August 2008 Archives

really, cnn?

Today's headline: "McCain taps Palin"

chris rock

Last night, during Chris Rock's savagely funny "No Apologies" concert, I watched him talk at length about black women. To a 99% pasty white Seattle audience. He laughed, they laughed, but it just felt...off.

The tone for the evening was set when we entered the theatre and the man behind me was told that he couldn't bring his Chai tea inside. Yeah, I bet that's uttered at every Chris Rock show.

i cried because i had no shoes until...

I have a lump on my neck that feels like a bloody golf ball. This would be an ingrown hair, right where I edge my beard. I swear, there's an entire ball of twine in there. I can't seem to do a thing with it, so to the web I went. And suddenly, I feel like a complete whiner.

the dumbest generation

Did anyone else notice that during the post-event interviews of Olympic medalists, the American athletes sounded unfathomably inarticulate compared to their peers from around the world?

As soon as a microphone was shoved into a Yank's face, my thoughts returned to what I thought when my mom tried to be "cool" around my friends: please don't say anything please don't say anything please don't say anything shut up shut up shut up shut up.

A two-bedroom, three-bath house is an odd duck. I have no space for stuff, yet no matter where I am, I can urinate without having to walk more than five feet. My master bathroom is never used, so it's where I keep my printer and the extra freezer. No amount of my explaining that the toilet next to the freezer is never used will wipe the look off guests' faces. Yes, that's the look, right there.

My master bedroom got off easy. I merely put the treadmill in there. And when I'm done working out, I place two dumbbells on the bed. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this was probably a bad idea that would catch up with me. It did Friday night, when I hopped into bed, eye socket first. Pow. Ow.

The eye will heal. The stupidity? It's chronic.

trying men

Not counting work, I spend some 95% of my time with women. This is no accident, as I've historically found that women make 95% more sense than men.

But this identification wanes. After all, it's not guys who are thrashing around in my Burmese liar traps. After all, I've never watched with disgust as a man shamelessly comparison-shops women. I'm sure that men indulge in these things, but in my experience, they're uniquely female undertakings.

And thus do I hang out more with Dirt Glazowski.

"Look at how clean that city is," he says of Beijing on TV.

Yeah. I know. But it got better.

"We could learn a lot from the Chinese. Someone there causes problems, and WHAM! the gummint beats them down. No more problem."

Later on he switches to his favorite show, called MANswers. The first segment shows you how to dig a bullet out of your own body. This is a useful skill, if you're a felon. Or maybe if you're trapped on a desert island and happen to shoot yourself in the arm. Being neither, I would personally rather a doctor or even a plumber perform this procedure. Meanwhile, the show's next segment tells you how to get a "Happy Ending" in a reputable massage parlor.

"John, party of one," called a restaurant's maître d' later that evening.

i stand corrected

Dorkass points out that there's easily a worse fomite than the doorknob on a strip club entrance: the doorknob on the strip club exit.

fomites

"Does anyone know what a fomite is?" my boss asked his room full of new teachers. No one did. "It's an inanimate object that transmits disease from one person to another. Like students' homework. Moral: don't eat Cheetos while grading your students papers."

History would prove him absolutely right. The causality soon became clear. Cheetos = death by fomite.

I thought about fomites when I was in Vegas. God only knows where these people's hands had been. I wondered if there's a more toxic fomite in the world than a Vegas slot machine. Perhaps the doorknob on a strip club entrance.

olympic spoilers

I've pretty much given up watching the Olympics; have you? Between the time difference with Beijing, the time difference with New York, and the time difference between when an event occurs and when it actually airs, my margin of error for turning on the TV at the correct time is is +/- 2 days. And a half-day before my event airs, I accidentally read the results online.

Click.

death valley

The temp hit a very dry 90 (gasp!) in Seattle yesterday, and today's paper is abuzz with cautions. Check on your elderly neighbors! Drink lots of fluids! And above all else, "Strenuous exercise is to be avoided during the heat of the day!"

For all my complaints, I don't know if Southern, Midwestern, Southwestern and Eastern readers fully appreciate what a bunch of mewing pussies these Seatards really are. Maybe this will help.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going for a hike. I hear it's a good day for it.

racing

I got exactly the general election I wished for a year ago. Obama and McCain were the politicians I trusted most in their respective parties, and even though both looked like sure nomination losers at the time, I rooted for them. That I've made it to mid-August 2008 without losing complete faith in their integrity is unprecedented.

Much is written about race in this election, but seldom is it thoughtful. It's more of a reactive media frenzy whenever so-and-so accuses so-and-so of playing the "race card." Media blood sport ensues. I don't find it particularly constructive.

I'm disappointed in both candidates along these lines. For Obama to say that McCain points out how "Obama doesn't look like all the presidents on the dollar bills" is a curiously destructive lie from someone who ostensibly promotes unity and occupies higher moral ground. He learned his lesson well in the primaries. How very Bubba of him.

My bigger disappointment, however, is with McCain. In whoring for his base, he's passed up a historic opportunity to repudiate racists from that base. The GOP's tradition of pandering to those cretins is why even conservative minorities reflexively distrust the party.

It's nice that McCain says he hopes "people will look past skin color when voting," but that's like McDonald's saying "We hope you'll consider all the health ramifications before you down that super-sized fries." In my view, McCain has a unique opportunity to evict bigots and their policies from America's only conservative tent, or at least to give them notice.

"If you're just voting against a black man, I don't want your vote," he could say. "I would rather lose, frankly, than be your candidate. You are no longer welcome in my party. The days of our giving your kind sanctuary are over." And then prove it in the platform. He doesn't have to pander, but a less categorical opposition to, say, affirmative action would go a long way toward healing old wounds.

Would it cost him the election? Yeah, probably. But he'd be a historic loser, a Gore instead of a Kerry. And that's a win.

fancy girl

Dorkass is, of course, an Amazon and a jock. She thinks nothing of knocking her boss on his ass or of ridiculing his manhood. My testicular fortitude will be mocked just for my having said that.

"You baby. Wah."

Last week she suggested that we eat apple pie on her back patio. A garden snake appeared, and suddenly, quite unexpectedly, Dorkass found her inner sorority girl. Her voice went up an octave as she levitated through the back door. "CAN YOU KILL IT?"

I looked at the snake. He looked at me. We looked at Dorkass. I wondered how someone so often accused of having no use for a penis ended up with this gig.

"How about I just toss him over the fenc—"

"HOW 'BOUT YOU JUST KILL IT!!!" she said, now levitating a foot off the kitchen floor.

I did my duty, and Dorkass bravely came outside to tell me not to leave the corpse just lying there.

i stand corrected

Last week I said "If there's anything more satisfying than finding a deer eating your roses and shooting him in the ass with a pellet gun, I don't know what it is."

Longtime Stank troll Sean replied "That would probably be #2 on my Most Satisfying list. No. 1... finding a cat in mid-squat, taking a shit in your Lantana and Mexican Sage, and shooting him in the ass with a pellet gun, your heart swelling with joy and laughter at the sight of him sprinting away, howling, with a half-inch of turd protruding from his butthole."

Yep. These are my readers.

no honor among hookers

In Vegas, I was fruitlessly searching for a stud poker game when my internal clock went off. The Steelers were about to kick off their first preseason game. I ducked into the casino's sports book, where I found a half dozen Steelers fans assembled in front of a large screen TV. One of us brought a Terrible Towel. God, we're pathetic.

Nearby was a man around 80, and he sat in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank mounted on it. He didn't move or interact with us. I couldn't even tell what he was watching. He seemed five minutes from death, tops. And then a really ugly woman pulled a chair up next to him and started giggling, holding his hand and stroking his hair. In short, she was behaving like a really ugly hooker might.

When she suggested that he really wanted to buy her a drink and then, without acknowledgment, got up to get herself that drink, I walked over to the guy. He looked terrified. "Do you want me to make her go away?" I said. And then he wheezed the only word he would all night.

"Please."

When the hooker returned, I told her he wasn't interested. She put her arm around him and said that was nonsense. I got more assertive. So did she. I accused her of scamming a guy who couldn't defend himself. Soon, she was spewing insults my direction, the gist of which were that my fat ass should mind its business and not her own.

"Speaking of fat, do you know what the difference is between you and me?" I said. "My prodigious gut isn't hanging out for everyone to see."

And then she slapped me. While I walked toward the pit boss, she grabbed her stuff and fled. And then I sat down and promptly saw Charlie Batch break his collarbone. Thanks for the solid, god.

Still, it's hard to complain. I got slapped by a Vegas hooker for free.

two vegaii

Whenever I travel to Vegas with a girlfriend, we stay at one of the nicer casinos. We dine at lovely four- and five-star restaurants. We see Cirque. En route, our cabbie will suggest a show we've never heard of, and invariably he will be proven right.

Hitting Vegas by myself (or partially by myself, as was the case this weekend) is an entirely different experience. I stayed at a motel where the bedspread actually crunched. Where when I checked in, I was surrounded by guys with skull tattoos that were seemingly self-applied, and when I checked out at 5am Sunday, I was surrounded by their really, really ugly hookers. We waited for cabs together. In my motel, the maid makes smoking rooms into non-smoking rooms by simply flipping over the ashtry to expose a "no smoking" decal.

There's something to be said about pricing certain elements out. And I said it plenty this weekend.

Meanwhile, the same cabbie who would charm my girlfriend (into, say, seeing a show or going to the Graceland Chapel to get married) is now a bona fide pimp. Seeing a man by himself, he fishes for a business card atop his visor. "I know a girl..."

negative reinforcement

If there's anything more satisfying than finding a deer eating your roses and shooting him in the ass with a pellet gun, I don't know what it is.

smokestacks

Reader response to my post about lying has run the predictable gamut, from where do you find these people? to the dubious I don't associate with liars, so I wouldn't know. I humbly suggest, sir, that you're just not very good at spotting 'em.

Stank troll Marta, among others, points out the ethical implications of checking out stories one does not believe. This is indisputable. It's crossing a line. Also indisputable is that I have never crossed the line in error. The few times that ludicrous explanations have reached such critical mass that I decided to look deeper, I found exactly what I was looking for. It doesn't feel good to prove someone you love a liar. It's devastating. It's utterly heartbreaking. But the years afterward do tend to be remarkably free of self-doubt.

dating lesbian models

That heading ought to get me some hits.

• • •

I only date models. Just ask them.

Drill deeper, and you'll find that at 20, the manager of the local Bon Marche hired them to wear Bon Marche clothes in the Bon Marche while keeping an eye out for shoplifters. In the fourth grade, they were in a photo in a store's Sunday flyer. At 19, some photographer took their money and created a modeling portfolio. In high school, they were pictured in a charity calendar.

These are all real stories from my dating life. And what they have in common is being introduced with the clause "Back when I was a model..."

That this is needy is obvious, but needy of what? Of me thinking that they were once worthy of being objectified? It's not like men value the job title "model." Only the most superficial women do. It's like tiny feet. Men simply don't care. That's what certain other women value, not what we value. Stop it, already.

The latter day version of this is "back when I was a lesbian." Or back when they experimented. Attention, women born after 1974: having once been caught up in this particular fashion makes you no more unique or exotic than women your age who have a tattoo above their cracks.

Which is to say, all of you.

Classroom group.JPG

spy earlier

"Never violate a trust you want to keep."
- John's third law

This has been a pretty lousy year. Certainly the lousiest in modern times. It started with my dog, Ed, dying a year ago next week, and then things got unpleasant. The reasons are several, but if I had to narrow it down to one theme, it would be that this thought prevails: "Gosh, that sounded an awful lot like a lie."

People lie all the time. I do too.

"I'm fine," I tell the cashier.

"What a lovely vase. That really makes the room," I tell the new acquaintance in lieu of projectile vomiting in said vase.

"So-and-so is really producing," I tell management.

These aren't the sort of lies I'm talking about. These are part of the background noise of living in polite society. I don't look for 'em, and I don't notice 'em. But when a loved one starts monkeying with pronouns and timelines, I notice. When their overexplanations puree credibility, I notice that too. Mostly, I notice that my intelligence is being insulted.

surveillance-camera.jpgWhat do you do in those situations? My philosophy has always been self-elimination. Take Poor Sarah. I noticed her evasions about Rich well into last year. Smoke and fire, as the saying goes, tend to have a 1:1 correlation. And there was smoke aplenty, most of it being channeled directly through my sphincter. But I didn't try to catch her in the lies. I was still trying to make it work, and I don't see any kind of relationship surviving the breach of trust it would take to catch her. So even though I thought she was lying to me, and even though history proved that hypothesis correct, I let events take their course. I gave her my trust, daring her to be worthy of it. I let her self-eliminate. Sensible, no?

Then how come I still feel like a sucker?

When the end came with Sarah, it came abruptly and after several intensely wonderful weeks. She offered no explanation beyond "It is what it is," and I was desperate to get my head around the swift turn of events. Only one explanation fit the facts, and several awful hours into the conversation, I finally asked about it. "Is this about Rich?"

"No." Silence. Painful, suspicious silence. I tried to encourage her to come clean for once in her life.

"Because it would make it a lot easier on me if it were," I said.

"Really?"

"Yes. Because it would make a modicum of sense."

Silence.

And thus did Sarah opt to throw me into a torturous, sleepless, two-month spiral of doubt and second-guessing. A simple sentence would have spared me, but she'd rather protect her rep, I guess, than another human being's psyche. And when I finally broke down, violated her trust and confirmed what I already knew, it was like a switch was thrown inside me. Pain, gone. Click.

Thanks heaps, Sarah. Thanks for working so hard to deny me this peace of mind.

That's what I really hold against her. I'd always kinda expected her to cheat. Appearances notwithstanding, that's clearly who she is. But I didn't expect her to sacrifice my mental well-being just to protect her image. Criminal selfishness, that.

Now healed, I cynically wonder about the implications for my future. Is the lesson here "spy earlier?" Does verifying stories equate to relationship death, as I've always assumed, or can it actually be a constructive means of affirming character? And most of all, where's the line between honoring a trust you want to keep and being a trusting fool?

seattle times

Last week I was working from home when a woman identifying herself as my neighbor brought by a pie. Had I known her, I would have gushed with gratitude and devoured it. But since I'd never before laid eyes on her, I gushed with gratitude and chucked the pie into the trash as soon as she left. I enrage way too many geriatric motorists to be eating their unsolicited mystery pies.

But it was nice. Except for Percy, I seldom interact with anyone in my neighborhood. "Maybe people aren't such complete shits after all," I thought.

poo2.jpgLater that day, I went to a low-rent grocery store. A stranger, a 35ish guy tattooed from his fingertips to his armpits, smiled at me. I smiled back. You have to understand, for a midwesterner in the Seattle area, this is a moment of nearly religious significance. And then the guy grabbed my forearm.

"Hey, brother, how are you today? Brother, it's really humiliating, but I blew my valve gasket in the parking lot and would really appreciate it if you can lend a hand and this isn't a scam because you can see my family waiting for me out there (I craned my head, but I saw no family) and I need to buy oil but oil is six bucks and I can't walk home from here and brother, this is really humiliating, but I was wondering..."

It went on for about five minutes and 18 "brothers," but you get the drift. Something about white guys calling me "brother" really bugs me.

"All you need is six bucks?" I said. At that point, I would have paid $1200 to make him go away.

Two days later, another neighbor knocked on my door. He introduced himself, said we'd met once. (Not unlikely. I never remember people. It stems from my not caring about them.) He clarified that it was his wife who had brought by the pie, and oh, by the way, would I mind if they used my beach stairs in perpetuity?

parent of the year

Everything you need to know about my buddy Dirt, in 105 words and a picture. The other night, he called to say that Kiki had left him with the kid for the evening. In the time it took him to open a bottle of '77, I was on his deck smoking a cigar and gnawing on a spare rib. We talked about football, of course (he's a Vikings fan who can taste Favre right now), and after a couple hours went by, I wondered about the kid. I ducked inside to check on her. This is what I found. Note the rib in her hand.

ava.jpg

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