. Oh, I'm sure I can bench more than 155, but I don't think I could lie back on a bench right now and press my own weight. I'm hovering at around 230. I don't know exactly because I really don't weigh myself too often. In fact, I never weigh myself unless I happen to be down at the loading dock for something. I love that big metal scale they have!

But I will tell you what. I'll tell you precisely what: if it came down to a knock-down drag-out brawl for bragging rights, between the two of us - Me Then versus Me Now - I think both of us know who would win that one. We just don't agree it would be the same person. Me Then would be saying to myself, "look at that lardass. He must have 50+ pounds on me - all fat! He's too old and slow to be able to lay a hand on me! I'll liquify his damn chin with my badass front snap kick before he even sees my foot leave the ground." Actually dude, it's +75 pounds - but I carry it well I'm told. DAMN well.

Whereas, Me Now would be thinking, "I won't make the mistake of underestimating the opponent, here. I know the fearsome capabilities of this individual. I'm going to put up a strong defense and turn the fight my way by using my wily veteran savvy to outthink and outmaneuver that cocky punk. Failing that, I'll fall on his scrawny ass. He might be able to bench 265, but not when it's trying to choke him!"

Actually, it would be an interesting fight to see. I wish there was some way it could be arranged. Of course there would need to be three of me at that point - two to fight and one to watch. Because...I don't really want to get involved. I just want to see a good fight!

Smart money's on the fat guy.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Apology

No one wants to hear about the dead. About dead strangers, least of all. No one wants to hear about you, and now I am the last one who remembers you. You are too much for me. You are too beautiful. It is too great a load to bear.

If we had had children, then someone would care. Someone would want to hear. What cowardice! To regret our own best decisions - made for the best, we both agreed! To want to bring another life into this blank, hollow world for no reason but to serve as another uncomprehending witness to another meaningless set of lives. My darling wife! You won't even be a ghost now, once I am gone. They say those who pass on, live on in our memories. When I go, no one will remember you anymore. No one will remember me. No one will remember us.

We will have not mattered.

For a lifetime together, each of us was all the other ever needed. They say that there can never be perfection in this world. This is not true. I have been a witness to perfection. I knew it each day, a perfection so flawless that it fooled me into thinking it was only normal life.

Where have you gone? How can I say "where have you gone," when I know where you are, when I visit you almost every day? Me above, you below. How I wish that I could say "you above, me below" - you above, awaiting me! Awaiting our reunion. What bitterness, to wish upon myself the certainty of fools! You never wished for that. You were stronger, and you went first...and I am left behind.

I can see your face, looking into my eyes, more strongly than anything I have seen in this world for...many years now. More strongly than anything I have seen since you last looked into my eyes. You would not look away. You held my gaze until I saw the light go from your eyes, world cracked. I stayed holding your hand, broken, until finally they swept me from the room. I have been swept everywhere since, everywhere I go, in pieces.

Maybe it wasn't you who died. Maybe I am the one dead: and this is hell. But if so, there are far too many Christians here to suit my taste.

Love, no one wants to hear talk about the dead. No one wants to hear me tell about you. So many stories, all of them wonderful! All of them good. And I am the last. The only one who cares.

I hold on to everything about you. Without even trying - I am not even trying to hold on! I can't let go of you. I can't let go because you are all I can hold in my mind. Everything else slips away.

I am afraid. I fear my mind is going. My heart has already gone, but I can still fear for my mind? How absurd, when I would gladly trade the one for the other! To sink into insanity, if only to sink into your arms!

Forgive me. Please forgive me. I know that you would never have wanted this; never wanted me like this. I am so, so sorry. My love, I am so sorry.

Can you ever forgive me?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Valentine Poetry Contest? I'm In!

I've decided to enter a Valentine's Day Poetry contest being run by a free local paper. I'm writing up a storm of love poems, and then I'm going to pick the best one or two and send them in by the Feb. 6th deadline. The winner gets a 7-course Valentine's Day Dinner for two at Peachwood's Steakhouse and a night of our choice in the Hootchy-Coo Suite at the Inn At Pasatiempo. The winning poem will be published in a future edition of the paper.

Okay, that's really not the name of the suite.

This is one of those parochial-minded "community" papers that screams headlines such as "Construction Work Zones Require Driving Safely" and "Dominican Hospital Has Volunteer Openings." Many of their headlines seem to experience a crisis of confidence, as capitalization fails midway through: "Big Brothers, Big Sisters to hold info night." Ooo! Here's a good one: "Palestinian, Israeli to perform play together." I think, in this day and age, that's great! But they could have picked some better photos to go with the article. What a pair of scary-looking women.

Also, what about this play they're doing? The Well of Sarah and Hagar? Never heard of it! Why not go with something like The Glass Menagerie? Put that together with the whole stunt-casting angle, I think you've got a winner.

In any case, I'm pretty psyched about this relentless pursuit of the muse that I'm currently embroiled in. I hope I come up with some pretty good poems, and maybe even a poem so good that it takes the top prize. But you know what the real top prize is, as far as I'm concerned: I could call myself a published poet.

Because, let's face it: school papers don't really count. Far as I'm concerned. Not really.