Pops' Bucket
Thursday, April 27, 2006
America's Wang
I'm embarrassed. It happens a lot, I know. And no, it's not because I caught the horrible 24-hour Tourette's and shouted out "bastard whoring stinking vagina!" during the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass last Sunday. Why should I be embarrassed? It was an affliction. People who have no sympathy for people like me with disabilities (even the 24 hour kind), I have no time for them or their "opinions." No one said anything directly to me, but old ladies fainting? Judgment City. You faint all you want, Betty Oldperson. I may have said "bastard whoring stinking vagina" involuntarily, but that doesn't mean I didn't mean it. I stand behind my compulsive interjected vulgarity 100%.

I'm also not embarrassed by the fact that, once again, there will be no Friday or Sunday post to cap off this week. I know I did the same thing a few weeks ago around that whole Easter thing, and look, here I am about to do it again. But I'm not embarrassed or even apologetic because, well, I still deserve it. Just as much as I did then. I work pretty hard for you people--up to 11 minutes a day!--to bring you this kind of quality on an (almost literally) insanely regular schedule. So I don't owe you people a goddamn thing. Except my undying love and devotion. Which... you already... aw, you know... come on, don't make me say it...

No, I'm embarrassed because of the reason I'll be unavailable.

I am going to be in Florida.


Those of you who aren't from California can't really understand. There's sort of a rivalry between California and Florida. Our temperate climates compete for the attentions of all the rest of America's soon-to-be-retired. But besides the obvious alternative to your wind-blasted frozen-oven icy hellscapes, there are several points of close overlap between the cultures of the two states that make us uncomfortably similar.

Just going to Florida feels like a betrayal. Though I've never actually been there before, I'm looking forward to forcing it to fit into my preconceived antipathetic prejudices; to compare it to my beloved Cali and to find it wanting.

I. Weather

CA: Mediterranean, dry summers, just a little rain in the winters. Variable elevations means a range of temperature and atmospheric variation readily available.

FL: Tropical, by which I mean humid and humid. Like wearing a full-body suit made of wet suede and then being hit in the face with the occasional water-polo ball. Also: weather occasionally tries to kill you. Which leads us to:

II. Natural disasters

CA: Earthquakes. Constant, but rarely devastating. Is building cities on top of fault zones the smartest thing ever? Probably not. But ooh! Look! Is that Jamie Foxx?

FL: Hurricanes. Annual, repetitive, constant. How long will it take you people to take a hint? God doesn't want you there. If he did, he would have given you a mountain or two to hide behind. But ooh! Look! Is that... oh... no, I thought it was Sylvester Stallone but it's just a gnarled old tree knocked over by the 200-mile-per-hour wind.

III. Spanish-speaking Immigrants

CA: Mexicans. Work hard, keep price of lettuce down, have Cinco de Mayo. And if that weren't enough, they also brought us carne asada.

FL: Cubans. Cranky, distracted by all that Castro business. Tend to vote Republican. No more needs to be said there.

IV. Disney theme-park

CA: Personable, quaint, manageable size, peopled almost entirely by Californians. Still Nazis about cleanliness and politeness, but not on a physical scale that makes my rheumatism act up.

FL: Giant sprawling mess of, like, nine theme parks crowded with foreigners and people from the South. If I wanted to see some kind of culture-clash play out between Giorgio from Napoli and Gus from Possum Holler, I'd... you know what, on second thought, I would like to see that play out. I'm still not going to Disney World, but I can't reject it out of hand, as much as I'd like to.

Mosquitos, alligators, Gloria Estefan... Florida sounds like a world of horrors, one right after another.

I know it must sound like I'm being defensive, but there is the honor of my home state to consider. We've spent a century and more cultivating an image of boorish, overwhelmingly vapid superficiality and I'm not going to stand by and watch it be taken over by some johnny-come-lately from South Beach. We've got gay men rollerblading in thongs out here too, you know.

You can have our citrus industry; our lack of personal dignity, that's ours.

I look forward to reporting back my prescribed findings on Monday.

Until then, pray for me for I shall be in Florida.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.0


Wednesday, April 26, 2006
That's No Moon...
I never really got it: what's so fucking special about astronauts?

Foreigners call them whatever they want to: cosmonauts, taikonauts, whatever. They all do the same thing. But honestly, I can't figure out what the big deal is supposed to be.

Is it dangerous to ride up into space on top of tons of a lit liquid- or solid-fuel-filled phallic-shaped bomb with a controlled explosion happening out the back of it? Probably.

But hero worship? Schools named after them? Backs of special-occasion currency? Movies made about them? I just don't see it.

If it's all the danger supposedly associated with cruising around in space, surrounded by an environment hostile to human life with only the thin skin of a life-supporting capsule between them and certain death, well... you don't see us propping up submariners as some kind of goddamn national treasure. And they do all that confined in a small space with a working nuclear reactor.

Although I will admit, submariners do have some pretty cool movies made about them.

Similar risks are taken by anyone who flies in an airplane ever. How is that less risky than space-flight? Can I breathe at 37,000 feet? Would I survive a cabin breach? Doubt it. And still, no school named after me. And I bet I've been up in airplanes way more than any astronaut has been in space. Not only that, but I had to pay for it.

More people risk their lives in underground mining than in space-flight. But we only hear about them after the canary dies and a couple dozen of them quickly follow. It's wrong.

But then coal miners aren't a bunch of pretty boys/girls with too much education and the alphabet soup of degree abbreviations after their names. Nobody gives Cletus and Jethro from Mingo County the airbrushed Madison Avenue treatment before they go to work every single day. Sure, guys with an odd number of fingers and a general sparseness in the toothal region might not be all that photogenic and the eleven years (combined) of schoolin' might not make for the most riveting of interviews, but they'd be just as dead as an astronaut if someone on their job lights a match at the wrong time.

Hell, I live in an area with the worst air-quality in the country. We're even competitive on an international level, pollution-wise (we're coming for you, Mexico City!). Inside a barely-protective vessel surrounded by an environment hostile to human life? Welcome to my Wednesday, people. Diminished lung capacity, alarming rates of emphysema and lung cancer among non-smokers... I fucking WISH I had a pressurized all-oxygen environment to lounge around in. I should be so lucky.

What's worse is that the astronauts who get all the attention are the ones who happen to be on-site when some crazy expensive shit breaks. Challenger, Columbia, Apollo 1, Apollo 13... Apollo 13. Those guys didn't even die and they get a movie starring Tom Hanks. It's Tom Hanks! The Man With One Red Shoe himself!

Other astronaut movies, they all look like fucking Dennis Quaid. Here I am risking my ass every day just by breathing, and who would play me if the Powers That Be deigned to condescend to stoop so low as to make a movie of my life? I'd be lucky--lucky--if I got Paul Giamatti.

Dennis Quaid. Please. He played Gordon Cooper in The Right Stuff. What a joke. Do you have any idea what the real Gordon Cooper looks like? Here, let me shatter your astronaut-philiac myths right now. Here's a picture of Gordon Cooper:

Ugh. Jesus. See, they took a disgusting specimen of human physical grotesquery like Mr. Cooper there to your left and prettied up his story by putting hunky Dennis Quaid in his place.

I can barely stand to look at this picture on my own blog. Honestly, the extremity of Mr. Cooper's unattractiveness inspires wave after wave of intestine-crimping nausea.

It angers me to no end that they would start with a latter day Elephant Man like this and replace him with a Hollywood looker like Dennis Quaid. It's all part of the astronaut propaganda the government has been feeding you people for almost 50 years now. "Oh, they're so smart." "Oh, they're so brave." "Oh, they're all so goddamned attractive."

Well, I call bullshit. You know what astronauts are? A means to an end, people. A means to an end. Do you think they need to spend all this time and money to train someone to float around in zero-g? Who were the first living creatures in space? Anyone remember? Monkeys and dogs, people. Monkeys and dogs. What does that tell you about the skill level involved.

But no, the NASA people, they have houses that need in-ground pools installed and the universities, they need recruiting tools for made-up disciplines like "aeronautics" and "physics" and SpaceCamps need commercials and the military needs [CENSORED BY AUTHORITY OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY... HAVE A NICE DAY].

It's all so obvious when you lay it all out like that. Faces sell.

Don't fall for it, people. An astronaut is just a pilot that doesn't fly anything.

And don't get me started on the International Space Station. We could be here all day.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.8


ADDENDUM: I just saw this: Report: Britney Spears is pregnant again. I used to come out and say Kevin Federline was a no-talent white trash gold-digging piece of shit. I take it back. He does have ONE talent. Dude can fucking procreate. He needs his props there. The rest of it stands. Sorry, couldn't go unremarked-upon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The Line Must Be Drawn Here, This Far, No Further!
I was born in America. God willing, I will die here. Preferably a long, long time from now in the comfort and safety of my own bed surrounded by my loved ones. And by "loved ones" I mean the great-great-great grandchildren who watch in awe as I expire when the experimental anti-ageing serum I'd been testing finally runs out.

Even as a 200 year old man, I will still love my country. I would do anything to protect it... short of actually doing anything that threatens the longevity of my precious, precious life. It only makes sense: how can I keep loving America if I'm dead? The dangerous and necessary things that need doing I choose not to do, I love America that much.

I feel no shame or dishonor. It's a well-established internet paradigm. If the chicken hawk Yellow Elephant able-bodied non-gay 20-something College Republicans can call for war and war and war as right and good and necessary and the best thing for America and then refuse to volunteer for actual service, I can do my bit from behind the safety of my keyboard as well.

Since I'm sort of against this whole war thing, I'm off that particular philosophical hook anyway. Me, my main beef is with the Foreign Man. I've made no bones about it here, I don't trust 'em. They come here with their weird food and not-English words and make us print all the signs at the post office in multiple languages. It ain't right.

Sure, I could go out and join up with one of those crackpot vigilante border-patrol groups, but you know what, all those places they're patrolling? Very desert-y. And I freckle. So that's a non-starter.

I can do my bit in the war of ideas, make my difference in the battle for the hearts and minds of the American people. Subset: people who read blogs. Sub-subset: people who read this blog in particular. Among that audience, I've got nearly half of your attention, I'm sure.

What I want to say is that a line is being drawn. Right here, right now. By me. Not a real line, a metaphorical one, but still, it's a line.

No, you know what? Fuck it. I'm drawing an ACTUAL line. Hang on... there. Right here in my house. You can't see it, but it's there. I have to figure out how to get black Sharpie off the carpet before my wife gets home, but I don't even care about that now. I've done something. Eat that, Creeping Foreign Invader!

Today my enemy is ciabatta.

I know, you're thinking: "Isn't that some kind of bread?" And I tell you no, it is no mere bread. Baked within it's crusty golden... crust is the threat of total piecemeal annihilation of the American way of life. It is a Trojan bread horse, the hard, crackly outer shell of which protects the light doughy payload of compromised cultural identity.

Time was bread was just bread. If you were feeling uppity you could get yourself a wheat bread. Roman Meal and that was it. Yeah, it said "Roman" in the title, but it said it in English. Other than that you could choose from a range of breads from Wonder to Webber to... well, that was about it. It was squishy, it was gummy, it had almost no nutritional value, but it could hold the fuck out of a peanut-butter-and-jelly shmear or a slice of baloney with American cheese. American bread. White bread.

I'm sure not all of you, dear Bucketeers, live in states that include Jack in the Box fast food restaurants, but these are the foreign-loving commies I blame for the ciabatta invasion. They put it around hamburgers, casually casting aside the honest white-bread bun for this fancy Italian interloper.

Sure, we had whole grain breads and oatbran and stuff like that, but even though that stuff came from dirty, dirty hippies, they were our dirty hippies. We could shoot them if it came down to it.

But Jack in the Box betrayed all of us with its ciabatta fixation, seduced by this Mata Hari fresh-baked culinary harlot.

The limited reach of Jack in the Box cut the impact of what could have been a national disaster, but now... I have to speak up now, because the insidious ciabatta has now moved in on our precious, heretofore inviolate 7-11.

First of all, who the fuck goes to 7-11 for a sandwich? 7-11 is strictly for Slurpees, beef jerky, lottery tickets, porn mags and the occasional bladder-stretching half-gallon diet soda. Why do you think they have those 80-year-old hot dogs slowly rotating in the light-up glass bin? They are meant to discourage your appetite. The whole place screams "Seriously, you don't want to eat here."

I'm disappointed because a) 7-11 is ubiquitous and b) as an institution, it is synonymous with good honest hard work and what can be achieved if one only follows the American dream. Plus, the ease of ownership means we can keep the Arabs we have here right where we can see them.

It's bad enough to Foreign Man has brought us words like "macchiato" and "biscotti" when we used to just have coffee and cookies.

If I have anything to say about it, this is it: there will be no Ciabatta Revolution. Maybe writing an overlong blogpost is all I intend to do about it, but by Gum... why can't that be enough?

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.11


Monday, April 24, 2006
Monday Lite: Still Cheaper By The Gallon Than Cow's Milk
Headline: Little will in US to hike gasoline taxes

It's funny, I can't for the life of me think of why that might be.


Coming your way soon: the $100 tank of gas!

I'm going to the East Coast this weekend. I bought my plane ticket several months ago for $230, round trip. Several family members are making the same trip, but elected not to take my advice and buy plane tickets when I did, deciding to drive instead in order to "save money." Despite our close familial bond, I now laugh at them and publicly offer my scorn.

Unless my plane crashes, in which case they win. And boy, won't I be embarrassed.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: $66.47 (which is how much I spent to fill up my minivan on Sunday)


Sunday, April 23, 2006
This is late and I'm missing The Sopranos, so it may well be short. You all have my permission to complain. I also accept your tacit permission to not care.

This turned out to be a pretty good weekend. Not only did we not go to any theme-parks, but it was also the first post-Easter weekend, which meant we included meat and meat-based products in our regular family Gluttony Friday festivities. The common trough hasn't smelled that good or been so beautiful to look at what with the glisteny sheen of rendered animal flesh since Lent started.

Also, Mrs. Pops and I availed ourselves of the easy availability of a temporary live-in relative and got out of the house ALL BY OURSELVES on Saturday evening. There was much convincing and bribing and (finally) a blunt object on the back of the head to emphatically seal the baby-sitting deal, but suffice it to say we were free.

Like any two people locked in a marriage primarily defined by the raising and successful NOT killing of children (whether or not they deserve it on occasion is immaterial) who seek to rekindle the spark of romance and couple-dom and intimacy that is so easily smothered and oxygen-starved by the inhuman capacity of children to ask for snacks, we did what any good American couple instinctively knows how to do: we consumed.

We are Americans. This is how we show our love for our country and, since we don't really have time to remember what it's like to be in love with just one person, it's a handy substitute for conversation.

We went to all the fancy-pants stores that have been until recently denied to us inland dwellers and we marveled: "Look!," we exclaimed, salivating: "A Pottery Barn!"

We went to the Apple store and did not buy his-and-her iPod Nanos. We went to Abercrombie and Fitch and did not spend $75 on jeans with holes cut in them (seriously, those appear to be back in fashion). We went into Sharper Image and did not buy an all-encompassing sphincter-endangering massage chair. Most impressively, we went to Williams-Sonoma and did not buy a $3,000 espresso machine.

Rest assured we did spend money on more sensibly-priced but still heroically unnecessary things. And then we went to Cheesecake Factory and gawked at our super-human portions including a Caesar salad that could have (and this is not much of an exaggeration) solved the hunger problem in any of several small to mid-size Third World nations.

And then, because we are Americans, were ordered dessert. Come on, don't judge us. Sure, there was no way humanly possible for us to finish our entrées without exploding the linings of our stomach, but then it has "Cheesecake" right in the name of the restaurant. That kind of marketing cannot go unrewarded.

In the end, we did spend a lot of money, but what we left with no money could buy: 1) time away from the children and 2) proof that we love America. You know, just in case the NSA comes around asking questions. They can accuse us of hating America if they want to just because we're Catholic and therefore blindly pro-immigrant. Also, my "JihadRawkz!" website has drawn an eyeball or two from the Department of Defense.

They can burst through my front door, hit my wife in the face with a rifle-butt and clap us all in irons if they want. The president said it himself: "Go shopping. Go to dinner."

I need only show them receipts.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.99


Friday, April 21, 2006
I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today
By popular acclaim amongst the Bucketeers, I am not allowed to recount during my re-cap of yesterday's trip to Disneyland that I neglected to put on sunscreen and got sunburned. So I'm not going to say that. Whether or not that happened will have to remain a total mystery. Most-easily-solved and least-interest mystery ever perhaps, but still a mystery.

In lieu of actually saying that, I will say that I neglected to ______ which resulted in ______. Feel free to fill in the blanks as you wish.

I've been to Disneyland a lot. A lot. A lot. A lot. Many, many times. A lot. Seriously. A lot. But every time I go, I learn something new. This trip was no exception. I will share.

1) Man-purses. Apparently they are really, really in. I would really like to blame their shocking ubiquity at Disneyland yesterday on visiting poncey Euros, but Euros don't go to Disneyland. They go to Disney World. I don't know if they think they're getting a better exchange rate in Fla or what it is exactly about that toxic swampy nest of Satan's armpit hair that entices them, but it seems to work. Disneyland is, by and large, peopled with my fellow SoCalians. The whole "metrosexual" movement has, alas, seemed to trickle down to the masses amongst my people with tragic, yet handily portable results. Call it a "shoulder bag" if you want, dude, but I know a man-purse when I see one. Stopping every so often to spritz yourself with combination moisturizer/SPF 25 sunblock isn't helping, either. Especially if it smells like lilacs.

2) Cell-phone cameras. Times were that picture-taking involved specific moments, posing in front of impressive backdrops or capturing the rare candid instance for the sake of memory. Now that there is no such things as expensive, limited film AND you don't have to carry around a whole separate 4 oz. apparatus to take pictures, it has now become OK to stop wherever the fuck anyone wants to and snap a picture. While walking in crowded theme-park throughways, for example, or in line for rides or in public restrooms, whatever. The technology exists, so what the hell, let's just poke it until it stops moving. It might be OK if your camera-phone didn't take slightly longer than a 19th century daguerreotype to capture an image. Yes, those were my kids behind you crying because they couldn't advance in the line for the Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters ride. Fuckers.

3) There is such a thing as bad cleavage. Disneyland in the spring and summer is a veritable cornucopia of bosoms on partial display. It's a wonderland of v-necks and tank-tops framing the easily ogle-able parts of women of every fabulous shape and size. I don't want to get into too much detail as to what constitutes bad cleavage, but suffice it to say, some of you are trying too hard. If it doesn't happen naturally, please, I beg you, be OK with that. Let it go. I promise to find some other part of your body by which I might reduce you to the sum of your biological parts and thus devalue you as a human being. Have some faith in me.

4) Matching clothes are never a good idea. I can kind of understand if it's a large group or maybe you have small kids you want to be able to find easily in a crowd. But young couples or families of adults... I don't want to punch anyone in the face, so don't put it out there. It's bad enough that the Disneybot employees all have to coordinate (OR DIE!). By doing it voluntarily, you mock their suffering. It would be like visiting a slaughterhouse wearing a shirt made entirely of congealed blood. It's just bad taste.

As for how my middle child's fifth birthday went, all I can say is any birthday that ends with a shirt completely ruined by chocolate can't have been a bad one.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.8


Last thing: I know the Movies I Have No Intention of Seeing series has been on something of a hiatus, but honestly, I haven't been seeing enough advertising hype for anything for me to form a decent half-assed opinion worth writing down. Please bear with me. I will be gone again next Friday (long story), so no MIHNIoS then either, but after THAT, I can promise you Mission: Impossible III. Think of it: Tom Cruise. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Korvath Ganymede MacLeish Horringon III. The showdown, at last. Three men enter, one doesn't see the other two's movie. Mark your calendars.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
A Manifest-hole
Lots of things have changed since I was growing up. The Soviet Union is gone, the Montreal Expos no longer exist, people now frown on the recreational use of cocaine... it's different.

When I was a kid, a person knew where he stood in the world. For me, it was inside a hedge hiding from Tim Pratt who said he was going to kick my ass after school because I "looked like a queer." I didn't so much stand there as sort of half-crouch and shiver, but it was a definite place in a concrete, unmistakable global taxonomy.

Back then men were men, cars were cars, TV signals came from the sky and people were assholes.

I don't mean all people were assholes; what I mean is that people could be classified as assholes. Richard Nixon? Asshole. Guy who put poison in Tylenol bottles? Asshole. "Night Stalker" serial killer? Asshole. Oliver North? Asshole. Pauly Shore? Asshole.

The world just made sense. There were only two categories: Righteous (in the Ferris Bueller/Bill-and-Ted sense) or Asshole. No murky middle ground compromising the righteousness of the Righteous or excusing the foibles and misbehavior that made Assholes so quintessentially asshole-ish.

Now, in 2006, categories are all shades of bastard, fatherless gray. No order, no pedigree, just points on an infinite fucking spectrum of random, scattered, invisible non-light.

Like now we have to understand how Zacarias Moussaoui may or may not be schizophrenic and how we as a nation should understand him in a certain context that puts his actions into perspective. I understand there is a definite legal question that needs to be addressed, but for me as a human being... why can't that guy just be an asshole?

I've read the things he's said and done. He sure seems like an asshole to me. If there were a definitive Asshole Checklist (and I heartily endorse the creation of one) I think he would score in a very narrow, high-ranging percentile against the national or even global average.

See how easy that is? It's totally liberating, for me anyway. Maybe it's just my fixation with all things anal, I don't know, but I sure like to refer to people as "assholes."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that this Moussaoui guy can't also be crazy. Crazy and Asshole are not mutually exclusive categories. If you've ever seen video of somebody fighting with cops or trying to jump a bunch of buses on a motorcycle then you know exactly what I mean.

It's like the Scientologists say: even though they're a "church" you can still belong to another religion and be a Scientologist. One doesn't necessarily negate or supersede the other. You can be a Baptist Scientologist or a Catholic Scientologist or a Jewish Scientologist or a Jedi Scientologist... anything you want, just so long as the checks clear.

To take it one step further, not only is it possible to be a Crazy Asshole, it's also demonstrably possible to be a Crazy Asshole Scientologist!

See, isn't categorizing people fun? And so much easier than "getting to know them" or "making informed judgments."

I guess, ironically, that this position--the pro-Asshole position--puts me in alignment with Scientology in some ways because I'm arguing against the intrusive, pernicious influence of psychiatry. Where I differ from Scientology is that I don't believe that psychiatry was invented by Nazis in the service of an evil galactic space overlord. I just mean it seems like there's too much reliance on delving into people's childhoods in order to foster some kind of understanding for motivations and adult action. It's not that complicated. Sometimes people are just assholes.

If this post makes you take stock of yourself and you reach the unmistakable, disheartening conclusion that you yourself are an Asshole, please, do not despair. First of all, if you're really disheartened, you're probably not a Total Asshole. A real Asshole doesn't care that s/he's an Asshole. That's a big part of what makes them Assholes in the first place.

Secondly, Asshole is not a definitive life sentence. The last I heard of ole Timmy Pratt, he and his life-partner run a successful landscaping business and are devoted foster parents. That doesn't mean if I were to run into him in the street I wouldn't totally kick his ass. But then again, that's because I'm an... well, you get the idea.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.1


No new Bucket tomorrow. Middle-child's birthday. Will be at Disneyland all day. Stalkers, make arrangements now.

PS- Note to self: yesterday I started reading Don Quixote. This is for six months from now when I'm saying "Holy Fucking Christ, how long have I been reading this monster?" and I can go "Since APRIL?!" and then feel all suicidal. That is all.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006
The Comeback
Holy crap, do I love me some internets.

And you all should be happy about it too. After reading my local paper, I was working up a politically-charged post about... something, I forget. Suffice it to say it was going to be really, really boring and probably dick-joke free.

But as I was looking up articles to link to that would give spurious support to my mostly bullshit premise(s) of the day, one thing led to another and I found an article entitled: Experts ponder a future of new sex gizmos, robots.

And thus my political post died.

It had no chance, really.

Be honest, would you rather read about how George Bush is bad bad bad or about how there is an entire industry devoted to developing "a multi-sensual experience of virtual sex"?

Yeah, me too.

What inspires me about this story is not the subject matter (even though... no, never mind) but the fact that there is a time-frame involved. It says very specifically that the technological MegaOrgasmotron3000 (that's a working title) will "very likely to be present before 2016."

What excites me about this news is that we are BACK, people. All we hear is this steady drumbeat of constant downers about how the American educational system is just one humiliating disaster after another, how we've lost our way in terms of technology and innovation and how we're all about to be drowned in a tidal wave of darker-than-white people from the Pacific Rim, all of whom not only have BlackBerrys but know now to use them.

But look at this, a new exploration of technical and mechanical creativity by the country that brought you the Model T and the moon-shot; a robust and hearty thrust into an eagerly waiting growth area, penetrating deeply and quickly into a marketplace well-lubricated by existing overlapping consumer behavior in the area of porn. The complex, tangled thatch that is the enigma of market potential wouldn't be a barrier. All that will have been shorn away before-hand by reams and reams of data in the buying history of fields like video and print pornography, video games and "neck massagers."

Are we Americans, as a nation, fat and lazy and arrogant and complacent? Sure we are. But we're also practical and smart. Let India and China and Japan work on tinier circuits or making cars that get 150 miles to the gallon. That's fine. But we know that not everyone is going to want some faggy wind-up hybrid.

What we DO know is that everyone--everyone--wants to masturbate. Everyone desperately desperately wants to masturbate. Right now, for instance. Go ahead, I'll wait...

We already have the ability to synch up our sex-toys to have pretend sex with plastic representations of people we meet on the internet. We even--I was surprised to find out--have a name for this kind of technology. It's called "teledildonics." It's in the article, I swear. It also is possibly the best word ever.

The Holy Grail of jerking off is just around the corner, though. They are already working on something I had never even considered in my wildest fantasies; not because I lacked the capacity, it's just that there was little room left what with all the wood nymphs and cheerleaders and Oprah Winfrey. Look: "other researchers say in decades to come advanced devices will be able to stimulate the brain to create a sexual experience without manipulating genitalia."

I added the italicized emphasis, but I feel justified as there has never been a sentence where such added emphasis was more deserved. Long distance, anonymous, no yucky touching. Let's see my priest condemn me to hell for THAT.

It's like Tom Cruise's wet dream (minus the dudes in chaps).

I think it's strangely appropriate that in 1961, it was John F. Kennedy who inspired us as a nation to conquer the heavens. But then he was getting so much high-quality poony that highly-charged sexual thought was merely an afterthought. I imagine he spent most of his time too knackered to even consider it. He could turn his attention to other things as that itch was being well scratched.

And now, in 2006, we get this spike in activity around the human genitalia under this president, which seems almost paradoxical, but makes perfect sense when you consider that George Bush is such a giant tool.

See, I knew I could make it political again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to... I... uh... there's something I have to do.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.0


Monday, April 17, 2006
The "New Bruise" Was The Name Of A Dance Craze By Jesus Cross And His Cruel Nails
Happy Easter Monday! The Lord is Risen and so am I!

There are people out there for whom the word "vacation" is anathema. I don't worry about offending those people with the word "anathema" because they are too busy working 80 hour weeks and not reading to know what "anathema" means.

For those of you who don't know and are curious, "anathema" is a kind of lisping hot-chocolate enema. There, you learned something.

I know what "anathema" means because I am not one of those people. I think vacation is a grand idea and I have always resented the people and/or institutions that dragged me back into active participation in productive society. This used to mean various Riverside County public school districts, a couple of University of California campuses and the California State Department of Corrections. Today, it means you people. Congratulations, you're all on my shit-list for making me come back and have to think about stuff to write again.

But I can't stay mad at you, my beloved Bucketeers. Part of the reason is because you're all so damned attractive. Secondly, the whole "active participation in productive society" problem doesn't really translate to this medium. I recognize that this is ostensibly a voluntary endeavor and I don't have to do it if I don't want to. So you're all off the hook. My OCD, however, I may never forgive.

Taking Friday and Sunday off were, for the most part, good. I did find myself prodding my kids into doing something blogworthy (teaching them to smoke, pushing them out onto the roof just to see what happens, etc.) but then the vague threat of deadline faded away and I remembered I could--at least for those two days--relax into my non-blog self and get back to the normal things we did together as a family (smoking, hanging out on the roof) without the pressure of having to eventually write it up.

The break also gave me some space to reflect on what the Bucket is, what it means and what, ultimately, I want it to mean. It was good because I remembered what it was I was after when I started this thing: total global domination. Failing that, I'd happily accept someone writing me large checks for doing this. That's why I write six days a week; retroactively, this is going to be worth some big money.

I was also able to think about the evoution of the Bucket from its primordial existence as a series of now-embarrassing lectures on the state of the world in general to what it is now, an always embarrassing haphazard collection of poorly conceived dick jokes of thematically (or even intelligibly) questionable value.

I realized that this blog has begun to drift somewhat. That's OK, drift is what blogs do. You start out knitting for Jesus and by Month 14, it's about NASCAR and coming out of the closet. And you're not even gay, you just need the blog material.

While drift is natural, the fight against blog drift is also natural. The tension between the two is where creativity happens, where the stresses exerted by each tendency occasionally breaks off pieces that come out in the shape of long considerations of peaches or an exigesis on the lasting impact of Save By The Bell. Yes, that's where the magic happens.

Today I'm going to fight the drift a little bit by getting back to two things that this blog was once world famous for and has neglected in the recent past: 1) News about blogging and 2) Stories about murdered children.

Yes, the good ole days when the Bucket went out of its way to alienate its readers by talking about things that were (respectively) 1) not even interesting to other bloggers and 2) so inherently offensive to common decency that only 24-hour-news channels would touch them.

What made me think about these things was the eerily timely story out of Oklahoma about a guy who killed and planned to eat a 10 year old girl. We know of his plans because he talked about it on his blog.

Several versions of the article say the guy "joked" about cannibalism on his blog. Cannibalism is a rough subject, but there are certainly proper ways to joke about it. I've done it myself here several times and man, was it ever funny.

For those of you who may be thinking about making cannibalism jokes on your blog in the future, here's a tip that clearly delineates what makes it funny or not: if you make a "joke" about cannibalism and then go out and kill someone with the intention of eating them... not so funny. Cannibalism, I find, is only funny in the abstract.

Well. Now that I've gotten back a little bit to some of the things I used to feature more prominently only this blog, I feel... well, mostly I feel like "what the fuck was I thinking writing about stories like this?" Also it challenges my opposition to the death penalty and makes me (more) irrationally fearful of strangers, especially where my own kids are concerned.

The only thing it doesn't make me? Hungry.

I would point out that that joke was "in poor taste," but that would just be piling on.

Welcome back, me.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.7


Thursday, April 13, 2006
The Nigh Is Ending
As much as I like being Catholic, there aren't a lot of benefits. There are long laundry lists of things you aren't supposed to do that really put a crimp in my social schedule like gluttony, lust, sloth, vanity, murder, gay sex and eating meat on certain Fridays. Not only are the prohibitions kind of downer sometimes, but the things you are expected to do (be nice to people, don't beat up bums, don't call homeless people "bums", go to Mass, kiss the priest on the mouth, etc.) are almost as frustrating.

Sometimes I wish I were an evangelical fundamentalist. There's an awe-inspiring certainty amongst Born Agains that I really wish I had. Plus, the "evangelical" part means I'd never lack for something to say in the course of any conversation. Any short, short conversation.

As an example, fundamentalists are always going on and on about "the end times" or "the rapture" or whatever. Talking about it is supposed to make us pause, to reflect, to think about the state of our lives and jolt us into considering the infinite, the unexplained and somehow find room in the spaces of our intellects pushed open by uncertainty and anxiety for God. Their God. The one that wants us to send money to their TV shows, votes Republican and gets them all the best hookers. Being a big-wig among Born Agains is good times.

Instead of anxiety, however, talk of the end-times is just a big giant tease. How awesome would it be to know the end of the world was nigh? I'd stop paying my cable bill for starters, I'll tell you that right now. And my student loans? Forget about it. All those "no payments until 2007!" deals on carpet or big-screen plasma TVs or mattresses? I'd be all over those too. No bathing, no watching what you eat, no tipping in restaurants... paradise, as far as I can tell.

Every time an apocalypse is predicted, however, it always turns out to be just a bunch of crazies with purple shrouds on their faces waiting for a comet to whisk them away after they ate the poison applesauce. Dummies.

The bad news is that people have been living in the "end times" since there have been people. Every society in every epoch believes whole-heartedly in the paragon of narcissistic truth that they will be the ones to see the world end. Maybe it's something to do with the abstraction and projection of the vague inevitability of death or whatever, but it's a recurring theme throughout all of history.

So I ignore all the predictions. I focus less on the "end times" and more on the end of my time. That's why I don't smoke. I do indulge in the occasional methamphetamine bender, but I figure, hey, as long as I'm alive, I might as well live. For four days straight, no sleep. And maybe lose some weight. And some teeth.

This morning I had some hope for the first time. Maybe the end-times are actually upon us! And this was from science, not some nutcase with his American interpretation of some words translated from the Latin from the Greek from the Coptic from the Aramaic from the Hebrew.

According to scientists, one quarter of all species will be extinct by 2050 if global warming persists at its current pace. Isn't that awesome?!

No? Well, think about it this way: are "human beings" a species? Why yes. Yes we are. So there's no reason to think we might be one of the ones gone by 2050.

The premise is that global warming will affect the delicate ecological balance in many of the world's most biodiverse regions, making survival for the resident fauna and flora difficult, if not incompatible with new conditions.

The pictures they include in the article are of fuzzy little exotic creatures, the presumption being that the brunt of the change will be most felt by these strange little inedible buggers living in the middle of nowhere.

But consider: the regions mentioned include "the Caribbean, the Tropical Andes, Cape Floristic region of South Africa, Southwest Australia, the Atlantic forests of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina."

What one single species inhabits ALL of the regions mentioned?


So maybe we're all doomed. Which would be awesome.

But then right before I was about to not pay my cable bill, I read this other story about this girl who had a heart transplant but kept her natural heart. She had two hearts. And then when the transplant started to fail TEN YEARS LATER, they went back to the original, which seemed to work OK.

Science tells me I can look forward to a nice, stress-free end-of-days. Then science says they're making people with back-up hearts to ensure survival and medically-enhanced adaptability beyond the reach of Nature herself.

At this rate, we're NEVER going to be extinct.

Well, there's always hope with the Iranian nuclear program sparking a global nuclear holocaust, but with the fall of the Soviet Union, that's just a faded pipe dream now.

Science giveth, science taketh away.

I'll guess I'll see you all around. I have to go, my student loan payment is due.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.7



Tomorrow is Good Friday. This means my wife and school-age kid have the day off. Lots of stuff to do, including not-eating. Fasting is going to take up a lot of my day. Plus I'll probably be too weak to type.

So I'm taking the day off. That's right, no Bucket. Bitch at me if you want to, but I don't think I've missed a day since Christmas (and maybe not even then... I'd check, but oh so lazy, me) so you slave-drivers can eat it.

Just for good measure, I might miss Sunday too. It's Easter, the evening of which I plan to celebrate by watching The Sopranos and playing Call of Duty 2 online. Nothing reminds me of resurrection like people getting pretend killed, either in popular TV drama or in pixellated videogame form. Hallelujah. See ya Monday.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Crystal Balls
I don't really have any magical or supernatural powers of any kind. I know it may seem hard to believe, but I think some of you--based on the unchartable levels of Awesome you see from me just in print form--project that in real life I must be able to read minds or fly or bend spoons with my brain. I need you people to know this and remember: I'm just a man. A handsome, handsome man of many gifts, yes, but I can't do any of those supernatural things. Except the spoon thing. I can totally do that. Sure, I have to send the brain waves down my arms and into my hands which I then command to bend the spoon (provided it's not too sturdy), but still, it's all very macho and occult. It's machoccult.

Before my disavowal of magic powers disillusions (ha ha) you all to the point where you start questioning all of the other rock-solid assumptions about the nature of the world you've come to rely on (gravity, death, MTV Spring Break) thus triggering an emotional cascade resulting in bleak depression, neglect of personal hygiene and ultimately suicide, I can tell you that there is ONE magic-y thing I can do.

I can predict the future.

Generally, yes, like everyone else I can only predict it in retrospect, i.e. "I totally knew that was going to happen." But that doesn't diminish the value of the gift nor does it preclude it being real.

The difference between me and you is that when I you say it, you're using idiomatic speech to express yourself emotionally, to connote frustration, realized generalized anxieties or rue. Rue rue rue. I don't know if you can use that word as a noun, but I'm totally going to because it's fun to say. Rue. See?

When I say "I knew that was going to happen," I am not being metaphorical at all. I'm being absolutely literal. I say that with the confidence of a man who can never be proven wrong. Everything I have retrospectively predicted has come to pass before I mention it in any publicly recordable form, 100% of the time. Maybe the trick is that I keep to myself the stuff that I predict that never happens. Maybe it isn't. I'm not saying.

To bolster my case, I would like to point out the following news story:

Higher gas prices before the summer driving season may make people re-think taking long trips.

I knew that story was going to come out.

I will admit to you, however, that there is nothing occult (or even macho) about my clairvoyance in this particular instance. I knew this story was going to come out because this story comes out every single year. The same story. Probably verbatim.

I don't have the research to back this up, but I would be willing to advance the theory that gas prices in every summer of my life have been higher than the gas prices from the previous summer. Every single one. Sure, the change happens by degrees, some summers increasing more than others, and while I agree that the economic impact of rising fuel prices constitutes legitimate news, every year the tooth-gnashing analysis is always exactly the same.

The print news is bad enough, but then there are the requisite TV news stories with pictures of gas station price boards and interviews with people trying to fill their tanks with gas.

REPORTER: Do you think the price of gas is too high?

CONSUMER: Lawks! What a burden for me and my family, these high gas price! It's all I can do to keep my turbo-charged Hummer running!

It's predictable on both sides, but it's somewhat confusing. I mean, we are a nation of drivers and capitalist consumers of goods. There would be less dissonance for me if the exchange were more like:

REPORTER: Do you think the price of gas is too high?

CONSUMER: What are you, some kind of communist? High prices ensure the health of the energy industry in general, which drives the economy. Hey, is this part of the Jew media trying to keep America down again? Fuck off, you hippie!

This year, all the rage amongst the Analysis Class is to blame tensions with Iran for the spike in prices. This stems from Iran enriching uranium for use in nuclear reactors.

So, logically, the fear is that Iran, an oil-rich nation, might develop nuclear power for electricity, reducing their own reliance on petroleum for energy, thus freeing up a substantial portion of their substantial underground reserves for release to foreign markets including the United States. And prices go up.

I'll never understand economics.

Sure, there's all this hullabaloo about how maybe Iran could use enriched uranium for something else, but for the life of me I can't think of anything else you could use enriched uranium for. It tastes awful and makes a terrible plant fertilizer.

Ah well. These things have a way of working themselves out for the betterment of all. I mean, look how well that Iraq thing we were all so worried about got straightened out. Yes, that one worked out just as I predicted it would as well.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.5


Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Liturgical: Not Just A Funny Sounding Word
There are times in a man's life when he has to take a good hard look at himself in the mirror and figure out who he is. This usually happens for the first time right around puberty. And with a full length mirror. And may involve some crying. There are some things even the most detailed full-color health class pamphlets cannot fully prepare you for.

But eventually you come to embrace the new you (usually with one hand) and later periods of self-reflection are more figurative than literal. They happen at random intervals usually right up against other important personal landmarks: graduations, marriage proposals, the first time you run off to Mexico to escape on your wedding day, the births of children, your first DNA test, the first night one spends in jail for delinquent child support, hair starts to fall out... whatever. The point is there are times when a man has to look inward. Sometimes that involves a colonoscopy, sometimes not. The landmarks are there to help us stop for a second, to take stock, to see what it is we're missing so that we can then go out and try to fill the empty spaces by banging a series of gullible 19-year-olds who can be lured into your car by things that are shiny. Sure, that rarely addresses the complex emotional needs of a grown man, but it makes us feel better. For about 30 minutes at a stretch.

There are some of you here who read this blog regularly who might have gotten the erroneous impression that I am not the most serious-minded person in the world. This is plainly false. I am, in fact, the most serious-minded person in the world. See, it's even in bold. Plus you read it on the internets, so it must be true.

For all my whimsy and charm and light-hearted stories about deaf people being killed by falling trees, I am capable of deep introspection. Sometimes I introspect so deeply, it causes a little bit of bleeding.

That doesn't mean I can't be warm and pleasant and funny. Fuck you, I can too. What one learns as one grows older is how to recognize the time for personal evaluation and seizing the opportunity to engage. Not every day is a day for dick jokes.

Right now is just such a time. Not for dick jokes, I mean for personal evaluation. I am a Catholic and for us Catholics, this is Holy Week, the week that starts with Palm Sunday and ends at Easter, encompassing the ritual commemoration of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem, the Last Supper, his arrest, his torment, his crucifixion, his death and, finally, his annual Spring white sale at Macy'sresurrection.

Every day has significance. I'm not one to evangelize, but I thought I'd share with the damned among you Bucketeers how we celebrate these holy days and what they do for me spiritually and personally.

After Palm Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are dressed up with the title "Holy." In case that's unclear, an example: today is known as "Holy Tuesday." These are the days traditionally in Holy Week where we... sort of just do what we would normally do on any other days of the week. Except they are called "Holy." I personally find them more compelling if an exclamation point is added, as in: "Holy Tuesday!"

After this stretch comes "Holy Thursday" or "Maundy Thursday." See, it's even got it's own special name. Plus it's funny because the word "Maundy" sounds almost like "Monday" so when you say it, it sounds like you're saying "Monday Thursday." Heh. That Jesus...

Maundy Thursday is marked by a Mass wherein the priest ritually washes the feet of some parishioners. This commemorates Jesus' third choice of occupation (after carpenter and Messiah), Old Timey Shoeshine Boy. But his dream died as he had TWO dads who wanted him to go into their lines of work pulling at him. Plus the bus handn't been invented yet, so there were no stations to set-up shoeshine stands in. And also everyone either wore sandals or went barefoot, hence the foot-washing instead of actual shoe shining.

After that is Good Friday, so named because it's the day Jesus died.

I know. It makes no sense to me either. But at least we get to go to a really long and darkly somber Mass this day. Oh! And we get to fast. Don't all of you convert at once.

After that is Holy Saturday! and finally Easter Sunday, the day Lent ends and we all get to go back to our regularly scheduled gluttony and self-immolation in the building earthly hellfire of sin and personal degradation.

As I said, I take all of this seriously. This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, despite which I did not make a single masturbation joke the whole day. Come on, Palm Sunday. And not a word from me. That's religious devotion.

Just to give you an idea of how we mark our holidays around here, on Palm Sunday we skipped out on Mass and took the kids to Disney's California Adventure that day. Yes, it's a park we don't even like and wouldn't dream of going to otherwise, but they're running their annual "2fer" ticket promotion (Disneyland AND California Adventure for the price of one!) and they expire at the end of the month, so it was free.

But just so you all know, you have a lot of down-time waiting in the interminable rides for the awful kid rides to stand there and think about your life. Like "What the hell am I doing here?" Maybe it's an existential question or maybe it's about waiting 45 minutes a shot to sit on dressed up carney rides in Disneyland's retarded little step-brother park. Who can say for sure?

All I can tell you is that I did think about Jesus. I specifically invoked his name several times when I was on Tower of Terror.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9


Monday, April 10, 2006
All Over But The Shoutin'
I wish I were a better person. I wish I could control the impulses that draw me to do bad things completely against my own will. Look at me: I'm a victim of my own bad ideas. Some of you might look at that statement and think "Did he just say that he consciously makes bad decisions and then blames his choices on the ravages of an unchecked internal force? Isn't that just a lame, second-rate cop-out?"

To which I would answer, "Of course it is." Unless, of course, I had multiple personality disorder. Which I don't. But if I did, think of all the other shit I could get away with and blame it on Kim, my slutty cheerleader personality with an eating disorder or Jaleel, my hard-knock gun-totin' stereotype of a character from NWA lyrics. Jaleel and Kim would be totally hot for each other in a sweetly animalistic bondage-torture self-mortification kind of a way. They'd want to have kids together someday, but can't because Kim would be inexplicably sterile. It would be because she's me and I'm a dude, but poor Kim wouldn't know that and would instead spend all her time in drag bars picking up she-males to have fumbling, confusing one-off encounters with.

But I don't have MPD, so I have no one to blame but myself. Oh, and the unseen force that lives within me and forces me to do things I know are wrong in a totally legally deniable way.

If I were a better person, I would use this blog to further some kind of social cause or just for the betterment of mankind. Instead I force myself to use this space to make people giggle at odd turns of phrase, ridiculous mental images and a slew of immature jokes about ninjas, my own sexual identity and the male sex organ.

And yes, God help me, I laughed when I wrote "male sex organ."

If I were a better person I would devote today's limited space to the massive, remarkable public protests over immigration or the growing call for some kind of oversight or responsibility from the present administration.

Or I would devote my time to human interest stories that could possibly change lives by highlighting the plight of a homeless family who needs help or a child suffering from some kind of disease. And has a PayPal account, ideally. Not to hack and steal from, you sick bastards, to GIVE to. Money = love. That's what my dad taught me. And then he punched me right in the face. But I got $5 to tell the teacher I walked into a door, so we were cool.

But my God, instead of anything useful or life-affirming or even fucking pleasant, I cannot--cannot--get past the story about the deaf Italian tourist killed by a falling tree.

Look, it isn't funny. It's not. I'm sure the victim had a family who loved him and told him so often in a series of wildly over-exuberant hand-gestures that I imagine make up Italian sign-language. How do you "talk with your hands" if you already talk with your hands? Why I never considered Italian deaf people before is astounding, frankly. I can (and have) sit and think about for hours and hours and never stop being entertained.

Apart from that, there is the question of whether or not, when it fell, the tree actually made a sound. I mean, even though there were people around, there was still no one around to hear it. That's going to fuck with my brain from now until the day I die. Which, once the deaf Italian mafia reads this, should be very soon now.

The part that is really hanging me up is this one:

"The bus driver shouted to warn them..."

God help me. I am a very bad person.

There's an apocryphal story about Stevie Wonder visiting a White House function, George Bush seeing him across the room and making a point to wave to him.

At least I hope to Christ it's apocryphal. We may have to get Orrin Hatch on this one as well.

Anyway, I can understand the bus driver's plight. He knows they're deaf. He drove them out there, right? It was probably the best bus drive he'd ever taken in his life. Absolute silence the whole way, nobody complaining about the radio station, etc.

And then he sees this horror unfolding. He's too far away to reach anyone, so what can he do? He's only got the sound of his voice to try and reach someone... natural instinct. Completely reasonable.

And tragically useless. If only the tree had fallen more slowly he might have had time to do something more likely to work, like semaphore or building a signal fire.

But alas...

Jaleel is mad at me now because why can't I just back up off a marginalized minority and let people be? For Kim, Italy makes her think of spaghetti. But she's really, really stupid.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.1(x3)


Sunday, April 09, 2006
Theme park. Can't type. So very weak.

It was a beautiful day, weather wise; the kind with just enough sun and clouds mixed and a decent breeze. A day without jackets or sunscreen.

Usually I don't like to include personal pictures of myself as it compromises my perfect veil of secrecy shielding me from stalkers, weirdos and various statutes of limitation, but sometimes rules need to be bent for my own protection. In case some of you may have been harboring thoughts of punishing me for neglecting you today, I offer you this close-up picture of the area of skin on the back of my neck between the hair-line and the collar-line:

The eschewing of sun-screen was, in retrospect, an unfortunate oversight. Boy howdy, does it ever smart. If you were about to wish upon me some suffering, rest assured, it has been visited upon me. I have been smited by the very sun.

Sure, it makes those cool instant white outlines of anything you smack against it, but seeing as it's a) in a hard-to-see area and b) excruciatingly painful, I can't even get any pleasure out of that.

So you all win.

I am a bad, bad blogger.

And I'm OK with that.



Friday, April 07, 2006
Last night, something unprecedented happened: I went a whole evening without downloading any internet porn.

It sounds momentous and, frankly, unbelievable, but it's true.

What could possibly have distracted me from such a deeply ingrained and time-honored tradition dating back to the earliest days of the internets?


That's right, the Yahoo Games word-spelling-with-letter-tiles game that is DEFINITELY NOT SCRABBLE! It isn't. See, even look at the name: Literati. Clearly NOT Scrabble. It doesn't even start with an S.

Besides being spelled completely differently, Literati differs from Scrabble in the sense that it is infinitely more cool. I mean, think of all the dorktastic lameness of sitting around in real life spelling words you have to manipulate crudely with your disgusting fleshy hands except instead you get to add in all the cutting-edge cool of a desperately sad internet chat room.

Good times.

Just for the record, I should point out that there WAS a young lady (at least that's how "she" was representing "herself") in the chat lobby of the Literati area actively trying to lure people to look at naked pictures of herself in her Yahoo profile. I'm just pointing it out so that everyone remembers that the internet is the internet and every iteration is primarily a platform for the distribution of pr0n. The world has never made more sense to me than it did just then.

Anyway, I'm writing this to head off any vicious slander that might suggest that I got my ass kicked playing Literati by SJ and Steph, fellow bloggers to whom challenges were both issued and taken up.

Did I forget to mention I was playing against fellow bloggers? You didn't think I would just show up and play some random person I didn't know at Literati for hours and hours on end in a futile attempt to fill the great gaping hole in my company-starved housewife's soul, did you? Come on. I play Call of Duty 2 online for that.

Over at Steph's blog she has a screencapture up that purportedly records the "real" score and the "real" outcome in which I was "completely destroyed" by both her and SJ. According to her, even though there were only three of us, I managed to fall so far behind I finished in FOURTH place.

Well, let's take a look at her "evidence" shall we?

If you're like me, something jumps out at you right away: this image has clearly been altered. I know none of you were there, so I will point out the inconsistencies.

Do any of you notice the big fat pink lines, circles, writing and block coloring? It's subtle, so I'll give you a second... with me? OK, just so you know, NONE OF THAT WAS THERE when we played. None of it. No "exhibit A" or "exhibit B", nothing.

So that immediately begs the question: if she changed THAT, what ELSE did she change?

Also realize that not only is Stephanie an artist, but she works in GRAPHIC DESIGN. Altering an image like this is child's play for a woman of her ability... her devious, devious ability.

Plus, Steph is a marathon runner, so we know she's hyper-competitive and purposefully driven beyond the bounds of rational non-masochistic human beings. So her whole personality make-up is questionable there.

I told her I wouldn't tell anyone, but I also know that she once kidnapped a rabbit and then killed for sport.

Putting these bits of damning evidence togehter, right away we can throw out what appears to be the "score". In fact, the whole enterprise looks fishy to me. Did we even play Literati? If we did, how come I woke up on the floor of my living room blind in one eye and bleeding from the rectum? That doesn't sound like any kind of friendly online sport to me.

If it DID happen, then the memory I have of it goes as follows:

1) SJ laid on a heavy dose of "oh, I'm just an innocent backward Southerner who is half blasted out of her skull on box wine. How do these funny computer things work again, y'all? Oh, I get it--" POW! 20 point double word-score. Sandbagged.

2) Look at the bottom right of the board. You'll see that going across is the word "EX". Dubious already. But then going DOWN from the X is the word "XU". I believe that particular combination was worth something like 26 points with the double letter score for the X in multiple words. That was the work of Steph.

At first I was mad because "xu" is so obviously not a word. But I would like to publicly apologize to Steph for calling her what I called her last night when she hit that score. I looked it up and "xu" IS actually a word. According to my dictionary, it is a little-used ancient Farsi words that means "I cheat at internet Scrabble."

If it did really happen, all in all it was a good time, blindness, blacking out and rectal bleeding notwithstanding. Despite their mercilessness and personal dislike for me in the realm of competitive word games, they seem like decent enough people whom I would give dirty looks to and then ignore if I were ever to meet them in person. Yes, I'm that small a person. But since they were so much fun, I would totally feel bad about it afterward.

And as a final note of caution, if any of you are in Literati Intermediate Lounge #4 and some girl is inviting you to look at naked pictures of her in her profile, just pass. Unless tranvestite donkey shows are your thing, then God bless. And whatever you do, do NOT give her your credit card number. There are going to be some charges I'm going to have a lot of trouble explaining to my wife.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


Thursday, April 06, 2006
Bunnies Doing Capra
I'm not under any illusions; I know what you people come here for. You come here for the simple reason that the words that I write sustain and fortify the heart that beats within you, making life possible while simultaneously providing your immortal souls with all the nourishing poetic sustenance it needs to flourish and thrive. The Bucket is like fertilizer for the soul, compost for the spirit, dried up handfuls of cow shit for the psyche.

I grudgingly also acknowledge that some of you read this for mere, crass entertainment purposes. And the dick jokes. With that in mind, I present for you today's offering.

But before we begin, let me distract you all for just a second with a graphic description of babies being eaten by wolves.

No, I'm kidding. But had I actually gone through with that, I imagine the reaction among the readership would have been similar to those of moviegoers in New York whose featured filmed entertainment was preceded by the trailer for United 93, the film about what happened inside the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11.

You can view the trailer here if you're so inclined.

Remember, this was a New York City audience. The trailer includes news footage of planes crashing into the WTC towers. And yet still, for some unknown reasons, people who might have witnessed the event personally were upset. Weird.

Anyway, the theater pulled the trailer.

Personally I'm not sure how I feel about United 93. In theory it's a good idea as the story has all kinds of natural high dramatic tension to make a compelling film. But on the other hand, there is such thing as too compelling. The story of people fighting terrorists is OK. The first image I see of some kid strapped in a car-seat on the airplane that is going to crash would be... less helpful to me personally.

Now, seeing as I am not a Republican, I am NOT saying that I think this film should never have been made or that we should all draw up hand-made signs and protest until theaters are bullied into dropping it or that the people who made it should be rounded up and shot. I'm just saying that I personally don't think I'm up to watching it right away.

The producers of the film have said they will donate 10% of the first three-day grosses of the film to the Flight 93 memorial fund. The other 90% and all subsequent profits they will use to fund their next project, Mouse in a Microwave.

I may skip that one as well.

This 9/11 news all comes in fits and starts. We have new cockpit tapes, Rudy Giuliani testifying at the Massaoui sentencing, the debate over whether to give a wannabe martyr his martyrdom etc.

But before we get too upset, this being the Age of the 24 Hour News Cycle, something new is always just on the horizon to drag our ADD-addled brains along into something else the media insists we must DESPERATELY concern ourselves with. The news linking George Bush directly to the Plame investigation looks like the thin end of that wedge. It seems so awfully important, but I'm sure someone will try to elude police in a multicounty freeway chase somewhere and that will get shoved aside in its turn.

But if all that doesn't work and you're still mired in depressing 9/11 talk, you can always sit down and try to hash out your thoughts into some kind of long, dark brood into the deep metaphysical and existential ins and outs of human agency, morality and death.

It sounds a little grim, but I think you'll find, as I often do, that just such a session has a tendency to clear the--hey, look! Bunnies doing Capra!

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.3


Wednesday, April 05, 2006
You probably guessed already, but just to confirm it, yes, I am one of those people. No, not a leper. I mean one the other kind of those people. You know, the geeks who will (if you're unlucky enough to be caught by one of us in the rare occasion we're out socially) bore you to tears cataloguing, detailing and complaining about every intricate and myriad way movie versions of the celebrated Geek Canon have undermined the hallowed source-material by making shit up or leaving shit out.

Most of you should count yourselves lucky that you will never know the rage and betrayal I felt--still feel!--for the way the screenwriters ruined the dialogue between Eowyn and the Lord of the Nazgûl at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in film version of The Return of the King. I mean, come on, the kids WANT to hear words like "dwimmerlaik." To excise little bits of archaic language is criminal. And the movie obviously suffered for it.

Even as a child, I was annoyed by the details. Like in Superman II where all of a magical sudden, Superman had these "extra" powers like the ability to shoot white levitation energy death-beams from his fingers, teleport at will, make his Clark Kent clothes instantly disappear while flying and (my personal favorite) make Lois Lane forget he was Superman by kissing her. I've tried this on my wife, but apparently I lack the super-lung capacity and diaphragm strength necessary to suck out the necessary parts of my wife's brain through her mouth to make her forget, say, that I forgot to record some chick movie for her or burned the garage to the ground. It's still a great movie and one of the best sequels of all time, but the little details, for a guy like me... let's just say that I gave the studio both barrels. More than one strongly-worded letter was sent. And I was six.

Now, this June, Superman Returns is coming out. I was really excited about it... until I saw this billboard.

Yeah, it's dramatic and whatever, but I told you already, I don't like them adding new powers. Now, according to this picture, Superman is going to have a blindingly bright glowing gold penis. Look at it. You can't even see the shape of it, it's so bright. It has it's own corona and the ability to part clouds. No wonder he's looking up; it's so he won't be blinded by the thing. Frankly I'm a little disappointed in the marketing people, not just for showing an exposed penis (alien and brilliant though it is) but for giving away what is probably going to be one of the big "reveals" of the movie in the advertising. I hate that.

It does, however, give a whole new meaning to the phrase "morning wood."

But now at least we know why Superman wears that extra pair of red chonies on the outside of his pants. It's not because he's a homeless vagrant; it's for the light-shielding. All those layers protect us from the nuclear furnace he keeps in his pants.

But poor Lois Lane...

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.2


Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Gringo Libre
Thinking is hard. I try and I try and I try to do it for myself, but all I get for my trouble are T-shirts with clever slogans like "Rock Out With Your Cock Out" or the entire Precious Moments Guernica collection of porcelain figurines or locked in a trunk with my hands tied behind my back on a cargo plane to Rangoon. See, I'm just no good at thinking for myself.

I need help, but who can afford a Life Coach? Sure, I can watch Dr. Phil, but then I have to go out and start taking massive amounts of drugs, cheating on my wife and being generally emotionally retarded in order for any of his advice to apply to me. And that just seems like too much work.

What is a person-who-can't-be-trusted-with-his-own-thoughts to do?

Well, luckily for me--for all of us, really--this is an election year. Yes, it's technically an "off-year" or "mid-term" or "nobody outside of DC cares" year, but if you're looking for it, if you're really paying attention, a whole program of personal-thought-replacement is out there to be had.

In 2004, I didn't even know what an evil, evil menace the idea of gay marriage was. Had no idea. I was walking around thinking I didn't have time to get all personally involved in the private affairs of consenting adults. Luckily however--and just in time--I was informed that boys who want to kiss other boys were organizing into paired strike groups with the sole operating objective of destroying my marriage. If I had been left to think about it all by myself, I would have made yet another clearly wrong decision and gone right on not caring. And now I'd be unmarried and forced into a life of hot, hot sodomy by the ascendant gay political machine. So, crisis averted there.

And now this year, I've been wandering around in a funk, naively focused on paying my mortgage and thinking up synonyms for "penis" for the betterment of my blog when I was informed very recently that I have to care desperately about illegal immigration. Have. To. No choice. They are coming. They're brown, they speak in halting, accented English and they'll watch my kids for not very much money and with no Social Security payroll tax obligation. They must be stopped.

I am relieved that there is a Republican political machine so in need of another "wedge issue" that they're willing to do all this thinking for me. And thank goodness there's a Fox News to present it all to me in a fair and balanced way. This is clearly part of the GOP's brilliant strategy to have fewer Latinos vote for them than black people do. It's a bold move in that the African-American population as a percentage of the whole has remained relatively steady while the number who identify themselves as Latin-American in origin is rapidly expanding. Latinos are the growth market for political ostracization and alienation.

Not only has the House passed a bill making illegal immigration a felony, sparking the largest series of political protests I've seen in my lifetime, but there are some positive aspects of the new legislative push. It's not all draconian punishment. They are now floating the idea of cutting the wait-time for citizenship by one year for fluent English speakers. See, it's a brilliant triangulation plan wherein the Republicans push away Mexicans while canceling out that loss by appealing to the huge flood of immigrants streaming across our borders and into our ports from the wilds of Canada, the UK and Australia. I'm sure all 11 of them will be more inclined to vote Republican now. Take that, eroded Latino political base!

I can understand, I guess, the position of the (second) party of Ben Nighthorse Campbell is so keen on protecting the rights of Natives from the creeping non-English-speaking menace. Although, to be honest, I think they're dropping the ball, in some respects. As long as they're thinking for me and they've got me all fired up against immigrants, I would think that the greater threat would be the immigrants who DO speak English. The ones that look like me and talk like me bring their foreign-y culture with them. Next thing you know we're all drinking Molson or having our kids play soccer. It's insidious.

I will concede that the other side has some poins too. I mean, we all know white Americans won't do difficult manual labor. So I'm kind of conflicted. Or at least I will be until the next television commercial airs that tells me which way I should lean. Like right now, I'm thinking I could use a little natural male enhancement.

Man, I gotta stop watching Spike TV.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.2


Monday, April 03, 2006
Monday Lite: She Always Likes A Warm Hand On Her Opening
Yesterday's dog business precluded my normal annual in-depth coverage of baseball's official Opening Day.

I know I've let you all down. Again. But somehow pitches were still made and balls were hit and runs were scored and oh my what an awesome place America is.

Throw in an apple pie and someone's mom (preferably not my own) and we got ourselves a party.

Less well covered by the media was another Opening Day in another sport, this for MLS. Major League Soccer.

Before you run screaming, I would just like to say that soccer gets a bad rap. People in this country like to dismiss it as some fruity European celebration of pony-tailed, bare-legged gayness, but that's just blinkered provincialism, frankly.

Look at this picture from yesterday:

Look at the passion. Look at the joy, the exultation, the drive and the effort. These are men who spend months at a time with no one but each other, on practice fields, in weight rooms, in restaurants, in hotel rooms, even in showers, foregoing the sight and touch of all others so that they can be together, to pursue their common dream, their common goal of... uh... grabbing each other... from behind... and looking like they're... uh...

OK, so it's European. I still like it.

Also: I'm totally having one of those net thingies installed in my house.

Enjoy your season(s) people. The best news: with 200 cable channels, you don't have to watch any of it if you don't want to.

America the Beautiful indeed.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.1


Sunday, April 02, 2006
I Do Little
I'm not going to lie to you people, I'm good at a lot of things. I'm a multi-talented motherfucker, no mistake. I read fast, I can write, I play the guitar, I'm a competition-level speed-eater, I can draw, color inside the lines, sing, line-dance, skip, yodel, arrange flowers, deadly with a ninja throwing star from thirty paces, macramé and jazz flute.

OK, no jazz flute, but I did see it in a movie once. Usually that's all it takes for me to become near-expert level at something. One viewing of Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia in Big and I could play the piano... with my feet. Not one of those big-ass electric ones either, I mean a REAL piano. With my feet. Shoes on.

But, you're now thinking, how are Pops' detective skills?

Well, I've seen a lot of TV police, so I bet I'm pretty good. Better than that fat ugly dude with the horrendous beard on that CSI I reckon. Let's check:

I opened the my garage door today to find a dog sniffing around the tree in my yard. Never seen it before. The dog has a collar on with a valid tag. A county-issued number, no other ID. The dog is exceedingly thin, moves with a pronounced limp, easily frightened.

My wife and I take the dog into our yard, figuring it is lost. We call the animal control people, but it's Sunday and our case is non-emergent, so we agree to keep it overnight. We try to feed the dog our dog's own hard dog food, but it refuses. We try some soft bread, which the dog can eat a little bit, but mostly drops.

My diagnosis: the way this dog moves, with almost no use of its back legs, it can't have run away in that condition. It must have gotten loose somehow and then been injured, probably clipped by a car. Judging from its scrawny, dog-anorexic appearance, it's clearly been lost for a long time, wandering the streets of the greater Riverside area, ignored by the heartless bastards on my street and in my community who needed only the courage and kindness (as I possess both in abundance) to check for a tag.

The inability to eat says this dog has gone a long time without proper medical care or a proper meal. It obviously has some kind of problem with its teeth or mouth that makes eating painful. Can't really say as my Good Samaritan instincts do not extend to sticking my fingers into strange dogs' mouths.

So, being the good people we are, we promptly leave it here all alone with my mom, who is visiting. If you choose now to say something about leaving my mother home alone while she is visiting, I invite you now to do so.

When we return, the dog is gone. Retrieved by its owner. Here's the real story. Compare it to my constructed, deduced version and be dazzled:

The dog lives about four doors down from me. It wandered out. It was all limpy and didn't eat hard food because it is SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD. The end.

Had the owner not heard the dog distinctively death-rattle wheeze-barking in my backyard, it would have been whisked into the loving arms of County Animal Control and almost certain death Monday morning.

OK, so now that's two things I can't do well. Dectectoring is one. The other is finish a blogpost in a non-awkward way. I just... I can never really figure out what the... um... yeah.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.4



Powered by Blogger