April 2010 Archives

Me, on phone, from my deck: "Hey! There's a 25' gray whale right in front of my house!"

Area scientist: "That's one we've been tracking. It's dying. We're just waiting for it wash up on shore."

hullo can you go

Ballard is a gregarious, even puppy-like Englishman. A local construction worker of some repute, he's also Katrina's brother-in-law. Our paths have crossed perhaps a dozen times. The first encounter was at Katrina's house some 15 years ago, when he drove up, identified me as a friend he hadn't met yet, marched straight toward me with his hand extended and announced "Hullo! I'm Ballard!"

Charmed!

A few months later, I joined Katrina's family at a Mariners game. Ah, there was my new friend Ballard, extending his hand affectionately.

"Hullo! I'm Ballard!"

Oh. "We've actually met," I said.

"Oh! Of course! Sorry 'bout that, mate!"

A few weeks later, we met at the exact same landmark for the exact same reason.

"Hullo! I'm Ballard!"

And so it went. The more effort I put into being worth remembering, the worse it got. I tried renouncing the queen once, but as Ballard himself pointed out, Americans pretty much have already put that issue to bed, so this wasn't all that memorable.

And then finally, at Katrina's wedding, he didn't introduce himself. We joked around as old friends do, roasting the bride and groom, but then Ballard got down to business of seating me.

"So, are you a guest of the bride or groom?"

No long after, the Approval Whore (let's give her a pseudonym: Gladys Kravitz) bought a house that needed some repairs. I recommended Ballard. Perhaps if he associates me with cash...

"Hullo, I'm Ballard!"

Yeah, yeah. That construction project ended up lasting longer than my relationship, so I never saw its end. (Since that time, Ballard's bought a new home and become a new father. "Hullo, I'm Ballard!" I imagine him saying to his child every morning. But no, I'm told it's not much of an issue with anyone but me.)

Ballard is redoing my deck this week, and he's clearly been coached.

"Hullo....(straining, glancing at palm)...JOHN!"

Over beers last night, he recounted where, in his mind, we first met seven years ago. "You used to date...Gladys. Gladys Kravitz. Right?"

Katrina would probably be displeased if I stab him in the eye. Probably. But what if instead I—

"I felt bad for her. What started out as this simple little repair became redoing her entire sunroom." And then he recounted with astounding clarity every detail of her house. Every fixture, every beam. And every conversation he'd ever had with Gladys. My god, I hope she stiffed him.

"Did you have any problem getting her to pay you?"

"No, mate."

Bitch.


bogette

Responses to the survey the other day didn't go where I'd intended, which is always a lovely surprise. Of the responses that I did intend...my favorite fictional woman you'd love to be compared to was Liz Lemon, Tina Fey's character on 30 Rock. Smart, funny, pretty, strong without being bitchy. Yeah, at first glance she's a loser at love, but if you look closer, she's generally the one ending comically bad relationships. Note perfect.

I got just as many responses from men as women, mostly cynical predictions. Since I snarked about Elizabeth Bennet, I suppose I can't criticize. I suppose this goes without saying, but these predictions were unfailingly wrong.

There were also several thoughtful dialogues from women lamenting that they couldn't think of a Rick from Casablanca for their own gender. "Female lit and film characters are unfailingly weak or shrewish," summarized one woman for all. "They still don't know how to write a woman."

Which is, come to think of it, why I couldn't think of a female Rick, either.

she said no

The televised NFL draft gave Ben Roethlisberger a sneak peak at the much-deserved rest of his career. When it was announced that the Steelers were about to pick, the crowd began chanting "SHE SAID NO! SHE SAID NO!"

It's hard not to approve.

Except when they were yelling it at the cancer kid whose Make-A-Wish wish was to announce the Steelers' pick.

Stay classy, Jets fans.

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swoon

"I watched Casablanca the other night," she said. "Have you ever seen it? Rick totally reminds me of you."

It's the second time I've heard this. Turns out saying this is guaranteed to make me fall instantly in love with you. Which is really un-Rick-like, and it could be troublesome if a dude ever says it to me, but let's gloss over the pesky details.

It made me wonder, though. Comparisons to what female fictitious character, if any, would be similarly flattering to women?

Note: Elizabeth Bennet is not a valid answer. Read a second book, already. And Keira Knightly and Jennifer Ehle are actresses, not fictitious characters. See a second movie, already.


and i potentially have time to post today

An IM exchange with my boss, Flo.

(3:24 PM) Useless fucking tool:
who is more boring, D or M?

(3:25 PM) john:
D. She is one of those people who really has no conception how uninteresting she is. she thinks she's the most fascinating person on the planet. even M, deep down, suspects she's boring people.

(3:28 PM) john:
M has bored me senseless, but she's also amused me. D is conversational death every single time.

(3:29 PM) Useless fucking tool:
I can see that

(3:29 PM) Useless fucking tool:
a freakshow is way more entertaining than a train wreck

(3:30 PM) john:
i think "train wreck" is too interesting. talking with D is more like staring at the back of a bus during gridlock, choking on fumes

(3:31 PM) Useless fucking tool:
yeh

(3:31 PM) Useless fucking tool:
at least she has potentially nice hair

(3:31 PM) john:
wow, is that a reach

(3:31 PM) john:
and I have potentially pleasant breath

(3:33 PM) Useless fucking tool:
and I am potentially not a shrewish ubermegabitch

sequel: tale of two biddies

Yesterday I chatted with Exhibit A in this recent post. I tend to avoid her. She's a sweetheart, but my stress level when she speaks is roughly equivalent to when a toddler wobbles around the edge of my 90' cliff. And for similar reasons.

But to give her the credit she's due, she divorced (I think) the husband and broke up with the most wonderful man in the world. So there's your update, in the interests of fairness.

I implored her to avoid men altogether and work on the attainable stuff (kids, house, job); gave her a huge tip to put toward, I hope, her transmission repair and not, I fear, thetan-testing; and shot out of there like I was fired out of a cannon. I fully expect that the next time I see her, she'll trumpet the "glorious news!" that she's pregnant by, oh, let's say an ex-con.

• • •

"Credit" goes to Dorkass for forecasting the pregnancy development.

peeve: inquisitions

Work utterly exhausts me. My boss, Flo, and my underling, Annie, are the exact same kind of person, in crazy-making stereo. It's best demonstrated.

Flo: So did you have a good night?

Me: Meh.

Flo: Come on, what did you do?

Me: I can't remember.

Flo: Jesus Christ. What did you do?

Me (resigned): I watched TV.

Flo: What did you watch? Who's in that? Did you like it? What are your favorite shows? What shows do you hate? What shows does Percy like and who's in that? How is Percy? What model car does he drive? What year is it? 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder? Why doesn't he have a hybrid? Does he hate the earth? How did he vote in every election since Eisenhower's first term?

Thusly warmed up, she'll then draw a breath and really get to the meat of her questions.

With Annie, you would think that the employment club I hold would give me some leverage. You would be wrong.

Me: I'm forwarding you this job inquiry. Let me know if you're interested in the gig. I DO NOT KNOW ANY MORE THAN THIS MAIL CONTAINS. It represents the sum of my knowledge about, and interest in, this topic. You now know everything I know. I swear, if you pepper me with questions, I will drive up to Bellingham and publicly smack the ever-loving shit out of you.

Annie: Cool! Okay! How much does it pay? Are they okay with part-time? What are the benefits? Is there free parking? Who founded the company? What color's his wife's hair? What's her sign?

Hitting the road. Later.

impersonal imsafety

'Tis a right of passage for the women in my life. You can't be around long before I start worrying about your physical safety. Unless you're Dorkass. I mean, please. She could put a 'roid-raging Silverback gorilla in a half-nelson and make it call her "Daddy."

Long before my gave my ex-girlfriend Sarah a laser-sighted Tazer, I gave my girlfriend-girlfriend Sarah a canister of mace. In between these acquisitions, when I was gone entirely, she actually needed the mace. I do believe that's a first: for all the canisters of mace I've purchased, this is the first one that was actually needed (notice I didn't say "first one that was actually fired.") During the incident, she pulled it out, he kept coming, and she held it to his face and pressed the trigger.

ffpt

Nothing. Jammed.

Would I find this funny if harm had come to her? Of course not. Do I otherwise find it hilarious that this happened to the woman who ripped my heart out by its roots, tossed it in the Cuisinart, and hit Puree? Yeah, kinda! Turns out I am not that big a man. To her credit, she thinks it's funny, too. Kinda.

And thus did I buy the Tazer. Which she quickly augmented with a gun. Can't say I blame her.

roethlisberger and me

The short version
There is no Roethlisberger and me. I will watch no game in which he starts. Period. This could well mean not watching my team for the next six years, but considering that the point of football is for me to have fun, it won't be that much of a sacrifice to not watch that unrepentant, sexual-predating lump of yak shit wear my beloved childhood team's uniform.

The long version
I may have started rooting for the Steelers because they drove my Browns fan dad insane, but I soon fell in love with the team and the town. I'm not from Pittsburgh. I have scant Pittsburgh ties. Yet I aspire to be considered a Pittsburgh guy: honorable, generous, unpretentious—everything but hard-working. There, we have to agree to disagree.

The Packers are largely owned by their townspeople, who pass stock from one generation to the next. This is unassailably cool. The Cowboys and Seahawks and Patriots and Redskins and 25 other teams are owned by titans of industry who bought themselves a football team to park between their Lamborghini and their Rolls. I suppose this is cool, in its way, to someone. Here's what's cool to me: I'm on my third gray-haired Mr. Rooney. The team is still run by the same family that started it, nearly 80 years ago.

Rooney_Art_SB_1-26-04.jpgThe first Mr. Rooney was a league and local legend. Using $2500 he won at the race track, he started a football team in his hometown in the nascent NFL. The Steelers sucked horribly for forty years, winning absolutely nothing. But Art Rooney otherwise took care of his own. He couldn't resist a hard-luck story, and he invented bogus team jobs for neighbors down on their luck. Steelers player had his career cut short? Get him a job in the front office as a scout. Get him something, anything. The players and community adored him, and he them. If a parking attendant from three decades earlier died in obscurity in Oregon, his widow wouldn't be at all shocked to see Mr. Rooney show up alone at the funeral, without even being told of the death. "Your letters meant the world to him at the end," she'd tell him.

I cannot capture the magnificence of the man in just these short paragraphs. But when he died, the stories erupted about the thousands of lives he'd touched. Even his sons had no idea of all his efforts on behalf of others. To this day, they are stopped by strangers in strange towns and told what their father had done for the person at a key point in his life.

I love this about my team.

I love that the Steelers finally put it together in the 70s, when their fans needed something, anything positive in their miserable lives. The steel industry collapsed, and Pittsburgh lost 40% of its population. The economy crumbled, jobs vaporized, and neighbors and families were ripped apart. But Pittsburghers got four shimmering Super Bowl trophies as a distraction from their considerable miseries. And focus they did. The Steelers just mean more to their fans than other teams do to theirs, and I don't necessarily mean that as a compliment. The attachment borders on scary codependence. Pittsburghers scattered across the country, permanently resettling. They are a nation in the truest sense of the term--a displaced people from a common point of origin, now with only a common team binding them. And I love that they're raising their kids as Steelers fans in every corner of the country. Show me a list of Patriots clubs like this. We've got 11 in freaking Alaska.

mel_blount_golf_tournament_057.jpg

I also love that there's a fraternity of players across the generations. Players seemingly never leave the community. Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis played 13 years apart, but they just called the Steelers' new sixth round draft pick to tell him about the mantle he'll be carrying. Players from all across the country never leave. Black or white, famous or not, from southern Georgia or southern Cal, they want to live in Pittsburgh with decent Pittsburgh folk, raise their families among them, start businesses and charities and ministries there, run for governor there.

So, so special.

If it's starting to seem like my choice of football teams has as much to do with my values as it does football, then I have succeeded.

Which brings us to Ben.

roethlisberger2.jpg

He had better pray that I never need to brake in order for his ass to live. Already reviled in Pittsburgh for his sneering rudeness, now he's, at best, a moronic sexual predator. I hate the guy. I hate him personally, and I detest that he's wearing Rocky Bleier's and Mel Blount's colors. Will the rapist stink ever come out of the uniform?

"As soon as he throws five touchdowns, this will all be forgotten," says some douchenozzle on the radio, causing me to wonder just how many rapists there are in the world. Forget this? Bet me. This isn't Kobe or Vick. (Quick: define Lakers or Eagles integrity. What's an L.A guy?) This is a serial creep who's sullied everything that mattered to me about my team. Everything. Including his two championships. Tell me, if I'm such a whore, how come I now recoil away from footage of Ben's two Super Bowl victories? It's like trying to enjoy childhood photos of my girlfriend's molester.

Aw. He was so cute once!

What's next
Beats me. I'll watch the Steelers' first four games, during his suspension. Then I'll watch Ben find Jesus, followed by his quick engagement to a local Christian girl. After that, I'm going to wander the football landscape. I won't root for another pro team, but I think I'll pick one to follow. Maybe I'll watch the Browns reboot. They're in the division, at least.

As for the Steelers, I understand why they didn't cut or trade him at this point. The boy has a 10 year, $100M contract, and that's a lot of value to just write off on principle's sake. I would have done it, but I can see why they didn't. My dream is that after he serves his suspension, his trade value will rise, and we can get a blockbuster Herschel Walker-style trade for him. I realize that elite quarterbacks are rare, but let's face it: the boy had 5 concussions by the age of 27. At 50 sacks a year, he's not going to last the 10 additional years another QB might. And the defense's average age is 33, so we're going to be struggling soon anyway. So my dream for next spring: get a boatload of picks for the creep, rebuild in a hurry, restore the honor of the team, and tell a nation it's safe to come home.

holier than thou

Of all the feedback on yesterday's Rothlisberger post, the guy who called me "holier than thou" was my favorite. He was a Steelers fan. But I guess that goes without saying, since it's hard to imagine anyone else going to the mat for this lowlife.

I ain't exactly nitpicking, pal. I'm not going through Ben's trash and looking for recycling fouls, here. I'm not holding forth about how I could never root for a golfer who cheated on his wife. Hell, I'm not even pissed about electrocuting dogs. I'm saying I am ashamed of, cannot forgive, and will not root for the man described in that uncontested police report. I don't know why you follow football, but I do it for fun. Rooting for my QB to be a mere sexual-predating moron instead of a serial rapist is not fun for me.

But hey, I'm glad it is for you. Jealous, even. Carry on. You are indeed whorier than thou.

him or me

Steelers fans have their panties in a bunch like never before, and for a two-time champion who hasn't been indicted, let alone convicted, Ben Roethlisberger has damned few friends.

Occasionally some fan will point out that our star quarterback is a future Hall of Famer, that charges haven't so much been brought against him. Both points are true. It's not like the rest of us are somehow unaware of these facts. I wonder, though: is this reasoning any sort of comfort to Bills fans when they gaze upon the Hall of Fame bust of unconvicted murderer O.J. Simpson?

Given how queasy the thought of pulling on a Steelers jersey currently makes me, I bet not.

No, Ben has not been charged. But neither has he contested the following best-case facts: he bought shots for a 20 year old and her sorority sisters; when she could barely stand, he had his bodyguard take her to a tiny bathroom; he joined her in there, alone, while his bodyguard stood outside and prevented her friends from interceding; and several hours later, when the hospital gave her a rape exam, she had genital bruising and bleeding. All while Ben was already being sued for rape in Nevada.

I would really like you to deny this, Ben. Pick a part to deny, any part. I would really like to hear anything but you commending the investigators on a job well done and pronouncing this issue behind you, bring on the season.

Really would like to hear it. Won't.

I will not cheer for a team with, at best, a stupid, remorseless sexual predator under center. I will not wear their colors. I will not buy their tickets. Mr. Rooney, I will suffer another 25 years in the football desert, if necessary, but please jettison this disgrace to my team and my gender. I'd rather be ashamed of how my team plays than of who they are.

It's him or me.

two more

I just drove 1200 miles in two days. Not coincidentally, I've done little for the last two days besides pondering types of people who annoy me. Oh, but for more time.

First things first: I have updated this post about the types of netizens I despise.

fucking a, me

Allie asked what it was like to see Fucking Amy for the first time in 15, count 'em, 15 years.

Meh.

"What did she look like?"

"She looked like she was 15 years older and had crapped out a couple of kids."

"My god, I hate that phrase. It's so vile."

"Okay, fine," I sighed. "She crapped a couple of little miracles."

waiting for the other 7,800 dropping shoes

I've spent way too much of my life wondering why the person in the hotel room above mine must walk so bloody much, with so much urgency. In even the finest suite, there are only a couple of step-worthy attractions.

The sum of my strolling in a hotel room: walk to bathroom, walk to bed, sleep, walk to bathroom, walk to tv, sit at computer, walk to tv, walk to door. I've paced it out. It's 34 steps.

Makes me wonder if someone didn't slip a note into my reservation record: "prefers to be under gym."

i got chills. they're multiplyin.'

If you're even a part-time telecommuter, you know the sinking feeling I just got. I noticed that contrary to what I'd thought, I've been connected to the Microsoft corporate network for...how long?

"Oh shit. How long have I been on the network?" you ask yourself, your mind reeling back to that footage of a projectile banana that Dirt sent you two days ago.

are ya like me?

When Seacrest taps only minorities as candidates to go home, does your skin itch a little?

etymology of "embarrassing"

Yesterday was one of them days. It was my first day off since January 12, counting weekends, and I am officially ready to go back to work. Yeah, I could tell you tales of scorched pizzas (Way beyond burned. We're talking almost a diamond.) or of my boss, Flo, showing up with her kid ON MY FIRST FUCKING DAY OFF SINCE JANUARY 12. But I won't. Because that would be whiny.

No, I shall share a tale that some of you will ask if I made up. Sadly, quite sadly, I did not.

I have a 1988 Ford F250, an enormous beast of a beater truck that I use maybe four times a year when a Prius just won't do. It has had an irritating electrical problem for a while now. And in January, I swapped out the battery. Nothing. Then I swapped out the solenoid. Nothing. And then the crunch at work hit, and I no longer had time to deal with it. So I called a mobile mechanic.

He arrived yesterday. I told him what I'd done to date, tossed him the keys, and retreated indoors. I had just sat at my desk when I heard the truck roar to life. What? Already?

coppertone.jpgI went outside, expecting to see that he'd jumped the starter directly from the battery. Nope. I was baffled. He was sheepish.

"The battery cables were, uh, on the wrong terminals," he finally said.

Yes kids, I had put the red cable on minus. And then to prove that my stupidity is a perennial and not an annual, I did it again when I installed the solenoid. And then I called a freaking mechanic to tell me this.

I hunched over the side of the truck, staring at the cables, humiliated. I imagined what my dad would say. "Busted ass" would certainly be in his commentary. You know your humiliation is complete when the mechanic is consoling you. Complete. Right? Right?

Wrong.

My pride smarting, feeling utterly emasculated, I trudged toward the house. Dex did her usual happy dance around me, hopping in the air in an expression of unbridled joy over my actually moving. One of her paws snagged my leg, and my sweatpants shot to my ankles. Mere seconds after I had pantsed myself figuratively, my dog pantses me literally.

And yeah. The mechanic saw. Thank god Percy's in Arizona.

teabonics

Longtime readers will recall how amused I am by misspelled insults of others' intelligence. Thank you, Jeebus, for the Tea Party.

4468906425_d79494fc8d[1].jpg

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A third irony: I actually kinda hate Nancy Pelosi. You know "you're" argument is persuasive indeed when people make fun of you making fun of someone they hate.

Tons more here.

a tale of two biddies

"Please, whatever you do, don't ever put yourself in a position where you're dependent on a man."

—A drunken John, to his then-student Darcy


"Jesus. How old are you?"

—A drunken Darcy's mystified response

• • •

I've spent my adult life in the orbits of first libraries, then universities and Microsoft. Among other side effects, most of the women I've known have been educated, professional sorts. And then I moved to the sticks of the Peninsula, and that changed in a hurry.

I've lived here since 2002, and I can't name one educated career woman I've met. Not one. They tend to top out at personal trainer, ferry worker, waitress, sales. This is all well and good—I, myself, and ashamed of what I do for a living, so believe me I'm not judging—but it brings with it what had so mystified Darcy: women who are so financially reliant upon men, they struggle to live without them.

Not that they try very hard. And that, I do judge.

Out here, gender inequities are epidemic. Yes, here as where you live, hot women still manage to control relationships. It's their options after their hotness fades that I wor—actually, that's not even true. I can think of two hot women I've met in the last year who are still astonishingly without options in abusive relationships.

Exhibit A
Lita is absolutely beautiful. In between clearing my plates, Lita blathers about her Dharma, positive paradigm shifts, and the virtues of living in a yurt.

"So is the universe expanding or contracting?" she asked me one night.

"Expanding," I replied, mistakenly thinking she actually wanted the answer to a physics question.

"I disagree," she chirped cutely. "I think the universe is getting smaller all the time!"

She's a spectacularly sunshiney flake, and that led her to marry and procreate with a smarmy cult leader. Controlling every aspect of her life, he portrays any expression of dissatisfaction as her needing an attitude adjustment and/or her being a horrible mother. She wanted out. So she looked at a rental room. It turns out the guy renting the room, 26 years her senior, is her soul mate. What fantastic luck! So now she's living with, and wholly dependent upon, him. In that he throws money at her interests, he's the most wonderful man in the world. And he only charges her $600 a month to have sex with him.

lita.jpg

I ran screaming from Lita. I know the type of woman whose mere presence will drive me insane, and although I'm rooting for her, holy fucking shit almighty. She's the most helpless human being I've ever met.

Exhibit B
Anna is married to a guy who cheated on her last year. He's lately taken to being verbally abusive, yelling and destroying household objects, to the point where their kids are terrified of leaving their rooms. She confided all this in me recently, not having any idea how deeply wired is my rage about abused women and children. She alternately talks divorce ("I need a job with benefits!") and reconciliation ("I didn't leave him five years ago because he keeps seeming like he's getting better"). She says he's mentally ill, which is fair enough, but there's no plan to treat any such chemical imbalance. Her plan is that the problem will just magically get better. His plan is that she'll shut up and learn to live with it.

Anna is utterly screwed. He derides any interest she has in returning to school as unnecessary and a sign of her lack of commitment to the marriage, and said cheater further insists that commitment can only manifest through her staying home and taking care of the kids. And then, and I'm am not in any way exaggerating, she tells me with a straight face that this is a good sign because it means that he's taking making the marriage work more seriously. "What else could it mean?" she asked me. I declined to answer. What would be the point?

"So what's the plan?" I sigh.

"That's what I need help with."

"What WAS the plan when you married the guy and crapped out kids with him?"

"For things to work out."

"Ah."

Peninsula, hell. This is a time machine.

I would like to help, but I can't really see how. Me writing a check just transfers the flag of dependence from one man to another. And so I muddle through, being a quasi-friend, suggesting avenues that I know she can't practically pursue, pretending that she has a future anyone should actually want.

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