Friday, December 31, 2004
The Year In A Bucket
Friday July 9, 2004. Sunrise was a little brighter. The air smelled a little sweeter. Flowers bloomed and birds sang. Where a regular, boring, personality-free human once existed, "Pops" was born. A regular, boring, personality-free human with a blog. Here's the aftermath:
January through June: Events probably happen. It's hard to say for sure as there is no blog record of any of it.
Related: trees fall hundreds of miles from closest pair of working human ears. I have no idea if they make a sound or not, but the idea of deforestation makes me smile.
July: A combination of painkillers prescribed after an unfortunate attempt at home fireworks along with some gaps in the community service portion of my sentence lead me to create this blog.
Lots of awkwardness and flailing. I throw out random half-remembered phrases and concepts from grad school, the last time I wrote anything anyone else ever read. Rita arrives and points out that I may actually be full of shit. Panicked, I collapse into a defensive ball, retreating behind a shield of easy dick and poo jokes. I hope one day to emerge.
Also, being a political year, content provides itself. The Democratic Convention drops in Boston. I said this:
It was a good speech by Kerry (short attention span remembers), but he's still kinda... bleh. Uninspiring in alot of ways. The one things he does have going for him is that it would take Abu Ghraib-style genital electrodes to get me to vote for GWB. Not just owning them either, I mean attaching them and probably turning them on.
An ominous portent in retrospect.
August: Despite serious content competition from politics and the Olympics, my simmering, roiling hate of hippies bubbles to the surface like white-hot magma that only burns Grateful Dead albums and pants made of hemp. I also display a strange inability to distinguish between hippies, Baby Boomers and Marxists. I blame my hippie Marxist Boomer grad school professors.
We commit my firstborn into the care of Catholic education, guaranteeing that he will one day reject me for being a) too Jesus or b) not Jesus enough. That's worth the cost of tuition right there.
September: Fall begins. Odds are that it would have done so anyway without me to document it in my blog, but it's good that I was here. You know, just in case. I said this about it:
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.
I would revisit that palm tree theme later.
God tries to erase Florida from the map. I cheer him on.
Within two weeks of starting school, my kid caves his face in on the playground. I convince the doctor to prescribing me some Oxy-Contin.
Turns out I dislike George Bush.
And God bless Alan Keyes.
October: The month before the election.
Layoffs are threatened (again) my wife's work and I wring ever last drop of drama out of it for my blogging pleasure. Riots in cities across the Midwest and South. Governors call in the National Guard, but they're all over in Iraq. Bad luck. A Chick-Fil-A is burned to the ground. Nothing to do with me or my blog as far as I know, but the timing is suspicious.
I reach 100 posts and calm descends.
Jon Stewart says the word "dick" and breaks the blogosphere.
The last presidential debate happens. I said this:
Now we come to it: Who won?
There can only be one answer: John McCain. Have you ever seen one politician not in the race get so much goddamn air-time? I like John McCain too, but Jesus. He only gets one vote, fellas. I know Bush has got some bad karma to work off from the 2000 South Carolina primary, but Kerry is just all over the guy's ass. It's enough to make you wonder if McCain might just know which Vietnamese hookers John Kerry got syphilis from and where to find them on short notice or something.
The Bucket becomes a magnet for all those on the internet searching for information on Vietnamese Hookers.
The debate is one-sided and the party in expectation of the inevitible Kerry landslide begins.
I begin to eat Halloween candy.
November: I cry a little bit. I eat alot. I said this:
No, that's what blogs are for.
I can vent my political spleen all over the walls of the internet(s) and affect some kind of catharsis that obviates the need to actually leave my seat and do something socially productive.
And also I said this:
As my martial arts class has been in limbo for the last month (it starts again Monday), the combination of lots of quality Ass Sitting time with my new hobby of chewing and swallowing anything and everything within arm's reach, Pops is starting to get a little paunchy. By "a little paunchy" I mean I'm sitting here typing this in my wife's maternity clothes. Not the girly stuff, but just a plain black cotton/lycra blend top and elasti-pants (with stretchy gut-panel!) to comfortably accomodate my improving girth. Not really sure why she complained about wearing it when she was pregnant. It's very forgiving and the black is slimming.
Other shit probably happened, but I'm depressed again.
Oh wait! I changed my blog template and my growing throng of readers reacted with revulsion (but probably less alliteration). I ignore them, gambling that the boredom that drove them to read this in the first place will be stronger than any principled aesthetic. I win.
Also, we bond over making fun of Colin Firth.
December: I run out of ideas entirely, filling the gaps with memes and dick jokes and making fun of Canada. I try serious satire and scare people.
Holidays give me a few blessed days off where I don't have to think of anything to say and I can write meaningless retrospective nonsense in lieu of manufacturing original content.
Happy New Year.
[The Narcissus Scale has been given the day off. It was last seen sitting in stand-still traffic on I-15 near Baker heading for Vegas.]
PS: And if I had to pick a "Best Post" it would probably be this one. All the rest are tied for second.
I've learned lots of things in 2004, the most important of which is this: never write a blog post on your laptop. Because there's no actual mouse, just that little fingerpad thingy. And if you are writing in your Blogger New Post window and you highlight all the text from the bottom and the scroll up in order to copy it and save it so as to protect it from accidental deletion, there is the possibility that the text will disappear never to be recovered.
Isn't that hilarious? It doesn't happen when I use the mouse to highlight it, just when I use the SHIFT and the arrow keys. If you get aaaall the way to the top and then go up just one more line off the top of the window and *BLINK* she is gone.
This is all by way of telling you I was more than half-way through a year-end retrospective when I deleted all my the extant text. Stupid laptop.
So here I am now back on my desktop, trying to decide if it's worth it to start all over again. I can't right now because there are walls left that I haven't driven my head through as yet. Wish me luck.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Listing Badly, Taking On Water
End of the year "Best of" lists are great and all, but as I sat down and started thinking about typing one, something seemed... missing. I mean, this is a blog after all. It's me being consumed with me and the raw details of myself, right?
So I thought about it some more and decided that the real blogger thing to do, the real hard-core, self-important thing to do would be not to just list what I thought the "best" stuff was but rather to record for posterity every single bit of cultural data I happened across in the course of the last twelve months.
Think of it as a whole grocery list instead of just remembering the meals I liked. So if these items are food, then they've been digested and what you're about to read--to extend the metaphor--is bodily excretia I expel when I've used them up for all they're worth. But what's a blog if not a forum for carefully examining your own feces...
...and then sharing your findings with as many people as possible.
Don't worry, I have kids. I don't get out much. The lists are going to be short.
We'll go shortest to longest.
Not everything's going to get a review, so don't panic.
Movies I saw (restricted to theaters because I can't remember all the ones I saw on cable and you don't really want a review of Erotic Confessions 6):
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
And that's it. Four goddamn films. That isn't even enough to make a Best Picture category. The only one that was really disappointing was Troy: I was told I was going to be able to see Brad Pitt's dick. Ah well. I guess that's why we have the internet as a fall back position.
The Incredibles was really really good though. No nudity whatsoever.
CDs I bought:
Modest Mouse, Good News For People Who Love Bad News
The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow
They Might Be Giants, The Spine
Elvis Costello, The Delivery Man
Jimmy Eat World, Futures
New Pornographers, Electric Version
Green Day, American Idiot
Woo, six! That's actually an incredible haul for one year for me. The last three I bought, like, three days ago, so it's slightly artificially inflated much like I assume Alan Greenspan is from time to time.
Modest Mouse has some great tracks past "Float On". Some of them are what reviewers will cowardly call "experimental" or "challenging" which is secret code for "noisy and tuneless", but by and large it's a highly satisfying musical experience.
TMBG I bought because I've bought every album of theirs since I was 12, circa 1986. It was predictably listenable.
And I worship at the altar of Elvis Costello. I've seen him 8 or so times live, I have nearly everything he ever recorded. That said, the countrified flavor of this album really really drags in parts. But when it's good, it's brilliant.
The last three, like I said, I just bought. Jimmy Eat World and Green Day I've heard a bunch of on The Only Radio Station Worth Listening To.
I bought New Pornographers based on some reviews I read. I do that sometimes and I've only really been burned once. Thus far I'm underwhelmed, but that's a good sign. I usually intensely dislike new stuff I buy when I first buy it, mostly because I'm pissed off that I don't instantly know all the words to all the songs. Why people keep insisting releasing songs I don't know is beyond me. Think of all the time we could save.
And the Green Day thing... it's a few tracks too long, but goddamn. It's all straightforward 4-chord rock-and-roll songs, just like every other Green Day song ever, but they still make it worth listening to.
Their 9-minute 5-part "Jesus of Suburbia" is the best thing I've heard in a long time. Not just songs, I mean including babies laughing, wind in trees, water over stones, etc.
The best "normal" song I've heard all year is "Bedlam" off the Elvis Costello album. It makes me think of Stevie Wonder. Not lame Stevie "That's What Friends Are For" Wonder, but funky "Superstition" Stevie Wonder.
TV I watched:
Er... too much. Because I'm a dork, I got to see all the Deep Space Nine episodes I'd missed on SpikeTV. Uh... I started watching Lost. Arrested Development is really good.
Look, I stay home all day. The TV gets turned on. It's not me being lazy, it's just... there. Get off my case. There are also:
Books I read:
Man’s Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankl
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
by Terry Pratchett
A History of the Church in England (partial)
by JRH Moorman
translated by Seamus Heaney
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (in progress)
by Douglas Adams
Plan of Attack
by Bob Woodward
The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
This, apparently, was the year of the Grand National Epic. Homer and Virgil and Beowulf, all of which prove that violence in the media is as old as media. Plenty of blood spilt and brains splattered in glorious translated Technicolor.
Dostoyevsky was a slog. It would have been a slog at 250 pages, but it was more like 800 (I can't be bothered to check). That goddamn Russian took up like 4 months of my reading life.
I'm ashamed it's taken me this long to get to Adams.
And Pratchett puts out a book ever 6 months. I got started late, but I'm catching up. It's what I read in between heavier stuff, like a breath of air in between swells as I tread water. OK it's more like nitrous oxide, but that's what I need between Woodward and Frankl.
This is long, but I didn't want to get into all of this tomorrow, New Years Eve, when some of you might miss some of the excruciatingly detailed cataloguing of my life. You are welcome.
Hey shut up, I didn't make you read it. I'd offer your money back, but it's free. Your time however is another matter completely. That's non-negotiable. Sucker.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0... It groans under the strain. Ah hell, this one goes to 11.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
All Request Wednesday
I set a bunch of arbitrary rules for myself when I started this blog. Luckily for me I've forgotten most of them, leaving me free to sell out on a variety of levels for your mocking entertainment.
Without being quite sure, I think I've broken every single one of them so far. It's not easy posting every single day, but psychological compulsion compels me (hence the name, yes?) and I have no choice.
So at first when I was directly invited to fill out one of those viral questionnaire things I was horrified. Horrified. Indignant. Repulsed. Did I say "horrified"? Horrified.
And then I started thinking about what I was going to post today. Frankly, I got nothing. I could have posted the answers to the questionnaire in Steph's comments window, but then I'd be depriving myself of a space-sucking blog post.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Lesser known to most people is that it is also the mother of desperation, pandering, shoddy workmanship and dignity-erosion in service of a goal, whatever it might be. It's how reality TV was born. Not only did it open the door to every low-rent bad idea whose only redeeming quality is that it wouldn't require the hiring of a writing staff, it also drives people to eat pig rectums and live spiders in exchange for the chance to perhaps eventually win some money to go with their split-second of TV face-time.
Come to that, I think those circulating blog questions lists are sort of the reality TV of blogs. They seem like chunky bits of voyeuristic pleasure giving you insight into other people's lives, but really it's all cheap editing tricks where the blogger gets to be the hero.
It's annoying when people protest something right before they do it, isn't it?
But I've been told I've "jumped the shark" anyway, so fuck it.
Three Names You Go By: Pops, Mr. Pops, Assface (Mrs. Pops only)
Three Screennames You Have: Pops, MrPops, LordValkorDeathKillerzzzz6969
Three Things You Like About Yourself: I never blink during photos, abnormally large hands, above-average personal hygiene
Three Things You Dislike About Yourself: I tell lies, no I don't, yes I do. I'm also indecisive.
Three Parts of Your Heritage: alcoholism, tuna-noodle-casserole, club-foot
Three Things That Scare You: scary movies, scary books, scary TV shows
Three of Your Everyday Essentials: food, water, air (this is possibly the easiest question I've ever been asked)
Three Things You Are Wearing Right Now: flannel pajama pants, cape, Catholic guilt
Three of Your Favorite Bands/Artists (at the moment): John Denver, Neil Diamond, ABBA
Three of Your Favorite Songs at Present: I can't think of a John Denver song title. "Sweet Caroline", Neil Diamond. "Dancing Queen", ABBA.
Three New Things You Want to Try in the Next 12 Months: sloth, gluttony, pride
Three Things You Want in a Relationship (love is a given): lust, greed, envy, anger (didn't want to stop one Deadly Sin short)
Two Truths and a Lie: This is true. This is true. This is true.
Three Physical Things About the Opposite Sex (or same) That Appeal to You: left breast, right breast, vagina
Three Things You Just Can't Do: floss properly (apparently), abide foreigners, reproduce (anymore)
Three of Your Favorite Hobbies: flossing, assaulting foreigners, reproducing
Three Things You Want to Do Really Badly Right Now: find my authentic self, hit rock bottom, stop the shame spiral
Three Careers You're Considering: ice cream taster, Female Body Inspector, INS agent
Three Places You Want to Go on Vacation: home, my room, bed
Three Kids' Names: really, just three random kids' names? OK, Gretchen, Phoebe and... oh, I don't know, Nigel.
Three Things You Want to Do Before You Die: breathe alot, fly unaided by technology, googlewhack
Three People You Want to Take this Quiz: Gandhi, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman.
What should I be more embarrassed by: the fact that I participated or my complete inability to make a sincere effort at anything? I knew my paranoid schizophrenia would get me in to trouble one day.
I welcome your scorn.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: [system temporarily offline due to unexpectedly high volume]
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
The other day when I said I only got Return of the King and 15-20 extra pounds of Me for Christmas, that wasn't quite 100% inclusive.
I forgot to mention my $50 Best Buy gift card. How I forgot to mention it, I'll never know. And as this blog is the official detailed record of my life in which not only is everything I say here completely and unassailably true, but I think the case can be increasingly made that if an event is not blogged, it can be said not to have occurred at all.
The explanation is a complicated intermix of quantum physics, temporal mechanics, basic metaphysical existentialism and bullshit, none of which I have time to get in to right now. My wife's out at the Old Navy spending her gift card and flirting with teenage sales guys with washboard abs and I need to get this done before she gets back and asks me to do something. If I'm lucky she'll get to second base with one of the Not-Quite-Abercrombie-Material bo-hunks and buy me a little more time. But assuming she doesn't, I'm going to have to hurry this along.
So I've mentioned my Best Buy card and therefore now it actually exists. Existed I guess as it's been spent. Well, I suppose it physically still exists in the wastebin liner of the Best Buy in Corona, but bereft of its redeemable value it has been rendered inert, value-less, forgotten, like Kajagoogoo.
I really shouldn't blog right after reading.
At any rate, I'm feeling pretty good. I've made some small but significant steps toward my ultimate dream of Failed Writerhood. It happens every year at my birthday and at Christmas. Just when I'm tiring of whatever it is that is keeping me from getting any actual work done, an event rolls around (my birthday is roughly half a year away from Christmas) that involves people handing me Best Buy gift cards.
The inevitable result is that I will find something in the Best Buy (is it possible not to?) to amuse myself, to draw my attention away from what I should be doing if I were on the Successful Writer track and instead spend my evenings all alone, after the wife and kids have gone to bed, scoring virtual touchdowns, piloting aircraft or slaughtering bloodthirsty aliens bent on the destruction of mankind with only me and my trusty array of plasma-spewing energy weapons to stop them.
I decided this year I would buy CDs so as to a) keep culturally current and b) discourage the purchase of a shiny new $50 game. Want to know what's funny? If you buy slightly older games, you can get them for like $20! And still buy three CDs for just over $50!
So for the next few months I'll be one of the Knights of the Old Republic saving the Star Wars universe (circa 2003) from the evil Darth Malak and his Sith cohorts.
I may never write again. Except here, but that hardly counts.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.7
Monday, December 27, 2004
We took the whole day off yesterday. The kids never got out of their pajamas. Mrs. Pops made some cookies. I spent the day putting batteries into things in between test-shots from my new Robert Downey Jr. Heroin Addict Starter Kit™ my mom sent me from Illinois. One hypodermic, a spoon, a lighter, a cotton ball and a little black balloon. Don't judge my mom, she's not trying to kill me; she's just looking forward to the detox when she knows I'll "need" her. It gives her purpose and I'm happy to help.
A full day of nothing. The bliss of opiate-induced fog. Things were really looking up yesterday. Joy to the world, peace on earth, all that stuff.
And then I have to read about earthquake and tsunami in Asia. Tens of thousands of people killed, the survivors living in a horror show of floating, decomposing bodies washing up on shore and tainting the drinking water. Human suffering on the most massive of scales. These Asians and all their goddamn hardship really put a crimp in my vacation.
I mean really, don't they have any sense of the moment? This is hardly the time of year for this kind of thing, really. We're supposed to be ignoring the usual stories about disappointing holiday sales figures, box offices grosses, human interest stories about bum-sicles on American city streets and American soldiers blowing up in Iraq. These are the kind of stories that fit neatly into the regular background noise of Christmas, a comfortable combination of banality and awfulness that I can easily digest along with my leftover ham.
It's obvious to me that the biggest problem with all these tsunami-ravaged Asian countries is that they don't celebrate Christmas at all. If they did, they would have known to wait to have their disaster at least until all the major college bowl games are over. If they were really smart they would have waited until that activity after the Super Bowl but before March Madness. They might even have gotten some decent donations out of it.
But no, they insist on honoring their non-Christian pantheons with their non-Christian holidays, never once wishing each other "Merry Christmas" and instead getting all washed into the sea just in time to mess with my post-holiday joy buzz.
Thanks. Thanks a lot. First you give us SARS, now this. Asia, Asia, Asia...
Of course it's just possible that my mood was affected by the outcome of the Chargers-Colts game on Sunday, but really, that seems so shallow. Although I will say in my defense it was freakin' 31-16 in the fourth goddamn quarter and yet still somehow they let the Colts win. I mean come on, 31-16. You can't eat up a little clock or something? Kick one lousy field goal? Defend against a kickoff run-back?
No no, I'm sure it's the Asia tidal wave thing. It has to be. Otherwise I'm a callow dullard of a stereotype. And we all know that can't be true.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.2
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Holy Day Of Obligation
Everyone I'm sure will be happy to know that I've (mostly) survived another Christmas. I've made huge strides toward my goal of contracting adult-onset type 2 diabetes by consuming enough refined white sugar (none of that mongrel brown stuff) to fuel a colony of ants for three years. Chocolate, cookies, cakes, pies, no confection was safe in a room alone of me. I am to sweets what Michael Jackson is to eleven year old boys.
OK, I'm obviously exhausted if I'm resorting to tired Michael Jackson jokes.
I may have mentioned this before, but my mom is the second of twelve good Catholic children. None of them actually go to church anymore, but that's really beside the point. The point is that there are twelve of them. And many of them live local.
It's traditional that as many of us as can make it all congregate at the same place for Christmas Eve. For the last 10-plus years we've been going to my aunt's house in Newport Coast. It's on the side of a hill less than a mile from the ocean. As everyone knows, constant exposure to salt ocean air rots the human brain quickly and irrevocably so that people so affected have been known to buy clothes for their human-fist-sized dogs, pay immigrant women money to wax all the hair off their bodies and then will lay in indoor tanning beds on sunny June days.
As debilitating as that can be, this is never the main problem. Our solid white-trash stock generally cancels out any tendencies toward dandy-ism. None of us would make a good Jane Austen villain.
Normally the problems we have are a result of the sheer volume of personalities. There were over 50 people this year, a light-to-moderate turn-out. The year-long passive agression tends generally (and with a little yuletide nudge from whatever is spiking the egg nog this year) to slip briefly into active agression, which foments brooding, which foments segregation into "camps"--for or against the aggrievors and the aggrieved--which only crystallizes the old clique-ishness seething below the unifying (and utterly false) holiday spirit.
In the midst of the chaos and occasional cold stares, there's always somewhere to hide, somewhere I can find a place to sit and reflect, to ponder how best to make real my one real Christmas Eve wish: not to get stuck playing Santa Claus.
Someone always has to play Santa Claus as he inexplicably finds time at the height of his Busy Season to chat with all of us and distribute some under-$10 baubles. The red suit and beard are smelly, dingy, not-at-all hygienic looking by now. I congratulate myself on my success in avoiding the costume; 30 years and counting. I have confidence my streak will continue unbroken next year as the women in our family continue to reach adulthood and then marry, dragging unsuspecting suckers into our brood, eager to suck up to the faceless mass of Christmas sneering that is My Mother's Side Of The Family. They only make that mistake once.
So we survived that. Then Christmas Day mass at our church (less fun than it sounds), then all day with the in-laws (my wife has one brother, who has one kid... amateurs, all of them). They bought an X-Box this year to amuse my kids, which meant a full day of car-racing and monster slaying while my kids watched, slow tears running down their cheeks waiting for daddy to get done "showing" them how to play.
Tomorrow we're off to my wife's friend's new house out in Whittier (LA County, far less culturally significant than it sounds) and then Christmas will officially be over. All I really got this year was The Return of the King DVD and 15-20 lbs. of extra Pops. What more could any human want?
Like political cycles, the next holiday cycle begins as soon as the last one ends. I begin my quest to lose my extra weight just in time for next Halloween, when I re-initiate the gain. With any luck, I'll be dead by 40.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.75
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Wholesome Family Holiday Entertainment
It's the day before Christmas Eve and I've got eight tons of holiday-related crap to slog through. This necessity is warring with my anal-retentive need to post something on here every day.
To serve both masters, I've decided to punt by simply copying (without permission!) a question from Dan Savage's sex advice column "Savage Love", widely syndicated including The Onion's AV Club. Needless to say, this is adult-oriented material. There, I've guaranteed an underage audience.
Have you heard about "the Pirate"? This is when you're getting a blowjob from a girl, and when you're about to come, you ejaculate in her eye. Then you kick her in the shin. The result is the woman squinting and hopping up and down on one foot, holding her leg and screaming "ARRRGH!" How many people are into this?
Jack Off Wangs
If you want Dan's answer (it includes references to "donkey punching" and "icy mikes"!), you'll have to click the above link.
I know it's misogynistic and juvenile, but the retarded teenager who still sometimes controls my brain can't stop giggling. Someday that retarded teenager will die (most likely of a horrible autoerotic asphyxiation mishap) and I'll be able to hear the words blow, suck, ride, hard, nip, hung, ball, etc. without interrupting all mature, grown-up thought processes in order to snicker at my own punning cleverness.
Sure, then I'd have all this extra brain-power to commit toward the improvement of mankind, but honestly I hope it never happens. I'd be a lot less fun to hang around with.
Happy Holidays (you can read that as a great big Fuck You to the Christian Right if you'd like).
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.5
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Keep It In The Vault, Pal
I think probably the person most aggrieved by the invention of Viagra and other similar erection-inducing medications has to be NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell.
Sure, a case can be made for Elizabeth Dole, but at least Bob got some cash out of doing the commercials, so we'll set her aside for now.
Ms. Mitchell, on the other hand, finds herself married to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who, at last count, was 426 years old and looking every day of it.
I think I can almost understand why she would marry him in the first place: over-the-top financial security, the Manhattan apartment, access to the highest circles of power players among America's financial and political elite and--this is important--a prostate shrunken with age to the size of a hard, dusty raisin.
All the perks with no possbility of (and my gag-reflex fires just thinking of it) sex.
But then science--O Science, the same bastards who fucked us over with thalidomide and Olestra--whips together the little magic blue triangle pill to fix all of man's boner-related ills and now suddenly in the Greenspan-Mitchell household there is Demand to go along with what had only been blessedly neglected Supply.
What is most horrifying to me is not just the fact that they probably do it, it's the financially-tinged puns Alan probably prattles off as he feels his medical miracle working. "Ooh, economic indicators are trending upward!" or "We'd better move quickly to do something about this sudden inflation!"
It's enough to make you want to vomit.
The visual images you all can have, free of charge. Merry Christmas.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.8
NOTE: There was some controversy yesterday about the Narcissus Scale score for that day's post as it included several personal details. I would like to point out that at no time did that post ever include a vivid description of mucus, spittle, phlegm or sickness in any kind of detail. Sometimes the Scale is as much about what's in the post as it is about what I leave out. The whole context must be considered. You are welcome.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Stay Together For The Kids
O woe to be me, the product of a broken home!
How horrible it is that I wasn't forced to grow up with two people who despised each other every single day "for my sake". How awful to have the great lead anvil of divorce guilt levitating over the heads of both my parents, ready to fall at my command, to save me in my dark hours of dire need like that time I really wanted a skateboard. I got two.
And how terrible it is to see both my parents living the lives they always wanted on their own terms. Yes, Republicans are right, divorce is a nightmare. I mean financially for the parents. For we the children of divorce it's mostly a massive relief.
The one catch is at holiday time. Double the family means double the obligation to show up somewhere, furthur complicated by my own marriage requiring me also to visit in-laws (while my own parents' divorce is fine, I thank God my wife's parents are still together... there's only so much ham a guy can eat in one day).
Again, though, bully for me as both my parents live out of state. So it's all day at the in-laws. And they just bought an X-Box. You know, for my kids; although I'm not sure how my cherubic little angel children are planning on prying the controller out of my hands. I still enjoy a significant size advantage. And I know aikido.
My minimal obligation to the people who bore me (read that how you want) is my once-per-year trip to the post office in December to mail off the same damn crap every year by way of "presents" (any guesses? Yes that's right, pictures of the kids).
Usually this means two-to-four hours of building homicidal rage as I wait for my USPS Professionals to process the three dozen people ahead of me in line.
Today was the day I went this year. This was by far the latest I've waited. I left the shotgun at home, just so I wouldn't be tempted.
But lo! What is this I see before me?
Just as I go to take a number, a very helpful, not-at-all gay man with a USPS badge around his neck suggest I interface with his machine. After I was sure that wasn't the worst pick-up line ever, he escorted me to this little ATM-looking contraption with a scale attached to the side.
Package on scale. Insert credit/debit card. Enter ZIP code. Postage at hand. You may go.
90 seconds, max.
It's a Christmas miracle!
This Post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.7
PS- by the way, blink 182's song "Stay Together For The Kids" is one of my favorite songs ever. I'm just saying.
UPDATE: This just in, thanks to Sitemeter's mutual stalking applications. Are you a born again Christian? Do you knit? Join the Christian Knitters Blog and Webring today!
How they found the Bucket I will never, ever know. I can only imagine their disappointment. I'm tempted to send them along to Heightened Thoughts, but then I just figured I should leave the poor bastards alone. Completely, completely alone.
Monday, December 20, 2004
I don't get much cause to drive my wife's car. My situation in life has chained me to my sleek, sexy minivan. It seats seven and draws chicks like flies draw honey. No, that's not right. Like honey draws vinegar. Wait wait. You can lead a vinegar to honey, but you can't make it fly. Something like that.
My main opportunity to drive it is for the brief jaunt (that's right I said "jaunt") to my semi-weekly (or is it bi-weekly? Which one means you go twice a week? That one) martial arts class which is still inside a health club. Even though it's shabby, always dirty, irrevocably stained and faded and has more miles on it than Madonna, it has one thing my minivan (or as I call it, "Eros' Chariot") does not: it has a CD player.
I think we all know what I mean when I say "CD player". It means music played too loudly to which I can badly sing along. Sure it's embarrassing from time to time, but it keeps my fingers out of my nose.
Like most people, I have a rotation of CDs I like to listen to as I learn new words to new songs and/or try desperately to recreate some aspect of my quickly fading youth. If I get bored with those, I can grab some dusty old thing buried deep in my collection from many, many rotations past. On my way out this evening I happened grabbed something that sparked an epiphany that I thought I just had to share with all of you lucky people:
It would really suck to be Julian Lennon.
Somehow a few years ago I had gotten it into my head that I had to buy his Photograph Smile album (damn you Conan O'Brien!). The lyrics are straight forgettable adult-contemporary cliché-fests, but damn if he didn't get the old man's ability to write a tune. I never once got the impulse to drive into oncoming traffic as I listened, which is more than I can say should Smashing Pumpkins befoul my radio (hence the CDs... safer).
Tragically, though, his obvious gifts are doomed to be forgotten because of his name, face and voice. Worse, they were destined to be forgotten before he was even born, from the first day someone said "Paul McCartney? This is John Lennon." A few years later "Please Please Me" came out and little Julian was in a 400 foot deep musical hole out of which he would never climb. He was the little baby down the well, only there was no candlelight vigil, no camera crew, no Weekly World News story claiming he was actually the survivor of a crashed spacecraft carrying well-hole sized aliens.
And still worse, he's got the face and the voice and the name to labor under forever. No one ever listens to any Julian Lennon except to pick out "Ooh, that sounds kind of like John." Even when Julian had that one hit back in the 80s when he still looked and sounded exactly like John had John been born a girl, what was the driving force behind that? "Looks just like his old dad, he does."
On top of all that, this loony Asian transsexual comes along and steals his dad right out from under his mom. Her nose I mean, out from under her nose.
And then on top of that they go and have a son who also looks and sounds like John, only if John had been born an Asian girl. And John writes all these songs about and has all these pictures taken with this new boy so that when people think of who John Lennon's son is, they first thing "Sean, innit?" Innit indeed.
So he's got all this going against him. But hey, at least he's go the old man around to build up some first rate father-son resentment, to torment and loathe for the rest of his life as the object of all his contempt and rage, the focal point around which every negative aspect of his life can coalesce and fester in a brilliant, healthy Freudian stew to be resolved at a later date in a world-class made-for-TV moment.
Ooooh, then some crazy fucker shoots the old man.
Jules still has the name and the face and the voice, though. No pressure there.
The crazy Asian transsexual keeps all the money too. Brilliant.
AND oh, I just thought of another one! McCartney writes "Hey Jules" for him, but they make him change it to "Hey Jude" for some reason, so the poor bastard get cut out of that action as well.
Nope. All things being equal, I'd rather be Stella McCartney. Then my dad would still be alive, I'd have a job outside the same field as him and I'd have boobs I could sit around and play with all day. Think how grand life would be then. At least I'd know I'd be in the fucking will.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.3
PS- Photograph Smile is actually pretty good. Not that you asked.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Let The Beat... mmmmdrrrrrOPPP!
Rhythm. Quite a word, no? Not only does it describe the underlying, propulsive force of music and language, it’s also the Vatican’s preferred method of birth control. I know that sounds funny since no one who lives in the Vatican is supposed to even need birth control, but they have a position anyway (don’t get me started on their recommended “positions”), one to which I am morally obligated to subscribe. I’m happy to say that I have, and with great success. The rhythm method in conjunction with the vasectomy I had after my third child was born has thus far (fingers crossed) prevented any impregnation of my wife by me.
The 100% success rate of this powerful combined one-two anti-procreation punch (rhythm and surgical intervention) also gives me the added bonus of knowing if my wife is getting hers from somewhere else. If she turns up pregnant, either it’s a sign of the Second Coming (no pun intended) or it’s a sign that I have the moral authority to go out and kill some guy for porking my missus. So it’s all plusses.
Where was I? Oh yes, rhythm. As my oldest boy wades deeper and deeper in to his first year of the endless mindless, torture that are the School Years (if he had any idea, he’d run. I’m too much of a sadist to tell him), I’m being reminded of the rhythms that defined and shaped my existence from the age of five until my last day of graduate school twenty years later.
The work changed (obviously), the teachers and places changed, but the rhythm remained the same. Like most things, school life was defined more by its absence than its presence. It is only by reaching limits that borders are knowable; as necessarily important as Is is, it is completely incomprehensible without grasping the Is-Not to hem it in, give it shape and coherence, to draw solid lines bringing the order of Form to what is otherwise Chaos.
Of course I’m talking about vacation. Whatever school I was ever in at whatever level, that’s what you always lived for. The first day of school isn’t the first day of school, it’s the End Of Summer Vacation. And then you count the days until Columbus Day. And then Veterans’ Day. And then Thanksgiving. And then the first big one, Christmas Break. Er, Winter Break. Sorry Christ-less heathens, didn’t see you there.
But ooh, the Break. Two weeks, no waking, no writing, no homework. Sure, you miss the walking-around money you get from beating up smaller kids and divesting them of their meal money, but mix in some petty shoplifting and you almost never miss it.
That’s where we are now in the Is-Not of my son’s first Christmas Break. From this side, the parent side, it’s an entirely different experience. Past that, though, as someone without the anchor of work or school, there is no “break”. There is no definition, no delimiting, no goal of absence that makes substance from nothing. There is simply Work (taking kid to school and all that implies) and Other Work (staying at home with kids and all that implies).
So divorced from the social connection of outside employment I find myself also divorced from the satisfaction derived from the rhythm.
My rhythm now is what I make of it. It’s all awkward beats, full of alternate screeching and silence, tripping and halting, confused and overwhelming. Kind of like a Bjork record.
All this is my way of telling you that I am writing this entry on my laptop on MS word instead of in my handy Blogger New Post window. My wife is occupying the comfortable leather chair at my desk, putting her defined, vacationing hands all over my desktop computer as she figures out how to work our new photo printer.
So that’s what this is all about. We’re all on vacation, whatever that means any more. My kid is off, my wife is off (mandatory vacation for her struggling company until January 2), imposing her “normal” rhythm all over mine.
As long as she’s getting up with the kids in the morning, though, I can live with it.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.0
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Just to blow everyone's mind, I'm going to link you all to a Xanga thingy that links back to a post that I did, thus closing the first-ever Loop of Self-Reference and threatening the entire universe with collapse.
We may survive if we do what I always do when unanswerable questions are raised by science and/or metaphysics. Repeat after me: Jesus will save us.
It's the only thing that staved off nervous breakdown after I accidentally got my hands on some bad Heidegger.
Anyway, here's the link to devoted Bucketeer Alison. She deserves your patronage, even if it is Xanga, which is morally bankrupt and must be destroyed. Eventually. Today it's OK though.
She got me some traffic, so throwing her some back is the least I can do.
PS- For future reference, I don't have one of those fancy Creative Commons linky things, so I will just say it straight. You can reproduce my stuff, though I'd like to get credit and you can't sell it (I'll hold until you stop laughing... OK). Alison did all these things which makes her a superior human being. If you do steal my stuff and/or make some kind of money off of it (print it out and then roll it into joints? I don't know), I will hunt you down and kill you. You have been warned.
Good News/Bad News
Good news: I didn't realize my wife was taking all three kids to some kind of play-date thing all the way out in OC today. I am alone, alone, blessedly alone.
Bad news: I'm using my free time blogging and reading blogs. I think this is rock-bottom. Is there a 12-step program from Boringness?
I still have time to salvage it, though. I'm going to hit the Del Taco and hit it hard at lunch time. Then... um... strip club, all day bender, a balloon full of heroin. If I do it right, I should wake up naked and bruised in Tijuana on Tuesday.
Wish me luck.
Friday, December 17, 2004
First, some fun with search-engine results that turn up this here blog, with a little help from my friends at Sitemeter. These are absolutely true.
1. chloroform white slavery
2. how to swear in Iranian
(note: I think it's called either Persian or Farsi, no? Come on googlers, get your shit together)
3. tamale steaming bucket
I've gotten this one before and then mentioned it, so now the Bucket (the blog one, not the actual... oh, you know what I mean) is ranked #3 on Yahoo! Search for this string. Please keep your congratulatory comments under 1,000 words if possible.
And now today's pièce de résistance:
4. girls cherry pops during sex
Ladies and gentlemen, out of 37,000 results, Pops Bucket is the #1 listed Yahoo! return for this search string. Yes, it frightens me as well. Shame on you whomever you are for searching for it in the first place.
Pausing... allow readers time to brace themselves for the topic change.
Three two one go.
OK, now that I got the blog weirdness of the last two days cleaned up all neatly and professionally as only I can do, I am finally able to post what I wanted to post about yesterday.
It seems that Australia has decided to drop the word "soccer" to describe that game that no one in countries where the term "soccer" is used gives a shit about (right here in the good ole U. S. of A. for example). They have decided to adopt the Old World "football" in its place.
What we have here is an endlessly fascinating sociological, historical and linguistic puzzle. It may well be a watershed in the field of evolutionary post-colonial linguistics, shedding some real light on heirarchy of shared language between countries that once shared a motherland/colony relationship as Australia and Great Britain (the originators of "football") obviously did. In an odd way, hearkening back to the "older" usage is a way of modernizing, economically and culturally, as Australia emerges in the 21st century from sleepy backwater kangaroo-violating, slopey-hat-wearing gaggle of toothless convicts into a vibrant, connected world player on both the macro-economic and globally cultural stage.
Ahahaha, I was just kidding. I'm not going to write about that crap. I'd have to give a shit about Australians who, last I checked, are total foreigners.
Unless you are an Australian reading my blog, in which case you're one of the rare enlightened ones. And I love you.
Really I'm just trying to avoid posting about the goddamn "Christmas program" at my kid's school last night. Yes I know, another one. The kindergartners had one song to sing. So in the course of a 90-minute program I gave a shit for exactly 3 minutes.
I spent the rest of the night in a Hogan's Heroes rerun trying to extract my child from the clutches of overprotective self-righteous Catholics. At first they flatly refused to release any kids before the entire program was over. One thing about volunteers, though: if you "accidentally" stick a thumb in their eye, they're suddenly alot more receptive. Ironically, it seems to help them focus.
It's not like the program was completely useless, though. I learned something: hey, did you know the Messiah was born?! Very long time ago, from what I gathered. And in a stable surrounded by animals. Doesn't sound very hygienic if you ask me. Humblest of beginnings. Sure, he's a half-divine Savior of All Mankind, but he's reg'lar folks, just like you and me and all the rest of us who were born surrounded on all sides by sheep dung.
All I wanted from the evening was not to be the parent of the kid who vomited on stage. I got my wish. A Christmas miracle.
And because vacation starts tomorrow for my kid and Mrs. Pops (with whom I am well pleased... have I mentioned that?), I'm off the Ritalin and rolling with the ADHD. All this to explain yet another abrupt subject shift into something I just need to mention.
A group of med students at University College London have spent acutal time and energy on a full medical work-up of Gollum. No, not the actor who played the voice of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films, the actual pretend non-existent character Gollum his own self.
As an American, I'm somewhat annoyed. All the really stupid time wasting ideas at the university level usually come from us. We're the country that invented whole courses on Madonna or Friends, not to mention that total scam major "Communications". The Brits are nosing in on our turf.
As for the actual study, diagnoses ranged from "schizophrenia" to "multiple personality disorder" to "a bit barmy" to "total wanker". I apologize if any of you are confused by the scientific jargon.
You can't get a decent flu vaccine from them, but if you have any CGI characters whose behavior has you worried, the UK is the place to go.
My favorite line fromt the article though: "His bulging eyes and weight loss also suggests a thyroid problem, they added." Prescription: Photoshop.
I'm obviously limping to the finish line. The whole family will be home every day until after the New Year, so I'll post when possible. If you need to ration just for safety's sake, read one paragraph of this post per day or until the headaches subside. Good luck.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.5
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Moment Of Clarity
OK, so just to be absolutely, 100% clear about yesterday's post: it was supposed to be satire.
I was shocked and awed in a very sweet, non-Rumsfeldian kind of a way at all the concern I got from my dedicated readers... most of them anyway.
If you misunderstood, that's all on me. I wasn't trying to trick anyone, really. Well, except the entire Christian Right, but more on that in a moment.
For regular Bucketeers, as I wrote the thing I thought I was making it obvious; references to my wife sodomizing me with a foreign object while I slept, calling sports-talk radio for relationship advice, quoting a line from Ghostbusters, etc. As usual, "what I thought" as I was writing ultimately had very little to do with any kind of reality.
As I said, whatever misunderstanding happened I take full responsibility for. As for what (sort of) went wrong, I see two options:
1) I am a master satirist, capable of evoking images and emotions so deeply primal that readers are unable to distinguish the fictive and the actual, the hard-lined contours delineating reality from rhetoric smeared into a spectrum of infinite, borderless color by a swirling, raining miasma of words and images that speak directly to the human soul, bypassing the discerning intellect.
2) I am an incompetent hack incapable of making a coherent point.
I do see that you people don't actually have any kind of context against which to judge what is and isn't true about me and my life. Know what? I kind of dig that. Suffer in your ignorance, people. To quote billionaire philanthropist Jimmy James, I am a riddle wrapped in an enigma, smothered in secret sauce.
That said, from here on out I recognize that I will be the Blogger Who Cried Silly. As touching as it is to know you all would have my back (at least for the few seconds it takes to crank out a comment on a post) in a crisis, the result of this episode may be that should something actually happen, I'm going to have some skeptical, skeptical readers on my hands. I can see it: "No, I swear, my mom really did get run over by a train. God damn you people, believe me!"
Beyond satire of the moment, my main goal for the post was--and still is--to have it circulate around the internet as an inspirational chain letter among irony-proof right wing nutcases as an actual example from real life how gay marriage ruins hetero marriages. I want to be as famous as the person who first wrote that Clinton murdered people and fathered dozens of black children out of wedlock. Fingers crossed.
Mrs. Pops has asked me to point out that she is not in fact a raving homophobic, change stealing, family-abandoning xenophobe. When I asked her what I should say about the night-time sodomizing with a foreign object, she kind of just shrugged and walked away.
And I would never refer to homosexuals as "homos" if I were being serious. It's dismissive and vague. In my everyday life I celebrate diversity by using much more specific terms: "pickle-smokers" for the guys, "carpet-munchers" for the ladies. I'm sure the gay and lesbian community appreciates it.
In closing, I will quote a certain anonymous someone who summed up his/her reaction to learning the truth about yesterday's post via e-mail: "Fucker."
I don't think I can improve on that.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0 (is it possible to be more self-referential? I think not)
PS- Tomorrow: the story about the time my oldest boy accidentally killed homeless guy. It's true!
PPS- This topic saved you all from a long, long post about how Australia has decided to stop calling soccer "soccer" in favor of "football". Damn. Maybe tomorrow.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Maybe Hockey Will Save Us
I think it's clear by now that I'm not entirely comfortable sharing any kind of detailed personal information. Really, past where I (generally) live, my age, my actual first name--it really is Pops... mom was both prescient and a sadist-- , my wife's age and occupation, how many kids I have and their ages... wow, you know what, I'm not as good at this as I thought. First thing in the morning I'm filing restraining orders against each and every one of you. Nothing personal. Just in case.
But since the tap is open and the warm, frothy personal-information is flowing I guess I can talk about what I wanted to talk about. It's somewhat more intensely personal than what you're used to, so prepare yourself.
Mrs. Pops and I have been having some pretty serious problems lately. I'm not sure what the problem is, but it's never been this bad. We started alot of petty bickering and sarcastic back-and-forth about a week ago. Nothing too intense or out of the ordinary for our house, really. We have three kids, she works long hours sometimes, so things get short every once in a while. Normally we weather these things pretty well.
For some reason, though, things have gotten progressively worse over the last week or so. Heavy sighs and rolled eyes gave way to muttering, then to cutting asides, then to open arguing, then to shouting, then finally, Monday night, I called her something I really shouldn't have. It wasn't my finest hour and I'm ashamed.
Since then it's been a stand-off of escalating passive-aggression. She took all the change out of the ashtray in my van, I "forgot" to tell her her mom called. She comes home later than necessary with no explanation, I "accidentally" leave the computer on with IE open to Match.com. From there it just got worse.
Over the last couple of days, as you can imagine, I've been getting desperate. I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what the problem could be. Sure, things generally get a little testy over the holidays, but this is so obviously more than that.
I've even tried radio call-in advice shows, but they were no help. Maybe I'm listening to the wrong stations. All I really learned so far is that Vinny from San Pedro thinks I should take the Falcons plus the points over Carolina this weekend.
This needs a solution. I don't want to move out. I don't want to get divorced. I don't want to leave my kids. I don't want to wake up in the morning with my tongue tasting like bleach and bleeding from the rectum again. What could it be?
I'm feeling pretty good as I type this because I think I finally cracked it. Married people all over America, if you've been having similar problems you need to play close attention to this. It could save your marriage (not to mention the lowest 1/3 of your colon).
My problems started right around last Thursday. That's right. The same day the Canadian Supreme Court gave its blessing to gay marriage.
I take back everything I ever said about Southern rednecks, Ohio rednecks, Jerry Falwell, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter. OK, maybe not Ann Coulter. The point is, they were absolutely right. Somehow--and I don't pretend to understand it--the express right of Canadian homos to marry one another is undermining the sanctity of my Godly heterosexual union.
The really shocking thing is I don't even know any Canadian homos. And yet somehow, they've completely ruined my otherwise happy marriage. The evidence is irrefutable: ever since their rights to marry were declared "Constitutional" (I put it in quotes because it's only the Canadian constitution, which also mandates every citizen of that frozen wasteland must consume 300 gallons of maple syrup every year. Think about that for a second) it's been absolute anarchy around here.
I can see it's not going to stop at destroying my marriage either. The whole edifice of public morality is starting to crumble right before my eyes. Freeway speed limits, for example, are being ignored with shocking regularity. Jaywalking is at epidemic levels. My large Cherry Coke from Del Taco the other day was like 90% ice. The girls in the Champagne Room at the Spearmint Rhino all of a sudden really mean it when they say "no touching". Dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!
And it's all because of Canadian gays trying to get married. It almost makes you want to become a Republican.
For me and Mrs. Pops, though, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I can't wait until she gets home and I can share the good news of my sudden insight. I'm hoping it will remind her of the early days of our relationship, when the only thing stronger than our common hatred of the gays was our shared, hysterical xenophobia. She won't know what to do with herself: should we hate them because they're gay or because they're Canadian? I guess it doesn't matter. It will just be us being the best us we can be. And that is an encouraging thought.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.8 or 4.6 (depending on how you read it)
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
An Open Letter To Lindsay Lohan
Dear Ms. Lohan,
Despite the best efforts of your mom, your agent, your publicist and your entire team, I do not want to fuck you.
I see your coy, semi-nude Entertainment Weekly cover and I understand the process all too tragically well. You can vamp it all you want in all the cleavage-enhancing outfits you can get your freckled hands on, it's not going to work. All the blood is going to stay up around my brain.
It's not that I don't appreciate the effort, I do. And I more than understand where it comes from. I get that you've been told it's necessary to make this tactical choice now that you're 18 to "cross over" from your Parent Trap and Freaky Friday days picking up Jodie Foster's kid-star scraps. You need to broaden your appeal beyond the pre-pubescent girl market. Lots of people told you the best way to do that was to try and make older men want to bend you over a chair Kobe Bryant style.
Yes, it's quite a quandary you find yourself in, Ms. Lohan. These are choices all child stars have to make if they want to continue in "the Business" as we call it. There is the wander-off-to-college route (Jodie Foster again!)... and then there's the one you've apparently had chosen for you. Armed with basic good looks and being under 300 lbs., you've got the opportunity to parlay your physical attractiveness into attention from disposable-income-having adults, thus (it is no doubt hoped) shedding your pre-boobies image of wholesomeness.
And don't get me wrong, boobies are a powerful tool. If I had boobies, knowing what I know about them and how they affect the human mind, I'm fairly certain I'd be running a large part of the world by now. Either that or I'd be in a traveling freak show, one or the other. I guess that depends on whether or not by having boobies I would also be a female. If I were still me plus boobies, well...
I'm sorry. Where was I?
In some ways, it's easier for boys. All former boy child stars have to do is play a drug addicts or a homosexual in an "edgy" independent film to make their transition. This is not to say it always works (anyone remember Jonathan Taylor Thomas? No? Me neither), but by and large they get to keep their pants on.
I guess it is nice that you, Ms. Lohan, at least have the option of turning suggestive poses and partial nudity into gold, unlike the boys or ugly girls (poor Hilary Duff and her giant, unphotographable head). Your mother understands this. In the EW article accompanying your cover, she points out "last year has been very hard on her famous daughter: 'Lindsay's at a very tender age. You know, she grew,' she says, cupping her hands to her chest in an unsolicited address of Lindsay's oft-questioned cleavage. 'They're real, by the way.'" The article doesn't say if she gave a wink and a nudge as she said it. She's obviously got your best interests at heart, though, I must say.
The problem for me personally aren't the pictures. It's the fact that you give interviews. Some of the quotes are just ice-cold buckets of water on what should be percolating lechery. Two examples from the EW article:
"'Ashlee Simpson, Hilary Duff, they've been going to the same clubs I'm at, but you never hear about it. But when I do it, it's front-page news!"
And responding to reports of your crazy ass, rehabbing dad, breaking up with your TV star boyfriend, getting stalked by paparazzi while hanging out with Paris Hilton and public rumors of your own drug use, you say "'I'm kind of glad all that happened, because people know that I'm a real person and I deal with real issues.'"
I don't think alot more needs to be said. The quotes notwithstanding, you were going to have a tough time trying to find a space in the crowded cast of nude and semi-nude female celebrities that people my subconscious anyway. I'm not saying it will never happen (never give up!), but realistically you're going to have to dislodge Tyra Banks or Elle MacPherson or Florence Henderson which I don't see happening in the near future. Sorry.
In closing I would like to point out that the reason for my lack of interest is not because I think you are in any way fat. I'd hate to think my firm rejection would drive you to bulimia. Really, it's not worth it. Just say no.
PS: Watch out for that Tommy Mottola. That guy's all hands.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.7
Monday, December 13, 2004
Clinton's Face Was All Puffy Too...
I'm sure I've probably said it before, but American cultural conservatism is pretty silly. They expend so much time and energy trying to drag us selfish hedonists back onto the path of righteousness when really they should be watching what they eat and getting 4-6 hours of vigorous exercise a week. Think of your grandchildren, Jerry Falwell.
That the most vociferous among them would like to drag us "back" is an important point: most of them use rhetoric like "We would like to see this country return to a time when..." and then lay out their program for America's future, never once pausing to consider that the America they are hearkening back to is either 1) a figment of their imaginations or 2) reflective only of their personal white Christian experience inside the walls of the houses they grew up in. No drugs, no sex, no pornography, no Jews, no darkies, no abortion... just think of it! And we can do it again!
I think the fact that the film Reefer Madness was made in 1936 tells us more than we need to know about that. And I'm going to leave Prohibition and Jim Crow out of it for now.
American cultural conservatives look even sillier when you consider them against other countries' conservatives. Take for instance Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
Not even now, at the period of unquestioned political ascendency, can American cultural conservatives ever dream of thinking to dare to act like Putin. Not only has he rolled back representative democracy bit by bit at home in Russia in preparation for his big-and-completely-unsurprising announcement to suspend the constitution just before his term is set to expire (I can hardly wait for it myself), but he's even reaching now for a good old-timey Soviet-style international domination of its neighbors.
He's not just going on political talk shows, writing letters, stealing money, just waiting for something to happen like gas-bag American cultural conservatives, oh no. That Putin, he's a do-er. A go-getter. Want a satellite state? Well, you fix an election and (just for back-up) poison the opposition.
And meanwhile, Canada continues to operate unabated. Where is your pride, Sean Hannity?
The great advantage that Putin has is that he's trying to recreate a time that not only existed, but existed in recent enough memory to scare the bejeesus out of everyone involved. He thus has a better chance at success.
But, sadly for him, just like the American cultural conservatives, his memory is dangerously selective. He has fallen victim to the classic blunder: Those who don't remember that Jesus Jones song are doomed to repeat it. Something like that. I'm paraphrasing obviously, but anyway, there were crowds and banners and lots of smelly unshowered-ness going on in Kiev, too far away for Putin to mow down with tanks.
So the past he was recalling actually existed, only he forgot that it had already been resoundingly rejected by all of the world and then, finally, his own people which (at the time) included Ukranians.
That said, I more than admire his verve, his moxy, his gusto. There's a man's man who does what needs to be done. Haphazardly, stupidly and badly, but he's active at least.
He's quite an example for conservatives the world over.
All I can say is: Your move, Pat Robertson.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.8
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Tit For Tat
Gay marriage is, I believe, a serious issue in this country at the moment with all kinds of ramifications legally and morally. What it comes down to really is whether or not we want a whole generation of kids being born into families where they will be taught proper grooming, how to dance and an odd fascination with Judy Garland.
But when I really really think about it, gay marriage just doesn't have anything to do with me personally, primarily because I'm not gay.
I know what you're thinking "Pops, it sounds like you're protesting a little too much there. Is that because you're secretly a homosexual?" To which I might reply either "Shut up, you bastards!" or alternatively "What do you mean, 'secretly'?"
The practical truth is, as a heterosexual man, I find myself married to a woman. And while assiduous, selective, non-critical, group-thinking Bible readers of certain particular ecumenical persuasions may applaud the simple fact of my genetic (any cheers for my blue eyes? No? No credit for that whatsoever?) sexual predisposition toward boobies, I myself cannot bring myself to think in such simple terms.
What the anti-gay marriage people forget to mention is that, for a man, living with a woman for an extended period of time can on occasion be monumentally inconvenient, even if ordained by God. This of course works in both directions as I'm sure for women co-habiting with snoring, farting, remote-control hording, sports-obsessing, boobie-centric dudes presents its own set of unique challenges, none of which I'm qualified to comment on.
Of course I'm talking about compromise, the thing the Best Man at your wedding pulls you aside and attempts to warn you about 5 minutes before the ceremony in the mandated last-chance "Are You Sure You Want To Do This? Speech" (alternatively known as the "We Can Be In Vegas In Three Hours" speech, depending on where you live). The Best Man isn't being a cock-blocking son of a bitch; this is actually one of his duties. The list of Best Man duties is actually pretty short: 1) Procure stripper for bachelor party, 2) Organize the destruction of all evidence of bachelor party, including and especially any resultant corpses, 3) Don't loose the fucking ring, you irresponsible fuckwit, 4) The "Last Chance" speech and 5) Grating, inappropriate "funny" toast at the reception. It doesn't sound like alot, but figure in all the alcohol involved and it's quite a chore.
Where was I? Oh yes, compromise. At the risk of sounding conceited and hopelessly biased (this is a blog, after all) I'd say Mrs. Pops got really lucky. My parents divorced in the hazy days of pre-memory, leaving me to be raised by one mother and two sisters, one older and one younger. For my slower readers, this means 3 chicks and one dude, me. Normally this would sound like quite a weekend in Fort Lauderdale on Spring Break... unless everyone's related, you have no money and the situation lasts roughly 20 years. Then it's everything you can do just to keep all your veins closed.
Besides the mountainous therapy bills and the persistent nervous twitch in my left eye, the primary result of my cohabitation with three women is that I was thoroughly house-broken when Mrs. Pops found me; broken being the operative word. She never had to teach me the things most women are forced to teach their mates; normal stuff like putting the toilet seat down, rinse out the sink after you shave, no porn mags in plain sight, beer-can pyramids are a poor decorating choice, etc.
Those are the nuts-and-bolts, everyday-practical things that I needed to know and--by and large--already did.
But but but.
There are things you must learn to do as a man when long-term coupled with a female partner. Things that no guide-book or vicarious bull-sessions will ever fully illuminate. Things that must be done, compromises that must be made in order to minimize the sudden, mysterious onset of "headache" or "tiredness" in those rare moments when you find yourselves together, awake, alone and behind a lockable door.
Knowing this about me, then, you will understand how I came to find myself in front of the TV this week to watch chick-flick Brit-fest Love Actually. It was on HBO and showing opposite Cinemax's offering of Busty Cops (oddly, no iMDB entry for that one), so you can probably guess what my first choice would have been.
Truth be told, it could have been worse. It could have been How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (Jesus wept). The cast includes Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Martin Freeman (or as I call him, "Hey! It's that guy Tim from The Office!") among non-sucky others.
I wouldn't go so far as to say I enjoyed it. It was sort of anthology-style Short Attention Span Theater. It had some... erm... weak spots. Like Hugh Grant deciding to play the British Prime Minister as though he was the guy from Four Weddings And A Funeral who had won the job in some kind of horrific radio call-in contest. And Liam Neeson's bit, playing opposite a gender-neutral half-formed embryo/child. At the opening of the film, we learn the embryo/child's mother has died, leaving step-dad Qui Gon Jinn with this... thing to raise into human-hood. And him without a womb! This establishing 30-second scene, alas, is the very last we hear of the dead mom, whom they both get over disturbingly quickly.
The film also includes Keira Knightly in the cast. Casting directors and critics keep trying to convince me that this woman is, in fact, beautiful. I'm sorry, but I refuse. And no, it's not just because she's emaciated (I'm convinced the inside-walls of her skin on opposite sides of her body actually touch in some places): it's because I can see her skull. Not her face, I mean the actual contours of the bones that make up her head. Most of us have body fat, which deposits in some places in our faces, which in turn helps us to connote or transmit our emotional state via our ever-changing expressions, something which Ms. Knightly is sadly unable to do. It scares me, frankly. But I suppose when you're British, all you have to do to be considered "hot" is to have semi-straight teeth, a nose too small to steer a boat with and any semblance of a discernable chin. This explains why people think the equally frightening Posh Spice is "hot".
But I do like Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman and I got to see a boobie (Laura Linney! That one goes on the list), so it wasn't a total loss.
I'm not sure how to close this post other than to say the cast did include Colin Firth. I swear to God that motherfucker is stalking me.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.1
PS: Bit of a ramble, innit?
Friday, December 10, 2004
Would You Like Turn-down Service?
As part of the ongoing, evolutionary process to nudge the Bucket ever closer to blog perfection one infinitesimal step at a time, you may notice a few minor changes. They're almost too small to even bother noting, but this is a blog, which by definition is primarily preoccupied with remarking on the unremarkable. For instance, that last sentence did run-on quite a bit, didn't it?
Anyway, here goes.
I can't think of a single reason why anyone would want to e-mail me when it's so much more fun to tell me how much I suck in a public forum. But in order to keep the shit from this blog from overflowing onto an e-mail account I actually occasionally use, I have spared no effort or expense to create a state-of-the-art Bucket-specific e-mail account at email@example.com. In case any potential spammers missed that, it's firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send your penis enlargement, debt consolidation, Nigerian bank fraud and free incest porn junk to that address.
For you Bucketeers, if you've thought of something to call me that's just too vile to share publicly, that would be the place to send it.
Also--and again, I can't think of a single reason why anyone would want to do this--I've enabled the E-mail This Post To A Friend option down there near the Comments. "Enabled" sounds so willful and active (just like our President!) when actually I was nosing around yesterday with my Blogger stuff and said "Hey, I wonder what that does?" Turns out it... you know, enabled that option. So there it is. Go on, clutter your friends' e-mail boxes with Pops-ness. Don't think of it as spam, think of it as electronically-transmitted syphilis if it makes you feel less guilty.
And because it is our solemn duty as Americans to celebrate mediocrity and plain idiot common sense as excellence, I would like to point out that I finally figured out how to change the font-size of my links over there on the right. So if the link to your blog looks just a leeeetle bit smaller, that's because it is. Yes, it only took me 6 months to figure out how to do that. And remember, just because the text of your link is smaller, it doesn't necessarily mean that I think less of you as a human being.
Also, there's a new link there at the bottom, The Meat of the Matter. It's by some guy who calls himself "The Butcher", which is scarier than it sounds. Actually, ironically enough, it's all about militant vegan eco-terrorism. Yeah, I was surprised too. Sort of a mixed message, when you think about it. The first post I read was about the time he (allegedly) beat a grouse poacher to death with a bag of live puppies.
And now, so this post will have some non-housekeeping content, I offer you the following quote from never-was Hollywood action star Jean-Claude van Damme via (strangely) Demagogue:
"It's not true that the potency of a man decreases if he has a tough physical training regime every day. I can tell you that from my own experiences. When I get back home every day I am my wife's superhero in bed."
And with that visual image burned into the back of your eyeballs, I take my leave.
Enjoy the superficial new-ness of the blog. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to rescue the content.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.95 (it was the J-CvD quote that saved it)
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Bill O'Reilly talking to a Jewish caller who is not crazy about the in-your-face Christmas extravaganza and the sometimes-associated inappropriateness of the message. This comes via his stupid ass radio show via Media Matters via The Rude Pundit:
O'REILLY: All right. Well, what I'm tellin' you, [caller], is I think you're takin' it too seriously. You have a predominantly Christian nation. You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus. And you don't wanna hear about it? Come on, [caller] -- if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then. I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo -- and that's your guys' -- Christian, that's my guys' philosophy. But overwhelmingly, America is Christian. And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus. So, you don't wanna hear about it? Impossible.
And that is an affront to the majority. You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that's what this anti-Christmas thing is all about.
This has been quite a week for the Ascendency of Global Conservatism (Washington Branch). Yesterday we had Rummy telling logistically hobbled, forcibly re-enlisted, unarmored soldiers to "suck it up, you big babies". There was the Falwell thing a few days ago where he was forced to categorically deny ever having eaten a gay person.
And now there's this. The three incidents do have one thing in common: self-important, puffed-up manly-men being challenged by people who don't buy what they're selling, leaving them to blurt out what they really think in exasperation. I don't pretend that this is strictly a conservative phenomenon, they just happen to be the only people in any kind of authoritative position right now. Harry Reid could come out tomorrow and say Osama bin Laden has been living in his basement for the last six months and nobody would care. Harry Reid is a Democrat.
It just occurred to me: you probably have no idea who Harry Reid is, do you? If you do, then you are afflicted with the same disease as I am and should seek treatment. Not knowing who Harry Reid is might just be a sign of functioning person-ness.
Anyway, back to making fun of conservatives: the election is over, the heady, frothy mixture of champagne and pure unadulterated power has been guzzled and the political inhibitions are dropping hard, like a fat guy with narcolepsy. The message now is: "We are going to do what we are going to do. The steamroller does not discriminate."
The really cool thing about Bill O'Reilly is that, even when invoking it, he finally kills off the lie of the "Judeo-Christian" tradition. He throws it in there out of reflex, because he feels like he has to ("I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo -- and that's your guys' -- Christian, that's my guys' philosophy"), and still somehow manages to be patronizing and condescending even as he tries to be inclusive.
But by the last line, in the post-Bush re-election glow where we can all really say what we've been thinking of such a long time, in reference to the caller's complaint, he spells it out: "And that is an affront to the majority. You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that's what this anti-Christmas thing is all about."
Christmas-->Christian-->American. Dissent is an "insult". No, better than that, dissent is de-stabilizing, it's rabble-rousing, it's akin to treason. It's the small band of quaint pagans and atheists rising up, just asking to be squished by the majority, those for whom the existence of the minority and their unorthodox positions is a barely tolerable nuisance.
Looking at the trend of recent weeks, I expect by tomorrow that Rush Limbaugh will make a public call for the "re-patriation" of black people to Africa and the blogosphere will implode from the sheer weight of it.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.4
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Welcome, one and all, to my special 50th 122nd post! You know, it's been quite a long road these past six months or so since I started this thing. If you would have asked me where I would be in my life when I reached a milestone like my 50th 122nd post, I would have told you I'd probably be commuting back and forth to the moon in my flying space-car to my job as a translator at the giant Planets United complex in New New York (Lunar) City.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I reached my 50th 122nd post so quickly. Here I am, in roughly... no, exactly the same place I was when I typed my 1st 122nd post sometime in early November. It's sort of sad when you think about it.
No, the future is always a disappointment. I blame Hollywood. For some reason, every time a movie comes out that is set at any infinitesimal length of time in the future--even just a year or two--there's always some kind of crazy innovation that's happened between the real then and the fictional now that is wondrous strange.
The problem is that now, as we march into the 21st century, all these chickens are coming home to roost. Think of Back to the Future, Part II for example. In that one, by 2015 we'll have handy household cold fusion run on banana peels and soda cans powering cars that fly. Somehow I don't think we're going to make it.
The one good thing about that movie: even though they had flying cars, they still showed traffic. Flying cars are the staple of futurist sci-fi, the one thing everyone predicts, but nobody takes into account that cars, even when freed from the bonds of gravity, will still be driven by people who are, by and large, assholes.
Not having the flying cars I can live with (for now... in '15 there's going to be hell to pay). What I can really live with, though, is not being dead. That's the other thing futurist always predict, that we're just a few flips of the calendar away from some damned cataclysm or another that is going to wipe out humanity. As all the promised dates of destruction come and go I tick them off on the Hello Kitty desk calendar downstairs in the fallout shelter and begin (again) my reintegration into above-ground society. Or, if you want, you can use the reprieve from promised destruction as an excuse to get roaring, shit-faced drunk. Here's a free one: because I'm a dork, I know the original Star Trek said we'd all be dead by now. A race of evil genetically-engineered supermen was supposed to have killed most of us in the 1990s. So go on, throw a few back. When the people at the bar ask what you're celebrating, tell 'em the Star Trek thing. Star Trek is always a sure-fire in for any social situation.
So anyway, as we celebrate together my 50th 122nd post, everything is blandly the same. Same cars, same house, same kids, same wife, even the same goddamn president. I did have to get some new clothes to cover my expanding girth... well no, I guess I can't count a bed-sheet with a neck-hole cut in it as "new".
Even technology is still the same. Sure, we have cell phones that grow into sunflowers, but past that nothing is different.
Take, for instance, Blogger. It's been nearly two months since my automagical post-counter has moved off 122. In fact, I can say with some certainty that the day my Blogger post-counter stopped working was on the day of my 1st 122nd post.
So here, 50 (or so) 122nd posts later, I have no change to report. I guess I can take some comfort in the consistency of Blogger's less-than-optimal operation (at no cost to me!).
Or I could see it as the first pebble. Maybe something so small as that--a minor, annoying failure of technology--is simply the start of a larger interruption, a slow-starting cascading internet(s) wide collapse of all technology, terrestrial and celestial, hurtling mankind back into a New Stone Age where we revert to micro-regional packs of nomadic tribes clubbing one another to death over a half-eaten gazelle carcass or the last few drops of gasoline, Mad Max style. Now there's a future I can get behind.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.7
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
The Times They Are A-Changin'
I was born in 1974, which means I was old enough to start thinking and acting as a semi-independent person right around 1980. There were lots of horrid things about the 1980s (skinny ties, white blazers over pastel T-shirts, the palpable fear of imminent nuclear destruction, that song by Starship, Ronald Reagan, the rise of the key-tar). But the 80s, for all the hair-product abuse and synthesized music, have one thing going for them: they weren't the 60s.
So far, the only decades better than the 1980s have been the 1990s (30 years after the 60s) and this decade (40 years after the 60s). I have high hopes for the 2010s.
As an avowed liberal I should have more sympathy for the 1960s ethos, but I just can't. As far as I can tell, the easy access to drugs and the ravages of sexually transmitted diseases has produced an entire generation of people who are mildly--but permanently and undeniably--brain damaged.
This thesis would explain alot of things, including the success of the redesigned VW Beetle. Without the support of hippies and their sorority-girl daughters, not a single one of those monstrosities would have been sold. We could also chalk up Earth Day, ponchos and the unwillingness of the Rolling Stones to just fucking go away already to their list of crimes against humanity.
And then just yesterday, I read this: a company in conjunction with Motorola has developed cell phones that grow into sunflowers when thrown away. I assume you have to bury and water them first.
How do I know it's the Hippie Cabal that's behind this? Because it can't just be that a new type of plastic is introduced that biodegrades, oh no, it has to grow into a goddamn sunflower. It might as well play Bob Dylan songs and distribute tabs of LSD.
This is really just another insidious example of tiresome, well-off former hippies uncomfortable with their own affluence, even as they revel in it like sows in shit.
I can hardly wait until the day all the Baby Boomers are retired or dead and my generation finally gets its day. We'll make cell-phones that not only don't grow sunflowers, not only will they not biodegrade, but when you plant them in the ground, they'll eventually grow another brand-new non-biodegradable cell phone; or maybe something else to take up space in landfills that piss hippies off, like baby diapers or refrigerators.
Maybe I'm being too harsh. It's possible that my reaction to this story is somewhat overwrought because of my own personal embarrassment. I've been composting old electronic equipement on my front lawn for years now, in direct violation of my home-owners' association guidelines, trying to grow porcini mushrooms. So far it hasn't grown a thing no matter how much I water it. It doesn't even draw flies.
The heap is up to six feet tall and has cost me over $800 in fines. Boy, do I feel like an ass now.
And to the guy from across the street who I threw the old DVD player at after you laughed at me and reported me to the HOA, I would like to say two things: 1) sorry, which I believe fulfills my court-mandated public apology and 2) I fucking told you so. Turns out I was just ahead of my time.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.1
Monday, December 06, 2004
Is It Too Late To Explain?
I stole this from here.
"There was a clear fountain, with water like silver... Hither came one day the youth, fatigued with hunting, heated and thirsty. He stooped down to drink, and saw his own image in the water; he thought it was some beautiful water-spirit living in the fountain. He stood gazing with admiration at those bright eyes, those locks curled like the locks of Bacchus or Apollo, the rounded cheeks, the ivory neck, the parted lips, and the glow of health and exercise over all. He fell in love with himself...
It fled at the touch, but returned again after a moment and renewed the fascination. He could not tear himself away; he lost all thought of food or rest while he hovered over the brink of the fountain gazing upon his own image. His tears fell into the water and disturbed the image. As he saw it depart, he exclaimed, "Stay, I entreat you! Let me at least gaze upon you, if I may not touch you." With this, and much more of the same kind, he cherished the flame that consumed him, so that by degrees be lost his colour, his vigour, and the beauty which formerly had so charmed the nymph Echo.
He pined away and died; and when his shade passed the Stygian river, it leaned over the boat to catch a look of itself in the waters... They prepared a funeral pile and would have burned the body, but it was nowhere to be found; but in its place a flower, purple within, and surrounded with white leaves, which bears the name and preserves the memory of Narcissus."
But just before he died, he spoke these words: "And lo! Hark! Avast ye! Were I to live but another couple thousand years or so, verily would I partake of a blog, to set in print words of mine own, to chronicle such things as the matter I didst eat for breakfast or how that woman at my job, yea verily and forsooth, is quite the bitch. And hearken! If'n I shouldst thus blog, there shouldst yea verily be a scale for me named, ranging from I to X (if I'm Roman... if I'm Greek, then use whatever numbers they used... or the Arabs, use their numbers. Those people can really count), including decimal increments thereof. This scale shalt affirm the extent to which a blogger shall have his head thoroughly lodged yea verily up his own ass. A perfect score shall reflect (har har) the height of self-referentialism, a blog-post completely without regard to anything or anyone outside the blogger's personal experience. So yea verily spakest I and so yea verily shall it be, for ever and ever, amen. Peace out."
So you see, the Scale is not a trivial affectation easily dismissed. It's an exhortation from on high. How "on high" depends on how you rank Greek and/or Roman demi-gods on your cosmological scale. For me they're above the Persian pantheon (obviously... who takes them seriously?), but not quite as high as the Hindu. It's the Kama Sutra that puts them over the top.
And how come all the Greek and Roman gods talk like a bunch of Victorians? I think the Victorians, for all their reputation as stuck up and Godly, had a dark, lusty pagan streak. Why else would they preserve and expand on all these things? If it weren't for the chastity belts, I think I'd really like to party with those people.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0