Whenever the newly martyred La La Land team's next movie comes out, they better have plenty of mantle space.
Some phrasing has struck me as odd this week. First, a relative told me "You're so smart" unironically, which is a first.
The next day, I said "I'm texting my ex's kid" to gathered friends, realizing only after I saw their confusion just how strange that sentence sounds to most people. It would soon be trumped.
The kid and I ended up talking on the phone a bit later, and I gave her permission to eat candy before bed. She handed the phone to Allie, and a minute later I overheard the following conversation:
"Hey! What are you doing? I told you to put the candy away!"
"John said I could."
"What John says doesn't count," Allie said, and for a moment I thought I'd traveled back in time to when we were dating.
"John's a responsible adult."
"WHAT. I MEAN. DUR. WHAT. OH GOOD GOD." Allie sputtered and laughed in that exasperated, punch-drunk way people laugh after they have heard an argument so preposterous, it actually nuked their synapses. She gathered herself. "Your sentence has never been said before in the history of the English language."
My normal workout is the dreaded treadmill, but I've been struggling with shin splints for a couple months now. This is an injury that I think about not at all until I'm on the treadmill, and then I think of nothing else. The pain is significant. Rather than keep skipping workouts, I bought an exercise bike.
I have not been on a bike of any kind in 20 years. I well remember my childhood springtime ritual of ass-pain, so I thought, "Let's break in the ol' butt slowly. I'll just do 20 leisurely minutes."
That was yesterday. Today, I cannot imagine sitting on a bike seat again until, oh, let's say 2037.
Ever since I decided to dump this dump and move again in 2017, I have refused to buy alcohol. Oh, I haven't stopped drinking—see "dump," above—I've just been reducing the weight of my moving truck, one bottle at a time.
First to go were the bourbons. Slurp! Then whiskey and rye and scotch. Next to go was gin. I barely remember Gin Month. Rum was a delightful couple of weeks, but all I have left now is Malibu, which scarcely qualifies. Next up is vodka. After that, things get dire.
Logically, tequila is next, that most nasty of staples. I don't know if I can do it. But the alternative is all the random crap I've accumulated over the past 20 years. The peach schnapps for Allie. The drambuie for Phil. The kahlua for Dorkass back when she was fun, so you know it's old indeed. The creme de menthe for Chandra. The Jaeger for Mark. The butterscotch schnapps for that 19 year old girl back in 1998. [Googles her. Yep, still hot. Sigh.]
It's a memorial in liquid form. I've put time in a bottle.
I know I'm sick of politics, especially as discussed in social media, so I've generally avoided discussing it here. You're welcome.
I am, however, inclined to resurrect the Arrested Development joke in the title.
It's time to bring back the word "retarded." I am not insensitive to why it fell out of fashion; I am arguing that the needs of the future trump the sensitivities of the present. Here is my proposal: "retarded" is never to be used to describe those with diagnosed disorders. It's reserved only for the undiagnosed.
Here is our quandry, wrapped up in a tweet inside of petulance immersed in vomitous stupidity:
I ask you, gentle reader: how does one not use the word "retarded" when describing someone who:
- conflates fictitious consensual sex with an actual President actually boasting about actually committing actual sexual assault, and then
- proudly presents this trumped up, straining bullshit as some sort of mic-dropping observation of hypocrisy?
I've been ducking Darcy for over a year. No calls, no texts, no contact. It turns out I have an aversion to feeling like a complete failure. I'm weird that way.
13 months of silence were broken last night when she called. Fortunately, it was only minimally depressing. Or maybe I'm just numb to her embrace of mediocrity now. She's still reading career books, wants to work at Microsoft, and her status as Cheating Fuckup's Subjugated Second Choice is further cemented by their new engagement. For the most part, she didn't say the incredibly vacuous things that have pained me. For the most part.
"I'm looking for a different job because of age discrimination here," she said. She just turned 31.Is there anything more quintessentially millennial than arguing that promoting people with 15 more years' experience than you is "age discrimination?"
"Yeah, you're old now. And the young folks come relentlessly."
"Hey, female 31 is the male 61."
"Anyway, everyone at work is like 15 years older than me, and I just feel like I'll never advance."
Let's get this prediction on the record. The 2020 slogan of the Democratic Presidential candidate TBD:
"Make America America Again."
In technology, an “attack surface” is an avenue for someone nefarious to attack your computer. We strive to reduce the total number of attack surfaces. That’s what all those security patches are.
For me, this thinking has bled into real life. I approach professional and social situations in terms of reducing attack surfaces—limiting the number of ways people can hurt my interests. On the heels of the colossal fuck-up that is my Pittsburgh misadventure, I have zero appetite for more risk. My gestating plan is extraordinarily conservative and is littered with escape hatches.
I described my newfound risk-aversion to Andy and referred to it as “reducing my attack surfaces.” He was confused.
“Attacks from whom?”
“Attacks from God, I suppose.”
“But you don't believe in God.”
“I do for the bad stuff. Hey, did you see my 2016?!”
Anyone who's spent five minutes on reddit considers a dash-cam a necessity on the order of food and water. The world is seemingly filled with brawling Russian drunks, and that must be immortalized.
My new dash-cam has an audio-recording feature. I left it turned on, figuring that it might be useful someday for a court to hear me honking my horn or a cop being a douche. I was driving for about five minutes before I realized that turning off audio recording was imperative. My language is incendiary. I am not a sympathetic subject. I could go to court to fight a parking ticket and end up on death row.
Plus I sing the wrong lyrics a lot, and who needs to hear that?
Three years ago, I was reading a book in a bar in WA state. When I glimpsed the bartender, I rolled my eyes. She was a robo-babe: fake blonde hair, fake huge boobs, makeup applied with a putty knife, and clothes appropriate only if you're grinding on potential date-rapists in a club. I said nothing to her other than my drink order. Not my kind of people.
About a year later, I was back. She was there again. After neglecting me for a time, she walked over and uncertainly said "Basil Manhattan, up, right?"
It's amazing how all my prejudices melt away if you remember my drink order. My kind of people.
Her name is Katie. Her personality was not remotely what I would have guessed from outward appearances. She's ditzy, kind, weird, and funny. If you took Phoebe from Friends and squeezed her into the body of a coke-addled porn star, you would have Katie. She is, in fact, a former Hooters calendar girl. I cringed when she started to tell me that, and she immediately stopped. "Well now I feel stupid," she said sadly. I felt bad. For all the whorish artifice, she's inwardly dorky and lovable, a devoted girlfriend and stepmom. I like her despite myself.
When I was leaving WA last year, her barstool was one of my last stops. She gave me free drinks, then grabbed my phone. She texted "I owe you $100" to herself, then added herself to my contacts so we could stay in touch. It was a sweet gesture. Not sweet, I didn't stay in touch.
The other night, I went to sleep with earbuds in. Around 3am, Katie texted me. That's when I discovered that she'd assigned herself the "train whistle" text tone. It blared directly into my ears. My subconscious incorporated this into my dream, where I was promptly massacred by a train in my mother's living room.
Being awakened by a porn star is not quite what I imagined.
My dog, Fredo, has had a couple of seizures in the last month. He'll barf and lose all motor control of his legs, toppling over awkwardly. A minute later, he's fine. The vet ran a battery of tests and found that he's got hypothyroidism. There's no apparent link to the seizures, but I'm hopeful that treating one will treat the other. Regardless, he'll now take two pills a day for the rest of his life. It's been a week, and there hasn't been an episode yet. A seizure episode, anyway.
The pills make him otherworldly gassy. I don't think it's healthy for an organism to emit this smell. And if you're new around here, you should know that he shadows me 24/7. There is no escape. His gas is my gas. His emissions are my inhalations. I'd like to say I'm building up an immunity, but if anything, they're only smelling worse.
God, whatever I did, I'm sorry.
Out of nowhere, last night I dreamt that I was in a relationship with Anna Kendrick. She was not in the dream. My subconscious is not that kind. No, my entire dream was a lengthy simulation of how I would react to being hounded by paparazzi and vivisected on social media. It turns out I was not a fan. I warred with the world, punching photographers and publicly lashing out at those abusing me for my unworthiness. My meltdown was of Michael Richards/Mel Gibson proportions. I became an international punchline. When I awoke, my thoughts were two:
- Who dreams about dating Anna Kendrick but excludes her from the dream? Just...who?
- Yeah, that was accurate.
I've been avoiding media, especially of the social persuasion, since the election. I am happier for this. Just how insulated am I? I didn't hear about the women's protests until the day of, when a friend told me why she couldn't watch the game.
The real estate pics started green, then turned yellow and red, then deathly brown, then white. Now people proudly show the six-foot mounds of snow on either side of their driveway, and I wonder why on earth you would put that in your ad.
In the post-Fucking Amy aftermath, while I sorted through all my sad and stabby feelings, all I really wanted was someone with whom I could do dinner and a movie. This person couldn’t be male, because…well, what’s the point of talking to a guy? I’ve never known. Elizabeth served as my movie buddy for a time but then had the audacity to move away. Then came Bonnie, who had to ruin a good thing by deciding that my depression was irresistibly attractive. So I next tried the safety of a married woman, who, you guessed it, was eventually attracted to the world's most challenging fixer-upper. I'd known about both cliches—women are attracted to men they can fix, people are attracted to the emotionally unavailable—but until this time of my life, I'd never given it much credit. I do now.
And so it was on to a lesbian movie buddy. Gennifer and I were already work friends who went out to dinner from time to time, so movies were a natural extension. That couldn’t fail, right? We went out several times, and she told me all about her partner and gayness in general. Score! What a pleasant distraction from the steaming abyss where my soul used to be.
“So,” she said one day while picking nervously at her Phad Thai, “I’m thinking about trying men…”
And that is how I learned to love going to movies and dinner alone. As a bonus, I can tell texters off without mortifying anyone I know.
By any reasonable measure, one might think me depressed. I'm not leaving the house. The house is filthy. I have zero interest in seeing people. Chores are not getting done, including posting to this page. All I'm doing is surfing and watching TV, all day, every day. So why do I say I'm not depressed? Because I'm actually pretty happy with this state of affairs.
That would seem to be the line between depression and sloth.
I told the plumber about the comical sequence of events that led to his presence here. He shrugged. "That's home ownership," he said. "Something goes wrong every day."
"You've lived your whole life in Pittsburgh?" I asked.
2016 may be gone, but it is decidedly not forgotten. It has reach.
I'm presently in day 6 without water in my house or, as I prefer to think of it, Year Two. My New Year's was as water-free as my Christmas was heat-free and my Labor Day was AC-free. I'm looking forward to my oxygen-free President's Day.
My kitchen faucet developed a slow drip and, having not learned a thing in the six months here, I endeavored to repair it like I would on a normal house. I bought new washers. I went below the sink to turn off the water, and the cutoff valve burst in my hand. This being this house, the water sprayed the uncovered electrical box right next to the valve. I stuggled to find the next cutoff valve, which was, of course, both inaccessible and soon broken. I had no choice but to turn off the main for the entire house, which is located right next to the main breaker box, of course. It was then that I discovered that the main water line is not mounted to the wall but is instead tethered by clothes hanger to the gas line, which is also not mounted to the wall.
As for the six-day delay, that's Pittsburgh. They work when they feel like it. I don't even fight it anymore. I just look at real estate elsewhere.
Yesterday, I went to see the Steelers beat the despised Ravens and clinch the division. I paid hundreds of dollars to be there, and the Steelers did not disappoint. Specifically, they did not disappoint me when I finished watching the game on TV. I lasted four minutes into the second quarter before the fan assholery reached the critical mass needed for me to summon Uber.
I've seen games in every NFL city but Buffalo, not to mention countless college and high school games. And in my expert opinion, fan behavior has gotten intolerably worse. Superfan was there last night, drunkenly berating everyone in his section for not following his cheers (all the while with his back to the game action). The guy next to me had something moronic to yell about every single play, maintaining a continuous imaginary dialogue with the coaches and players hundreds of feet away. "SHOW ME SUMPIN! SHOW ME SUMPIN! FUCKIN' SHOW ME SUMPIN! SHOW ME SUMPIN, BELL!" he opined. Superfan and Sumpinman consider themselves a vital part of everyone else's game-watching experience. They are mistaken.
But at least with them, assholery is a conscious choice. For the umpteenth game in a row, the douchenozzle in front of me would leap to his feet in the middle of a play. I had an excellent view of the huddle and of the players snapping the ball and of the ball being thrown into the air, at which point I had an excellent view of a fat ass, followed by the roar of the crowd.
Over the weekend, Dorkass and I played the video game Goldeneye, the mainstay of our 90s. Oh, how many times she shot my avatar in the nuts back in the day. This time, however, she was besot with twin glitches: 1) her controller wasn't working, so she had to use her mouse and keyboard, and 2) I was invisible. I easily hunted her down and killed her, over and over, without the slightest risk to myself.
This was by far, bar none, unequivocally my best day in 2016.
For all my groaning when Anakin held forth about the perils of sand, at least I was paying attention to Attack of the Clones. During Rogue One, my mind wandered. I started thinking about work. It's not like I'm under a deadline or anything. It was just more interesting to think about than the movie in front of me. When the destination of a movie is known, your traveling companions had better be interesting. They were not. I could not describe any character in any more depth than "candid" or "good fighter." This was a movie without a single creative reason for existing.
Oh, and Darth Vader now drops shitty movie puns like Arnold circa 1988. Thanks, corporate hacks.
I'm in the middle of a miserable, soul-depleting slog at work. I find myself again entertaining graphic fantasies of faking my own death just so I don't have to complete the job. This is normal, right?
I fired two more Pittsburgh contractors this week. Well, maybe that's overstating it. They arguably quit. Can you really fire someone when they don't show up for the appointment?
I vented to Andy, a lifelong Pittsburgher. He was born here, went to Pitt, and started a family here. There is a 100% chance of his dying here. My rant concluded with the phrase that has come to define my 2016: "a culture of low expectations."
"Oh, I don't agree with that!" replied the man who recommended the contractors, who pays triple taxes for half-services, who doesn't understand why I think it's unusual that my garbage guys always leave trash in my lawn.
D'ere's yer problem, right d'ere.
I visited the dive bar last night and found no available seats. Among the seats' occupants was, in fact, Lucy. I smiled as I walked past and said hi. She gagged and managed an uncomfortable nod. Ordinarily, I would have grabbed a stool and had a drink, letting her approach me if she chose. But without an open seat, my only options were to leave or to force the issue with someone who quite probably despises me. So I left.
"YOU JUST MADE THIS SO MUCH WORSE! THAT'S EVEN WORSE THAN LEAVING THE FIRST TIME!" counseled a female friend via text.
Many years ago, I was driving an old friend, Beth, to dinner. Recounting a deep and dark secret from her past, she was in tears. Actual weeping. This is all the more significant because she never, ever cries. She laid her heart bare that day. It was unprecedented vulnerability from a taciturn person.
As I pulled into a parking spot, she was in mid-sentence. A pretty girl in a brown ponytail entered my field of vision. WHAM! I racked my Jeep against the curb.
“Fucking really?” said a throughly disgusted Beth.
Here and elsewhere, I've often wondered if my neighbors ever hear me. Except for lawn-mowing and maybe two instances of "Goddammit Fredo! Fuck!" a year, I have to think it's never.
I don't have motorcycles, and if I did, I certainly wouldn't remove the baffles like a douche. I don't scream at a wife. My dogs don't bark...or else. I don't have kids waging an unending war to drown one another out. I never fire up a chainsaw or leaf blower or jackhammer or, relevant to this moment, a wood chipper. I just sit in my house in silent suffering, trying to do my job through the Italian Wood Chipper Torture, wondering if my politeness makes them assume this house is empty.
Flo: you SLIPPED OUT???
Flo: you are a dick!
Flo: jesus christ! what's the worst thing that could have happened????
Flo: you don't have to fuck pittsburgh darcy, you can become FRIENDS???
Flo: oh good grief
Flo: you're an idiot
Flo: you'll punch some dude at a super bowl game but run away like a pussy from a drunk girl.
Flo: omg. how many levels of stupid are there in that story?
Maybe I wanted to apologize. Maybe I just wanted to get laid. For whatever reason, I ventured back to the dive bar to reconnect with red-haired Lucy.
And seriously, read the link or this won't make sense. Go on. I'll wait.
Into the dive bar I ventured, and I immediately saw the red ponytail sitting at the bar. The face, however, was not familiar.
"Was I so drunk that I don't remember what her face looks like after a couple hours of embarrassingly gooey conversation?" I thought. I sat ten stools down and peeked at her once in a while while she talked to some dude. "I seriously do not recognize her, but how many redheads can there be at this bar? I need to drink less. A lot less."
Time passed. Another redhead walked in, still not Lucy. "What the fuck. Did I find the ginger nexus of the universe, here?" It was then that I noticed the lighting. There's not a single source of light in that bar that isn't a red light bulb.
I could not have felt more moronic without actually crapping my pants upon meeting the Queen.