Pops' Bucket
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Yawn Of The Dead
I welcome all who wish to visit, I really do. Only... there are some of you that I just... I can't say that I'm completely... let's be frank, you scare me a little bit. Not a lot, just a little bit. Not in like an "oh my God my ex-girlfriend just told me she has syphilis" kind of a scary way, just more in a "oh my God my ex-girlfriend just told me she has gout" kind of a scary way. It's not enough to affect anything I would like to do or get done, but it certainly makes me stop and consider.

MSN search result that led somebody here: That lady has a fat pointy ass.

Really? Fat and pointy? Why, anonymous person, would you ever want to find such a thing? And if you're going to look, why be so coy and demure? "That lady"? You can say her name, she won't know. Unless she's... oh, I get it. She's sitting right behind you in the library right now, isn't she? OK, probably not sitting as that precludes the observation, but she's nearby. I understand. My bad. Carry on.

The most important question in all this, of course: why is the Bucket way down at #8 on that list? My overactive sense of competition has been engaged. Just to warn you, my dear, gentle Bucketeers, it's going to get all "fat, pointy ass" around here over the next couple of days. Watch in confused, disinterested wonder as I claw my way toward #1 on yet another list.


I understand how the Culture War works. I actually sort of enjoy the process: some sort of mass media is released, followed by a random, unrelated incident of shocking public import like a school shooting or two consenting adults of the same gender engaging in a sex act together, Culture Warriors rise up and blame Hollywood, leftists and communists for bringing America low, by which we understand them to mean Jews. And me personally. Me and the Jews, working together since 1974 to rot America from the inside out.

And not just any ole Jews either, I mean the really nasty baby-eating ones with the tails and cloven-hoofs-for-feet and everything. You get a couple of those on your side and just you watch as conventions of public morals fall away around you. It's like hanging out with Dennis Rodman.

In the most startlingly simplistic of ways, depictions of easy sexuality lead to acts of easy sexuality among America's youth.* Depictions of wanton violence lead to acts of wanton violence. Depictions of cannibalism leads to acts of cannibalism.

That's right, I said cannibalism. Sound stupid? Before you get all eye-rolly, consider: this is in video games. Not just TV or movies, but in video games, where kids play at being slutty or violent or cannibals which is the same as practice. Seriously, how long do you think it would take for a kid playing at being a zombie cannibal on a video game before he or she--oh who are we kidding, he--develops not only a taste for human flesh, but one that must be acted on. That's how otherwise normal kids turn out to be cannibals. O the corruption!

Senator Joe Lieberman says (and this is true) about cannibal video games: "It's just the worst kind of message to kids."

I can't really argue with him there. Cannibalism is in fact a poor message to send to kids. Having players actively click the buttons that make their protagonist golem take a big wet bite out of some poor digital victim's fat, pointy ass is the first step down a slippery slope.

We're on our way to the mainstreaming of not only cannibalism, but zombies in general. Next thing you know there's going to be a Zombie Rights lobby--instead of a rainbow flag, it will be a black banner with big red letters: BRAINS--trying to lower all of our natural abhorrence toward something as yucky as cannibalism until those of us on the left (remember: me and the Jews) are all convinced and working actively to help Undead-Americans set up and run their people-farms, defending it as a "lifestyle choice".

All of it true. Guilty as charged. And then just for good measure, we're going to stock the people-farms with clones. Grown from embryonic stem cells. And our ad campaign: Christians Just Taste Better. Mmm, pure white meat. I'm sort of hungry now myself.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.2


*= at least I've heard. Couldn't find me none of that when I was a teenager. I figured logically the more openly frivolous the sex on screen, the more likely it would be that I would find me some poor, misled young woman to take advantage of, so I hung out a lot at the porn theater. More gratuitous = more action, yes? There was some wanton sex going on in the seats around me, but none of it was the participatory kind, or at least not the kind of which I wanted terribly to be participatory in. Plus the floor was all slippery.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Don't Speak
I'm suspicious of these newfangled TiVo and DVR devices. We, as a people, do not need this much control over what we are exposed to and what we process in terms of our #1 best-pal mass media, the trusty and reliable TV.

I'm a little frustrated by the movement because I'm just so very tired. By now we were all supposed to be completely homogenized by telelvision, warmly and lovingly brainwashed, perfectly primed to fulfill our primary societal roles as consumers and nothing else.

Remember just after 9/11? What were we supposed to do? Sign up for military service? Organize locally to ensure the safety mutual support of those closest to us? Nope, we were supposed to go out to dinner. And shop. Be American. From the President himself.

It was a simpler time then. I felt like, finally, the time had come where I could leave aside all that thinking and self-determination and let my mass-media-implanted programming take over.

But alas, here I am. Maybe it's just me, but the decision-making-abdication-algorithm doesn't seem to be finished. Not only do I have to think about stuff and figure out what to do all by myself, but I'm constantly running up against little, jarring reminders of how we as a nation are not yet the happy, one-thought, one-mind Big Brother dystopia I was promised by Huxley and Orwell and Disney.*

Language is the most prominent example of how we as a people in America are so far from the dream of synchronized drone-hood.

Look at the word "huge". There are people who, for some unexplained reason unrelated (as far as I can tell) to region or socio-economic condition, cannot properly pronounce the word "huge". Somehow, someway they insist on saying it with a "y" on the front, like "yooge".

Does that make any kind of sense to anyone else? I mean, some of these little things you can forgive because people were born in certain places and just don't know better like the disgusting way people in the Great Lakes region all flatten out and nasalize their vowels. I have family in that general area who--and this still boggles--have two different pronunciations for the words "dawn" and "Don" (like a man's name). The first one is kind of normal and doesn't make my sinuses bleed while the second one is a horrible banshee scree "Daaaaaaaan". Only it doesn't sound like "Dan" either. There is no letter I can type that can accurately recreate that sound they make. It's some kind of mix between E and A and O, all short and long at the same time. If I could represent it graphically, it would have to be little drawing of a man with his fingers in his ears, sobbing in despair and shame over his genetic linguistic inheritance. I'll get to work on that right away.

Sometimes the question isn't even pronunciation, but usage. For some reason there are places in America where any store with the word "-mart" and the end of its name is automatically plural. You've got "K-Marts" and "Wal-Marts" as in: "I'm going to wait to buy this powder-blue polyester track suit. I saw the same thing on sale over at the K-Marts."

But that's regional. And kind of stupid. See, they just don't know any better.

I can't find a single regional reason that explains "yooge", though. It just seems sort of individually contrarian.

Maybe that's the point. Maybe it's some kind of secret society verbal handshake that indicates membership into an anti-conformity organization whose goal is to defend us all from the horrors of linguistic uniformity and--by extension--tyranny in general. Maybe "yooge" is just the first shot in a larger movement; yesterday it was non-standard ridiculous word pronunciation, today it's TiVo and the ability to bend Almighty Television to the individual will. Maybe the movement will one day grow into a violent struggle pitting hardy band of syntactically-challeged rebels against their phonetic and numerical superiors in a valiant but ultimately hopeless last-gasp against the blending of America into one happy off-white Caramel Macchiato.

And one day it will all be turned into a kick-ass must-see event mini-series on F/X or USA Network.

And I will totally watch it. AND all the commercials. It will be yuge.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.9


*= yes, Disney. Only unlike Huxley and Orwell, Disney was happy about the idea. And in Disney's future, there are more singing dolls. And all the rides suck.

Monday, November 28, 2005
Monday Lite: An Injection Of National Pride
Days off, parades, feasting, families together... it takes a special national occasion for me to get all my extended family together in order to not talk to them all in the same room at the same time. Frankly I was a little confused by it. What was it we were celebrating, exactly? We still call it "Thanksgiving", but nobody really bothers to give thanks anymore. Not even when I passed the gravy. To be honest, I was going to spit in it anyway, but the general lack of gratitude just made it all the more enjoyable.

So if we weren't giving thanks, what was all the hullabaloo about? Besides the opportunity to say "hullabaloo"?

US to hold 1,000th execution this week.

A-ha! Two things Americans love more than anything, law-and-order and nice round numbers we can publicly commemorate (usually with a collector decorative plate series).

Despite all the frivolity, I'm wondering: where's all the marketing tie-ins behind all this? No t-shirts to buy? No Vegas betting pool to see who the lucky 1,000th will be? I don't know about you, but I want my baseball cap emblazoned with the flashy logo devised from reducing an event of serious cultural and legal importance down to three easy numbers and/or letters. Like X1K or something.

Yeah, a black hat with a silver, metal-looking X1K across the front so we can celebrate our nation's committment to justice while simultaneously celebrating the fact that there are 1,000 less totally no-question-about-it guilty criminal people running around.

Woo! I don't know about you, but I'm going to collect all the Burger King commemorative limited-edition State Execution plastic cups (free when you order a large-size combo).

X1K comes but once a year.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.7


Sunday, November 27, 2005
Long Tall Weekend
I'm proud of myself that I was able to leave you with something the last time we spoke that was utterly vile, juvenile and anti-socially contemptible. It's something I will treasure for the rest of my days and I have you people and your delicate food+colon=bad sensibilities to thank for it. Bless you all.

I do feel bad that it's been four days that I've posted. Not "bad" as in any kind of guilt borne out of neglected social responsibility, I mean physically bad, as in shakes and sweating and insomnia. Bucket Withdrawal extends to Your Humble Proprietor as much as it does to you, my enthralled public. But I made it, with the help of God and some clever self-medication. I'm happy Sunday's here, no mistake. Two bottles of NyQuil per day eventually does more harm than good.

Most of my memory of the past weekend, consequently, is kind of a blur, but I know you're as desperate to know all about it as I am desperate to tell. So:

THURSDAY: Very pleasant day split between my in-laws' and my sisters' houses where I do very little/no work in exchange for great piles of food. Between steaming mounds of turkey and a suspect ham, the remainder of the day is spent with tryptophan and trichinosis warring for control of my body, if not my very soul. They work it out amongst themselves for a while, settling on a very sleepy diarrhea. The truce only lasts until the forcible intervention of my pet tapeworm--who a) in fairness, was there first and b) does not play well with others--which somehow expels both. In gratitude, I have finally given my tapeworm a name. I call him "Homunculus". If it asks for power of attorney, I'm not sure what I'll say.

FRIDAY: I wake up hungry again, believe it or not. For some reason I have a mad craving for Cinnabon. Apparently I was not the only one because the mall was total chaos. The Cinnabon line was outrageous. And don't even get me started on the Orange Julius. Total nightmare. For the rest of the day I sit around a lot, allowing my Thanksgiving to bloom into fully realized body-fat. By evening I am more puddle than man.

SATURDAY: I sit in front of the TV in frenzied anticipation of the UCLA-USC football game only to realize that it's not on until next Saturday. Fuckers. Now I found myself with massive stores of testosterone meant to be spent shouting and throwing things at the TV that now must be otherwise expressed. I spend a lot of the rest of the day masturbating. And wandering the neighborhood looking for trouble, which I find in an incident that ends with me punching the mail-carrier lady in the face. I stay up late into the night leaving a series of worried voice-mails for my therapist.

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23-17 in overtime. Everything else is a fuzzy, pink haze. I don't know if it's post-football euphoria or the NyQuil again.

Which leads us to this. On behalf of all of you, I'd like to welcome me back. It's good to have me. I was missed.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Seeing as it's the day before Thanksgiving, I don't have a lot of time to post. I'm busy doing my regular annual Thanksgiving gluttony-prep exercises, getting the ole gut n' gullet in shape for the tastiest of the Seven Deadly Sins.

The only way to prepare for eating is to eat. A lot. I figure if I stretch my stomach to the absolute limit of its capacity today, I'll be more than ready tomorrow. You know, after the purging and the series of enemas. I like to go into Thursday completely gastronomically clean. By the time I'm done today, you could eat fudge ripple ice cream out of my colon. Not sure why you'd want to, I'm just saying you could. Not "could" like in "I give you permission" but "could" like in "it is possible".

OK, this isn't going as smoothly as I'd hoped. You people are distracting me. I've got half a 12-pound ham sitting next to me on my desk. It's not going to eat itself. Traning waits for no man.

If anyone is interested, I have a list of effective herbal emetics. Make me proud tomorrow, Bucketeers.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.0


Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Bird Of Prey
I can't say I've ever really understood the vegetarian impulse. I'm not judging, though. I don't point and laugh at people who buy Boca Burgers at the supermarket. Anymore. Getting my ass kicked in the parking lot of a Vons by a wheezy 98-pound hemp-clothed vegan is not an experience I'm in any hurry to repeat.

I'm sure I could have outlasted her if I could have hung in there. With no red-meat protein, they tire easily. But that first barrage... well, I was just not prepared for the ferocity. You've seen them at the protests. They're very angry little people. With all the leather and the fur and the McDonald's and the KFC around them 24/7, they're just dying to unleash. God help you if you're in front of them when they do. No body fat makes for some pointy, pointy elbows and knees.

Objectively I guess I can see how it is cruel to, for instance, test cosmetics on animals. Why must they rub the eye-shadow inside the bunny's eye? But then I think: if they don't rub it in the bunny's eye, then they don't know what would happen if it got in Bunny's eye and nobody wants a stripper with a withered eyeball. It's distracting. Yeah, OK, an eyepatch would be hot, but the depth-perception challenge of Bunny staying on that elevated stage would be too stressful to enjoy completely. So the rabbit gets the applicator wand. The American economy depends on it.

PETA's done some interesting things to draw attention, like having famous vegans pose (sort of) nude as a protest against wearing fur. But I never understood that because, if you think about it, human skin is kind of like our pelt (some of us are more pelt-y than others, I admit, but keep up) which is exactly what furs are made out of. So the message is, as far as I can tell, we should wear a human pelt. Very Silence of the Lambs, which is fine I guess, but I don't even have a basement to dig a fat-girl-storing hole in. So where does that leave me?

They also have this thing called Lettuce Ladies where they have girls wrapped up in clothes made out of lettuce which is, again, a confused message. The only thing I know for sure from seeing this is that with the right vinaigrette, I would totally eat Elizabeth Berkley.

Since this is the animal-devouring season, PETA has turned their focus this year away from their traditional message of human-skinning and cannibalism to the plight of the poor, poor turkeys. Apparently turkeys are wonderful, beautiful, elegant creatures with impeccable manners and with lots to say about current events and culture. The whole walking around eating pebbles and sticks thing is just some kind of elaborate cover. And that's the tragedy, that we never get to know what they're like on the inside.

Except it's what's on the inside that interests people like me the most. Drumsticks, breasts, wings, cornbread stuffing, etc. That's more than enough personality for me, thanks. It's so much personality that I generally fall asleep before the pies come out. That tryptophan would be a great predator defense if only it somehow worked before you ate the turkey.

See, even a turkey's self-preservation mechanism is stupid. We were meant by God to eat these things.

But PETA has staff writers who need work, so they rolled out 10 reasons not to eat turkey. Let's look at them one by one.

1) Turkeys are "smart" and have "personality". This is according to a "poultry scientist". Automatically disqualified from being taken seriously. Next.

2) Turkey makes you fat. The argument morphs into "all meat is bad and all meat eaters are fat". Vegans are skinnier, but they're also cranky and starving. Also, eating meat somehow tends to soothe the human sanctimony gene. Don't ask me how.

3) If you eat turkey, you will get bird flu. This is the best one, mostly because it's a lie. Besides, we all already HAVE bird flu. Don't these people watch the news?

4) Something about government. Blah blah blah wonky wonk wonk.

5) A dead turkey is a corpse! And if you leave it sitting out, it will rot! I guess we'd better eat it fast then. And refrigerate the leftovers. Wow, problem solved.

6) Force-fed antibiotics in farm turkeys are bad. This one I sort of agree with. PETA implies it's OK to eat "organic" free-range turkeys. Eat 'em raw if you want. Send pictures.

7) This one has two clauses: a) turkeys poop and b) the slaughtering process is gross. Let me check... nope, still hungry. Sorry.

8) Again, turkeys poop. Noted. Can we move on already? No-meat-eating also makes you forgetful and repetitive.

9) Slaughterhouse work is not as much fun as it sounds.

10) Eat tofurkey instead! I have a strict policy against eating anything you have to put into a mold and artificially color just so it will resemble something edible.

Before I go, I would like to point out that I am writing this post, as I do all my posts, sitting in a leather chair.

Come get me, hippies.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.1


Monday, November 21, 2005
Monday Lite Dueling
Bush: "People should feel comfortable expressing their opinions about Iraq."

Cheney: "This is revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety. It has no place anywhere in American politics..."

And now here's a picture of a monkey smoking a cigarette.
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This post on the Narcissus Scale: 0.7


Sunday, November 20, 2005
Ah, freedom. It's what happens to other people who don't have kids. Or it's what happens to me when my mom is visiting and I'm able to suppress my conscience long enough to exploit her mercilessly and stick her with my screaming children while Mrs. Pops and I make a run for it.

Ostensibly it was to do some Christmas shopping for the kids. Which we did. For about an hour. But then, well, it's 6 pm, she's already just two short hours from putting them to bed, after which they will be asleep or at the very least shut in dark rooms behind mostly sound-proof doors. Either way, we'll be far enough away that we won't be able to tell either way. So dinner and a movie, yes? Yes.

And hey, maybe we can go to one of those fancy new places with the linen non-kid-proof table cloths and where they don't even have high chairs as a seating option. And maybe we can get in quickly because we're only a party of two instead of five. And maybe we can only concentrate on cutting our own food and then get through a whole meal without having to fetch dropped crayons or threaten to drag anyone outside and spank them.*

Or ooh! Maybe we can just sit there and eat and not say anything at all. And eat slowly so that we might taste something, even if by accident. And enjoy a nice leisurely crème brulée afterward instead of rushing out because you can't take it anymore and wouldn't it look bad if you strangled (not to death, but still strangled) a deceptively helpless-looking child right there in front of fellow patrons.

Arrive at the movie half an hour early just to sit there in the seat and... just sit. Endure "The 2wenty" so you can savor the sweet, sweet preview of heady adult fare like that movie about the guy who can fly or the other one about the monkey who fights dinosaurs or the opportunity to be bored once again by M. Night Shyamalan, if only for a moment.

As promised (and much to my surprise), we saw the new Harry Potter movie. It was pretty good, especially Ralph Fiennes camping it up at the end as a scarily nose-less Lord Voldemort.

Removing a man's whole nose. That was quite an effect. There were also dragons and mer-people and flying carriages and the barely-animated wood-carving that plays Ron Weasley.

The most astonishing special effect was the introduction (in a bit role) of Harry Potter's first crush. On a girl! The astonishing thing was that somehow--and I will never, ever know how they did this--they made it seem like there was this Chinese girl who spoke with Scottish accent. At first it was jaw-dropping, the boldness of something so patently ridiculous, but then it kind of ruined the movie for me. There's only so much disbelief I can suspend. I was with them when the living hedgemaze ate the French lady, but a Scottish Chinese girl? Please.

Everyone knows Asians can only be found in two places: 1) Asia and 2) America, specifically New York and California. That's it. San Francisco Chinatown, fine. Glasgow Chinatown? I think not.

First of all, Scotland is miserably wicked cold. Why would anyone leave Asia, bypass America to go twice as far just to get to cold-ass Scotland?

Second of all, English is a hard enough language to learn when you're learning regular English like we speak in America. If you add on all that fancy Scottish brogueing and the task is nearly impossible.

Third, everyone knows the Ethnic Food franchise in the UK has been exclusively purchased by India and Pakistan. It's all curry this and kebab that. There's no room for a kung pao anything. And thus the Asians have no work.

I'm sure there might be some fringe work in dry-cleaning or blowing the math (sorry, "maths") curve in public schools, but I don't think that's enough to support an entire ethnic population. To be honest, I'm not sure Scots even launder their clothes that often, let alone dry-clean. The economic picture is bleak.

Still, kudos to the Harry Potter people for trying something new, even if it failed ultimately. Scottish Chinese girls. Hmm. It's amazing what can be done with computers these days.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9


*= not even the hot seating-hostess lady. Mrs. Pops doesn't like it when I flirt.

Friday, November 18, 2005
The Boy Who Limped
Movies I Have No Intention of Seeing will not be seen today. With the release today of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we are entering officially the holiday movie season, which means the release of movies I actually intend to see. Sure, there are still plenty of others I do not intend to see that deserve recognition. And further, just because I intend to see Harry Potter is no guarantee that such an event will come about. But I'd hate to go on and on about it and then end up seeing it, making a liar out of myself.

As everyone knows, Pops is a seasoned liar. Like any seasoned liar I have the ability to rationalize at a very high level and to invent fine distinctions in order to sate the nagging conscience I should by all accounts have. For instance, I have no trouble lying when the lie is pure fabrication (my wife is a Peruvian cave woman, I am flamingly gay, I have children, etc.) but I hesitate to lie to cover up things that actually happen just to cover my own ass (I spent $800 playing on-line baccarat, I'm cutting again, I have children, etc.). The problem with cover-up lies is that they conflict on a point-by-point basis with actual events, necessitating lots of detailed false back-story and improvisation to cover up any holes. One mistake and you're dead.

So if I were to write about not intending to see Harry Potter and then saw it, and then pretended I didn't so as to protect my reputation for intellectual purity and virtue with you, my child-like readers, one day I would be made to pay for it. I would be talking about how uncomfortable the burgeoning hotness of Emma "Hermione" Watson made me during such-and-such a scene in Goblet of Fire and BLAMMO! A hi-larious future post about pedophilia would send the whole house of cards crashing in on itself.

I can't afford that kind of disappointment. It'd be like telling you people there is no Santa Claus.

Oh God, I've done it now...


In lieu of pretend entertainment reports certain not to entertain you, I've decided instead to not entertain you by telling a personal story from my childhood. It is full of lies and distortions, but of the type I am comfortable with.

I have a neice who is about to turn 12. She's excited because she gets to stay home by herself every once in a while now when her parents go to the store or something. Just a few minutes at a time to test her independence and the flammability of the furniture. I don't know how she gets any serious smoking done in that period of time, but I'm sure she does her best.

What makes me laugh about it is that I'm old. OK, not so funny really, but way back in the misty past, when I was but a wee sprig of a lad in the 1980s, I can hardly remember a time after I reached school age when I wasn't left alone (or at least without adult supervision) for long periods of time. Well before the age of 12 anyway.

The term "latch-key kid" always sounded so depressing to me. Yes, there were no parents home, but "latch-key" sounds like we were dirty-faced urchins with crappy Dick Van Dyke Cockney accents, straight out of Oliver Twist. Of course that's all rubbish. Except for the Cockney accent. It was a phase. At the time I was all about replacing my Ts with glottal stops. Kids.

I grew up with just my mother and two sisters. Mom was going to nursing school through most of the early '80s and working. So we had to sell the Ferrari and go on public assistance for a while. Powdered milk isn't as bad as it sounds. In fact, it's indescribably worse. It's exactly what the humiliation of poverty tastes like. But it's OK with chocolate.

So one parent, three kids, no money for day-care and mom on a 22-hour-a-day work/school schedule meant that there were some opportunities for zero supervision. Lots of TV got watched. He-Man, GI Joe, professional wrestling... all very gay in retrospect. But this story isn't about that.

One thing that was rock-solid understood is that we HAD to go to school. No matter what. Sick, bored, scared of the bully, just broke up with the teacher, didn't matter. Had. To. Go. Home alone after school for several hours was fine, but a whole day home was not acceptable.

The morning I couldn't find one of my shoes was quite a quandary for my 8-year-old brain, then. I looked. I really did. Mom was rushing around like a crazy person, as she did every morning, getting us and herself ready. I hesitantly shared my no-shoe dilemma with her. In either a brilliant parental motivation maneuver or the desperation of a woman on the edge, she looked at me for about a second and said "You're going to school today."

I looked again. I looked for my shoe like no other 8 year old has ever looked for anything in the history of 8-year-olds. I moved things. I looked behind things.

No shoe.

It's funny how something as mundane and purely sensual as tactile sensation can rearrange the context of entire experiences by giving a person a perspective on things they hadn't even considered considering before.

For instance if you ride your bike to school with one foot only in a sock, you really notice those metal bumpy things on the edges of the pedals that help what should be your shoe stay put. With just a sock on, you really notice those things. Mostly because they kind of hurt.

It's also a good way to learn a new appreciation for something you might have taken for granted. Like how good shoes are when you have to do something like walk across a grass field in the morning. I know poets like to use the word "dew" because it conjures up sparkly images of glisteny spring, but when you have to walk on it with a sock, you realize that poets are stupid. On a basic, sock-contacting, functional level, dew is just water. It soaks up into your sock just as easily as a puddle of non-poetic mud water would so that your sock makes a sloppy slap slap slap sound when you transition from lawn to asphalt playground.

The good thing about the whole experience once I arrived at school is that I was surround by 1st-through-6th graders, the kindest, most understanding subset of humanity there is. They all bravely averted their eyes so as to preserve my quiet human dignity.

No, I'm kidding. I got a lot of "Hey, you only have one shoe! Look, he only has one shoe! Your no-shoe is stupid! You're stupid! Ha ha ha, stupid!"

Uninspiring I know, but it wasn't a very good school.

My teacher was horrified. She sent me to the office. They didn't know what to do with me, so I sat in the nurse's office. I was 8, so I was happy not to be in class reading some stupid story about some stupid dog who could talk to teach me to respect people of all races or not to play with matches.

Eventually one lady was elected (I don't know if she was a vice-principal or a receptionist or a janitor or what) to take me in her little car to a store where they sold shoes. I got to pick out a brand new pair of $5 shoes all for myself. A complete set! Matching and everything!

To quote a famous internet philosopher, I spent the rest of the day feeling like King Shit of Fuck Mountain. One shoe for each foot. And for free! Hot damn!

Of course I didn't know at the time that the lady who bought me my shoes was going "Oh the poor dear with his poverty-stricken lifetsyle and the one shoe. His mother is probably a drug addict who neglects him horribly."

That wouldn't have bothered me because I knew the truth was that no, mom wasn't a drug addict, she just had places to be. I didn't understand that I was supposed to be humiliated and mortified and angry at the breach of dignity from people trying to help me.

All of this was explained to me in careful detail when my mom got home and saw my exciting new shoes. She told me the shoes would be going back, ASAP. I said "Oy, 'at's bollox, mate," but mom could not be dissuaded, even in 8-year-old Cockney. She delivered them personally to the office person in question the next time she had an hour to spare. I'm sure words were exchanged, but I missed that. I always miss the good stuff.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


Thursday, November 17, 2005
Dead Sexy
I first recall seeing him in Gattaca alongside Ethan Hawke. I saw Music From Another Room with him and then-next-great-Hollywood-actress Gretchen Mol on a British Airways flight from LA to London. Then of course there was The Talented Mr. Ripley, the excellent Enemy at the Gates, AI, Road to Perdition, Cold Mountain, Closer... I don't know what they're going to do with the two films he has in production.

He's been somewhat maligned in the press lately, but I don't care. I'm going to miss Jude Law. Such a brilliant career in such a short time cut short by tragic, early death.

I haven't seen any official statements from friends or his representatives of film studios, but I can only presume he's dead. I mean, just last year, he was People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive.

And just yesterday, People name Matthew McConaughey the 2005 Sexiest Man Alive. I know Jude didn't stop being sexy, so I can only reasonably conclude that he must no longer be alive.

The title isn't "sexiest man of the year", no. It's Sexiest Man Alive.

He had kids and everything, man. It just breaks my heart.

Of course included with this tragic news is the fact that I have to endure--for the 10th year in a row--finishing a close second. Don't laugh. I mean, they gave it to Affleck in 2002 and Nick freakin' Nolte in 1992, so it's not like their standards are all THAT high.

It looks like the best way to go about this is to kill the title-holder. That's the only way to make SURE they are ineligible for being the Sexiest Man Alive. It seems to have worked for Mr. McConaughey this year. And (I assume) for every winner every year before that.

Except Brad Pitt. He won it twice. I don't understand that at all.

For legal reasons, I must point out that I am not saying that I think Matthew McConaughey personally killed Jude Law. That's what publicists are for.

I just would like to implore People Magazine to stop. This cycle of competition and bloodshed must end. Is it worth it for a slight bump in media exposure and circulation for one week out of the year? Next week we all know you'll be back to pictures of Lindsay Lohan walking out of a restaurant after not eating and inspiring stories about three-legged diabetic dogs teaching retarded kids how to read.

And somewhere Taye Diggs is taking evasive driving courses so he can drive the getaway car for his publicist next year. The only good news I can take from all this is that maybe in 2006 we will have seen the last of movies starring Matthew McConaughey.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.3


Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Back Up Off Me, Yo
It was brought to my attention yesterday that one of the stories I cited in that day's post may have been--intentionally or unintentionally--misread and misrepresented by me.

These are very serious charges. I pledge to cooperate fully with any investigation into these matters and look forward to working with any special prosecutor (should one be appointed) to resolve this matter in a thorough and timely fashion. As my readers know, there is nothing I love more than the rule of law. Except maybe Fun Dip. Three flavors of sugar eaten off saliva-moistened solid sugar sticks. All that plus it's got "fun" right in the name.

I defy any American not to love Fun Dip. Maybe you're not sure. Maybe you're thinking "Oh, I don't know, it sounds kind of sweet. Maybe I'll just have some Pop Rocks. You know, the kind that turn in to gum."

Look, that's fine. I respect everyone's right to disagree. I personally would rather eat dog shit pie, but if that's what gets you over, great. This is America. Everyone has a right to eat whatever they want, if it is something disgusting and wrong.

Getting back to my original point, I would like to say that I resent the implication that I intentionally manipulated the material before me in order to fit my comedic premise. Yes, of course it's funnier if someone drives into their own pool and breaks their neck rather than dives into their own pool and breaks their neck. The former would require a series of events of almost inconceivable stupidity and probably an altered mental state either by intoxication, cognitive degeneration by genetic disease or exposure to sunblock while the latter only implies an inability to read the big white tiles with the single big black number on it indicating pool depth.

One has clearly got more potential to exploit than the other.

Some of you may have concluded that this is a case of a rush to judgment; that I so badly wanted it to say drive instead of dive that I disregarded all evidence to the contrary presented me by a vast complex of intelligence sources. Two in particular I would like to single out for recognition, code-named for their protection: "The Internets" and "My Own Goddamn Eyes".

The implication that I deliberately leapt to this faulty conclusion I reject. However I do see now that there was a problem with my intelligence sources. "The Internets" I have come to find out is full of half-truths, misinformation, outright lies and porn. Porn porn porn, everywhere porn. Scanning news items (already suspect in and of themselves) for blogpost material in one window side by side with another one streaming video of two ladies in full clown make-up working each other into a three-ring frenzy of grease-painted carnality might have been a mistake, in retrospect.

The other source, "My Own Goddamn Eyes" I will admit now have been suspect for some time. Not only can they not see more than 6 inches in front of my face without assistance from some kind of corrective lens, they are the same source that convinced me that I was about to meet Robert "Mike Brady" Reed at a supermarket in Laguna Hills several years ago. I apologize publicly once again, madame. I certainly regret that incident. Mostly I regret that lady's ability to throw a punch.

For those of you who may now rush to condemn me in hindsight, I say to you: don't be one of those people. I call them "Hindsight Condemners". All they do is look back on things that happened in the past and then pass judgment upon those things in a way that is disapproving. Unlike my own goddamn eyes, hindsight is always 20/20. And condemning, that's also 20/20. If you put the two of them together, you get 40/40 and everyone knows that if you divide a number by itself, you get 1. After all the math is done, Hindsight Condemners = 1. The loneliest number. Think about that. I have it embroidered on a pillow.

I will say categorically that there was no cherry-picking of news articles in order to get yesterday's result. The outcome may not have been what I had wanted, but the intent was pure. If it were up to those who would criticize, another post about Brad Pitt's dick might have come to power yesterday. We can't trust those people with the future of the Bucket.

And now look what you've done. By forcing me to use the word "cherry-pick" in my defense, you've assured a whole new wave of dirty googling of my blog. The word "cherry" in conjunction with the appearance of my pseudonym is sure to draw all kinds of perverts looking searching for a very unfortunate text string. To safeguard against this, I will have to sign off using my real name, and thus compromise my anonymity further.

See what you people made me do?

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


Korvath Ganymede MacLeish Horrington III

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The sun is my enemy. And Michael Coe from the third grade. That fucker always took cuts in the lunch line. He was the type of kid who would get on the see-saw with you, get you all the way in the air and then jump off just because he knew you had an irrational fear of levers and cried easily.

So there was that kid and the sun. I don't see that bastard anymore, but I can't get the evil, evil sun to leave me alone. I hate it because it makes me all sweaty. And it melts stuff. And it is the essential catalyst for the process of photosynthesis that keeps plants alive, including trees, which I also hate. Especially palm trees. Stupid pointy palm trees with no climbing-branches, just sitting there all obstacle-y when I'm trying to drive drunk. No, I don't think "hate" is too strong a word.

That kid, trees and the sun. Three enemies. You're probably thinking "Oh, but what about the fact that trees provide shade from the sun? Isn't the enemy of your enemy your friend?" And I say NO. They're working together in some way I haven't figured out exactly what. I think maybe the shade is to lure me outside under a false promise of safe shelter, only to have the sneaky-ass sun hold its stupid position at the center of the solar system as the earth rotates, thereby causing the shade to move and leaving me exposed once more. Shade is a fickle bitch. It is not to be trusted.

Not that I seek shade. It may seem paradoxical, but I don't shirk from the sun. No, I have to be ready. One day it's going to come down to Me vs. It, Man vs. Celestial Body, Overstuffed Life-giving Ball of Burning Gas vs. the Sun. When I go to the beach, I wear no sunblock. It's a full-body dip in vegetable oil and then lay out under a canopy made entirely of magnifying glasses. When it comes down to the showdown--as it inevitably will--mano a sol, I have to be ready to take the sun's best shot. And I will be.

Not everyone sees it my way, though, no. These people are known as "wrong".

They lay out on beaches, next to pools, beside any convenient collection of water and just bask, bask, bask. Oh, but not too much. That's what sunblock is for, right? You want to get as much sun as possible without feeling the ravages of what the bastard, merciless sun can really do. I have no tolerance for collaborators. Some of us will be ready and some of us won't, that's all I'm saying.

For those of you who don't believe that sunblock is for pussies, consider the testimony of Nature: scientists at the very prestigious University of California, Riverside have recently concluded that the sunblock washed off human bodies and dumped into the ocean turns male fish into female fish. It contains a chemical that closely resembles estrogen in certain coastal fish, triggering spontaneous gender reassignment. It's something I suspected for a long, long time. Banana Boat gives you man-boobs. Visit any California beach and you'll see it in action. Argue if you want, but it's science.

Sunblock exposure also makes you stupid. Consider the entire cast of the entire run of Baywatch. Sounds anecdotal, doesn't it? But when even a red-swimsuit short-timer Brooke Burns drives her car into her own swimming pool, I think can safely rest my case. Driving into someone else's swimming is one thing. Hey, things happen. I once crashed a Vespa into a koi pond. I'm not proud of it, but it happened. If you must know, I was trying to avoid a tree. A palm tree. The point is, one would assume one would be familiar enough with their own living space to be able to avoid the pool with the car or even the whole of the backyard altogether. This is what sunblock does to you. In combination with being born stupid, the effects are devastating.

I can't make you people listen. I can't make anyone listen. But just consider: if the sun isn't planning anything, why does it just sit there all the time, watching? It's taking notes, mark my words. It's waiting for us to show weakness. Global warming is just the beginning.

Me, I'll be ready.

Well, tomorrow. Today I'm busy. I have a doctor's appointment. I have this new weird-looking mole I need him to look at. Tomorrow it's on, though.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.8


Monday, November 14, 2005
Monday Lite Self-Reference-Palooza
You know, you spend a certain amount of time crafting and perfecting and proofreading a blogpost in order to dazzle your readers, and what do you get out of it?

I used the word "anathema" in last night's post. I thought that was pretty good. Sure, the fact that I have it in my vocabulary at all speaks to a monkish late-adolescence reading about religious history instead of drinking somebody's mom's wine-coolers until I threw up on the cheerleader I was supposed to be banging, but that doesn't negate the wonder that is language. Anathema, people. It even looks all Greek-y.

But which word did you people notice? "Sodomize."


And for the record, I was using the term "sodomy" as I understood it in the legal sense, which means any act of non-procreative sex that might be considered "deviant".

Of course by "understood", I mean "vaguely recalled, but too lazy to look up, even though it would only take a second on the internet; but hey, it looks good and besides, what kind of a prick would call me on it?"

Thanks for the help, PetCo. God bless.

Since this is the Monday after a long Sunday post, I leave you to contemplate the logo of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It's supposed to say something about local geopolitical and economic unity, but to me it just reminds me of my favorite page in my 7th grade biology textbook. Except in that book, I don't remember the uterus being on fire like that. That's one serious STD.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


Sunday, November 13, 2005
Vote Of No Confidence
I love being from Riverside. What it does for me is hard to convey to people outside the greater Los Angeles area, but it's very freeing. Socially, the expectations are so low that I can get away with just about anything. I bathe regularly, keep my hair trim and clean, launder my clothes and almost always wear shoes because I want to do those things. If I chose not to, a simple "He's from Riverside" would get me all the nodding sympathy I could want in Orange or Los Angeles counties right before I got thrown out of whatever place I had befouled with my presence.

We don't wear stained old wife-beaters and holey boxers in public because we think it's the right thing to do. We do so because the geographical prejudice is so pronounced that even if we were to try to succeed at things like fashion and... existing... the resulting social anathema would be the same. So why bother? Let's be comfortable instead.

This all doesn't apply to the trucks with the giant lift-kits put on them and the naked lady mudflaps. We just like those.

What I'm saying is that there's a perception about my hometown area that lingers in the halls of social justice like Tara Reid at an awards-show after-party.

The national media isn't helping. When does anyone outside of SoCal ever hear anything about Riverside? When some kid kills his mom and cuts off her head and hands. Or some crazy person from elsewhere dumps a body in one of our invitingly remote and pristine open spaces. Or when some convicted felon who is currently in jail gets elected to a school board.

See, these things accumulate and then they stick, culminating in a certain image that is less than favorable. Nobody wants to talk about how we have a California Pizza Kitchen AND a Nordstrom, no. It's all "Hey, what's up with the guy who got elected to the school board from jail?"

In fairness, I would like to point out that this did not actually happen in Riverside. All the by-lines from the national stories say "RIVERSIDE, California-" but that's because newspaper people are lazy and stupid and easily confused. This is the same crowd that keeps running "Garfield" comic strips despite the fact that it hasn't been funny since 1982. Mondays bad, lasagna good. We get it. Move on.

Riverside itself is a cosmopolitan, sophisticated city of nearly 300,000 people, which means we elect regular politicians to things like school boards; ones who either can be bought by local business interests or who have relatives in other key governmental positions. We can do graft and nepotism as well as the next city.

The election result came out of Romoland, a place in Riverside County several miles from Riverside itself. Romoland, for those who don't know (and I include everyone ever born in that category), is to Riverside what Riverside is to everyplace else: remote, rural, useless. It would be the butt of jokes as Riverside is, but honestly, I wasn't sure it even existed before this story came out. It was sort of mythical, like the Seven Cities of Cibola, except with cowshit instead of gold.

The bad news is that I, even though I would like nothing more than to pretend this never happened, am honor-bound to try and defend this as the internet's premier Riverside apologist. I did it for the guy who chopped up his mom*, I can do it for this.

So it's, like... uh... good that this guy got elected to the Romoland school board from jail or whatever. I totally sincerely believe that. Yes I do. Yes I do. Here, looky, a list and everything:

1) He has regular employment. Maybe it's in the prison laundry or shank-making or selling his ass for cigarettes, but you know he's keeping busy in there. Very industrious people, prisoners.

2) He has a fixed address. Riverside County is made up of itinerants from every corner of the globe, with further constant shifting internally as we all cash in on the insane housing market. I've moved three times in the last 5 years myself. There is something comforting about knowing exactly where to find a guy, even if it is in D-Block.

3) He's a politician. So he knocked over a couple of small businesses. Big deal. Who hasn't? It isn't like he lied about being in the Alabama National Guard or sodomized an intern with a cigar or shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. He's up-front with his misdeeds, which is refreshing. He's kind of like John McCain that way. Their biographies even share some similarities, only instead of being imprisoned and tortured by the North Vietnamese while serving his country, he's being rightfully incarcerated by the Great State of California for parole violations that include spousal abuse.

4) Spousal abuse and his wife is totally advocating for him. He must be one helluva guy. If she can accept him, why can't you?

Some political science guy from UC Riverside in the article says the prisoner won probably because his name appeared first on the ballot alphabetically. I totally dismiss that theory. It's not because I discriminate against and summarily dismiss people from Riverside. It's because he's a political scientist. They deserve our scorn.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9


*= the ears of the multitude still ring with my now-famous "shorter casket means less taxpayer burial expense" argument.

Friday, November 11, 2005
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #22

Pride and Prejudice

starring Keira Knightley, other English people

directed by Joe Wright (nothing you've ever heard of)

Woo! Yes! Finally! A film version of Pride and Prejudice! It's about time, because I was really dissatisfied with the 1938 version. I mean really, Curigwen Lewis and Andrew Osborn in the leads? Ridiculous. Plus that version was all black-and-white and old looking. I can understand why they might have made those artistic choices I guess, but the result is just... dated.

And I don't even want to talk about the 1940 version. Or the 1952. Or the '58 or the '67. Or the '80 or the '95. And the less said about the passé 2003 rendition the better. I've moved on.

I think the only one worth mentioning was the 1990 TV action classic Pride and Extreme Prejudice, but that's an unfair advantage as that film boasted the late, great Brian Dennehy in the lead role. I had my doubts about Mr. Dennehy's ability to pull off Elizabeth Bennett, but you put a gun in that man's hand and a few choice swear words in his mouth and I'll watch him do just about anything. Bad-ass, all of it. You are missed, sir. God rest ye.

I'm happy to see Jane Austen make a little bit of a comeback, though. She had all that phenomenal success as a screenwriter all through the 1990s only to disappear completely, it seemed. It just goes to show young people, you can make a career if you keep plugging away, even if you're no longer the wunderkind you were when you'd only been dead 180 years. You know you've made it when you're still getting work after having been dead for nearly 190 years. That's longevity right there.

This is a complicated choice for my MIHNIoS feature because--and I can't stress this enough--this is most definitely a movie I personally have no intention of ever seeing. But you see, being a married person with children, I have two things to consider: 1) I hardly ever get to go to the movies and 2) when I do, I never go alone. My wife, for some reason, always insists on tagging along. My tastes in films are simple: explosions and boobies. Maybe a car chase. But that's basically it.

Mrs. Pops and her stupid XX chromosomes are all about stuff where people talk about shit and feel stuff, usually with English accents. I don't know how you feel something with an English accent, but they just fucking do.

So on our rare occasions out, it is warfare. Total, unrepentant, merciless psychological warfare. When we do get to pick a movie to go see, the opening of the movie-listing in the newspaper always, always includes the unleashing of the full arsenal of sighs, rolled eyes, tightened lips, furrowed brows and a litany of non-committal sounds ranging from "eh" to "eeh". Because you're sensitive to your partner's needs, there is rarely a firm "No"... but I still always ASK if she wants to the Bad Kitty Theater downtown. One day she'll say yes, I know it.

We were dating in the mid-to-late 1990s when we had no kids and could go see all those Jane Austen movies because they blended in with all the other obscene volume of filmed entertainment we consumed willy-nilly back then. I could even make jokes when she would suggest them, like "Oh, is that the one where there's one smart-ass sister who's too good for everyone who wants to marry her except the guy she wants to marry who makes her sad and then ends with a profession of love while standing in the rain?"

That kind of sarcasm today--and I'm not exaggerating when I say this--would get me killed. Not figuratively either, I mean she would murder me, probably with her bare hands. And rightfully so.

I make a conscious effort to pretend to be sensitive to her needs because I realize that she gets out just as infrequently as I do. At least I hope she does. She can have sex with other people if she needs to, but if she's seeing movies behind my back, it is so over.

Added to all this, we must consider that Mrs. Pops doesn't read.

OK, that didn't come out right. She's not illiterate. She just reads infrequently. She's an engineer. It's a sickness.

But she has read all the goddamn Jane Austen books. I remember when I found her scrounging for tree grubs outside her cave in her native Peru. After I knocked her unconscious and just before started dragging her off in the direction of marital bliss, I found amongst her belongings the complete works of Ms. Austen lovingly inscribed on banana-leaves in the phosphorescent blood of a rare jungle salamander and bound with her own hair. I couldn't figure out a way to sell them, so I just left them there. This was before the rise of eBay. I'm kicking myself now, I tell you what.

What I'm trying to get across to you people is that even though I have no intention of seeing this movie, the odds are that if I were to go to the movies between now and Harry Potter, this is what I would see, intentions be damned.

Sure, it's got Keira Knightley in it, but I don't like her. She's one of those women whom publicists keep trying to convince me is sexy, but actually isn't. Like Kirsten Dunst or Ashlee Simpson or Orlando Bloom. Sure, Ms. Knightley looks OK in a photo shoot all tarted up and airbrushed, but seeing her move around and speak in film is... well, it's disturbing. There's a shot in Love Actually where she full-on toothy smiles and I swear to God you can see every bone in her underfed skull. I'm old fashioned I guess, but I like to maintain some mystery toward the girls I'm supposed to be fantasizing about; the exact placement and spacing of all their vertebrae, for instance. I don't need to know that.

And how did I end up seeing Love Actually, you may wonder. Well, you needn't. I had no intention of seeing that one either.

But that movie had Colin Firth. Unlike the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice, this one does not. So it's got that going for it.

Personally, this is Andrew Shue territory for me. But we do not exist in a vacuum, do we? And who would want to with all the dust and dog hair and constricted living space? What I'm saying is I can be cajoled. Directed. Bribed with sex. Threatened with no sex. Anything could happen.

Keeping all these real-life contingencies in mind, we must, sadly, rate this film:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Three (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale.

My wife would rate it higher, but we only have the three kids. And she probably wouldn't use Elizabeth Shue. She would definitely prefer to leave our kids with this guy:
Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe horror.


Thursday, November 10, 2005
Guess What Folks, That's The News And I... Am... Outta Here
Alas, sometimes even Pops is busy. Sometimes it's the eye doctor, sometimes it's the INS coming around to collect money for permits for things for which no permits exist, if you follow my meaning.

Last time I had no time to post, I left you with a picture of Gerard Depardieu to contemplate.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I leave you in the capable hands of Robert Goulet.



Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Can You Hear, Can You Hear The Thunder?
Big news people. Big news. HUUUUGE news.

I'm moving to Australia!

There are still some details to work out. I haven't actually told my wife about it yet, though I assume she's coming with me. But I'm going. I just decided just now.

Anyone want to come along? Come on, it will be an adventure. We could be the Great American (or wherever you're from, although I don't think they like foreigners in Australia) Migration of 2005. Or 2006, depending on how long it takes to get there. I know we've got a little over 6 weeks before the year's over, but I hear Australia's far.

Let me tell you what happened.

I was sitting here looking at my Blogger New Post window. The little cursor was sitting there, mocking me with it's little blinky-ness, saying to me in Morse code: "You-are-going-to-fail-stop-you-have-nothing-to-write-about-stop-you-are-not-funny-and-you-should-stop-seriously-just-stop." I don't actually know Morse code, but I hear the words in my head when I watch the cursor sitting there not making words. The funny thing--ha ha!--is that sometimes I hear them even when I'm nowhere near my computer. Isn't that weird?

So I had nothing. No-thing. You people were thisclose to getting a post about driving my son to school this morning ("Stop signs... What's the deal with those things?").

Dutiful soldier that I am, I shot over to Technorati and checked the "Popular" tab to see what it is everyone else was writing about. It isn't plagiarism if you don't steal the words directly, which I would never, ever do. Originality is for people who aren't desperate.

Unfortunately the main popular story was about the elections yesterday. I had bored you all with political-themed ridiculousness yesterday. My sense of shame, seriously degraded during my years impersonating a female voice on phone-sex lines, had not atrophied so much that I would give you people the same crap two days in a row.

But hey, the second story was about how the Vatican was down with evolution. It had been almost a whole week since I talked about that! Plus it was an opportunity to make jokes about priests and buggery, which is hard to pass up. The jokes I mean, not the... OK, I'm just going to move on.

As I was reading the article, I noticed that it came from an Australian internet news service. Mind wandering, I looked over the link-headlines at the bottom of the page.

Man escapes prison as 'identical twin'

Canadian cat becomes millionaire

Men get lost mowing lawn

House comes with free bride

Lightning kills 106 cows

Volcanoes are our friend

and my personal favorite: Centre of our universe sucks

Do I really need to say anything else? I heart Australia so much now that I must move there immediately. If the news-headline-writers are this cool, what must the people with fun jobs be like?

I imagine it's all beer, beach volleyball, that colored zinc sunblock stuff on your nose, Thai prostitutes as far as the eye can see... they're a lot closer to Thailand than we are, you know. Sydney ain't exactly Rangoon, but it sure as hell isn't Riverside either. We only have one Thai hooker, but that doesn't count because she's just a transsexual whose birthname was Tyler. Just so you know, it took me less than three visits to find that out. I only see Ty socially now.

Plus I already speak English, so I'll walk right off the plane and automatically be Australian. Of course I may have to slightly change the way I speak. Like, I'll have to learn to say the word "no" in that weird foreign way they say it with all the extra sounds in it like "naaiiiooooye".

Bleh. That's horrible. I don't know anymore. Perhaps making the life-changing decision to move my whole family, with no arranged means of income, to a new country/continent/hemisphere based on the pleasure gained from reading a couple of internet news headlines was a little rash. I don't know that I'm prepared to eat vegemite. I hear it's made out of bugs. And aborigines.

This might not be the right time to leave America anyway seeing as all indicators are pointing to a welcome, long-awaited political turnaround. How could I leave when the possibility exists that my beloved Democratic party might challenge for control of Congress next year and then the presidency in 2008? Of course we all know after that happens, we will make a paradise of this world. Crime will melt away, the skies and rivers will spontaneously unpollute, people will wake up in the morning to find their pockets stuffed with inflation-proof cash, gold will rain from the skies and dogs will be given the power of human speech...

And I will be in an Australian Re-education and Assimilation Camp getting a cattle prod in my solar plexus every time I say "cell phone" instead of "mobile phone".

No thanks. That's it, I'm staying.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.0


Tuesday, November 08, 2005
You Could Always Write-In Sharon Osbourne
Election day is here! Yippee hooray!

Today America celebrates democracy in the traditional way, marking the occasion with the customary Off-Year Election Day Barbecue & Hootenanny down at the Elks Club Hall. Our children wake up in the morning to see brightly colored propositions and ballot measures decorating the Off-Year Election Day Tree. The people we meet on the street are walking a little easier, maybe even with a bit of holiday spring in their step, waving and smiling and exchanging the customary Off-Year Election Day Greeting: "Today is what now?"

For most of the country, the occasion is marked by a mass-participation act of not voting. Today we all feel closer to our fellow citizens as we share in the experience of opting out. We would all like to vote, honest we would, only The Biggest Loser is on tonight. Who can resist watching fat people try to climb a rope?

They can call it a "special election" if they want to, but that's just Schwarzenegger's Hollywood marketing machine in action. If it was special the same way the Special Olympics are special, I would get a medal just for participating. I find that scenario highly unlikely. Just so they know, though, no bling, no vote.

Honestly, expecting us to pay attention to an election in an odd-numbered year is just too much to ask. Just look at the competition for our attention: gay cheerleaders having sex in public, crazy baseball players attacking people with machetes and then setting them on fire, Sharon Osbourne hating on Madonna and oh my God, did you hear? Tom Cruise totally fired his sister as his publicist!

How is some old junk about legislative redistricting and parental notification before underage abortion supposed to compete with that? Unless you're a state senator, an underage girl or a fetus, I just don't see the urgency. And two of those three can't even vote.

Just so you know, complain as I might, I have already voted. I did stick to my iron-clad foolproof coin-flip method. I wanted to tell you all that so you would know that I stick to my commitments, even if they're pointless and stupid. Which also explains my continued paid membership in the DNC.

And now I leave you with the edited MSNBC.com version of Sharon Osbourne's Madonna tirade. Somehow they're funnier without the swear words:

“It’s like dressing up with [Madonna]. One day you’re in [bleeping] gun gear, then you’re in horsing gear, then you dress like a [bleeping] dyke, then you dress like a hooker, then you’re in a flowery dress reading kids’ poetry looking like a [bleeping] librarian — then you’re back looking like an old hooker again...”

Wait, there's more!

“And writing those painful silly books and reading them to your kids!” she said. “If my mum came to me with a book like that I’d say, [bleeping] stick it up your [bleep.]. [Bleeping] English Roses. [Bleep].”

Bleep indeed, people. Bleep indeed.

God bless onomatopœa for saving our virgin eyes from desecration.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.2


Monday, November 07, 2005
Moday Lite: I Am Rubber And You Sir, Respectfully, Are Glue
I used to be all about TV. I've seen every episode of both Chicago Hope (remember the one when Ferris Bueller's girlfriend played a tranny? That was awesome) AND Beavis and Butt-head. TV is what I did in the 1990s instead of having random teenage sex with girls at my high school. Totally by choice, by the way. They all individually chose not to have sex with me.

I was there for all the most important moments in television for that decade. Blossom almost lost her virginity. The Fresh Prince got shot. Woody Boyd got married to that stupid girl. Blossom almost lost her virginity again. Zack, Slater and the gang all got jobs at a beach resort. Dr. Mark Greene let a pregnant lady die. Alex P. Keaton got Parkinson's. Blossom still wouldn't give it up.

All happy memories.

Things are changing, though. Last night, I missed this:
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Hawkeye and Bobby Simone running for president on The West Wing. I'm sure Bobby Simone talked about reaching out to some skels who were in the wind whilst Hawkeye--please God let this be true--launched into his famous Groucho Marx impersonation to let us know that war is so so wrong.

The wardrobe is all fucked up though. What, no purple overcoat for Bobby? And Hawkeye just looks wrong not in his olive-drabs.

Who's that third guy? Is it Trapper? Greg Medavoy? Ooh, maybe it's somebody from a different show altogether. If you squint, he kind of looks like Schneider from One Day At A Time without the mustache. You kind of have to picture the toolbelt to see it. And Bonnie Franklin.

Wow, Bonnie Franklin. That's an old reference. Maybe I'm more out of touch than I realized. I really have to start watching these things again. Does anyone know what time The Tortellis is on? Surely that's still going. Dan Hedaya and Jean Kasem together at last... there's no WAY that could have failed.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.8


Sunday, November 06, 2005
I Am Meandering
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This is the cover of Ashlee Simpson's latest album.

You can laugh if you want to, but it speaks to me. It speaks to me down at the core of my being, into what I call my "third ear", my spiritual ear that hears the faint, invisible thrum thrum thrum of the universe. I found it in a dumpster behind a hospital. I'm not really sure where the "core of my being" is, so I just keep it in my pocket. My pants pocket.

The things this picture says to me are very specific; specific enough to be enumerate and, say, transcribe into a blogpost for your reading pleasure. Or rather: "for your reading." They are:

1) Chin dimple, fine. Nose dimple, fine. Chin dimple and nose dimple? Very poor craftsmanship at the Indonesian factory where you were sewn together from the leftover bits of Britney Spears and Jewel.

2) I Am Me. Very defensive-sounding. Also very "Hooked on Phonics". But mostly it makes me think of this guy:
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3) For a right-handed guy, father/manager Joe Simpson can still bring it with the back of his left hand if he needs to.

4) If she's going to use that font for her name, this album had better include a kick-ass cover of something by Testament or Megadeth. We already know she can howl atonally, so she's half way to being a thrash metal god already.

5) The Goth look is never wrong. But she's still 4 layers of pancake and airbrush from Robert Smith of the Cure. If you're going to do it, do it. I'm talking to you too, Billie Joe Armstrong.

6) With just the right lighting at just the right angles, boobs can be made to look weird. It's a powerful gift she has for ruining things that even makes me question my commitment to mammaries. I acknowledge your ascendant puissance, unparalleled in the field of Crapitude, Ms. Simpson. Long has it been since anyone has shown this level of ability to produce things that are wholly forgettable. Where are you when we need you, Vanilla Ice?

For the life of me, I can't figure out what the marketing sense behind this cover is supposed to be. I mean, the ideal market for her music, I would imagine, would be girls her own age who would best be able to identify with her struggles as an unjustly famous person in the public eye and a personal worth in the tens of millions of dollars.

The picture used must have been consciously chosen. And yet the specific choice has been made to include her rack as the centerpiece of the composition, even splaying her name dramatically across it. Leaving Freudian symbolism and subtext aside, wouldn't that be more effective marketing if the target audience was young men? Is anyone going to buy the album just because it shows half a heaving breast on it? Especially when they can come to Pops' Bucket and see the picture for free...

Welcome, pervs!

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.1


Friday, November 04, 2005
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #21


starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard

directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Kate Winslet's reproductive organs)

I had an eye-doctor appointment this morning (he strongly suggested I curtail the masturbation) and then my oldest has only a half day of school today. This means I have had much less time to prepare this feature than usual. I predict no discernible difference in quality.

My quick impression is as follows: Gyllenhaal, Foxx, Sarsgaard. What's with all the double-letters? If only the movie had included Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, we would have had a Scrabble World All-Star Cast.

In looking up that dude's name just now, you know what I found out? He's got a master's degree in Law from the University of London. Seriously, Adebisi from Oz is like an English lawyer or something. Does that seem wrong to anyone else? He's obviously a much better actor than I ever gave him credit for.

What I also learned from his IMDb biography: Born on the same day as Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley.

What is the matter with people? Why in God's name would anyone think to put a Layne Staley reference in this man's biography? This is the problem with things like IMDb and Wikipedia, where they let just any ole body throw in information. I'm surprised we didn't get a listing of how you say his name in Klingon. Stupid internets.

I'm kind of excited about this film because of the director, Sam Mendes. For such a short (thus far) career, he's got quite a stunning list of accomplishments. Jane Horrocks, Calista Flockhart, Rachel Weisz (nnngaaah!) and now Kate Winslet. He's an OK looking guy I guess, but man, those last two especially... well done, Sam. He looks kind of doughy, little extra-chin action, weird hair... the only thing I can figure is that he's world-class in the sack and not afraid to talk about it. Because what's the point of having a gift if no one knows about it?

That's why I started blogging. To share my gift for metaphors with the world. It's kind of like... something, I don't know what.

Apparently all the people in the movie are just fine, but it's a war movie with a) no fighting and b) no political message. No flags are either waved nor burnt, from what I've read.

So what is the point of this film, then? Jake Gyllenhaal stripped to the waist in the desert, I guess.

As a final point, I'm very happy I found that picture linked in the previous sentence at the website "classichunkofman.com". It's going to make for an interesting conversation when my wife is trying to look for classmates.com and the browser auto-finishes the word for her.

So there you have it. Zero preparation and I still managed to bang together something of this quality. Obviously I've been working much too hard at this blogging thing.

So to sum up: good cast, great director, compelling war setting, Kate Winslet naked (not in the movie, I mean at home with Mr. Mendes).

Negatives: war movie, but no explosions? All-dude cast; total sausagefest. I'm sensing some kind of subtle homosexual subtext. Did I say these were the negative points?

Since my mind (not to mention the California Three Strikes law) cannot cope with the traumatic idea of half a babysitter, I'm going to have to choose between one and two. What will the deciding factor be?

It's got to be Rachel Weisz. See the picture posted back on this post if you have any doubts. Instead of being jealous, I'm going to congratulate my colleague in doughy chinless-ness and award his film with:

Image hosted by Photobucket.comTwo (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale.


Thursday, November 03, 2005
Glory Be
Some days are harder than others when you're Catholic. Mass can be boring. We have to listen to some lame appeals for cash from all kinds of different groups a couple times a year, which almost always disturbs my regular homily-time nap. The goat-sacrifice days are OK, but still too messy. And with the exception of about 10% of the congregation, nobody likes Guess What Father Jeff Is Wearing Under His Robe day. Sometimes it's a novelty T-shirt. Sometimes it isn't.

The worst days for me are when Catholics get all uppity and wounded and decide they have to run out and tell the world about how hard it is to be Catholic in America. That, of course, is the whole purpose of the Catholic League's existence, to find discrimination and anti-Catholic hatred where there is none. And to get Bill Donohue's big red face on TV so he can shout at people, be adorably and ironically anti-Semitic and embarrass us all. Thanks, Bill! You do God's work.

Yesterday this story came out about how Catholics at some giant church meeting got all pissy because a few (Catholic) protesters in favor of tolerance for homosexuals got more media coverage. Their rock-solid reasoning is that the synod had 8,000 people attending while there were only 75 protesters. So why all the attention for a few ne'er-do-wells who are going to totally burn in hell anyway?

See, it's simple math. 8,000 vs. 75. How on earth can anyone justify not giving the same detailed attention to 8,000 people at a meeting devoted to completely self-contained issues of theology and bureaucracy when there were less than a hundred advocating a more socially understandable position of broader inclusion?

I'm going to tell you why. As a Catholic who has never been to one of these "Eucharistic Congress" meetings, I can still say with 100% certainty that a Eucharistic Congress is boring. It might be the most boring thing ever. Think of it like Mass, except it lasts four days, is about 100 times more crowded and there's no booze at the end.

Yeah. Why weren't the reporters flocking to that? My guess is that they just weren't suicidal enough. Even in a place like St. Paul, there had to be something better to cover. How about another story about how St. Paul can't get no love? It's all Minneapolis this, Minneapolis that... it just goes to show that there's always one ugly twin.

8,000 people in a hall discussing lecture topics like "Jesus: Best Person Ever?" and "Comprehensive Genuflecting Options" doesn't make good TV. 75 people standing on steps outside a closed door holding signs, burning candles and looking oh-so-telegenically weepy-faced and sad for all the world's injustice, well... that's just local-news gold right there.

I think the best thing that ever happened to Catholics nationally was when Kennedy got shot. Not when he was elected because that was some shady business with the votes in Illinois and all that, I mean when he was shot. I'm not saying it was a good thing or that I'm glad it happened, but before that, dating all the way back to the Reformation, Catholics were viewed with a great deal of suspicion. Sort of Christian, but not really. Too much stagecraft and magic tricks in the ceremony. Weird devotion to some foreign potentate in a white dress. No fish on Fridays. What kind of a pinko commie won't eat a burger on a Friday?

Then we have us an election where Kennedy rolls back a few misconceptions himself, but he really sealed the deal by being the focal point of national mourning. I bet Larry Hagman and Tommy Lee Jones had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they plotted out his assassination. The Catholic president became everybody's president. Exclusionary anti-Catholicism faded into a general back-feeling of mistrust and eventually...

Well, let me put it this way: I was born in 1974 and I've never experienced any anti-Catholic prejudice. Except from my dad. He's a Presbyterian and sometimes forgets not to use the phrase "mackerel-snappers". And he won't write me into the will until I convert, but that's OK. He's totally broke.

Sometimes a Catholic church--or even a whole diocese--will devote a service to the acceptance of homosexuals or forward-thinking Catholic AIDS workers in Africa will loudly encourage a rethinking of the Church's stance on contraception in order to save lives. Those things make you feel a little better. And give you some hope. And improve public relations.

Today's picture of Catholicism is basically not to notice. It was a non-issue in the last presidential campaign. We live right next to you and nobody burns anything on our lawns.

Just so you know though, people should be worried. We're coming. Today the Supreme Court, tomorrow some other passive branch of ineffectual governance, like Homeland Security or Amtrak. When we take the whole national railroad system and hand it over to the Pope, you heathens will never have seen it coming.

Oh, and Kennedy isn't dead. Just part of our plan. He's older now, balding a little, not in the best of health. But he's out there, making a difference. He keeps a low profile, hiding in plain sight, in a place no American would ever, ever think to look.

This is going to get me in trouble with the Illuminati, but here, I found a picture. Look fast before they find me and tear this blog down. By the time you read this, I'll probably be dead.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

This post on the (pagan!) Narcissus Scale: [censored]


Wednesday, November 02, 2005
If there's anything I can say I learned definitively in grad school, it's this: selling drugs is a cash-in-hand business. Sure, you're pals with the new clients when they're first starting out, but that's just business. You need them to get good and hooked so you know you'll have a guaranteed regular income stream for a year or two before they die, end up in jail or their family sends them on a two-month vacation to a Colorado ski resort/rehab facility. This was when I was living in south OC, remember.

You only make the mistake once of letting a fully matured user/patron walk off with some of your product without paying. They're all persuasive like "Hey, I just got this job and it pays next week. I just need a little to get me by until then" or "Hey my dad's going to direct his attorney to release my trust fund any day now, honest". And then as they're driving away you realize you just extended credit to someone who lacks the decision making wherewithal not to be a junkie. You don't worry about it so much because maybe you just sold them a bag of rock salt in lieu of actual crack,* but it's a lesson learned.

Friends first, then lord and master. The basic marketing principle is a sound one. Multi-billion-dollar international corporations agree:
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There's a Starbucks inside one of my nearby grocery stores. Hence the coupon. They, like the drug dealers, understand the idea when dealing with addictive mood-altering stimulants: first one's free.

I have to confess something: I've never been to a Starbucks. Never bought anything from a Starbucks. It's just been one of those things I've sort of known about in the back of my mind and always figured I'd just get around to it eventually, but there was no rush. Just like alcohol. And sex. Just because everyone else says they're so great doesn't mean I have to run out there all willy-nilly, following the "in" crowd, trying to be "cool". I even put my punctuation outside of my quotation marks. See? I can't be swayed into conformity. I've seen enough after-school specials and GI Joe cartoons to know that the most important thing is for me to always be myself.

I learned that lesson from those shows when I was 8. It's been a mighty struggle, but I've been my 8-year-old-self ever since.

I can do a handstand. Want to see me do a handstand? I can do it. Watch me. Watch me do a handstand. Watch. Watch me. You're not watching. Waaaaatch. Fine, don't watch. I hate you.

The Starbucks people had me in mind when they fired up this promotion. Not new formerly non-Starbucks customers, I mean me specifically. Cooome tryyy oooour driiiinks. It's a miiiilkshaaaake with druuuuuugs in iiiit. And whiiiiped creeeeeam and caaaraammellll...

I broke down and tried it. Because it was free. It was the same reasoning that was behind my Jehovah's Witness weekend of '95. All the literature was free. Turns out that church membership? Not so much.

Anyway, I got myself a Frappuccino. Not because it sounded particularly good, it's just that "Frappuccino" happens to be one of my favorite words ever along with "coven" and "buckle" and "fritter" and "pneumococcal".

Plus, being frozen, it was less likely to burn the fuck out of my mouth. Pops no likey. If I want to be assaulted by my food, I'll go back to live on the free-range commune, where the rule was you only eat what you can wrestle to the ground. A man can only eat so many turnips.

So I ordered it, endured some eye-rolling and superior attitude from a dude working a fucking Starbucks kiosk in a supermarket, and... it was OK. You know what it kind of tasted like? Really cold coffee. With caramel!

I have another coupon, but I don't think I'm going back. Once is fine, but after the second time, you're hooked. Next thing you know I'll be all strung out on caffeine, jittery and sweating, offering the blow the smarmy Starbucks guy for a straight coffee. Or I'll talk him into spotting me something, only to not have the money later. Then I'll have the Starbucks people after me, chopping off fingers until I can pay. And THEN how would I type my blog?

I'm thinking of you, people. As always.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.9


*= Like I said, south OC. They'll buy anything from anyone with a baseball cap on sideways and a deep enough tan.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Sting Of Retribution
Back. Contrary to the opinion of a whole team of doctors assigned to my care, there was enough insulin in the world to save me. Barely.

There is so much candy in my house at present that if we don't get a massive invasion of ants in the next 24 hours, I will lose all faith in ants as a species.

As for what I did on my day off blogging, well, let me share that with you now. It's either that or I talk about the Supreme Court thing. Or maybe bird flu again. Anyone? Halloween, yes? Yes.

Last Monday, if you will recall, my one day of non-blogging resulted in a mild but unmistakable case of karmic blowback so traumatic as to require pictures to illustrate the event in all its metaphysical brutality.

This Monday, rest assured that I was once again made to suffer for missing a day with you, my Bucketeers. Something happened to me so horrible, so heinous, so shockingly unexpected that I still can't believe it to type it. I just... I guess I'll just have to say it:

I got stung by a wasp.

Whichever one of you owns a Pops voodoo doll and likes to abuse it on days I don't blog, rest assured: it's working. Time and money well spent, that.

Since my wife took the day off, we went running around all over the goddamn place doing all kinds of crap that needed to get done. This included a lunch break to check out the new park that has finally been built out in our old neighborhood. It was a giant pile of classic Riverside County weed-ridden mudslide-in-waiting dirt while we lived there. Now it is a lovely acreage of rolling hills and play equipment, all ideally suited as a breeding ground for deadly flying insects and personal humiliation.

While on the swings next to one of my kids, apparently the little bastard (the wasp I mean this time, not my kid) landed on my arm. As my elbow bent when I leaned forward to execute the back-cycle of my swing, the rippling, sinewy muscle beneath the taut, golden skin of my forearm must have contracted and threatened to crush the creature. Because that's when it stung me.

The worst part was when I leapt off the swing holding my arm, I sullied the innocent ears of my darling children with a selection of vulgarities and blasphemies taken from Pops' Greatest Hits. "Oh Shit, Holy Fuck!" was followed by "Goddammit Goddammit Goddammit". Always a crowd pleaser. I then launched into some standards, such as "Jesus Motherfucking Christ, Oh Christ" and "Oh Shit, Oh Shit, Oh Holy Fucking Shit". I closed the set with a rousing rendition of "Jesus, Mary Mother of Donkeyfucking God That Hurts".

Those should go over well today when my son gets back to Catholic school.

I had a little tiny red welt and everything. I don't know when the last time any of you were stung by a wasp, but it burns for a while. And it didn't just get to me. The pain was so persistently bad that Mrs. Pops, obviously suffering from some kind of sympathy pain, was moved to tell me to "Stop being such a pussy and shut up about it already."

The pain came and went, but the PTSD was non-negotiable. I haven't been stung by a wasp since I was 9. In some sort of triggered Proustian sense-memory, I kept fighting the urge to do other things I hadn't done since I was 9 like hock loogies, call "dibs" for stuff, punch people when I would see a VW Beetle and offer to show my junk to 9-year-old-girls. It's a good thing my wife was there to monitor the situation because I'm pretty sure most of those are a parole violation.

The rest of the day went fine. It was Halloween, so there were the costumes and the candy and the strangers invading my personal space and begging me for free stuff. All very uncomfortable.

Some of you were curious as to what my kids went dressed as. In descending order of age, they went as 1) An aborted fetus (I suspect Catholic school influence) 2) John Keats' "Ode On A Grecian Urn" and 3) Tigger.

The oldest had some anti-Planned Parenthood literature he wanted to distribute as well, but I told him that this was Halloween, where it is better to receive than to give. As for the second child, that one was all his idea. We suspect he's either a genius or a psychopath. Either way, we bet they make a TV-movie of the week about him some day.

Me, being a history dork, I like to go dressed as famous historical personages. This year I went as Pops.

No, not "me". I am not Pops. "Pops" is this character I created. The real me is me, Korvath Ganymede MacLeish Horrington III. There, I said it. Finally, for the first time you all know my real name. Ironic that I chose Halloween as the occasion to unmask myself. I feel so liberated. This must be what it felt like to be George "Sulu" Takei last week.

"Pops" in and of himself is not historical, so I went as Pops circa 2004. That meant I ate all the candy as I went and tried very hard to insert references to Brad Pitt's dick into every conversation. The other dads were uncomfortable, but I was a big hit with the moms and college students.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9



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