Thursday, March 31, 2005
Well, the Schiavo lady is dead. Now what?
Where does a weary nation turn for comfort, to distract us from the pain of losing our latest distraction? We either find something else to obsess about as a nation or--horror of horrors--we will be forced to turn inward, to face the little laboratories of nihilism that are our homes and families and embrace the sweet emptiness of the day-to-day every day.
Most of us can't afford that kind of backsliding. You give your kids one slight hint that you might be engaged in the here-and-now and next thing you know they expect you to drive them to baseball or dance class or worse, attend games/practice/recitals. That's a slippery slope at the bottom of which lies the tangled, thorny briar of mutual love and respect, something no parent should ever have to face.
Remember, they're going to reject, resent and despise you when they're teenagers no matter what you do. You're actually doing them a favor by laying the groundwork now. Imagine the confusion it would cause if they loved you for the supportive, nurturing soul you are one minute and then irrationally hate your stinking guts the next while in the grip of hormonal instability. If you ask me, that kind of emotional dissonance risks a true psychotic break. For me, I think it's safer if my son(s) were to say "Jesus, my dad is a prick" and really really mean it. Not being loving and attentive now is the most loving and attentive thing I can think to do.
The problem is that now, in the post-Schiavo meantime, what do we have to draw our attention away from the people who need it most?
This morning I opened my paper to find out that Oscar winner Hillary Swank has been convicted of a crime! Celebrity trial! Freshly-minted wholesome celebrity brought low by some kind of horrible debauched lapse in judgment, maybe by her Oscar-fueled feelings of legal invulnerability, perhaps? And a chance to see that ponce Chad Lowe cry again!
I devoured the story with glee, only to be bitterly, bitterly disappointed.
Hang on, she was convicted of bringing an apple and orange into New Zealand? And fined $230.
Worst. Gossip. Ever.
I mean hell, the trial's even already over. And that fine, that's in New Zealand dollars. What's $230 NZD converted to American currency? I think it work out to two buttons and an old gum wrapper. I think that fucking Chad Lowe probably had that on him at the time. I'm sure they laughed when they paid it, amused by the primitive Kiwis and their quaint system of justice.
The upside I guess is that Hillary and Chad might leave this skirmish drunk with their own power, feeling like there's no law in the world that can touch them now that they've so easily sloughed off this challenge to their God-given celebrity right to do whatever the fuck they want. Maybe next time, just for the thrill of it, they'll do something really really crazy like smuggle a pineapple into Norway or sneak a bag full of pluots into Bangladesh.
OK, I admit it, there's no way to sex-up this story. I guess it's just me and the kids.
Oh! Oh wait! Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne had to escape their burning mansion!
Man, that Ozzy. You can always count on that shuffling, mumbling bastard to get caught up in something crazy to keep you occupied. First the reality show, then he almost kills himself on an ATV, then the he fights robbers single-handedly and now this. The imagined visuals alone are enough to chase away my childrens' pleas for attention for a few blissful seconds.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.0
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Death And The Blog
With the introduction of a feeding tube, my Pope is shamelessly trying to glom himself some Terri Schiavo spill-over love. I can understand his frustration as he's been at the top of everyone's Celebrity Next To Die list for 10 years now, a position even more solidified since Marlon "Butter Veins" Brando snuffed it last year. Then this Schiavo girl shows up after laying there for 15 years not bothering anyone (herself included) and nobody gives a shit about Popey anymore.
The sad thing is that JP2 doesn't seem to understand that his story lacks the pathos of the Schiavo case. In his situation, there is no one for the radical right to paint as the villain. The Pope needs a Michael Schiavo if he's going to work some of that Terri magic. It's sort of a catch-22 for the Pope though because if we were to find out that he's been married to a man for any length of time, the feeding tube and right-to-life hoo-ha wouldn't be the lead story anymore, I suspect.
Although it would explain why he shares a bedroom with the cardinal he calls "Sugar-Lump".
Speaking of the decrepit, I've been dealing with one of those flashes of the existential heebie-jeebies lately. It might have something to do with my landmark birthday last year (30) and the next one approaching (sometime in the next 11 1/2 months... plan accordingly), forcing my brain to examine itself and its gathering finitude.
All is transitory, all is shifting, all is Heideggerrian becoming, all on its way elsewhere...
Even the blog. They seem so permanent with their electronic representations of printed words stored potentially forever so that future generations can read about how early 21st century people liked to quote song lyrics, talk endlessly about boring subjects (sailing, porcelain figurines, jazz) or knit for Jesus.
But then one day you're innocently clicking through your blog-roll and... something's wrong. Someone is missing.
I don't know what happened to Melissa, but I hope it's nothing serious. I know she was bitching about work a lot, then yesterday a bunch of her posts disappeared just before her blog blinked out of existence completely.
If it was a work-related blog rub-out, then I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate myself again for 1) blogging anonymously, even with the stupid pseudonym that I'm stuck with now and forever and 2) not working.
Every day not having a job seems like a smarter and smarter idea. I have less to blog about potentially as I'm not surrounded by retarded people whom I hate 40+ hours per week. But then I do have kids who, while not retarded, do occasionally break things or vomit, which is very considerate of them as it gives me something to talk about besides TV shows I watch.
I guess potentially I could be "fired" by my wife for blogging about her, but anyone who reads this blog knows Mrs. Pops is the perfect woman who never gives me anything to complain about. Especially if she's reading this right now.
Seriously though, if anyone knows what happened to Melissa's blog, let me know. Unless she moved it just to be rid of me specifically and has sworn you to secrecy. I would understand that completely. Just like high school all over again.
For the time being, the Bucket will be flying in missing-man formation. Also, I will stop reading Heidegger.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.8
PS: In their infinite wisdom the people in control of US Soccer have scheduled tonight's World Cup Qualifier match vs. Guatemala in that world-reknowned soccer hotbed of... Birmingham, Alabama. Congratulations to SJ and all her fellow 'Bamians. If I know anything as a Californian is that when the Guatemalans come, they come to stay. Child care and lawn service are about to get really, really cheap in the greater Birmingham area.
Watch the match. It's on a 5 pm PT/8 pm ET on ESPN2. We lost 2-1 to Mexico on Sunday in case you missed it. Support your national team. It's the only sport that carries a permanent US national team. It's a grueling schedule all for a fraction of what athletes in other sports make.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Will You Excuse Us For Just A Second?
Well, I hope you people are happy now. Following the conversations in yesterday's comments, I've gone and done something awful. I can't get into the specifics of what I've done as I need to preserve the power of my Fifth Amendment privilege when the RIAA Secret Police kick in my door, but suffice it to say that my primary defense is going to be that it's ALL YOUR FAULT, people. You just couldn't leave it alone could you? With all your helpful suggestions of programs to use and places to go... If I go down, I'm going to argue a new legal precedent, the first-ever case of law-breaking because of intense peer-to-peer pressure.
Just a warning to readers Yoli (Mexico) and Magical Shrimp (Canada), though: I may be crashing at your place(s) for a while until the heat dies down. Cool? Cool.
After last week's slow readership (I will never forgive Sitemeter for being so comprehensive and thus enabling obsessives like me), yesterday we set a record for one-day readership in the Bucket here. I don't want to give you people the idea that I take your attentions too seriously or personally, but I am grateful that I can now unstrap myself from my elaborate Rube Goldberg suicide machine. If I had been showing similar levels of depressed (numbers I mean, not emotionally, which can't be helped) readership as last week, I was seriously thinking of opening the cage to release the mouse who would run out to get the cheese that springs the trap which lights the match which breaks the string that holds the weight which drops on to the lever... well, let's just say the ending involves a bowling ball, a chimpanzee and a shotgun.
As my popularity skyrockets, however, the hardwired parts of my personality that are terrified of success switch into self-sabotage mode. It's the same set of circuits that made me say no the first time the woman who would become Mrs. Pops first asked me out (that's a true story, by the way).
Flush with adoration of regular readers and new, I will now drive many away by choosing to address something pop-culturally specific, alienating all those not intimately familiar with the subject matter. I don't want to, I have to. You understand.
I need to talk about HBO's Deadwood. Non-adherents please talk amongst yourself. There's cake if you're interested.
Those who watch and know, please gather close.
After watching last Sunday's episode finally last night, here's my question: What the fuck?
They did a big profile of the show in Entertainment Weekly a few weeks ago where someone (I forget who) compared writer and show-runner David Milch's word choices and sentence construction to Shakespeare. Apparently he was listening because every week the words get more impenetrable. In some sense it's fun to watch because it takes an absolutely heroic performance from each and every actor to get those words out in a way that seems organic, but just try to follow the storylines, I dare you.
Where I need the most help is the subplot with the new whorehouse with Joanie (Kim Dickens) and the Borg Queen (Alice Krige) and the New Guy. He wants to beat up some other whore, but she's not there yet, so Joanie talks to him and he likes Joanie, but the new girl shows up and he likes her instead but he wants to hurt her and everyone knows it because... uh... why? And the Borg Queen hates him for some reason that I can't fathom but still goes out of her way to do what he wants...
I need help. It's making my brain hurt. Somebody needs to explain it to me.
And are we supposed to not realize that the guy who plays the New Guy is the same actor who played the guy who shot Wild Bill in the first season? I know they did that all the time on NYPD Blue, but that was because that show was on for 12 years and they ran out of actors, necessitating recycling. This show has had a grand total of, what, 16 episodes, many of which featured Garret Dillahunt in a prominent supporting role.
Also, what's that same actor doing over on ER playing someone else's role? Is he following me? And what did he do with Cole Hauser, the guy who originated the role of Linda Cardellini's scumbag ex? We're supposed to buy a) that hot-hot Linda would let Greasy McBeardyface touch her and b) Greasy McBeardyface with his weird jumbly eyes and swarthy complexion is the same person as Cole Hauser, the picture of blonde Aryan perfection?
What the hell is going on? I mean seriously, this is all totally fucking with my head. If Cole Hauser shows up on Deadwood, I swear to God I will drop dead from an aneurysm.
I guess the answer is to stop investing so much of my time and energy into television, but what else am I going to do? Talk to my family?
Besides, The Office is on tonight. That show's a whole 'nother post, though.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.7
Monday, March 28, 2005
For Having Nothing To Say I Sure Have A Lot To Say
I have very little to say today. This is actually typical for a Monday post. The late-night Sunday post means I have to think of TWO posts in the space of about 12 hours. The results usually--sadly--speak for themselves, despite my obvious genius for covering deficiency of inspiration with piles of sweet-smelling bullshit.
Today, however, I got nothing. No over-arching big-picture schema to hold a post together, no clever satire to stimulate your intellects. I'm afraid Monday is going to have to be all about self-stimulation, Bucketeers.
Instead I offer two random observations, completely unconnected.
I walk past the specialty fancy-drinkin' sodas on the way to get my Gatorade each week at the grocery store. Like a good prole I shake my head at the extravagance of $6 for a six-pack of gourmet root beer. Sure, the root beer we buy has a harsh chemical-acidic taste to it, but you can get 12 cans for $2.50.
But this week, it was on sale for $4. So like a good consumer (and very bad prole), I bought it. Actually, they were all out of the root beer, so I bought the same brand's (Henry Weinhard's) version of Vanilla Cream soda.
Normally I don't drink stuff out of bottles because of my phobia of putting glass in my mouth left over from my days as a lightbulb-eating midway carny freak. Plus it just looks kind of poncey.
As a(nother) service to my readers, I will tell you what Henry Weinhard's Vanilla Cream Gourmet Soda tastes like so you don't have to buy it.
Not very vanilla-y or particularly cream-ish. It tastes like honey. But all watery. And with bubbles.
Hope that helps.
How did I get a copy of iTunes on my computer and why can't I stop messing with it? I replaced my entire computer a few months ago, including a complete hard-drive wipe and upgrade to Windows XP. I did not used to have iTunes. I doubt it came bundled with my motherboard, video card or memory. So what exactly is the deal?
I haven't paid for anything off of it yet. I know that when the hymen of individual song downloads is broken it can never be re-sealed, so I've been careful. I was lucky the first time when Napster got shut down.
But now with iTunes, I don't know how much longer I can hold out. I mean, I can download "Look What You've Done" by Jet without having to get the rest of that crappy AC/DC ripoff album.
And please, no one tell me to get Kazaa or anything else where I can get MP3s for free. I think I'd rather take up heroin. It would be less all-consuming.
Ooh, I just thought of a third thing!
I ran out to Barnes & Noble the other day with a $30 book budget. I came away with two Douglas Adams books (Life, the Universe and Everything and So Long and Thanks For All The Fish), the next Terry Pratchett in the series (Jingo) and, just for giggles, Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. I've never read Nietzsche, but he writes short books with lots of formatted breaks in them (paragraphs, chapters, etc.), so I figure what the hell.
Budget constraints precluded me yet again from picking up America the Book by the Daily Show people but I did see that the with-it fun-makers at American Spectator named it Worst Book of the Year. I read the review and wow, I've never read a more vomitously envious pile of insubstantive pettiness since the "Dear John" letter I got when the Bearded Lady left me for the Wolf-Faced Boy.
I miss the midway.
That's all I have for you today. Come back tomorrow with your expectations duly lowered.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.5
Sunday, March 27, 2005
On this fine Easter Sunday, I'd like to offer the following prayer. Please bow your heads and repeat after me:
Dear Jesus. Why do you have to ruin everything?
First you rose from the grave, condemning me to a lifetime of Sundays in stuffy churches with hard wooden pews when I could have been a happy Hindu with nothing between me and my NFL in the fall.
But then you went around inspiring people to do inexplicable shit in your name, which usually means the same thing they were doing before their conversion experience, only with a bunch of clumsy adoration shoehorned into it. Coke-snorting, whore-banging football players, for instance, can immediately transform into coke-snorting, whore-banging football players who thank Jesus every time there's a camera on them. It's really annoying.
There's also the example of John Davis. No, not the dude who draws the Garfield comic strip. We all know Jesus abandoned that man a good long time ago.
This John Davis used to be the lead singer and songwriter behind a band called Superdrag. They had one mild hit in the mid-90s called "Sucked Out". I bought that album and was very happy. Then came their next album, Head Trip In Every Key, which was (and still is) one of the two or three best albums I own. Sure, the next two albums were kind of repetitive, but every band has place-holder albums in between the really great ones. There aren't many bands who make really great guitar-based power pop music (Matthew Sweet, Weezer... uh... probably others, but it's a short list), so I was willing to wait it out.
But then Jesus... Jesus, Jesus, Jesus... you just couldn't leave well enough alone. You had to stick your nose in and "save" John Davis from drinking himself to death with your fancy lights-and-magic "road to Damascus" dog-and-pony show.
Great. Thanks. So John Davis is still alive, but instead of songs titled "Annetichrist" or "Wrong vs. Right Doesn't Matter" we suddenly get his new solo work with songs titled "I Hear Your Voice" and "Salvation" and (I swear this is true) "Jesus Gonna Build Me A Home".
Jesus, I know you're the Son of God and the Messiah and all that stuff, so it's possible that this is an impertinent question, but seriously Jesus, what the fuck?
I get it that there are some things I can't do. I can't get an abortion, I can't pull the plug on the machines keeping brain-dead chicks I don't know alive with impunity, fine. All that is fine. But Jesus, I needs my rock-n-roll. I needs it. I don't know if you've been reading my blog, but I got little kids. Everything and anything that can maintain my sanity is necessary. Ne-ces-sary.
So Jesus, we're going to make a pact, you and me, right now. I will agree never to masturbate again and you are going to leave the lead singer of Jimmy Eat World alone. Deal?
Yes, I know the initials of Jimmy Eat World spell out "JEW". I admit, converting the lead "JEW" would not be without humorous irony, but come on. You got Stephen Baldwin. Isn't that funny enough?
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.4
Friday, March 25, 2005
I have a few free moments as my wife is out shopping with my two oldest kids and my youngest is chained to the... er... I mean napping.
Speaking of my kids, as much as I treasure them and all, they ruin a lot of stuff for me. For instance, movies. Before our first son was born, Mrs. Pops and I would go to the movies every single weekend, not to mention the ones we would occasionally rent or watch on cable. Now that I think about it, it sounds a little obsessive, like maybe we were trying to avoid being in situations where we might have to actually speak to each other...
No, we'll save that for family therapy.
Today I'm here to provide a new service. I know, you're thinking "But Pops, just allowing us to read your words is more than enough of a contribution to the greater good of mankind", and you're right, it is. But I'm talking about doing something specific here.
I get to go to the movies now roughly 2-4 times per year on average. That means at best there are 48 weeks of movie releases that I am missing because I can't con anyone into staying with my kids for more than three hours in a row.
So for all the parents out there (not to mention the social cripples, the house-arrested and the agoraphobes who can't go outside), I offer the following:
Reviews of Movies I Have No Intention of Seeing
I don't reject these films because they are necessarily bad. In fact some of these films I may desperately want to see but can't because I have to make hard choices about how and when I guilt trip a relative into babysitting. I mean this year alone I have to try and figure out how to see Star Wars, a new Batman, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Harry Potter... it's going to be a tough year.
So this will be my impressions of new films in general release that I have elected not to see. I will then write a review based entirely on the effectiveness of the marketing hype of the movie and how busted up I am that I have to give it a pass. Research resources will include my local paper, Entertainment Weekly, IMDb and other internet film sites, TV ads and anything else I come across passively while going about my business and making as little effort as possible.
In the end the film will be rated on the Hot Babysitter Scale as follows.
: I would only commit the care of one of my children to a total stranger in order to see this film.
: Kids are nice, but movies have to be seen.
: My kids have names, but I can't remember them. Plus I probably heard there was nudity in this film.
I only have the three kids, so that's as far as it will go. The scale lacks finesse because I can't think of a non-gruesome, un-disturbing way to rate anything half-a-babysitter. The last time I dealt with half a babysitter, the cops started asking questions.
I reserve the right to rate something ZERO Hot Babysitters, which means I'd rather stay home and get kicked in the nuts by my children.
Frankly, I'm exhausted from the setup. The actual feature is sure to disappoint now. Anyways, here goes.
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #1
The Ring Two
starring Naomi Watts
directed by Some Japanese Guy I Never Heard Of
The film starts off with two strikes against it. First, Pops is a big ole pussy when it comes to horror movies. I don't watch them, ever. If I want to get stressed out watching movies I'll stay home and watch my wedding video. I go to the movies to be anaesthetized against the stresses of everyday life, not to get all wound up by screechy violin music in dark rooms just to piss myself when it turns out to be the goddamn cat. Again.
Second, this is a sequel. That in itself doesn't necessarily rule it out, but I haven't seen the first part, so the interest definitely isn't there. "But Pops, how could you have not seen The Ring?!" I direct you now to the point I made above labeled "First...".
Usually I like to check out who is "raving" about the film in the ads. If it's Rolling Stone or Time or Newsweek or Roger Ebert I may pay attention. If it's Barry Geck of www.ireallylikemovies.com who says it's a "roller-coaster ride... the Best Film of the Year!" then you know it sucks.
But there is no ad for The Ring Two in my local papaer and I can't remember seeing any TV spots for it more than once or twice. These are also marks against it. How am I supposed to make a judgment as to whether or not I should go to all the effort of escaping my home-shaped prison to see this film if the studio isn't making a good faith effort to shove it down my throat?
No no, none of this bodes well. Naomi Watts is crazy crazy hot, I will grant you that, but that just isn't enough. As far as I can tell, she stays clothed throughout the whole debacle.
I have very close to no interest in this film. I would rate it Zero Hot Babysitters, but I took the time and energy to make the little graphic thingies, so I'm going to go ahead and rate it:
You are of course free to spend your money as you wish.
The Pops' Bucket MSPaint Gallery d'Art
1. Rita, Plus Fort
2. Vehicular Panel-Verse
3. Cough Cough
4. Devil Road
5. For The JAMA, Draft #1
7. Portrait of the Artist at Play
8. Portrait of the Artist, Recumbent
9. Portrait of the Artist, Accompanied
10. The Human Catastrophe (with Laser Beams)
11. Sang Freud
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, The Series
1. The Ring 2
2. Sin City
3. Fever Pitch
4. The Amityville Horror (remake)
5. The Interpreter
6. XXX: State of the Union
7. Dominion: Prequel to 'The Exorcist'
8. Mr. & Mrs. Smith
9. Wedding Crashers
10. The Island
12. Broken Flowers
13. The Skeleton Key
14. The Brothers Grimm
16. A History of Violence
20. The Legend of Zorro
22. Pride & Prejudice
23. Brokeback Mountain
26. Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
27. The Pink Panther (remake)
28. Failure to Launch
29. V for Vendetta
30. Mission: Impossible III
32. The Da Vinci Code
33. An Inconvenient Truth
34. The Break-Up
35. Nacho Libre
37. The Lady in the Water
38. Snakes on a Plane
39. The Departed
41. Catch and Release
42. Ghost Rider
43. The Ultimate Gift
44. Blades of Glory
45. Delta Farce
It's Good Friday. The family is all home and I'm in the process of starving myself again for the second time this year, finishing the cycle of fasting and deprivation that bookends Lent, the Christian festival of fasting and deprivation.
This is a placeholder post, anticipating that I won't be able to devote any time to a proper one today. I had planned to introduce a new regular feature, but it will probably have to wait. Plan your lives accordingly.
ADDENDUM: Everyone needs to watch USA vs. Mexico World Cup Qualifier this Sunday March 27 at 1 pm ET/10 am PT on ESPN2. Central and Mountain timers will have to do the math themselves. Don't watch if you're an America-hating commie.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Somebody actually found this blog by entering the Google search string Paul Begala karate.
I have absolutely no idea how to respond to that other than to say yes, I would very much like to punch Paul Begala in the face, except now I'm slightly afraid to.
I think my regular readers will agree that the primary reason they come here is to learn about the world in positive ways that will help them improve their lives. My post yesterday about a cartoon I--a grown man with children--find diverting I think was especially socially constructive, even for me. It may have even been more enlightening than the post about my bridesmaid fetish. It's hard to be sure.
In the spirit of this blog's mission, I would like to tackle another specific subject very close to me. As my oldest son started school this year, I have been worried about his socialization into a group of his peers, none of whom are blood relations. Since he is my son and the inheritor of many frankly unfair genetic advantages in comparison to the simps he finds himself surrounded by every day it is no surprise to me that he has flourished. When the teacher calls my house, she weeps. I assume it's out of gratitude.
But I can't teach genetic superiority. Besides, what if seamless integration isn't what you want? What if you're worried about drugs or petty vandalism or STDs or all of the other really fun things that come with social interaction among growing children? Well reader, you're in luck because now I offer the following how-to:
How To Raise A Socially Retarded Child
The following should not be considered "steps" so much as options. Taken in combination, however, they can increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Sadly of course, I cannot guarantee success. I think it's fair to warn you that all failures will be chalked up to reader error and ignored.
1) Have an only child
This method, I admit, is not foolproof as the child comes in contact with other children. There is a strong possibility that the groups your child finds him/herself amongst in school or in sports or whatever will be nice and friendly and receptive, thereby fucking up all the effort you put into making a socially retarded child.
But having the child to yourself from birth until kindergarten gives you the opportunity to lay down the groundwork for a life full of isolation, ostracization and disappointment. Without any other snot-faced little brats (or "siblings") to distract, you as a parent can spend all your time and energy convincing your child that s/he is the One And Only Reason The Universe Was Created. If you're going to make this social-retardation thing stick, your child is going to have to be unleashed upon the world with a well-honed air of smug superiority. Not only will it guarantee a lifetime of difficulty making friends with people who are so obviously beneath them and failure after failure in romantic relationships, but s/he is sure to have his/her food spit in by the waitstaff of several restaurants. I didn't say the process would be without risk.
Of the two options presented, this one is the most likely to succeed. It limits all the random variable from the equation--other people's children. Not only is the process of socialization retarded by the lack of contact with peers, but without exposure to even the example of how normal people are supposed to act, this child is fleshy clay for you to mold.
Probably a good idea to keep the TV to a minimum as well. Stick to children's TV if you have to have any at all, not so much for the educational benefits but as role-models. If they learn to talk to other people the way humans speak to each other in children's TV, they are likely to be not only ignored, but probably chased and beaten quite often in the off chance they should happen upon Other People.
While you can rest easily in the knowledge that your child only knows what you tell them (God loves America the most, the Indians had it coming, you can't trust the Jews, etc.), you may be somewhat sad that your child will miss out on some of the Coming of Age events other children enjoy, like sports or the prom.
You want sports? Let's race dad up the stairs! Or how about a vigorous game of backgammon? Letterman jackets can be purchased at any local sporting goods store.
You want a prom? A few streamers in the garage, Neil Diamond on the hi-fi, disco ball rentals are pretty reasonable, a can of Hi-C in the fancy serving bowl... who needs all the fast dancing in a crowd? Someone could get hurt, especially with all the piercings kids have nowadays. Besides, your kid shouldn't be doing things like that what with the crippling asthma they might spontaneously contract. What about a date, though? Well, if you've done your job, your son/daughter would be happiest attending their "prom" with the parent of the appropriately opposite gender. After all, you're their best friend. You're their only friend. It's a lot of responsibility, but it's that or put them in school where you can expect to raise your illegitimate grandchild(ren) while your oh-so-popular well-socialized kid is away in rehab (again).
So that's my two cents. Each approach is likely to show the positive results you're looking for. Put the two together and I can almost guarantee you will have one fucked-up twitchy goofball of a weird child. Hell, even you might get tired of them after a while. That's when you know you've done your job.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 1.3
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Mea Maxima Culpa
I find myself in the unenviable position of owing a public apology. Several actually. Let's get to them:
1) To the guy outside the Home Depot I nearly beat to death with a dowel rod, I'm sorry. At the time I was under the impression you were a non-English speaking illegal alien with no access to legal recourse. I had no idea you were an American citizen. In my defense, you totally look foreign. While we're at it though, what the hell were you doing on the sidewalk near the Home Depot? Everyone knows that's where the illegals congregate looking for day-labor jobs. You know what, if anything you owe me an apology, you street-walking fake-illegal motherf...
Sorry. Please disregard that last part. As part of our court-sanctioned agreement, I offer a full public apology. Again, sorry. Hope that lacerated pancreas heals up nicely.
2) After I spent all my blogpost time and energy a few days ago bemoaning the downfall of George Lucas and his inability to tickle the hype-sensitive parts of my soul, Cartoon Network this week has resumed its Clone Wars series of cartoons filling in the story between Episode II and Episode III. The show is run by Genndy Tartakovsky, most famous for his Samurai Jack cartoon. Clone Wars is slick, funny, dark, fast-paced... it's easy to watch, which is more than I can say for the last two movies. The first series of cartoons (last year) were 2-3 minute long "episodes", which meant they had to eschew exposition for action and movement, meaning they were weird, impressionistic and incredibly sharp. All very compelling. This series comes in less dizzying 15-minute chunks.
So I offer my apology to George, but only partially. Clone Wars is total geek-out stuff that actually makes me want to see Episode III (which, I admit, I was going to do anyway). It's enough to wash the taste of stale dialogue out of your mouth left over from the films.
My one caveat to my apology: although it's obviously too late to do any good, I'd like to point out that Clone Wars works because George Lucas has nothing to do with it. I'm sure he has oversight of story, plot and characters for the purposes of licensing and synchronization with the larger mythology, but there is no Lucas taint to the flow of words, events or performances. I would say there was something to learn from this, but since there's nowhere left to go...
Just as a quick aside before I go, while unexpected sources are (temporarily) saving Star Wars, there are outsiders determined to destroy Star Trek. Go check out the home-made "missing episodes" (the last two years of the first "five year mission" NBC kept from us by cancelling the series) from the Original Series at New Voyages. Some dude playing Kirk in a bad Johnny Suede wig! Spock seemingly molded out of plastic (with acting to match)! Scotty's Scotland-by-way-of-Van-Nuys fade-in-fade-out accent!
Sometimes parody happens by accident.
Yes it's bad, but at least the site is really slow and there are lots of files to download.
The sets and special effects are nice, though.
I would also like to publicly apologize to my readership for this entire post. Just to be safe.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.0
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Proof Of Life
Let us all gather round and celebrate Me. There are two reasons for celebration.
1) I have realized a dream that has existed since the birth of this blog. If any of you were to go to Google and type in Vietnamese hookers, do you know what the #1 result would be? That's right: the Bucket. Many thanks to the skeevy disgusting perv who did just that search so Sitemeter could alert me to my status. Thank you sir, whomever you may be.
2) Also Sitemeter-related, very early this morning the Bucket had its 10,000th visit. I would like to thank all those who have graciously patronized this fine pretend establishment. It just goes to show that the world has an insatiable appetite for meaningless bullshit. It has been my pleasure to provide that for you in volume. I recognize of course that 10,000 visits is really many, many, many repeated visits by a small cadre of devoted obsessives rounded out by a bunch of accidental search-engine hits, but I'm not going to let that put a damper on my delusions about my own popularity. Self-deception worked in high school and dammit I'm going to make it work now.
As a gift to all of you, regular readers and new, I'm not going to spend any time talking about the Terry Schiavo case.
It's not bad enough that the goddamn thing has completely overrun the blogosphere, turning my few minutes of happy diversion into a festering suckhole of depressing-ness, but when the idiot morning radio show I listen to devotes my entire drive-the-kid-to-school time to talking about it, that's just the last fucking straw. I rely on that program for half-baked lame-ass comedy complete with bad celebrity impressions interspersed with cheap, lazy jokes about sex and racial stereotypes. If I want to be bored to death by something I'm supposed to give a shit about but don't, I'll listen to NPR.
I think the fact that the federal intervention is being led by Rep. Tom DeLay, a man so morally bankrupt the House of Representatives had to change its own ethical guidelines in order for him to keep his job, says all I want to know about it.
I would, however, like to take this opportunity to lay out in public and in writing a directive for my care in the event that I find myself incapacitated.
If I am merely comatose, please let me live. Brain and autonomic nervous system functioning normally, that type of thing. Could be that I'm only really really sleepy, so I would appreciate no pillows over the face or horse-tranquilizer injections. OK, I'll take a little horse-tranquilizer, but only if you're having some too and it's only enough to get a decent horsey buzz working.
If I am actually brain dead, I would like you read that two-word phrase very closely, especially the second word. With zero chance of recovery (hence the term "dead", yes?), I would like to be allowed to die completely. Not that I'd know one way or the other. If you have plans for my otherwise lifeless body I guess that's OK, but my personal preference would be to fade away with some dignity. That way I can be cleaned out, stuffed and mounted on a pedestal and then placed in a corner in my wife's bedroom. Like I said, dignity.
I blame all this on Clint Eastwood. He put out that damned movie that broaches this issue and then had to go and win Best Picture with it. Thanks a lot, Clint. Fucker.
People are just too sensitive these days. Nobody gave a shit when the giant Indian dude did the same thing to Jack Nicholson thirty years ago. Hell, people even cheered. Back then we could litter, cocaine was harmless fun and cars got 3 miles to the gallon. The good ones did, anyway.
If any of the positions taken or defended in this piece has offended you, gentle readers, I offer you my most sincere indifference. Eat it, suckers. You can't take back the 10,000 visits you've already given. I figure if you've already taken that much abuse, you're up for anything.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.3
Monday, March 21, 2005
See That Girl, Watch That Scene
First of all, let me apologize for the panic and confusion resulting from the lack of a Sunday night post this week. I'm here now, so there's no need for you to do anything drastic to yourself. Pops make it all better.
It's been a long weekend. In addition to my normal regimen of hunting and killing stray cats (your cat is "stray" if I can see it from the street... local readers may want to keep their blinds closed Saturday nights), we had a wedding to go to. This is first of two weddings we'll be attending this spring, both of which my wife will be in as a bridesmaid.
These blessed events are the reason I haven't seen my wife for more than two hours in a row at any given time since January. As a bridesmaid x2 she spends her time as a full-time member of various Bridal Party Steering Committees planning events she will then attend (bridal showers, bachelorette party weekends, rehearsal dinners and the like). This means extra Pops-only time with the sprogs, during which time I may or may not be passive-aggressively feeding them popcorn and beer for dinner.
Saturday was the actual Blessed Event (1 of 2). This one was in Orange County at a very old church (well, very old for California). I have some observations:
-Want to make a room full of Californians nervous? Put them all in a massive 100+ year old brick structure. One strong jolt and we transition from Congregation to People They Eventually Call Off The Search For. The constant promise of earthquakes can really fuck with your head. See also: waiting for lights to change under freeway overpasses.
-You can note all the thematic similarity in the stained glass, mosaics, statuary and other decoration around the church and say loudly, "Hey, whose the dude in all the pictures? Did he build this church?", but not everyone will laugh.
-Lutheran Jesus is a smiley, antiseptic, wound-free Messiah. Very nearly Buddy Christ.
The wedding was actually very nice. I sat with my in-laws, who didn't even have to crash. They were actually invited and everything. My wife would like you to know that her bridesmaid's dress was actually quite sensible and flattering.
Because the bride likes me, my wife (and all the other bridesmaids) didn't have to sit at the Head Table. This means I got to sit next to her while the meal was served, just before I never saw her again for the rest of the night.
As far as I can tell, a woman's primary goal at a wedding reception is to get drunk and dance in unison with other women whenever possible (your Chicken Dance, your electric slide, your "YMCA", etc.)
A man's primary goal at a wedding reception is (obviously) to fuck a bridesmaid. That's the pinnacle of male achievement really, at least for those of us who will never score an NFL touchdown. Any-old-body can get laid at a wedding. Drunk single girls, so sad about their single-ness, surrounded by words, rites and imagery of snuggly together-forever-ness can be talked out of their underwear fairly easily.
But to bag yourself a bridesmaid, draped in that uniform of upstanding associated purity, well that's a story that a father will tell to his son to echo down the generations.
Now that I think about it, I suppose the ultimate would really be to bang the bride herself. Why chase the bass player when the lead singer is available, right? But past the social taboos, in most cases the bride is spoken-for. I myself have only slept with a bride once and that was after my own wedding.
Once my wife and the other bridesmaids (all married) bolted for the dancefloor to tease and frustrate the single/looking men in the congregation, I was left at the table with Bridesmaid's Husbands. At first we sat there silently, puffed up by our own awesomeness that comes from a sense of ownership and expectation of being married to a bridesmaid. There were some mental high-fives going on. The feeling is transient, especially into the third hour or so. Before it could get too uncomfortably silent, one of us brought up the NCAA tournament and it was smooth sailing from then on.
It was a late night (for us). My slightly drunk wife and I did the other Wedding Day Tradition and talked all kinds of shit about just about every attendee who wasn't us during the drive home.
So Sunday we crammed our normal weekend all into one day. We had to skip church and I had no time or energy to blogpost last night. That is my official excuse.
Tough as Sunday was, it was hard to be in a bad mood that day. After all, I'd woken up next to a bridesmaid that morning.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.5
PS-the post's title is NOT from ABBA's "Dancing Queen". That would be totally gay. No, it's from Elvis Costello's "When I Was Cruel #2". I'm going to pretend I don't know where he got it from.
Friday, March 18, 2005
All I need now is for Elvis Costello to break out an unironic cover version of "...Baby One More Time" and then all my heroes will be completely dead to me.
All the other famous people I looked up to as a young person have completely imploded, credibility-wise. Charles Barkley told me right to my face he couldn't be my role-model (OK, it was a commercial, but he was looking right at the camera), which ruined my ambition to become a black man from Alabama. Pop princess/one-hit chanteuse Tiffany sold her boobies to Playboy, OJ Simpson got into that whole killing-ex-spouse-and-innocent-bystander scene and Nick Nolte, well, he just went fucking crazy. Also, he was in The Hulk.
They all seemed like such sensible choices as idols for a young man in the 1980s and now they're all, in their own ways, sullied. Diminished. Besmirched. Attenuated. Diluted. I have a thesaurus.
The longest fall by far from the pedestal, though, has to be George Lucas. Back in the day people would talk about him as a film-maker of vision and quality, a creator of an entire cinematic mythology that fired the imaginations of future directors, writers, actors and computer dorks the world over.
Me, I always admired him for what he was: a marketing genius. Who else could take one good idea they had and spin it into a cultural and industrial force worth hundreds of millions of dollars, still viable after thirty years? When I was 10 and I was asking my mom to buy me the regular Luke Skywalker action figure and the Ice Planet Luke Skywalker and the Bespin jumpsuit Luke and the green poncho jungle Luke and the fighter-pilot Luke... well, I just knew.
It occurred to me that ole George was getting 50¢ of every dollar I spent in the toy store and it made me feel all warm and safe inside. I was in the presence of someone touched by God. Mozart did that piano thing, Michelangelo sculpted and George Lucas made me want stuff I didn't need, the redundant purchase of which defied all common sense. I nearly weep to think of it now.
That is why it's particularly painful to see George Lucas now, a bloated, chinless, burnt-out shell of his former self. The disillusion started with Jar-Jar Binks. I was getting all the cues and subliminal messages that I was supposed to love the character, but somehow I just... couldn't. I walked out of Episode I feeling like my soul had been kicked in the nuts. I walked right past the kiosk selling commemorative t-shirts and just kept walking, saving my money for other shit I didn't need like McDonald's and Coca-Cola. At least they were still trying.
George seems to have completely lost his way. He's convinced himself he's a film-maker again, neglecting his true gifts by occupying his critical market-triangulation time to script-writing and actor-ruining.
He built up all kinds of excitement with a great trailer for Episode III (check your local internet) debuting on national TV during The OC last week, which was great. Spaceships, explosions, death, evil, lightsabers... lovely. The old George would have left it there, snowballing the free TV taste into a fast-food tie in or a cell phone promotion, something. Instead he turns around and gives an interview where he cuts the guts out of the trailer's impact by comparing the upcoming final installment to Titanic.
It's a "tearjerker" George says, "more emotional", which emphasizes George's ability to write emotional dialogue and direct actors in delicate scenes which we know he is incapable of doing. Who else remembers "I truly, deeply love you" from the last movie?
Dammit George, you had us with the lava and the dead Jedi and Sam Jackson from the trailer. What the hell are you doing? It's like you're going out of your way to deflate the erections of fanboys from India to Indiana. The old George would have heightened the sense of anticipation with a light touch like the seasoned, expensive whore he was. Now it's a rough hand-job and we're supposed to say "thanks" and fork over the amount you think you deserve based on your reputation alone.
I mean sure, I'll see it. But I can't guarantee I'll go out of my way to hit the Taco Bell just for the Commemorative Collector's Cups. And that makes me sad.
Thank God we still have Peter Jackson.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.9
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Charlton Heston Is A Sexy Bitch
The intrusion of real life means I have very little time to post this morning. Instead of skipping it altogether and risking the mental and physical health of my readers who depend on me the same way Greek people depend on souvlaki and stretchy pants, I have decided to do the responsible thing and throw some cheap, half-thought-out crap up here. It's the least I can do. It really, really is.
Now that the shambolic Robert Blake trial is over, I can finally devote my full attention to the shambolic Michael Jackson trial. Today's headline: Jurors See Michael Jackson's Porn Collection.
I usually don't traffic in Bill O'Reilly-type sleazy gossip (not the Factor O'Reilly, I mean the Inside Edition O'Reilly of old... OK, so there's no real distinction), but some of the images have made their way on to the internet. It's shocking stuff.
If you're at work, you might want to check to see if anyone's behind you before you get to it.
Disgusting. I don't know what else I expected, but I think it's the public's right to know what Michael Jackson thinks will get pubescent boys off. I'm working hard for you people to figure out exactly what Jacko's masturbatory technique is as well. Right hand, left hand, standard grip or European, anal stimulation or no... these are the things the American public deserve to know whether they want to or not.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.8
PS- I was going to post a picture of the horrible clown-suit mismatched clothes I hurriedly dressed my youngest child in this morning, but I can't find my digital camera. So instead you get Michael Jackson and inter-species love. The camera's been "missing" since my wife went to Vegas, so God knows what she's hiding. As for my kid, his humiliation will have to remain non-public for now. I'm sure I'll get other chances, though.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Greek In The Saddle
I'm still sort of pissed off that the Soviet Union never annihilated the United States with a horrific unprovoked nuclear first-strike.
I was born in 1974, which means I spent my formative years in the 1980s. I endured glam hair-metal bands, really big sunglasses and people purposely cutting holes in their jeans and I did it happily. Why? Because I knew--knew--that the dirty sneaky godless commies were going to wipe us out and soon.
We didn't need Fox News to tell us who to hate.
It was a simpler time back then.
People say that a lot, writers especially. "It was a simpler time..." Maybe the perception has something to do with the progressive development of human cognitive faculties where we gain perspective, knowledge and insight as a benefit of age and experience.
Nah, it can't be that. It has to be that it was simpler then.
But then I think, Hey, if everyone's childhood was a "simpler time", wouldn't one person's "simple" overlap with someone else's "complicated"? Like 20 years from now are hacky Failed Writers going to look back on 2005 through the pink fog of nostalgia and sigh "It was a simpler time back then... we were safe in the knowledge that we'd all be killed by a terrorist smallpox release or a radioactive dirty bomb. So Ashlee Simpson didn't really matter."
While I agree whole-heartedly about the Ashlee Simpson thing, it doesn't help me handle grown-up reality. The polarized geopolitics of my youth, Red vs. Free, seem awfully quaint. Even the threat (the surety) of nuclear holocaust afforded us a type of nihilistic certainty that kept the really sticky questions of metaphysics at bay. At least it did when I was 8.
The new political polarity, Red vs. Blue, is less helpful in that it's totally domestically, masturbatorially interior. What about the rest of the world? Despite what my president tells me, I still have a passing curiosity. I need to know where I, as an American, fit in the world.
These questions would be easier to ask if I were actually abroad among hordes of foreigners on their own turf. Of course I would be limited by the fact that I'd have to pretend to be Canadian in order to get them to talk to me. Plus I'd have to learn their yucky, phlegmy gutter-talk language...
OK, so I'm not going anywhere soon. But I have the internet to help me prop up any conclusions I might reach with a bunch of bullshit "evidence" and "research". It's almost the same thing.
So if we're not the Last Bulwark Against Communism, what are we? Consumers, right? OK, but look, if we can't even be the fattest people in the world anymore, what the hell is left? We're behind the Greeks? In anything? Sure they had a 4000 year head start on everyone else, but let's be honest, they've been the caboose on the long train of world culture since 1453 at least.
The fact that we're looking up at the Greeks in any category, especially obesity, our #1 stock-in-trade... does anything make sense any more? Are these words I'm typing? Fiddy oodle beedo plam.
This veem on the Nahoogle Skeemi: 5.glorm
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Greetings From The Land Of The Cloverleaf (And Other Types Of Highway Transitions)
I think the less said about the upcoming Lord of the Rings musical the better.
It is often pointed out that America is a nation of immigrants, usually by politicians during election season pandering to majority Latino audience. It's an obvious and wholly unenlightening thing to say, but I guess it beats watching Candidate Gringo speak bad pidgin Spanish.
America: the World's Dumping Ground for the wretched, teeming with the very unwashed masses and their oversensitive germophobic offspring.
The real genius of America isn't music or industrial ingenuity or pornography or professional wrestling (impressive though all those cultural achievements are). No, our true gift as a people is in our cultural homogeneity. No country in the world takes its immigrant populations, wrings them for every last drop of sweat and blood in all manner of dehumanizing labor that "regular" Americans wouldn't dream of condescending to just so we can sell their children Jordache jeans and Members Only jackets.
My pop culture references might be a little dated.
The point is for all the short-sighted complaining by rednecks and other flavors of Republicans about the resistance of new immigrants to assimilation, I know and you know and everyone else knows that it's only a matter of time before the mass media advertising machine floods the space between immigrants and their American-born children with needs and wants for completely unnecessary necessities. No matter how insular the community, they all get cable TV, the kids all go to public schools where they learn that they have to have an iPod.
The mutual disgust established Americans and immigrants have for each other fades after a few generations. Then, the grandchildren or great-grandchildren--if the community is large enough--after all their material needs sated, swollen and satisfied from sucking on the teat of American consumer culture of which they are now irrevocably a part, suddenly decide (from this position of perfect social cover now as they're real Americans who are horrified at the idea of people anywhere speaking a second language) decide they must must must honor their heritage in the crassest, half-assed, totally false and completely American way possible by turning it into a one-day holiday.
Oh, Columbus Day!
Oh, Cinco de Mayo!
Oh, St. Patrick's Day!
The irony is that these are purely American holidays. And yet there persists the silly idea that celebrations should be "authentic", like the way all Mexicans on May 5th force themselves to drink Corona with José Cuervo chasers until they black out.
As far as I can tell, in order for something to be authentically ethnic in the US, it simply has to be successfully marketed as such.
If you're starting an Irish-style pub in the US, you can even get help from the good people at Guinness and their Irish Pub Concept. In exchange for just a little bit of your American dollars, they will sell you the secrets to design-concepting and marketing your establishment. What could be more American than that?
I've never been to Ireland, but I would guess the best pub experiences come from neighborhood watering holes with a regular clientele of locals who will make you feel welcome and laugh at you because you don't like to drink warm beer that tastes like a peat bog. All the dark wood paneling in the world isn't going to quite recreate that.
I think we should be less ashamed at the thing we're best at. Why does every "tradition" need to be old to be classy? If we've been doing it for more than two years in a row, it's a tradition.
So this year for St. Paddy's Day, I'm going to pinch people who are not wearing green (not saying where, but it will smart) and get loaded up on McDonald's shamrock shakes while watching Richard Gere do the worst Irish accent ever in The Jackal. No shame, Richard. You're an American pretending to be Irish, making a spectacular ass of yourself in the process. Nothing says St. Patrick's Day better than that.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.8
Monday, March 14, 2005
The Swirly Of Hope
Hey, does anyone know why on really windy days the water level in my toilet bowl(s) drops 1-2 inches? Are there any experts in the interaction between atmospheric turbulation and plumbing hydrodynamics who frequent this blog? I'm sure there has to be one. Thanks in advance.
Not related at all to that, I found this headline and sighed: Court Rules Against California Ban on Gay Marriage.
Woo. Great. All settled then, right? Oh wait, it will be appealed to the California Supreme Court, then taken to the voters as some kind of goddamn ballot proposition, which will then be challenged in the courts, etc.
Is there any end to this? I should be happy about the ruling and all, but come on. We all know better by now, don't we?
More importantly: is issue fatigue a new phenomenon? Did 19th century abolitionists have days where they just threw up their hands and went "You know what, keep your goddamn slaves already. I can't fucking take dealing with you people anymore"?
Sure, it's ridiculous to compare a blogger to an abolitionist (I can sit at home and type this in my underwear before I change the subject tomorrow to diapers or Britney Spears or making fun of hippies), but I wonder if the reason I'm a lazy, ADHD-afflicted disaster of a politico is because MTV has destroyed my attention span. And if so, can I sue Viacom? I don't want any money, but I would take a job as floor-sweeper at The Daily Show. OK, and some money.
One last thing before I go:
Former NAACP President Running for Senate. There once was a time when Kweisi Mfume was simply the Congressman With The Most Interesting Name, just edging out Barney Frank (D-MA) and Corinne Fellatio (R-NJ).
This is hardly a national story. Maryland is just that weird state that keeps Virginia and Pennsylvania too far apart to shoot at each other. But word-association is a dangerous thing. I started thinking Maryland... Senate... campaign... black man...
Oh please let him run. Oh please oh please oh pleeeeease!
I'm not anywhere near Maryland and I can't really think of a single thing Mr. Keyes has ever said that I agreed with, let alone supported. So why all the excitement? For those who are new to the Bucket, I owe Alan Keyes. In this blog's infancy, Mr. Keyes and his quixotic/tragicomic campaign vs. political rock star Barack Obama in Illinois kept this toddling monstrosity-in-training afloat in the days when the Kerry-Bush conflict would flag to the point of non-buoyancy (basically all non-debate days).
Oh, to feel that surety of source material for blogposts again! The entries practically write themselves! Run Alan, run! You actually live in Maryland, so it's not like you could do worse than your shameless Illinois carpet-bagger humiliation. You might even pull double digits in this one!
This blog is now the unofficial headquarters of the Keyes for Maryland 2006 Senate campaign. For every dollar you send in in support of this effort I promise to spend one second thinking about Alan Keyes being the next senator from Maryland. Think about it: $100 can get you 1 minute, 40 seconds of positive Keyes thinking! It sounds like a bargain to me.
So in closing, I'd like to say if any of you know the answer to the wind-and-toilet-water question, please send it along post haste. Cheers.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.6
PS- Yes, I used "shameless" and "humiliation" in the same sentence. It doesn't seem technically possible, does it? But I figure why go to all the effort of changing it when I can write three more sentences about it.
PPS- Blogger ate my post. Here's to making anal-retentive copies as you type. Suck it, haters!
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Last thing I will ever say with regard to the incident(s) described in Friday's post: it was brought to my attention that Bucketeer and shameless self-promoter K was also mentioned in the course of the mish-mash muddle of flying words.
So here now, as per her request, I give you K's contribution (this is absolutely verbatim and entirely inclusive) to that conversation from last week in Rita's comments alluded to on Friday:
"Huh? I am confused but I was totally mentioned. Like way way up there. What's going on?"
Sadly, that was the most unambiguously helpful thing anyone said during the entire event. Thanks, K.
And now to today's post.
The general fnorked-ness of Blogger over the last few days has caused us all a great deal of consternation and (probably) irreparable psychic harm. Me, I had to spike my 42 oz. super-size Dr. Pepper with bourbon just to stop the shakes that afflicted me. It didn't work, but I minded less.
The most disturbing part was this quote from SJ right at the height of Blogger's conniption fit:
All day I've been trying to post a new post. I've lost it again and again (and I've even saved it and just copy into the "New Post" field over and over.)
We bloggers tend to think of ourselves as a "community", but we're not really. The technology available has allowed us--for the first time in history--to do something in complete and total isolation from other human beings that can be instantly broadcast and shared with others doing the exact same thing in the exact same isolation with absolutely no reference to you and what you're doing. The sense of shared experience, I would argue, is illusory, a phantom, an easy overlay of mental arrangement taken from other social situations (say, for instance, seeing and talking to other actual people) on top of something new for which we have no easy parallel. We are used to our habits of thought, our jargon and our mental structuring of actual social interaction, so we plug it in to our experiences with other bloggers even when it's completely inappropriate.
The really interesting thing is that if you believe in an illusion strongly enough, completely enough, the shadowy half-images of misapplied memory begin to harden and coalesce, to take form, so much so that the engrammatic images and analogies that make up human memory reconstruct themselves, smoothing out the cognitive dissonance between the familiar and the new. The human brain is capable of making virtual communites real by smoothing out the associative lines connecting the actual from the imagined so that we think, we feel, we react to experiences twice removed from bona fide human contact the same as we would to direct interaction.
I think everyone here has experienced those little moments of social mortification, usually during the grammar school years when our guards are perhaps a little lower, when we realize that the things we take for granted in our home life might be a just a little different from what most other people do. Celebrities, for instance, always mention in interviews how their kids just accept the fact that they see mommy or daddy on TV as "normal". Of course when you're seeing mommy or daddy on TV in a room built just for your TV, one of several dozen rooms in your Pacific Palisades estate where the staff of 10 Child Rearing personnel attend to your every need before you even realize you need it... spoiled fucking bastards.
For me, I had to go and eat dinner at someone else's house to realize that not every family licks their plates clean before smashing them on the floor when we finish eating. I also realized it was perhaps prudent to eat a little slower so as not to be done first in the future. You know, just in case.
So it was SJ's "even" that made me feel a little skittish and brought this pile of words down upon your heads. Go on, drop her a line and let her know you appreciate it.
She said she "even" saved it so she could re-post it. Uh... so I guess not everyone copies their posts paragraph by paragraph, posts them into a Word file and then saves it before they dare go on just in case somehow, some way the text gets lost and generations of computer users from now until eternity (or Blogger goes tits-up, whichever comes first) are deprived of your first-draft genius? Is it really just me?
Instead of making a note of my anality (new word!) and moving on, I caught myself being a little self-conscious and embarrassed. While sitting all by myself. And now here I am admitting it to you, validating the reaction by making it socially available in the only way I can via this medium (as a conscious choice) since you can't see me sweat or blush or recoil in horror at the cavalcade of humiliation that is my everyday life.
What kind of fucked-up mass psychosis is this blog thing? If only we had a first-year sorority girl psych major to clear it up for us.
And while we're getting to the bottom of shit, why are all sorority girls psych majors? I know they're not going to be psychologist or social workers or anything to anyone's benefit. Worse, they know they're not either. Unless you count teaching next year's pledges how to make Jell-O shots as beneficial.
Which I do.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9 [I did mention K in the beginning, otherwise...]
PS- HaloScan, for those who are thinking about changing over: 1) It does NOT send you an e-mail when you get new comments. 2) It DOES offer you the option of banning people. 3) It features TrackBack, which Blogger doesn't. 4) I have no idea what "TrackBack" does. Sounds very cool and techno-logy though, doesn't it?
Friday, March 11, 2005
Now I Am Become Death, The Destroyer Of Worlds
I actually had more than one possible topic to choose from today. I figured out that I had missed commemorating my 200th post, there was something to be done with that. I had some potential thoughts brewing on Hawaiian shirts, casual Fridays and the way even supposed irreverence is programmed in our society. Or perhaps ruminations on how the use of the words "in our society" make any argument sound like an 8th grade essay contest runner-up.
All those, sadly, have to be set aside while I attend to something, a blog-personality conflict that I had a part in creating, albeit accidentally.
I would have loved to have worked this out via e-mail or blog comments, but not everyone has e-mail addresses listed on their blogs and comments, well... the less said about the current state of Blogger the better.
The players in this Shakespearean tragicomic cavalcade of erroneous readings and missed meanings are all loyal Bucketeers, so it is in my interest to present all sides as even-handedly and objectively as possible. If I drive even one reader away, I run the very real risk that the fragile card-house of my ego will collapse in a dusty heap. I can't afford another shame spiral. The last one ended up with me missing a kidney and a stretch in a Mexican jail. I'm still not sure how the two events are connected.
It started with half of a comment from Rita's blog. Something ridiculous was being discussed and then she threw in this question:
PS: Pops, I am officially weirded out by the Cult of Pops that I seem to now be a part of. Am I obligated to reciprocate all this Pops-related linkage?
First of all, to be clear, this is Rita making fun of me. Nothing to do with the actual links or the people who made them, just her making a joke about my runaway blog success spilling over onto her blog and demanding her time and attention.
Using my fabulous digital detective skills (OK, it was Technorati), I deduced she was talking about the dynamic brother-sister duo Kris and Dusti, recent convert Bucketeers whose patronage and attention I greatly appreciate.
Too obsequious? Sorry.
I responded to Rita's initial question thusly:
What's this now? I did see someone who had recently added me to their blogroll also added you. Is it more widespread than I realize? If you need me to go around and beat people down on your behalf, just say the word. I know how much your prize your privacy and anonymity.
Ha. Ha. Ha. Get it? Privacy and anonymity on a blog in which the URL is the blogger's name. Funny jokes, yes? This comment set a sort of a... uh... tone for the rest of the conversation.
Because I later linked Kris and Dusti's blogs in the course of the conversations, they were drawn in sort of mid-way through. And like a horrifying episode of Three's Company, neither side has been able to completely get a handle on the other ever since... leading to Rita getting de-linked (which she expressly did not want) on both blogs and Kris getting kind of mad.
The main reason Kris got annoyed was Rita's post obliquely inspired by this where she says (sort of... uh... bluntly but not, I don't think, deadly seriously) that people should put more detail in their Profiles so she doesn't have to read a bunch of posts to get to know them, referencing his blog directly.
The irony is that... um... how do I put this... despite all the detail in Rita's profile, you still have to kind of read a lot of Rita to "get" her (or at least the blog version of her). There is no way to acclimate to style without some reading. Rita has a very strong, direct style, the intent of which is almost always humor and the target of which is almost always herself. I think all of the Comments conversations and related blogposts can actually be read that way. But that's just me.
Or maybe I'm totally wrong, Kris and Dusti are loony, vague stalker-types and Rita is a snooty, black-hearted crone in the body of a college student. But somehow I doubt it.
So there you have it. My first Blog Personality Controversy. Again, I would have preferred to have covered most of this in less Grand Blog Post-y fashion, but there it is. For my part in all of it (however small), I apologize.
I'm almost positive that the parties involved are pretty well over it by now and it's only me left in a state of agita about it all.
If Rita would like to respond with rage and indignation to what might be read as some kind of unwanted and unasked for apologia on her behalf, I would fully understand.
I accept your scorn. From all of you.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a self-flagellation session scheduled for late this morning. The cat-o'-nine-tails waits for no man.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0 [perfection thy name is Blog Incest]
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Reports from all around the Blogger-built corners of the blogosphere that chaos and frustration reigns.
I personally have been trying all morning to get this stupid thing to work only to find that the problem is systemic and nothing at all to do with me. I'd be lying if I said the narcissist in me wasn't just a little disappointed.
Despite that realization, I would like to say how much I miss my old heavy CRT monitor with its thick glass concave screen. It was always easier to weather the really frustrating days that inevitably come with all things technological with Ole Boxy around. That monitor could really take a head-butt.
Hey, I think I may have accidentally figured out why it broke down on me.
Also, I'd like to welcome two new members to my blog roll over on your right. Not all new additions get mentions, but these two are special in their own way.
1) GeekThug not only has a silly name, but is also the first fellow Riverside blogger who I find interesting enough to include. OK, so mostly it's because he linked me first, but how else was I supposed to find him?
2) Boobs and Legs. First of all, best blogname ever. Second, I didn't even have to beg or plead or send money. I was spontaneously linked by my new BFF Cricket. I can only deduce that she was awed by the wonder that is the Bucket and its new graphical realization. I knew the 7 minutes I spent creating the cheap JPEG banner for my blog would pay off. Let this be a lesson to all you struggling artists out there: stop trying so hard. People are just as impressed by third-grade level collages.
Not only am I a bleeding-heart liberal Democrat, but I'm also the product of the public school-administered politically correct multicultural agenda.
As a result, I have no strong convictions. Even my sense of self has been eroded to the point of squirmy, slushy nothingness by the lingering echoes of what I was taught I (think I sort of) believe (in a case-by-case, relativist kind of a way).
For instance, I can only defend myself in certain instances. If a random African-American were to walk up to me on the street and punch me in the face (a common fear among suburban white people), I would be forced to respond: "Yes. Thank you. That is for the 500 years of suffering inflicted on your people by mine. You may kick me in the ribs in payment for the rape of your grand-mothers by their wicked white-devil slavemasters if you like."
When asked what I think about social security or Iraq or the laser-beam missile shield or deforestation, I always answer "You know, it kind of depends. It's really complicated..."
Sure, it's been easier since Bush was first elected. Then I can say "What's W's position? I'm for whatever the opposite of that is." That's the only taste of sure, blind-faith neocon Republicanism I'll ever get.
When walking outside, if confronted by a breeze of sufficient strength, I almost always let it push me where it wants to, even if it's into traffic. Who am I to impose my will on the wind's chosen course? The atmosphere was here long before the white man came with his colonial policy of cultural genocide. The least I can do is let it blow me. Whenever, wherever.
You should know then that anything I say can and will be liable to change at a moments' notice. I am unburdened by conviction.
So remember yesterday when I said I wasn't going to move over to HaloScan? Turns out the latest Blogger debacle has moved me to give it a shot. You can find it at the bottom of this post.
It would be too uncomfortably decisive of me to make the single move whole-hog, though. I'm going to leave the already-posted Blogger comments up while I figure out how this HaloScan thing works and I decide whether or not I want to keep it as my primary comments source.
All this assumes Blogger is working again and I can even post this. Are you reading it yet? Ah, good. I guess it worked.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.3
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Is It Too Small? Go On, You Won't Hurt My Feelings. Seriously, I Want To Know.
UPDATE #2: All seems to be well now. One more victory for the power of J. F. Christ.
UPDATE/NOTICE: Stupid Blogger is not patching through the Comments properly for this post. It keeps putting up an error message. Blogger Comments (as most of you probably know) have been sketchy as all hell over the last few days, so I'm assuming this has something to do with that, but I'm not ruling out the possibility that it is All My Fault.
Here's hoping Re-Publishing this post for this update magically fixes the problem. I have also been "praying" (see below).
Thanks for your patience and continued patronage.
And no, I'm still not switching to HaloScan.
What I'm about to say may surprise some of you. You may want to sit down to read this.
Actually, I can't think of a single reason why you wouldn't be sitting down while you read blogs. Does anyone stand and read blogs? I'm not even sure how or why that would be a good idea.
OK, let me start over.
Confession time. Here goes:
Despite the ass-kicking awesomeness of my recent mind-blowing major complete and total blog redesign, I know very little about web design.
There, I said it.
I'll give you a second to absorb the shock before I move on. Yes, there's more.
I had never heard of Cascading Style Sheets until about five days ago. I'm still not sure what they are or what they're supposed to do past pissing me off (which they do admirably and thoroughly), but I do know if you cut and paste the right code into them, you can get them to do what you want. Comprehension of the most basic functions is not required.
Mostly I'd like to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for His help in my blog redesign. Since I can't definitively tell you what I did to get the result I wanted, I figure I should play it safe and give credit to divine intervention and the power of prayer. It seems to work for NFL players.
Does it count as prayer if you scream out "Jesus fucking Christ!" when you're frustrated? I did that a lot while messing with the HTML/CSS/Whatever code over the weekend and then suddenly--poof!--it worked. Maybe it's a coincidence, but it's best not to take the chance.
Like most of my posts, the first 5-10 paragraphs are preamble to my main point, which today is this:
I've been told by some people that the font of my blogposts has become infinitesimally small and difficult to read.
With the help of some very nice readers, I've been able to deduce (mostly by them telling me) that the problem only occurs for users of the Mozilla Firefox browser. Gold Star, Bucketeers.
I've spent a few minutes this morning trying to figure out the best way to respond to this problem. The options have ranged from pretending it doesn't exist to actually trying to fix the issue.
Because the former would mean not having the option of spinning triviality into a convoluted blogpost and the latter would... well, it's just not possible, I've decided to go with Option 3.
Option 3 in this case is where I cover up my embarrassment at my complete technical ineptitude with lots of false bravado and misdirected anger at those who are experiencing difficulty that is clearly my fault.
Wish me luck. Ahem:
Suck it, Firefox users!
You and your fancy "alternative" browsers suffer as you deserve to. What kind of a masochistic contrarian goes out of their way to make life more difficult for themselves? What, you're too good for the all-encompassing benevolent embrace of Big Blue?
[Wait, Big Blue is IBM. What's Microsoft's nickname? Do they have one? If they don't have one, they should get one. Like Big M or Big Soft or Sparky...]
It's got to be some kind of hippie burn-out mentality that leads people to use anything other than Internet Explorer. What's the matter with you people? All you do is complain. "Oh, the font is too small." "Oh, IE has all kinds of disastrous security holes that can be exploited by a six-year-old and destroy my life."
Look, take off the tin-foil hats. Open the blinds on your windows every once in a while. No scary agents of a secret rogue arm of the government are waiting behind the bushes outside your house right now to kidnap and/or murder you. And you know what, if they were, there's nothing you could do about it anyway. Thought-surveillance technology exists today that not even a tin-foil hat can deflect.
Your fancy "alternative" browser isn't going to save you. Get with the mainstream. Give struggling American start-ups like Microsoft a chance, you commies. Think of the children.
There. Again, sorry about all this. If I had it in me to give enough of a shit to troubleshoot the problem, I would. Honestly. But "The Price is Right" comes on in like 20 minutes and dammit, I just can't get enough of those skinny microphones. Very telegenic.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.6
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
The Low Countries
It's taken an army of urban planners, county commissioners and city council people to build and maintain Riverside County's position as SoCal's Least Fashionable County. Granted it's not that difficult surrounded on three sides by fabbo-glam glitz-ball neighbors like San Diego, LA and OC.
Still, it takes work. We've got miles and miles of unchecked sprawl in every direction. Giagantic new housing tracts, each one indistinguishable from the next, edged up against 100-year old neighborhoods of falling-down houses that look like they were specifically built for very small people with very large crack addictions.
We gladly accept all the smog from our neighboring counties, lovingly collecting it within the ring of mountains that surround us, breathing it deep into our compromised lungs, happy and secure in the knowledge that we deserve their exhaust fumes. We're Riverside. Spill-over is what we do.
But despite all this, despite the meth labs and the orange air and the freeways that don't go anywhere, we have still failed to keep Starbucks away.
There was a time when I was but a lad, knee high to an elephant's eye (that's how that saying goes, isn't it?), sweating to death in one of Riverside's many lovely parcs des trailers, when a flashy retail-service chain like Starbucks wouldn't be caught dead out here. I guess when the same dumpy 3 bedroom pre-fab houses that used to go for $80,000 are going for $350,000, you have to expect some kind of outside attention to leak in.
Starbucks is here now. And as all of you know by now, once Starbucks invades a host region, it is only a matter of time before it divides and multiplies until the infection is systemic. It's like AIDS, but with foam and chocolate shavings.
I'll be honest, I know very little about what happens inside a Starbucks. Pops doesn't drink coffee. I drank tea for a while, but that's only because the hotel we stayed at in London offered it free with your 3-day old croissant for breakfast. Hot drinks and ADHD do not mix. I can be somewhat... er... impatient, I guess you'd say. I'm worried that you can only scald off your taste buds so many times before they stop working altogether.
Plus, I'm worried what might happen if I ever decided to kidnap someone. See, when you kidnap someone, you can't leave the house. If I became a regular Starbucks goer, I'd be forced to brew my own coffee at home while I watched over my victim, waiting for the ransom demand to be complied with.
I think we all know what happens when you mix kidnapping with a piping hot pot of freshly brewed coffee. Who gets the scalding liquid thrown in their face? That's right: the poor innocent kidnapper. Every single time. Meanwhile the plucky kidnapee makes a mad screaming dash for the basement window and shimmies her way to freedom while I'm trying to keep my flesh from falling off my skull.
No, it's just not worth the risk.
I would have preferred it if we had been able to keep the plain block-lettered green Starbucks signs beyond the mountains, safely behind the Orange Curtain where they belong.
Maybe I'm just being naïve. I've seen enough movies and TV shows to know that the kidnapping victim always finds a way to throw boiling liquid into your face. We do eat a lot of ramen out here.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.6
Monday, March 07, 2005
Hello fellow bloggers. Would you like to get your blog mentioned and linked in a post here at the Bucket? All you need to do is write a post praising me and my obvious genius! That's right! Follow the Dinner For Two plan (this guy Kris and his sister Dusti, plus a third person now which makes the name of the blog sort of silly, now that I think about it) and you can have your blog linked here! Think of the almost dozens of people who will be exposed to your work, like chicken pox in the ball-pit at Chuck E. Cheese.
They also later praised MPH, so I question their judgment, but still my offer stands: devote some or all of a post to how awesome I am and I will acknowledge it in writing! Act now! Mention this ad and get 10% more unnecessary verbiage devoted to you for no extra charge!
My first son was born at 3:46 am on a Saturday. Mrs. Pops had gone into labor at around 2 am Friday morning. I've been home with him (and the other little sprogs as they arrived) ever since, which means my last day working outside the house was that Thursday very nearly six years ago now.
Putting aside the fact that the job I was working was a temp position at a scuzz-ball Amway-style multi-level marketing pyramid scheme after I had finished my MA--waiting for my degree to come back from the framers so I could hang it on my wall after my long days of... filing and data entry--I wasn't particularly disappointed to leave the active work force.
People have some strange ideas about what it's like to stay home raising kids. They generally think a) you sit around doing nothing all day (the "Oh God, I could never do that... I would get so bored" response) or b) you are chased around the house from sun-up to sundown by screaming children armed with flaming, blunt and/or bladed weapons when not wading through pools of shit, vomit and laundry (the gasp-and-horrified-stare response).
Like everything else with two optional answers, the truth is really somewhere in the middle. I will say that I put a stop to the flaming weapons right away. Some things I just won't tolerate.
More often than not you get people who react with awe and wonder, most of it fake and condescending. If you say you stay at home, they say stuff like "Wow, that's really great. Really. It's great. It's really really great. You know, it's the hardest job there is." And then I have to punch them in the throat. I don't want to, I have to. It's the best part about being a stay at home dad. A certain level of social violence is expected from us whereas a mom would be forced to resort to dirty looks and starting rumors about eating disorders.
Not bringing in an income is probably the hardest part. You want to contribute, especially when the plasma big-screen TVs are creeping under $10,000 and you're still crowding around your 25" Magnavox concave screen with the little green blobby thing in the upper left hand corner of the screen. The desire to contribute is the reason why there are all those flyers on light poles and stoplights advertising WORK FROM HOME! FOUR HOURS A WEEK! EARN UP TO $9,000/WEEK! MINIMAL INVESTMENT! I won't say I've never been tempted.
OK, I've never been tempted (come on, people, seriously), but I can at least understand how others might be.
Not bringing in income is one thing, but I sure as hell don't miss work. Work involves interaction with other people, the gene for which I am sadly lacking (see: punching people in the throat, above). My kids I can relate to because I can build their entire reality up to a certain age. My kids, for instance, are convinced that my TV only picks up ESPN.
For workers, I think most wouldn't mind giving staying at home a shot. Usually this is right around the time their alarm clock goes off. The feeling generally goes away when one of the kids spills their cereal on the dog, but it exists.
For some, the desire to avoid work is more powerful than in others. There are people who devote their entire lives to the exercise of laziness until they perfect it. Perfect laziness involves career income--regular promotion even--with little or no effort.
A prime, high profile example of that is "journalist" Deborah Norville. Her chosen neglected-career is in television, so it's easy to chart. Remember when she was on the Today show? They did like 15 shows of her crying about replacing Jane Pauley. 15 shows where Deborah had to do zero work! And all she had to do was weather a little reputation-ding about her being a ambitious back-stabbing barracuda, which is something considering barracuda have no arms with which to stab.
Then Jane left, Deborah had nothing to do or say, so she got fired. Then she found a home at Inside Edition which, let's face it, involves no journalism work whatsoever. It's news for people who don't like news. Paris Hilton, Lacy Peterson, Michael Jackson, etc.
But I can see now she's pushing it way too far. Her laziness is about to get the better of her once more. Ostensibly to recreate the experiences of Martha Stewart under house arrest, Deborah Norville has convinced her producers to bring the cameras to her house so she can simulate what it will be like to live as Martha Stewart will, hemmed in by her own walls.
That kind of moxie deserves recognition and applause, but she's playing a dangerous game. Martha at least gets to leave the house for 48 hours per week to go to work. Deborah has conveniently forgotten that part of the story and instead decided to focus on the part that lets her sleep in and broadcast from her own couch watching Jerry Springer.
If I'm on to her, it's only a matter of time until everyone else is. She may not be long for this job, bit I wouldn't rule out Deborah Norville yet. If she wants a job in TV journalism where no effort is required at all, there's always Fox News. It's just like staying at home with the kids, only more shouting.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.5
PS- Rude Pundit is especially good today. Go read it and learn something. Mostly just new swear words and disturbing visual images, but there are some current events in there too.