Pops' Bucket
Monday, July 31, 2006
Monday Lite: The Dark Knight Detective
The Associated Press has picked up the story from my local paper about a a mother in nearby Norco who used some mad detective skills to track down and bust kids who toilet-papered her house.

She went to local grocery stores and asked for help finding receipts from unusually large purchases of toilet paper around the time of the crime. Then she matched those to other items used in the vandalism. The sneaky vandals paid with cash, so she used video surveillance camera to identify one of them from their high school letterman jacket, which busted the whole thing wide open.

A couple of points:

1) We can finally say definitively that there's no such thing as "too much TV." Years and years of Columbo reruns can lead to new skills and interests.

2) Your local grocery store is right up there with your phone company and your credit card company on the list of corporate entities that are in a huge-ass hurry to dish out personal information about you so that you can be rounded up by law enforcement. It sounds good in this case, but nobody will be laughing when these kids turn up at Gitmo. Even if you're not Muslim, they still make you watch as they shit on an assortment of holy books (they've gone multicultural since the press started nosing around), which no kid should see. The collaborationists at the Stater Bros. have that on their hands.

3) Even if you're smart enough to pay in cash, the clothes you have with your name emblazoned in giant letters across the back should probably stay in the closet when it's time to act as an accessory to a crime. And just because you can GET the stuff you need to TP a house or, say, fashion a crude nuclear device from common items available at your local supermarket (there really are a thousand and one uses for PineSol!) doesn't mean you should. Not only are they sham fronts for the CIA to operate domestically (see #2 above), but those places are wired. Everyone knows that craigslist is a criminal-mischief-perpetrators best friend. Sometimes literally. They tend to be lonely, loney people.

4) Do your research. I know by now that when committing a crime, the only sure-fire recipe for success is to make sure you victimize the stupid. If you're contemplating an illegal act and you can't figure out if you or the intended target is smarter, walk away. It isn't you.

For legal reasons, I must say now that I in NO WAY advocate nor endorse the breaking of any laws and this post should not be construed as a point-by-point instructional text for the better execution of said crime nor for the successful subsequent evasion of justice that might ensue. I'm just saying the letterman jacket wasn't the smartest thing I've ever heard.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.1


Sunday, July 30, 2006
Big Bang Theory
I decided to start thinking about it in the ten free minutes I had between my family all going to bed and before Deadwood starts and I think I've cracked it: I know what Life Is All About.

There are entire schools of philosophy dedicated to the question. Some are actual philosophies (existentialism, metaphysics, etc.). Others I would categorize as A Bunch of Mumbly-Jumbly Justifications for Hippies to Continue to Live in Ashrams and Not Get Jobs Which They Thought of While High. The former involves the whole history of human thought and language employed to wrestle with the thorny, tangled basics of existence (Heidegger's "Why are there beings instead of nothing at all?"). The latter is basically the same, except with a thirty-minute tangent about dragons, a recipe for "really bitchin' vegetarian chili", infinitely more instances of the word "man" and ends with two or more people doin' it in a field. Which is fine with me as there are no fields left near my house.

Although I admire the former the most, it sort of pisses me off. It really should be a source of joy and relief as it led me directly to the answer to what Life Is All About, but once I tell you what Life Is All About, you'll be annoyed too.

Life Is All About unanswerable questions. Why are we here, what are we meant to do, is there a God, what happens after we die, did I really just eat a whole cheesecake, etc. OK, the last one is kind of answerable, but don't underestimate the human potential for self-deception. All we really know for sure is that there is no more cheesecake.

It's a cruel irony that we are destined to spend so much time stuck contemplating these questions (either in thougtful abstraction in the academic sense or subconsciously as we make the decisions that shape the narratives of our lives) that can never be answered to anyone's complete satisfaction.

In the meantime we distract ourselves from the weighty burden of the existential fusion that fires our ultimately too tragically exhaustible engines by thinking about things that are stupid.

Like famous people.

How much money do they make, what do they drive, who are they banging, are they gay, what do their media/game rooms look like ("MTV Cribs" only), are they Scientologists, etc.

Which would you rather consider while magazining from the brief comfort of your own toilet: what happens to me when I die? or oh my God, is Oprah really gay?!

I don't know about you, but the first question is a little weighty for the middle of an afternoon. Plus it doesn't do me any favors in the colon-exercising department, if you follow. Oprah, on the other hand, has the laxative power a half pound of dried apricots. I can't explain it only to note (obviously) that Oprah is magic.

And not gay.

Today, the Bucket offers you a small trifle to get you through the next few moments, relieving the slowly tightening pressure of your ever-more impending doom if only for a second.

Today I ask you the age-old question: ¿Quien es mas loco?

Today's contestants:

Mr. Mel Gibson vs. Ms. Lindsay Lohan

Who is crazier? The best way to not think about death is to spend some time thinking about things that make you kind of want to kill yourself! Why do you think entertainment reporters are always so goddamned happy?

Let's get right down to the Crazy-Off by looking at the evidence.

1) Lindsay Lohan: Daughter of crazy-ass showbiz parents. Is sort of hot. Has been trying to convince me of said hotness since she was roughly aged 12. Periodic bouts of anorexia, linked with her magical powers of self-breast-expansion. Is only 20 but is somehow always drunk. Thanks to the pioneering work of our friends over at The Superficial, we know she will no longer appear in public in anything but a two-piece swimsuit. Collapses from being "overheated" and is the next day publicly excoriated personally by the head of a studio for whom she is currently working for being a classless hoor. Everyone knows studio heads like their hoors classy.

2) Mel Gibson: Son of a crazy-ass professional Holocaust denier. Hates the modern Catholic Church for not being strict enough. Self-financed The Passion of the Christ after studios told him he was (you guessed it!) crazy. Won crazy-points for himself by adopting a decidedly more Manson-y personal grooming regimen. Got arrested for drunk driving and blamed it all on the Jews.

Old-school Bucketeers among you might think I would be persuaded to cut Mr. Gibson some slack here considering some of the things I've said about Jews in this space before, but I must say categorically that I don't hate the Jews. True, I'd never turn my back on one, but I don't hate them. That's just common sense. You never know when they're going to break out with the demon fire breath or the spiked tail. It's just prudent to be on your guard.

After almost no deliberation, I have to say this turned out to be less of a contest than I'd hoped. Sure, Lohan's constant-bikini thing is weird and the non-stop partying is probably not smart, but then, she is only 20 and has what accountants call "a mother fuckload" of money. She's supposed to be stupid. Anything other would be a charming surprise.

Mel, on the other hand, is like 50-something. Men his age with beards like that yelling at people about how the Jews are out to get him generally make their homes beneath bridges, freeway overpasses, or any other kind of transportation-related overcrossings unencumbered by food or climate control or any Jewy, Jewy walls.

Since he's loaded, we can chalk it up to a raffish eccentricity, but still, it's stronger than anything we can say for poor Ms. Lohan.

Our winner: Mel Gibson.

Congratulations, Mel. Thanks for the distraction.

I now send you back to your regularly scheduled despair.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.4


Friday, July 28, 2006
Hi, Falutin'!
The city and county I live in--both called Riverside--has something of an inferiority complex. Something about being inland with no beach access, the nation's worst smog and 75% of our land being uninhabitable desert overrun by giant tortoises and man-eating lizard-people, all of which has been documented on this blog already. The point is, there's a stigma. One person from LA or Orange County gets a family member eaten by a lizard-person or trapped in a tortoise-stampede and suddenly the whole region is no good.

City and county officials out here have been working hard to reverse that image. Their one and only idea? Culture!

Yes, the exclamation point is necessary. In terms of text, there's really no other way to express the lycra-pants, sequined-jacket, bowler-hat, tap-shoes, jazz-hands, raspy whisper way they mean it. Think of a gay Ben Vereen and you're getting close.

For all the intent, the idea of what actually constitutes Culture! out here is pretty vague. At first it was just Starbucks. Why don't we have a Starbucks? Woe be unto us, how we lament the lack of Starbucks. What are we as a people if we too cannot overpay for our coffee-derived beverages?

Since we were not careful what we wished for (I say "we" as an obligatory nod to my membership in this community, but I would like to make it known that I specifically wished for World Peace... not actual "world peace," that's just what I was going to name the pony) we now have Starbucks. Oh my God, do we have Starbucks. We have Starbucks the way Paris Hilton has crabs. Only we can't claim we got Starbucks from sleeping on a friend's couch.

Next the height of Culture! was a PF Chang's. We're getting one of those. Then it was Crate & Barrel. Again, check.

Now that we inlanders have graduated to the ranks of obnoxious consumers on par with any in the nation, the idea of Culture! is now moving in to the realm of actual culture.

There is no building project on the table now in the Riverside area of any significant size for the region that does not include a performing arts center or gallery space or an open-air mime-run or something. I'm a little divided on the issue. I would really prefer to be able to buy a sandwich without a side-order of interpretive Gujarati folk-dance, but these melding of commercial and cultural expansions seem like they're here to stay.

All these potential new fora for expression has led the foreward thinking powers-that-be to reach out amongst us, the latté-swilling little-people to fill those spaces with our own precious gifts. You know, provided we have any. Or at least enough so we don't embarrass them when the Orange/LA County people are visiting.

I'm not 100% sure I'm on board with this as I fear Riverside will start drawing an unsavory bohemian element to it, which will just make me crazy. I'm not crazy about the sight of women with underarm hair, for starters. And the first motherfucker I see walking down 14th Street in a black turtleneck in the middle of summer gets hit with my car. Fair warning.

But in the spirit of civic-mindedness AND to forestall any Hippie-Artist Invasion by taking up as many of the offered artsy-fartsy patronages myself, I have decided that I will compete for as many of these spaces in our new burgeoning NON-HIPPIE arts community as I can.

First up: the Riverside 10-Minute Play Festival. This is right up my alley as I'm sure Failed Writers from across the region will be entering this contest with far, far too much misplaced, sad confidence. I'm positive I'll win.

The play can only be 10 minutes and it will be performed locally with little budget by local players, so I have to keep it simple. I've been kicking around some ideas for a while and I think I've finally settled on one. Here's a synopsis:

It is night. But then, it is always night... in space! In the not-too-distant future, a small, rugged band of Space Commandos working for the United States Space CIA is sent to infiltrate and destroy the nerve center of a shadowy intergalactic alien terrorist cooperative known as qal-Aeda. On the way to their mission, they are intercepted by a giant, secret qal-Aeda space station which, after a pitched battle, captures our heroes. Once inside, they escape only to return with a ragtag squadron of misfits and ne'er-do-wells to destroy the space station and claim victory for the good ole Space USA. Little do they know that in the confusion of the battle, their arch-nemesis, Soama LaBinden has managed to escape...

I may have to make some cuts to get it down to 10 minutes, but I think it's doable. Already I left out the meteor shower, the talking-duck character and an intense-yet-horrifyingly-prescient sequence where the crew is stalked aboard their own ship by a sentient coffee machine. It's hard to explain it all without the detail. The allegory is kind of complicated.

Anyway, this contest is mine for the taking. And once I'm rich and famous and the King of Riverside Culture!, it's spangled jackets for all. For myself, I ask only one thing: World Peace.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.6


Thursday, July 27, 2006

What up, my peeps!?

OMG, what a week!!!!

Sorry I've been away for so long, but this hunger strike thing, man... not eating can really take it out of you. What am I, Gandhi? I mean, it's effective and all if you got a point to make or whatever, but really, toward the end, I was like "bring on the forced feeding by nasal drip tube, stinking running-dog American crusader invaders! Papa needs a liquefied cheeseburger!"

Of course I can't say that outloud seeing as I am the living embodiment of the nation of Iraq and cannot under any circumstance show weakness. Think of all the people I would let down, the ones who worship me still as their leader, the strong, virile, indomitable man who would burn their houses down and murder everyone on their block if I perceived the smallest inkling of disrespect. That's the kind of love you can't just wash away with one regime-change.

So I can't show weakness. I am perfectly comfortable showing crazy, though. The way I see it, as the personal embodiment of the nation, if Iraq itself is crazy and in turmoil, I should be as well. It's a one to one connection. Plus, it doesn't hurt in the joint if the guys inside think you're nuts. Like my cellmate, Salim Ahnad "Big Sal" Ramadi. Brought a chainsaw to a flashmob pillow fight, killed fourteen people. Big scary dude, right? Well, on the news every night he's got to see me all puffed up, "Butcher of Baghdad," all that shit. Genocide gives you a special kind of street-cred on the inside, yo. After you kill the first million people, you get a free pass when it comes to the normal prison shenanigans. Salad tossing and whatnot.

Unless you run into someone in the exercise yard whose family you had buried alive. Awkward City.

I'm kind of glad my fake-ass trial is almost over. It was really wearing me out coming in every day and making with the bug-eyed ooga-booga "ain't I a harmless old nutjob" routine. It'd be easier if I had something of a support system like in the old days. Nothing washes your worries away like a schvitz in the solid-gold sauna filled with steam made from the tears of the children of your crushed enemies. Mimosas on the veranda, read a little Danielle Steele, some Benny Hill on the DVD... good times.

Most of the people are gone too. Dead, in prison, in exile, etc. I miss my boys most of all... whatever their names were. Can't say I'm surprised they're dead, though. When you ask an 11-year-old kid what he wants for his birthday and he says "rape room," well, sure, you give it to him, but you just know things aren't going to end well for that one.

Anyways... not much else to say. I rolled out the Brer Rabbit don't-throw-me-in-the-briar-patch gambit at court today. Sort of the last obligatory go-round for my "Crazy Saddam" character. Honestly though, the LAST thing I'd want would be to face an Iraqi firing squad. You know those fuckers would miss the vital organs on purpose. And I've shot enough people to know: that shit hurts. Give me hanging any day.

Got to go, y'all. Hunger strike is over so I'm looking forward to a decent meal. Probably just Hungry Man salisbury steak again, but I'll eat anything at this point, even a Shi'ite baby. Just like the old days....

I'll be gone soon and then you'll all miss me, I know it. It's like Maroon 5 say in "Not Coming Home":

And does it make you sad
To find yourself alone?
And does it make you mad
To find that I have grown?
I'll bet it hurts so bad
To see the strength that I have shown

Suck it, haters.


PS- Can you believe this Lohan business? "Overcome by heat" this time. I forget the code, what does that mean again? "Exhaustion" means cocaine overdose. "Dehydration" is... what? Heroin? I don't know. I sort of thought "overcome by heat" meant "dead hooker in the trailer" but I guess that wouldn't apply here. That's more of a Colin Farrell thing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The Summer Of The Murdered Trees
When people first come across this blog, they generally say one thing right off the bat: "Hey! This is not a gay porn website! False advertising! False advertising!"

The second thing they usually say is: "Jesus, why would you post six days a week?"

The answer to Response #1 is: Ha, too late suckers. SiteMeter has recorded your visit. Ego sated. You may leave.

The answer to Response #2 is: Because I have time. And my name is not Jesus. Good guess though as "Jesus" is a very common name where I'm from. Keep trying.

If I had a regular job like a regular person, sure, I'd probably post less. Probably. If I were serious about writing, I'd write fewer non-paid articles about Willie Aames and more super-exciting sale-able stuff about people in dysfunctional families who are sad. And had super-powers. You have to cover all your bases, commercially speaking.

As a stay-at-home parent, I am cognizant of the fact that the way I choose to spend the time I have is being observed by my children and taken as behavior modeling, actively fashioning the core of who they are and who they will be as adults with my every word, thought, gesture.

What can I say that they've learned from watching me directly? If you mix your drinking with your pills, you can take one hell of a nap.

Also, as we've been cooped up inside hiding from the oppression of the bastard sun, they watch what I do and model their behavior accordingly.

This is the work of my eldest child.

Hmm, something constructed out of paper and tape. What could it be? Let's open it up...

Ah, I see, it's a representation of a laptop. And look, there on the screen, there's what looks like a crude rendering of what might very well be the Blogger Create Post screen.

Oh, and look, lots of home-made computer-game CD-ROMs. What a treat; I can see myself as they see me! Now all they need to do is figure out how to make paper versions of questionable personal hygiene and a screaming case of hemorrhoids and they'd have my day down completely.

I guess I should feel good that the screen has a Blogger-related theme and not internet porn. But then maybe a rectangle is just easier to draw than boobies when you're seven.

I'm not really sure what to make of all this. I mean, on the one hand, it could be that I'm damaging my children's future by implanting it in their heads that sitting at home working on some goddamned blog is something they should actually aspire to rather than something that just happens by a series of very complicated, difficult choices presented by circumstance and timing.

There's no way they can really comprehend that I lived a life before they became the sole, central focus of it. I went to college and to graduate school, I had jobs. I was out there just long enough to realize how much being "out there" sucks. And that's something every child should learn for themselves.

My fear is that by pretend-blogging in their free time, they're seeing this life as a primary option, an end in itself, modeled by their dad, which will in some way limit their perspective when they weigh their options for their futures, leading them to make a series of bad choices that leaves them uneducated, unfulfilled and--worst of all--still living with me as adults.

I guess I could sit down with them and explain it to them, but really, I don't like to be interrupted while I'm blog-posting.

On the other hand, they also made paper versions of an XBox 360, which we don't have, so maybe it's just kids wasting paper because it's too fucking hot to play outside.

Either way, I've been sitting here doing this today for like a half hour, so... damage done. Sorry kids! Make sure you marry well!

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Where Have You Gone, Donny Most?
I've learned the hard way not to invest too much in heroes. Inevitably, they always disappoint.

It's an impulse of childhood, I suppose, to take regular people, apply a singular lack of perspective and then impose on them an impossible-to-maintain overlay of whatever virtue you prize most--honesty, integrity, strength, charisma, the ability to eat a whole live puppy, etc. Projecting forward then, it's a typical part of the maturing process when we see heroes for what they are: regular people who sometimes lie or cheat or insist on cooking the puppies before they eat them. The fantasy world of a child's lack of perspective is destroyed and replaced by the stark reality where people are, I think we can all agree, assholes.

And it's very hard to hero-worship an asshole.

I learned my lesson with Willie Aames. Eight is Enough. Charles in Charge. Tapped Heather Thomas in Zapped! White man with an Afro. And he wasn't even Jewish! Perfection as far as I was concerned.

I know, you're thinking: why venerate the second banana? Why not worship Scott Baio himself, the Lead Dog in this particular sad, sad pack?

It's a strong argument, but the decider for me was that Willie Aames did not carry the burden of the Chachi taint. That will forever haunt Mr. Baio while Willie Aames I could love unconditionally.

You dress like your hero, you talk like your hero, you pay lots of money to perm your hair so you can have a white-boy 'fro like your hero...

And then one day you're flipping channels and there he is, Willie Aames, talking to someone. Yes! Let the Aames comeback begin!

It's a one-on-one interview and they're talking and they're talking about... Jesus? Oh my God, Willie Aames is talking about Jesus! What's this now? Given up drugs and whores and booze? Now pimping his new project, the Christian kids' show "Bible Man"?

It sounds innocuous, but remember, I grew up to be a Democrat. We believe in nothing. We only approve of children's television if it is publicly funded and somehow manages to promote both literacy and communist homosexuality. Further, we hate all things to do with Christianity.

That day, Willie Aames was dead to me. I finally was able to leave childhood fully behind and embrace life completely as the America-hating baby-killing Christ-hater I've been told I should be. Thank you, New York Times.

As adults, we adopt heroes with a little more circumspection, a little more personal reserve and a lot more cynical flexibility. We expect our ballplayers to use steroids and our celebrities to be secretly gay Scientologits and our political leaders to be lying, corrupt, ideologically-shallow reeds in the wind of public opinion.

There is one person left in this world, however, for whom I retroactively reserve a little bit of that childish perspective-free veneration. Of course I'm talking about my man, Bill Clinton.

Clinton doesn't care about public opinion. If he cared about what people thought and spent all his time figuring out the political calculus of his actions, would he have let a tubby girl half his age blow him in his office while president? No, I think not.

Clinton was a full-grown adult during Watergate. He knew it wasn't the crime but the cover-up that gets you. But he didn't care. He lied about his oral-sexcapades anyway. Because he has integrity. He's his own man.

And just this week, even though Connecticut polls are showing voter rejection of Joe Lieberman because of his support for the Iraq war, Bill Clinton doesn't care. Public opinion might be swaying this way and that, but our Bill supports Joe. Why? Because he knows that the principle is what's important.

The principle here? Incumbency. Voters retain incumbents for Congress at rates exceeding 90%. So even though he might disagree with Joe on major issues, Bill Clinton knows Joe deserves to keep his job for the express and simple reason that it is his job.

You have to admire contrarian stands for the sake of an ideal. For this--for what he believes in--Bill Clinton has pulled out all the stops and come to Connecticut. He brings to this fight his full répertoire of personal and political skills. I don't want to scare Ned Lamont, but I've heard he's even brought his penis with him.

That's the kind of hero a grown-up can get behind. I'm not even sure Bible Man has a penis.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.0


Monday, July 24, 2006
Monday Lite: Champs Elysées

I would like to make a couple of points very briefly today about Floyd Landis' astonishing Tour de France victory:

1) I have never watched one single second of competitive cycling. You might think I'm lying, but remember how readily I admitted watching tons and tons of soccer. Do I really strike you as someone encumbered by shame?

2) My newspaper on the front page referred to the last stage of the race as a "largely ceremonial 95-mile ride." I would like to point out that since the invention of the steam engine, there is nothing either "ceremonial" or even "sensible" about riding one's bicycle 95 miles, for whatever purpose. If I ever have occasion to ride a bike 95 miles, there had better fucking well be a street full of people cheering when I get done, some free champagne, a medal, a check and an unlimited supply of soothing balm for my poor friction-destroyed giblets complete with an Amazonian spokesmodel willing to apply it for me.

3) Most astonishing of all: people are still naming their children "Floyd."

4) Floyd and his wife live in nearby Murrieta, here in Riverside County, which means two things a) I can expect wall-to-wall coverage of bicycle racing and its aftermath in my local paper for a fucking week and b) this heroic sports story's tragic coda will be when Floyd is so sad to return home to find that everyone in Murrieta is dead from heat stroke. Worst victory parade, ever.

Seriously, it's still hot.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.9


Sunday, July 23, 2006
Successor State
I am always impressed at the ingenuity of human beings. No, this is not another post in praise of the hair-cutting vacuum cleaner (although that deserves more posts because that fucking thing is awesome). This weekend, as we endured what has got to be the hottest three-day period of my entire life (all at 105º+) added together with some totally unnecessary monsoonal humidity up from Mexico, we're talking about some prime opportunities for some first-rate crotchal chafing. I'm happy to report I was able to take full advantage of that.

The oppressive heat got me to thinking about other things that are oppressive, mainly Iran. The connection is clear. I started wondering: how the fuck have people lived in hot-ass places like the Middle East for thousands of years and why in God's name for Pete's sake would they insist on staying?

The obvious answer to this and most of the world's current geopolitical crises is that the people who inhabit these places--not now, but the original settlers millennia in the past--must have been assholes. Nobody chooses to live in blistering hot deserts. You live there because a) you're been kicked out of everywhere else or b) you don't think the people chasing you would be stupid enough to follow you in there.

Incidentally, this is also the basic demographic mechanism by which the United States and Australia were peopled by non-aboriginals, so don't write me any e-mails about how I'm being all discriminatory toward Arabs. Besides, Iran is mostly Persians. If you're Persian or Australian, feel free to flame away. I can be reached via e-mail or you can just leave me comments here on the blog.

Whenever I get curious about something these days, I always turn to Wikipedia the Infallible, one-stop shopping for all the world's completely incontrovertible truth.

What I found was that although the original settlers of places like Iran might have been assholes, they as a people adapted rather quickly and impressively.

I found out that they were able to keep ice solid all year round, including during the hot-ass Persian summer around 2,500 years ago. Isn't that amazing?! Were you aware of it? I was not aware of it!

"...a large underground space (up to 5000 m³) that had thick walls (at least two meters at the base) made out of a special mortar called sārooj, composed of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash in specific proportions, and which was resistant to heat transfer..."

Astounding. And all this time I've been using that same recipe for my home-made sunblock/chicken-wing marinade.

These rooms when paired with chimney-like "windcatchers" could keep temperatures on lower floors at or around freezing.

Right after this remarkable achievement in architectural technology was implemented, alas, the Persians were conquered by Alexander the Great. They've struggled ever since. What is Iran best known for today? Nuclear-rogue-nation status and support for Hezbollah. Just goes to show you, refrigeration can be dangerous, historico-politically speaking.

It can also be a bitch demographically speaking as after some smart fucker figured out mechanical refrigeration, the idea was adapted to create air conditioning, which led people to live in places that might on occasion reach temperatures that most thermometers report as "hot as balls."

Riverside this weekend was just such a place.

Our reliance on technology sometimes comes back to bite us in the ass, however. Instead of the enduring, cautious, symbiotic type of technology the ancient Persians relied on, designed their homes and thus expressed as a most basic outward shape of their culture as structures, we like our complex machines propelled by the gnomish magic of electricity with all the funny parts that whir and spin and delight the simple.

The problem is that such machines--unlike whole houses or buildings built with environmental survival in mind--can fucking break for no goddamn reason.

That's what my air conditioner did on Saturday in the middle of the day. It was just, in my official diagnostical account at the time, "fucking broke." Did I mention it was 107º that day with like 80% Mexican monsoonal goddamn humidity? Well it was.

What I wouldn't have given to be ancient-Persian that day. And sweating all fucking day and night will give you a tiny little glimpse into the cranky mindset of your average Hezbollah guerrilla. Maybe they want to liberate the Palestinian people by pushing Israel into the sea or maybe it's July and they're just tired of being goddamn hot.

We Americans and our electric marvels are no good at adapting when our thaumaturgic shield of animated circuits and gears goes tits-up. But there are ways of adapting.

I found one, I'm proud to say. I encourage all of you to try it as it proved most effective for me. Listen closely now and learn something.

Step #1: be related to someone who works in the heating/air-conditioning repair field.

That's really the whole plan right there in one step. Worked a charm. I did have to pay for parts and buy a breakfast, but it turns out that that's slightly cheaper than a whole new a/c unit.

You can make this plan a reality as well. It may seem like it's too late to be related to someone who does a/c repair if you're not already, but I figure all you need is a time machine, some basic career-counseling skills and the iron stomach needed to coax, suggest or even outright intervene in the mechanics of familial production amongst your relatives and you're golden. Me, I went with the be-from-a-giant-ass-Irish-Catholic-family route.

I have nearly 30 cousins. Just on my mom's side. Sure, some (OK, most) are only really useful if I want to know where to score some really ace weed on short notice, but some--I know for sure now--are good for more practical things. I'm writing up his Wikipedia entry immediately following this broadcast.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.7


Friday, July 21, 2006
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #37

The Lady in the Water

starring Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, M. Night Shyamalan(!)

directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village)

written by M. Night Shyamalan

catering by M. Night Shyamalan

props, lighting, costumes, set-construction, Giamatti scalp massage by M. Night Shyamalan

An M. Night Shyamalan Production

Back in the early days of both the internets and my career as a Failed Writer, I used to belong to this online writing workshop thing hosted by Del Rey books.

I'm going to get right out in front of this one and admit that Del Rey prints science fiction and fantasy novels. I was interested in that at the time. Yes, I am a dork. No, I've never worn prosthetic pointy ears (at least not in a non-bedroom setting, winky winky), no I've never been to a fan convention of ANY KIND, no I do not knit my own chain-mail out of silver-spray-painted yarn or build my own helmets out of cardboard. Seriously, there are sites you can order that stuff from.

Ha, I kid. I am a geek, but I have limits. Most of them involve contact with other geeks as a group. To me, squatting in a field of a summer afternoon dressed in fake armor so that me and my trusty cohort of chaotic-neutral paladins might ambush an oncoming band of fat people in orc make-up is not a recipe for a good time. First of all, I don't like to be hot. Secondly, I like my social groups to include at least one girl. Thirdly, I know it's make-believe, but you start swinging weapons around like that and someone could die. Most likely from an asthma attack. Not a robust group as a rule, your typical Live Action Role Players.

Anyway, I've said it here before, but the first grown-up book I ever read (pages in the hundreds, standard-size type, no pictures, descriptions of heads being chopped off, etc.) was The Fellowship of the Ring. Shortly thereafter I decided I was going to be JRR Tolkien. Or a fireman. But remember from above, I don't like to be hot. So the Tolkien thing stuck with me. I immediately started wearing tweed and smoking a pipe. Mom was not pleased.

That's how I found myself at this Del Rey writer's workshop. Eventually they got wise and started charging for the privilege, so I stopped going. But what I did while I was there was a) submit your own writing samples b) review OTHER people's writing samples and c) wait for the big fat checks to start rolling in.

Somehow my obvious genius went largely unrecognized, but I did get the opportunity to read a couple of good things by other people, in progress, and a whole lot of ABSOLUTE SHIT BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO BUSINESS TRYING TO WRITE. Man, I've been holding on to that for like 7 or 8 years. Felt good to finally say.

The forum had some guidelines, like warning people about adult content (the amount of dwarf/elf sex going on was disturbing), use proper grammar and punctuation, show-don't-tell, avoid clichés, etc.

Further, as a stylistic point, they SPECIFICALLY DISALLOWED certain plots as played out, overdone, amateurish and uninteresting. There were three, and I remember this specifically. I am not making these up.

1) Protagonist walks into a antique store/curio shop run by an odd little old man and unknowingly buys something... magical!

2) Private detective story for fantasy/fairy tale creatures.

3) Stories where at the end, it is revealed that the main character has been dead the whole time!

People don't understand why I didn't love The Sixth Sense. Sure, it was stylistically very strong, high production values, great acting, some genuinely scary/disturbing stuff in it, but in the end, the giant "plot twist" is something that amateur writers get made fun of for.

Not saying I saw it coming, not saying it wasn't well done, not saying I didn't run from all the tow-headed 8-year-old boys I'd see on the street for months after, I'm just saying I wasn't necessarily on the "M. Night Shyamalan is a genius!" bandwagon from Day 1.

First of all, the guy's name is Manoj. I know a couple of people (honestly I do) named Manoj. It's not a bad name. Sure, in English it kind of sounds like Foghorn Leghorn saying "My nose!", but that's OK. Most kids don't even know who Foghorn Leghorn is and further, as far as I could tell, he had no nose.

Manoj renamed himself "Night" because... well, I can't think of a single good earthly reason for it. I do suspect it has to do with Live Action Role Playing. You can't have a Level 27 Neutral Good Half-Orc Thief named "Manoj." Seriously, try it in a sentence: "Manoj puts on his +4 Dexterity Gloves of Kleptomancy!" It sounds stupid. Now substitute "Night" for "Manoj" and... yeah, OK, it's still stupid, but at least it's thematically consistent.

I really loved Unbreakable. Signs I saw and couldn't tell you a single thing about it. It's all just gone from my memory. The Village I couldn't watch because it was all so affected and puffed up.

The Lady in the Water he wrote for Disney. He insisted it was great. Disney thought it sucked. So he walked out in a huff and got it made over at Warner Bros. Now the critics have seen it and the verdict is unanimous: it sucks!

Here, let me share one plot point with you and see how you feel about it afterward: this magical creature named Story is sent out amongst people so she can inspire a writer to write a story (!) that will one day save the world. The magical creature is played by Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron's daughter. Fine.

The writer whose story will save the world is played by M. Night Shyamalan.

I may sound funny to say after so many words committed to it, but I refuse to talk about this shit any more.

Manoj gets:
ZERO (out of Three) on the Hot Babysitter Scale. The Dreaded Andrew Shue.

Go see Clerks II instead. No Paul Giamatti or Jeffrey Wright, but it's not about Silent Bob saving the fucking world either.


Thursday, July 20, 2006
In Media Res
So anyway, last night, for Mrs. Pops' birthday, we hit the World's Greatest Mexican Fast Food Place. I know, you're thinking "Whoa, fast food on her birthday. How does she ever keep her hands off you?" The answer is a) she doesn't, b) if you don't understsand the cultural caché of Miguel's Jr., that's your loss and c) it is a restaurant in which nothing is breakable by my children. Plastic furniture, paper cups, plastic forks and knives. We can be reasonably sure that when we eat fast food, nobody dies. Well, not immediately. The latent middle-age heart disease is non-negotiable.

She got off work late last night. As we're enjoying our meal, I start to worry that I'm letting my wife's birthday cut into my precious and necessary TV watching time (Tropical Storm Beryl on The Weather Channel! These things do not track themselves, people), so I check my cellphone for the time.

At first I was very confused. Where the time should have been there was this weird bar-looking thing with some letters on it. It read "Voice Mail." I looked up and counted the people around the table. Yep, five. Everyone I knew or who would deign speak to me was there in my immediate presence. So really it was very nearly a scientific certainty that I should not have been receiving any so-called "voice mail." Unless maybe it was from Jesus.

It took me a few minutes to figure out how to operate and navigate this "voice mail" business, but when I did, it sounded something like this:

[A woman's voice] "Hi, Korvath! It's been a long time, just thought I'd call and see what's going on. I'm having a little get-together tonight and I was hoping you could come by. You don't have a girlfriend do you, because I was hoping we could hook up. If you do, don't bother coming. I hope to see you soon. Call me. 926-43[GARBLEDY-GARBLEDY]. Byeee!"

This was clearly not from Jesus.

As a married man, in many respects, my first mission in life is not to become a Divorced Man. Divorced Men are sad people who do things no grown man should do like color their hair and drive Jettas. I can't afford a Jetta so I--ashen-faced, aback-taken--immediately hand the phone to my wife and make her listen to it.

At first she looked confused, concerned. Then when it was all over, she laughed at me. At first I had been so desperate to make sure she knew about it so there would be no misunderstanding, but then after being mocked, I immediately switched to "Hey, it's not IMPOSSIBLE that I could get a booty call."

She thought that was adorable.

Sadly, she knows I have no slutty ex-girlfriends. She also knows I've only ever had two cellphone numbers in my life, both of which were acquired WITH her at the same time. So I'm probably not lurking in the back of anyone's whorish little black book.

The question is: wrong number? Some kind of sex-chat-line stealth advertising? I can't call back and check because the number was inaudible at the end. Just to be safe, I'm going to be calling lots of locally based sex-chat lines and asking many, many probing questions about their advertising practices, the ethics of voice mail spamming and if they have anyone there who can do a Scottish accent. The girl in the voice mail didn't have one, but my God, those are hot.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.975


Wednesday, July 19, 2006
A Present For My Gay Male Readership And For Someone Else Who's Name Just Now Escapes Me...
I have a pretty good marriage. I know this to be true because me and some of my housewife friends all took "Do You Have A Red-Hot Marriage?!" quiz in this month's Cosmo and I scored the highest. I didn't get the highest rating on the quiz ("¡Muy Calienté!"), but I did get the second highest ("Hot-Cha-Cha!") which is a respectable showing. Poor Melinda from two doors over, not only did she score the lowest in our group ("Polar Bear's Tits!"), but it also suddenly dawned on her that her husband is gay. It sounds bad, but it was something of a relief to the rest of us. I mean come on, the man has three gym memberships and he drives a scooter. Wake up, Melinda.

As a Cosmo-approved expert, I feel justified sharing with you all the secrets of a good marriage. It sounds trite, but the central pillar of any good marriage is compromise. That's right, straight out of Ann Landers or some shit, but it's so true. I'm not just talking about compromise in the sense of negotiated give and take, I'm talking about compromise in the sense of "weakening" or "undermining". In order to remain married for any length of time, you have to be willing to compromise your sense of ambition, your personal worth, your integrity and even--when the mood strikes your spouse (and it will) to "spice things up" with a trapeze in your bedroom--your personal safety. The goal of any good marriage is to make it to the end, maybe a little bit of a beaten down shell of your former self, but with the calming satisfaction of knowing that the other sucker died first.

Ha, no, I kid. Actually, negotiation and compromise take place all the time without even realizing it. For instance, I like to watch me some soccer. I do, I enjoy it. Maybe you've heard. Anyway, you know who else likes to watch soccer? Mrs. Pops. She does. Score for me, right?

Well, she does like to watch soccer, but the unspoken negotiation--the compromise--is that I must accept that her motivations for watching the game are slightly different from mine. I like the pace and the skill and the artistry of the sport. She likes sweaty guys in really good shape running around in front of her for 90 minutes, at the end of which they typically take their shirts off.

In the course of the recently-completed World Cup 2006, I got out of it lots of hours of soccer-watching (and kid-neglecting, which I'm always doing anyway) and she got... well, I can only show you.

Let me set the scene first: we're watching an early-round match together, pretty typical stuff when all of a sudden, Mrs. Pops audibly gasps. With zero regard for the fragile tissue-sculpture that is my doughy, non-washboard-ab ego, she grips my arm and says breathlessly "Who is that?"

"That" was Portuguese and Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo.

I tried my best to fight back. I told her he was born in 1985. At first she went "Ewww!" and kind of laughed it off, but then she did some quick math and went "Ooohh..." Twenty-one this year, our Cristiano Ronaldo. Legal in all countries.

If you'll remember last year on this date, I told you it was Mrs. Pops' birthday--as it is again today, coincidentally--and favored you with some pictures of her then-inappropriate-obsession, another soccer player, USA's Landon Donovan. Her tastes seem to have broadened as Mr. Donovan is now, sadly, old news as my wife develops a hankerin' for some spicy Mediterranean.

Here's maybe a little more of him than she would want to see...

...or is it?!

I know, you're probably asking yourself: "Pops, why do you do this? Aren't you threatened by this?"

To that I must answer: Ha! Yeah, a little.

I mean NO! No, not at all. And why not? Because I also have this picture:

Look, he cries. He is no threat to me. My wife knows full well that I don't cry. That's because I'm a real man. Real men are dead inside, emotionally. There's nothing this Cristiano Ronaldo has that I can't offer my wife.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have crunches to do.

Happy birthday, lady.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


Tuesday, July 18, 2006
For those of you who only know me from this wildly popular online endeavor, not everything I do is always an unqualified, world-dominating, groupie-creating success. No, I mean it. I'm serious. Stop it, it's true.

For instance, it's probably best that my Li'l Tykes Home Hot Wax kit never caught on, I guess. If people want their pre-pubescent kids to walk around with all that disgusting fuzzy hair all over their arms and legs, fine, we don't need each other. Setting aside the obvious health benefits, the immediate improvement of personal aero- and hydro-dynamics would have been well worth the risk of scalding or melted flesh easily. But whatever, keep your skin non-burnt and raise a whole generation of lice-prone wildebeests and laggardly swimmers. I was only trying to help.

In that case my stumbling block had to do with a backward-ass anti-hygiene marketplace and some old guard dinosaurs at the Consumer Products Safety Commission. All that fancy talk is just another name for The Man.

The Man has been my enemy for a good long time. Always getting in my way, always one step ahead, swinging the full weight of both government and society to keep a brother down. And me too. I'm living proof that you don't have to be born African-American to feel The Man's foot in your ass.

The Man comes at me from all directions, usually with one hand in my pocket. The Man wants his property taxes, his home owner's association dues, his private school tuition for my kids, his country club greens fees... how much more can I give? You can only oppress me so much before I push back.

The Man isn't always government, though, no. The Man can be anyone with enough influence to squash your dreams and keep you from getting ahead.

In fact, "The Man" doesn't even have to be a man. The Man can be a chick. That raises some complicated gender and sexuality issues, but that's OK because it's all in-line with the point I'm about to make.

Sometimes The Man can be Oprah Winfrey. Not just any Oprah; I mean Big Not Gay Oprah.

Yesterday Oprah came out (so to speak) and publicly stated that she and her best pal Gayle are not regularly slamming clams.

So Oprah doesn't eat at the Y. Big deal, right? This is the same kind of celebrity non-news news that once led baseball player Mike Piazza to call a press conference in order to announce he was NOT gay or the one time (and this is true) that Entertainment Tonight's lead story (the lead story) was that Madonna was not pregnant.

But what does all this have to do with me and my troubles with The Man?

Well, isn't it all coincidental that Oprah goes public announcing she's not gay right when I've finally got my first manuscript prepped and out to literary agents of Oprah/Gayle femslash.

All those years back in the pre-internet days of writing Oprah/Gayle stories in pink ink on spiral notebooks, devising scenarios, making up the details of what lesbian sex might look like (my discovery, several years later, of the existence of the strap-on solved some, if not all, of the logistical questions I had... before this, I usually had to fall back on the timely and propitious arrival of a unicorn on the scene just as things were heating up), eyes watering, hands cramping... but it was all worth it.

Or at least I thought. I finished my first in a proposed series of Oprah/Gayle getting it on at or near famous Chicago landmarks. My limited knowledge of Chicagoland, I admit, was something of an obstacle (so far all I've got is Oprah/Gayle: The Turf at Wrigley Field and Oprah/Gayle Ignore the Sears Tower), but that was my only difficulty.

Until now. Now Oprah has tried to pre-emptively squash my life's dream with her public expression of non-gayness.

Fine. Destroy me. Throw your weight around at the expense of the little guy. Keep all the money for yourself. But know this, Oprah: you may have overplayed your hand. You have now definitively handed the Gay Daytime Talk Show crown to Ellen DeGeneres, unopposed.

Wait, no, I guess that's not quite true. It's down to Ellen and Maury Povich. Married to Connie Chung? Please. Adopted kids are a dead give-away.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.8


Monday, July 17, 2006
Monday Lite: In The Salon Of Mlle de Lespinasse, Paris, 1771
I am ultimately a hopeful person. I see the glass as half full. Of cyanide-laced water. Not the regular cyanide concentrations you get in regular American tap-water either, I mean the old timey black-and-white thriller levels of instant-death-by-overacting cyanide water.

The point is I don't see the glass as half empty. Those people are such cynics.

Despite my hopeless anti-American liberalism (and make no mistake, I can't fucking stomach apple pie), I always reserved a slight little sliver of hope in the back of my mind that George Bush just doesn't like to talk in public. I cut him some slack because I don't like to talk in public either. I know what it is to feel like death doesn't sound like such a bad option because all the eyes are staring at you as you talk what you have come to realize in that very public instance is total bullshit. The only upside is that after your speech, people encourage you in a slightly-too-loud voice, tousle your hair and give you candy because they assume you're mentally retarded. Which isn't all bad because I enjoy candy.

Since he's the president and all, I'd reserved that last little benefit of the doubt for GW Bush: he's just scared, the poor kitten. He sounds like a dumbass in front of reporters, but behind the scenes, he's more plugged in, more probing, more subtly engaged. I mean, he'd almost have to be... right?

Like all other bloggers, I found the story about the surreptitious broadcast of a private conversation between Bush and Tony Blair a point of fascination. Finally, at last, a glimpse inside; unguarded candor away from the glare of the microphones.

Seriously, have you seen some of the microphones those press people use? Way too shiny.

What we got was Bush summing up the Israel-Hezbollah conflict thus: ""See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."

I couldn't believe it when I read it. Yes, it's a gross oversimplification. Yes, he says a naughty word. But my God... to misuse the word "irony" so... well, it just makes me sad.

Of course irony is context specific, but I'm having a hard time figuring out a context where Syrian intervention with regard to Hezbollah is "ironic" rather than an observation about a course of action.

My last bits of reservation about the man have been swept away. To misuse our English language like that, and in private... I have nothing left. The glass is completely empty.

His further remarks about "bastard commie Jews" and "motherfucking foreigners" I thought were a further step too far.

And then, just to make it worse, he finished his conversation with Mr. Blair with the following: ""I'm not going to talk too long like the rest of them. Some of these guys talk too long. Gotta go home. Got something to do tonight."

The First Lady takes one more for the team. Poor, poor Laura.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.0


Sunday, July 16, 2006
Sammy Hagar, August 2nd!
Finally, finally, finally, it looks as though things will be completely back to normal here in the Bucket for the foreseeable future.

World Cup? Over.

Mrs. Pops' vacation? Over.

Enforced weeklong visitation by an armed ATF agent to investigate charges that I was living in violation of my parole? As of today, over.

Well, that last one is almost totally over. To wrap it all up, I'm supposed to say in a public place that explosives of any kind are dangerous and should not be handled by non-licensed people in any non-professional context. And also that purchase or possession of explosives of any kind intended to be used in the commission of a crime is a felony that can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison. And also, just because you have an idea that is extremely funny, that doesn't mean that said idea is not also against the law. Also, kids, stay in school.

There. I guess I just fulfilled that part. Small though my readership is (numerically I mean; I assume most of you are quite impressive physically), this space still technically counts as public. So now I'm free and clear.

You have your Pops back, without distraction.

At last I can get back to talking about things that are important to both you (the collective "you" for which there is in English no simple pronoun like the French vous) and we (the collective royal We, by which I mean Me, an archaic pronoun usage reserved for royalty, myself and the kind of crazy homeless people who make themselves crowns out of their own feces).

So today, this happy Sunday, I'm here to talk about... um... I... er...

How the fuck did I do this six days a week?

So... um... this weekend I... uh...

OH! One-oh-eight.

If you were wondering what I did this weekend, it was a hundred and eight degrees in Riverside on Saturday I heard. 108. Celcius I'm pretty sure.

And what did we do Saturday night? Indian casino.

When you think of the southwest US and you think of Indian reservations, naturally you think of somewhere you'd desperately want to be on a day when the lands occupied by the white-man are so hot the ground is intermittently phasing directly from solid to a gas.

Further, I don't like to gamble or drink (exceptions: cock fights, absinthe), so a casino seems like about the right place for me to be so that I might achieve the least amount of entertainment possible. My sister cajoled/lied/dragged me into going, but I was proud of myself: in the 4 hours we were there, I spent a total of $8. They have nickel slot machines there, you know. My sister apologized for making me go. It was the most passive-aggressive $8 I ever spent.

The good news was that the super-fantastic Pechanga Resort and Casino is a full-sized Vegas-style casino complete with deafening rows of money-stealing sensory overload machines and third-hand smoke by the metric tonne. Seeing the American Indians of the Greater Temecula Area thrive like that after so many years of suffering and deprivation did my liberal-guilt-tainted heart good. As we left, I felt the shackles of 500 years of white-man oppression-inspired self-loathing melt away. I turned back to the air-conditioned splendor of the main casino before I walked away, gave it one of them Antonin Scalia fingers-under-the-chin gestures, spat on the ground and said: "I'm done with you people! Probably just spend it all on fire-water!" and left, just as soon as the nice men were done punching me in the kidneys. Who knew there'd be so many natives in earshot?

It's good to be back.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9


Thursday, July 13, 2006
I Declare This Space Held
OK, so I wasn't going to post anything, but I have about 5 minutes free, so here I am. I feel bad because I'm not going to be able to post tomorrow either and I know how fickle you people can be. I miss too many days and you're off being bored by somebody else's non-funny blog on a daily basis.

I wanted to just post a picture. I tried "old stripper" in Google to find something in line with my Pants Off Dance Off post, but the results were... disturbing. Mostly to do with refinishing cabinets.

Then I tried "monkey jesus" just to see what I would get. Too scary.

So I've settled on the following.

While I am away tomorrow, I leave you all in the capable hands of Delroy Lindo.

Things were going so well for Delroy. Get Shorty, Cider House Blues, Ransom, Crooklyn, Malcolm X... the he was in The Core and it all went to shit.

The comeback starts here. He deserves it. The man can wear the hell out of a suit.

Hey, is that Jeffrey Tambor in the background? Let him be your guide on the Comeback Trail, D. Arrested Development was the bomb, yo.

Go get 'em, Delroy.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006
The Revisioning
I'm not going to complain about my limited time anymore because all of us have limited time. Sure, I wish it were only the name of Morris Day's backup band, but alas, it's this real thing that keeps moving forward, distracting and pushing us into activities that are clearly less vitally important to the world than keeping our blog current.

But time is something I'd wish more people would consider when they contemplate the remaking of a film.

I think it's clear by the ongoing Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing series that the 1987 Elisabeth Shue magnum opus Adventures in Babysitting holds a special place close to my... let's say "heart."

I was 13 when that movie came out. Those newly awakened feelings of hyperventilating, squirming lust for a barely-teenaged male are about as much fun as a panic attack. But they tend to stick with you, as any unexpected trauma will. That film--innocent though it is--destroyed what little innocence was left in me. I remember sitting on a curb talking to my fellow street-hustlers later that week and they said they could see a change in me.

And now our friends at Disney want to remake Adventures in Babysitting starring Raven-Symone.

Look, I like Raven-Symone fine. She was fine when she was hired to replace Rudy when Rudy got too old to be cute on The Cosby Show. She's fine on her Disney Channel show That's So Raven. Oh, the comic misadventures of that poor, psychic girl...

But Raven-Symone, the little girl with the porn-star name, for all her gifts, is NOT Elisabeth Shue. This move amounts to sacrilege. The main problem is that this girl was born in 1985. I said 1985. Sure, she's legal and all, but I'm 32. I just won't be able to appreciate this film in nearly the same exhilarating, terrifying way I appreciated the first one.

When would the right time be to remake Adventures in Babysitting? I say at least have the decency to wait until Ms. Shue is dead. Spare the poor girl reprising her role the torture and humiliation of being compared to perfection, against which she can only fail.

Also, by then (God willing) I will be old and decrepit, my once-youthful vigor lost in a sea of pruney, sagging flesh and malfunctioning organs. Then I can watch a movie like that and enjoy it with the kind of age-based sexual inappropriateness the film and my memory (assuming it still operates) deserve.

My main problem is that this is clearly Disney's attempt to control this blog. If they think I'm changing the face of the Hot Babysitter Scale, they've got another thing coming. This blog is about nothing if not my personal integrity.

Unless there's some kind of stipend involved.

Call me.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.9


PS- Probably no Bucket tomorrow. You are warned.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Earth In The Balance
I don't have nearly as much time as I'd like. The ATF agent/caseworker I have staying at my house "observing" this week is convinced that my blog is loaded with secret messages and double-talk that LOOK like I'm talking about Angelina Jolie's hoo-ha but are really detailed instructions on how to make a bomb out of lemons and SoftScrub, which is stupid because everyone knows SoftScrub already HAS lemony goodness in it. Now lemons and Clorox, well, that's a different story...

He'll be busy for the next few minutes so I can blog. I know he won't bother me because I set him up on my laptop where I "accidentally" left the web browser open to the page for the Fuse TV show Pants Off Dance Off. No human being can resist the appeal. At least not a first.

See, it's this show where "regular people" volunteer to stand in front of a green screen on which music videos will be superimposed. Then said people will dance and COMPLETELY REMOVE ALL THEIR CLOTHES while dancing, stripper style.

First of all: Fuse comes to us from Canada originally. Who knew the Canadians were so disgustingly depraved? I feel better about the world.

Secondly, I know, "regular people" stripping sounds like a fun, sexy time for us, but really we should consider two sub-points to this already second point: a) some of these "regular people" list things like "porn actor" in their personality profile while others dance sort of like... well, let's just say their routine might look a little awkward only because they're used to performing with a stationary steel pole... what I'm saying is I don't know how "regular" some of these people are and b) regular people include people who look like this:

and this:

This just goes to reinforce my general point, really the basis of the philosophy that shapes and informs the very core of who I am as a person: "regular people" should never, EVER take their clothes off. I know I don't. I might take off a layer or two when I shower, but in the back of my mind, I'm always thinking of the good of mankind as a whole. That's why I haven't been totally naked since 1991.

But then I'm a humanitarian. I'm concerned with how my actions affect those around me. The potential cosmic consequences of full Popsian nudity are just too frightening to contemplate, historically, epistemologically, even meteorologically. One time I took off a hat I was wearing and a water-spout instantly formed. I immediately put the hat back on and it dissipated. I saved several boater's lives that day.

But that's me. I'm aware. I give. I sacrifice. And that's what I want all of you to tell the guy in charge of my parole review when he e-mails you.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.1


Sunday, July 09, 2006
No, Euros, it's not September 7th! It's July 9th!

Havana cigars for the guys! Pashmina shawls for the ladies! It's the Bucket's Second Birthday! Wheee!

Actually I haven't bought any of you anything, but know that if I were so inclined, I would totally have no hesitation buying you all things you thought were the two above named items but were instead clumsy knockoffs I had rolled and/or woven by the Guatemalans who live in my attic. It would be the thought that counted and the thought would be: I hope none of you are smart enough to know the difference between tobacco and construction paper.

Yes, our relationship over these past two years has grown and grown until now we're all like family: all boiling passive-aggression passed back and forth while we try to pretend to enjoy Grandma's awful peaches-and-beets cobbler. We wouldn't have anything to bond over if it weren't for "Seriously, who the fuck puts beets in a cobbler?"

I guess the analogy doesn't really work because all of you who are familiar with the comments section here know the aggression is fairly active and the beets in the cobbler, well, that could be anything, starting with Brad Pitt's dick.

I applauded myself for leaving you all with a mental image of a baked dessert made out of Brad Pitt's dick, but I just know some of you aren't nearly as disgusted as you should be.

I complain a lot in this blog, but really, the existence of the Bucket has been nothing but a boon for me. It has brought great joy and happiness and undreamed-of heights of personal and professional success for me, for all of which I am grateful. I don't like to brag so I haven't talked about all of it openly, but since it's a special occasion, I'll lift the veil of secrecy for a moment and list some of the great good things the Bucket has brought me over these glorious 24 months:

  • A lucrative new web-advertising campaign with the Cialis people (look for the ad in the sidebar next week!)

  • Walk-on non-speaking roles in several Hollywood TV pilots (none of which were picked up) including Woody Harrelson's Our Mayor the Sheepdog, John Larroquette's Wacky Count Dracky and the NBC gameshow The Testicle Mallet

  • A regular magazine column (thanks, Redbook!)

  • Clear skin

  • My enduring lifelong friendship with Nicole Richie

  • The support of the good people at Shetland Rescue, without whom I wouldn't have my very own slightly injured, PTSD-afflicted Shetland pony today. And how could I live without my Li'l Lightnin'?

  • The love of all my beloved readers and commenters. Don't think I don't see you out there, lurkers and stalkers! The paperwork for the TROs is in the mail as we speak!

    All this... it's almost too much for one man. And it cost me almost nothing. Only one bleeding ulcer, 3/4 of my marriage and more than half of my immortal soul. I should be arrested for stealing!

    Seriously, I can't stop taking things. Somebody stop me. I'm begging you.

    Really on this inauspicious occasion, I would like to announce some major changes as I overhaul the Bucket to align with the present blog reality. In the near future, look for:

  • More boner-related discussion as stipulated by my friends, the Cialis people.

  • A more Pops-friendly publishing schedule. Say, twice a week instead of the inhuman six I currently support.

  • A registration requirement before commenting. Sorry, but I'm just no longer comfortable not knowing where you all live and what your home phone numbers are.

  • A total cessation of all non-family-friendly material and swearing. It makes the Baby Jesus cry.

  • A regular feature about my ongoing process of converting to Orthodox Judaism. That thing about the Baby Jesus above is just, you know, keeping my bases covered.

    Change is growth and without growth, we die. It's like Morgan Freeman said in The Shawshank Redemption (you can see it RIGHT NOW on TBS, go check!): "The worst part about prison life has got to be hands-down the forced sodomy."

    There's a lot of truth in that. He also said: "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'." I intend to get busy livin'. FOREVER. But immortality comes at a price. Usually, it's just your soul. But who needs that crap anyway? And you can take my conscience with you while you're at it. Inconvenient bastard cricket wearing a tophat.

    Really what this post is all about is an affirmation of what the Bucket is, has been and will continue to be built upon, for these past two years and the years to come: lies.

    I'm a huge fan.

    All lies aside for a second, I will say that I love you all.

    I do.

    No, I do. I'm serious.

    OK, don't believe me. Fuck you.

    This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


    PS-Two years, 639 posts, nearly 93,000 visitors. Holy fuck. I know it's still small-time in blog terms, but it's sure more than I ever got out of my Hello Kitty diary. But then I could also scrapbook in that, so it wasn't totally useless. And of course by "scrapbook," I mean "masturbate."

    PPS- Out of town houseguest starting tomorrow. Sporadic posting may follow this week. You have been warned.

    I got busy last week and totally spared you all of reading about soccer. For me, the final can be summed up in one picture:

    Zidane walks off after receiving his red-card for being a fucking dumbass and as just punishment he has to walk past the trophy he must know he will never hold again on his way out of the stadium. Fucking brutal.

    Of course as an America-hating liberal collaborationist, I was totally rooting for France. My stupid fucker of a DVR cut out the whole goddamn 30 minute overtime, so I didn't actually see the Zidane incident live, but I saw the penalty kicks and enough on replays to make me sad. Yes, Italy gave us pasta (modified from the Chinese recipe) and Sophia Loren, but they also give us crap lay-back-and-wait soccer that makes me want to strangle my TV. They should have lost to Australia four rounds ago. I hate sports. I'm never watching any again.

  • |
    Friday, July 07, 2006
    Readers' Indigestion
    Friday again. I'd like very much to break out a new "Movies I Have No Intention of Seeing" this week, but that new Pirates of the Caribbean flick is kind of sucking all the air out of the weekend. Since it's one of those big-ass movies that I normally manage to eventually see, I'm not going to bother with it. Needless to say, Keira Knightley... too skinny. There. Now I'm in line with what every other blog in the whole wide world has said about that film.

    Instead of reviewing movies I have not seen, this week I've decided to grace the Bucket with something special. As a Failed Writer, I've got lots of projects started and abandoned in various stages of completion, all dropped as I realized a) they sucked, b) I'd painted myself into a narrative corner from which there is no escape by, say for example, killing off the protagonist less than half way through or c) I remembered, OH YES! Only talentless hacks get published and make money at this. Real artists suffer in obscurity only to have their genius recognized after their death because life is so ha ha funny that way.

    In order for me to be recognized after I'm dead, I have to have something out there for people to posthumously appreciate, so I share with you and with all posterity today, an excerpt. A sample. An amuse bouche if you will of the cornucopia of the Pops Oeuvre: a staggering half-cooked seven-course meal, the squishy aroma of which evinces the potent, combined power of ADD, personal laziness and crippling self-doubt.

    I have started and abandoned several projects. As an historian by training, many of them have an historical sort of bent to them. Today's excerpt is from one of my less ambitious projects, a happy meeting of my triple passions of history, sailing and pastry. It is the fictionalized version of an old wives' tale that might have been a true story.

    I give you now a glimpse of the inside of my head. Not literally, but if I run out of stuff to say next week, look for that too.

    What follows is taken from the intricately researched yet unfinished historical novel:

    The Nautical Doughnut

    by Korvath Ganymede Macleish Horrington III

    Chapter the First: Rum, Sodomy, Snack-food and the Lash

    The North Sea. Summer, 1807.

    It was a dark night and also stormy. The sky was rumbly and dark, covered with clouds that were so dark and ink-like that one might call them inky. The sea also was dark and not unlike ink. Although had one dipped a pen equipped for ink writing into either, nothing could be written with that pen because the sky and water are not actually ink, even though they could be described as not unlike that substance. Ink, I mean. Because they were dark which ink is also. On that night, however, one could sit down with a pen and write legibly in pure fear. There was a lot of fear.

    The Danish royal ship-of-the-line, KMD Hlrvgrnbjørngë, pitched and rolled across the dark and wavy water that was both dark and full of waves because of the storminess. Her massive hull creaked as it strained to hold together against the battering it received from the angry, angry sea.

    On the deck of the ship was one of those steering wheel thingies with the handles on them that controlled the way the ship went. Behind that wheel, straining to impose his will on both vessel and the god of waters, Captain Hanson Gregory stood uneasily. He blinked his wooden eye, adjusted the patch on his shoulder and steadied himself on his one good leg. The other he had lost in battle with the British and was replaced by a parrot. The part below the knee anyway.

    "Brace us, Polly, brace us! The sea is angry tonight and also inky!" Captain Gregory shouted at his parrot leg above the din of exploding water.

    "Ja," said Polly, for he was a Danish parrot after all. Also: "Sqwak!" Some words are universally parrot.

    Captain Gregory let go of the wheel with one hand for as long as he dared so that he might ring the bell next to him. The bell rang all the time anyway what with the wind and all the storm-type movement, but somehow the crew always knew when it was the captain ringing.

    A door slammed open behind the captain. Out into the rainy darkness vomited Lieutenant Fourth-Class Grfbjörn Kjörtlnuñez, a scrawny admiral's son with vertigo and a chronic inner-ear infection.

    The injury that had left Captain Gregory with a wooden eye had also damaged the part of his brain that remembered people's names. He tended to call everyone "Stinky."

    "Stinky!" shouted the captain. Lt. Kjörtlnuñez hung in the doorway, clutching the frame, unable to move, praying the wind wouldn't blow the door shut with any force and crush his fingers. Again. Also, he vomited.

    "Any sight of British ships, lad?" the Captain shouted.

    "None as yet, sir!" the lieutenant answered between dry heaves. "But nobody's really watching, to be honest."

    "Sqwak!" Polly rebuked as his tiny bird skull dug into the floorboards of the deck to steady the captain.

    "Very good, very good!" the Captain shouted. "And the state of the ship?"

    Lt. Kjörtlnuñez had to catch himself as he slipped on a slick of rain, seawater and his own vomit. "Seems to be floating still, sir. Except..."

    "Yes? Except what?"

    "They're out of mai-tais on the Lido deck, sir. Something of a mutiny brewing."

    "Well, that is a puzzle," the Captain said, scratching the patch on his shoulder. It was ornately decorated, sown directly into the flesh and read "BUGGERY" in flowing script. "Start handing out piña coladas on the house. See if that doesn't hold them over until the juggling troupe is slated to perform."

    "Yes sir!" Kjörtlnuñez vomited.

    "And bring me something to eat!"


    Anyway, that's the excerpt. It's still a work in progress. I'm only about 20-odd drafts in, so it's still got a ways to go. Just to continue the story for you, allegedly the donut was invented by impaling a fried cake over one of the knobs of the ship's wheel so the captain could steer with his hands-free. Think of all the lives we could save if we only had similar knobs on car steering wheels.

    OK, just so I don't leave you hanging, here's a little taste of a later chapter. This takes place below decks after a battle as the sailors are recovering with some well-deserved rest. It is from Chapter the Thirty-Seventh: The Inky Sea:

    The rows of rope hammocks swayed with the rhythm of the ocean as the ship lumbered on, wounded but by no means dead. The bunks hung three-high on either side of the deck, creaking with the weight of exhausted men.

    On the top row, about half way down, Seaman Johnson reached into his overcoat and ogled his prize: a perfect, round, fluffy pastry glazed with sugar and punctured with a single hole in the middle. It looked delicious. But before he ate it, another thought occurred to him. He remembered Becky Sue back home, the smell of her hair, the curve of her back, the soft touch of her hand she would give in exchange for the right amount of money.

    The doughnut never made it to Seaman Johnson's mouth. In the row of hammocks, his swayed a little faster and out of time with the others. It would be another difficult evening for Seaman Smith and Seaman Jones below him.


    The end, for now. I know Johnson, Smith and Jones aren't really Danish-sounding names, but all those funny letters are hard to reproduce. So we'll pretend they were POWs pressed into service or something, right? Great.

    Happy reading, future admirers!


    Thursday, July 06, 2006
    In My Day We Blogged Through Three Feet Of Snow, Uphill, Both Ways
    When it comes to ignoring my children, I really do have a lot of options. This blog-writing thing that I'm doing right now, for instance, is but one of them. I admit, it's a good one, though. The thing about sitting here and typing is that--especially to the young and impressionable--it looks suspiciously like work. All requests for snacks or basic affectionate attention or to reattach severed fingers can be met with a curt, earnest "In a minute. Daddy's working" when I'm on the blog. Of course being all seven years old and younger and having no more wisdom about the world than what I provide, "work" can be anything I make it. Reading Us Weekly, downloading music TOTALLY LEGALLY, sleeping on the couch, etc. "Not now. Daddy's working."

    It's not a total lie because I am "working" on something, only it's usually adding 5-10 pounds to my frame from inactivity, further diluting my once-impressive intellect with printed conjecture about Keira Knightley's eating habits or enough artery blockage to kill me by age 40. I don't get paid for any of this, but I should. I don't want to brag or anything, but I'm something of an expert in all these fields.

    Being an expert, I can tell you that television is a wondrous device. TV-watching combines just about all my areas of personal excellence--trivial information, couch-denting, nourishment-free snacking, long periods of immobility--in one fabulous, electric-light package. So many pretty colors...

    As the pinnacle, the highest expression of what it is to be Pops, I take television quite seriously. More than one producer or network executive has been on the wrong end of a Pops-crafted strongly worded letter when my stories have been hard-done-by either by alteration of the central cast dynamic (a precocious "Cousin Oliver" addition, say, or allowing one of your cast members to be murdered in real life, which is almost always a mistake), schedule alteration without EXPRESS written permission from me or an unjust cancellation. Arrested Development is dead, yet Two and a Half Men lives on. I can assure you I was not consulted in either of these decisions.

    It turns out that both those shows--one great, one starring Charlie Sheen--have been nominated for Emmy awards this year for Best Comedy.

    Now, I know industry awards are masturbatory self-congratulation, a business celebrating itself with tacky displays of excess and misplaced earnestness. Would it be better to spend time and money focusing on third-world debt relief or starving Haitian refugees? Sure. But if you bring it up at an awards show, you're Susan Sarandon and NOBODY invites her to any parties any more. Bo-ring. If there's anything America hates, it's a goddamn Hollywood liberal bringing up rickets or polio in between a filmed tribute to The Pie Fight As A Comedic Device Through History and Megan Mullaly's acceptance speech.

    I take the Emmys very seriously since they give me an opportunity to dress up something snobs and ivory-tower people with "jobs" generally scoff at as a subject for contentious, pseudo-intellectual debate.

    Like this year, no Best Drama nomination for Lost. Not even nominated! Can you believe that? Last year it wins, this year... not even nominated. Makes no logical sense. I would run out and kill myself, but then I wouldn't be around for the Lost season premiere in September. Oh, and because of my wife and kids and blah blah blah.

    The most nominations this year went to 24, a show that once again proved that if you have a strong enough central gimmick, you can keep spinning out the same tired-ass plot year after year and people will keep insisting that it's "brilliant" just because it's hard to do. I thought this season was repetitive and dull and yet somehow the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has gone completely overboard. Three of the five Best Supporting Actor in a Drama nominations went to some of Kiefer Sutherland's tattoos. I'm serious. You can look it up. It's completely out of control.

    I guess the lesson we can take from this year's nominees is this: have been a fringe member of the "Brat Pack." That seems like the best way to go in terms of TV success. Actual members of the Brat Pack--your Judd Nelsons, your Anthony Michael Halls, your Molly Ringwalds--are nowhere to be seen. But the ones who kind of floated in and out--Kiefer in Young Guns, Charlie Sheen in Ferris Bueller for like a minute, "Ducky" himself Jon Cryer--are at the forefront of the most immediate and wide-ranging of media, the television.

    And where, I ask you, is Andrew McCarthy these days? He's holed up in a filthy old Beverly Hills bungalow somewhere, selling Ally Sheedy's ass for cigarette money and working on a spec script for Weekend at Bernie's III. It's a political thriller wherein he and Jonathan Silverman get their dead boss elected to Congress and end up embroiled in a plot to smuggle nerve gas to Russian terrorists. The string of lies and deception lead them all the way to the President of the United States who, as it turns out (and this is the big twist) is also totally dead! He's hoping to get Shelley Winters for the role of the President.

    OK, now my kids are all upstairs not making any noise. I can safely stop typing now and get some serious Nazi-shooting gaming time in before they discover me. Limited as their life-experience is, even they don't buy that as "work."

    This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.8


    Wednesday, July 05, 2006
    Our Precious Legacy
    230 years and one day ago, a group of grossly overdressed old white guys crowded together in a little building in Philadelphia to fairly well sweat their balls off. In between the prolonged sessions of genital schvitzing, they also found time to adopt a general Declaration of Oh My God Why Does It Have To Be This Hot? The motion was immediately assented to by all and duly signed by all in attendance; Benjamin Franklin, in his own inimitable and unique way, marked the document by actually dipping his scrotum in ink and pressing it to the parchment. This is how we, as Americans, came to know the phrase "Hot as Balls."

    Right after that, there was much genial (I said genial) harrumph-ing and general amiability. The sense of camaraderie and single-purpose led the group to subsequently vote themselves a pay raise, declare independence from Great Britain and then to affirm a non-binding resolution declaring America "the awesomest."

    For some reason, the only thing we remember on July 4th is the Independence thing. In the draft document, Jefferson (and some other dudes whose names I forget but who were probably also totally banging their slaves) said about the abuses of British rule:

    Such has been the patient Sufferance so these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

    To which all those gathered offered a sincere and solemn "Yeah, fuck that guy" and took turns urinating on a bust of the king. Thus in one fell swoop was the nation of the United States born and the general American attitude toward foreigners also established, ad hoc.

    Every July 4th we keep this spirit alive by celebrating in the traditional manner:

  • Exulting in both gluttony and utter triviality.

  • Letting rich people find new and novel ways to avoid responsibility for their actions.

  • Giving up on things that are hard and/or not guaranteed success, while at the same time

  • Obstinately insisting on repeating processes that are both irrevocably broken and ruinously expensive.

    Yes, we are a complicated, fucked-up, twisted little people. But we have a shitload of ICBM-loaded H-bombs and several aircraft carrier groups that can be in the waters off your country's coast in a matter of days. They're a little one-two punch we like to call "freedom" and "democracy." Not unlike the gold knuckle-dusters Radio Raheem had in Do the Right Thing that said HATE and LOVE, except in our case instead of getting strangled to death by the cops and inspiring a riot like Radio Raheem, we launch an all out aerial assault that destroys most of your infrastructure and landmarks before we start landing the ground troops. So I guess it's not really like that at all.

    But we do have the H-bombs. So God Bless America.

    I said God Bless America, motherfucker!

    That's better.


    This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.7


    PS- The wife is back to work today, so I'm back on my regular schedule for the rest of the week. Sadly, starting next Monday, I'm going to be having a houseguest from out of town for about a week, so more disruption there. I know it's inconvenient, but the in-home visit by the ATF is a non-negotiable provision of my parole agreement. Can't be helped.

  • |
    Tuesday, July 04, 2006
    Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory
    We have many sacred customs, many traditions when it comes to honoring the birth of our nation. Most of the good ones end in painful skin grafts and not a little vomiting. Whether they're caused by getting drunk and falling asleep in the summer sun or getting drunk and trying to operate a propane grill or getting drunk forgetting to let go of the lit home-made M-80 you (drunkenly) made yourself out of a tennis ball and a lot of kerosene, July 4th is all about loving America so much, we're willing to disfigure ourselves to show it. We're all like Van Gogh cutting off his ear, except instead of being crazy and Dutch, we're just American and not good at considering the long term consequences of our actions. Plus we likey the drinky.

    In all seriousness, July 4th is a solemn occasion. Days like this should be spent considering what is important, what makes America great and what we can do to keep it so. For instance, in the United States Senate, they were recently debating a Constitutional amendment against flag-desecration. Because nothing says "America" like putting something in the Consitution for the sole purpose of circumventing both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. First Amendment says "free speech?" Keep reading, hippie. Twenty-Eighth Amendment says "not so fast."

    I say that in the spirit of this (sadly, failed) proposal, we honor America and her flag by wearing flag-pattern cloth to cover up our hoo-has. Show your love for your country by not showing us your nipples and/or vagina in the most patriotic way possible.

    And guys, rest assured, we are not left out. There may be no Equal Rights Amendment, but that doesn't mean the marketplace can't dicatate our freedom to be every bit as tacky as the ladies. Go on, wrap a flag around your pole. Uncle Sam wants you to. It's what he'd wear if he weren't a genderless cartoon.

    If you go to the beach or to the pool this July 4th, you know people are going to be looking at your junk anyways, guys and gals. Might as well give them something to think about while you're being ogled by your best friend's creepy uncle.

    For my fat readers... well, I can't in good conscience recommend the same course of action for you. If there's anything Americans are more hypocritically terrified of than immigrants, it's the fatties. For you, how about an American flag poncho, like that famous Kid Rock fellow would sometimes wear? Or an Old Glory muu-muu? Or heck, a lapel pin or perhaps a jaunty star-spangled Dr. Seuss hat? You can be big, you can be proud, but we would prefer that you weren't so much both at the same time.

    "Hey, what's the big deal? Americans are all fat." Well, that's just something a foreigner would say, isn't it? And the last thing we need to be reminded of our the USA's birthday are foreigners. So we stick to the arrangement: we'll pretend you're invisible while at the same time convincing ourselves that our 48-inch waistband is only slightly above average.

    America is a great country. A great country. It is a country so great, it cannot survive if those among us dare to say anything not-great about it. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but saying things that might be construed as not blindly affirming every action taken by the American government both at home and abroad, well... that's a recipe for disaster. Go ahead and crticize if you want to, but know that when the Brown Man rises up out of the ashes of your fiery rhetorical wake and runs off with all our white women, there will be nobody left to read Michelle Maglalang Malkin. And that's not an America I'm prepared to live in.

    This post on the Narcissus Scale: 1.776


    Monday, July 03, 2006
    ...Plus Ce La Même Chose
    Some people will try to tell you that life is all about how we treat other people. The people who tend to say things like this I usually kick in the face until they go away. It's not that I crave violence or seek to disrupt the regular marketplace of civilized discourse by randomly or self-importantly imposing my will on social intercourse through the application of the bottom of my shoe to someone's facial area. No, it's not that at all. It's just that some people's faces need kicking.

    Plus it sort of underscores my point: someone can SAY to you "Treat others as you would have them treat you," but if they walk up to me and all they have is that weak ass love-your-brother hippie horse-shit, what possible reason could they have for me kicking them in the face? They were treating ME to some fawning peace-love social bonding and here I am, kicking them in the face, which--according to their model--should be a completely impossible response to their gentle treatment of me. Face-kicking, in this instance, is a logically unassailable rejoinder to which there can be no response. Unless we count the spitting out of teeth as a response.

    AND, just to underscore the strength of the face-kicking argument, I don't believe that anyone would blame me--socially or legally--if that were my response to "treat others as you would have them treat you."

    Of course we'd then have to see if I in turn got kicked in the face, thus showing that ultimately I got treated just as I treated others, but that's why I believe in a firm policy of pre-emptive face-kicking followed by a vigorous and sustained application of running away. I'll be goddamned if I let the hippies win. Or let myself get kicked in the face.

    The point is that I disagree with the premise that life is all about how we treat other people. For me that would mean that life was all about sending people my credit card number in exchange for me watching them strip naked while wearing clown make-up in front of a webcam. And that would just be asburd.

    No, instead, I believe life is all about how we handle transitions. We're surrounded by transitions. They happen so often that really, in a strange way, transition is practically the status quo.

    Sometimes transitions are shared internationally (say for instance your heavily favored country gets their asses handed to them by France in a much-watched soccer match thus winning a few dollars for some savvy soccer-alert bloggers who shall remain nameless) or with your fellow citizens within a nation, as is happening now in Mexico's presidential election.

    Mexico 2006 is looking for all the world just like USA 2000. With that in mind, to our Mexican neighbors I'd like to say: come on over. I take it back, everything I said about Mexicans invading our country. It's OK. If US history is any judge, when this whole contested election thing shakes itself out, you're going to end up with the wrong motherfucker in charge and shit is going to go south real quick-like. So you can come up here if you want to before things start blowing up and you find yourselves in a long, protracted, bloody struggle when President Wrong Dude decides it's vital to Mexico's national interest to invade Azerbaijan or some fucking thing. Welcome, hermanos. America awaits. There's room in my attic. My anti-immigrant feelings are strong, but goddamn, nobody else should have to live through that.

    Sometimes the transitions are personal. Intensely, unbearably personal. You know they're out there, waiting to deprive you eventually of those you hold closest to your heart. You know that no matter how real, how present the right now feels, there will be a time when all around you--everything, including yourself--will be no more. Those are the instances, those little points of change, that reveal who we really are, that show us how we exist shaken out of the illusion of constancy. A move, a break-up, a death, a loss...

    I am now in such a place.

    Goodbye, old friend.

    The march of time proved too much for your old cathode ray tube in the end. The icy grip of catastrophic malfunction comes for us all in the end. I will remember all the time we spent together, me filled up with gratitude and comfort as you showed me the world outside without me having to actually go outside. And you, sitting there, performing your designed function by modulating a bunch of electrical impulses in patterns I could decode with my eyes. Good times, TV. Good times.

    And today as I sit watching my new TV while my old, non-functioning one sits idly in my living room in its new function as a place to stack shit I can't find room for on my coffee table, I can say--possibly for the first time ever--I know what it feels like to be Mexican.

    Mucho gusto.

    This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.0



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