July 2006 Archives

guess which part i made up

10 hurt when car slams into Starbucks' patio
Unlikely charges will be filed, police say

EL MONTE, California (AP) -- An 85-year-old man who drove a car onto a patio at a Starbucks coffee shop and injured 10 people, two of them critically, isn't likely to face charges, police said Saturday.

"It sounds like it's just a simple mistake by an elderly man," said police Sgt. Richard Williams, adding he "seriously doubts" charges will be filed.

Police said Ted Kawashima was trying to park his white Toyota Camry in a handicapped spot at about 9 p.m. Friday when the car surged forward. The vehicle plowed across the patio and back into the parking lot, coming to rest on top of another car in this suburb 14 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Kawashima, who speaks only Japanese, told police through a translator that he was trying to step on the brake pedal when he hit the accelerator by mistake.

The two critically injured people were hospitalized at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. As for Kawashima, "With any luck, he'll be back on the streets and killing again by tonight," Williams said.

annual update

Today is my father's 75th birthday, and I'm delighted to report that the wife-beating, child-beating, alcoholic, diploma-drooling, cross-dressing, bigoted inventor of the anti-aircraft sparrow remains quite dead.

Happy birthday, Dad. It's not the humidity, you know. It's the heat.

but what i really wanna do is act

In response to Wednesday's post, esteemed Stank troll Dinah asks the obvious question: okay then, why do you teach?

"For the money and prestige," I thought.

"For the sex," chimes another reader, a female high school teacher who declines to be identified. Coward.

It started at Ohio State, where the English department chair threw me in front of a class as part of her research. I was a talented student and writer, at the height of youthful insolence—I fully expected to succeed. I failed spectacularly. And within a quarter, the experiment was over, and I was left with the horrible taste of failure in my mouth. This was nothing new—I'd taken Calculus—but I did not expect to fail at imparting to others what I myself did best.

When I was shopping myself to grad schools, my first criterion was my own curriculum, and my second, the opportunity to teach composition. I very much looked at grad school as a bookend to my years at Ohio State. Grad school would teach me what Ohio State failed to, and it would provide me a chance to redress my greatest failure.

In the months leading up to that class, I studied and studied hard. I'd taken preparation lightly before, relying, as I always had, on my ability to adjust on the fly. No longer. That had failed me utterly. This time, I would prepare hard and slay the beast. And so I entered my second classroom, and I failed again.

Third classroom, third failure.

Around the fourth classroom, I started coming into my own. Two things happened: I developed my own, more improvisational style and lesson plan; and I started to enjoy myself. It seems obvious, but only in retrospect did I realize that if you're not having any fun, your students ain't exactly dancin' a jig, either. My own intellectual development surged; there's nothing like having to teach a subject matter to compel you to learn it forwards and back, and fast. Spending every minute of every day putting myself in other people's heads, I built up my critical-thinking muscles. As I started becoming more effective, the kids grew more engaged, and I started getting hooked on pride in their accomplishments. It's an addiction roughly like crack, only more expensive.

By the time I left grad school, I wouldn't say I was the best teacher in the world, but I'd come a long way, and my students tested better than anyone else's, so I had that as a metric on which I could forever hang my teacher hat. When I graduated and had a job in hand, the university asked me to apply for a teaching job in which I would have been brutalized (six classes/day with four different preps, and after five years you're fired no matter what) for about a third of what I would make as a lowly copyeditor in Seattle. I declined.

And then the whole Fucking Amy thing happened. And then I ended up at Microsoft, indexing SQL Server documentation. Twin pillars of happiness, they. I couldn't believe how little what I did mattered. I clearly remember sitting at my desk, numb. Bored. Hollowed out. Soulless. Unchallenged. Not doing or learning anything of value. Not growing. Hating myself for not taking that horrible teaching job. The initial realization that what you do all day just doesn't matter, at all, to yourself or anyone, is the hardest. And on the heels of teaching it was quite the fall indeed.

Moral: you start your career as a drone and move on to teaching, not vice versa.

But for the first time in my life, I wasn't poor. Unwilling to take a vow of poverty, I thought for a while about getting my doctorate, but that hardly seemed like a cure for poverty. I decided I could fuel my soul by teaching just one class a year, as adjunct faculty, and I started making contacts at my first choice of universities.

And here we are, several years later, plan in fruition. I catch at least two plagiarizers a quarter, I have students stealing my out-of-print textbooks, and the privilege only costs me $10,756/quarter in lost income and expenses.

Still better than Microsoft.

the jen clause

Jen has ruined my life.

We met online some seven years ago, when she was a lowly undergraduate. She began to watch my dog, Ed, when I was out of town, although we took care never to actually meet. Whereas giving someone I'd never met the keys to my house seemed natural enough, and finding her long brown hairs in my bed didn't bother me, meeting her seemed freakishly weird. We agreed that when she got married, she'd set up a webcam feed for me. I think she was kidding, but I wasn't.

Somewhere along the way Jen morphed from a chemistry major to holding the same Master's I do, in technical communication. Inevitably, she landed at Microsoft. More inevitably, she started working with people I know.

"Jen is housesitter Jen?" Dorkass exclaimed. "I thought she was, like, 20."

Sigh. So did I. Damned kids these days keep getting older. It flummoxes me, I tells ya.

Knowing that my virtual kid sister is roaming Microsoft's campus has positively ruined girl-watching for me. How am I supposed to objectify a woman who might, upon closer examination, be Jen? It's not like I could identify her from 20 yards. Mathematically, this mistake is inevitable. I well remember accidentally staring at my sister-in-law's posterior at Northland Mall one day. A repeat horror is something my heterosexuality might not be able to withstand.

BeScrunS.gif"You can safely leer at tall blonds," Jen suggests. Great advice. In Scandinavia. In Seattle, not so much.

"Okay," she sighed, which I don't know for sure but I heard nonetheless, "You can have ponytails. When I wear my hair up, it'll be pigtails."

Wow. Now this is friendship! My only fear is that word of this will get out and women across Microsoft will set their scrunchies aflame.

I wait for it at the end of every Inside the Actor's Studio episode. James Lipton will be asking Melanie Griffith or Martin Lawrence or Ashley Olsen the standard questions he asks of everyone. Wait for it, wait for it...

"What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?"

"TEACHING!" almost everyone chirps.

Even the otherwise self-aware Dave Chappelle, who chuckled at the unimportance of education not an hour earlier, said "teaching" without a trace of irony. Why? Why does the least educated demographic I can think of (short of Afghan women, anyway, but they're gaining) fancy themselves educators? I can't help but think it's the notion of a captive audience. I am important; one way or the other, you will listen to what I have to say.

I shudder to think how many unbeautiful people go into teaching because the sitcom casting calls aren't working out.

self-awareness is a beautiful thing

The sign at the Kingston Christian Church this morning:

FEAR KNOCKED.
FAITH ANSWERED.

.20(clerks)

There are three things one needs to know about Clerks II:

  • If you didn't see the first movie, you will not particularly enjoy the second.
  • If you did see the first movie, you've already seen the second one, only better.
  • I still laughed out loud several times. This hardly ever happens during movies that don't cast Matthew McConaughey as someone who holds a graduate degree.
rosario dawson clerksWhat a pleasure it is to see Rosario Dawson set down her guns and whip and actually smile in a role. She sparkles. Pity that the role is so one-note. In Kevin Smith's latest opus, women are either 1) shrill, controlling Barbies or 2) idyllic, redeeming beauties with implausibly low standards in men. If this movie is to work at the emotional level for which it aims, the Dawson character must be believable. She's lovable, but in that way beautiful women are lovable only in movies: she redeems a man. Isn't this male fantasy played out yet?

The movie isn't funny so much as it's laugh-out-loud hilarious in places separated by chasms of mild-to-nil amusement. I don't remember watching the first Clerks and thinking what occurred to me today: "What this scene lacks in humor, it makes up for in endlessness."

randall clerks.jpgParts did work. It was a pleasure to see these characters again, especially Randall. "Lord of the Rings" simply demanded his interpretation, dammit. For all efforts to make this Dante's film, it's really Randall's. There's something oddly affirming and charming about his refusal to accept that the term "porch monkey" has any racial overtones whatsoever. His grandmother called him that, and that's the end of the debate. If the world sees the term another way, that's the world's problem; Randall will gladly correct them. Odd that the character who spews the most offensive things is, at his core, the most innocent.

The original Clerks shocked and delighted us in a way no successor could, so Clerks II has that going against it. Even without that handicap, though, the sequel's maybe 20% as funny as the original. Me, I loved the original enough that 20% Clerks was still worth seeing. You do the math and decide for yourself.

"twin" ain't bad, either

I'm not a golf guy. The only thing less appealing to me than standing in a field and baking in the sun all weekend is watching other people bake on TV. Besides, there's something vaguely disturbing about a sport in which fans applaud missed shots.

"Whoo-hoo! His degree of failure is marginally less than the other guy's!"

tiger elin woodsHere's how I watch golf. For majors, I'll skim the headlines on Thursday and Friday. Maybe. Saturday night, I'll check the leader board. If Tiger or a renowned choker is in the mix, on Sunday morning I'll try to catch the back nine. By about the 14th hole my interest will really flag, and I'll start browsing the phone book in order to help pass the time. As I keep one eye on the TV, here's my thought process:

Tiger, not Tiger, not Tiger, not Tiger, choker, not Tiger, Tiger, Tiger's wife, what's the hotter trait—Swedish, twin, or au pair?—not Tiger, not Tiger, not Tiger, choker choked right on schedule, Tiger, Tiger won.
Au pair. Definitely au pair.

david mirkin

This is a first. Before I added Simpsons producer David Mirkin to my list of people who should be capped (right), I googled his name and immediately found that someone had beaten me to the idea: David Mirkin should DIE.

This is officially a grass-roots movement.

On my ferry ride into Seattle, I'll often watch a Simpsons episode on DVD. On the return trip home, I'll listen to the episode's commentary. They're usually interesting, but if Mirkin is in the studio, his co-workers might as well go home, for all they'll be heard. His nasal, pointlessly exclusive blathering drives me insane. He laughs at his own jokes. And then he explains them. And folks, this is a man who would explain, at length, that banana peels are used in pratfalls because they're slippery. He is that guy you avoid at office parties, lest he grab your arm and tell you all about his new riding mower again. "Most people think a 1" ball hitch is standard, but it's not. And let me tell you—HA HA HA—they're not exactly interchangable, boy!"

You die now.

chappelle's show: lost episodes

At this writing, two of the three "lost episodes" have aired. The first one contained some moderately funny sketches consistent with the quality of Chappelle's past work. The second episode, however, made me understand the Africa trip a little more. It was unfunny. I watched stone-faced. When you're mocking racial stereotypes and it doesn't quite work, what's left is painfully awkward. When the pixie was yelling in Chappelle's ear for him to order the fried chicken, not the fish, I wasn't exactly offended, but I wasn't exactly laughing, either. I was wincing. And Chappelle himself winced all the way to South Africa; that was indeed the sketch that sent him off the set.

The notion that we all make choices to avoid perpetuating stereotypes is a comedic gold mine. A great sketch could have been made out of it. They could have simply shown Chappelle unenthusiastically ordering the fish, say, and we would have gotten the joke. Then they could have followed him through an entire day of such choices, concluding with him running into white and Mexican dudes doing the same thing. Funny, inoffensive, affirming. The pixie, though, relies upon the premise that inside every black guy, there's a barely-retrained, tap-dancing lawn jockey trying to break free. That's pretty much the opposite of funny, inoffensive, affirming.

poinponed

Sadly, I am not getting the pup. The tale is long and uninteresting, but the short version is that with regard to her breeder, I've reached a critical mass of distrust. It peaked two nights ago when she told me I couldn't have the pup I wanted, but I could have this other, better pup desperately wanted by a sweet little old couple from Kansas City. I said no. Miraculously, my pup became available again. I said no again.

Look, kids, it's John's First Law in action! ("If you willingly associate with someone of established poor character, you deserve what happens next.") Any time I go against this personal prime directive, I live to regret it.

Next.

why do you think?

"High Fidelity" author Nick Hornby tells us that it's not what you are like that's important, but what you like. John's Third Law is not dissimilar: it doesn't much matter what you believe; it's why you believe it that matters.

This philosophy oft puts me in the position of admiring those with whom I disagree and cringing at people whose opinions align with my own. If there's anything more de-validating than the chiming agreement of someone who's put no thought whatsoever into an issue, I certainly haven't found it. It's the intellectual equivalent of a women pointing and laughing the first time she sees me naked. I hear.

The whys are huge. Are you vegetarian for moral or health reasons, or are you so vapid as to allow fashion to dictate something as important as diet? Are you trying to convert me to your religion because you're personally worried about my eternal soul, or is it merely what you've been told to do by the other goose-steppers? Are you as considerate when people aren't watching as when they are? Are you law-abiding out of a sense of conviction, or are you just afraid of consequences? Do you hate Bush because you're actually conversant about the issues, or have you just mindlessly hopped the Bush-hatin' train?

To someone like myself who thinks that almost all human behavior stems from a need for validation, the act of choosing invalidation is a heroic act of intellectual integrity. I have a friend who's a born-again Christian, a longtime Republican voter, and a staunch environmentalist. She is an independent thinker. To me, there should be statues of this woman built in town squares, but instead she's abused by both camps. She personally dispels the stereotypes they use to vilify those with whom they disagree, so she is marginalized. To her credit, she does not capitulate and toe the line. Invalidation doesn't feel good, I'm sure, but stupidity would feel worse. We disagree on much, but she's one of my heroes, and our conversations are among the most stimulating I've ever enjoyed.

Now for the flip side. A friend was recently railing that the disastrous Bush economy needs "saving."

"How does it need to be saved, again?" I asked, genuinely curious.

"What rock are YOU living under?!" he sneered, disdainful.

The rock with books, apparently. Books that tell me 1) entirely too much credit/blame is given to the President for the economy, and 2) the economy's nothing great, but it's in the black. It's slow-growing. Inflation is slow, interest rates are still near their record lows, and unemployment is under the 5% figure my college Econ professor said constituted "full employment" at any given point in time. I shared this and asked what leading economic indicators he was using. I expected to hear about unchecked spending, staggering debt, rising gas prices, flat wages, a poor stock market. Good arguments all. Bupkis. He had his hate for Bush, and behind that, nothing at all. Oh, how it thrills me to know we voted the same way.

Moral: leave the hating to the professionals.

of judases and brutuses

My disdain for a particular amateur-in-editor-spectacles is not a well-guarded secret at work. At one time, she was merely a chattering annoyance, one of many people bereft of qualifications and ability, an obstacle that competent people had to circumvent. In that regard, she is wholly unremarkable at Microsoft. And then one day she screwed my friend Mandy out of a promised and much-needed job—deliberately, destructively, and without shame—and Lionel entered my personal Legion of Doom. She is and forever will remain a villain worthy of my scorn and occasional backhand. It's been 11 years, and my contempt for her hasn't ebbed a bit.

After she was unrepentant, it never occurred to me not to hate her. Hurt my loved one, hurt me. It's a simple code, one not uncommon where I'm from. Despising her was as natural as breathing air— befriending her, as unthinkable as breathing water.

• • •

Is there any form of platonic betrayal that stings worse than a friend cozying up to someone who's grotesquely mistreated you? The friend might not overtly endorse the offender's actions, but when they socialize, a tacit endorsement is what I see—and is surely what the offender sees.

"Yeah, he really screwed you royally. Tried to wreck your career. That was horrible," said my friend Robert recently of my old persecutor.

"So why do you hang out with him?" I asked.

"Oh no. I'm not getting in the middle of you two."

Ah. I see. Anything evil not done to you doesn't count. At least now I know my place. Please, do enjoy your time together. And if you ever see me hanging out with Lionel, please, if you ever cared one whit about me, kindly pump 17 bullets into my skull before Mandy learns of my dishonor and feels about me how I feel about you at this very moment.

indictment

I was reminiscing with Dorkass about our inglory days, when she and I were both remourseless dating machines. We're now old dating buddies, in our dotage swapping tales of yesteryear's conquests and defeats. Mostly defeats.

She brought up Erica, a woman I dated in 1999. I had no problem with Erica other than her chronic unavailability, and I dropped her without comment or fanfare. And then her life utterly flew apart. I know this because of the pathetic messages she left that I didn't return.

Thinking back on it now, I felt regret.

"She was good people," I said. "Frankly, she deserved a lot better than she got from me."

"Yeah. Well. Don't we all."

the shit heard 'round the world

Much will be made of the s-bomb W dropped today. It's already being called unpresidential. Me, I don't care so much about the profanity. Want unpresidential? How about the way W rudely and dismissively interrupts the British Prime Minister, a man who could slay W from 50 yards with the power of his brain waves? Here's a thought: quit running your hole and listen to someone who knows more than you.

And don't even get me started on how he talked while chewing, smacking his lips like a hooker blowing bubbles in front of a five-and-dime. That cracker must have looked to Blair like dirty clothes in a front-load washing machine.

colts ringThis belated pic is dedicated to Bob, who has rooted for the Colts and Colts alone for each of his four decades on Earth, who had Minette IM me that "Wow, the Steelers really suck" during the first Steelers/Colts game last year.

• • •

I'm presently eatin' pizza and listening to the radio broadcast of the Steelers/Indy playoff game. Life is good. I'm enjoying it a helluva lot more than I did the first time. No one enjoys winning in the post-season less than I do.

My Seattle friends generally react with confusion or amusement to this. I find late-season football to be utterly nerve-wracking. And the better my team does, the more frayed my nerves become. I never want them to lose, mind you, but winning streaks make me positively twitchy with anxiety. The longer they win, the longer I'm living with the certainty that they're about to break my heart again. Which they will.

"Jeez," someone will doubtlessly write. "Ohio State and the Steelers have each won a championship in the last three years. Shut up already." True enough. But before those championships, they went a combined 61 years without one, and I remember all 61 disappointments. In sports as in love, heartbreak is cumulative. As the Steelers advanced last year, friends would call and offer a shoulder. "I'm sorry your team won. I can only imagine how rough it must be for you."

"Gah!" I would reply.

But right now, things are all still pleasant promise. Only 54 days until the ulcers kick off.

barbaro signI don't care about horse racing. You don't care. Two months ago, I'd never even heard of Barbaro, and I still haven't seen him race. But like many, I'm keeping one eye on his condition. It's amazing to me that networks do live broadcasts of press conferences about a horse's hoof—and that so many people watch. I do not. I get my daily update on PTI, but I still don't skip past it like I do the soccer stories.

Here, for the benefit of international readers, is one more theory on why Americans do not like soccer. It is not, as many of you say, because Americans don't play it as children. We all do. I, myself, was once yellow-carded during the pre-game introductions, contributing to my nickname of "Yellow Card." But then I turned 14 and moved on. I consider soccer to be the sport of my youth, like kick-the-can or Jarts.

No, the reason many of us yawn at soccer is the flopping. If you could get a star basketball player ejected and suspended by simply writhing in mock pain as if he bit off your testicles...well, Michael Jordan might not have any rings. His opponents' entire strategy would have centered on pretending to be assaulted by him, on getting Jordan disqualified for the next game. Any other strategy would have been foolish. So is it in soccer. The disqualification rules in soccer are so aggressive, it'd be idiotic to adopt any strategy other than targeting your opponent's star with fakery. The rules subsidize dishonorable histrionics and handicap offense. If you scored as often as you flopped, we'd watch.

the outrage seems to comes and go

At the height of the Danish cartoon nonsense, the boys at South Park aired a satire of the situation. The end result: Comedy Central censored a brief image of Muhammad knocking on a door but allowed an image of Jesus defecating on George Bush and the American flag. To me, the even more stunning aspect of this is that an image of Muhammad has appeared in South Park's opening credits for years, to neither Muslims' nor network's outrage. Watch for it. He, Buddha, Jesus and friends all ascend skyward.

An observant lot, those morally outraged Muslims and morally bankrupt network executives...

Replies Dorkass: "Uh, ok. I'd love to but slammed at work shipping. Will try to in my spare hour after hours."

mindful wishes

As I was listening to an ex skewer me the other day, pounding the table with her fist and laughing so hard she cried, it occurred to me. The very quality that sometimes attracts women to me—assertiveness—invariably repels them later.

Ladies, if you sit in a theatre nowadays and wish someone would say something to the loud clod behind you, trust me; you don't really. Because when the time comes and some chattering asshat pisses me off enough that I actually stand up, turn around, and ask him to kindly shut his hole, you will sell me out. "John, please!" you'll cringe, slinking into your seat, tugging on my sleeve and avoiding eye contact with the guy. "Let's just move!" A confrontation with him generally doesn't happen, but one with you is a certainty.

"Do you have to do that?" you'll say in the post-mortem later, as if when we started dating you didn't reinforce the hell out of such behavior. Why, yes. Yes I do.

• • •

That sort of...confidence, I guess...has gotten me punched a few times in my life. Other than the girlfriend's reaction, getting punched isn't so bad. I'm sure an athlete would be able to drop me, but Joe Methhead frankly doesn't hurt that much. And they're freaked out when you just brush off their punch to your face and calmly continue explaining why, for the benefit of the species, they shouldn't procreate.

Dorkass, who I never dated, so don't start with that crap again, likes to tell one such story. Perhaps if we ask her nicely, she'll share.

chaff

I heard this delightful metaphor for the first time yesterday.

I asked a gay friend what his gaydar told him about a third guy. "I can't tell," he replied, frustrated. "He's got that whole Eurotrash thing working, and that throws off the gaydar. It's like chaff."

reader mail

Probationary Stank troll Jason says that white dudes should not shave their heads. "Not ever. Never. Never. Never." Now I know I'm gonna keep the head shaved. Don't ever tell a white guy what he can't co-opt from black men, Homes.

Esteemed Stank troll John takes issue with my characterization of him as the Supreme Arbiter of All Things Masculine. "I work in a flower shop, for chrissakes," he says. So yes, the man knows gay when he sees it. Further evidence: when I shaved my head, I received from him an email with the subject line "White guys should not shave their heads. Period. That is all." I replied that he is now officially an ex-girlfriend.

Heretofore unknown troll Kym wants assurances that the pictured patterned blue socks and brown sandals are not mine. They are not. They are, in fact, the footwear chosen by one of the screen slayers, hence further corroboration of my leading theory: blindness.

My favorite mail comes from esteemed Stank troll Jan of Germany, a new father. He writes:

"We do have a newborn son! [No, don't flame right now, there is more to come; a new twist to the "we've got the most unique wonder child of them all" theme]. When the nurse laid the baby before me, I saw this:

crease.JPG

And my very first thought about my newborn son was "And why is John going on about his newly found crease? This one's got it from day zero! So my first reaction was to relate him to some blog I occasionally read."

Finally, a "new baby" story with some interest value!

old town, new town
red town, blue town

eastern washington barnMost people are surprised when I tell them that Washington state is mostly desert. The mountains and waters and mild weather you see on the postcards comprise only the western quarter of the state. Cross the mountains fifty miles to Seattle's east, and suddenly you're in an arid desert that continues for 200 miles until you get to Spokane, where pine trees suddenly pop out of the rolling yellow hills, where it hits 100 every summer and -10 every winter. You'd never guess you were in the same state.

That's where I lived for two years when I first arrived in Washington.

Much like their geographical differences, there's a sharp cultural and political divide between eastern and western Washington. Paint the areas east of the mountains red, the western areas solidly blue. And me, I've had the great misfortune to live in conservative Spokane when Clinton was ruinin' the country and in liberal Seattle now that W. is.

Is that ever tiresome.

If you ever get the chance, open the Spokane Spokesman-Review to the letters to the editor. Here's a synthesis of what you can expect to find:

To the editor,
When are Americans going to WAKE UP and realize that their country is being taken over by the anti-gun choice and tax-and-spend Dumbocrats? They had their chance and all they accomplished was BLOW JOBS! And now we have a President who walks with Christ and all they can do is criticize! Stop the country! I want to get off!!!

— Cooter P. McNugget, Hayden Lake

P.S. WAKE UP!!!


The letters are excruciating, yet you cannot avert your eyes. They beckon like sirens to the rocky shoals of your mind, they do. Nor can you long avoid having redneck world views shoved down your throat. "I swear to God," said one woman of Washington's new ban on smoking in public places. "The gummint just wants to control everything nowadays."

"Oh, they do not. This is reasonable. It's not like secondhand smoke is good for you."

"Tough. People have been breathing it for decades." And then she indulged in the stupid man's preferred form of argumentation: say the same thing, only louder and with a personal attack chaser. "THE GUMMINT HAS GONE TOO FAR! WHAT DO YOU WANT NEXT, BANNING FATTY FOODS?"

Because the AM radio tells them to, Spokanites complain about taxes a lot. And even those who pay zero taxes manage to complain about any public services enjoyed by those of us who shovel towering heaps of cash to the government. I once endured a Spokane retiree and a lazy-assed, white-trash, unemployed mooch of a Spokane husband complaining about how their taxes went to pay for my ferry.

"What taxes? Would you like to compare tax burdens? I guaranfreakingtee you I paid more in taxes last year than you've earned in any year of your life." They declined.

When I lived in Spokane, Limbaugh was lord, Clinton was Satan, and I couldn't wait until I was no longer pummeled by idiots' opinions. And then I moved to Seattle, and only the idiots changed.

"Hi, I'm Dawn and I drive a hybrid and go through your garbage looking for recycling fouls and wear no deodorant except for this herbal stuff I buy at the food co-op and I'm a vegan well almost but not quite because I have a silk blouse but it was made from free-range grain-fed silkworms in Tibet and I don't support Bush."

"Hi, I'm John, and I didn't ask."

"I SAID I DON'T SUPPORT BUSH! WHAT, DO YOU SUPPORT HIM?"

seattle ferry mountains puget soundA friend once observed that Seatards don't show you who they are; they instead rattle off a list of trends that they've bundled together in lieu of a personality. There's no depth whatsoever to it. They'll speak smugly, and loudly, about owning a hybrid, yet their old car is still out there guzzling fossil fuels for someone else, making their purchase no more environmentally significant than any other conspicuous instance of consumer consumption. I've already railed about the stupidity of their electric busses. Their diversity parade? Please. You'll never meet a less diverse group of people than the Seattle ditzy left. Trust that they went straight from that parade back to social circles who uniformly look and, for lack of a better term, think just like them.

As evidence of Bush's election fraud, several Seatards have said the following to me: "I don't know anyone who voted for him." And they're earnest in this belief. So malformed is their intellect, they think this indicts the election results more than themselves. In a country in which a smidgeon more than half voted for Bush, they have labored to know none of them. Diversity, indeed.

So where does this leave me, other than feeling uncomfortable and vaguely assaulted on both sides of the state? I found myself preferring Spokane folks, though until yesterday I wasn't sure why. They're less educated, demographically. Marginally whiter. Flag-waving, gun-toting, ill-read drones of the AM radio–right. These are not qualities that I admire.

But yesterday when I was in Spokane, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of telling a friend that something he said offended me. And he asked why. And I told him. And he said he'd never considered that. And that was the end of it.

I felt a thud of realization: this was the difference. This conversation has never happened for me in Seattle. I can't imagine it ever happening. No, I would simply be blamed for my own offense. The idiocy in Seattle is not by lazy happenstance but by willful design. Whereas the irritating idiocies in Spokane are largely born of ignorance, those in Seattle are rooted in pretense and hypocrisy. And therein lies the crucial difference.

Ignorance can sometimes be cured.

epilogue

My every trip to Spokane includes a phone call to Katrina, who, like me, read the letters to the editor during her two-year incarceration in grad school.

"Hello?"
"Dear Editor..."
"Please stop."
"When are Americans going to WAKE UP—"
"Seriously. I'm begging you to stop."
"—and realize that their country is being taken over—"
"If you don't stop reading, I am never speaking to you again."
"—by the anti-gun choice and tax-and-spend Dumbocrats?"
"I hate you."

poindexterity

I picked Poindexter today. Surely few will care, so I'll truncate. Photos after the jump.

hey, everybody, look at me

There was a breakthrough of sorts at work today, and on the announcement mail my co-workers kept replying-all with MP3 attachments. One person attached the song "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang. Another attached "Everybody Dance Now." After it had gone on for some time, I decided it was time to revive an old-school prank.

I recorded, at an impossibly loud level, myself shouting "HEY, EVERYBODY! LOOK AT ME! I'M SURFING PORNOGRAPHY!" and sent it to my peers.

I fondly remember getting Amy (no, the other one) with this joke back in the 90s. She was humiliated. I couldn't open the old clip, however, so I recorded a new one. It took about a dozen takes before I was satisfied. So I sat at my desk and yelled "HEY, EVERYBODY! LOOK AT ME! I'M SURFING PORNOGRAPHY! HEY, EVERYBODY! LOOK AT ME! I'M SURFING PORNOGRAPHY! HEY, EVERYBODY! LOOK AT ME! I'M SURFING PORNOGRAPHY!" over and over.

And then I looked outside and saw Percy staring quizzically at my open window.

on golden doodles

Allie reports the following conversation took place between her and a friend.

Allie: "So my friend John is getting a Golden Doodle pup."
Friend: "I know a guy who's just perfect for John."

Next up: Putin gets a chimpanzee and builds Nyetland Ranch in his backyard.

poindexter

The result of the puppy-naming survey is, of course, a name I didn't include on the survey. Ed's little sister will be called "Poindexter," or "Dex" for short. Like a red wine with steak, her name is intended to complement profanity. For instance:

"GODDAMIT, POINDEXTER, GET OVER HERE!"
Let the name hatin' commence.

She's in here somewhere:

dex.jpg

cheney is steeler country

Long before Mark Cuban charged that "rigged" officiating cost his Mavericks the NBA championship, long before every nation but two bitched about how lousy officiating denied them their rightful World Cup championship, there was Mike Holmgren. He whined before whining was cool.

You remember Holmgren. The guy who called clock-killing running plays and drive-killingly late timeouts at the ends of each half in the Super Bowl? Yeah, him. As recently as last month, he was still at it. I know this because Seahawks instafans keep sending me links to stories about his continued whining. The fans make compelling arguments like "See?" Well, Holmgren convenes his training camp this month in tiny Cheney, WA, and as luck would have it, I'll be there. I'm thinking a proper greeting is in order.

I could erect something like this, an old Steelers fan road tradition.

More pointedly, I could fly these colors.

choker.jpg

Or I could simply hand out these.

Or these.

Whatever I do, I won't be in danger of physical harm, as that would require that there be Hawks fans in attendance. In my time in WA, I've joined the crazies at three Steelers camps, but I've never been able to get a Hawks fan to go to their own. But I'm sure the attendance difference is just because Pittsburgh's so much closer to Detroit than Seattle is.

• • •

Fact: on the Seahawks' web site, the link to player information is buried in a menu, but the link to cheerleader information is at the top-most level.

reader mail

Esteemed Stank Troll (and supreme arbiter of all things masculine) John asks:

What possesses you to not only save your luvvy duvvy emails, but re-read them? Like a little lemon juice in the paper cut, m'boy?
A fair question. I've saved all email since 1995. I'm on my second DVD backup, now. Why do I do this? To win arguments about what was said, of course. John also asks:
You ARE kidding about the screen door.... right?
Sadly, no. Nor am I kidding when I tell you that their blaming of the door continues through this morning.


satan, get the rack ready

Let's all bow our heads out of respect for Enron horse-thief Ken Lay, who passed away this morning.

Or not. Yeah. Not.

Say hi to Milosevic and my dad, Kenny Baby. We hardly knew ye.

of mice and tears

I awoke this morning to the strains of "Ordinary World," which made me burst out laughing. During the early, make-him-think-I'm-deep stage, the AW once dedicated that song to me.

(An aside to female readers: if Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train to Georgia," Natalie Merchant's "Kind and Generous," or Dave Matthews Band's "Lover Lay Down" make you think of me, do share. If a Duran Duran ballad causes you to think "John," kindly keep it to yourself.)

When the AW is trying to win the attentions of a man, she veers maudlin. The waterworks are carefully choreographed. I, myself, mistook her many, many tears for depth of feeling. This lovely woman is not understood. She is criminally neglected. She must be saved.

Contrary to rumor, there are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes...and male vanity.

Anyway, thus inspired, I just rummaged through six-year-old data for a particularly ripe instance of AW pathos, from the same day as the Duran Duran dedication. And I found it. Yep, there it was: an early IM in which she was uncharacteristically in her office, trying to talk me into letting her come over.

"My mousepad is stained with my teardrops," she wrote.

Yep. That's a quote.

Amusing though that line is, it's unfortunately surrounded by evidence of my own fawning stupidity. If you really want to know the meaning of pain, go back and read some of those early correspondances with a lover, back when hormones staged a coup de etat on your brain. It's utterly humiliating. Let me never utter things this moronic again.

Not that I won't still offer half of everything to the next beautiful woman to make eye contact. But I can pretend.

do you see what I see?

If you can see my front door's retractable screen in the picture, you've got my recent houseguests beat. Those retards walked into/through it some six times. No amount of my telling them "I do not leave doors wide open" would dissuade them from charging ahead, nor, apparently, would their having already walked into the door twice each. On her third charge, Sue finally tore the thing completely from the wall. It was my fault. I bought an exceedingly stupid screen, you see.

When I first installed the door, my dog, Ed, walked into it one time. She hasn't done it since.

dogbutts screen_390.jpg

you're wrong, mr. worf!

It occurred to me late Friday, when my level of irritation peaked. I'm not used to being second-guessed. Oh sure, it happens, but it's a couple times a day as opposed to 10x per hour.

Remember how on Star Trek: the Next Generation, the writers would bring Worf into a scene only so he could say something that Picard would immediately beat down?

"The fetus must be aborted."

"You're wrong, Mr. Worf!" Slap-slap-slap-slap-slap!

piranhasThat was me this weekend. Lynn and Sue can doubt me on any topic. Their degree of familiarity with said topic has no bearing whatsoever on their certainty. They simply must correct me. Whatever the subject matter—ferries, physics, my love life, plants they haven't seen, people they've never met—they are instant and infallible experts. And they are piranhas. When one second-guesses me, the other gleefully joins the feeding frenzy.
"Explain to me again why the plants are cooler in direct sun than they were where I had 'em, in the shade?" I said.

"They just are," said Lynn.

"Yes!" assented Sue, with an exclamation point, so you know it must be true.

They're gone. I'm glad. That nonsense is tiresome.

("No it's not," I hear in my head.)

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