Pops' Bucket
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Three If By Satellite Transmission
British television has something of an overblown reputation for quality here in the US. I think our perception of it is skewed because we usually only get the good stuff over here--your Monty Python, The Office, Prime Suspect, Black Adder, etc.

Now that we have BBC America, we know that they are capable of a lot more Benny Hill-quality crap than they have been getting credit for. Their high-quality stuff is, for my money, a way in so that they might infect our culture with I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here or stupefy us all into complacence and--ultimately--oblivion with Big Brother.

Then will come the invasion. They want us back, make no mistake. My prescription? Nonstop reruns of Bonanza. Any country fortified by that strong milk is unconquerable. Every Little Joe can be a Hoss.

You think I sound paranoid, don't you? But television is how they're laying out their plan already. Look, they're coming out with this movie about the assassination of George W. Bush. Fictional drama or blueprint for action? You decide.

Or let me decide for you: it's a bald-faced incitement to action. "Look how easy it would be..." they seem to be saying. The smug Brits and their awful subterfuge. You can see them sitting back in their musty old chairs made from the bones of Indian children, swilling that brackish leech-water they call "tea" and waiting for America to tear itself apart so they can step in with no resistance. All they need is for their target audience to do some actual targeting.

We know who they're talking to as well. But I say they misunderestimate those they would convince. Democrats, foreigners and terrorists--and let's be honest, they're really the same thing--aren't so foolish as to actually entertain ideas of bringing any kind of harm to George W. Bush. The British would do well to give them--OK, us--some credit for being geopolitically savvy enough to consider the outcome of such a rash and short-sighted action: President Richard Bruce Cheney.

On top of all that a Cheney administration would imply--invasion of... well, everywhere, legalized hunting of homeless people, Vice President Rumsfeld--could you also stand a president whose middle name was Bruce? I couldn't. I can barely stand the "Walker" we have now, which is only marginally saved by possible expansion into "Texas Ranger". "Bruce" is just... gay. It's like some kind of weird combination of "Butch" and "Lance" and we all know what happens when Butch and Lance get together. That's right: you get Mary Cheney. Can America survive with that kind of selfish hedonism run rampant? I don't think so.

We need George W. Bush. We didn't need him so much in 2000 and 2004, but we got him anyway. Here we are in 2006, two years from any kind of electoral reprieve, and now he is the levee that holds back the oily Cheney flood. Even this disturbs me, though, because we know what his track record is with the levees.

But at least he ain't English, wot?

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.6


Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Separate Lives
Dear Pluto,

I know it's been a rough couple of weeks between us, but I just wanted to check in and see how you were doing. Break-ups like this are never easy for either side, I know, so I just want to know that you're OK. I know how you can get when you're unhappy: so cold, so distant. Please don't do that to yourself. You'll see in the future that this is the best thing.

Us, we've been doing fine. Just the same old thing, you know, orbiting the sun in a stable, concentric orbit in a relatively fixed position with regard to the planets on either side of us.

God, I'm sorry. I promised I would never say "planet" to you again. I can only imagine what you're going through. I don't know if it helps, but we're suffering here too. Our heavy, moist, life-giving atmosphere is great, but between the global warming, the hurricanes and all the persistent nonsense news about Jessica Simpson, let me tell you, I'd take reclassification in a heartbeat. Especially if it meant no more Access Hollywood.

As hard as it's been, in a lot of ways I envy you. What it must be like to be a dead, lifeless rock so far from... well, everything really. And now that we've cut you loose, you're completely free to do what you want.

Without the demands of being in a first-tier astronomical relationship, you can do what you really want to do. Cross into Neptune's orbit all you want. Spend all your time hanging out with that Charon I always see you with. Be free to explore that weird-ass relationship without any interference from us, with your tidally-locked faces and your gravitational barycenter above your surface, which is just sick and unnatural and...

I'm sorry. I don't want to go over all this again. I promised myself when I decided to write that I wouldn't get into all that. No judgments, Pluto. Be a disgusting, unnatural freak of astrophysics if you want. We just want you to be happy.

The real reason I'm writing is--and this is kind of awkward--is to let you know that with your reclassification as a dwarf-planet we've had to make a few changes down here. It really isn't appropriate for Mickey Mouse's dog to be named after a non-planet. I'm sure you see the logic in that. That scary, hairless yellow horse-looking animal is an icon so it deserves to be named after something more impressive than a dwarf-planet. Renaming won't be easy, but we've got it narrowed down to either "The Sun" or "Natalie Portman." If you care, we'll let you know how it turns out.

Also, "plutonium" is going to have be renamed as well. It's some pretty nasty shit. It's toxic, it's radioactive and it makes a really awesome city-swallowing explosion if you manipulate it just right. We need it to sound much cooler than it is now. We're running an online poll for that one. The leading candidates so far are "haXorZium" "omglolium" and "pwndium". In retrospect, a MySpace presence might have been a mistake.

The last request we have before we ignore you forever--and this is a little embarrassing--but we're going to need our stuff back. I know, you don't actually have it yet as our New Horizons probe isn't scheduled to get there until 2015, but we really kind of launched that thing back when we thought you were still a full-fledged... you know... p-word. Now that you're not, it all just seems silly. I mean, there are millions if not billions of non-descript rocks and other assorted debris in our solar system that don't merit their own unmanned interplanetary observer platform. I mean, we can't even use the term "interplanetary" anymore with regard to you. So just, when it gets there, if you could just send it right back to us--or hey! Detour it to Neptune!--that would be great.

In case you're wondering, we're fine. Moon is fine. Misses you, but it's coping. The Sun sends its love and says... ah, you'll get the message eventually. I know you don't want to hear it, but Mars says hello as well. We're very happy together.

With diminishing affection on behalf of the entire Planet Earth,


PS- If you're still angry, I would suggest evolving your own brand of sentient life, organize them into a committee and vote us out of the solar system. We're a big planet. We could take it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
An Argument For The Fourth Child
I'm sitting here at my desktop computer trying to compose this. Directly over my right shoulder, at the edge of my desk, my youngest child is at the laptop computer doing... something. I set him up with a Sesame Street computer game, but that was minutes ago. Attention spans being what they are, I'm sure he's moved on. Could be anything. A Grand Theft Auto game, online poker, internet porn, I have no idea. I couldn't even guess. And that's kind of scary.

See, I've been at this parent thing that I do since '99. The last day that I worked outside the home was the day before my oldest boy was born. I like to think of myself as something of an authority on the subject of child-rearing. It sounds impressive, but I figured out a long time ago that parenting all comes down to one thing: closets with external locks. People like to talk up the whole love and attention and support thing, but really as a parent the only thing you really want is for your kids to leave you alone for one goddamn minute. Love and support are nice, but they don't really achieve the separation and sound-proofing that the externally-locking closet does.

I know, you're thinking "Won't they get lonely locked in that closet?" To that I say: that's what siblings are for. Throw a pair of them in there and it's fun, fun playtime! Kids and their imaginations! What will it be this time? Space explorers? Daredevil spelunkers? Vampires? I can never tell. So long as the unifying theme is closed darkness. It's really hard to make out what it is they're doing exactly because of all the screaming. The muffled, muffled screaming.

But now here I am alone with just one of them. The last time I was alone with one of my kids during the day, he was from age Newborn to just under 2. Those are actually pretty easy because they don't really expect you to entertain them. At those ages, all a kid is really interested in is trying to fit things into its windpipe. Hours and hours of unsupervised fun there.

This one I'm going to have from ages 3 to 5. You know, where they talk and walk, which implies conversation and activity. I'm all for conversation and activity, just not so much on the three-year-old level. I tried to gauge his interest in this whole Israel-Lebanon thing, but his grasp of the intricacies of the situation I found to be tenuous at best. Lots of facile, superficial sub-logic that always somehow manages to ends up at Zionist aggression and granola bars. It always comes back to anti-Semitism and snacks for the three-year-olds.

It occurs to me that I've left a lot of the parenting responsibility with regard to my youngest child to his older brothers. I'm responsible for getting him dressed and feeding him, but past that, we don't have a great deal of one-on-one contact. At least not before today. As he sits behind me tapping away at the laptop, I realize I don't even know this person. What does he think about? What does he do? Does he even like internet porn? He's a fierce little tow-headed enigma in a Wiggles t-shirt. Oh my God, is he Australian? He might be, for all I know. I have no clear idea.

This is freaking me out. I should be writing about something else--I mean, it's the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, so I really should be offending all your sensibilities by crassly using the destruction of an American city as a jumping off point for dick jokes--but this particular transition period has really got me spooked.

I guess the answer is obvious. The best cure for any socially awkward situation is alcohol. If nothing else, I'll find out what the kid likes to drink. Then we'll have something to talk about.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0 (two in a row!)


Sunday, August 27, 2006
Sunday Lite: Since U Been Gone
When I was in sixth grade, I had trouble getting the chicks to notice me. There was this one girl Shelley who was cute. I tried to make smalltalk about homework with her one day and she told me (and I remember it like it was yesterday) I should "fuck off" and punched me in the throat. It sounds harsh but I never washed my throat again. Seriously, you should see the state of it. It's disgusting.

The only one I ever knew who had a crush on me that year was Molly Palatino. Not the skinniest girl in our class by a long-shot, but I at least appreciated being in the position to reject someone else. Anyway, just before her birthday that year, she made me promise to bring her "something special." She was all up in my face, blocking my view of the back of Shelley's sexy, sexy head, so I said something like "yeah, sure, fine."

So her birthday comes and we're at lunch and Molly's, like, crying. Her one friend, the horsey-faced girl with the horn-rims and the headgear whose name I forget, was staring death-rays at me. She wasn't just glaring, there were literally death-rays coming out of her eyes. Something about the odd prescription of her glasses and the angle of the sun at that moment. I still have the scar on my neck. You can't see it because of the no-washing, but it's there.

Death-Ray Headgear says to me from across the table "You promised to bring her something. You promised." Flecks of spit were flying and foam collected at the corners of her mouth. It wasn't just that she was mad, it was just something that happened when she said S's.

When I would bring a Hostess cupcake to school, I would peel the top frosting layer off and suck the filling out through the little hole (and still for some reason nobody liked sitting with me). I was about 2/3 of the way through the process when I was proxy-confronted by Death-Ray, so in a half-mocking half-conciliatory gesture, I offered the indecently accosted cupcake.

She took it to her. And wouldn't you know it, the fat bitch ate it.

I proved two things that day: 1) I always keep my promises and 2) you CAN transmit mono by sharing food. It was nice that ole Molly was gone for a few months, but then I had to be the one everyone knew gave the fat girl "the kissing disease."

The point is, I keep my promises; this is not a guarantee that all those involved--myself included--will be happy with the outcome.

So here I am. It's Sunday. I promised to write on Sunday. And now I've written. I bet you all wish you got mono instead.

Just no time to throw together anything decent or even coherent, alas. It will be my first alarm-waking-up morning since June tomorrow. Also, I found out that sending TWO kids to school is, like, twice as much work as just sending one. This is why I majored in the humanities instead of anything requiring math.

Tomorrow is sketchy as it's a half-day for the kiddies. By Tuesday we should be into something approaching a routine again. It will be a small adjustment as I'll only have one child left at home to ignore, but we've been workshopping some imaginary friends so I should be able to blog guilt-free for the foreseeable future.

I really should apologize for this post, but I'm not sure what disease is appropriate for blog-suckage.

Until tomorrow.

Or Tuesday.

Or if you're reading this Monday, still tomorrow maybe. Or maybe later in the day. OK, I'm stopping now.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The good people at Pac Bell SBC AT&T saw fit to conduct a scheduled outage of my regional DSL network this morning. They somehow didn't think it would be prudent or necessary to let some of us know about it in advance.

After I got past the sweating and the vomiting and the hallucinations of babies crawling on the ceiling, I realized that no DSL meant I didn't have to produce a blogpost this morning.

I stood up from my computer, like Samson, betrayed, bound, his hair shorn, finding the strength to pull down the pillars, collapsing the building upon himself and his enemeies. OK, it isn't a perfect analogy seeing as I didn't die.

But I did actually get up and get some shit done outside my house before lunch time. Which was weird and liberating. It even kind of scared my kids, which was a bonus.

You all have no idea how close this blog came to ending this morning. It's still not entirely peril-free, but some of the giddiness has worn off, so cooler heads may yet prevail.

What I did decide definitively is that I'm taking the rest of this week off. Relax, it's only 3 days. You can go back to counting your body hairs or checking to make sure the stove is off (OH MY GOD, THE STOVE!) or marathon masturbation sessions or whatever it is you used to do to take up the 10 minutes you take to read and comment here. Go on, see what's out there. Try something new. Take up crochet. Or heroin. Broaden your horizons.

Me, I'll be back Sunday, I promise.

The kids start school Monday, so I've got a bunch of crap to get done. Plus it's my 9th anniversary on Thursday. Plus we're meeting with the realtor tomorrow to discuss our options. Pops has a life too.

Besides, it's not like I'd leave you here all alone. Do I ever?

For the next three days, I leave you all in the capable hands of character actor Mr. James Tolkan.

This is appropriate because I feel as though my ego may be writing checks my body can't cash. I also realize now that he meant that metaphorically and the police take a dim view of writing checks that are not backed by sufficient funds. They don't think "bankable body" is funny either. Just something you should know.

Sunday then,


Monday, August 21, 2006
Monday Lite: What Happend To You, Man? You Used To Be Beautiful
Something ain't right in the muthafuckin' state of Denmark, muthafuckas.

I've been reading about how what a failure Snakes on a Plane was this weekend at the box office, how it only managed to finish #1 after a competitive summer release date and looks to make its $30 million budget back pretty easily... you know, when you add in overseas totals and DVD sales.

Yeah. I see where this is going.

Then it gets even worse. I get all my news from Yahoo! news. If it isn't on my homepage when I load up my Interet Explorer, then it didn't happen. As far as I'm concerned, Yahoo! news is the direct, unfiltered Word of God. Assuming He has a broadband connection and enough practice with fancy HTML to get it all up there... which I do.

So imagine my existential crisis when I saw that the Yahoo! news lists SoaP finishing second behind Talladega Nights.

It didn't make any sense to me at first, but then I started to think about it and it all snapped into focus: just another way for The Man to keep a brother down.

Slavery, Jim Crow, Alien Medical Experimentation, Sammy Davis Jr.'s glass eye, Katrina, now this... there are clearly no depths to which the United States government will not stoop to make sure they have their boot on the black man's neck.

Frankly, however, I find this to be petty and unnecessary. A freedom fighter like Samuel L. Jackson has been stealthily putting together a resumé that now includes the little bit of trivia about how his films combined have grossed more money than any other actor in movie history. Most of them bit parts or supporting roles or (at best) co-leads. He's been operating under the radar because he's smart. He knows if he gets too far out in front, the FBI starts leaking video of him driving with Britney Spears' kid on his lap or something.

Now he finally takes a step forward, going out of his way to hedge his bets with the clever "What, this silly movie? No, it's just silly! It's not serious! Ha ha, funny! No need to tap my phones!" subversive marketing campaign and STILL they can't let him have his moment in the sun.

For shame, US government. I hope you're happy. Remember, though, you've made your own bed.

At some point, Samuel L. Jackson will be coming for you.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.2


Sunday, August 20, 2006
Location Location Location
Well, the time of year has arrived once again where the long days of summer start to noticeably shorten, the kids repopulate the schools to resume their long and necessary path toward learning what it means to be a fulfilled, consuming, beaten-down adult and thoughts turn from gratitude from the break of winter we all welcomed in March to a more encompassing holy-fuck-bring-back-the-snow-already-I-can't-take-anymore-of-this-ass-baking-heat. And Mrs. Pops and I have started talking about moving again. Ah, the sacred rites of the late summer.

As many of you know, Mrs. Pops has to endure a daily commute to work that, if I put my advanced math skills to the test here, computes to roughly... let's see... carry the seven... real fuckin' far. There are people who go farther, but they don't live with me, so I can't be bothered to give a damn.

We live in Riverside. She works in south Orange County. I know very few of you Bucketeers are from this area, so it means very little to you, but believe me when I tell you, it's a big step. We're talking about going from 951 area code to 949. That's only two numbers, but they are AREA CODE numbers, so you know they're a huge big deal. I mean, it's not like those things are given out randomly by some blind government bureaucracy. They mean something.

To give you an idea what I'm talking about, let me lay it out for you in graphical terms. No, it's not because I don't think you are strong readers, it's just that... OK, it's that, but it's also easier than typing a bunch of shit and it's getting late.

The contrasts I am about to make are conceptual and PURELY based on public perception of the two regions in question. What follows in no way reflects my personal feelings. I like where I live. That said, try and follow along...


Swimmin' pools, movie stars...


Yeah. Remember, this is perception. My house actually has more than 50% of a roof. OK, next set...



I was going to use an older picture of Pauly Shore, but I think this one works better. See, nothing to offer, but TRYING to look more sophisticated and dignified. Also, the Denzel Washington thing... it's more about the idea of Denzel Washington than Denzel Washington himself. Everyone knows that black people aren't aloud to live in 949.

OK, last set.



See, because in the first one it's a hot chick in a party dress and in the lower one, it's some overweight (for now!) dude with a goatee wearing a red plaid flannel shirt. Of course it it were really about the perception of Riverside, the shirt would have the sleeves torn off, but I think the pictures make their point as far as fashion is concerned.

So that gives you a little idea of what it is we're contemplating. Like I said, I love where I live, but then, I don't earn the money that pays for this place. If it means living somewhere I don't have to have a job in order to stay, I'll love anyplace my wife suggests I should. I can read blogs and eat Cheetos from anywhere. I'm easy that way.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.4


Friday, August 18, 2006
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #38

Snakes on a Plane

starring Samuel L. Muthafuckin' Jackson, a bunch of deadly-ass snakes

directed by who really gives a shit?

Well, I'm getting started really late here. It's Friday, which means it's the day I do laundry. And rotate the potted jade plant in the window ninety degrees so my CIA handler knows it's time to pick up the microfilm. Such is the life of an American housewife. I'm like Kate Jackson in Scarecrow and Mrs. King, except a little less butch.

I'm a little torn about this Snakes on a Plane. I've covered it on the blog before, so I couldn't totally ignore it, but I just... I don't know what to say.

On the one hand, you have your Samuel L. Muthafuckin' Jackson. He of the resonant, licorice voice, the sleepy-eyed cool, the shiny, shiny scalp. He's in a situation fraught with mortal peril, in charge of keeping people safe, which you know means lots of shots of him telling white people to "Sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up!" which, for some reason, I find hugely entertaining.

On the other hand, you have a movie with a bunch of CGI snakes crawling all over non-Sam Jackson actors who mostly (from the clips I've seen) do a not-very-credible, non-Sam Jackson-level job making us believe there are actual snakes crawling on them. The two obvious problems here are that a) not every actor in this movie is Samuel L. Muthafuckin' Jackson and b) I don't care for the scary-type movies. I've mentioned it before, but whatever that mechanism is that gives people the adrenaline/endorphin rush from watching movies where the cat jumps on the piano in the dark or the plucky heroine opens the medicine cabinet, gets something out and then closes it again only to have the PSYCHO KILLER STANDING RIGHT BEHIND HER IN THE MIRROR, your beloved Pops seems to lack. Mostly I walk out of these movies with a bunch of neck-tension and a foul(er) mood.

So two hours (OK, an hour-twenty tops with this one) of people waiting to be eaten by snakes is not something that I think I would enjoy. But then you factor in that those being eaten are the non-Sam Jackson actors and I guess I can see where one might derive SOME pleasure at watching their grisly demise.

"But Pops," you're thinking, "we get that you're a total pussy. But what we want to know is: should we go see this movie? We look to you to make even the most basic and trivial decisions in our lives for us! Guide us! Lead us! If left un-instructed, we will surely die wallowing in our own filth, clawing at our eyes and cursing the heavens for having abandoned us to cruel, indiscriminate fate!"

To which I say--first of all--you people could stand to lighten up just a titch. Second, let's consider the facts. This is a Samuel L. Jackson movie, but that will only carry you so far. Mr. Jackson has the same affliction that dogs both Christopher Walken and Michael Caine in that they seem incapable of NOT taking a movie once offered. You get long careers, lots of money and impressively substantial resumés that way, but you also get Jaws 4 or a Country Bears-level debacle on occasion. So this might be one of those.

It wasn't available for critics to screen, which usually is not a good sign. But maybe they figured they had enough buzz going forward and it wasn't so much critical acclaim that was going to drive their audience anyway, relying instead on a heady combination of myspace and pot.

Look, it's a movie directed by a stuntman and uses its premise for a title. Those are elements you usually only see in porn. Which I'm naturally inclined to favor.

Two (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale.

Coulda been a 3 if I weren't such a wuss. But what can I say, I'm no Kate Jackson.


Thursday, August 17, 2006
Things I Learned From Keira Knightley
They are cunning. They are ruthless. They are determined to infiltrate this country and bring it all crashing down on top of our heads. They don't care if they take themselves down with it. All they know is their mission and they will say or do anything to achieve it.

No, I'm not talking about terrorists. They don't really have to try that hard. For all the hullaballoo about security crackdowns at airports, 12 year old boys are still slipping unnoticed onto airplanes. To be fair, most of today's 12 year old boys have some mad stealth and infiltration skills from playing Metal Gear Solid. I can't be sure if that was an influence in this case because the article neglects to mention anything about the boy's close-in knife work.

No, as usual, I'm talking about foreigners in general, especially the ones who keep trying to come here and live lives and work. When are these people going to learn that all the immigrant slots have been taken? We did all the work already with the Germans and the Swedes and the Scottish and the Irish and the Poles and the Russians. Yes, we even let the Russians in. This was before we knew they were going to be dirty, godless commies. And a few scattered Chinese to help us with some specific projects we were working on at the time. We didn't really know they were going to stick around afterward, but we got chop suey and chow mein out of the deal, so everyone's happy.

Despite the fact that we're totally full-up (and look out your window the next time you fly across country, you'll see, there's NO ROOM LEFT), people keep trying to come here and stay. They're sneaky in the way they drop babies here. I'm cool with the babies because the babies are instantly Americans. I just feel bad for the babies because they have to live their whole young lives as Americans living with foreigners. That is an anguish I'm glad I can only imagine. No wonder they all grow up and want to go to college. No foreigners there.

My problem with the foreigners is that they bring with them some weird, old-timey ideas. I mean beyond that quaint preoccupation they have with doing unskilled scut work en masse for substandard wages so that we don't have to pay a lot for oranges. Or clean our own bathtubs. Or raise our own kids. These are the kinds of occupations that result from outmoded workaday thinking. It's so Dickensian. By the way, Dickens? Also a foreigner.

Now there's this one foreign lady in Chicago who is hiding out in a church claiming the ancient right of sanctuary, which used to hold that a church could shield a person from arrest so long as asylum was granted by the priest and the person stayed inside a certain specific area.

Crazy foreign people with their hocus-pocus religious ideas. Think of her seven year old American-born son. I'm sure he must be mortified. In private, I bet he's all "Go on mom, get deported. I love you, but there's no place for you here. You're foreign." The tragedy is she wouldn't be able to understand him because, as we all know, Americans speak English and foreigners do not.

See, this is what foreigners do. They march into this country unannounced and open up all kinds of crazy slippery-slope scenarios about what will happen to this country if we do nothing. "We'll all be speaking Spanish!" I've heard. I've also heard that their presence and reliance on public assistance will bankrupt the federal government, but ha! Way ahead of you, dirty foreigners! How many hundreds of billions on Iraq now? We bankrupt ourselves happily if it means we get to shoot some foreigners! U-S-A! U-S-A!

The new slippery slope is the use of archaic legal rights that may or may not have actually existed or even operated in the way we now understand them. Right now it's sanctuary. How long will it be before all foreigners in trouble start claiming the right of parley? I saw that first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. We capture Osama bin Laden (probably somewhere near Denver) and he immediately claims "Parley!" Then we have to take him to George Bush where they make awkward small talk over tea and sandwiches, some of his people get all offended about cucumbers not being halal, someone throws a saucer and next thing you know, gang fight in the Oval Office.

Or worse, we could see a reinvocation of the jus primae noctis where our foreign soon-to-be-overlords claim the right to bang our daughters on their wedding nights. I don't even have any daughters and I'm STILL not down with that. I saw Braveheart, people. That kind of behavior can only end in kilt-wearing and accent-having and eventually some kind of explosive self-destructive admixture of alcohol, driving and anti-Semitism.

How far will we let this go?

Storm the churches. Storm the churches.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.9


Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Real Time!
I've experimented with various forms of expression on this blog. Confessionals, short fiction, poetry, letters, dialogue, advice, long unbroken strings of what are usually unprintable expletives and vulgarity, etc. Some more than once.

What I have never tried is live-blogging an event. If you're not familiar with live-blogging, it's real-time commentary coinciding with an ongoing event. Often you will find live-blogging of major political speeches, press conferences, entertainment industry awards shows, or even (if you have a valid credit card) the sexual experiences of nubile yet innocent girls who are BARELY LEGAL!!!11!!1!

Today I am venturing, at last, into live-blogging territory. Yes, I've officially run out of ideas.

But you'll be intrigued when you learn what the subject is.

Dell computer company is recalling several laptop batteries because they could possibly CATCH FIRE AND EXPLODE!

Exciting isn't it?

Hey! I have a Dell laptop computer! And it has a battery in it!

What I have to do is go to this Dell consumer help website, input my information and find out if the battery in my laptop--which is right now not two feet to my right--might possibly CATCH FIRE AND EXPLODE!

Holy crap, what suspense!

OK, so the process actually just involves me inputting some data into the website to see if my battery is affected. Sounds like the worst live-blog event ever... until you remember the CATCH FIRE AND EXPLODE! part. I could be maimed for life. Probably when the mixture of ignited battery components melt into a frothy, acidic, napalm-y shrapnel goo and exlpode outward, I'll only be able to react fast enough to protect half my face, leaving me disfigured and driven mad by the pain and trauma, which would lead me to a life of crime propelled by the psychological damage done to half of my face, making me see the world as a stark dual morality, either side of which could be chosen by the flip of a coin. Oh, and I'd be pursued by the Batman. The whole process would probably hurt, but pain is a small price to pay for awesome.

So that's what's at stake for me here. What will I be when I'm done? Housefrau I am now or supervillain? I don't really want to say outright which one I'd prefer. But does anyone know what supervillains make? Break it down hourly for me so I can make an informed comparison. I'd hate to strap my laptop to my face (battery side down) for nothing.

OK, so here we go with the live-blogging.

I have to enter some goddamn number thing into some other thing. OK, let's have a look...

I'm looking for some serial number thingy. Holy crap, there are like 4 different serial-number strings on the back of this fucker. Oh, the one on the BATTERY... you know what, that makes sense.

Man, my palms are sweaty. It's not that I'm nervous. It's a medical condition. I hear you can get Botox injections in your palms to stop that, but I'm not really an "injections in your palms" type of guy. That seems like the sort of thing that would really interfere with my masturbation schedule.

Anyway, battery. OK, I'm removing the battery. Slowly... slowly... OK, I'm holding it in my hand. It's about the size and weight of a Klondike ice cream bar. I bet it's probably actually more nutritious to eat the battery than a Klondike bar, although I would bet the battery would be less sinfully delicious.

OK, data input has been achieved. That was a lot of numbers. There were even letters interspersed! I can't imagine how exciting it is for all of you to read this!

Now all I have to do is hit submit...


Ha, no actually, it was nearly as exciting as all that. This is the response I got:

No need to replace

That's it. Verbatim.

I don't know about you, but I'm shaking. Not so much from the tension but because I'm overdue for my methadone.

This was fun. Tomorrow, in the spirit of my kids' favorite show Mythbusters, I'll be live-blogging as I try various methods to see what it will take to get a non-recall laptop battery to CATCH FIRE AND EXPLODE! Probably by setting it on fire and hitting it with a hammer of some kind.

I will be a supervillain yet.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 1.0 [think of all the people this will be of service to!]



Ah, hell. Lots of pictures from good movies to choose from for ole Bruno. Press keeps going with When Harry Met Sally..., but I prefer The Freshman. Much more willfully silly. Like most movies he was in, Bruno didn't get the most screen-time, but he makes the film. Now two of the three people in the above picture are dead. Look out, Broderick. A reckoning is coming. You know, eventually.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The Rundown
I don't really have the best luck. Sure, I guess I can say I got lucky meeting my wife, but really, I went into the jungles of Peru and happened upon a mute hermitess living in a cave, took her home, deloused her and married her. Same thing happens to millions of people every day. Law of averages, really. Matchmaking is what the jungles of Peru are known for.

No... no, wait, I might be thinking of malaria...

Other than that, my luck hasn't been very good. Ask me how many times I've won the lottery. Go on, ask. Ha! No, stupid! I'll tell you: none. Not once. I've also never been lucky enough to be injured because of my own stupidity by something without an expressly-worded warning label or molested by a formerly popular pop singer. I accidentally sat on El DeBarge's lap on a public bus once, but that wasn't really actionable. It was totally my fault. Never saw him sitting there. That dude is small.

Bad luck is the main reason why I never went into professional sports. I never actually experienced any bad luck with regard to my pro sports development, I just decided early on that to put in all those years just to almost make it to the top and then be struck low by some crazy freak accident wasn't worth it. In my case, probably getting the HIV from one of the hood rats who follow the team bus around. And really, who needs the virus that leads eventually to AIDS? Not me.

Or maybe I'd be like New Orleans Saints back-up quarterback Adrian McPherson who was warming up for the second half of an exhibition game when he was run over by a golf cart being driven by the other team's mascot.

See that? That's bad luck.

Or was it?

The investigation is pending. I swear to you, that's true. I shall endeavor to keep you posted on the story about the guy who got run over by a giant raccoon driving an electric car.


Before I go, one last thing: you can't turn on the radio ANYWHERE ANY TIME without hearing that song "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. Cee-lo and Danger Mouse. They've been playing it for months and months and months on the station I usually listen to, so I'm kind of over it. But Gnarls Barkley deserves our attention because every time they appear in public--either in concert or simply for publicity photos--they make an event of it. I've prepared a collage for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

Stormtrooper on the bass. Boba Fett on the ones and the twos. All I gotta say.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.2


Monday, August 14, 2006
Monday Lite: Gyroscop'd!
Amongst what was probably a great deal of fanfare played by a machine capable of synthesizing a trumpet, the next generation of Segway scooters has been unveiled

Combining the aesthetic charm of a old-timey engine-free push lawnmower with the technological whiz-bang of that robot you used to get when you bought a Nintendo in 1986, the Segway people have done it again. Once again, visionaries have spent millions of dollars in research and development to give consumers high-concept, cutting-edge, 21st century options for fracturing their pelvises.

And all for only just over half the price of a small car!

Honestly, why these aren't more popular is a crime. If it's good enough for this fictional person...

...then by gum, it's good enough for me.

Man, I miss that show.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.5


Sunday, August 13, 2006
...And Then We're Going To Connecticut...!
I turned 18 in 1992, which means I've voted in presidential primary elections out here in California a grand total of four times. When I first started, it really sucked because the primary was held in June, which meant our job out here in Cali was to pretty much vote for the one guy left on the ballot after all the people in the great states of Iowa and New Hampshire had thrown their collective weight around--political deciding-power totally commensurate with those states' giant populations--and decided the nominee for us.

At some point, somebody got the awesome idea that we out here should move our primary up to March, to "Super Tuesday." I don't remember whose idea it was, but I can be almost certain that the issue was decided by ballot initiative and a public vote. I'm sure because that's how ALL laws are made in direct-democracy California. We have a legislature, but we decided long ago (by ballot initiative!) that they should be stripped of all power. Now the only job the people in Sacramento are allowed to do is to Not Pass The State Budget. Of course it's silly because all the state budget money is already spoken for by ballot initiatives, spontaneously conceived by the people, brought to you by Exxon-Mobil. Or no, sorry, that's the "Coalition for Clean Air, Puppies and Delicious Cake" who are only funded and run by Exxon-Mobil. The point is, the legislature are just so adorable when they pretend to fight about stuff. With Cali's strict term limits, no one there has been there long enough to even know how to fight about stuff under parliamentary rules, so really it's like watching rhesus monkeys fighting over the last pomegranate. Only the monkeys are retarded and the pomegranate is really just an ambitious-looking rock.

The proposition that moved the California primary up worked like a charm, though, because instead of just having one guy to vote for, we had TWO to choose from! John Kerry and... some other guy. I voted for the other guy.

I would have liked very much for the opportunity to vote for Wesley Clark, but alas. Gone already. I would also have liked to at least consider voting for Howard Dean only to later change my mind. Yes, he was out in front on this anti-war thing. But also, he was fucking crazy.

Now Mr. Crazy is the head of the Democratic National Committee, which was covered in the news very heavily and resulted in Mr. Dean making the rounds on several talk shows doing a smug victory lap and doling out "I-told-you-so"s at a breakneck pace unequaled in history up until Al Gore just this year with his "End of the World Tour '06." I hear he closes with a totally uninspired spoken word version of "Hey Jude" that is 127 minutes long.

I've said here before that I am a registered Democrat. I'm also pretty sure that George Bush is the worst president in the history of presidenting. That is speaking domestically, but I think if you're talking about worst all-time in human history, he'd at least have to be in the conversation. He's not good at it.

But also know that I'm pretty sure that currently Chairman of the DNC is nearly the most useless job on the face of the planet. Being in charge of a political body with zero controlling presence at any federal level in any of the three branches of government I find unimpressive slightly. If I were still single, "Chairman of the DNC" would rank among the lies I would tell girls in order to get them to sleep with me somewhere between "proctologist" and "Ricky Martin roadie" (two jobs which, I suspect, involve very similar work). Yeah, blah blah, most important elections of our lives blah blah blah... I heard that in 2004 as well. And look what the job did for Terry McAuliffe. Terry who? Exactly.

I say nearly the most useless job because it is only out-done in ponderous irrelevance by the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee. Ken Mehlman's job is to Not Lose. And to Not Date Guys. At least not until his tenure is up at the head of the "God Hates Fags" party. He so loathes his own sexual orientation that he keeps helping his party win and consolidate power so that he can keep pushing back the date at which he will be fired and thus free to sate his gnawing hunger for schwanz. We accept our ass-kickings for your sake, Kenny. Remember, we're the party that feels for the gays. We see through you. Hold on to that status quo, baby.

I was keeping all that in mind when I read that Howard Dean was encouraging Joe Lieberman to drop out of his Senate race. Polls are showing Lieberman in the statewide race ahead of Lamont and the 40-pound chunk of rough limestone running as the Republican nominee. They put a crucifix neckalace around it amd they call it "Frank." They figured (rightly) that it would draw more interest (if only out of curiosity) than any actual human they could field to run vs. Lieberman or whomever else. Unsurprisingly, Frank currently runs a distant third.

My own view is yes, Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary. Great. So he is disallowed from running as a Democrat under the rules. But Howard Dean is now suggesting that a career politician with a not-insignificant, entrenched power-base in Washington AND a lead in the statewide polls should drop out of the race just because Howard Dean thinks it's a good idea.

There was a time not so long ago that Howard Dean thought this (left) would be a good idea. Sure, he got unfairly pilloried in the ravenous-shark-infested dunk-tank that is the traveling political press, desperate for any story to keep them busy so they can look occupied and avoid eye contact with all the other members of the traveling press corps they've slept with. It's cold and lonely way the fuck up in New Hampshire in December, folks. What happens in the press bus lavatory stays in the press bus lavatory.

However small a lapse "YEEEEEEAAAAAAAARRRRRGH!" is, it's still a lapse. I'm about 95% sure I'd vote for Lamont over Lieberman as well, but I don't think I'm qualified--and some of us are eminently and profoundly unqualified--to give unsolicited career advice in this arena.

And that's what this whole post is, unsolicited. Go ahead and run, Joe. But unlike Howard Dean's remarks, these occur within a blog. That means I'm automatically a self-conferred expert. Plus I can be both vulgar and repetitive.

Suck it, haters.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


Friday, August 11, 2006
I haven't really had time to get into the whole controversy of the doctored war photographs from Lebanon this week. I've been spending a lot of time at my volunteer job counseling at the gender reassignment clinic. I don't really know anything about gender reassignment personally, I just volunteer there because I spend a lot of time around my kids, who have nervous breakdowns if you ask them to choose between Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms in the morning. There's something about being around people possessed of such an absolute certainty that they are willing to express it in surgical genital mutilation. It keeps me centered.

In case you aren't familiar, here's the dreaded evidence of the "doctored" photos:

Ooooh, more smoke. Frankly, I don't see what the big deal is. "They were trying to make it look worse than it was and the evil left-wing media totally fell for it because THEY HATE THE JEWS!"

To which I say: HA! How can the media hate the Jews if it's all run by the Jews? The media doesn't "hate" anything. They just love big, splashy stories (your invasion of Lebanon, your kidnapped white girls, the deadly germs in the food you're eating RIGHT NOW!, etc.) they can wrap around ads for Cialis and GM. And it works. Every time I see a Chevrolet, I get a four-hour erection.

As a professional photo manipulator of some standing, all I can say is: bo-ring. More smoke? That's it? All they did was make Beirut look a little bit more like the greater Los Angeles area. Frankly, it hardly qualifies as "doctored" to me. Where are the naked girls? Where's the killer clown? I'm disappointed.

Right now you're not asking yourself: "Oh yeah smart-guy, how would you have done it better?" But I put a bunch of work in on it, so I'm going to pretend you asked that anyway.

This is how I would have done it.

See, reading from right to left (as they do over there), you get something as benign as Godzilla rising from the Mediterranean to unleash his unholy wrath upon Lebanon. Usually Godzilla is a parable about the dangers of nuclear energy, but since Lebanon has no nuclear weapons, let's just say he represents the downside of religious co-existence between non-compatible or historically antipathetic groups.

And then up above him, the UFO is coming! Look out! What could the UFO represent? Invasion by a foreign army with a hopelessly advanced technology? Or just the helpless destructive power of war itself in a more general sense? Hey, is that the Star of David on the UFO or just a glint from the sun? Wow, the ambivalence...

Lastly, we have the disembodied head of Joe Lieberman shooting lasers from his eyes. What that represents is clear: we should do all we can to keep Joe Lieberman's head both attached to his neck and regular size. No nuclear reactor tours or secret government laboratory inspections for you, Senator Joe!

I'm not saying his head would NECESSARILY go airborne and develop the power to shoot lasers from its eyes should Joe's head declare it's independence, but do you want to take the chance? I don't.

Let's start the movement here: Keep Joe Lieberman's Head Where It Is. We'll all be safer for it.

And that, kids, is how you manipulate a photograph. Now who else wants some Cialis?

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.0


Thursday, August 10, 2006
Soft Landing
I complain a lot about how having kids restricts my ability to go places and do things, but sometimes it works out OK. My practical inability to jet off to London on a moment's notice for this week at least will save me a lot of time and anxiety what with all the plans for scary bad guys to blow up planes in-flight.

I know we're not supposed to show terrorists that they scare us, so let's just keep my discomfort between us, yes? Great.

Even though I myself am not planning on taking any transcontinental trips, there are people very close to me who may be in the next 2-3 months. So that's something fun to ponder. For the sake of my sanity, let's employ the ole Human Capacity For Self-Deception and see what alternative explanations for this threat we can come up with to allay some public worry, shall we?

1) The British are liars. Never mind the elaborate practical joke they've been trying to pass off to the world as "British cuisine" over the last thousand years or so ("No really, you stuff all the internal organs into a pouch made from the stomach, throw it in a pot full of blood and dirt and boil it for three days... absolutely scrummy, wot!"), but you know they've got a motive not to be truthful. It's been 230 years since we left them, but they still want us back. Causing all this panic and claiming to have "foiled the plot" is the oldest trick in the book. It's like when you're in high school and your girlfriend breaks up with you, so you pay off a homeless guy to pistol-whip her in an alley on the way home from school just so you can happen by just at the right moment and break up the assault with a staged fight. Then you get to be the hero AND the guy who nurses her back to health and then loves her despite her new facial deformity. Oldest trick in the book. Substitute "terrorists" for "homeless guy" and "exploding transcontinental jetliners" for "pistol-whip" and I think the pattern is pretty clear. We see you working, United Kingdom. We are not fooled. As a nation, our legs remain closed.

2) Everyone knows Tony Blair is George Bush's bitch. He nods and smiles when told, he hangs around the back of the chair while the boss open-mouth chews his food and makes inane pontifications which Blair is obliged to pretend are pithy or even coherent. So yesterday, Joe Lieberman (a man known to kiss George Bush on the mouth in public) gets beaten in his primary. A pro-war incumbent--though a Democrat--angrily rebuked by voters. Not a good sign for November. What to do? ORANGE ALERT! Haven't had one since late summer 2004, have we? Strange, isn't it? One phone call to Downing Street and all of a sudden terrorists are thick as flies in London. Seriously, there are a lot of flies in London. You can order them as a side with your awful, awful food.

3) Aircraft imperiled by a dangerous liquid, hmm... let me see... what else is liquid and deadly? Napalm? Sure. Cyanide? Absolutely. Mel Gibson's eleventh vodka tonic (hold the tonic)? Only to Hollywood careers, but why not. Hey, you know what else is liquid and deadly? SNAKE VENOM. On a plane.

It's a long way to go, but New Line Cinema has pulled out all the stops to market Snakes on a Plane. Get people thinking about planes in crisis, raise the social awareness level and then... hey, you know what might be fun to watch? A movie about a guy on a plane in trouble that is then saved with a combination of American bravado and some well-placed, expertly delivered F-bombs. Sounds wonderfully diverting and cathartic to me! It's a cultural and psychological must-do.

I continue to be amazed by the creative lengths the people at New Line have gone to promote Snakes on a Plane, but this is just too far. I almost want to see it now just to reward the sheer audacity. Just be warned though that the next step is clearly for them to actually release some deadly snakes on an actual plane containing a well-known African-American actor. Not Sam Jackson though, he's worth too much. Maybe Omar Epps or something. Look for it.

That's it, that's all I've got. I'll go to great lengths to bend reality to fit my psychological needs, but it's not impossible. If a blog isn't for this, what is it for?

Oh, that's right. It's for this (possbily NSFW). To think I nearly forgot.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.1


EDIT: Warning added. Your bosses are prudes.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006
No Go

Is it too late for me to give back my Joe-mentum?

It doesn't sound like the deal it was back when I first bought me some back in '04.

Sure, I was a Wesley Clark guy in the Democratic primary process that year (what can I say, I'm a sucker for a guy who could credibly wear a uniform but no longer does... and an investment banker, too! Investment banking gets me all hot), but that was a business decision. I just happened to think he had the most potential as a candidate.

I also backed John Kerry once it became apparent we had no other goddamn choice, but once he was out there as the Not George Bush, I was invested.

I also really liked John Edwards. Howard Dean ran a fascinating sideshow. Dennis Kucinich was a funny little elf-man. Al Sharpton had some terrific hair.

So maybe Joe Lieberman was sixth or seventh on my list of people I would have supported for president that year. But he had the best accidentally-kitschy should-have-been-more-embarrassed-than-he-seemed-to-be slogan with the "Joe-mentum." Sure, I rejected him as a person, but I immediately adopted his slogan as a personal life-mantra.

I tried the same thing in the mid-'80s when I fell for the "Frankie Says Relax" campaign. That was a total disaster seeing as I was only 10 years old and not really up on all the subtext in the song that inspired the phenomenon (I know it was a phenomenon because there were t-shirts). I tried just being more relaxed in general, but in retrospect, the Frankie Goes To Hollywood philosophy really doesn't work without the gay sex.

After 2004, as a fully realized adult person, I knew going in that there was no gay-sex component to "Joe-mentum." After all, he was from Connecticut, not Massachusetts. So I was fully on board.

Better-developed cognitive reasoning skills were no help, however. The fate of Lieberman's 2004 primary campaign should have been a clue. Every time I declared that I had "Joe-mentum!" (and I would declare it, quite loudly) whatever I was attempting would immediately turn to shit. Lawn care, child-rearing, online personals for couples, none of them worked out. Just a bunch of dead grass, temper tantrums in grocery stores and fat people with shocking amounts of body hair, respectively.

Take it from me, people. Joe-mentum is a bad deal.

Before anyone gets on me about being an anti-Semite just because Joe Lieberman is Jewish, let me just tell you this: I have no problem with Jews in positions of political power. I've voted for Dianne Feinstein several times. I'd vote for Russ Feingold in '08. I don't understand the people who are uncomfortable with this, frankly. Come on, it's 2006. Let's be modern people. Besides, we all know the world is run by seven Jewish bankers who live in a bank vault in Switzerland anyway. What's one more senator or president? Anti-Semitism in this respect at least is just laughably naive.

I say that so all of you know that when I reject Joe-mentum, it's a combination of personal experience and observation of events, 2004 in combination with yesterday's total clusterfuck of a primary.

Maybe I'm being too hasty. Maybe Joe will run as an independent and, incumbent retention rates being what they are, sweep to victory once Republicans are allowed to vote for him, restoring some of the rhetorical luster to the concept of Joe-mentum.

Until that crisis of cognitive dissonance is upon us, I elect forthwith to employ the term "Joe-mentum" exclusively in an ironic fashion. It's new ground for me, but I hope you will all make the journey with me.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.0


Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Into The New, Leaving The Old Behind Me
I'm very wary of magic. Before you ask, yes, I absolutely believe it exists. You would too if you'd ever seen Barry Manilow's show at the Las Vegas Hilton. Getting grown people to pay money to see that shit is a trick in itself, but then how he gets a whole crowd to sing along, sobbing, to "Can't Smile Without You" with just a piano and his sorcerer's voice... it seems like such a happy song, but goddamn it, if it doesn't break us down every time.

There's some kind of voodoo witchcraft that makes me keep going back to that show. I've seen it 436 times. I don't even like Barry Manilow. And then somehow after each and every visit, I wake up in a hotel room next to one or more strange naked men whose names I don't know. It's some kind of weird clothes-destroying teleportation trick that also erases short-term memory and makes my wife uncomfortable. It confounds and disturbs me. My only recourse is to keep going back again and again until I can root out the cause and formulate some kind of talismanic counter-spell, although I will say that it terrifies me because I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the direction of Neil Diamond.

You can see, though, how my personal experience with magic has left me somewhat uncomfortable with it. Despite my persecution, I was at least able to tolerate the existence of real-world magic when I thought it was confined to washed-up Jew singers from the '70s.

Then yesterday I saw this:

You know I love my MS Paint, but I can assure you this is not a doctored picture. This is a bed that floats. And it was created a) not by a Jew b) not by a singer c)not from the '70s. The architect of this design is Dutch, so at least he's foreign, but how long before everyday magic reaches America?

We must do everything we can to keep magic outside our borders. Think of what might happen if a bed like this gets into this country. It only takes one crazy-ass celebrity to let his/her (OK, who are we kidding, "his") monkey sleep on it and the next morning it wakes up knowing how to fashion a space-station out of bones just by throwing them in the air.

Is this the world you want? Orbital monkey domination? I don't think that you do.

Our first move should obviously be the expulsion of this man:

Is it funny that he is a legendary gash hound--so much so that his voracious appetite for genital contact will one day kill him--and his name is "Magic Johnson"? Sure it is. Of course it is. Jokes like this are what American kids learn in junior high school instead of geography. But we can't be too careful. He may well be the vanguard. I think it might be a case of hiding in plain sight. I mean, he's got "Magic" right in his name. Plus, he made a star out of Kurt Rambis. That isn't natural.

I fear, however, that it may be too late to close our borders to it. We've already let Harry Potter in. Patriot and stickler that I am (or "patrickler" as I like to be called), we only have one book left to go and it's supposed to come out next year and I just have to know how it all ends.

Clearly I think I can say that the reason I'm so uncomfortable with magic is that I'm particularly susceptible to it. Between the Manilow and the Rowling, for all I know I already have a series of instructions already magically implanted in my head to overthrow the UN in their unholy names. My worry is that maybe not all their plans would be as helpful to America as that.

The defense of this country falls to you, my good people. And possibly Gene Simmons.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.66


Monday, August 07, 2006
Come On People Now... Smile On Your Brother
I've had it with all this war. I'm sorry, I know you guys come here for the mad funny, and usually I deliver in startling ways even you couldn't have conceived before you got here which inspires in you gratitude and devotion bordering on worship, but today I'm afraid I have no funny left in me. The world has simply gotten to be too dark a place for humor to thrive.

At a certain point, atrocity piles up on top of atrocity until we can no longer afford to be distracted by Lindsay Lohan's drunkenness or Mel Gibson's anti-Semitism. To be honest, at some point I just feel stupid even talking about celebrity anti-Semitism when much of the violence in the Middle East that fuels America's involvement over there is predicated on a very real desire to rid the world of the all the Jews now living in Israel, if not more. Even I have standards.

I was doing the best I could wading through all the stories about civilian deaths and children killed and families displaced to get to the stories about the banal idiocy of everyday life that fills the Bucket every day. But I can't look away anymore without speaking up. I read something this morning that was just one atrocity too far, a direct result of the war-mongering and the lies of the Bush administration, an indignity wrought by callous political calculation, the brunt of which must be borne by our men and women in uniform.

I found out today that there are US armed forces deserters fleeing to Canada. That's right. I'll let that sink in. Canada. The forced call-ups of inactive soldiers, the odd recruiting-age fluctuations, the (frankly) abuse of the National Guard system, it was all a lot to take, but now the results of government action are making people so desperate that they are willingly going to Canada. You have clearly pushed these boys too far, Mr. President. And I for one will not let it pass unremarked-upon. I refuse to sit idly by and do nothing. I will blog.

These men go to Iraq, they serve, they get shot up or shoot up other people, they handle unexploded IEDs and make split-second decisions whether or not each and every passing car is a suicide bomber... apparently it's matrix of responsibility that at the end is so harrowing, so weighty that it causes some of our people, when called back to serve again, to hitch up the dogs to the sled and brave the frozen white wastes of the north.

It gets worse. They limp across the border having had to eat the last dog, wearing four of the team's pelts for coats against the Narnian perma-winter that exists north of the Dakotas. Drawn in by the glow of a whale-oil lamp inside an igloo, they push on, clamber inside only to find... hippies.

The Vietnam draft-dodgers are still up there, refugees from our last god-awful geopolitical clusterfuck, communing with moose and seals and eating their bean curd and weaving baskets out of hemp or whatever it is the fuck they do, all while probably Canada-tainted, adding unnecessary U's to their words like colour and honour, which between the winter and the draft-dodging, none of them actually have.

I bet once the new breed of deserters realize what awaits them up there, they are desperate to go to Iraq. They would probably volunteer to fight North Korea all by themselves if it meant they didn't have to hear another folk song. But you know the hippies, I'm sure they keep burning "incense" around the newcomers to keep them docile and sedate. Once the hippies have you, there is no escape.

According to the article, the problem seems to be that these deserters simply aren't interested in shooting people the way American boys should be.

The sticking point, I think, is that most of the kids who desert now are small-town white kids from rural nowhere who are only exposed to country music and Fox News and PAX-TV. As Americans, we all know that what media you watch/listen to is 100% responsible for what kind of person you are. Just today a study was released that said kids who listen to music with explicit lyrics tend to get it on with other whores just like themselves at young ages.

The music talks about sex. The kids have sex. I don't think there's anything else to consider. Two common points within the group studied and the supposed influencing factor always automatically means causation.

The government knows this. That's why they put out a video game that kids can play so they can pretend to be in the Army and shoot bad guys. They know the kids who play Grand Theft Auto run out and steal cars and shoot up whole neighborhoods. I just bought GTA: San Andreas finally myself, so expect to see me gang-bangin' on your local news soon. It already made me miss my regular Sunday post, so you know it's some bad shit.

But maybe the video game isn't enough. Kids are still deserting. Between the two stories of deserters and the teen iPod-inspired sex, I think the solution is obvious: the government needs to fund some explicit-lyric war rap.

I know, Republicans don't like to fund the arts, but they don't think rap is art anyway, so no problem there.

Really, how hard would it be to replace "skeet skeet skeet like a water hose" with something more jauntily violent about the joys of napalm?

This is such an easy problem to fix. Less teens would be having sex because they'd be off fighting the Nameless Faceless Enemy and the deserters would stop deserting because Chingy told them not to. Come on, you know Chingy needs the work.

And the hippies would be left alone, wearing their loincloths, playing their sitars with only an audience of moose and seals to keep them company. Then we all win.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.7


Friday, August 04, 2006
Final Approach
There really isn't any new movie out there that either I a) have no intention of seeing or b) has a high enough profile for me to bother mocking it. I mean, there's Talladega Nights, the new Will Ferrell movie, but critics are basically dismissing it as Anchorman on a racetrack. To which I say: yes, please! You don't abandon repetitive, one-note actors two films in. You just don't. Especially not if they're funny. And I thought Anchorman was funny. I mean, look how much time we've given Mike Myers. It took six or seven films before that same shouting Scottish accent he does in everything got old. Give Will Ferrell a break.

I'm feeling a little bit pensive this morning. Are you wondering why? Well, this is my blog, so I'll fucking tell you anyway.

As the major milestones in my life come and go, I usually take the opportunity to reflect, to take a bit of an inventory. Sometimes I mean that literally (I don't like it when people touch my stuff) and soemtimes I mean it in more of the limp-wristed New Age hippie way where you sit and stare at a wall thinking about the irrevocable passage of time, the callous and unthinking ways you wasted your youth and then you cry so hard you throw up blood. Like that.

Sometimes the milestones sneak up behind you unawares, bash you over the skull, take whatever money you have on you and run. Not much pre-event reflection happening there.

Other times (like now) we are afforded the opportunity to prepare ourselves mentally for a coming world where nothing will ever be quite the same again and mourn the death of the people we were.

And in those most rare of occasions (again, like now) the coming event is something global, something you can share with your fellow man. A little wider perspective born out of shared experience is healthy; it helps us realize that even though Other People are assholes, by gosh, they're our assholes and we should treat them accordingly.

OK, that didn't come out like I wanted it to, but you get the idea.

What's this event we're all about to experience? Come on, you know.

Two weeks from now, Snakes on a Plane is going to be released.

I know. It's hard to wrap your head around. It's like December 1999 or V-J Day or New Coke all over again. Who will we be as people when this milestone comes to pass? How will we define ourselves with this momentous event behind us at last instead of in front of us? With nothing to anticipate, will we all wither and die?

We can enjoy the hype-machine as it revs up into full gear these last two weeks. It will be the last gasp of a frighteningly over-covered internet advertising that I've been told by the media is a "phenomenon" that people like me are totally excited about.

Will I be able to comprehend a world where I'll never see this again?

It's been internet gold for like a year now. I've incorporated fully--as I do all advertising--as an essential, fully absorbed, indistinguishably-integrated part of my absolute Self. What happens to it when the film comes and goes? What will it mean then? What will I be?

This is not a new problem for me, however. I've become overly attached to internet imagery before. And not all just porn either, look:

There was this one...

And this other one...

And this one too...

And man, how could anyone forget this old chestnut...

But these ones don't age. There is no expiration date for the picture of the guy with his head up his own ass. That's a timeless expression of basic human frustration that dates back to our earliest days as beings capable of emotion. You know, assuming we had digital photo-manipulating software back then. I don't know a lot about what kind of computers primordial man used.

So I guess these web images aren't really good analogies for the Snakes on a Plane thing. I guess the closest analogue I can think of would be this:

I know, I apologize. I should have warned you before breaking out the skeevy on you. But trust me, this is the least skeevy picture I could find in reference to the point I'm about to make.

In the late 1990s, the internet was in the grip of Pam & Tommy fever. People on the street would stop me and ask me "Hey, how do I download this internets thing? I heard Tommy Lee has a HUGE one and I need to see it." And I was all, "OK mom, fine, just never obliquely mention anyone's penis to me again." I didn't even ask what the hell she was doing "on the street."

Back then, it was part of the zeitgeist which I believe is German for "celebrity porn." It's gone now, though. Sure, I can download that video of Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson doin' it and watch it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again now, but it would just be sad. Back then, I was being social. In my room alone with my computer. Just like everyone else.

Same thing with SoaP. Ten years from now I'll bring it up at a party and people will think I'm talking about the 1970s TV show where Billy Crystal played a homo.

Hey, I wonder if there are any funny internet pictures of that?

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.3


Thursday, August 03, 2006
Do U Want 2 Gt Apetizrs?
My wife works a lot. This isn't really a complaint as her efforts keep me in silk track-suits and designer diet soda (try the Green Bean Casserole, it's to die for... seriously, it will kill you), the hoi-polloi fuck-the-little-guy lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. This works out well for everyone involved. Except maybe for the Little Guy. You wouldn't believe what midgets charge for sex these days and still he never seems happy.

Between my wife's work hours and my evenings all wrapped up in my ninja classes (this week: killing with ambient sound) we spend very little time together during the week. Sure, the weekends are all Cristal and chronic, regular family good-times, but the state of California says it's no longer OK for me to hire a hooker EVEN IF the only thing I want from her is to watch my kids. I mean, I could probably pay the 17-year-old neighbor girl the same thing I pay the whore, but the neighbor girl I probably WOULD try to sleep with. So figure that logic out. Laws are stupid.

So really what I'm looking at now are weekends with my wife AND the kids. Eventually my boys will grow and they'll be men with degrees and jobs and living arrangements that don't involve me in any way. Those will be the Good Ole Days. For now, my kids simply the three most effective cockblockers in the history of sexual frustration. This isn't their fault as this is actually the job of children. I'm sure I wasn't exactly a dude-magnet for my single mother when I was a kid either. And if I was, then those were probably NOT the dudes she was looking for anyway.

As busy grown-ups with lots to do, alone-time, together-time for Mrs. Pops and I as a couple is at a premium, to say the least. And honestly, she spends most of it sleeping. I don't blame her, but there it is. You were wondering what I needed the Little Guy for anyway, and now you know.

When she is awake, Mrs. Pops and I spend a lot of time reminiscing about the times before we had kids, waking up when we wanted, not stepping on anything sharp, plastic and/or lightsaber-wielding while walking to the bathroom in the dark, staying out to all hours every night of the week, dominating every social situation with a combination of our potent, combined personal charisma and beauty and the giant bag of roofies we bought off eBay.

OK, most of that last part never happened, but goddamn it, we had the OPTION. Because we were new, we were single, we were young, we were unencumbered.

That's why some of you unmarried, child-free people make me so very very sad. It's not jealousy. It's not. Fuck you, shut up. I'm trying to make a point.

I read today about a new phenomenon called couples-surfing. Not as in ocean-waves and hangin' ten, no. This is where people meet at an internet café and spend their entire "date" sitting next to each other on separate computers surfing the internet.

"Realising that communicating via typing was far more comfortable ... we conducted ... our date without speaking. We traded headphones back and forth and typed and ordered beer and wine and more food ... The waitress thought we were crazy," wrote singer Amanda Palmer.

Hi Amanda Palmer! Pops here. Nice to meet you. One thing you should know: the waitress is right. You're fucking crazy.

I know talking to people is hard. I know it. I'm not talking from the position of smug superiority of someone who's out there and has access to some magic secret of awkward-free sociability. I somehow find the time to write six NOT SHORT blogposts a week. Not exactly a jammed social schedule here.

But look, if you're that terrified of talking to someone with whom you've already made a basic personal connection, is it even possible for you to function socially at all? If you're looking for what's comfortable, well, I can tell you that easily: never leaving the house. Stay on your computer. Order food, order clothes, order the occasional non-speaking companion (I have some references on that if you want, see above) who will do what needs doing and then go away.

I have to believe that this has something to do with the self-esteem obsession in America. We're getting the first generation of people growing up with the expectation that they should NEVER EVER EVER have to feel awkward or uncomfortable or exposed in any social situation. This is what happens when you take dodgeball out of the schools, people. You breed these delicate, crystalline pseudo-people so ready to--expecting to--shatter they can't even bear the idea of talking to someone they already like.

And it pisses me off. Why? Because here are single people spending time together being timid social retards, adding each other to their visual, quantifiable and totally controllable "friends lists" when they should be out talking or dancing or eating or seeing movies or sucking face or trying to jam their hands the front of each others' pants. You know, generally making asses of themselves.

They don't know that the Making A Public Ass Of Yourself window does not stay open long. You can do it, go ahead. Some people will roll their eyes or shake their heads if you're being egregiously stupid. Hell, some might even laugh at you if they overhear you floundering at small-talk. Flop sweat is funny, I'm sorry.

But when you're older and married and have kids like I do, sometimes Making A Public Ass Of Yourself can end with another home visit from Child Protective Services. On a weekend. Further cutting in to the free time I have to spend with my wife.

I'm supposed to be jealous of you people and you're just making me sad and you're making my wife sad and--worst of all--you're making my Little Man sad. Well, sadder.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.0


Wednesday, August 02, 2006
What Blog Are You Reading Right Now?
Six days a week is a lot of space to fill. I will admit to you that not every single post is of absolutely unassailable quality. Internally here at Bucket Global World Offices & Water Park we have a scale we rate each post on ranging from "Totally Fucking Awesome" (highest) down to "Yeah, OK... But Still Pretty Fucking Great" (middle) and finally, shamefully, "Check Out The Guns!" (lowest). The last one I scream to myself while flexing to distract myself from the shame of bad posting and also to make myself feel better by reminding myself that if this all goes to shit, I will always have my God-given physical gifts, which are more than ample. Seriously, I'm totally ripped. When completely disrobed before showering or just to oil up, I weep. Not because of any sadness for myself, but for the rest of you and what must by necessity be your comparative mediocrity.

When it comes to blogging, the bad posts come when I don't have anything at all to say. Or OK, sometimes those turn out pretty awesome too, but most of the time I think it's pretty obvious when I'm laboring through a case of the creative dry heaves.

I will resort to posting pictures with minimal commentary. I will resort to crappy MS Paint exhibitions. I have participated in those meme thingies. I will resort to following my kids around and screaming at them to do something noteworthy.

What I have never, ever done is participated in one of those personality quiz things that tells you what kind of car you are (Hyundai Sonata) or what season you are (Fall with Winter tendencies) or which New Kid on the Block you are (Jonathan) or what grain size and type of gravel you are (1 mm dolomite).

The answers are generally arrived at by asking a series of vague questions that are supposed to divine the subtle currents and eddies of your personality invisible to even you, harness them and emerge with the self-shattering realization that if you were a SuperFriend you'd be Gleek the Space Monkey.

As I said, I've never really participated in one (as far as any of you know). And I am not going to participate in one today. But I feel compelled to share with you the bounty revealed to me by some serendipitous link-following.

I found myself at Quiz Farm, an totally unassuming, some might say lackluster affair of black text on white background. It is filled with quizzes of just the sort I was talking about. Only THESE quizzes anyone and everyone is invited to just kind of make up in a matter of seconds when bored.

As you might have guessed, most of the results are horrific and/or completely unreadable. The place is clearly overrun with members of the myspace generation with all the syntax-murdering implied therein.

As awful as they are, one I felt compelled to share with you. The subject matter is predictably faux-scandalous. Really, the kids try, but it's like catching a monkey looking at a Playboy. At first you feel uncomfortable, but after a while you just kind of go "Awww, look at the funny, funny monkey! Stupid, confused monkey!"

The one I found is called What Body Part Are You Attracted To?

What sets it apart from the typical "What kind of Eggo are you?" fare is the nature of the clever, probing questioning in the Socratic fashion.*

The impenetrable intellect of the questioner is on grand display. The cunning and guile that goes into crafting these things never fails to astonish me. The highlights:

1 You ever find your eyes lowering to mans groin?
5 Do you like cleavage?
13 Do you find yourself staring at a persons butt?

Wow. I don't know what these japes and ruses are angling for, but I am desperate to find out! If I answer all three (THERE ARE THREE!) dick-related questions (including a judicious and appropriate application of the word "shlong" [sic]) in the affirmative... my God, the tension. What will the answer be?! Besides, you know, that I'm a gay.

The best thing about it is that the questions are YES/NO yet there are FIVE FILL-IN CIRCLES to select from. Benefit of the doubt would suggest we say that indicated a range of response, but let's not get crazy with the doubt-benefiting.

Funnily enough, I plugged in my answers and you know what it said to me? "Kill everyone between the ages of 14 and 20 and let's just start over. Oh, and you like boobies."

Maybe it's the first sign of machine sentience that leads to the apocalypse glimpsed in The Terminator or The Matrix or any other of those movies featuring monosyllabic lead actors. If it is, I have to take it seriously: It knew I liked boobies. Spooky.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.7


PS- Check out the guns!!!!

* = I mean Socrates according to his abilities right now, having been dead for 2,500 years.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Dire Straits
As far as I can tell, I belong to Generation X. What does this typically mean? Mathematically it means that I was born (and there is some debate about this, but as the information now appears in this blog, consider the matter fucking settled) somewhere between the years 1963 and 1981 (which I totally was). By extension, this means that in all likelihood I and my generational compatriots are by and large the children of hippies. Yes, we were all begotten in the backs of VW buses, probably on top of a blanket woven by them or someone they personally knew, in the middle of a really far-out mescaline journey. If we were lucky, they at least knew each others' names first. But if we're honest with ourselves, they probably were so far gone at the time they didn't even realize they were having sex. They probably just assumed (naturally) that they were engaged in some kind of wrestling match with the glowing, cosmic Galaxy Mother Spider who descended to Earth to wrap the planet in cocoon made from her gossamer strands of webby, webby love. Dirty, stupid hippies.

As a result of being raised by people who harped on and on and on about social justice or the power of the masses to change the world or why it's OK for 9-year-olds to smoke pot, many of us grew up determined to break free of the Baby Boomer example. No matter how noble, all parental examples to children have the look and feel of restriction. It's the basic survival reflex of human free will.

We rebelled in our own way by essentially striving to be non-Baby-Boomers. This first and foremost meant a whole new generation of adults around my age, fully realized, unencumbered by any messy youthful idealism or sticky political conscience driving us to do nutty things like organize or march on anything or vote. Voting is a sucker's bet, you know. Not only is there no real choice between the two major parties, man, but that's exactly how they get you for jury duty. With the new fall TV season coming up, I just don't see how or why anyone would risk that.

That's the reputation we have, anyway: we're cynical, we're shallow, we malinger, we're lazy, we prize consumption over production, irony over sincerity, processed over organic, vanilla over chocolate, Jan over Marcia, TV over slow-ass reading.

The reason that I bring all this up is because today MTV--that great icon of GenX'edness--celebrates its 25th birthday. August 1, 1981 we were introduced to a stream of culture-making consciousness that led us directly to big hair and the key-tar. But eventually the station moved away from music and started a long, frenzied process to provide we the insatiable Generation X with the most superficial of entertainments, Roman Circus style, so that we might linger long enough to be persuaded to drink Mountain Dew. We got to watch people stuck together in a house, people stuck together in an RV, cartoons of people watching videos (plus ass jokes!), dudes lighting themselves on fire... hell, they even killed a guy live on TV once just because they thought we would watch. Astounding.

You know what, this was going to be a critical post about the ultimate uselessness of MTV, but fuckin' A, man, now that I think about it, that's some hardcore shit. Where else are you going to find that kind of commitment to your personal entertainment/well-being? It's not like NBC ever killed a guy.

Well, except Bob Hope.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.5



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