August 2007 Archives

vote ozzie in 2008

I'm not a baseball guy, but anyone with co-workers can appreciate the White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's gasket-blowing before the media after his underachieving club lost yet another game. Of his team, he said:

"They're killing me. They're killing my family. They're killing my coaching staff. Killing the White Sox fans. They kill the owner. They kill everyone. I hope they feel the same way we feel. I hope somebody out there cares the way we care. Good guys or nice guys finish fucking last. I'm tired of seeing that shit, day in and day out. And I don't want to spend a miserable September seeing the same shit. If I have to see the same shit, I told Kenny, 'Bring somebody up. Fuck it.' If it's my fault, I should be moving out of here then. If it's my fault, fucking fire my ass and I'll be fine. I have the job to do, and I get paid a lot of fucking money to make this club work, but it's not easy to work with people like that. It's not easy."
At a press conference. Lovely, just lovely. Sir Charles can be his Secretary of State.

seattlights

You don't have to move to Seattle to know what the people here are like. By and large, there are only two types of folks here. The first is well illustrated by this excerpt from an AP article about Toyota's dominance of the hybrid market.

Peter Kesner, a devout environmentalist, bought a Honda Civic hybrid four years ago to show everyone that he wants to save the planet. The only problem: no one noticed, since, other than the hybrid badge on the trunk, it looked like a regular Civic. So he traded it in for a Toyota Prius. Suddenly, strangers began stopping him on the street to ask about his hybrid, with its space-age styling and miserly mileage. "That's a big part of why I bought the Prius. It opens up conversations, and I push my theory that we've got to do our best to conserve." The Honda, on the other hand, didn't deliver what Kessner craved: green street cred. "If I'm driving a hybrid," he says, "I want people to know it."
The other type? They've bookmarked web sites for out-of-town real estate.

One of my greatest regrets in this history of this page occurred yesterday, when my laziness denied me an "I told you so."

Over the weekend, I'd intended to predict that Michael Vick would soon, and very publicly, find Jesus. It's on page two of the Millionaire Athlete Revealed to Be an Irredeemable Piece of Shit Playbook, right after claiming victimhood and right before crying racism. And yesterday, he did just that. Yes, kids, Jesus recently helped Vick realize that his torturing, drowning, and electrocuting dogs on an ongoing basis for at least seven years was an "immature act," a "mistake."

Spin, spin, spin. Jesus has a lot more work to do.

And why does Jesus only appear after your friends have ratted you out to the government, anyway? He's the ambulance-chaser of deities.

I thought it was odd that the lady at the grocery put my two live lobsters in nothing more than a big plastic bag, but since I live 10 minutes away, I didn't say anything. Mindful of how hot the floor of the Jeep gets, I set the bag on the passenger seat next to me.

As I rocketed up Metamuville Road, a fawn jumped in front of my car, making me swerve and brake. You can guess what happened next. Two very pissed off lobsters shot out of the bag, one trying to scamper up my bare leg, the other trying to find the most direct route to my face, where presumably it would attach itself and lay eggs down my throat, a la Aliens.

It took me twelve years to pull over.

attachment wiper

My hand to god, this is the name of a feature in a Microsoft product. Perhaps I just have the mind of a 12 year old boy, but does your mind go where mine does?

All suggestions for what to bake with the nut flours are welcome. I gots pecan meal as well as almond, toasted almond, hazelnut and toasted hazelnut flours.

Bring on college games in which I have scant interest!

flour.jpg

got therapy?

Some days, I really hate Stank readers. Like the guy who asked me if I'm going to remove Ed's photo from the filmstrip at right. Why would I? Why would it even occur to me to do so? More to the point, why did it occur to you to ask?

Ca-righst.

Speaking of doltery, is it just me or is Edie's sing-songy chirping here a tad inappropriate for the message?

(Apologies for the audio quality. I simply held my cell phone up to a headset mike.)

everywhere you go, there you are

I was browsing the shelves at magnificent Powell's bookstore in Portland, enjoying life in general and warm-blooded people in particular. I came upon a man about my age who was clearly looking for something. I mumbled a polite greeting. He stood upright, stricken, staring at me and not knowing how to respond.

"Visiting from Seattle?" I asked. Yeah. How did I know?

Lucky guess.

foresight defined

News of Michael Vick's imminent jail time makes me think back to 2001, when the San Diego Chargers had the foresight to trade away his rights for a second round pick, a third round pick, Tim Dwight, and someone I like to call LaDainian Tomlinson. And then they snagged Drew Brees in the second round.

Best trade ever.

no race mixing

I first noticed it at the Seahawks game in Chicago last year. The number "54" was being burned into my retinas. "Is there some law that every last white Bears fan has to wear Urlacher's jersey?" I wondered, looking for the telltale placard.

All Bears fans must wear the jersey of someone who's the same color they are. - Mayor Richard M. Daley
I could find no exceptions, black or white. This fascinated me. I've since kept an eye on this.

bearsfans.jpg

Seattle fans are overwhelmingly white, of course, and they wear the jerseys of one of the three Seahawks players they've heard of: Hasselbeck (white), Alexander (black), or Tatupu (Samoan). I can't recall ever seeing black fans in the stands in Seattle, but I'm sure they'd wear something ultra-defensive. In Atlanta, white folks wore black folks' jerseys—especially Vick's—but there aren't exactly a lot of white stars on the Falcons. And apparently there haven't been for 21 years, as I did see Steve Bartkowski's jersey several times. Black fans uniformly stuck to black players' jerseys. Ditto in Charlotte.

It was in Charlotte that I saw the trend broken. Seated in front of us was an entire family from Pittsburgh. They were cloyingly all dressed alike. Mom, Dad, son, and toddler all wore Roethlisberger's jersey. They were black. Roethlisberger is white. I was surprised by how surprised I was.

A quick scan of the 20,000 Steeler fans who'd made the trip revealed no pattern whatsoever to jersey selection. Oh, a few more fans wore white tight end Heath Miller's jersey than his production merits, but I attribute this to political protest more than racial insight. The Steelers never throw to their tight end.

I remembered tailgating in Pittsburgh. There are the usual Pittsburgh demographics present: Italians, blacks, Irish, and especially Poles. I remembered no racial clustering, though, outside of families. The only other place I've tailgated in an integrated fashion is Oakland. Everywhere else, complete segregation.

During a long drive yesterday, I listened to a podcast from Pittsburgh. I was struck by how this black fan integrated a dreadful, Steelers-themed polka into his broadcast. And I was struck by how oddly affirming I find that.

superbad

What. The. Fuck.

Why this limp movie is so universally heralded as the hilarious successor to teen comedies like American Pie, I cannot fathom. It wasn't bad, mind you. It just wasn't very funny. I chuckled twice. I winced a lot more.

It repeatedly reminded me of a humor-writing workshop I once took, where the instructor read our work overnight, then came in the next morning, wincing. He marched without comment to the board. On it, he wrote:

BALLS
SNOT-ENCRUSTED
PUBIC HAIR
BONER
VIBRATOR
Still wincing, he turned to us and spoke.

"These words are not, in and of themselves, jokes. Or amusing."

Point made.

I have nothing more to say. I was bored, I thought about leaving with an hour to go, and I wish I had.

baltimoronic

Yesterday was one of those "gray cloud" days. Every small advance was permawelded to an enormous setback. In the penultimate setback, I moved my boat to its new slip, about four miles from my house. Having left my car at the original slip, I'd taken my bike aboard the boat and, after the move, started riding it home. Flat tire. Damn.

A big guy in a golf cart crested the hill. He was about my age—actually, he was a good 15 years older, but in Metamuville that's "about my age"—and stopped to introduce himself. He builds custom golf carts. Would I like a ride?

Blaring Supertramp on a comicly oversized stereo, he drove me to my house. Him: trying to sell me a golf cart. Me: feigning interest so that I wouldn't have to walk home. We got out and stood on my deck a few minutes, amiably chatting. It turns out he's from Baltimore, so I identified myself as a Steelers fan. And then he dropped the n-bomb.

As in "Ya know, that Ray Lewis, he's no ordinary nigger."

No, you didn't miss anything. It was that out-of-left-field. He proceeded to drop the n-bomb several more times in the same paragraph. I was stunned. It was offensive, of course, but it was rhetorically appalling as well. Who does this? Forget ethics for a second. Forget good taste. On what planet is it considered a good idea to go out of your way to use the most hurtful, divisive word in the language in front of a complete stranger to whom you're trying to make a sale?

One final observation: the last time I was in this position was on a Football Weekend in Baltimore, where our cabbie was similarly flinging n-bombs. I'm starting to build a Baltimorian profile, and it ain't pretty.

lovepity

I can always tell when I'm the object of pity. That's when the non-child, Non-Nadine I love yous come out. There's no crisis, no bad news, no dog death that can't be made just a teeny bit more surreal by an I love you from someone who ordinarily doesn't say it.

I certainly understand where it's coming from, and I appreciate the gesture. But it always knocks me for a bit of a loop. Man, are things really that bad? Do I seem that depressed?

mixed messages

Sarah and I were walking across a parking lot when my turning head got me into trouble. I was ogling a Saab convertible. Sarah groaned.

"John, don't get a penis car."

"Saabs are penis cars?"


CUT TO: THREE MONTHS LATER

"If you want a convertible, there's only one you should get," she held forth haughtily. "A Porsche."

I leave it to you assembled trolls to try to deconstruct what her criteria are for "penis car" status. Good luck to you.

Exhibit A, the Saab:

SAAB Pic.jpg

Exhibit B, the Porsche:

Porsche-911-Carrera-Convertible-pic-17-9150520.jpg

memo to a gender

Stank troll Jean checks in with a doozy.

"If your wife has been telling you for four years that you're neglecting even her nominal needs (and how), if she's begged you to go to marital counseling and you made her go alone, if she recently said she 'feels done' and is inclined to move out (and your response was to say if she'd just have sex with you, everything would be better)...if you've done these things, here's a tip: helpfully leaving her a shiny new copy of Dr. Laura's 'The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands' is probably not going to get you laid."
Bravo, brother.

Clap. Clap. Clap.
laura.PNG

geriatric road rage

Concluding the "Fuck off John" theme, with which I'm bored already

In the five years I've lived in Metamuville, I've been followed home three times. Each incident was identical: I had just legally passed a geriatric who was driving below the speed limit. In one case, the person was driving dangerously, weaving left of center and slamming on the brakes when going downhill. A few minutes after I passed him, he appeared in my driveway. He was my non-Percy neighbor, also a ROWF (Rich Old White Fuck) with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.

"I'm your neighbor," he said, feigning cheerfulness. "I know I should have introduced myself before now," he said of three years of him ignoring me, "But I just wanted to tell you that that pass was very dangerous. You could have killed a kid."

"You mean the pass in a passing zone, on a clear day, when you were going 24 in a 35 and randomly slamming on the brakes?" I snarled. "Yeah, I'm the public menace." He started to argue legalities. I didn't let him. "Go look at the lines, asshat. And then go cut up your license. Time to hang it up."

While he argued, I walked away. That would be our last conversation.

alden-couch.gif

The last incident was more entertaining. The ROWF in question sped up as I passed him, trying to make me ram head-on into an oncoming car. He then followed me aggressively. I turned away from my house and into a housing development, hoping to loop around and lose him. As I exited the development, his truck lurched to a stop in front of me, broadside, blocking my path.

Now where I'm from, this act means only one thing: someone is going to the hospital. Or, optionally, the morgue. In Seattle, this act apparently means something entirely different.

Unfortunately for the ROWF, I am not from Seattle. Even more unfortunately for him, because of my foliage-lined driveway, I keep a machete next to the driver's seat. I grabbed it and and erupted out of my car, toward him, brandishing the weapon low as I stormed straight at him. This 70-ish white guy's expression melted from sanctimonious rage into, well, the look of a 70-ish white guy who had just grossly miscalculated. He rolled up his window.

"Is your door broken or something?" I taunted. "Oh, my mistake. I thought you wanted to kick my ass." He stared at me, silent. "C'mon out. No? Nothing to say? Then kindly move your motherfuckin' car."

He did, bravely giving me the finger as I pulled away.

One of the great comforts of living in Metamuville is knowing that my enemies won't live for much longer.

creepy spam of the week

Not long ago, I wrote about my amusement with spammers' use of "ED" as an acronym for Erectile Dysfunction. It resulted in many mails with subject lines like "Don't let ED ruin your sex life" and "Embarrassed of ED?"

A mere 24 hours before I had to put Ed down, I received a mail with this subject line: "Say goodbye to ED forever."

Creepy.

pittsburgh tour

Anyone out there in/from the Burgh?

One of the items on my list of cool stuff to do after Ed's gone was for me to live in Pittsburgh during football season. I'm eying this November, when there are three home games and one road trip to New York City.

Anyway. I need a primer on Pittsburgh neighborhoods. To me, they're mostly just places I got really, really lost. So if anyone's in the know, squirt me a mail.

my father's granddaug

A couple folks have asked me to write about my having to put Ed down. Perhaps I will. It won't be today. I'm not up to that, but oddly enough I am up to making fun of her. I do believe she'd approve. As I looked for a picture for Ed's memoriam page, I realized that this shot from two weeks ago is the last photo she ever took:

oldnavy 001.jpg

Many thanks to those who sent their condolences.

I'll finish up the "Fuck you John" posts next week.


ed beach 012.jpg

Ed
(1994-2007)
Be good.

First, I thought it couldn't get any worse than the Steelers naming their ugly new stadium "Heinz Field." Then they added the moronic ketchup bottles, and I stood corrected. But now, I thought, surely the worst is behind us.

I was wrong. They decided to get a mascot. Now it couldn't get any worse, right? But I was wrong again. The new mascot would look like Satan's childhood rapist. Now it couldn't possibly get any worse.

Today, they announced the thing's name: Steely McBeam. We have officially bottomed out. Until they hire cheerleaders.

you have the right to remain indifferent

Pulled over by a cop, I had no idea what infraction I could have possibly committed during such an excruciatingly slow drive. It turned out that five miles earlier, when the car in front of me was turning left against an endless parade of cars coming the other direction, I had used the paved berm to pass him on the right. Upon later hearing that this is illegal, I was confused, as not long ago when my friend's car had been struck during a similar maneuver, that officer had told us in very certain, very annoyed terms that a berm pass wasn't against the law. Could it be, I gasped, that someone in law enforcement wasn't fully truthful?

Normally, I cops and I treat one another with professional courtesy. We both have our jobs to do in the civic ecosystem. My job is to speed, and their job is to catch speeders. For me to get angry with them would be like my being mad at rain for being wet. I like to compare our relationship to that of Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf in the old Warner Brothers cartoon. We greet each other cheerfully, set our lunch pails down, punch the clock, and then wail on one another until the end of the work day. We're rivals, but there's no reason not to act like fellow professionals.

sheepdog.jpg

Every once in a while, though, King Shit with a Badge comes along. He doesn't know from professional courtesy. His only interest is masturbation, and, sadly, only his own. My cop was such a cop. You know the one. He's self-important. He's a drama queen. "Do you have any idea," he scolds exactly like your mother, "Why I'm pulling you over?" He lectured me about the dangerousness of what was a decidedly undangerous, slow, deliberate maneuver. "There could have been a baby stroller there!" he said of the empty chasm my car had passed through. "And if there had been, I wouldn't just be giving you a ticket. I'd be taking you in on manslaughter charges right now!"

He made no mention of citing the fictitious (but astonishingly negligent) parents.

And on he droned, each imaginary scenario more dramatic than the next, and I eventually started to think about the work I needed to get done that day.

"HEY!" he yelled, coming in for a closer look at my pupils. "Have you been drinking?"

"Huh?" I was taken aback. Uncharacteristically, I had not been drinking. Then I realized why he asked.

"Oh. I see. No. If I seem distracted, officer, it's not because I'm drunk or stoned. It's because I don't care about any of the words coming out of your mouth. I'm just bored, is all. Carry on."

He didn't take it well. He amped up the lecture. Now imaginary little old ladies were standing in the berm. You remember the berm. It's between the forest and the quarry. "And I'll give you another reason not to be bored," he concluded, shifting into Dad. "I can give you a (pause to emphasize that this is all the money in the world) NINETY DOLLAR TICKET!"

"Nope, still don't care."

He fumed. I continued. "See, I'd gladly pay several times that just to get out of this conversation. I know it wasn't dangerous. You know it. Maybe you can make me pay your little fine, but you definitely can't make me listen to your inconsequential yapping. Yap yap yap yap yap. Christ, who can pay attention?"

He stomped off purposefully. He spent ten minutes on the radio, presumably trying to find something, anything to arrest me for. And then he let me off with a warning.

And with that, the untruthful party in law enforcement revealed himself.

ms. metzker: gentleman scholar

The problem with "Fuck-off John" stories is that they're too bloody long.

• • •

Academia and I are an uneasy fit. Culturally, we're too far apart. The problem is uninteresting and complicated, but it boils down to this: each party thinks it's doing the other a tremendous favor, and only one of us is right.

Adjunct faculty positions in English departments are prized. True, they're prized by the otherwise unemployable, but they're prized nonetheless. And thus are departments accustomed to treating adjuncts as shoddily as they like and having these folks beg for more abuse. The departments are doing these people a favor by hiring them, because otherwise they'd be selling their bodies or, more likely, their body organs.

And then there's me. I had already established my career when the university approached me about teaching. I turned down lucrative work in order to teach. The tiny stipend I received barely covered the $1500 in gas, ferries, and parking it cost me to teach each quarter. At its most expensive, teaching one quarter cost me $19,000 in lost income and expenses. Meanwhile, the investment in time was enormous. Each of the forty one-way trips to took me five hours. That's twenty hours a week on the road, folks, for a "job" that hemorrhaged my money and made me use a park-and-ride for the final few miles of my already ghastly commute. At my own expense, of course. I'm not complaining, mind you; I wanted to teach, to give back. I love the kids. But yes, I very much viewed teaching as charity work—every bit as much as the thousands of dollars in software I donated to the department's labs.

Therein lies the culture clash. The English Department was perpetually unsatisfied with how I conducted this enormous, expensive favor. And I was appalled by being treated like I was damned lucky to be performing it.

A few weeks after Spring Quarter ended, one Ms. Metzker, the associate chair of the department, wrote to scold me for not submitting my evaluation materials. I replied that this was the first I'd heard of such a thing. She said that she'd put a packet in my mailbox "some time ago." This seemed unlikely, as after my last Thursday afternoon class—before I'd left town for the quarter—I'd checked my mailbox one last time.

"When were the materials placed in my mailbox—after my last class meeting?"

"I put the notice in during the last week of classes," she evaded, likely meaning 11:59pm Friday. Suddenly, it felt like I was dealing with the student who has his late assignment routed across the International Date Line, then argues that this makes it on time. Her request was made all the more absurd by the unlikelihood of my arranging for a student survey, faculty observer, etc. after my last class had been conducted.

Up until this point, the exchange was merely annoying in the manner that all of my interactions with academic twinkies are annoying. Then Metzger overplayed her hand: "Advise on when you can provide these materials. Usually reappointment can not proceed until the letter of evaluation is submitted."

I had just been slimed for the last time.

"I'm excited by the prospect of not being reappointed. I'll opt for that," read my entire reply.

And thus did I dissolve a seven-year relationship with the university.

A simple "thank you" would have sufficed. It's a pity that those entrusted with teaching our kids about rhetorical analysis and critical thought are themselves so utterly incapable of practicing it.

fuck off john

Allie often gives me feedback that surprises me, but it's usually of the "My comment offended you, Allie? Really?" variety. Seldom does it resemble the below feedback about last week's guest post.

One thing I like about it is that it shows a side of John that your friends know, but that doesn't often surface on your page.
Really? Which part? Surely not the "Fuck o—"
"The 'Fuck-off' part. Your rant has lots of: Judgmental John, Sweet John, Everyone-is-stupid-but-me John, Critical Thinker John, Funny John, and Self-deprecating John. Not so much of Fuck-off John."
Really?

Okay, I will attempt to remedy this. This week's posts will star Fuck Off John. I'm sure they'll offend her.

siskel lives

The good folks behind Siskel & Ebert & Roeper have posted video of as many movie reviews as could be found. Want to see the late Gene Siskel emote about Goodfellas or Pulp Fiction? Me too.

Here's Ebert's introduction of the library.

guest post: troll invasion

It had to happen eventually, I suppose. I met one of you. Rather, I had one of you barge into my life and stick your outstretched hand into my face. The following guest post is written by longtime Stank troll Chris, who is now my—sigh—co-worker. The unedited version was even longer. You're welcome.

• • •

I've heard John's name a number of times, but I've never had a formal introduction. John's "mentee," Elizabeth, was responsible for pointing me at checkraise, and over the last few years it has held a position of high esteem next to many other, and equally worthy, curmudgeons on my RSS feed.

After my recent transfer, his name began popping up more often. This time it wasn't coming from Elizabeth; the writers on THIS team knew him too. And when they said his name it mostly wasn't preceded by "That fucking…" or followed by "...the miserable bastard." They liked him. I'd transferred right into a lair of followers, sycophants, and former co-workers (including my manager, who John described to me as "the most exhausting person I've ever met."). My fate was sealed. I knew then that I'd get my introduction in short order. Or would I? After a few weeks of never seeing the guy, I had to ask of his whereabouts. "He only comes in once every few weeks," I was told.

Yesterday he showed up. I was told he was "in a meeting" but it's probably okay to drop in and say hello.

Folks, I've read this blog for some time now and I knew that barging in would likely be a bizarre situation. Aside from a few emails, this guy doesn't know me from Adam. I'm neither fan-boy nor sycophant, but I had to introduce myself if only to combat the preconceived notion that nobody in Seattle is pleasant or can carry on a conversation with a total stranger. His congenial nature is well known. I was sure he'd appreciate the gesture.

I found him in his boss's office. I was to leave soon so it was now or never. With a knock on the door, I was let in.

Me (extending handshake): "Pardon the intrusion but I thought I'd introduce myself while you're here - otherwise you'd think I'm a complete bastard."

John (accepting said handshake): "Okay."

Boss (looking disturbed and confused): "You know this guy?"

Me (as usual, I begin to over-explain myself): "Yeah we know each other through a circuitous combination of friends and acquaintances."

(John shoves the door into me. )

John: "Okay, now, FUCK OFF!"

SLAM!

In under two minutes, I'd managed to coax a FUCK OFF out of John and it took nearly no effort on my part. The look on his boss's face as the door closed? PRICELESS. It's exactly what the U.S. Military was hoping for when the phrase "Shock and Awe" was coined.

So now we've met. Elizabeth's world is likely crumbling down around her. I was only disappointed in that I didn't have enough time to show him pictures of my children.

beep-beep, beep-beep, yeah!

My dog Ed's senile years involve infractions I'd have deemed unthinkable just a year ago. Taking food off the coffee table. Eating toilet paper off the roll. Isolated turd mines eviscerating bare feet in the dark.

It wasn't until this morning, though, that I noticed the human parallel. When Ed saw me heading around the narrow part of the deck, she ducked in front of me, then sauntered aimlessly and slowly. She stopped occasionally. She ignored all attempts to get her to go faster or to get her out of the way. She was oblivious to me, oblivious to being an enraging obstruction.

I fumed. "This is just like being on Metamuville Road and having some old fart cut me off, then go 32 in a 50 and weave all over the pl—"

Oh.

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