January 2009 Archives

super blow songs

Anytime the Steelers make a deep playoff run, fan-created songs instantly appear, like rats during a carnival. ("Where did they all come from?") And considering that the Steelers played in 7 of the last 15 AFC championship games, this is alarmingly often.

On the one hand, it's kinda cute. I'm glad I'm among fans who are so enthusiastic. It's impossible for me to imagine, say, Seahawks fans doing this, not unless they composed The Ballad of Darrell Jackson Didn't Push off on Chris Hope and That's Really Our Super Bowl Trophy Bitch Bitch Bitch.

I jest, of course. Seattle fans couldn't actually name the players or the penalty or its context. Which reminds me of how obnoxious they've been this week. God, I love this clip.

On the other hand...well...I am not a gifted enough writer to convey the sheer awfulness of these songs. I despise them, yet I cannot stop listening. I can't even pick which one to share. It's a 37-way tie for last place. (Closing my eyes and pointing at my screen) Okay, I give you the Tomlin Bunch.

spreading cheer

By any reasonable measure, my "problems" are ludicrous. Professionally, for instance, I'm overemployed. During layoffs. And a recession. This is not the world's worst problem. Nevertheless, it's beating me down, and for a variety of reasons there's no solution in sight.

No solution in sight. That's the theme for 2009 so far. And man, am I temperamentally ill-suited to being passively unhappy, waiting for circumstances beyond my control to just change on their own. Or, more to the point, to not change. Yet that's the state of every crevice of my life right now.

What is it about human nature that compels people to tell the downcast that the real problem is with their attitude? Is it not possible to merely acknowledge that someone is in circumstances for which they are particularly ill-equipped? Empathy is all we ask. Chiding is what we receive.

relativity, part deux

Speaking of ancient history, Bugs Bunny once cost me severely on a history test. The cause? A cartoon in which "Yankee" Bugs stumbles upon a Confederate who thought the Civil War was still going on. A stunned Bugs says "Why, the Civil War ended almost 90 years ago!"

The cartoon was made in 1950. But it had this timeless quality, you see...

Not only did I use this information on a history test, I went to the mat for it. Arguments ensued; evidence was marshaled; parents were called in. Humiliated parents.

Never do anything half-assed, especially when wrong, I say! I plunged in whole-assed, thank you.

relativity

I've been deluged in work lately, hence the lack of posts. Not only did I have neither time nor energy to post, I never left the house, so I had no material.

On inauguration day, I snagged this link. Just when you start to think of something as comfortably filed under Ancient History, wham! The relative of a living witness steps forward.

I'm reminded of teaching English in Spokane. We were analyzing great oratory, among it MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. I made some reference to the speech having occurred before we were all born, and my students—all of six years younger than me—collectively gasped in shock. It was inconceivable that their ancient teacher hadn't been alive for something.

I took down names.

super blow xliii

No, I haven't bought a ticket. My official reason is that there are layoffs at Microsoft this week and it'd be pretty reckless of me to drop a few large on a ticket. The real reason is that the experience and game kinda sucked last time, and the bad taste remains in my mouth. I keep fondling the trigger, but I haven't been able to pull it.

In other news, how cool is this satellite photo of the inauguration?

mixed emotions

I feel all sorts of things about yesterday's inauguration. Mostly good things.

There's the palpable sense of history, of course, and the hope that this eminently likable man amounts to half of what is expected of him. Really, one foot standing on water will do. He can hop.

There's also an enormous sense of empathetic pride, as I know what his election symbolizes to my black friends and their community, to which I'll never belong but to which I've long been a friend, a doppelganger, and a bit of a prick. Their pride is not exactly my own, but I'm in imagination's neighborhood.

And then there are my white friends. My liberal white friends. My extraordinarily pleased-with-themselves liberal white friends. The friends who twice yesterday wished aloud that he'd talked more about his being black, lest anyone forget the true depths of their liberal whiteness. Every silver lining comes with a dark cloud, and folks, here they are.

With a bottle of lotion in one hand and a kleenex in the other, they spent their yesterday annoying the fuck out of me. Unconversant about either policy or history, they contributed to our conversations the following: "Did you see Barack's speech? Wasn't he wonderful? I don't understand what you mean, 'list of talking points.' Well, I thought it was wonderful. The best speech ever! What do you mean, 'Better angels of our nature?' Did he say that?'"

I wasn't there, but I'm pretty sure that the smattering of people in DC who whooped at every mention of race (WHOO! BLACK! WHOO!) were my white friends.

Am I vibrating because it's—finally!—Bush's last day in office? Or is it because my beloved Steelers are going back to the Super Bowl? Yes.

Yes we can!

I can't wait to hear the Ravens' players boast about how, the three losses notwithstanding, they're still the better team. I hope my 180 pound wide receivers weren't too rough on their ferocious linebackers this time.

nevermore.jpg

this is all it took?

In the last 10 months, the number of black Americans who say that MLK's dream is fulfilled has doubled, from 34% to 69%. What a stunning statistical swing.

battlestar

Sometimes when I'm writing a post, I suspect that it will appeal to 2% of my audience. And sometimes I know it.

Battlestar returns tonight, some six months between its episodes. And I can ask the following without using spoilers: how can the final Cylon model not be the unborn child of two other Cylon models?

I'm sure that's not where they're going with their mystery, but my question remains. And even if the child eventually miscarries in order to help the writers out of this corner, how come none of the other characters are asking my question?

deadlines

If there's anything worse than being housebound for a week with a puppy due to snow, it's being trapped with her due to work. When I was snowbound, at least I was watching TV.

Dex is going batshit, running laps around the house, chewing on my feet, whining. And even when she calms down and collapses in her bed, it's with that disgusted "fuck you" grunt that angry dogs emit, and I'm pretty sure a couple times I saw her giving me the dewclaw.

blink

I've been watching old episodes of Moonlighting lately. For the most part, this 24-year old show holds up amazingly well. For the most part. And then Bruce Willis wrestles with an evil scientist who's holding a laser, causing the laser beam to lurch around the room and make everything spark and smoke.

We also have that great mainstay of the 70s and 80s Mad Scientist Laboratory: the mainframe! With the panel of endlessly blinking lights! Where the blinking pattern never changes, so you know it's a really powerful computer thingie!

I tried to remember what we all thought those lights were for, but I couldn't.

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stupid portuguese tricks

Mere days after I made fun of media reports about Obama's dog vetting, I am now about to link to a media report about Obama's dog vetting.

Great. Now for the next 12 to 15 years, everyone will think I got a Portuguese Water Dog because I'm chasing fads. Thanks heaps, Mr. President. Now kindly stop butchering the name of the breed. PWDs are not even remotely related to hounds. To call them to hounds is as specious as...as...as equating a McCain presidency to Bush's third term.

I've taken Dex two dog parks, one near where I live and one where I used to live. She's been bitten four times, all by the pedigreed eastside dogs of pedigreed eastside soulless, joyless fucks. One of said fucks almost apologized to me, but not quite. The others said nothing or simply blamed my puppy's face for impeding their dog's bite.

"She's fine!" I yelled to one silent guy's quickly disappearing back. "Thanks for asking!"

legacy

Yesterday I had lunch with two of my former editors, Katrina and Annette. They refused to answer the question "Am I the best writer with whom you guys ever worked?" and proceeded to ignore me for the rest of the lunch, which is so obviously their avoiding an affirmative answer that it's barely worth pointing out.

We moved on to discussing our careers, our ups and downs over our combined 40 years at Microsoft. And Annette—my friend, my editor, and now my boss—uttered the following:

"I associate most of my bad memories with John."
Katrina found that way, way too funny.

car math

I had allowed myself 20 minutes to drive Poindexter the 15 minutes to the groomer yesterday, yet I was 10 minutes late.

People along Metamuville Rd, you see, have crapped out a lot of little vanity projects, and I was waiting behind an excruciatingly halting school bus.

What struck me most was that the blinking lights never turned off. The bus was in a perpetual state of stopping for another kid. Kids in adjacent driveways would make the bus stop twice in 20 feet instead of consolidating into a single bus stop.

What's wrong with kids today? I thought in a voice alarmingly like my mother's. Why don't they hang out at the bus stop like we did? It was how I saw my friends in the morning. It was how I made friends. It—

And then it hit me. These are Seatarded children. Like their parents, they have no interest in other human beings. In full view of other kids, they wait at the end of their driveways, alone with the only person who matters to them.

tidings of comfort and joy

There have been two moments when I knew that my life, as I knew it, was abruptly over. The first was when I was a teenager and my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and I was thrust, quite against my will, into the head-of-household role in our two-head household. While my mom diddled priests and wore turquoise jewelry and chugged wheat germ, I was balancing the checkbook and suing roofing contractors and thinking my mom was a complete airhead.

"Jesus, John," she would chide. "Lighten up. I swear, you were born 40."

"Ha, ha. Good one. Say, have you seen my childhood? I seem to have bloody lost it recently."

The second time was the annus horribilis that followed the Fucking Amy debacle.

People say they're depressed. I hear it all the time. But then I see them revel in a sad song instead of avoiding music for three years. They successfully order a meal in a restaurant, maybe even crack a smile when they're doing it. This is not depression, in my book. Depression is when you stagger through life, a shell of yourself, absolutely baffled by how people can be annoyed by slow service or care what color the bedroom is.

How can they possibly bicker about the allocation of french fries? My god. Don't they know how little it matters? How little anything matters? Don't they know that right now, the man sitting with them is calculating how much force he'd need to apply to a plastic spork to do the job right?

A lot, it turns out.

So I was in that phase, oozing hurt, unable to think of anything but Amy and pain, no longer able to distinguish between the two. I knew I couldn't just stay at home and feel sorry for myself, so I tried dating. A disaster, of course. I made myself go to social gatherings. Almost as disastrous.

At a party, I was sitting in an easy chair, watching people have fun with a stupified, emotionally bankrupt expression on my face. A friend familiar with my life's lowly state clapped his hands and said "I know! I know exactly what you need!"

He reached into his CD collection, rife with death metal, and pulled out a Type-O Negative disc. The song he selected to cheer me up? An angry head-banger called I Know You're Fucking Someone Else. For the friend's part, he genuinely didn't understand why that song would make me feel worse, not better.

"It made me feel better when I was depressed about being dumped."

This, this is why today all my friends are women.

this wasn't even supposed to be here today

What was lost now is found. I thought I'd lost this photo forever.

During my October trip back East, I swooped down to Leonardo, NJ, where I ate some shockingly lousy pizza and saw the store where they filmed Clerks. It's stunningly small on the inside. In the movie, every shot of the aisle pretty much shows the entire store.

nyc 2008 002.jpg

That wasn't the big surprise, though. I don't know what I'd imagined Jay and Silent Bob looking at when leaning against the wall and selling weed, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a wall of new condos.

nyc 2008 003.jpg

shiny and new

I would love to do a mock article that fawns over our President-elect, but it's pretty hard to satirize the actual media on that count. I go back and forth over whether the New York Times' "Obama vetting White House dogs" or CNN's "Obama is hot: get used to it" is the more definitive headline of the age.

I hope this stops soon. Or that it lasts four to eight years. Just so long as I don't have to see the fall from grace.

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