April 2008 Archives

scared straight

Am I having an acid flash-forward, or did Karl "Hatchet" Rove chide Obama thusly: "Attacks are momentarily satisfying but ultimately corrode your appeal."

gaytown

It was at 4am last night—note that it is presently 8am—that insomniac I started browsing through the Hulu.com collection of free TV programming. And it was at 4:03 that I discovered that I can embed high-quality episodes here. The whole episode. But what to showcase? I could go highbrow and have you watch every episode of the late, great Arrested Development. Nah. I could make you suffer through Gaytown, which is frighteningly exactly like what it sounds ("Meet Owen, a mild mannered straight man living in a town that lives up to its name: Gaytown. He likes girls, but they don't like him. He tries to be one of the guys, but he does't want to put out."). I could make me suffer through the 2008 BCS championship game again. A-Team? 30 Rock? Simpsons? Hart to Hart? Nah. I want to inaugurate this with something that will scar your retinas, as it did mine.

See how far you can make it.


lameness quantified

Thanks to the many trolls who took time out of their days to explain their remarkably complex algorithms for returning an item to the store. I got what I wanted: empirical proof that the original, shower-curtain-returning subject is indeed certifiably insane.

Poll results:
$20 - 46%
>$20 - 24%
$10 - 17%
$5 - 9%
<$5 - 4%

Let us now reflect on how 1) I consider returning $2 shower-curtain rings an obscene waste of my valuable time, yet 2) I'll spend 30 minutes totaling up poll results that validate me.

0.002%

It began with shower curtain rings. She bought some; I bought some. Watching me install the ones I'd purchased, she rushed to retrieve the receipt for her own.

There are many levels of this that I do not understand. Who earns six figures yet saves the receipt for a $2 pack of shower curtain rings? Who expends the gas and time to return them? And even if you are this cheap, who isn't ashamed to admit it? Oh, sure, she mumbled something about not wanting to contribute to landfills, but she trailed off when it was clear I wasn't listening anymore.

So you tell me.

hard-wired

It was Football Weekend, and Bubba and I were stoked on caffeine at 3am. And so we left our Pittsburgh Motel 6 room and retrieved a football from the trunk of the rental car. We ran patterns between the parked cars, and I basked in the joys of throwing to someone 6'4". It's like shooting baskets into a swimming pool. And then, invariably, I said "Go long."

Bubba jogged off hesitantly, ever more slowly, knowing I have a lousy arm. Insulted, I let him jog for quite a while. When he finally reached the outer limits of my range, I launched a beautiful rainbow pass, aiming to arc it over the rail of the motel's second-story corner and drop it gracefully in front of Bubba. I missed by about 15 feet. Not Bubba. Him, I missed by about 30 feet. No, I missed air by 15 feet. My beautiful rainbow pass shattered someone's motel window.

football.PNG

Long-dormant childhood instincts immediately took over: we scattered. It was every man for himself. What is that instinct, anyway? And why don't I, an otherwise responsible adult, even feel bad about fleeing?

speaking of pigs

I tend not to post about drama that I'm currently in. I detest blogs that do that, especially when the blog becomes a none-too-subtle participant in the drama. That's uninteresting and self-indulgent. So Sarah and the AW did not exist here until they no longer existed, period. Between them, that's five years of backlog waiting to burst forth. And when the dam finally breaks, well, it's all I want to write about. I resist, though. I can't expect y'all to slog through that every day for a month. So pardon me while I ration.

• • •

I saw this remarkable photo on the AP wire the other day. That would be three pigs stranded on a roof during a midwestern flood. I have no joke, although "three little pigs" lines abound.

art.pigs.gi.jpg

wild kingdom

I was working at my desk when I saw movement in my back yard. This isn't unusual. Ever since Ed died, the cats and raccoons have gotten downright obnoxious. This, though, was neither. It was an otter. It was my first otter in five years of living on Puget Sound. He scooted across my yard and ducked under the gate to my beach stairs. This is where it gets pretty incredible. There are 90-odd stairs. That's one determined otter.

The red line, by the way, is from the story of Ed's leap. One of my favorites.

last chips

Hagar and I saw our relationships collapse around the same time, and we vented to one another from 6000 miles away.

"So you were quoted on the radio," she told me Saturday night.

How's that?

"A friend of mine has a talk show, and I'd told her about your 'last chip' thing, and she liked the analogy so much that she shared it with her listeners."

Fantastic. Now I'm a whiney loser in three hemispheres. I should have whined to a co-worker in South Africa and gotten the quadfecta.

The "last chip thing," in a nutshell: in recent years, it's felt like life doles out a stack of chips to each of us. These chips are for us to gamble on love as we see fit. Some people yell "Whoo hoo! I'm rich!" and rush straight to the cashier. Others gamble on relationships, watching their stacks dwindle for a while before saying "Nuts to this" and cashing out after a modest win that helps them recoup some of their losses. And then there's people like me. Decade after decade, I grind it out at love's gaming tables, hoping to hit it big, instead watching my stack slowly, inexorably vaporize. Sometimes I lose a mass of chips all at once; occasionally they replenish; usually they just erode.

Nevertheless, since high school my stack has whittled down to a nub. I can hold my remaining couple of chips in one hand now, and I hold them tightly. Recently, my stack took a big hit when I walked up to the roulette wheel and said "Half my stack on 00!"

Interestingly, people under 22 don't get this analogy. People over 30? They wince.

bring on the next sick day

Sensing that 1) on-demand video is the very near-future and 2) DirecTV doesn't much care about my having access to anyone's programming but their own, I decided to experiment. I went to the Dell web site and maxed out an Inspiron box, and a week later it was hooked up to my TV. "If I write documentation again, I'll need a test machine," I rationalized. But really, it's about streaming video. Netflix "instant movies" look fine on my laptop, for instance, but how will they look on my plasma TV?

I was skeptical. And now I'm stunned by the results.

Here's how it works. Using a wireless keyboard, I access Netflix on the new box. I tell it to play Jerry Maguire. The movie starts immediately—no lag whatsoever. It's full screen, and it looks like a freaking DVD. There's no pixelation. Truly, the only way of distinguishing it from a letterboxed DVD is that rewinding, etc. is a pain in the ass. But the audio and video quality are amazing, and if you're already a Netflix member, all of this programming is free.

Hulu, the joint NBC/Fox venture, has a ton of free programming but is slightly less successful technically. When expanded to full size, the new episode of 30 Rock is sub-standard def. It basically looks like the Zenith TV from the 60s my Mom still had in the 80s. But the HD Gallery feature shows me the future—here, you can watch movie trailers in glorious high def. I'm stunned to see that the experience is exactly the same as on NetFlix. You click Play, the thing immediately starts, and the quality is immaculate HD audio and video. It's like I'm watching a Blu-Ray disc.

I feel a cold coming on.

VID 005_sm.jpg

View of Jerry Maguire from the couch

nature's perfect food

Emotionally, intellectually and nutritionally, I haven't changed much since I was 10. I was a mature 10, but still. The maturity hasn't scaled well.

Katrina was visiting here when I had pneumonia—specifically, when my delivery of feeling-sorry-for-myself groceries arrived. She helped the guy unload my boxes of Captain Crunch, my frozen pizzas and White Castles, my Cheetos and Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. It wasn't all junk food, I noted. "I also ordered Maalox and toilet paper."

Also in that shipment was nature's perfect food: Nutty Bars. Long before they became a Football Weekend rental car staple—"Bar me, baby."—they were the "extra" of choice in my elementary school cafeteria. If you were so lucky as to have a quarter, it was certainly earmarked for chocolaty/peanut buttery wafer goodness. I peeled them apart, eating them one long, thin wafer at a time. Still do.

As I barreled through the decades, it gave me an odd solace to note that although Pepsi had quadrupled its price and gasoline had simply added a zero to its own, Nutty Bars were the purest of childhood time capsules: the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s flew by, but Nutty Bars stubbornly remained 25 cents.

Until now. These say "35 cents" on them (only they use the symbol I'm too lazy to look up the ASCII code for). The price hike is demoralizing. Childhood: lost.

I am officially ancient, out of touch, old. Time for some caloric consolation.

wile e. coyote

wile.jpgWhen I was a kid, I attempted come up with some sort of explanation for how Wile E. Coyote could resurrect himself so many times in a cartoon in which he was so obviously and repeatedly killed. No small feat of logic, that explanation. What I finally theorized was that the ACME company that so reliably provided whatever Wile needed—Rocket skates? Robotic female rabbit? Earthquake pills not actually effective on road runners? We got 'em!—also provided our Master Wile with some mechanism that allowed him to transfer his consciousness to another body right before he impacted at the bottom of that canyon.

Okay, fine. What was your explanation, smart guy?

It wasn't until recent drug-induced meditations that it occurred to me that this is how Cylons' immortality works in the new Battlestar Galactica. Can I get royalties?

the beautiful game

"I could never date a sports fan."
—Darcy, Seattle native

• • •

Seatards are very proudly not sports fans. You're just not a local until you whine endlessly about the public funding of the football stadium. That the "public" part of the stadium's funding comes exclusively from taxes on sports stuff is immaterial. We're good electric-bus loving liberals here, and the utter imbecility of our argument is immaterial, too.

Sports taxes paying for sports? Poppycock. That Seahawk jersey surcharge could be better spent on biofuels.

At work, at dinner, at parties, on the street, pretty much everywhere but in the stadiums, you have to hear these preening twits hold forth about the immorality of sports. There is one especially irritating exception.

"I only watch soccer," they sniff with superiority, as if they're reading Tolstoy to my Dave Barry. "It's a beautiful game."

"Name two players. Any in the world will do," I reply.

It's a good thing no one's ever tried to answer, 'cause I sure wouldn't know if they were lying.

When you're conversing with your friend Lynn, whose life's dream it is to see you married before she dies, who never heard you mention a girl in passing who didn't sound like The One to her, and the following exchange occurs:

John: Hi, Lynn. How are you?

Lynn: I'm good! Say...what's going on with your love life?

John: Nothing.

Lynn. What about that girl you mentioned last time?

John: Um. Can you be more specific?

Lynn: The nice one.

John: Um. Can you be more specific?

Lynn: The married one.

John: Um. Can you be more specific?

As badly as you might wish otherwise, some chicks can't be unkissed.

untitled.JPG

Trying to identify the exceptional movie here made my gray matter splatter all over my laptop.

When you utter the sentence "And there's the Motel 6 where we decided to get married."

When you're sitting in the back seat in silence while your girlfriend and boss are jabbering away in the front seat, comparing their anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications

darwin award near-miss

When I had pneumonia last week, I walked out on the balcony in order to shake some dust from some linens. Not wanting the dust to blow back into my house, I shut the door behind me. And then...sickeningly...

Click.

EXT.—JOHN'S HOUSE—MORNING

Attired only in a t-shirt and underwear, no phone or neighbor within sight, our staggeringly moronic hero considers what the morning chill will do for his pneumonia. Weak as a starving kitten, he finally decides to climb up on the roof and inch around its slick incline in his bare feet, then jimmy a window and climb into the house. The 15' fall would probably just maim him. The raccoons will kill him.

I made it, obviously. The thought of the ensuing eulogies made my feet positively prehensile.

on naked co-eds

Two questions preoccupy me this morning:

  1. What does it say about me that so many of the TV shows I watch are sponsored by the "Girls Gone Wild" videos?
  2. Are modern 19 year old girls incapable of lifting their shirts without opening their mouths?

herb farm

Yesterday I ventured out of the house for the first time in 10 days. My coming out party was a long-planned trip to the Herb Farm, a local restaurant known for growing its own herbs and produce and for raising its own livestock locally. My Kobe beef-themed, nine-course meal was prepared by a former chef in the Clinton White House, and it was priced like it. The best meal I've ever had. I will therefore proceed straight to my grievances:

  • When people have starved themselves all day, it's really, really cruel to make them listen to a 45-minute talk about what they would be eating if you weren't talking.
  • It's disconcerting when you're taking out a second mortgage in order to pay for dinner and the preamble consists of a woman throwing herbs and flowers on the ground, where they're picked up and passed from one customer's grubby hand to another as each customer peels off a piece and consumes it. Pass. Especially since my immune system is presently traumatized. Serious pass. Other people seemed to have no problem eating herbs that I'd handled, my omnipresent, guttural hack notwithstanding.

pity whores

I just came across this, written by sociologist Martha Beck. Does this make anyone else think of someone they know?

Poignant, tragic, funny, outrageous --most of us have at least one story we tell (and retell) to explain our emotional bruises. But there's a big difference between understanding the past and being stuck in it.

Self-pity, a dominant characteristic of sociopaths, is also the characteristic that differentiates heroic storytelling from psychological rumination. When you talk about your experiences to shed light, you may feel wrenching pain, grief, anger, or shame. Your audience may pity you, but not because you want them to.

Obsessing aloud, on the other hand, is a way of fishing for pity, a means of extorting attention.

I regret to say this describes someone I know rather well. Other people's pity is her oxygen, her raison d'être, and collecting it is her only skill. A considerably marketable skill, at that.

And if someone dares say so, why, we should all feel sorry for her.

the week in whining

Now that the Colts and Giants have each been crowned, it's time to revisit three Super Bowls ago.

I once called Seahawk fans "spiteful, whiney bitches." I stand corrected.

mending

There's being a hero at work when you have a cold or a flu, and then there's being a hero when you have pneumonia. In the last week, I've discovered I'm neither kind.

Each day has been exactly like the day before. Get up at 5am. Start watching the Battlestar Galactica marathon on the SciFi channel. Drift asleep. Be awakened at 7am by an instant message from Blondage, who's promising to bring me soup. Watch more BSG. Sleep some more. Answer a couple of truly asinine inquires from people at work. Collapse. Bodily threaten the woman who gave me my original flu thing. Take an antibiotic horse pill. Get seriously woozy. Graciously accept Blondage's second or third cancellation, I'm not sure anymore. Sleep some more. Eat some Campbell's tomato soup. Wonder how on earth I've already watched ten hours of BSG today. Sleep some more. Repeat.

Special mention goes to Katrina, who visited me a couple days ago and bitched about work for 90 minutes. Remember how much you hated it when you had pneumonia and a work meeting broke out in your living room? No?

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