Thursday, September 30, 2004
Nothing Billions Of Dollars In Tax Cuts For The Shockingly Wealthy Won't Fix
My wife has a really good job. Just this year they gave out raises there for the first time in nearly five years. We were quite excited.
Then on Tuesday her company announced that they missed their revenue expectation this quarter by 25%. Woo! I was worried there for a second. Things seemed to be going way too well. The other shoe had to drop some time.
They haven't announced layoffs... yet. But they are requiring everyone to take 8 days of vacation between now and the end of the year. Luckily my wife has that many days in reserve. We're still trying to figure out what happens to the people who don't.
This part may make some of you ill. Turn away now if you're emotionally diabetic and can't process icky sweetness. I'm very proud of my wife. I've known her since we were 15, so I know everything its taken for her to get where she is. She has a degree in electrical engineering and does all kinds of fancy stuff I'm completely unqualified to even begin to explain. I have a strong suspicion it has something to do with computers, but that's about as far as I've been able to understand it so far.
She works in a field where for every female there are 10 males; 10 pasty, scrawny, socially-retarded males who break into flop-sweat in the presence of a female. I don't think it's an accident that she's not married to another engineer. Everyone knows humanities majors tend to be smokin' hot and dynamite in the sack, so I'd say she made the right choice. Of course I have only myself to use as an example, so I'm extrapolating off an infintessimally small sample, but that's never stopped me before.
The reason I know she's really good at her job (even though I also know she is getting paid less than men with comparable or even less experience) is that they have had somewhere between 6 and 10 rounds of layoffs in the time she's been there. That works out to one round every 4-6 months and she's survived them all.
So this latest confusion and anxiety is just part of a sadly regular cycle. Her best friend's fiancé just got laid off from another company. He's a mechanical engineer.
Hey, I thought going to college and getting a degree was supposed to guarantee a lifetime of financial stability and professional fulfillment? I'm feeling seriously baited-and-switched and I don't even have a job.
For kids out there reading this, then, don't go to college. It's expensive, it's boring and you'll probably get an STD somewhere along the way. Learn a trade like refrigerator or air conditioning repair. Everyone needs refrigerators and central forced air heating and cooling. Or maybe become truck driver or rodeo clown; something essential to the operation of a modern society.
Ooh, hey, you know what profession never lacks for work? Prostitution. They don't call it "the world's oldest profession" for nothing. It's recession proof. There are lots of media-driven gender stereotypes about it, but you don't have to be a woman for that one either. A guy can make a fair bit of cash at it as well, depending on what he's willing to put up his tail-pipe.
I mean hell, there's no startup cost, no equipment to purchase. You don't even have to be good at it, you just have to be at it. And so what, hey, if you need a couple extra bucks, you let a guy pee on you every once in a while. Big deal. That's worth $80 in my book any day. Plus any STDs you get you can probably write off as work-related.
It's too late for my wife and I. We already fell for the college scam. So what can I do to help? you're asking yourself. Vote for John Kerry. Sure it won't have any bearing on my wife's job, but if they do lay off more people, at least we'll have something to cheer us up if he beats that other guy. So what if voting for the more qualified... excuse me, the Democratic candidate violates all of your personal convictions (you know who you are). Think of my well-being for once, you selfish bastards.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.0
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
[Crude Pun On The Word 'Balls']!
I somehow managed to delete the text of a very long and very interesting post about this same subject. You have to live now with the consequences of my idiocy and this inferior post. Enjoy.
Look, I know blogs are largely a female thing. Like The Sims, they're part of a larger movement where women approach the internet and technology on their own terms in niches that suit them and leave the tweakers and g4M3rZ to revel in their mutually mastubatory sausage-fest digital playgrounds.
In fact, as I consider the list of blogs I have linked to my own there is only MPH's Heightened Thoughts written by a fellow XY. Keep on keepin' on, my brother.
So when I think to bring up the subject of sports, I do so advisedly.
See, I've been a fan of one particular baseball team for ages and ages. Yesterday just about the worst thing that can happen to a sports fan happened to me: they moved into a tie for first place with 5 games to play, making them about a 50-50 shot to win the division and make the playoffs.
I've still barely recovered from the last time they won something. In 2002 I nearly burst a blood vessel in my brain from the swings of anxiety-inspired depression and (ultimately) bliss. The cruel secret is that your team only gets to be champeens for about 4 months. Then the next season starts, the ulcers re-open, restart the cycle.
My first sports-related memory was 1986 when my habitually hapless team was within one strike of making it to their first ever World Series, only to have that dream bludgeoned to death with an opponent's bat. I was 12. I wept.
Then came the 16 year period in between 1986 and 2002 where my team not only failed but rarely even flirted with the glimmer of a hint of success. Sure at the time it seemed interminible, deeply disappointing, frustrating but in retrospect it turned out to be a refreshing break.
And what did I do in the intervening years? I bitched alot. It's what we do.
It's an open secret that disappointment and frustration are actually what sports fans are after. It can't be any other way. In any given sport there is a grand total of one Grand World Champion each year. That means every fan of every other team is experiencing some level of grief over their players' fates, of varying degrees depending on the order of magnitude at which their team sucked that year. And still we keep coming back. We over-identify, over-invest in the actions of people we never met--grossly overpaid and absurdly narrowly gifted people--in order to generate fake stress to shield us from the horrors of actual stress. It's what we do instead of thinking about al Qaeda or the price of gasoline (it was $2.25 at a place I passed yesterday for regular unleaded... that didn't even come with a handjob or anything, that was just for the gas). It seems silly to latch onto something so obviously inconsequential, but it's just one more way people anesthetize themselves from the debilitating effects of spirit-breaking reality. For a few hours a week, we revel in it.
Except for the fantasy sports gnomes, they revel in it 24/7 and require professional help.
So I submit that Cubs and Red Sox fans are lying when they say they want to win. They love their misery. It's a nice safe place, where community is built by commisseration. Plus if either of those teams ever won anything, Chicago and/or Boston would be erased from the face of the earth by the subesquent explosion.
Now think about being a Yankees fan. You have to sit through all that drama every single goddamn year. It's almost enough to make me feel sorry for them.
This post on the Narcissus Scale; 7.2
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
This parenting junk you really have to make up as you go. The absolute best thing about it is that your kids have no experiential context against which to compare your constant spectacular failures. As far as they can tell either you're doing the best parenting job in the history of parenting or the worst, depending on how you answered the last question they asked.
Dad, can we have soda with dinner? Sure why not. Wooooo! Yesss!
Dad, can we have soda with dinner? No, not tonight. <sound of knives sharpening>
My current problem is trying to figure out what you're supposed to do with a bored 3 year old for the better part of a day. Back when my oldest was 3 it was actually pretty easy. He was used to being bored, so bored was status quo. Now that he's off the kindergarten, I'm here with his 3 year old brother who has gotten used to having someone around of relatively similar size to amuse him.
So it falls to me. I hear him up stairs trying to teach the baby how to play Go Fish, but it isn't taking. This is actually an improvement, despite the frustration and inevitible failure. Usually now the 3 year old has taken to actively torturing his younger brother to combat the lack of something to do. And not in the emotional sense either, oh no. His favorite game is What Kind Of Noise Will This Make If I Bounce It Off A Baby's Head? The only positives at this point are that he's nearly out of household objects to try (he works fast, that one) and, more importantly, at least he isn't bothering me.
The catch-all, one-stop answer is of course the television, but I'm reluctant. It's not that I have any great moral objection to children watching lots and lots of TV, it's just that I can't freakin' take it anymore. There are about 10 episodes of any given children's show. The channels that run them will show them on an endless loop at the same time every day so that every two weeks you're guaranteed to see the same shows with the same songs sung by the same animated talking animals. If I hear "The Helping Song" from The Koala Brothers one more time and I'll be forced to puncture my own ear-drums with a ball point pen.
So you see, that's today's lesson. Sometimes good parenting happens by accident. Positive decisions can be borne out of laziness and a well-stoked failure of patience. Instead of watching TV right now, for instance, my two youngest are upstairs by themselves... um... wow, they could really be doing anything, couldn't they? Come to think of it, it's been pretty quiet up there for several minutes.
I gotta go.
Monday, September 27, 2004
I survived the teardown/cleanup night at my kid's school carnival thinger. Not much to say about it except it was chaotic as hell, which is what you can expect from anything completely run by volunteers. They always start out with the best of intentions but end up with self-righteous you-can't-question-me-because-I-volunteered martyr/infallibility complex that is impossible to either endure or penetrate. The only other option would be for me to volunteer myself and then fix it all.
OK, it's ten minutes later and I just stopped laughing.
No, what I want to talk about today is yet another step I've taken toward irrevocably ruining my children's lives. We bought the Star Wars Original Trilogy DVD set this past week. We spent the better part of this long weekend (my wife took Monday off) watching the old things again, all five of us.
Sitting through dinner tonight at the World's Greatest Mexican Food mini-chain (the Pops Burrito, sadly, was not named after me, I must admit) my oldest boy starts busting out movie-line quotes in between bites of his arroz y frijoles.
I sort of shrunk myself down, trying to hide between my own shoulder blades lest people from Child Protective Services were anywhere within earshot.
I've started my kids down the path to geekdom. That's got to be a form of child abuse, right? I mean, it's not like beating them with a curling iron, but it sure as hell can't be helpful.
Of course for my children, geekdom is at least partially inevitible, depending on how you weight genetics versus environment in the development of a personality. I likey my Star Wars. Mrs. Pops don't mind it either so there was really no way around it. I've managed to keep my appreciation for the films in some kind of perspective (I have never worn, for example, a stormtrooper outfit nor have I been in relative proximity to anyone else wearing a stormtrooper outfit), but I know the brink my boys are teetering on leads to a steep, steep drop.
I also know from observation that, if left untreated, Science-Fiction Appreciation can lead to serious side effects in boys including stunted growth, pale and clammy skin, acne production, inability to lose/gain weight (depending on your starting point... they come in either tubby or scrawny and nowhere in between), post-pubescent hairlessness and a marked lack of contact with the opposite gender.
The opposite side of that, of course, is that if they were able to get that One, that one hot chick who was totally into Star Wars, they would live their lives in perpetual bliss until the end of their days. But after 30 years on this earth, I have yet to see a live specimen in captivity. They remain as elusive as Sasquatch, the Loch Ness monster or Paris Hilton's sense of personal dignity.
Either way the die is cast. The only thing left for me to do is to learn how to fight so I can teach them how to fight and thus avoid the many schoolyard poundings they have in their futures.
Changing the subject slightly (and one hopes, briefly) there is one observation I'd like to share. It's a conclusion one can only reach when seeing all of these three George Lucas films in close temporal proximity.
First let me point out that I read Dan Savage's Savage Love sex advice column over at The Onion AV Club every Tuesday. I know there's a place out there for every kink imaginible, a fetish for everything that's fetishizable, which includes... well, everything. Threesomes, animals, feet, bondage, what have you. Not only do they exist, but there are always chat-rooms devoted to them and t-shirts you can buy.
I recognize and, because I'm a Democrat and therefore a spineless, watery moral relativist, I don't judge.
That said, the only conclusion I can reach is that George Lucas gets some kind of raging, uncontrollable sexual pleasure out of seeing people and/or sci-fi animals get their right arms/hands cut off. It can't just be coincidence. In every movie it happens; it's always the right hand or arm and usually by a swinging, glowing phallus disguised as a "lightsaber". It can't just be laziness in storytelling as the incidents happen too often for them to be coincidental.
In Star Wars Alec Guiness cuts off Pig-Nose dude's arm off in that cantina. In Empire Strikes Back, Luke gets his hand cut off by his dad. In Return of the Jedi, Luke gets caught by a Bumble, his escape from which requires that he... cut off its right arm and then later in the same film the only wound Luke endures is getting shot in the same hand. Then if you go to Episode II, surfer-dude/Jedi Hayden Christiansen gets his right arm cut off by Saruman.
What other logical explanation can their be for this kind of repetition? It's a horrifying image, but the only thing I keep coming back to is a the horrible image of a marathon Lucasian crotch-massage session every time he's able to work said image into one of his films. God help us, there's a chat-room somewhere filled with similarly bent individuals trading pictures of that teenage surfer girl who got her arm bit off by a shark.
Creepy, but such is life.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.6
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Usually I wait until late at night Sunday to vomit out yet another semi-solid ball of inanity, but this is Festival Weekend, atypical in the extreme and necessitating extreme measures. This will be short and virtually content-free.
First, I'd like to welcome the newest member of the roll-call of shame down there on the right side of your screen. My new BFF SJ's blog has made the list of Lives More Interesting Than My Own. It's not just quid pro quo either in return for this mess being linked on her site, oh no. Her's is actually worth reading.
Just be warned though, the title "Give Me The Booger" kind of sums up the tone. Definitely PG-13 with occasional forays into NC-17. No bodily function is excluded! Currently featuring oversized genitalia and projectile contraceptives. Good clean fun.
Also, and less interestingly, Dish Network is suckful in the extreme. Sure, I appreciate that it costs less than cable for more channels and that it strikes a blow at the monopoly of said cable companies, but that's no excuse for non-existent customer service or for issuing equipment that doesn't work and then having the audacity to try and charge me to fix it. They've got me downright bloodthirsty at the moment, which is actually hard to do.
OK, I'm back to vegetation as I prepare for tonight's Festival Cleanup session starting at 9 pm and ending at... I'm not sure. Rumors and horror stories abounds put it somewhere between midnight and 2 am if you go by years past, so there may be no post tomorrow at all.
Only for the sake of my children would I subject the world to such a horror.
Good luck. Be safe. We can weather this together.
Friday, September 24, 2004
(Very Very) Small Talk
We've known each other for a long time now, haven't we? So I'm not going to lie to you people. You deserve the simple, honest truth: Pops is a very handsome guy.
I know that sounds shallow and conceited, but you know, some things are opinions and others are facts. I don't think there's any way to behold the splendor that is me and not go "Daaaammmn!" or the like. I get so many gasps and shouts and points as I go down the street that the only real conclusion that can be reached is that I am a startling specimen of physical beauty. Sure, maybe it's the second head growing out of the back of my neck, but who hasn't seen that before?
So I'm not counting those involuntary eruptions of recognition as contact or conversation with people I don't know, which is the topic for today's discussion.
Out of the blue from perfect strangers, I get one of two types of comments.
The first is somewhat annoying, but it's my own fault. See, my shoes don't match. One is white and the other is black. Yes, I know they don't match. Yes, they came that way. No, I don't have two pairs of the same exact shoes in different colors and then purposely mismatch them. Initially I bought them mostly to annoy my wife. They brought them out from the back at the Sport Chalet, she made a horrified face and I said "I'll take 'em!" Exactly that much thought went into the decision.
I thought it would be a goof, something small to set me apart. From the comments I get, though, you would think I was wearing a coat made of baby skin. People cannot handle the idea of someone with mismatched shoes. I've stopped entire businesses by simply walking in the door. My kid's school is right next to a high school and the high school girls scream and run when they see the shoes coming. Again, I know it's my own fault, but please people, they're just shoes.
The second type of comment I always get is when I'm pushing the City Bus-Sized Double Stroller loaded down with 2/5 of my entire family and the oldest boy trailing on foot. Always, always I get the same exact comment word for word:
"Looks like you got your hands full."
Knowing smile and a nod. No no, not an opened door or any kind of practical help, just a knowing smile and a nod.
You know what people really really don't like? When you say what they were going to say right before or as they say it. I can see the knowing smile forming, the chin start to dip into the nod and their lips part to speak and then I'll blurt out very loudly, very quickly "LookslikeIgotmyhandsfull". And then I keep right on walking.
So if you see someone like me struggling with all my kids, please, it doesn't help to point it out. It only makes me slow down slightly to hear what you're trying to say, which lessens the momentum of the City Bus-sized Double Stroller, which is actually detrimental to my physical and mental well being. Those things run almost entirely on momentum. I'd rather take my chances charging across a busy intersection against the light than have to stop it and then try and start again. Just let me pass unremarked, please.
And if I do stop to engage in any kind of chit-chat and the topic of "what I do" comes up, people always, without fail, manage to work the phrase "Mr. Mom" in there. Just so you know, we hate that. If I'm Mr. Mom, who's the dad? And what's my wife if I'm the mom? I blame that fucker Michael Keaton and that stupid ass movie. But that's a topic for a whole 'nother post.
Just to be safe, in the future, please just don't talk to me. If you need to hear me say something, you can read it here. That way you can respond in any annoying way you want and there's almost no way I can punch you in the throat.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0 (second time ever!)
PS- Normally I wouldn't say anything, but this is not the first instance. A few days ago, while making fun of Madonna in a comment on my close personal friend Rita's blog, I made a very specific and (I must say) hi-lariously funny comment only to see it pop up the next day on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart". Jon obviously reads this, so just let me say to him: Jon, I'm not mad at you. I'm a little disappointed as I know you can do better. You don't have to resort to theft. I mean, it's one thing to steal things from my blog, but to follow me around to other blogs and steal my comments, well, that's just pathetic. Seriously, pull yourself together. If you need help, just ask.
PPS- I usually write my weekend post Sunday night, but starting at 9 pm this coming Sunday, I'm going to be at my kid's school helping to put the goddamn festival away. See you back here Monday. Take your methadone regularly to get you through the withdrawals and you should be fine.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
For those of you who have young children, have no children but plan to, or have no children, don't plan to but will anyway, I would like to share one observation about Catholic school to help you as you decide the educational future of your child.
The two basic cornerstones of Catholic school education are not God and effort, not Jesus and disciplinen nor even the Holy Spirit and respect for people's boundaries (I'm talking to you, Father Touchy-Feely). No, the two principal principles at our school are Service Hours and Fund-raising.
Every family is required 25 hours of service to the school (and they watch very closely, so no cheating) plus a certain number of funds raised by various means over and above your annual tuition rate and unrelated to the various school-sponsored events and sales over the year. I'm particularly looking forward to the annual Chocolate Jesus sale in March.
The Grand High Event of all this, giving the most opportunities for (required) service as well as raising a pantload of cash is the annual School Festival. It happens this weekend and we need a whole week just to get ready for it.
One incontrivertible thing I've learned from these last 4 days: Festival Week sucks much ass.
Everybody at the school is all stressed out and cranky, plus the whole thing is a horrific shambles because it relies on volunteer help. But somehow, every year it gets done.
I don't want to bore you with alot of details (I know, "Too late!", very funny) but all this nonsense has complicated the already complicated parking problem.
The presence of the carny rides in the school lot has effed everything up, making me have to park my van at a nearby city park in order to walk my kid over to school.
So yesterday I'm getting out of the van, getting the stroller ready and lo, there just in front of my feet I found a used condom there on the ground.
Bea-ut-i-ful. I have a question: why even have urban parks? As soon as the sun goes down (or even before in some places) the wholesome place for kids to play becomes a haven for every vice known to humankind.
The faint libertarian streak in me (buried way down deep beneath all the fluffy cotton-candy-like partisan Democrat) says "You know what, if you want to fuck a hooker in a park at night, that's your business" and I applaud your committment to protected, responsible hooker sex, but honestly, if the guy who left it there is reading this, please, pick up after yourself. There are an ample number of trash receptacles in easy-to-locate areas throughout the park for your convenience. Please make use of them.
If it weren't for all this festival bullshit this particular encountered would never have occurred and my life would have been so much richer for it. So there's one more reason to hate Festival Week. Add to that the idea of a bunch of carny folk milling about in close proximity to a school full of Catholic school kids and I'll be very happy when this nonsense is over.
Public school is the way to go, people. They never bother you for anything except that one night a year when you have to make the solar system out of styrofoam balls for the science fair.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.8
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
The Curse Of Santa Anna!
Ah, autumn. Here at last.
The breezes drop their summer-long pretense at warmth in favor of a brisk tincture of cold, a promise of winter to come. Leaves, living and green, alter color and shape before they succumb to the cycle of nature and fall, all reds and golds for crunching under feet. Wakened flocks of birds--entire species--flee ahead of the coming frost for parts unknown leaving only memory and instinct to suggest their eventual return. Autumn: of all the seasons, the most vibrantly transitional, the withering death-rattle before the morbidity of winter, to presage the resurrection of spring.
Unless you live in southern California, like I do. Then it's just fucking hot. Still. And all that leaf changing stuff? Yeah, the whole place turns an even lovelier shade of dirt brown. And that's only for the trees that actually shed leaves. Most of them don't even bother. Don't get me started on palm trees, either. They just sit there, impassive, all year, never failing to ruin Christmas.
Traditionally what we get at the onset of autumn is the onset of the awful, cursed Santa Ana Winds. It's a weather phenomenon unique to this part of the world. I don't know if I can even really adequately explain it to outsiders who have never experienced it.
Imagine, if you can, the wind blowing anywhere from 25 to 60 miles an hour.
Wow. Hey, that was easier to describe than I thought.
We like to personalize and overdramatize everything out here, even the weather. It gives the news programs something to put on their scary, scary graphics behind the head of the anchor talking about the weather. Just like every time we get more than 1/4 inch of rain we get STORM WATCH 2004 coverage, with many grim-faced assurances that we will all be dead within 24 hours.
The year in the graphic changes, you know, annually. STORM WATCH 2004 last year would have been... stupid.
No, the Santa Ana winds have nothing to do with Mexican president and general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the villain of the Alamo melodrama in boring, boring Texas history. No, he's got lots of extra style and panache with that extra N in his last name.
We call them the Santa Ana winds because we're a highly unimaginitive people. There's a city of Santa Ana, the Santa Ana River (such as it is), Santa Ana Canyon, lots of other stuff. Even Anaheim is a Germanized bastardization of the name.
We can't help it, though, as we're heirs to the traditions of highly unimaginitive Spaniards who named every settlement after a saint; Santa Ana, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Tobasco, Santa Incontinentia and San Alex Trebek, to name a few.
So it's fall, which means the hottest, least comfortable days of the year are just around the corner. It's warm, it's dry, there's lots of blowing dust and about a 50-50 chance my house will be burned down in a raging wildfire. Look out Florida, we're aiming to take our Natural Disaster crown back within the next 3-5 months.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.6
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
I would like to take this opportunity to congratualte the people at my local Best Buy store. They are about to be graced with nearly $60 of my (wife's) hard earned money.
In a well-coordinated effort to separate me from a portion of my net worth, several global corporations have conspired to not only release the original Star Wars on DVD today, but cleverly and insidiously have coupled that with the release of a new Elvis Costello album on the exact same day.
Dirty pool, Best Buy, you magnificent bastards.
As excited as I am about these new things I'm planning on buying, though, it has occurred to me that these two heavy cultural touchstones both had their heyday 25-30 years ago. Usually trips to Best Buy help to curb some anxiety about aging as I usually come away with something that will keep me connected to popular culture and put off full-blown curmudgeon-hood for a little while longer. I suppose slipping a Franz Ferdinand CD in would be both obvious and pathetic.
But in writing this, I realize I'm exposing myself as not only a giant dork (though along the continuum of Star Wars dorkhood, I barely register) but also as a person rounding that bend, leaving behind Tapped In and heading toward Man, This Recliner Is Really Comfortable.
The only thing left is to buy a big scary dog, never go outside, let my house fall into disrepair and keep the balls kids accidentally hit/kick/throw into my back yard. Oh God, originally that was supposed to be a joke, but I just realized I fit three out of those four. If my dog were a little more butch, I'd be out shopping for plaid pants and a Rascal right now.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.9
Monday, September 20, 2004
Wait Wait What?
Sometimes politics sends me into a pit of black despair, especially when things that are obvious to me are either completely ignored by everyone else or willfully portrayed in a way 180-degreees removed from truth. I realize that this is in some respects a failure on my part to look at things objectively and understand them from another perspective, but I look at the president's record and I think: "How can there be another perspective?" Somehow, though, there are people who are not convinced that he is completely useless bordering on dangerous. Reading polls are just depressing.
But then the clouds part, the sun shines and even boring obsessives like me can find a reason to smile. See, it turns out even Republicans hate George Bush. Republican senators Hagel (NE), Lugar (IN), McCain and Kyl (both AZ) all came out this week organized, on-message and critical of GWB's Iraq policy and the failures thereof. The organization part gives me a little pause as I wait for the other shoe to potentially drop, but for now I'm taking this at face value.
It is astounding that in September of an election year a coterie of high-profile senators from a sitting president's own party would come out so publically with criticism like this. Did I say "astounding"? I meant "wicked awesome".
The best part is John McCain. After being absolutely slandered and savaged in South Carolina in 2000 while running against Bush, we knew he was dying to say something negative about Bush, even after that awful forced, awkward hug moment where GWB forgot John McCain doesn't have full range of motion of his arms after that whole Hanoi-prison-camp thing he's still working on recovering from (Here's the picture. It's brutal).
All the points he made on the Iraq issue were tempered and valid with one exception. I am a partisan, but I was shocked when I read McCain had referred to Bush as a "gaping, festering, freshly-reamed fuckhole". I know his campaign demeaned your service and incarceration in Vietnam, Senator, and then suggested you fathered a black child out of wedlock, but really, comments like that a really beyond the pale.
And in the category of News To Which I Personally Had A Somewhat Mixed Reaction, Bush totally caved, assenting to three debates. He had initially balked at the second debate, public-meeting style with questions from (gasp!) Undecided Voters in St. Louis but then realized you can't run a campaign as an Alpha-male pissing contest if you publically admit that under some circumstances, you're bashful about whipping it out. Part of me (and I'm not saying which part) is a little disappointed. I really really wanted Kerry to be able to say to the people in Missouri "George Bush is afraid to talk to you". So Kerry is going to have to go back to his boring old "George Bush is really not particularly good at his job" rhetoric and pray to God that someone will realize he's actually right.
Let's start the debate countdown then: 10 days to go. These are always, always the best part of a presidential campaign and always have the same common theme: Let's see who can fuck up the least. Sure it's debatable (har har) as to how much impact these things have on the outcome, but you can't beat them for political theater.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.5
Sunday, September 19, 2004
There are lots and lots of transcendently, mind-alteringly good things about having kids, most of which are too sappy to list (but can nonetheless be found prominently displayed on several treacly blogs with pink-themed templates written by someone who describes herself only as "A Mom").
The negatives don't get alot of airtime, mostly because talking about them always comes off as whiny self-pity.
That said, the last time I was able to go to a baseball game was the fall of 2002. The reason? My third son was born in May of 2003. Infants tend to be social cement; they fix you in one place so that all contact with the outside world has to come to you.
Pops is a baseball fan. Don't run screaming from your computer, this is not going to be a long list of re-hashed "takes" on sports-related topics that I heard on some awful sports-talk radio show.
My memories of 2002 are fond ones as they were playoff games my team won. Since then it's been all diapers and breast milk for Pops.
No, that came out wrong. I mean I've been handling diapers and breast milk on behalf of my child. And no, he's not some kind of crazy fetishist, those are just things he needed at the time.
We got tickets through one of my wife's friends and we went. We took our three boys, piled into the kick-ass Family Truckster minvan and drove the 20-minute trip to Anaheim.
As pleased as I was to be going, when you take three children under the age of six anywhere ever, the focus for the parents is not--cannot be--the event itself because your busy referreeing/separating/comforting/Heimlich-ing/shepherding your noisy, distracted brood. Here's a summary on how they all did.
Kid A, age5: Did some serious behavior modeling despite still sporting a swolled-up upper lip and nursing the nasty cold he contracted from the bioweapons lab sometimes called Kindergarten. He watched me very closely. He clapped when I clapped, cheered when I cheered, scratched himself when I scratched myself. A very pleasant young man (for once).
Kid B, age 3: Slightly noise sensitive, physically assaulted me at one point because I dared to contribute to the sudden eruption of sound (cheering) during a sensitive period of the game. I swear, he threw himself on me and started throwing punches, screaming as he fell to the ground and then tried to cover his ears. Because I am a sensitive, responsive parent, I refrained from strangling him.
Kid C, age 16 months: Couldn't have asked for better behavior. Sat there like a lump, ate what was given to him, slept a little. That said, having him there totally sucked ass. Kids this age are zero fun at these type of events as they require constant attention and worry, even when they don't require constant attention and worry. For example, he sat there like an angel, but since it was a day game and about 9,000 degrees (Celcius!), me and Mrs. Pops fretted and fussed about sunblock, his hat, and who would have to carry him off to find shade lest he burst into flame. No fault of his, but it's a chore no matter how good they are.
Except for the part where my team suffered an excruciating loss, I must say we did survive mostly unscathed though exhausted, as we always are every time we venture more than 10 miles away from home with kids in tow.
One final note: the first version of this post had my children named after the three brothers from The Brothers Karamazov, which I am still/will never finish reading. I changed it because it made me look like a pretentious prick. This doesn't bother me too much as I am actually a pretentious prick, but I prefer to keep that to my self as much as possible.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.1
Friday, September 17, 2004
I kept reading over the last couple of days about how hard it was to get out of New Orleans, how people were going like 30 miles in 9 hours because of the rush to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Ivan. Then yesterday I was reading about how they were bracing for the storm in Mobile, AL and all along the central Gulf Coast because Ivan was favoring that side.
And then oh! Look out! Right turn! Florida! Again!
I feel for the people of Pensacola. And for the people from the areas hit by Charley and Frances.
And now here comes Hurricane Jeanne. The news reports all say it could go here, it could go there, but come on. Who are we kidding really? I know it's going to Florida. You know it's going to Florida. The only question is how many trailers will it take out when it hits? Trailers really should be illegal in Florida. Not only do people lose their homes, but the contents get whipped away, spread over three states. Think of it: there must be rebel flags and velvet paintings of Elvis scattered everywhere down there. But at least they don't have to worry about flying shoes.
Before you condemn me as an elitist snob, please consider: 1) I am an elitist snob and 2) I used to live in a trailer park. So it's not the trailers I sneer at so much as southern redneckery, which frankly has it coming.
I know how the people of Florida feel. There was a period of time in the 1990s when California would be on the news every two weeks with some new natural disaster, from earthquakes to torrential rains (damn you, el niño!) to mudslides to rampant wildfires to that time Roseanne sang the national anthem at a San Diego Padres game. That last one alone cost the local economy $1.4 billion and left over 80,000 people homeless.
I can understand why God hated us then (and probably still does now). We're California. One big hedonistic bacchanal on the Left Coast. How He must loathe our crazy cosmopolitan ways as we mix openly with gays and minorities. Being honest, we really kind of had it coming.
But Florida is all mosquitos, refugees, retirees and no mountains. What could they have possibly done to upset God?
I think I've figured it out. Lots of damage is being caused, but the death tolls (while tragic) have been in the low-double-digits. There can only be one explanation: God is after the Nader voters. I haven't figured out if it's the Nader voters from 2000 or the people who stubbornly plan to vote for him this year, but I think I see God working. His ways aren't always so mysterious.
Sorry if this is shorter and less droning than usual, but it's laundry day and I gotta get moving.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.8
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Oh Man, This Will Kill You!
Hey, do you guys want to hear a funny story? It's freakin' hilarious really.
OK, my older sister is sitting watching her kids' karate class on Tuesday night, right? So she's there with my mom and a few other people.
Here's the really really funny part: all of a sudden she is struck with blurred vision, numbness on the left side of her body and an excruciating headache. So they rush her to the hospital where she has to stay for like 6 hours, they do a CT scan and several other things and determine that, at the age of 31, she had a mini-stroke.
Isn't that hysterical?
No? Well, I didn't find it very funny either.
No lasting effects that we can tell so far, but they want to do an MRI (better than a CT) to be sure she doesn't have an aneurysm floating around in there trying to kill her.
She's fine now, but oh boy, I can't wait to find out what happens next.
Plus my dad called from Michigan to tell me his father's wife died of leukemia last night. I guess technically she was my (step-)grandmother so I feel kinda bad that I hardly knew the woman.
Oh and plus, my dad's mother-in-law (he's on his third wife... my mom was his first) who just had her cervix removed because of cancer is about to start chemotherapy to treat her brand new case of breast cancer.
It's been quite a week. My kid busting up his mouth a little bit doesn't seem so bad anymore.
Michelle Malkin Kisses My Ass
Doe-eyed sorority princess/columnist Michelle Malkin loves her some blogs.
When she's not bridging the gap between old fashioned honest-to-goodness fascism and the political mainstream in the books she writes, she's taking shots at the Great White Whale of right-wing true believers everywhere, the evil, evil Liberal Media.
Now she's decided in her latest column that blogs and bloggers are the answer since they apparently had something to do with putting stink on the whole Dan Rather CBS thing about GWB in the Texas National Guard (which no one can ever make me care about either way, ever).
I wonder if, for instance, she knew that in some blogs that shall remain nameless just today said Michelle Malkin was a "clueless, humorless, witless intellectual midget" whose prose style and ridiculous conclusions are the "intellectual equivalent of monkeys throwing poo" if she would still feel the same way.
Here's the best part of her column though, just to give you a taste of the Malkin:
"What is amazing is that Rather would shamelessly traffic in such paranoid nonsense against conservative-leaning bloggers, without a shred of substantiation, in the middle of his own disastrous journalistic hurricane -- and on the heels of CNN's recent disclosure that two of its most prominent talk show co-hosts, Paul Begala and James Carville, have been hired as official consultants to the Kerry presidential campaign but will remain in their current positions at the network."
Oh snap! She totally burned Rather and the crazy Liberal Media there. Two responsible journalists like Begala and Carville cashing in on their years of demure, sober journalistic training and experience by out-of-nowhere turning pinko and declaring sides. It's so typical and no one ever calls the lefties on it because they so... they're...
What? What's that? Begala and Carville are what? No no, they're on CNN, so therefore we can jump to the conclusion that they are journalists. It's just common sense. Look, I don't care if the show they're on does also employ two disgusting right wingers (Tucker Carlson and the horrifying Bob Novak), it's CNN. The Voice of the Left. OK, fine, I will give you that they both are longtime Democratic political operatives and it was for that reason alone they were hired, but still, if you say it on TV on a news channel, you're a journalist. Just like that nice Sean Hannity.
What bugs me is that Michelle is all pro-bloggers (so long as they're sufficiently right-wing), which is a chaotic, democratic and potentially even anarchic subset with no discernible cohesion, all decidedly non-conservative traits. So make up your mind, Michelle Malkin: are you a fascist or an anarchist?
Sorry all, but I'm in full-blown snark today. Can't be helped.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.5
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Good Pops/Bad Pops
Just one quick thing about the Russia stuff from yesterday: here's a quote from a NY Times story (you may need to register... go on, it's free and you can put in fun fake information) about the lack of outrage in the face of Putin's power grab. It's from a governor, one of those who has had his democratically-elected power stripped and then benevolently granted back to him by his president:
"[A]s Gov. Vyacheslav Y. Pozgalev of Vologda put it to one of the state's television networks, First Channel: "Executive power must be whole.'"
Wow. That is awesome. It gives a whole new meaning to "One man, one vote". Putin is the Man, so he gets the Vote.* My only question: when does the first Putin statue go up?
There's a long exegesis of Dostoyevsky's The Grand Inquisitor in there somewhere just busting to get out, but I'll spare you.
This is a story about how I'm a bad father and how the worst thing you can ever do for a child is to give him or her exactly what they ask for.
My son goes to Catholic school. The parish church is directly across the (very busy) street. The parking lot at the school is about the size of the desk/table your computer is sitting on. And like every other school, even though God obviously prefers ours, traffic is a nightmare at drop-off/pickup times.
So what I've been doing is parking at the church, loading up the two smaller ones in the cumbersome city-bus-sized double stroller and walking the oldest boy across the street. Convenient? No. But when you're a parent par excellence as I am, no annoyance is too minor to be endured for the sake/safety of your children.
What I cannot endure, however, is lots and lots of whining. Or having the same question asked over and over and over and over again. I know, I should have taken that into consideration before I had kids, but really, there's no way to know until they're here and by then it's really too late.
So my oldest sees his little friends (none of whose names he knows yet... we call them all "that one kid") getting curbside service and starts bugging me about it incessantly. I started noticing the morning backup isn't so bad since I'm anal retentive about punctuality and I get there about a half hour before school starts. So I decide "OK, I'll just drop him off in the front in the morning."
Remember, Monday he damn near busted his two front teeth out, so he's still a little raw, emotionally speaking.
Begin drop-off sequence.
Yesterday? He was a little reluctant about the whole thing, but I got him out of the car. Chalk it up to fear of the unknown.
This morning? Ach.
"No Dad, I don't want you to do this. I want you to park by the church."
The line of cars behind me is getting longer. I get out and open the door for him. He stares at me. I stare back. I'm still bigger than he is, so he gets up. I make the mistake of mentioning I forgot to help him tuck in his shirt (uniform code and all. If you don't tuck it in, God will hate you).
I decide to pretend it isn't happening and plow right through the routine. Bye kid, have a good day.
I get him inside the glass door (about ten steps from the curb) that leads through the building to the playground out back. I can see him staring at me.
I point and gesture that he should walk through and go to school.
I drive away.
Intellectually I know that he's not still standing there in the hallway in front of the school office starting with his little nose pressed against the glass, but goddamn if that's not the picture I can't get out of my head.
This really isn't going to look good on my Parent-of-the-Year application.
Maybe he'll do better tomorrow. Oh yes, we are going to try it again. I find that in any parenting situation stubbornly sticking by a bad decision is infinitely more important than being flexible and responsive to your children's needs. If you give them what they ask for, they find some reason to be pissed off about it anyway.
Plus if you show any vacillation, any sign of weakness, they'll be on you like a pack of dingoes.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.0
*=Thanks to Terry Pratchett who put those words in that general order first. If you haven't read any Pratchett, well then, you suck.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
The Sun'll Come Out..
Quick Injury Update: I took my oldest to the dentist after I posted yesterday. Turns out he pushed his two front top teeth in a little bit. The dentist was worried about fracturing higher up, so we had to go to an oral surgeon and get a full face panoramic X-ray taken, which was actually kind of cool. The oral surgeon determined that everything, while horribly discolored, swollen and ugly, was fine. No needles, no intervention and no stitch in his lip. One relieved Pops here.
Ronald Reagan used to have quite a reputation for being an optimist. Of course it's easy to look on the bright side of things when you're completely divorced from reality (and I'm talking about his pre-Alzheimer's presidency here), but we'll let that slide for now.
The Gipper, however, has nothing on Russian president Vladimir "Pollyanna" Putin. He doesn't let the nasty old vagaries of life get him down. Let's say, for instance, a bunch of twisted, gutless cowards mow down an entire schoolful of Russian children. Does Vladimir get all weepy-faced and mopey? No sir! He comes right out and effectively abolishes democracy in Russia!
See that? Life gave him lemons and Glad Vlad made himself a big ol' pitcher of lemonade that he doesn't have to share with anyone.
Seriously, touch it and he'll kill you. He's ex-KGB.
Look, maybe I'm making out to sound worse than it is. All he's asking for is the authority to appoint all regional governors, to create and massively fund a super-powerful anti-terrorism intelligence agency (not a secret police force, no), a limit on the number of political parties and finally (this is the best one) "the State Duma, parliament's lower house, should now be elected solely from party lists".
The details of these "lists", who would make and approve them, who would confirm the eligible, all that is sort of foggy at the moment, but I think most of us can see where this is going.
Ah, one-party rule. You know after the fall of the Eastern Bloc nations and then the election of Vicente Fox in Mexico ruining the fun down south, I was getting sort of nostalgic for some old timey political shenanigans at the expense of the common man. Right now the only one-party states of note we've got left are China and Cuba, but China's in the process of selling its soul to Nokia and Cuba, well... Castro can't live forever.
Here's my favorite quote:
"The will of a single person is imposed on the whole of society," echoed Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov. "What he is looking for is the usurping of power."
When the Communists are going "No, that's too far!" you know you're dealing with something special.
Why is it that no new democracies can ever figure out the whole checks-and-balances thing? One crisis or one charismatic leader (or some combination thereof), especially in the early days, and away it all goes. I can't help thinking we might have dodged a bullet with that George Washington guy. If he'd been just a little more base and venal, we'd be Bolivia right now instead of us.
Ostensibly this Russian "reform" (an ironic term) business is all in the name of security following Beslan. In that light--and as disturbing as all of that is--I think maybe our good cousin Tony Blair over there in the UK might want to start leaning in the oppressive-crackdown direction. Not only would it shore up his steadily degrading political position, but then he might be able to keep people from dressing up like Batman, scaling a wall at Buckingham Palace and refusing to come down all in the name of some fathers' rights group.
I'm all for my brothers in dadhood getting their message out, but it's a good thing that guy didn't have an H-bomb in his utility belt, that's all I'm saying. That would have made dads everywhere look really bad.
I guess we can rest assured in the knowledge that if that guy had olive-colored skin, dark hair and a beard, we'd be seeing pictures of him falling from a great height with several more holes in his body than he started out with.
So terrorists, take note: superhero costumes are the way to go.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.9
Monday, September 13, 2004
Congratulate me. I got my first middle-of-the-day phone call from my kid's school this morning.
The story is somewhat confusing (as told by a five year old), but somehow he managed to fall down face first onto one of the steps leading up to a slide on the playground. He came out of it with a couple of nice tooth-shaped gashes in his lower lip and some really disgusting looking bruises on his upper gums, right above his two front teeth.
I knew something was up right away. Usually when they start the phone conversation "Everything is fine..." it never is.
So anyway, I throw Sprog 2 and Sprog 3 into the macho minivan and make the 15 minute trek down there. They have no nurse at this school, so it's up to me to determine whether or not to take him out of school for further care. I rely on my extensiver medical training and pull him from their care lest something really tragic should befall him.
Right across the street there is the ironically named "Urgent Care" clinic where in these days of managed care you're supposed to go instead of the ER. I took one step inside and another step in the opposite direction. I could tell by the crowd it was at least two hours.
So I made the 20 minute drive to the other "Urgent Care" over by our old house further east into Riverside. Me and the three kids all under six years old, one of them with holes in his face and the other two dangerously approaching lunch/nap time. I ask how long. "Thirty or forty minutes, but I don't think it should be longer than that."
An hour and a half later me and the three crying kids are storming out, unseen by anyone with any medical training. Not only were they not urgent, but there was also no care forthcoming. In other circumstances, oh how I would have laughed.
The only thing I managed to accomplish in that time was to explain to the injured party what stitches were. Cue emotional collapse and exeunt.
Now Mrs. Pops is all flustered and is making the long trip home from Newport Beach. We have an appointment for the dentist at 4 pm and then we're going to try "Urgent Care" again. We have to. His regular pediatrician "doesn't do lacerations", the lazy fucker. I swear to God you need a tumor large enough to not only speak, but make its own appointments before they'll grant you access to their precious, precious perfunctory care.
I would very much like to beat somebody, but only my kids are home right now and I don't need to cause any more treatment-requiring damage at this point, so I guess I'll do the healthy thing and swallow my rage. But I really wanna kick something really bad.
Oh! The dog just woke up. I gotta go.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
No Looking Back
The anniversary of 9/11 came and went. I spent my time productively here at Pops' Bucket Global Headquarters with the family flipping channels trying to avoid several horrid insincere schmaltz-fests. I had no particular desire to see political candidates trying to out-mourn one another or to be reminded of three years ago in any direct way at all, if it could be avoided.
I thought I was safe on ESPN watching the SportsCenter, but then the "anchors" dropped out of their obnoxious, punning, catch-phrase manic cycle into pseudo-journalistic depressive in an instant as they introduced the next story. The slow tinkly piano music started and I was trapped.
Frantically scrambling for the remote, my rampant egotism overrode the rising wave of nausea; I heard my name.
I was sure it was God calling. "Here I am," I said. I thought it would score me points stealing Abraham's answer.
But no, it wasn't God. It was ESPN. And they weren't even talking about me. It was about some other guy called "Pops".
It turns out there's this guy Tim Frisby, a former US Army Ranger, who is trying out for the University of South Carolina's football team this year as a walk-on.
Tim is married. He has six children. Two in high school. And he's 39 years old. Hence the nickname "Pops." Oh college athletes. What scamps they are with their jaunty taunts and japes.
Anyway, it was all supposed to be all inspiring and stuff. I was never sure what it had to do with 9/11 (for our English readers, that's September 11, not November 9).
Apparently this is something he wanted "all his life."
And while I certainly would never denegrate the man's service to our country, I couldn't help thinking that that is what he chose to do instead of pursuing collegiate athletics back when he was... you know... college-age.
Again, it's a nice story and I wish him the best, but in the end I was more or less relieved that I am no longer burdened with the unfulfillable dreams of my teenage years. Of course that's easy for me to say, the aimless, shiftless, feckless type. It's not that I had no dreams; the problem was I had so many dreams--goals, daydreams, sleeping dreams, all during high school Chemistry with Mr. Barth--that none were particularly noticeable. So they came and went and here I am, all weighed down by a helium-free real life.
I can only think of one example of something I wanted to be "when I grew up". Like just about every straight male in the whole entire world, there was a brief period of time--just after the onset of puberty usually--where I thought I really really really would like to become a gynecologist. I can remember my reaction when I first realized what a gynecologist was: "You get to look at what all day?"
That particular dream died quickly, though. First of all, I found out that in order to be a legal gynecologist (as opposed to some creep with a chair and a flashlight) you had to go to medical school for ages and ages looking at lots of bloody, messy, oozy things, none of them related at all to the female naughty bits.
A second factor that turned me away from my nearly-chosen path came to me in the form of a metaphorical parable (me and Jesus have that pedantic tendency in common). I supposed I was a fisherman. I would get up at the crack of dawn, put on my fisherman clothes, drive myself to the docks and get on my fisherman boat to go do my fisherman thing. I'd be up to my neck in fish and all things fish related all goddamn day. I'd spend backbreaking hours mucking about in fish, fish-guts, severed fish-heads... Sure, I'd have some good stories to tell the guys about the occasional great, big shiny fish I would catch, but most of them would just be ordinary, ugly, scaly, run of the mill fish not worth mentioning to anyone, anywhere ever; there'd even be some mangled, disgusting ones I'd have to describe antibiotics to and get a detailed sexual history from--NO! Sorry, we're still on fish here.
And the last thing I'd want to see when I got home would be another fish. No salmon filet, no tuna casserole, nothing. I'd probably see fish when I closed my eyes until I'd rather put my eyes out than see another fish.
But see, if I were a gynecologist, instead of fish, I'd be all day in the midst of... you know... that. And I was in no hurry to devalue that for myself by making it the center of my professional life.
But really what did it for me was that my mom is a registered nurse. I found out what a speculum was and what it was used for and that was it. Preserve some of the mystery, please. No, it takes a really special type of pervert (the kind with congenitally cold hands) to go through all that just to become a gynecologist. So ladies, watch out.
Plus I've seen Fever Pitch with Colin Firth about a guy who obsesses over the same thing through his whole life which makes him a completely miserably bastard. I could have read the book by Nick Hornby, but I'd be afraid I'd like it too much and have to read all of his books, which, frankly, I don't have time for.
The summation, then, is as follows: Teenagers, give up your dreams! They will only cause you heartache and embarrassment later on.
Peace out, yo.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.0
Friday, September 10, 2004
I suppose it's inevitible that the same topics will come up on multiple blogs day to day since we're all stuck with sharing the same current events. Of course I am referring to blogs meant for public conusmption and not the ones about how we all went out for Chinese food after cheer practice and Billy Wilson put straws up his nose and ohmygod it was soooo funny.
But more often than not I'm finding the topics covered in this particular blog will overlap with my close personal friend MPH's Heightened Thoughts. There are several reasons for this, but a few I can identify 1) We both find Dick Cheney amusing/disgusting and 2) I steal his topics. MPH's I mean, not Dick Cheney's. If I were going to boil it down to just one causal factor, I think it's obvious which one it would have to be; that Cheney really is a douchebag, isn't he?
So then it was no surprise as I prepared* to write this thing I noticed his topic from yesterday was very close to the topic I was going to cover today: spam.
But then, in a fit of uncharacteristic motivation, I actually read his Spam-flavored post. I'm glad I did because it was--I will grudgingly admit--funny. Funny in a conventional, "ha ha, that's funny" kind of way though, not funny in a conceptual, inaccessible, scratch-your-head, shrug-your-shoulders kind of a way that I usually go for. But nobody's perfect.
The other reason I was glad was because his post is about actual Spam, the processed meat-like substance that has no dog, cat or horse meat in it whatsoever. None. Don't give it another thought.
No, what I wanted to talk about for just a second is what is colloquially known as "spam", all the unsolicited junk mail we get in our various e-mail boxes.
The topic of spammers tends to change in waves. Keeping that in mind, I would like to offer an open letter to spammers, saving me the time of responding to them each individually.
Dear Sir or Madam:
Thanks so much for your correspondence. It meant a great deal to me personally. Just seeing something in my Inbox dulls the lingering, strangling pain of my loveless, friendless existence. It was your e-mail that drove me to step off the chair after I pulled my head out of the noose. Thanks again.
Unfortunately, I must respond to your proposal in the negative. All my time and money are currently tied up in Thai sexual tourism. Keeping that in mind, I am not interested in:
-Vicodin, viagra or any other prescription drugs "cheep!"
-A "free" X-Box/laptop/MP3 player in exchange for "just click[ing] here"
-"F.R.EE" access to hardcore adult internet sites.
-"Hot!" incest pictures.
-ANY incest pictures.
-Debt/loan consolidation with companies nobody's ever heard of.
With regards to this last one, while I appreciate the concern from Dr. Willy Long and Dr. Stretch:HER, I'm more than a little disappointed with the obvious breach of doctor-patient confidentiality in openly contacting me about this. I was told the consultation would be completely discreet.
Other than that, I thank you again for your concern. If you're ever in Bangkok, look me up.
* = "Prepare" might be a little too strong a word. I sit here. I stare. I try not to drool, not always successfully.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
House Of Slitherin'
Just when we thought all the conventions were over, all the long droning speeches, all the predictable non-drama, all the false promises of a brighter future...
I heard it. The radio commercial. It's coming.
I know, I know, everyone assumes I mean the National Angora Rabbit Breeders Club when they see those familiar initials, but no, in this case it's the North American Reptile Breeders Convention. In town (sorta) at the Anaheim Convention Center, Disneyland-close in beautiful downtown Anaheim. The whole magical four-block area comes in almost every conceivable shade of gray. It must be seen to to be believed.
The most interesting/exciting thing about it is that it's not just reptile sellers or reptile owners or even reptile enthusiasts, this is specifically reptile breeders, which says to me that the products/techniques being showcased on the convention floor should be spectacular. If you're like me and you've been kept awake at night, lying in bed, turning over and over in your head "Man, how do iguanas get it on?" this will probably be your best chance to get an answer.
But if you're not like me and instead you're, say, a gecko looking for a night of easy, committment-free lovin', this is probably not the place for you. Sure, they might draw you in with a little mood music, dimmed lights, burning incencse and parfum de cricket, but it's all about business; they want baby geckos. And if you're good at it, the irony is they stick you in a cage and make you do it all the time, even with the really ugly (being a product of multiculturalism, I respect the gecko's culturally-derived method of aesthetic discrimination) gecko females. And while "all the time" might sound great in the beginning, there can be too much of a good thing. No one can sustain that level of interest. Except maybe for Madonna, but that woman is a machine.
I think I may be busy that weekend, but all this brings up one question: do they really need a radio commercial? Are there enough independent, uninformed reptile breeders out there to justify a regional radio campaign to drum up business? And where do they get the money to fund this level of advertising? Is there really that much cash in extracting boa constrictor semen? Because if there is then by now I should be--
No no no no no, nevermind. I was about to make a very crass and utterly false joke about myself and my... well, the less said the better. If you're completely confused and have no idea where I was going with that, then bless you and bless me for my gift of vagueness.
One last note on the good people of NAMBLA... er sorry, NARBC. While the logical, everyday 95% of my brain accepts that "reptile breeders" means people who breed reptiles to other reptiles, that other 5%, the part that knows there's not only an internet discussion forum, but a website, an organization and a newsletter for every kind of outrageous, inconceivable kink out there just wonders if maybe this group isn't dedicated to people... uh... you know... "interfering" with reptiles. You know... sexually.
And while the mental picture of that kind of intimate contact is disturbing (to go along with the fact that it must be particularly painful for the smaller female reptiles), the fact that I could even conjur it up helps me to empathize just a little bit with my favorite senator, Pennsylvania's Rick "Man-On-Dog" Santorum who theorized that accepting homosexuality would inevitibly lead to public acceptance of pedophilia, polygamy, incest and bestiality.
You were right, Rick-o, and I was wrong. I condone homosexuality and look where my mind went with this ridiculous post. People fucking lizards. I am ashamed.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.9
PS- For more Fun With Sen. Santorum, sex advice columnist Dan Savage, a self-described "big screaming homo" held a contest to associate the name "santorum" with a vile sex act. The winner? "The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." Go to www.spreadingsantorum.com (if you dare) to learn more about the effort to make the sentaor's name live forever.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
The Dark Cloud Of Incumbency Keeps On A-Rainin'
First a note: New reciprocal link over there to your right under I Wish I Knew Where To Begin by my newest BFF Rory. Not for the faint-hearted that one. Normally Pops don't do sincerity, but it's all good honest stuff over there.
And now back to our regularly scheduled ridiculousness.
I know alot of fellow Democrats who got all flustered after the Republican convention. There was alot of self-hate being flung around about how our convention sucked and it was all about Vietnam and hey, maybe John Kerry really is a pussy.
But no, you heard it here first, Pops was never worried. It has been one humdinger of a week for President Bush who still has his double-digit lead in the polls, but he's going to need it to cover himself from the swirling torrent of shit that has descended upon him in the last 48 hours or so.
First off, though, I would like to offer the administration some praise: they finally came out and said something directly instead of all this namby-pamby double speak and sideways implication.
Here's the quote spoken by VP Cheney:
"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."
Wow! That is absolutely spectacular. Vote for John Kerry and you will die. At first when I started hearing all this potentially bad news for the president this week I was worried that his formidable political team would somehow spin it into a positive for Bush, but it looks like things are starting to break down on that end. Next thing you know they'll start admitting the Iraq war was a mistake. No no, nevermind, that's just crazy talk.
But back to that quote, the implication seems to be that Al Qaeda and their ilk are all sitting around in befouled caves cowering and cursing the name of the unassailable Bush just waiting, praying for a change in the US political administration so they can go back to acting without fear of reprisal.
But that's Cheney for you. This is the same guy who spoke out for "freedom" for gays (sort of) but then kinda sorta forgot to include his gay daughter and her partner in the post-convention-speech family group hug behind the podium last Wednesday night. Ethics are something that happen to other people in Dick's case. And family values are good... unless your family is a political liability.
And related to that, in a stinging rebuke that is sure to cost the Bush campaign anywhere from one to four votes in November, the massively peopled and hugely powerful gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans has refused to endorse GWB for president. That sound you hear are people all over the South simultaneously high-fiving each other.
But this has just been the tip of the iceberg.
We have reached the 1,000th death in Iraq, a huge majority of which came after "Mission Accomplished".
The Congressional Budget Office predicts a new record deficit. The Bush Camp: "Hey, it was projected to be alot worse. Yay us!"
New records about Bush's questionable National Guard attendance record are being released while tonight on CBS 60 Minutes II will feature an interview with the guy who says he pulled strings specifically to get Bush (and other prominent Texas sons) into the National Guard and out of Vietnam service. I'm not particularly interested in this, but when the Swift Boat nonsense came out, everyone said "Well, Kerry made his convention all about Vietnam so it's relevant." Fair enough. But the Republicans have conversely made service in the Vietnam era an issue by picking it up and running with it, so here we are. I wish we weren't, but we are.
And now, the kicker. Within the last hour or so, it's been reported that Bush is trying to weasel out of having three debates . He wants two stand-up, scripted "exchanges", one on domestic policy and one on foreign policy. The middle debate was to be an open "town meeting" style for undecided voters (read: No Loyalty Oath Required) in Missouri, which the Bush people are balking at. After reading all the recent news, I can't say that I blame them. We all know how poorly Bush does without a script in front of him and frankly, when you're the incumbent with a double-digit national lead, you want to expose yourself as little as possible.
I have just one thing to say about this, though. It's a cheap shot, but I'm sure you all could see it coming:
Now who's a pussy, George?
And conversely, if the Kerry people can't make any headway with all this to work from, then they don't deserve to get their guy elected.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.5
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Hang On; This One Gets Away From Me
So... um... how's it... uh... how've you... er...
There are plenty of things I could write about I guess, but I'm coming up against a wall here and really, I'm in no mood to be depressed. All the available current events topics then are mostly verboten.
Russian school children massacre? Nope.
Election whatnot? Yeesh, maybe after the first debate.
The last two Florida hurricanes and the third one on the way? Barrel of laughs, that.
That leaves us with... um... er... uh...
The funny thing is that this blogging nonsense has come pretty easily to me so far. As a writer-in-failing I used to compulsively buy up journals, notebooks, legal pads and nice new pens in order to add to my collection of Paper Products Unsullied By Ink and Completely Unworn By Use Pens. I even got a laptop a few years ago. I dutifully transferred all of my writing files over to it. And there they sit, unnoticed and unloved while I wear a hole in my Grand Theft Auto CD-ROMs.
I think the reason I can be productive here--and yes I realize that "productive" is far too strong a word--is that I am under no obligation to provide a) quality or b) even a single pass at rewriting.
This is where I'm supposed to whip out the old Dorothy Parker chestnut "I hate writing; I love having written", but then I'm not completely sure she actually ever said that. Anything remotely witty gets attributed to Ms. Parker, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Will Rogers, Groucho Marx or Woody Allen. That's it. That's the list. Some guy sitting at home alone in his boxers somewhere in Iowa could craft a list of pithy one-liners tomorrow and it would be divvied up amongst those six people by the weekend. The internet, apparently, handles the mind-boggling volume of disseminated information by condensing the untidy bits of verbiage into a few, easy to handle carrying cases.
So the really really funny people in history are denied credit because they don't fit the profile. Harriet Tubman, for instance, was fond of knock-knock jokes. You didn't know that, did you?
That's it, that's what my goal for today will be: like Michel Foucault, I will endeavor to rescue this particular subjugated knowledge from the oppression of conventional thinking.
Those with the most historically "serious" reputations could be funny too. Gandhi's predilection toward the Whoopee cushion, Abe Lincoln's readiness to launch into another "Guy walks into a bar..." story, Hitler's fondness for killing people in large numbers as efficiently as possible...
No, forget that last one; in retrospect, some people's senses of humor just aren't that funny. Not universally anyway. I hear Goebbels thought Hitler was hilarious though. But that was Goebbels for you. Quite the brown-noser.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9
This post on the Basic Human Intelligibility Scale: 0.6
Monday, September 06, 2004
If All My Friends Jumped Off A Bridge, I Would Take Pictures From A Position Of Relative Safety
Wow, these titles are getting long.
I was driving, so I didn't get a chance to see what it was called, but as we were pulling away from the local mall a few days ago, Mrs. Pops let fly a viciously sarcastic "Oh my God". Across the street banners announced the opening of a shiny new Lo-Carb Café specializing in all the parts of the meal nobody likes, 100% Atkins Approved.
This is where I do the Carrie Bradshaw "It got me to thinking..."
And this is where I publically chastise myself for referencing Sex in the City and being such a girl. Hey, I watched it for the boobies, OK?
Seriously though, it got me to thinking. There are fads that flash in and out of fashion, leaving no lasting effects in their wake other than a few embarrassing pictures of you with big hair, acid-washed jeans and a bandana tied around your thigh à la Chachi.
But then there are things, like this Atkins nonsense, that infiltrate a society so completely that they are able to build walls to keep out change; walls impervious to things like reason, common sense and (worst of all) context. The chain of events gets broken and the fad becomes self-perpetuating, self-justifying, self-actualizing to the point where not only can we hardly remember a time before it but we almost certainly can no longer imagine a vanishing point on the horizon of the future.
In a way I suppose I understand that this is a source of comfort for people, so the perpetuation is easier than the denial of it. The result is the bubble, where people get just a little loopy, in every range of society, from top (wherever you think that might be) to bottom (ditto). Hence publishers in 2000 will print unsupportable ridiculousness like DOW 36,000 and people will buy it because no one can imagine the economic good-times of the late 90s-early 2000s ending.
This is where I really fire up the History Snob side of Pops. Turn away now if you've recently eaten.
The prime causal factor for a "bubble" (and there have been many, economic and otherwise) is a widely agreed upon public denial of the relevance of history, recent or ancient. Using the Internet Bubble as an example (and everyone should see the documentary Startup.com if you haven't already), people would throw around terms like "New Economy" and laugh at the old timers who thought you had to have something actually to sell and that you should do so for a higher price than for which it was bought/manufactured. No, the whole point now was technology and the IPO; the whole idea of providing a marketable service or aiming for profitibility was passé.
There is a basic reflex arrogance in human thought that leads people to believe that the time they are living in, the exact RIGHT NOW is the ultimate, the End of Days, the culmination of all human experience (or if you're an apocalyptic religious type, the time just before that). There are loads of existential questions bound up in that notion, but the basic fact is that we generally think we know everything we need to know about not only the RIGHT NOW but also (and this is important) about the What's To Come.
Sadly--shockingly--this is where we can learn alot from the French. Say what you want, but they are pioneers over there in many fields: wine snobbery, crippling work stoppages, military humiliation and macrohistory. They invented the ideas of an integrated interdisciplinary approach to history and of the longue durée, looking at history in terms of centuries instead of particular instances in order to get a better feel for the long-term effects of events and movements over time.
I should point out that this approach was only developed originally in 1928, so they didn't really have time to see the Germans coming.
What's the point of all this? It's like it says on the front of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: DON'T PANIC.
And that is why I am not curled up in a ball weeping, lost in a sinkhole of depression just because George Bush got a post-convention bounce and John Kerry didn't. As I type this I'm smiling, feeling very smug and vaguely French, which explains the smell.
Right now Kerry's down by 10+, but who am I (are we) to assume nothing dramatic will happen to change political fortunes in the next six weeks?
Just ask the guys who wrote DOW 36,000; you can buy it at Amazon.com for $0.39 right now if you want to.
Oh, and Atkins makes your hair fall out.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.8
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Dammit Jim I'm A Doctor, Not A Radical Leftist 19th Century Social Philosopher
Happy Labor Day weekend, my loyal readership. I very nearly gave the entire staff here at the Bucket the entire weekend off, but seeing as they a) are none of them American b) unfamiliar with local custom/state labor laws and c) speak only the language native to the country from whence they were purchased, I didn't really feel compelled. In fact, I chose to honor the native traditions of... wherever it is they're from by shackling them to their desks in a room with no windows and inadequate ventilation. It all lines up with my new policy of Compassionate Conservatism™.
Speaking only for myself then...
Ah, the long weekend. Just what ole Pops' body needed as it readjusts to a schedule that involves waking up at a given time thanks very much to state mandated compulsory education.
But as I relax this Sunday with no fear of the Monday to follow, on this weekend that celebrates toil, stress and endless, meaningless vexation with a single extra day of rest I can't help thinking: where the fuck is the inevitable historical realization of dialectical materialism?
Come on, I know you're all thinking the same thing.
Seriously, I was promised a worker's paradise over 150 years ago. I mean, if "Wage labor rests exclusively on competition between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable", then come on. We should really get more than one lousy goddamn day by now. It's 2004 for Christ's sake!
I took all those classes in philosophy and history to learn all about this junk and for what? So I could have hot dogs and potato salad in one waning summer afternoon and I should be happy about that? I mean, not only do I not control the means of production, but I'm, like, totally alienated from myself, from my fellow man...
And if I had a paying job, I'm almost certain I would be alienated from the fruits of my labor. I can just feel it.
We totally got gypped on this deal and I'll tell you why: Karl Marx didn't watch nearly enough Star Trek.
Everyone who has ever seen any Star Trek knows that just about every other episode (and every other movie as well, for consistency's sake) involves time travel. And everyone who falls into the above category will also know that if you know the future, the one and only thing you must not do is share.
Keep it to yourself. Temporal paradoxes are bad and spoiling a perfectly good timeline is worse. No, you stay as segregated as possible from the time-natives, keep to yourself and try not to interact lest you become your own great-great-grandfather by nailing the nubile young version of your own great-great-grandmother and thus annulling your own existence.
And if Karl Marx had just watched, say, The City on the Edge of Forever from the Original Series he would know that even though Kirk loved her, Edith Keeler (ably portrayed by a young Joan Collins) had to die for the sake of the whole future.
But no, Marx goes and spills all the beans at once. I don't know what kind of fancy absinthe-fueled visions Karl was experiencing, but he lays out his knowledge of the future--class warfare in which the proletariat, a necessity created by the bourgeoisie after they themselves had overthrown the ancient nobility, would rise up to fulfill the heretofore false promise of egalitarianism and freedom minus the fetters of superstitious idealogy thus comprehensively destroying all of capitalist society--in lots of very boring books where just anyone can read them, including the people who were supposed to be annihilated by the historically inevitable actualization of dialectical materialism.
I mean God, Karl. Kirk would have never made that mistake.
So capitalist society, clumisily tipped off, starts offering all these piddly concessions to workers like the right to organize unions, collective bargaining, the forty-hour work week, abolishing child labor, the enfranchisement of women, etc.
And now, instead of a Dickensian dystopia of smokestacks, tuberculosis and really pissed off (if malnourished) class of oppressed people ready to bring it, Apocalypse-style, we get Labor Day. One day.
At least in Europe they get all of August off.
The only comfort I take is knowing that when we achieve the future so exactingly and lovingly laid out in the various Star Trek series, we will have achieved Marx's model. Everyone will be happy, freed from the burdens of money, agriculture and unwashed masses, free to spend all your time "bettering yourself" which I'm pretty sure doesn't only mean masturbation.
Of course then we'll have to figure out what to do with the Klingons. But one thing at a time.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.1
This post on the Dorkfest Scale: 9.95
Friday, September 03, 2004
¿Quién Es Más Macho?
I didn't have any great desire to watch the Bush speech last night and luckily for me, I had my class from 7-9pm (Pacific time, people, keep up). So I didn't have to watch it live.
But being the responsible citizen that I am, I decided to give it a look-see over at C-Span's website. One problem: they use the Real One Player for their archived video. Tragically, this piece of software was obviously fashioned by sneaky liberals because it kept rejecting the speech and taking time out to "Communicate" with... something. Its pot dealer probably.
I stuck it out and made it through (most of it) though because I love my country almost as much as I love opportunities for sarcasm.
One note: George loves himself some applause breaks, doesn't he? He paused every third clause or every time he got to a proper noun. And the delegates dutifully filled in every pre-scripted space with old-timey revival-meetin' jubilation. Quite a contrast to Kerry's "Can we get through this, I'm double parked" method of delivery.
One more note: Although my principle objection to GWB is every policy he's ever implemented or suggested ever, there is one more thing about him that irks me. Machismo. There's nothing more skin-crawlingly, pretentiously, abjectly fake to me than machismo. I kept waiting for him to rip off that tie, pop off the first 8-10 buttons on his shirt and crack into a six of Pabst Blue Ribbon right there at the podium. That said, I know that wasn't aimed at me. That was all for you, Laura Bush. Tonight you will fall into glowing post-coital sleep wrapped in the not-at-all doughy, white arms of a real man, not no candy-ass New England blue-blood Ivy League Yalie... oh.
But really, I've heard there's no sex like post-presidential-nomination sex. Except for maybe post-presidential-re-nomination sex. And you're all welcome for the visual imagery.
OK, well, back to the substance of the speech, such as it was: Great educational reform needed. Help for seniors with prescription drugs. Tax relief. Forthright, simple "leadership". Trickle-down economics. Fiscal responsibility.
Hey, I get it! It's the 2000 speech again! That's smart seeing as it worked the first time... er, well, minus half a million votes nationally, but still, the job got done.
Wait wait, oh... one thing... this is kind of embarrassing, but um... if you didn't do any of those things the first time you promised any of them, why do you need four more years? I'm just asking.
Really, I swear, it was the same speech except with the not-very-subtle "John Kerry is such a pussy, isn't he?" undercurrent.
Oratorically speaking I'd put him somewhere between a cigar-store Indian and a plinth. Between himself and Dick Cheney this is the least animated ticket since Calvin Coolidge and Vice President Pile-Of-Granite-Rubble ran for re-election in 1924.
I heard someone on TV say that Bill Clinton, in helping devise strategy for Kerry, put it to John Kerry (no, not that way) that if everything were going great for GWB, economically, militarily, no Iraq fuck-up, etc. why would you still be a better alternative to Bush? And if he could answer that question, then he could run an effective campaign.
It might be unfair to ask this, but take away 9/11, remember that speech Bush gave (or the entire convention even) and now let us ask: What exactly is the compelling reason anyone should vote for him again? All things being equal, what part of the George Bush plan should America be clamoring for? What does he really have to show for four years in office?
OK, besides a couple whole, shiny new countries to play with over there in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Seriously, what? Anything? I'm asking.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.8
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Man Of The People. Person. Anybody?
Quickly first: More thanks and credit to me as I'm going to forego recounting my fecally-themed near-disaster of a morning. This one involved a different child altogether than the last one I mentioned and flirted dangerously with complete social humiliation for said child (the oldest) but luckily Pops was there to rescue him. I'm seriously rethinking this school thing... he's taking it fine but it's already got me half way to an ulcer on his behalf. Just the potential for your kids to get embarrassed at school is 1000 times worse than any actual embarrassment I myself suffered. Christ.
OK, more happily and completely unrelated...
I've stated it here and elsewhere, but it's worth saying again: when it comes to politics, I loves me some crazy. Can't get enough crazy.
This is why yesterday I lamented the absence of Alan Keyes at the Republican National Convention. I was hoping for a good ol' fashioned Indignant Sanctimony-Fest à la Pat Buchanan in Houston in 1992. But no, it turns out Keyes is actually in the vicinity and probably feeling very out of place so far from his native Illinois, it's just that he isn't allowed to do anything specifically convention related. I was curious about this, but then I realized Ah! They probably have bouncers. And a modicum of common sense.
See, I could have made the cheap joke about no black people being allowed inside the convention hall, but I didn't. I bit a hole straight through my tongue, but I avoided it. I think I'm growing as a person.
But because Alan Keyes is Alan Keyes, he has managed to make some of the news this week about Alan Keyes. And guess what? It's all Culture War stuff! There are atomic clocks who could learn a thing or two about consistency and predictability from Mr. Keyes.
The beauty of it is this: Alan Keyes needs all the help he can get right now from everyone who might be able to give it. So what does he do? He personally insults the daughter of the Vice President of the United States.
Oh yes. The same daughter for whom Dick Cheney openly broke with the president a few days ago. So you know Dick takes this seriously and when Dick takes things seriously, people die.
We all know by now that Mary Cheney is a big ol' homosexual, yes? She likes the ladies, it can be said. So Keyes called her (and all lesbians by extension) a "selfish hedonist" and more than implied that homosexuality is simply willful Satan-inspired wickedness. But in Alan's defense and to be perfectly fair, he assures us he would similarly condemn his own daughter if she broke out and went all Sapphic all of a sudden. The hate is easier to take if you spread it out evenly.
Some good news: word is that among People Who Have Had Somewhat Negative Direct Personal Contact With Mary Cheney And Are Illinois Voters, his support is only down 33%. Way to stop the bleeding, Alan.
But I think there's someting deeper to his exclusion from the RNC here beyond his apparent inability to moderate himself in any sense of the word. Except that whole principled stand he took against running in a state you don't live in, that he seems to have skated over just fine. But everything else is all life-or-death, quite literally with Alan.
No, the real reason he's being kept at arm's length is in the last paragraph of the Sun-Times story linked above:
"Keyes continued his tense relations with Illinois’ GOP leaders, finally making a statement to Republican delegates this morning, even though DuPage County Chairman Robert Schillerstrom, who was chairing the meeting, had not invited him up to the podium to give a speech."
Just think of him inside Madison Square Garden, on the dais with that many people listening, that many microphones, those giant video screens behind him... the poor bastard would probably stroke out from sheer bliss. Either that or he'd do Al Sharpton one better and talk and talk and talk until he swallowed the microphone or the Secret Service were forced to put him down. This is Compassionate Conservatism at work, people. They've saved Alan Keyes from himself.
No, you know what, never mind. It probably is because he's a black guy.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.3