Friday, March 31, 2006
How Do You Think This One Got Started?
OK people, in my quest to make all of you All That You Can Be without having to suit you up in substandard gear and send you to a furnace-blasted hellscape in order to be shot at by people you've never met, I think it's time once again for another lesson.
Now, I have a vast wealth of personal knowledge and accomplishment to draw from that I could impart to you. I could teach you a great many things about a wide range of subjects from how to marry in such a way as to avoid work for the rest of your natural life, how to avoid death by pulmonary embolism caused by sitting on your ass for 18 hours a day, a thesaurus-like (and I mean a whole thesaurus) list of alternatives for the word "penis," 16th century Welsh political and religious history, how to download porn discreetly in horrifying amounts, découpage and where to find "herbal v1.agk.ra CHEEP." These are a list of my skills.
But seeing as this is a blog, my main concern is trying to leave this blogosphere better than I found it. While your excrement is indeed organic and is perfectly OK to leave any ole place when you're camping, the same rules do not apply to the blogopshere. I'm here to help you know what to leave behind and what to carry out with you. Think of me not so much as a tour guide but more as the plastic Ziploc bag you wear inside-out on your hand so that you can safely and hygienically handle your own shit. I know it's vulgar and disgusting, but then, so are blogs.
If you would like to recap my collected works of wisdom already offered in this field, please feel free to review Lesson #1, Lesson #2 and Lesson #3. Are they worth your time? That depends: how terrified are you of your own potential for Awesomeness? If the answer is "not very," feel free to go ahead and enlighten yourself. I'll wait. If you answered "Oh God, I think I just wet myself," maybe you should stick to cat pictures and Farscape episode write-ups.
So You Want To Be A Blogger, #4
My first few lessons were about getting started and how to best present yourself to your potential blog audience. How well I apply these lessons to my own blog can be seen in the tag-line below the banner title currently employed above (if you're reading this in the future at, say, the Pops Beloved Dictator Library and Archives in the "Early Days" exhibit, the tagline and banner might have changed by then; in case you were curious, it currently says "Married, Looking"). Just because I KNOW the rules doesn't necessarily mean I'm some kind of expert at employing or following them.
Look at any coach or manager at the highest level of professional sports and you'll see someone who was a mediocre player at best. There are exceptions of course, but the point is that the people who are The Best tend to miss the nuances because they are too busy being The Best and having six-way sex with stewardesses, hoochies, groupies and hotel maids. I can tell you from personal fantasy experience that six-way sex is extraordinarily distracting.
What I'm saying is that when I speak, I speak from experience and from the privileged observer station of mediocrity. I know I SEEM awesome, but until I get the six-way and the endorsement deal with Gatorade (or, OK, maybe not Gatorade, but something more blog-related like ass balm or those carpal-tunnel wrist braces), I'm a middle-of-the-pack-er just like everyone else. Enjoy me while you can. When I hit the big time, you "little people" will be the first to go.
Today's lesson assumes you've been blogging for a while. You've gotten your legs under you, you've gone through the standard phases (song lyrics, poems, movie quotes, confessionals, Hasselhoff, naked pictures of yourself, getting fired from your job, etc.) and now here you are: stuck.
You love your blog. You love the idea of your blog. But the last thing you ever, ever want to do again ever in your whole life is write another fucking blogpost. Oh my God, the level of disinterest is staggering. Even you are no longer interested in what you have to say.
And the readers... sure, at first it was nice to have people read what you wrote and offer advice/praise/insight/personal insults (hello, Bucketeers!) but now you sort of--and not really, but just in a hypothetical sense since you don't know any of them and you're sure they're really OK people in real life--wish they would all die horrible painful deaths and just leave you alone for ONE SECOND so you can collect yourself and not have to answer the goddamn bell anymore. My God, this was supposed to be FUN, remember? A goof. A lark. Something to do after you'd seen all the episodes of MacGuyver on Spike TV. And now look at you: hands shaking, the muscles in your neck a knotted mess, sweating, scalp itching... it sounds to me like you've got scabies or something and should see a doctor. Also: you've probably got a bad case of Blogger Burnout.
I made a joke of it when I first started blogging. I began each post with a countdown labeled "Estimated Days Until Blogger Burnout" followed by a number which humourously fluctuated day to day depending on my desperation for material that day.
I stopped that little gimmick when I realized the sad, awful, cruel irony: after a certain point, the Estimated Days Until Blogger Burnout scale is stuck permanently on 1.
So what's a blogger to do?
Well, I DO NOT recommend taking an assault rifle to a McDonald's and pretending the patrons are some combination of demanding readers and personifications of your crippling OCD. Again, I DO NOT recommend this. Yes, there is no blogging from prison, but there is forced sodomy. It is both ubiquitous and quite vigorous, from what I understand. You have to weigh all the pros and cons.
All I can really tell you is how I deal with this particuar problem. Not the forced sodomy, the blogger burnout. Fending off would-be anal rapists while incarcerated is a whole 'nother post. Suffice it to say you should always sleep on your back.
The best cure for blogger burnout is to simply sit down and start writing. For me anyway, blogposts simply have a way of working themselves out, for better or for worse. To put it metaphorically, if you squeeze the stone hard enough and provided it has at least one sufficiently sharp edge, you will eventually get blood out of it. The fact that your own hand may be gashed open all the way to the bone, you will have to tell yourself, is merely a coincidence. The trick is convincing yourself that the blood came from the stone. Try saying it over and over and over again. If that doesn't work, do what I do and get roaring drunk first. You can convince yourself of almost anything if you get the reasoning centers of your brain good and impaired first.
Drinking is also helpful in that you can write something that is complete and utter crap, but it will SEEM like genius because you're too drunk to notice the difference. By the time you realize what you've done and that you posted your own phone number and a scanner picture of your scrotum in a blogpost, well, it will be the next day and thus too late. All you can do is congratulate yourself for having got through another day blogging. And change your phone number.
Just sit down and start typing. You'll see. New blogposts have a way of opening themselves up, like the first flowers of spring, each and every day, infusing your moribund endeavor with unexpected new life.
So that's my advice to you: be like new Spring every single day. Sure, the world can only do it once per year, but the world is a big stupid rock floating in space. You're a blogger. You have nothing better to do.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.0
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Naked Pictures Of Famous People
I was all ready to write a forthright, earnest, civic-minded analysis of the incredibly complex set of issues surrounding the current very-loud public debate concerning illegal immigration.
It's something that deserves my attention, your attention, everyone's attention. Out here in the greater Los Angeles area, my God, even the children are involved. Many many school-age kids are walking out of classrooms to join protest marches and generally wander the streets because they are so moved by their newly-awakened political consciousness to stand up for what they believe in by hanging out on some street corner with their friends surrounded by a bunch of loud old people screaming about some old people stuff when they could be stuck in an English--sorry, Language Arts--class somewhere giggling at the name "John Updike."
In school they would be bored, agitated, overwhelmed by their own suffocating apathy. In a protest march, they can be bored, agitated and overwhelmed by their own suffocating apathy in the service of a cause. To me, that's political action at its finest: taking your primary talents and giving them, selflessly, to what you believe in. It's like me and the dick jokes.
But, just as I was gearing up to read a lot of news stories laying out the intricacies of the arguments on both sides of this immigration thing so that I could make a cogent, balanced, subtle assessment of the pros and cons, my energies were involuntarily redirected to the feature story in my local newspaper about the boobies of famous actresses and when they should show them to me. Being a white person of largely European descent (seriously, they were LARGE) means that I am enough generations away from my own illegally-immigrating ancestors that I can take a more reserved, long-term view and tactfully shelve the issue for a slower news day.
Now, about the boobies. The article is by a local staff writer from something called the "News & Observer" from the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. I don't know how it got picked up by the national wire services and ended up in my local suburban paper, but it did. I suspect it had something to do with the fact that my local paper could then justify full-color teasers on the front page with pictures of Scarlett Johanssen and Rachel McAdams on the front page under the headline "NUDITY (Inside, C3)". Maybe I'm just being cynical, but I think that could potentially move more copies than teasing the other story they did about the seismic retrofitting of a bridge.
Now, I'm about to object to this story about boobies. I feel it's right for me to prepare you, my loyal Bucketeers, before I do so so as to not knock you all out of your chairs when I do.
I'm strongly pro-boobie. I think I've established that. No one can doubt my credentials in this area. Me and the pro-boobie position are as integrated and unassailable as Nixon and anti-Communism. They say only Nixon could go to China. I used to think that saying was a comment on early 1970s travel restrictions or just an American disinclination to visit countries where they might accidentally be served dog, but what it REALLY means is that Nixon was such a swaggering, huge-balled Commie-hater that he could go stick 'em in Mao's face and no one would think he was just being a homo. That whole subverting-the-Constitution-for-political-gain thing was more of just a hobby.
So when I say I object to the nationally-carried news article about the boobies of famous actresses, it's not because I'm gay. It's not. It's not, shut up. Lots of men get their tips frosted these days. Their hair tips. Leave me alone.
No, what I object to in the article is that in order to underline the "staff writer's" point, he quoted a blogger. A blogger. Who had something to say about naked actresses.
Big deal, right? Well, the blogger he quoted was not me.
I still can't believe it. I mean, honestly, if you were sitting at home, any of you, and you decided you needed to read something about young nubile actresses taking off their shirts in the service of the "story" they're telling, where would you go?
Straight to the Bucket. You know it's true.
And yet for some reason, this "News & Observer" (still not sure that's a real paper; may instead be some kind of national ruse just to frustrate and infuriate me) went to someone called "Lance Mannion".
First of all: fake name! Nobody is named "Lance Mannion" who isn't a covert agent for the government saving the world from giant-laser-wielding supergenius bad guys in a Bargain Bin paperback.
Second: probably the blog of the "staff writer" under a pseudonym. Only thing I can think of that makes sense. Am I paranoid? Maybe. As soon as I can connect "both" of these "people" to the JFK assassination and the cover-up of long-standing alien presence on the planet Earth, the better I'll feel.
Third: The point the guy made was about how regular physical nudity is easy, but what he thinks is hard is "emotional nudity," where actresses bare their souls or some shit. Which leads me to...
I love gay people (remember: frosted tips), but I'm sorry, there are some things that should be left in the hands of straight men. Actress boobies are one (or, in fact, two) of them. Other things verboten to gay men are things like NASCAR, Republican politics and the Scientology. There are NO GAY SCIENTOLOGISTS! THEY'VE ALL BEEN CURED!
And now I must stop before I am sued by "Lance Mannion" or the "News & Observer" or the Nixon estate or GLAAD or (most likely) Scientology.
Just want to say, if you're a journalist and you're doing a piece on Brad Pitt's dick, I'd better be your go-to quote. Otherwise, you can expect the same sort of public excoriation as was given to "staff writer" today.
Consider your emotional well-being and the potential destruction of it. By me. Not a threat, just saying.
As for what I think about the illegal immigration thing (in case you were wondering), I can sum it up for you all in one sentence: I don't like to pay a lot for oranges.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.8
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The Whole Truth
Well. As though we Democrats didn't have enough reason to blindly hate the President of the United States, we have more fuel for the ole fire with new memos released by the British government revealing the thinking behind the run-up to the Iraq War. It includes snippets of conversation that provide insight into the machinations and detailed planning that goes into totally making shit up.
The existence and publication of this memo, besides the blindly-hate-the-president thing, also speaks to another one of my pet issues here in the Bucket: never, EVER trust foreigners. They just turn around and release details of secret meetings of shady fabricated war pretenses right when you least expect it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you can't trust those people. None of 'em are any goddamn good.
Except Asian women between the ages of 15 and 22. They serve a real purpose. They drive an industry of white-boy fetishism that generates billions of dollars in revenue by posing in school girl outfits while not wearing underwear and distributing said pictures all over the internets. They do the Lord's work.
I'm somewhat frustrated with this new memo in that there is no direct transcript of conversations that could spur me to blindly hate the president in more SPECIFIC ways.
Luckily for you, the Bucket never sleeps. Here at Global Headquarters, I put some of my people on it. The thing about illegal immigrant Guatemalans is that they always know somebody who knows somebody. The access to all levels of government in all nations is unbelievable. It's not like everyone DOESN'T need cheap, exploitable labor to wash their floors or raise their children. The network is ubiquitous, all-seeing, all-knowing. You just have to know how to ask the right questions. Mostly in Spanish.
What follows is highly classified. Several Guatemalans gave their lives for this document. Or they would have had anyone noticed them standing around. When you're pushing a vacuum cleaner, no one notices you, let alone detains you for questioning.
The revelations are shocking.
The site: the Oval Office, the White House
At the meeting: President of the United States GEORGE W. BUSH; Prime Minister of the United Kingdom TONY BLAIR; British Foreign Secretary JACK STRAW; Presidential Advisor KARL ROVE; White House day-shift house-cleaning crew member LUPE RIVAS of Mazatenango, quietly dusting the President's wall-mounted animal head trophies
BUSH: How much you pay for them shoes, Tony?
BLAIR: What, these? £90 or so I think. They're quite comfortable.
BUSH: How much is that in American?
BLAIR: Mr. President, I think we should stick to the issue at hand.
BUSH: Iss-she-yoo... Man, you guys talk cool.
JACK STRAW: Wot!
BUSH: I love it when he does that. Say something else, Jacky!
STRAW: Pish-posh! Codswallop! Wot!
BUSH: I could listen to that all day. Hey, is it true that you people don't call an elevator an elevator?
BLAIR: George, come now, we do have a schedule to keep.
BUSH: Shed-yoo-wull... shed-yoo-wull... Hey, say 'aluminum'!
KARL ROVE (from his cage on the floor next to Bush's chair): Arrararararar! Grrrrrr! Hraff! Hraff! (spits)
BUSH: All right, all right. Jeez-oo, what a temper on this one. Karl thinks we should get a move-on, too. OK, looky, you ever met my dad?
BLAIR: I have had the pleasure of meeting the former President Bush, yes. But I thought we were here to talk about...
BUSH: Do you want him to die?
BLAIR: Do I what?
BUSH: Dead. My dad. If he died, would you think it was funny?
BLAIR: My God, no.
BUSH: Good. Then it's settled. We invade Iran. They tried to kill my dad, you know.
BLAIR: Iraq, you mean. We're here to talk about Iraq.
BUSH: For starters. Look, do you have Instant Messenger?
BLAIR: We use a very secure system of couriers to deliver our...
BUSH: No, I mean IM. Like AOL. See, 'cause I was thinking we pretend we're underage girls, right? And then we send messages to Saddam saying how we want to have sex with him and whatnot. Only he doesn't know it's us. Then we record all that information and whammo! Right to the UN with 'Saddam's a pedophile.' Seen it on Dateline. See, then we got him dead to rights because if he says he KNEW it was us and he still talked all smutty-like, we could just say he's a homo. Again: whammo! It's a perfect plan.
ROVE: (pants, licks himself)
BUSH: Karl really likes it.
BLAIR: Well, I guess the plan has its merits...
BUSH: No, I mean licking himself. He really, really likes it. He's good at it too. Dang, look at him go. You ever try that, Tony?
BLAIR: Well, I did go to university.
BUSH: Heh. You're all right, Tony. Listen, if we can't get the AOL thing to work I think we could--
[Door opens. An aide comes in, looking distressed.]
AIDE: Mr. President, it's urgent that you pick up Line 7 immediately.
BUSH: Hoo, shee-it, Line 7. Did my little Barbara drive over someone in her SUV again?
AIDE: No sir, Line 2 is the Offspring Management Crisis line. And that wasn't Barbara, that was Jenna.
BUSH: Which is the drunky one with the blonde hair?
AIDE: Jenna, sir.
BUSH: Yeah... man, I gotta write that down. Hey, so who is it anyway, buddy?
AIDE: It's Samuel L. Jackson, sir.
BUSH: Samuel L. Jackson?! The actor?!
STRAW: Mint mushy peas! Wot!
AIDE: Yes, Mr. President. He's calling from an air-phone. It's urgent, he says. National security.
BUSH: Thanks, Sport-o. You can go. [Exit Aide. To Blair:] You mind if I take this?
BLAIR: Honestly, I don't think we have time for--
BUSH: Thanks, Tone. [Into phone:] Sam! Sammy! You there? Sam? I can barely hear you.
SAMUEL L. JACKSON: (static) Mister... (static)
BUSH: Sam? What is it, Sam? Hey, I loved you in Lord of the Rings.
JACKSON: I wasn't in those GOTdamn movies, Mr. President.
BUSH: Yeah, you were that little friend of that Frodo guy.
BLAIR: You're thinking of Sean Astin. His character was called 'Sam' though.
BUSH: Then who am I talking to?
BLAIR: He was the one in Pulp Fiction.
BUSH: You mean Wesley Snipes? [Into phone:] Wesley? Can you hear me? What's the trouble?
JACKSON: We got... (static)... snakes... on this... (static)... motherfuckin' plane!
BUSH: Holy mother of... did he say 'snakes'?
BUSH: [Into phone:] Hang on, Denzel! Cavalry's on its way! [Hangs up] Sorry, Tone. Duty calls.
[President Bush stands and with a single motion tears away his business suit to reveal the flight suit underneath. He reaches behind the couch and produces a helmet, which he puts on. Across the front of the helmet, in hasty purple crayon, is the call-sign: FOURTY-THREE (sic)]
BUSH: Gotta go. If we don't have time to work up that AOL thing, we'll go with the WMD plan instead, I guess. Have your people call my people and we'll set it up.
BLAIR: You're not seriously going to shoot down that plane are you?
BUSH: Have you seen my poll numbers? Action must be taken. I know you can't understand it because you're a lily-livered half a fag socialist Euro, but in America, we seize our problems by the balls. And then we tear their balls off, usually with the help of a cruise missile. See ya.
[Exit all except for LUPE RIVAS, who puts down her feather duster and begins to wash the windows]
Before you say it, let me just confirm it: yes, my committment to the truth is staggering. I am putting my own life at risk even bringing this to you. Keeping that in mind, I would like to say this: it wasn't really my idea. I think the president is good and I wish nobody any harm. If, Presumed Law Enforcement-Types Who Are Reading This, you need to deport someone, I can get you a list of names within the hour.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.2
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Dental Appointment Placeholder Post Of Doom!
Dental hygiene waits for no man. It might seem sort of pointless to you all since you know I lost most of my teeth during the dark days last year of my meth-bender/scurvy one-two punch left me mostly tooth-free. But believe it or not, the fake ones need just as much maintenance. Especially when they're all made of gold.
To entertain you now, I give you my ideal picture of full dental and every other aspect of personal grooming.
George Hamilton says: it's OK to smoke cigars, so long as you remember to floss 8-15 times daily.
Wish me luck. You know, on NYPD Blue, Jimmy Smits' "Bobby Simone" character was killed by a bad trip to the dentist. Something like that would be just my luck.
ADDENDUM: In the interest of non-plagiaristic fairness (and because I got yelled at) I feel I must point out that Happy Fun Ball CLAIMS to have proprietary rights to the "Placeholder of Doom" name JUST because she thought of it first. So I'd like to apologize: I'm very sorry HFB is a big selfish baby. Please keep an eye on the comments section where she will no doubt also claim to have invented George Hamilton.
Monday, March 27, 2006
She's OK, But She Ain't No Matthew McConaughey
I was loath to even mention that Scarlett Johansson was named "Sexiest Woman" by FHM Magazine because that would inevitably lead to the employment of the unfortunate word "butterface", which would then probably need to be explained.
And then I realized just now that by saying how I didn't want to use it means I have to explain it anyway.
Butterface (noun): word used to describe a woman whose body (in the opinion of the commentor) is of disproportionately superior aesthetic appeal compared to her face. A contraction of the words but her face as in: "Man, that Scarlett Johansson's body is smokin', but her face..."
example: Scarlett Johansson? Butterface.
Most common use among teenage and college-aged males who have yet to understand that there is more to a woman than her appearance. For instance, some women are also good for attaching yourself to financially so that you can then be free to sit at home and write a blog about slang terms you haven't used in 15 years.
See, and it is in this way that I paint myself into these corners where I don't really HAVE to apologize to my readers, but I get the creepy feeling on the back of my neck that I really should.
So here goes: I'm sorry the readers of FHM are lame and thus put me in this position. I mean come on, Johansson is ranked above Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba AND Jessica Simpson. Don't they know that Jessica Alba and Jessica Simpson have NOTHING ELSE? Scarlett Johansson has talent. And I'm not just talking about her gravity-defiant boobies. I mean she can actually act. She has Golden Globe (steady...) nominations to prove it.
What does Jessica Simpson have? Nowt but what we might one day see in a Playboy pictorial. Two-dimensional indeed. And Jessica Alba? Well, I heard she was OK in Sin City but apart from that, her whole entire career is predicated on gracing the pages of FHM, Maxim and thus like publications. Did you see The Fantastic Four? I didn't.
So apart from the cruelly misogynistic "butterface" label, I attach to Scarlett Johansson a more appropriate, gender-neutral and personally deserved epithet: big fat hog.
Wait, I meant that in the metaphorical, attention-stealing sense. Not like she's really a... look, I appreciate a chick with a little meat on the ole skeleton.
Man. OK, let me just say straight out that I don't hate women. I really don't. A woman pays for the internet access that allows me to flail and backtrack like this.
If you ever meet her, you can thank her personally. For that and the fact that she will probably smack me in the back of my head and restrict my Real Life Boobie privlieges for a good long while.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.1
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Another weekend come and gone. Unlike most weekends which have been devolving into a predictable pattern of same-ole-same-ole guiding illegals across the California-Mexico border in the dead of night in exchange for uncut heroin and cold hard cash, this weekend actually marked a few milestones:
This last one, believe it or not, was the one I spent the most time on. Turns out not killing anyone talks almost no time.
It was a little awkward getting back into the flow of the season including regular practices, lugging the equipment, remembering which moms I slept with last year in order to weasel out of snack-bar duty, but it all comes flooding back once the first bat hits the first ball and the first TRO is politely-yet-firmly enforced. 500 yards is farther than you think.
The best part about it was being outdoors on a glorious SoCal Spring day, just overcast enough to make you forget to put on sunscreen.
For me, of somewhat fair skin and light colored hair that meant not only 2nd degree sunburn over 40% of my body, but also the charming, charming bleaching of my non-sunglasses-protected eyebrows from the ravaging power of our closest, life-giving star.
I don't generally like to give clues as to my identity or how I look (I don't have a problem with it personally, but everytime something slips, I get the same ole "Do you have any idea how much this costs the taxpayers" speech from my Witness Protection case officers), but the overall effect is this:
If you come to Riverside this week and you see this man (especially forehead-up), it's most likely me. You can make fun of me if you wish, but beware my ability to pull out your still-beating heart and then show it to you before you die. There is power in eyebrows.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: [Inscrutable Mystery of the Orient]
Pops Yun Fat
PS- Speaking of fat, my Sunday posts are likely to be this half-ass (lists, silly pictures, etc.) while this season of The Sopranos plays itself out. As a functional illiterate, TV is what I do instead of reading. So I have to have my stories of Gutshot Tony, Uncle Alzheimers, Stoner Kid Hippie Hair, Hot Daughter, Big Fat Gay Vito, Dr. Platitude, Silver Wing Head Guy, Salt-N-Pepper Eyebrows (I'm into eyebrows this week) and all the rest of the nutty, nutty gang of bloodthirst sociopaths. I know the same general description applies to you, my beloved Bucketeers, but until you do the antisocial things you do in front of a camera for 45 minutes to an hour every week, I'm going to go with Gutshot Tony. Don't worry, I'm still too much of a mentally and socially retarded pussy to give up Sunday posting altogether. Pops is still damaged in that endearing way.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Everything Is Satisfactual
Ah, spring. It is here, at long, long last. I always get that little tingle up my spine when the first signs of spring come: the new leaves growing, the flower buds opening, and the quality of movies sharply rising from the interminable, fallow winter of January-February wind-blasted desolation.
There are two movies that I would very much like to see coming out today (Spike Lee's Inside Man and Thank You For Smoking) but there is an outside chance I might get to see one of those between now and the start of the REAL movie season roughly five weeks from now (Mission Impossible III comes out May 5... start making other plans now!), so just to be safe, for national security reasons, I cannot include them in Movies I Have No Intention of Seeing entries. I learned my lessons from the domestic uprisings following the Mr. and Mrs. Smith debacle. I've learned: with great power comes great responsibility.
Instead of going to movies, I encourage all of you to drop whatever it is you're doing right now: your work, your knitting, your child(ren) and run directly outside. Normally this kind of a) joy and b) movement is anathema to bloggers as a social subset and to me in particular. The question I ask myself every day: do I weigh 450 lbs. because I refuse to move or do I refuse to move because I weigh 450 lbs.? Chicken and egg. We'll never know for sure.
But this week, as I said in the opening paragraph, is the beginning of Spring. Sure, maybe it's still 30 degrees and snowing (I'm looking at you, Detroit!) but go on, get out there! Spring is as Spring does. The vernal equinox has come and gone. The weather isn't going to get the message until you get out there and show it who's boss. Tank tops, flip flops, sunscreen, hot pants; common everyday Springtime attire. You get out there and you prove to all of us that you don't take no shit from no snow-drift. We are human beings, the pinnacle of God's/Darwin's Creation/Evolution (choose as you feel is applicable). We don't adapt to the weather. The weather adapts to us.
Of course, I live in Southern California, so Spring here starts around... mid-November. We had a weird winter-like spasm a week or two ago, but Mother Nature seems to have worked that all out of her system and has gone back to her customary spot on the beach in Newport, lolling around in a bathing suit far too skimpy and revealing for a woman of her age and considerable girth, messily and loudly making out with spindle-thin Bermuda-short-ed Father Time. It's a disgusting image, but at least she leaves us alone.
The weather clock might move imperceptibly from season to season out here, but the biological clock of all the local fauna is definitely set to go off all at the right orbito-rotational moment. I know it's Spring because I can hear all the goddamn frogs croaking and the goddamn birds chirping from their goddamn nests in my goddamn chimney. It's a goddamn magical goddamn song of life.
As the animals awake and birth their offspring, I don't get to see much of my dog. This is her busy time of the year. She sets aside her normal routine of sleeping, testing various things left laying on the floor for edibility, sleeping, barking at nothing and trying to see just how far up her own rectum she can shove her nose for a heavy schedule of running headfirst into our sliding-glass backdoor in an attempt to chase and pounce on all the animals newly-awakened from their long winter slumber.
The sad thing is that when she doesn't hit the glass door at full steam and actually makes it outside, God help her if she actually catches the thing she's chasing. Thousands of years of effective domestication combined with the deep personal stupidity of my dog in particular means that her hunting skills, while active enough to initiate, are mostly there for show. Like all things vestigial, her hunting instincts are fairly useless in the end; they do about as much for her as my tail does for me.
The animals are awake and the baby animals are all being born. If Spring makes me think of anything, it's the idea of a bunch of wild animals balling each other mad in a wild sub-human frenzy of feathers and fur. Think of Bambi as presented by Larry Flynt. I know it sounds perverse or weird, but I used to think of that ALL the time, not just in Spring. The medication seems to be working.
Speaking of inappropriate procreation, I think in the interest of fairness, I should point out that my kids were born in the Spring. All three of them: Fennel, Portfolio and even little Inigo-Montoya were all Springtime babies. I don't know what that says about their mother and myself. Maybe we're tapped in to the resonant, propulsive rhythms of nature and therefore emulate not only the wellspring of basic animal life around us but the legacy of our ancestors who had their children in the early months of the dissipating frost in order to ensure long, robust survival in preparation for the ever-looming promise of returning Winter. Or maybe we just liked to do it in the Fall.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.1
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Paths Of The Dead
First, some non-funny business:
I went through this morning, as all bloggers must from time to time, and pared down my blogroll. It pains me to do so as many of the ones I removed were formerly excellent blogs, some of which were instrumental in guiding me with a gentle hand and plenty of lube into full blog-manhood.
In all, I removed 11 blogs from my roll. The criteria I used to decide who got cut were 1) Blog no longer exists (either a 404 Error page or clearly disappeared and taken over by someone else) 2) No updates for 5-6 months or 3) Blogger's last post suggested that we should all politely go out and make something of our lives because we weren't going to be finding any distraction/entertainment there anymore because, goddammit, they quit.
If you see your blog's link missing from the lists over on the right-hand sidebar and you are NOT, in fact, dead or SO past this blog-thing, please let me know and I will re-add you immediately. Please be assured that I am mortified at the oversight and my own presumption, etc.
The good news is that I am now taking applications for new links! Space available! Inquire within!
The only one I haven't deleted that I should have is Heightened Thoughts. That blogger said he quit, but he is a known habitual liar and a coward. I suspect him to come crawling back to us at any moment.
Though many have fallen by the wayside, I do continue to occasionally add new blogs to the blogroll (hello, Melissa!). What I'm saying is that despite rumors to the contrary (mostly started be me, like, yesterday) the Bucket is alive and well and thriving, still slop-full of a frothy, miasmic soup of biological and organic material capable of supporting life.
Pops' Bucket: STILL Not Unlike Manure
Now, on with your regularly scheduled non-funny writing...
In case it isn't clear yet, events of the last few days have put us in a somewhat reflective mood over here at Pops' Bucket Global Headquarters. If you walk around the corporate campus (my quaint suburban tract house) and run across any member of the editorial staff (the twelve Guatemalans who live chained in my attic with only a typewriter to work on and a pickle jar to relieve themselves in... I will admit they often get the purposes of the two crossed) you will notice a kind of spaced-out, disengaged malaise. Maybe it's the existential break that is precipitated by things like new sudden exposure fostering an atmosphere of deep philosophical reappraisal and personal reordering of priorities; or maybe it's dehydration after a nasty bit of food poisoning they got from the tainted tuna I fed them. If I've learned anything from recent days, it's this: one pickle jar is not nearly enough for twelve people.
For me, it's a little different. I'm the boss. The big-man. The chief. Or as my staff affectionately calls me, "Chinga Tu Madre". Heavy is the head that wears the crown, you know. I don't have the luxury of lolly-gagging around, letting my thoughts wander outside of the Now; I have a product that needs to be delivered to the good people of the internets. Wishy-washy hippie introspection is something I can't afford. You let your guard down and next thing you know your whole writing staff have slipped their shackles and are trying to kick out the bars on the windows. I'm very proud of the fact that in my workspace, my staff is the only collection of illegals trying to get BACK To Guatemala. I do my bit for the fight against illegal immigration.
I will admit, I've allowed myself to be a little distracted lately. The air of contemplative self-examination is infectious. That or I've got mono from the maid again. Either way, I find myself craving some quiet time where I can just sit and think.
Whenever I have a rare chance to sit and think, it always means the same subject: ninjas.
You thought I was going to say "porn" didn't you? But porn isn't something you think about. Porn is something you live. It's a lifestyle.
Ninjas you have to think about because they can neither be seen nor heard. It's tough to have a conversation with someone whose whole modus operandi is to catch you unawares.
When most people think about ninjas, they probably just think about how cool it would be to BE a ninja. Me, I can't help thinking that a ninja's life must be a sad and lonely one. The only people you meet in the course of your work are people you're going to silently murder with a poisoned dart from a blow-gun or a throwing star to the jugular. No time to chat, no conversation. Just hours and hours sitting--alone--in a bush or a car trunk or a filing cabinet or whatever waiting for your target to show. Sure, every once in a while a bunch of your fellow ninjas get together to jump through some of those paper walls they have in old-timey Japanese houses in order to be "killed" in Tom Cruise movies, but that's not real ninja-ing. That's not the essence of the job. That's just nice work if you can get it.
What I'm saying is there is no water-cooler in the ninja world. Who do you talk to about last night's episode of The Sopranos? The answer is: nobody. You put on your ridiculous black pajamas, the hood with the eye-slit to see through, the boots with the camel-toe, load up on weapons and smoke-balls-of-disappearance and then you go out and kill people. Man, what a bleak life.
Odds are right now that in your immediate field of vision--yes, I'm talking to YOU--there are at least 2 ninjas, undetectable, invisible, waiting. Maybe they're waiting for you. Or maybe they're waiting for the mailman or a co-worker of yours or the guy who drives the lunch truck... whatever. I'm asking you to do them a favor and talk to them. You can't see them and they will not--cannot--talk back. Just tell them about your day or the weather or whatever. It doesn't matter. Just talk.
I bet--I just bet--that the interpersonal contact might just cause a single tear to run down their black-hood-covered cheek. And then if you ARE the target, well, they may be moved to kill you quickly and painlessly. Think of yourself if nothing else.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.4
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
You Had To Send The Wrecking Crew After Me
What a day yesterday.
I found out around noon my time that a regular Bucketeer, the lovely and talented Geordie, was a naughty monkey and posted a link to yesterday's post in a discussion thread over at big giant rockstar blog the Daily Kos. For those of you who don't know, let me put it in perspective for you: the resultant upswing in new and curious readers that Kos gets from the link provided by me in this paragraph will be noticed the same way a giant universe-sucking black hole notices... I don't know, something really small and space-y. I was never very good at astrology.
What I'm saying is that the relationship (however brief and tenuous) between your ole beloved Bucket and something the size and scope of Kos can probably be best described as parasitic. And I don't even get to be one of those cool parasites either, like a leech or a tapeworm. I'm so small by comparison that the best analogy would be a single head louse. Not a colony, not an infestation, just one that maybe fell out of a flying bird, enjoyed a brief second of nirvana in either the scalp or pubic area of a brand-new host only to get itched away almost immediately.
The net effect of the Kos exposure, then, was negligible for those good people but a big-time one-off surge in readership and exposure for me.
While I thank Geordie for the public display of affection (and would reciprocate here if I had a blog address to link to, which I don't), I'm sort of ambivalent about these sorts of things. It's not unlike the Great Tbogg Link Event of 2005: I'm very happy for the increased visibility, while at the same time, I can't help thinking "What?! Visitors now?! Wait wait, give me a chance to clean this shit-hole up before people come nosing around!" but then it's too late because someone's already sat on the open-face peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich you had left on the couch for safe-keeping.
Because I'm on a metaphorical roll, it's also not unlike stepping into the shower, singing some of the John Tesh songs you've made up words to at the top of your voice, maybe lingering a little bit while washing the bits and pieces only to step out of the shower to find 50 people you've never met before waiting for you. Just for the record, I'd like to say I enjoy the brisk, invigorating feel of an unusually cold shower; it's normally much bigger, honest.
And there, I think I've demonstrated two points with the above paragraph: 1) Please, if you're going to stay (and I encourage you to do so, for the low-low introductory price of No-Charge-But-I-Won't-Say-No-To-A-Donation) don't judge me solely by the most recent posts and 2) although yesterday's post was pseudo-political, this blog is more about teh phunny than it is about teh impeach-the-president.
If the revolution does come, I'll be the one in the back-ish of the column holding the rubber chicken. Just thought we should get that out there.
If you're looking for serious-minded political discussion, my God, have you come to the wrong place. In fact, if you're looking for serious-minded anything I can think of about... oh, say, EVERYWHERE else that you'd be better off.
On the other hand, if Star Wars references and the occasional Hasselhoff picture are more your speed, you're in the right place.
As a final way to emphasize the normal direction the Bucket takes on most social commentary, if it weren't for this little happy distraction, my topic today was going to be about the story of the dancer who was fired from a show because he boobs magically grew too big.
Ah, boobies. And now you know the level of the room.
Putting all this together--and since it's become a horrendous Pops-centric orgy of self-referential me-porn anyway--after the Tbogg thing, I posted a picture of my Sitemeter graph to illustrate the dramatic influx that day. Let me now share with you something a little more long-term, my YEARLY Sitemeter graph:
Now, if you look closely at the difference between January and February of this year, you may notice something. I'll give you a second. Got it? What did you immediately think of?
It was Wile E. Coyote, wasn't it? Right off the cliff. I knew I never should have looked down.
I try to tell myself that it's because February only has 28 days, so we should expect to see some drop-off but uh... even I have to admit that the drop might be indicative of some kind of change.
What I'm saying, Kos-inspired visitors, is OH GOD PLEEEEEEAAASE STAAAAAY! PLEEAAAASE! I SO don't want to kill myself! I really really don't! Look, I can do George Bush material! You saw it yesterday! If I look I can find that funny, funny collage of pictures where his various facial expressions are compared to a chimpanzee! That would be good, right? Would you stay then? Would you? Say you would.
Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!
I love you all. I know it's early, but I mean it. I do.
I'm so very lonely.
Last thing: at the end of each post, I sign off with a rating on "the Narcissus Scale" named for the character in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection in a pond. It is for that reason I avoid all bodies of water. Anyway, the scale (on a 0-10 basis) measures the extent to which the content of a post reflects (ha ha) a self-absorbed nobody-else-but-me-could-possibly-give-a-shit-about-this nature. Zero is selfless dissemination of information for the public good with no regard for self-aggrandizement; it has never been reached (or even really approached). Ten means all of you should have stopped reading several paragraphs ago and now you will never get this time back.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0
As if there were any doubt.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Does Not Compute
I like George Bush. I really do. But then I also like bunnies and and big fluffy clouds and and trees and kittens and asbestos: things that are harmless and adorable. Don't think asbestos can be adorable? Fill up your pillow case with the stuff and tell me if you don't sleep like you've never slept before. I find such properties to be quite endearing.
Sure, he's got sort of a jackboot-y type of security/personality-cult apparatus around him who protect him from disagreement of any kind, but I even think that's kind of adorable. Not the anti-free-speech stuff so much as the motivation behind it, to keep the fuzzy-wuzzy President of the United States hermetically sealed off from even the potential of uncomfortable exchanges of words/thoughts/voodoo/psychic vibrations. To me, that just makes him all the more adorable. Kind of like cage-raised veal, except with nuclear-first-strike capability.
Say what you want about the policies of his administration (like, for instance, how much they suck), but you can't say that it's all our George's fault. I mean, just watch him talk. Can a guy who can't manage three-syllable words REALLY be the architect of a long-range plan to rebuild the Middle East on the democratic model after first blowing it to smithereens? Come on. That's like blaming the clouds for the hurricane. It's not their fault your house has no roof. They're just up there, floating, holding moisture, looking vaguely like elephants or Abe Lincoln, getting swept along with the catastrophic low-pressure vortex just like the rest of us. It's just clouds being clouds.
That's why I don't like seeing George out there, where he doesn't belong: in front of non-screened audiences, being asked questions he hasn't been given in advance to which he can give benign, non-committal, scripted answers in exchange for wild, unthinking applause.
It just isn't him.
The veal doesn't pull the plow. The veal stays in the cage so its flesh stays milky, supple and white. Otherwise, what's the point of keeping the broken down, cantankerous Ole Bessy around at all? Nobody wants to eat Ole Bessy. She's there to swat flies with her tail and bite the neighbor kids.
Apparently, this is part of a new "George Bush: I'm Not Retarded" campaign. This isn't the first time they've run one of these things, but so long as their isn't an election at the end of them, they always, always fail. And even in the elections, he's only 50-50.
It's not that I don't understand the thinking. This is a critical time in American history now, in the run-up to the Iran War. Also, with poll-numbers as low as any since polls for presidents have been recorded, it would normally be a good idea to get the man's face out there talking to American voters, pretending to lead, just as his predecessors did.
But this isn't any normal president. This is the Punch-card President. He was built in the mid/late 1940s when machines like himself were primitive, crude, built before the Japanese had had enough time to recover from WWII and develop the kind of technology we could steal and claim as our own. The number of programmed responses he is designed to hold is extremely, extremely limited. Even moreso if you consider the further restriction of trying to integrate his responses to refer to each other. This isn't the wide-ranging, all-encompassing, frequently upgraded, suck-started, bio-fueled* Clinton model. This is the West Texas version. Conservatism means never having your vacuum tubes swapped out for integrated circuits. Pretzels and football and beer are his fuel, the last one having been cut-off altogether, rendering him even less useful.
To the Handlers and Operators of President Bush, I say: shame. In front of non-cooperative hostiles wielding words of scorn is no place for our butch C3PO-in-Chief. Sure, he traded in the protocol droid's base-model gay and its associated vocabulary for a big, fat helping of manly charm and that folksy twang, but at least you let him keep the walk.
Now put him back in the box where he belongs. Every time you take him out, he loses a little of his value, you know.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.7
* = lots and lots of pot
Because someone asked:
Monday, March 20, 2006
Monday Lite: Yes, In Fact, We Do Have Mother-effin' Snakes
It's not like me to self-censor as I did in the title to this post, but I figure some of you might be reading your dear, beloved Bucket whilst Not Working, so I thought I'd take it easy on the part that shows up in the big bold letters at the top.
So, now you're asking yourself: was that first paragraph a) Pops becoming a mealy-mouthed girly-man who lacks the courage of his convictions or b) an elaborate excuse to use the word "whilst"?
The answer, no doubt, lies somewhere in between.
The point of the title (for those of you interested in such trivialities) is that several weeks ago, resident home-boy and erstwhile mostly MIA pseudo-blogger B-Rent made a comment in this post that included a funny MS Paint mock-up poster for a Sam Jackson movie called Snakes On A Plane.
And the Bucketeers as one wondered: is that a real movie? Or simply yet another desperate cry for attention from our boy B-Rent?
Well, here is some footage for you to enjoy.
I'm still not sure it's a real movie. As for the other thing, well, again, I'm sure the answer lies somewhere in between.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.5
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Well, I know I don't have to tell you because you all watched, but the final score was 75-51. And UCR was the team with 51. I still can't believe it. This "March Madness" stuff is just all lies. How can the team ranked below #200 in the country possibly not beat the #1 ranked team in the country? How is #1 crushing #200+ "madness"? It hardly qualifies. It's utterly predictable if you ask me. It's not even "a little nutty". It doesn't even qualify as "wonky" or "pear-shaped" or "slightly off-kilter". It's just some lame, uneventful stuff that happened.
If I were a cynic, I'd say that CBS, ESPN and the NCAA have teamed up to sell us a bill of goods. I'd even go so far as to charge that "March Madness" isn't even an actual psycho-medical condition but rather some umbrella marketing scheme under which college basketball is sold. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I checked all the reputable medical literature and "March Madness" is not in there.
I do have this mole on the underside of my arm that I'm convinced in malignant now, though. I've had it all my life, but I compared it to the pictures of melanoma I saw while researching this blogpost and it looks a little fishy. I mean that literally: it's small and fish-shaped. So either I'm going to die, or I'm the risen Christ. All things being equal, I hope it's the first one.
Diseases and marketing... same old sad story. Just like when ABC gave Michael J. Fox Parkinson's Disease just so we would watch Spin City. I'm not falling for that again. Although I will say that little plot did ignite in me the spark that lit the flame that is my white-hot heterosexual man-crush on Michael Boatman.
So my team lost in it's first ever National Tournament appearance. How am I taking it, you ask?
Surprisingly well, all things considered.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0
Friday, March 17, 2006
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #29
V for Vendetta
starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Steven Rea, John Hurt
directed by James McTeigue (first movie EVER!)
Well, what do you know, here we are on St. Paddy's Day and we have this movie coming out that's about people being pissed off enough at the repressive British government to want to blow stuff up. Very fitting.
The thing is, though, it's a movie about England where the three principle leads are played by an American, an Australian and an Irishman. I feel bad for English actors these days as they find themselves hemmed in by the awful stereotype where they can only play Americans. Or Australians. And then there are the Australians, who can only play Americans or British people. And the Americans who get to do everything because we're America, it's our money and (oh by the way) fuck you if you don't like it. The Hollywood conspiracy isn't that the studios are all run by secular Jews (which they are), it's that all the secular Jews who run the Hollywood studios happen to be American. You see, we draw the foreigners in, let them be blinded by their own, comfortable anti-Semitism and then we sell them Steve Martin in The Pink Panther. Which they buy. Ha ha, look at the funny man fall down the stairs! That will be $10, or whatever the equivalent is in your quaint, colorful "money". Foreigners are so gullible.
Sorry, that came off as a little bitter. I'm still agitated about the the USA baseball team being eliminated from the World Baseball Classic last night. I mean, they didn't even make the SEMI-finals. And to get beat by Mexico, who were ALREADY eliminated... nothing riles the ole xenophobia like a good meaningless sporting event. It's like how some old people can tell it's going to rain when their arthritis kicks up; I can tell somebody wearing a USA uniform has been humiliated by some class of swarthy outlander when I get a wild urge to throw a trash can through a gas-station window. When we got the bronze medal (the BRONZE MEDAL!) in basketball in the 2004 Athens Olympics, my wife had to put me down with an elephant tranquilizer before I hurt somebody. Luckily she caught me in a sedentary moment while I was downloading plans to make homemade napalm bombs out of toilet paper rolls and Drain-O off the internet.
It could have been bad again last month when we failed to even medal in hockey at the Torino games, but luckily, it was just hockey. I stiffed a waiter at the Chinese restaurant on the tip and that was about it. It's all about proportional response with me.
Anyway, there's this movie thing...
For me, after years of training to sharpen my critical faculties through college and graduate school, I've developed a methodology to which I always adhere when trying to find my way in to reviewing a movie I have neither seen nor have any intention of seeing. After assessing the collective quality of the cast and creative team (producers, writers, directors) I always move right to the critical question: how hot is the leading lady?
In this case, the "leading lady" is also the protagonist, the primary lead in the film. Seeing as this is an action movie, this is potentially Very Very Bad. See also: Bloodrayne, Underworld, UltraViolet, etc. I know there was Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, so it can be done, I'm just saying that kick-ass chicks are not a formula that Hollywood has quite figured out.
V for Vendetta falls down a bit with Natalie Portman in the lead. She's not bad, but in terms of hotness, I'm going to go with a 5 out of 10. That sounds harsh, but we're talking about a scale of Hollywood actresses (and I use that term loosely to include every waitress and "model" in the 213/562/818/310/424 area codes who puts "Actress" on the Wish Resumés they send out with head-shots to the agents with whom they have not yet slept). This is a scale that includes your Angelina Jolies, your Elle MacPhersons, your Thandie Newtons of the world. Hell, even the skeevy ones are pretty hot.
So if you're Natalie Portman and you've got a weird oversized mouth and are about the same size as a Keebler elf, you're behind the curve a little bit. Agreeing to read the lines given to you by the Star Wars people (a thankless job, I know) didn't help your stock with me either. I like me some Star Wars but every single Portman scene in every single one of those movies was terrible. Not entirely her fault, but still. You don't poison a man's space opera. You just don't.
She was much less offensive in Garden State, I will give her that, even though she doesn't know how to screen kiss and ended up getting her face eaten by Zach Braff's giant lips in every make-out scene. But besides that she was good.
The good news is it doesn't look like she's being asked to carry the action parts of this movie, because that would just be silly. In terms of size and leverage, if it came down to a brawl between Ms. Portman and the Jolie-Pitt unborn fetus, my money's on the fetus. What I'm saying is she's tiny. There's only so much disbelief in the world that is suspendable. No shame on her part, though; did you see Fight Club or Tomb Raider? That's one ass-kicker of a fetus.
This movie was written and developed by the Wachowski brothers, the same brothers who developed, wrote, directed and then ruined The Matrix by being a couple of poncey armchair philosophers. So there are plusses and minuses.
It's directed by a guy who's never made a movie on his own before, but was first assistant director for a looooong list of impressive films, including the Matrix sequels and Star Wars Episode II. Sure, all three of those films sucked, but I bet he can put together an explosion sequence.
It's also based on an Alan Moore comic book, which is excellent. But then so was League of Extraordinary Gentleman which, as movie, was such a pile of shit that it finally killed Sean Connery's career after, like, 60 years as a bankable movie star. That's something event he god-awful Avengers movie was unable to do.
So there is some hesitation.
The trailer looks bitchin'. There's a dude in a crazy mask, which is always good (so long as it's not a clown mask) who has knives. Fascists and freedom-fighters and topsy-turvy morality. Many references to Tudor English history, which is what I studied in school, so I could really bore the fuck out of people in the lobby waiting for my wife to come out of the bathroom after a movie like this.
The reviews are... lukewarm. But they say the right things (faithful to the source material, etc). The poster is freakin' genius. The trailer rules.
I want to see this movie very badly. This is one of the weekends where I will look upon my kids with loathing and resentment, recognizing them for the albatross(es) they are.
This one gets a rare:
Three (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale.
More Shues than a Sex and the City episode.
Ah well. I guess instead of seeing this, I'll stay home tomorrow and watch the UC Riverside women's basketball team vs. #1 ranked North Carolina at 5 pm local time/8 pm Pacific on ESPN2. Just like the rest of you...
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Ancient Chinese Secret, Huh?
The fact that America exists as a New World "melting pot" type of country is not without its challenges. We are all immigrants from elsewhere in a post-nationalism world, where our genetic or familial or cultural default is to give mad props to the places we come from (and thus aggrandizing ourselves by association) while still maintaining that we are, ultimately, American. The Old Country was great and all, but let's be honest: there were reasons why our ancestors left. Mostly I suspect it was the smell.
The difficulty in honoring our points of ultimate origin is that national pride is a zero-sum game. If my grandparents were Mexican and I bore everyone I meet with tales of the greatness of Mexico (a place I have likely never been and never would deign to go, two generations on) then what I'm really saying to the person I'm talking to--let's say their grandparents are from Suriname--is that Suriname is a disgusting backwater shithole that you were lucky your ancestors escaped, especially compared with not only the US, but Mexico as well. Never mind that it is true--seriously, have any of YOU been to Suriname? It's shocking... I imagine; never been myself--the point is that the exultation of one implies the degradation of another.
Beyond that, there are in America lingering after-effects of nationalist rivalries that still permeate families of various nationalities. Rivalry hold-overs, if you will. It's sort of like Cubs fans versus Cardinals fans, except instead of baseball, it was the wanton slaughter of a hundred thousand of your great-aunts and third-cousins 150 years ago in a place you've never been to or have barely heard of except as a reminder from your dad as to why you should hate them, whomever "they" happen to be.
If you're Armenian, it's the Turks. Or if you're Greek, maybe it's the... Turks. Or if you're from just about anywhere from the Balkans up to Vienna and even into Germany it's... still the Turks. Wow, lots of people really hate the Turks. It seems unfair, but you know, if you're going to insist on using an Altaic language in a sea of Indo-European-derived languages, you sort of take your chances. I would say "you're asking for it" but then nobody would understand what the fuck you're talking about if you were to "ask for it." That's strike two, my linguistically-obstinate friends.
As a coping mechanism here in America, we tend to categorize people by ethnicity and then rely upon them to provide the prescribed service, thus both validating our prejudices and making us feel comfortable because we can't be racist if it's true.
Nationalities have jobs. Irish people keep the potential oversupply of alcohol at bay and are priests (usually at the same time). Italians kill people for money and teach us funny ways of saying regular English words, like "fuggeddaboudit." Arabs own gas stations and/or are terrorists (or at least are readily available, easily menaced surrogates in times of high public anxiety). Jews know all the secrets to getting us out of paying taxes and then represent us in court when we get caught.
Those who deviate are either punished or ignored. There will be no sober Irishmen, thank you very much. Especially not tomorrow.
Asians, as you all know, are expected to be good at math. The Chinese in particular as a subset of Asians are expected to provide us with axiomatic pearls of wisdom in digestible single-sentence form AND get Tabasco stains out of our silk ties.
This is why I was so horrified to see Hu Jintao, president of China, broke out with his national advice for good Chinese living. I mean, as a ethno-cultural endeavor it's right on the money, intent-wise. But the execution...
Hu Jintao comes from a long line of Chinese people, the same people who also gave us Confucius ("Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves"), Sun Tzu ("If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle") and Chairman Mao ("Thousands upon thousands of martyrs have heroically laid down their lives for the people; let us hold their banner high and march ahead along the path crimson with their blood") and Fortune Cookie Guy ("You will go on trip happy lucky happy 2-11-19-26"). These are first-rank members of the International All Pithy Team along with Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx, Jesus and Andy Rooney. Question that last one if you want to, but come on, what IS the deal with the music they play in elevators? Until you have an answer, Rooney stays.
What are Hu's personal pearls of wisdom?
• Love, do not harm the motherland.
• Serve, don't disserve the people.
• Uphold science; don't be ignorant and unenlightened.
• Work hard; don't be lazy and hate work.
• Be united and help each other; don't gain benefits at the expense of others.
• Be honest and trustworthy, not profit-mongering at the expense of your values.
• Be disciplined and law-abiding instead of chaotic and lawless.
• Know plain living and hard struggle, do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures.
What the fuck is this? "Be honest"? "Work hard"? That's it? Does he not KNOW he's Chinese?
I am channeling the spirit of Mao. He's got something new to add, an addendum to the Little Red Book. He says: "Hu is a pussy."
Whoa. That's harsh. But this is the "path crimson with their blood" guy. You have to expect him to put the boot in when disappointed. In the old days people who represented with "serve the people" got themselves a kangaroo court trial and a firing squad. No cigarette either. Cigarettes are for bad-asses who want to look James Dean-cool even while being summarily executed. Those dudes had style. No "love the motherland" crap from them. The ones who lived made it all the way to Taiwan, from which they are STILL giving Mao the finger. China might not like it, but secretly they know: Taiwan is the Fonzie of Asia. Sure, they get punked out in the end, but for now, they rock the nationalist leather jacket (stitched together by children in a windowless room for 3 cents per day) and all the other hot chick nations want to bang them.
Hu Jintao, we appreciate the effort. We need our Chinese people to break out with the aphorisms. But we need them to be cryptic, violent and perhaps even non-sensical. I suggest you execute the entire List Making For Public Information Sub-committee and start over. You're never going to move any copy over here in America with that kind of weak-ass game.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.2
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
My oldest boy has only been in school for about a year and half, but... well, I don't remember last March being this much of a pain in the ass. Sure, there were the strict entrance requirements just to get him into Catholic school kindergarten last year (forty lashes, month-long fasting, desecrating Jewish cemetaries, killing a homeless guy) but that was all for a purpose. Now it's just busy work.
They've been reading folk-stories and fables in his first grade class, which is already weird. You know what I learned in first grade? The word "cock". None of this fancy book-learnin'.
Anyway, they're recreating the details of some fable which means they're going to make us sit through a presentation and then eat food prepared by 6-year-olds.
I went to public school. I'm not used to this. We didn't have gatherings or celebrations to illustrate or commemorate the things I learned in first grade. We didn't have Cock Day. We didn't have that until high school and then it was only for the slutty cheerleaders, for whom EVERY day was Cock Day.
So I have to go. Speaking of the c-word, though, I leave you with the following image to get you through the day with less-than-optimal-Pops.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: I don't even care
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
And The Winner Isn't...
Well, another award season has come and gone. The afterparties have all been broken down; the slick of spilled apple-tini and vomit long since mopped up. The gowns have all been put away, boxed and carefully stored with the funk of a night's worth of sweat to preserve the memories. The tuxes all returned to their rental shops, Triscuit crumbs brushed out of the pleats of their cummerbunds, left to wait in the fading sunset of associated glory for their next assignments at a junior high school "graduation" or as brief covering for a male stripper.
What an event the 2006 Bloggie Awards must have been. I'm left to fill in the blanks as I wasn't actually invited to the ceremony (yes, there's a ceremony).
I'm not bitter about the oversight though, no. Actually, I'm happy to report that for the second year in a row, the Bucket failed to receive a single award. In fact, I'm doubly happy to report that the Bucket failed to garner a single nomination for the awards.
Before any of you start to interpret this as sarcastic bitterness, please, let me assure you: it isn't. It's relief. The way I see it: what good would it do if the Bucket were put into contention? How instructive or illuminating would the Bloggies be if, say, one single little blog were to sweep every single available award? I'm not just talking about the ones I'd be technically eligible for either. I think I'd have a real shot at the Best Latin American Blog and the Best GLBT as well. I mean, I live in California which is practically Latin America anyway and gay stuff? What blog do you read that is more inappropriately preoccupied with homosexuality than this one? Gay people don't read my blog. Know why? It's too gay. If you learned nothing from my multi-part blog tribute to chest-waxing or my recurring feature of Clay Aiken/Rip Taylor slash fiction then you haven't been paying close enough attention.
No, look, the Bloggies exist to recognize excellence, to separate, to single-out a few across a broad variety of thematic categories so as to make some kind of coherent sense out of the huge tsunami of white noise that is the expanding flood of the blogosphere.
I wouldn't have minded getting my hands on some of that sweet loot, though, I must say. Do I need an olive oil gift box from something called "Alejandro & Martin Olive Oils"? You'd better fucking believe I do. That's not fucking metaphorical either, I need it, I need it.
But like I said, if I win one, there's a real danger that I win them all, or at least a sizeable and unmistakable majority.
And with a majority like that, I could claim a personal mandate. I could make a very strong argument that I had been elected Lord High Blog Ruler. With all my new political capital, I could organize blogs along lines I see fit: championing the growth of blogs about sports and cake and girls with low self-esteem; the deserved ghetto-ization of blogs about knitting or Jesus (or any combination thereof); the outlawing of blogs by people who don't speak English... and I don't just mean foreigners, I mean Americans who refuse to speak recognizable English. The Grammar Stormtroopers would be here at last, make no mistake.
And then I could use the rest of my political capital to rally the Blogosphere for the much-needed invasion and regime-change in other imaginary realms like the Information Superhighway or the Global Marketplace or Narnia. OK, maybe not Narnia. I hear they have a lion.
What I'm talking about is the total eradication of personal freedom in any electronic media format within the space of a few days. Things happen fast online. That's the result when you engage in pursuits that completely cut out the need to walk places.
These are the reasons that I'm glad I wasn't considered for the 2006 Bloggies. An authoritarian temperament like mine just doesn't need that kind of encouragement. I still need--NEED--that olive oil, but I can learn to suffer in silence, I suppose.
Or if any of you are feeling generous, I am accepting gifts by mail. If you aren't comfortable sending glass bottles by mail, I am also willing to accept the cash equivalent.
Just putting it out there.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.8
Monday, March 13, 2006
Monday Lite: Path Of Least Resistance
All kinds of momentous shit happening today. Nothing that affects me directly, but there is an air of general business not ordinarily associated with your typical Monday. This means I have very little time.
a) Hooray for my alma mater's women's basketball team winning their conference tournament and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. Even though they suck and they have been nationally ranked at about #203 out of all national Division 1 NCAA women's basketball programs, the rules say if you win the conference tournament, they HAVE to let you in. Ha ha, NCAA and your stupid rules! It's almost enough to make me give a shit about 1) college basketball and 2) women's college basketball. It's not that I have anything against women, it's just that there's no money in women's sports. I'm suspicous of any form of athletics that doesn't operate on a day-to-day set of assumptions and regular practices that don't directly contradict their stated purposes and ideals. And you people wonder why I like baseball so much...
b) My kitchen floor is very slippery. It's not wet or anything, it's just super-extra friction-free for some reason. Two of my kids and my mother have all come very close to wiping out on it already. I don't know how it happened, but if NASA is looking for some kind new frictionless surface with which to coat the newest prototype replacement space shuttles, apparently they must do as follows: 1) get some crappy linoleum, preferably some ugly old stuff you'd like very much to replace but can't afford to because you spent all your money just to get into the goddamned house in a ridiculously overpriced market 2) Have kids spill some kind of juice on it 3) Have people walk around in it until it becomes mixed with dirt and makes a nice sticky adhesive and possibly a pattern of grime in the shape of the Virgin Mary and then 4) clean it up with a sponge (no soap, just water).
That's it. That's the trick, apparently. This may be my last blogpost as every time I go into the kitchen, I do a Jennifer Garner-at-the-Oscars-like check-step stumble. Not only is the floor slippery, but I guess that's what I get for wearing a ball-gown at all times. It's only a matter of time before it all catches up with me and I split my head open.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9
Sunday, March 12, 2006
A Day That Will Live In Infamy
Look, I'm a dude. That means a lot of things. It means I like red meat, I like porn with as few penises in it as possible, I've got hair growing in places where no person should even have folicles and I'm a sports whore. Sports whoring is what we do instead of talking to other people. Or thinking. Or feeling.
Yes, I've watched rugby. Yes, I've watched Olympic curling. Yes, I've watched ice dancing, but not because I'm gay. It was because there were dishes to be done. The compelling-ness of the drama unfolding on the field (or, in this case, rink) of play (or, in this case, totally subective dance competition) is inversely proportional to the mundanity of the task one is avoiding by allowing oneself to be engrossed. It's simple math.
All this is by way of explaining that even though I went out of my way to make fun of the inaugural World Baseball Classic a few days ago, that doesn't mean I wasn't going to watch.
Or even, say... take my two oldest boys with me to Anaheim to see the USA vs. Japan live and in person on a Sunday afternoon. Today, for instance.
OK, you busted me. We totally went.
Not only did we go, but we went to this outdoor-only event on the third day of what is our region's pathetic attempt to have a whole entire winter in the course of one weekend. It's been 80 degrees every day since fall started in September. And now here it is March and on Saturday, it didn't even top 50° under cloudy skies and all-day rain. Did you hear me? Not. Even. 50. In SoCal. I paid waaaaaay too much for my house so I could live somewhere where the weather is less pleasant that Dayton, Ohio. Do you know what you can get a house for in Dayton? Three animal pelts and a promise to "keep it down" when you're fornicating with the livestock. Why is it so cheap? Because Dayton sucks. It's cold in the winter, humid in the summer, it has no beach and, like, one freeway with no traffic. Everyone who lives there might as well be camping.
I've lost the thread of this post, hang on. Where was I... no, not Dayton... oh yeah! The baseball thing.
Anyway, we get to the stadium nice and early and I'm immediately thrown off. This is Angel Stadium, my stadium for my team. Right away I'm seeing Dodgers hats, Oakland hats, Mets hats... and hey, what's with all the Japanese people?
You know what, though? For all their reputation for having, as a people, sticks up their asses, nobody cuts loose like the Japanese. Alone, they're quiet, respectful, self-contained. Put them in a group and you just sort of get the feeling like we're all gonna cut out and rape Nanking at any second. Try it. Go to any karaoke bar in any large city right now. You'll see. After a couple of sakē, you'll be asking for directions to Manchuria in no time.
I don't know if they all came to SoCal just for this, but there were loads of non-American-born Japanese all clustered together in groups with signs and face-paint and screaming and such.
I was terrified.
Not because I fear any foreigners (I'm an American, remember) but because I was born in 1974, which means I was raised in a public school environment of multiculturalism and political correctness. The obvious Japanese pride and zeal for their team and/or individual players was met with a sort of jiggly default pro-Americanism as a sort of soft rebound response.
I have to tell you, even half-assed jingoism made me a little uncomfortable. Although I admit it might have been because it was cold and I couldn't feel my face.
Honestly, I squirmed a little bit in my liberal skin. I felt my lily-liver undulate a bit inside me. Every time the Japanese fans would break out with a hearty unified chant of "Nippon!" (or more accurately "Nee-PON! [clapclapclap] Nee-PON! [clapclapclap)"], they would be answered with a thunderous(ly unimaginative) "USA! USA!" It was a little too Republican National Convention for me.
What really freaked me out was my six-year-old leading the chanting in our section, all frenzied and fist-pumping like a little Mussolini, bless him. But then he also joined in the "Nee-PON!" chants too, so I didn't feel so bad. Turns out the kid just likes a good chant. Which reminds me I should really keep him away from the Wiccans.
One other thing I forgot to mention is that my mom has been staying with us for a little while. She has an extensive DVD collection that she likes to share with my kids from time to time. This includes, over my objections (taste rather than content), Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. If any of you have seen it, it's a gritty, minimalist character-piece where all kinds of shit blows up real big and loud. And it has Ben Affleck.
It also has some... uh... "period dialogue."
Anyway, my four year old (not aware that we are more or less the only white people in our section) says rather loudly "Hey, it's Americans versus Japanese just like Pearl Harbor except with baseball!"
Naturally the people around me listening don't know Pearl Harbor is in italics.
Also, once he makes this very logical realization, he starts to regularly refer to the Japanese players (and this is true) as "Japs" as in "Are these Japs good hitters?" or "Who's this Jap? Does he play for the Angels?"
I keep adding "-anese" for him and he eventually gets the picture, but man... I kept waiting for a kamikaze from the level above us. It made for a full day. Fucking Ben Affleck, man.
Anyway, we managed not to freeze to death; and this in temperatures BARELY 25 DEGREES ABOVE FREEZING. And the USA managed to win the game. By cheating. Or rather, a really awful umpiring call in our favor. At the end, when the winning run crossed the plate, the Japanese players all splayed out across the field, dejected, not moving. And then I almost thought to myself "So this is what Hiroshima was like." But then I didn't. Because even though I couldn't feel my face, I could still feel my multiculturalist conscience excoriate me for even approaching such an idea. Instead, I bundled up my kids, lowered my head and plowed through the crowd so I could race to my car and beat traffic, throwing people out of my way and down concrete stairs as I passed, regardless of race or national origin.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.4
Friday, March 10, 2006
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #28
Failure to Launch
starring Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Bates, Terry Bradshaw, Terry Bradshaw's Naked Ass and Zooey Deschanel
directed by Tom Dey (Shanghai Noon, Showtime)
Just from the title of this movie, I know what you're thinking. It was the same thing I thought: Oh my God, finally the good people at Pfizer have realized that television advertisement is too expensive and have decided to go straight to producing entire feature films that expound the wonders of their little blue boner-making pills.
It's billed as a "romantic comedy" which already makes it suspect to me, but I don't know how much of my personal time I want to invest exploring the ups and downs of personal hydraulic turgidity (medicated or otherwise) of either former quarterback/TV bumpkin Terry Bradshaw or Matthew McConaughey, Sexiest Man Alive or no.
I will give it to Matthew, though, he is one sexy bitch. So long as it's understood that when I say "give it to" him, I mean props, respect, credit and not any kind of sex act. If I had to "give it to" a guy--say, if I had a gun to my head or was drunk or maybe asked nicely--I certainly wouldn't choose one who looked like THAT with his shirt off. I'm already kind of doughy. I don't think my ego would be able to handle the side-by-side (or front-to-back, however the logistics of those kind of couplings work) comparison. Then we'd all have a "failure to launch" as it were. That's why if worse comes to worse, I'm saving myself for the guy who plays Hurley on Lost. Next to him, I am an Adonis.
The reason I'm able to write about this movie where I've been unable to muster any kind of effort for this irregular feature over the past month or so is that a) easy dick jokes via the title and b) during my semi-recent flurry of movie going, I have seen the trailer for this film every single time. That might not sound like much to go on, but hey, that's what MIHNIoS is all about.
The problem is that right now, I don't watch commercials anymore. Used to be a guy would get his impressions about movies he had no intention of seeing by watching fast-cut 30-second spots in between segments of 30 Minute Meals with Rachel Ray. Usually you sort of tolerate them because you HAVE to stick around and figure out how her easy Three Cheese Layer Dip Guacamole Tartlets with Chiplotle-Yogurt Dipping Sauce turns out. But then, if you have a TiVo-type DVR as I do, you learn you can start watching things about 10 minutest late (for 1/2 hour shows) or 20 minutes late (for hour shows) and SKIP EVERY COMMERCIAL. So I know how to make a No Bake No Fuss Spinach Gorgonzola Red Apple Teriyaki Pot Pie without being updated on the status of soon-to-be-released films via 30-second TV spot.
So by total fluke, this movie I know a little bit about. Most of what I know is that I will hate it.
First of all, it's got one of those awful posters where the star's heads are awkwardly photo-shopped onto the bodies of people who are obviously not them. It's not just that they're poorly done, they actually terrify me. I don't know if it's a phobia or what, but one of my worst fears is that I will one day be murdered, decapitated and then have my lifeless body propped up for promotional stills with a green-painted pumpkin in place of my head so that Tom Hanks or Denzel Washington's head can later be super-imposed by some kind of CGI replacement technique. Hey fuck you, some people are afraid of spiders; I'm afraid of this.
Secondly, I have stated before that I believe that one of the worst crimes in cinematic history is the film How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days starring Matthew McConaughey. In that one, a smarmy lothario type is targeted for a comeuppance in the form of the most tortured, contrived romantic foil ever in the form of the awful Kate Hudson (who has been good in other things, but in that was so completely ful of aw). The fact that I've seen that movie makes me spontaneously weep from time to time, which can be awkward at t-ball games or while making out with my wife.
THIS movie pairs our Matthew with Sarah Jessica Parker, whose character actually TRUMPS Kate Hudson's for most contrived: her job (follow this now) is to make immature grown men fall in love with her so that they will then be enticed to move out of their parents' house. That's. Her. Job.
Wanna guess what the movie's about?
No, me neither.
As much as I would now like to obliterate this film in text form, the only thing that stays my hand is the presence of Zooey Deschanel. Ahh, Zooey. She's the pretty Deschanel. She doesn't have all that weird square-face lantern-jaw thing like her sister Emily who can be seen alongside David Boreanaz in the show we're all not watching, Bones. Zooey's the one with the proportional face and the luxurious dark, dark hair. Sure, she contributed to the sad debacle of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but there was plenty of blame to go around there. You leave her alone.
So the premise is God-awful, it stars Matthew McConaughey (whose track record also includes the equally execrable The Wedding Planner) and (if reports can be believed) Terry Bradshaw's Naked Ass.
This doesn't look good. We're heading for Andrew Shue territory all the way.
Plus, I don't like Sarah Jessica Parker. She's an OK actor, but she's just too small to be an actual person. She's one of those people who have to ask strangers to walk in front of the automatic door-opener sensors at the super-market for them because they're too inconsequential (physically I mean) to register.
But then she is married to Ferris Bueller...
But--ha ha!--what's funny is that--ha ha!--in Sex and the City her character was Carrie Bradshaw and in this movie she co-stars with Terry Bradshaw! Ha! Isn't that nutty?! That is so so nutty. The first names rhyme and the last name is the same!
That plus the Deschanel and... I hate to admit it... but the McConaughey abs all together manage to squeak out a miniscule, barely-deserved:
One (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale
Seriously, have you seen the abs? I think the guy's a terrible actor, but you have to give it up for core conditioning like that. Now, when I say "give it up", I don't mean... ah, nevermind. You know what I mean.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
My house is a little more full of kids than I'm used to. Somehow my sister snuck a couple of hers in here when I was out trying to score five tons of pot, so between them being here and the armed stand-off/hostage situation with the DEA, I'm sort of too busy to put together anything worth reading.
How does that make today different from any other day, you ask? Well, it doesn't so long as we're talking about bastard reader/commenter sarcasm.
Anyway, just a couple of things to point out before I have to check the front-door barricades:
1) Remember yesterday when I talked about the cake-walk phoney-baloney World Baseball Classic? Yeah, a couple things: a) my disdain for something doesn't preclude me watching EVERY SINGLE SECOND of it (see also: the last two seasons of Six Feet Under) and b) after yesterday, the USA team is one Mexico win from elimination after only two games played. See, we've gone from arrogant steamroller to scrappy underdogs of the world in the course of one poor result. It's all the same people playing for the same reasons, but suddenly it's a team I can get behind. Am I a hypocrite? Maybe. But I prefer "moral-ideologically flexible."
2) At a press conference to discuss her new movie Basic Instinct 2, Sharon Stone comes right out and kills all the suspense by announcing that, yes, she will appear naked in that film. I wasn't surprised. Why not, you ask? Is it because Sharon Stone is a fading attention-whore desperate to manufacture relevance evidenced by her agreeing to make a Basic Instinct 2 in the first place? Well, yes. But then there's also the fact that I've seen the initial trailer for the film and it is the single filthiest non-porn piece of video I've ever seen (do I have to say NOT SAFE FOR WORK? I guess I just did). And if any of you know me by now, that's saying something.
3) Headline: Rice, Rumsfeld Discount Iraqi Civil War. Phew. What relief. I am comforted.
And now I must go. I've agreed to let one of my hostages go as a "show of good faith" and I have to decide if it's going to be the Asian woman, the black guy, the crusty old security guard, the bank manager or the diabetic. I'm not even sure how they all got in my house, but such is my burden. I'll let you all know how it turns out.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.5
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Balls To The Wall
I love America. I like mom and I'm totally down with apple pie. I love amber waves and purple mountains, although I'm suspcious of the word "majesty" in that it implies monarchy which is antithetical to democracy which is what makes America great. Democracy gives us the freedom that people who hate us hate us for, which is awesome because then we always have a ready-made pretext for blowing things up. Which is what America is all about: obliterating those who disagree--or could POTENTIALLY disagree--with y/our point of view.
All that said, the way this sort of hypercompetitive self-preservation instinct manifests itself sometimes is... less than noble. I know, it makes me an unpatriotic commie baby-killer homosexual terrorist-lover to criticize America in any way, but somebody has to say it.
For instance the world has this whole big international sporting event they hold every four years that nobody in the United States gives a shit about but everyone else takes seriously. No, I don't mean the Winter Olympics (although the way things are going, by 2010, I might very well mean them as well). I mean soccer's World Cup.
At some point someone in this country said to themselves "Hey! We're Americans! If there's going to be a meaningless quadrennial single-sport tournament that Americans don't give a shit about, we're going to be the ones that put it on! And on top of that, we'll do it in a sport we're sure to win!"
And that, my friends, is how we found ourselves yesterday at the opening of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Part of it is all that junk I said in the paragraph before (it's all documented truth, you can look it up... seriously, just scroll up a little bit, I just documented it); another part is probably how we finished in third place in basketball, another sport we invented* at the last Olympics in Athens. Couple that with the announcement that baseball and softball have been dropped as Olympic sports for Beijing 2008, well...
International contrarianism, wounded national pride over something utterly inconsequential yet definitely ours, a jingoistic flag-waving event with an outcome heavily predisposed to resolve itself in our favor... what could be more American than that?
Sure, the Dominican team is strong, but they're strong because their players play HERE, in our league in our cities earning our money and learning our language. Whether we ultimately win or come in a close second, that's not the point. The point is that along the way we will show the world that we can totally destroy the Netherlands' national baseball team. We see you looking at us, you Dutch bastards. Sure, you orange-clad sissies might kick our asses at soccer, but let's see how you do playing OUR sport in OUR country when you have no local tradition at playing the game, bitches.
And you too, South Africa. How dare you insolently accept the invitation to compete cordially extended to you. What we will prove is that--by baseball proxy--America is by far the superior nation/people/culture by a margin of at least 10 runs. Plus, we have far fewer people with AIDS.
That last part seems like piling-on, but these countries have to be reminded of our lower per capita occurrence of sexually transmitted potentially fatal polysymptomatic viral infections. That, our freedom and the propensity and infrastructure to produce human beings who can throw things exceptionally hard in a sport-specific context are the very principles on which this nation was founded and what will keep us great for centuries to come.
I would say "God Bless America," but it's practically tautology.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.8
* = the first person who points out that James Naismith was Canadian gets hit over the head with my lovely set of decorative moose antlers.