Tuesday, August 29
Friday, August 25
This is quickly proving to be a horrendous decision. I haven’t spent this much time on something this impossible since I was eight and I tried to get my dog to bark my name. The problem is, I can’t give it up. Now that I’ve started, I can’t go back. It took me forty-five minutes, but in my “test blog” I managed to delete the title. I mean, just the words. Forty-five minutes. And I’m pretty sure that you don’t even have to do that.
The good news is that I’m confident it will look good when I’m done. The bad news is that once upon a time I was also confident that I would be Spiderman. So sometimes these things just don’t work out.
Here’s a video of me in my office right now:
Thursday, August 24
A few things:
1. I know things have been a little slow and off schedule around here, but I have a very good reason for it. I’ve been busy with another project that I can’t really talk about yet. Actually, yes I can. It’s my fantasy football team. Deal with it.
2. I just added some new links to my sidebar, including an RSS and Atom feed. Honestly, I have little to no knowledge on what an RSS feed is, how it works or who uses it, but someone emailed me saying they thought I should have one. So I got one. Not much different than eight grade when super-crush Tanya Vasquez thought I should buy the soundtrack to Jurassic Park. Hopefully this RSS thing will be a better decision.
3. Also included in the new links are My Yahoo and Google. Again – things I know very little about. But apparently you can customize those sites to include the news, sports, finance, blog, etc. links that you want, all on one page. I set one up with Google and, along with some up-to-the-minute headlines and weather forecasts, I got this:
It’s things like this that make Google such a successful company. Come on, How To Do a Roundhouse Kick?! Would I ever think of sitting down at my desk one morning and saying, “It’d be really awesome if I knew how to do a roundhouse kick the right way.” No, of course not. But was I practicing in my office this afternoon? You bet your ass I was. And am I a naturally gifted karate fighter? Well don’t piss me off and you won’t have to find out.*
4. Finally, I’ve been getting awfully tired of looking at my template lately. (By lately, I mean the past 10 months.) While I like the general layout of things, the colors are boring and the lack of a banner up top just smacks of “HTMLoser.” I mean, even all the mommy blogs have a decorative banner up top. It’s depressing. So I want to put one up on my site.
The problems with that:
1. I don’t know how.
2. See #1.
So I was hoping there was a kind reader or two out there who had some sort of working knowledge on how to do this and could help me out. Not like you would have to come to my house and stand over my shoulder saying, “No, put the cursor there. OK, no, wait, you lost it. Go back. OK, are you retarded? This isn’t that hard.” But maybe you could just be on call for any troubleshooting problems that may arise. Or maybe I could email you my template and you could do it, I don’t know I’m just thinking out loud here. But the end result is a more awesome website for everyone. Like the saying goes, “It takes a community to raise a middle income white guy with no formal HTML training.” So email me if you’re interested in not making any money to take on a project that will likely end with you hating me.
* In the interest of full disclosure, I did take karate lessons when I was 12, but then quit after orange belt because that meant I would have to start sparring with other kids. And not because I was afraid of fighting (I was a killing machine), but because I was afraid to wear a cup. If I had three wishes, I would honestly make my third wish “I wish that last sentence wasn’t true.” But if Terminator II taught me anything, it’s that even killing machines have their weaknesses. Mine happened to be a discomfort of wearing things on my groin.**
** I can’t believe I tell you people shit like this. My therapist said it would be good for me, but personally it’s about as therapeutic as his suggestion we reenact those nightmares I had about being molested, which I’m still not certain is an accepted form of treatment.
Wednesday, August 23
It’s been a little slow in my office today, so I got through sorting out an enormous stack of papers that had accumulated on the side of my desk. Underneath them all, I found an article I had printed out from the New York Times about how large, black women are being unfairly portrayed in the media as brash, comical, aggressive figures of authority. It begins:
“At 200 pounds plus – most of that pure attitude – she is hard to miss. . . . She typically finds herself in an exchange that is either confrontational or embarrassing. And her best line is often little more than a sassy ‘Mmmm hmmm.’ “
(Pause to let your mind finish going through the montage of large, black female actresses saying “Mmmm hmmm.”)
“The heavy black spokeswoman for Pine Sol was one of the first to embrace the role. Her aggression was aimed at household dirt, however, not people. In a recent commercial for Captain Morgan rum, a large black woman berates her man for playing dominoes and making her late.
In one Twix commercial, a full-figured black woman asks her boyfriend if her pants make her rear end look big. As the camera focuses on her plump backside (exaggerated by the camera for effect), the man stuffs his face with a Twix bar and mumbles an indecipherable answer. Pleased with his response, the woman walks away. She is not shown being aggressive or loud, but the commercial leaves the impression that if the man had given the wrong answer, she might have erupted.”
I don’t remember why exactly I saved this article, if it was because I agreed with the fact that not all large black women should be defined as strong and humorous or disagreed with it because I can think of a lot worse things to be defined as then strong and humorous. (Like, oh I don’t know, a black man being portrayed as a lackadaisical dominoes player.) Or maybe I just liked the fact that a New York Times writer wrote the phrase “plump backside.” But now that I reread the article, what strikes me is how racist it is. Not to black people, but to white people. You don’t think white people are typified and pigeonholed in the media? Like in movies, whenever an unassuming martial arts expert is in a bar and some macho guy messes around with him and ends up getting beaten up? You know who that is? A WHITE GUY. Or whenever there is a car chase and the two vehicles go careening through the streets of a crowded city and people constantly have to jump out of the way or risk being killed? You know who they are? WHITE PEOPLE. Usually carrying shopping bags and lingering near a fruit stand. BECAUSE YOU KNOW US WHITE PEOPLE. SPENDING OUR HIGHER INCOMES ON CLOTHING AND FRUIT. You know, I fought really hard for the role of sassy teacher on “Boston Public.” And in the end all they wanted me to do was test drive their BMW around the unusually curvy streets of an upscale suburban community. It’s just not fair.
(Note: An extremely interesting fact culled from the article: The Cream of Wheat Guy has a name – Rastus. RASTUS. And we’re writing articles about the Pine Sol lady? I mean, why didn’t they just name him, “Yessuh"? Or would that have sounded “too gentrified”?)
Tuesday, August 22
Don’t get me wrong, science is awesome and it can really make you feel empowered in a vast world of complex, staggering mysteries. But you mean to tell me that no one stopped in the middle of this study and, while watching a baby elephant trot around a dirt track with sensors affixed to its joints, said, “Hey, you know a different way we could go about this? We could just say nothing. Because I’m pretty sure everyone already thinks that elephants run,” while all his scientist friends around him nodded their heads in profound agreement?
While we’re at it, here’s another enigma for you to tackle, Science: Why do I feel like such a douche whenever someone sees me eating a peach at my office? I mean, I’m a pretty secure person, what with my barrel chest and charming demeanor. But if someone comes in my office while I’m eating a peach, juice dripping down the cuff of my shirt, I feel like they walked in on me beating off to Friendster while chugging a bottle of Strawberry Sensation Arbor Mist. What gives?
So I’ve been reading the series of articles at CNN entitled “In The Footsteps of Bin Laden,” which has been updated daily under the slogan “Know Your Enemy.” I think it’s extremely important work CNN is doing in keeping the American people informed as to the biggest threat to their freedom and democ–
Like I was saying, in the war on terror, it is vital that we, as leaders of the free world, remain educated on the key figures involved in what has become one of the most unsettling and potential catastrophic times in the history of the wo–
Because as much as we would like to believe “It could never happen to me,” people all around the world are falling victim to terrorist acts, and after 9/11 the United States in no longer insulated from the violence. The more we know and understand, as a society, about the terrorist leaders and their political agendas, the more we can do in our everyday lives to protect ourselves and the ones we lov–
Friday, August 18
I’d love to be able to start this off with some sort of nonchalant qualifying clause like, “I’m not one to follow Hollywoodesque true crime stories . . .” but that would be a ridiculous lie. The Girlfriend and I watch shows like “48 Hours Mystery,” “Cold Case Files” and “American Justice” to the point where when one comes on TV, we have conversations like:
Me: “Didn’t we see this one already?”
Her: “Yeah, this is the stupid one with the husband who stabbed his wife for the insurance money.”
I, like many others, watched the primetime specials on JonBenet and was sure the parents did it. Then was sure they didn’t do it. Then was sure they did it again, all depending on what segment of the program was airing at the time. Eventually I just got tired of watching the same home video footage of a six year old girl doing the two-step in full cowgirl costume and let it go. Like everyone else.
But now it’s back! And it’s bigger than ever: with more drama, more plot twists and more characters than ever before. I assume I wasn’t the only one who was overwhelmed with the recent flurry of press coverage, with CNN.com seemingly writing a new article every five minutes. So I decided that I would sit down today, read through all the stories and sum it up for everyone in the simplest way possible, so that we all might share in this theater of the absurd together.
Mary Lacy, Boulder County District Attorney
Vacations In: Doesn’t vacation
Favorite color: Beige
Favorite Emotion: Indifference
If She Were a Fruit, She Would Be: a Pear
Role in Case: If Mark Karr is indicted, Lacy will lead the legal team in attempting to lock him up forever. Unless NBC jumps in and buys the rights to The Trial and finds Lacy to be too “rough around the face” for television, in which case they may hire their own legal team.
Lt. Gen. Suwat Thakrongsrisakul, Commander of the Thai Immigration Bureau and his helpers
Nothing can bring him down, baby!
Role in Case: This group is in charge of extraditing Mark Karr to the U.S. for his eventual trial, though, as my friend Antonella pointed out (she has an eye for this stuff) you couldn’t get the smiles off these guys’ faces with a brillo pad. You would think they were transporting a bear cub saved from a raging river back to its proud mother. I don’t think they understand exactly how little there is to smile about in the grisly murder of a six year old.
Daniel Roberts, Pueblo Vista Elementary School Principal
Amount of Muscles in Mouth: Two times that of average human
Worst Fear: Making a face too much and it staying that way
Weakest Attribute: Judging character
Role in Case: Roberts was the principal while Karr worked as a student / substitute teacher at his elementary school in Napa, California in 2001. Said Roberts, “Oh yeah, I can toootally see him doing this sort of thing. I remember one time in the break room me and some of the teachers were talking and we were like, ‘Dude, John is gonna like, totally murder a kid someday.’ And I was like, ‘I know, right?!’ ”
John Glaser, Napa Valley Unified School District Superintendent
You Might Not Know It, But: He has been undead for two years now
Role in Case: To scare off teenage sleuth teams trying to crack the case by rigging booby traps and misleading hijinks all over town.
Sharyn Lindsey, Napa Valley Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources
Dislikes: Not having sex
Last Halloween Costume: Leslie Nielson
Role in Case: More than the eye candy, Lindsey represents a broken school system fraught with incompetency and burocratic log-jamming. She also represents an angle of the story that is completely fucking useless. Who’s up after her, the lettuce guy at a Chipotle in Pasadena who served Mark Karr a Carnitas Burrito one day and DIDN’T IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZE HIM AS JONBENET’S REAL KILLER AND TURN HIM IN?
Michael Tracey, University of Colorado journalism professor
Prized Possession: Emmy Awards for staring role in TV’s hit show “Miami Vice”
Favorite Album: “Frontiers” by Journey
Favorite TV Show: “Nash Bridges”
Role in Case: According to The Washington Post, “Tracey said he had been corresponding with Karr – who used an assumed name in the e-mail exchange – for "about four years" before he mentioned the correspondence to the prosecutor's office. [He] would not say what prompted him to alert prosecutors. According to one source close to the investigation, Boulder County prosecutors asked federal investigators to help identify the e-mails' author by his pseudonym, which was BenetKiller4lyfe.”
But really, you correspond for FOUR YEARS with a stranger who is obsessed with the JonBenet Ramsey case and over that time you never become suspicious of this person? During Desert Storm when I was in sixth grade I corresponded with a soldier stationed in the Middle East (cute!) and within weeks I learned that his wife was leaving him and he had a skin disease they couldn’t diagnose. So much for Mike Tracey being good at journalism!
Bob Raines, superintendent and principal at Wilson Elementary School
Favorite Animal: Cow
Favorite Pastime: Riding in the car
Role in Case: Raines twice hired John Mark Karr as a substitute in second and fourth grade classes in 2001. Further complicating matters, it seems Raines misunderstood the meaning of the word “hires,” confusing it with “going for a ride in the car.” So technically, it’s not really his fault. Because riding in the car is his favorite pastime.
Pam Paugh, Patsy Ramsey's sister
Often Confused With: Delta Burke
Favorite Ice Cream Topping: A sandwich
You Might Not Know It, But: She has feelings too
Role in Case: No real role, but if I didn’t know this woman’s name and you gave me five guesses, I bet by the fifth one I could guess that her name was Pam Paugh.
John Mark Karr, the latest killer of JonBenet Ramsey
Idol: Chris Isaak
Hobby: Confessing to murders; beauty pageants
Date of Facial Expression Change: Independence Day, 1982, when a firecracker exploded near his face, causing him to flinch
Role in Case: Apparently he confessed to the murder, and if there’s one thing I will never understand it’s why someone would confess to a murder if they didn’t do it. But for some reason, in this case it seems like a plausible turn of events. On the other hand, maybe he’s actually guilty and he’s using his confession to make people think he’s crazy and just confessing so he’ll get away with it. Basically, anything is possible at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out like a scene from a family sitcom where the parents come downstairs in the middle of the night in their bathrobes with a baseball bat after hearing a rustling in the kitchen, only to burst through the door and find the golden retriever covered in peanut butter and Honey Nut Cheerios. Only a lot more horrific than that.
Thursday, August 17
A commenter yesterday suggested that the “Santino” I spoke with yesterday via HP’s “chat with a technician” service was actually nothing more than a computer spitting out preprogrammed responses generated using keywords from my questions.
It made sense though: the robotic responses, the quick typing, the way he made me feel . . . But I couldn’t bring myself to accept it. The thought pained me that Santino, who had helped me so much and was, for those ten minutes, such a well-spring of knowledge and cheerfulness, could have been a conglomeration of circuitry and futuristic know-how. I had to find out for sure, and the only way I could think to do that was to get back on a chat with another HP technician.
And there you have it: proof that HP online technicians are, in fact, people too. And that while this world needs a lot of things, like renewable energy, a cure for AIDS, an emphasis on good core workouts and a foundation dedicated to saving the attractive girls from impoverished nations, maybe a good place to start would be with some trust in our fellow man.
Good work, Santino.
Wednesday, August 16
I don’t know who came up with the concept of online customer service chats, but I’d like to shake his hand. Really hard. And then make him punch himself in his face repeatedly with his own hand while saying, “Why are you punching yourself? Stop punching yourself. Why would you do that? It makes no sense to punch yourself.”
After waiting for 10 minutes on hold with HP this morning, I decided to try their “chatting” service. Immediately upon the little messenger window opening, two things didn’t make sense:
1. If this person is available to instant message with me, why can’t they pick up the phone and talk to me? They are over there, in their office, sitting in front of a computer typing to me, and I’m sitting here in my office, in front of my computer, typing to them. I am looking at my phone. They are looking at theirs. Yet we sit here and type. It absolutely defeats the purpose of instant messaging which is to either talk to a friend at work when you can’t use the phone, or get a girl to do something nasty, because while she may not say it, she’ll definitely type it; and
2. “Chatting” with a service technician about your computer is about as comfortable as going on webcam with your mother. I honestly can’t explain why, but you just can’t sound normal while doing this. I mean, at least in an email, sounding formal just comes off as professional. But when “chatting,” professional comes off more like douchbag. At the same time though, you’re not going to be all casual and sarcastic and like, “haha, lmfao at system BIOS error L” with some guy you don’t even know. So what you end up with is some sort of in between language where you don’t use contractions but still try to be cool by saying “hey” instead of “hello” and not capitalizing proper nouns, and the end result is you sounding like a tool. Not a jerk or a asshole – just a toolish person who says things like, “That was a terrific play!” when watching baseball games.
Still though, by the end of our ten minute “chat,” I really feel like Santino and I had worked up a good rapport with one another, to the point where when it came time to end our chat I was half expecting him to say, “add me to ur buddy list, k?” But he didn’t. Instead we simply exchanged our sad, lonesome, kind-of-casual goodbyes.
Tuesday, August 15
After a five day long weekend during which the largest difficulty I had to overcome was getting the lid off the cocktail shaker after it had been encrusted with sugar and mint leaves from mojitos, I returned to my apartment Sunday night and immediately fell asleep, wasted by endless hours of volleyball, drinking in the sun and laughing heartily at the notion of people working while I played volleyball and drank in the sun. I didn’t unpack, I didn’t straighten up the apartment, I hardly even brushed my teeth. I just collapsed.
Flash forward to the next morning when I stumble out of bed about 20 minutes after The Girlfriend has left for work. Because she has a “real” job, this is our usual schedule. And because I have the apartment all to myself for those 40 minutes I spend getting ready, I don’t mind doing things I wouldn’t normally do while wearing just my underwear, such as stretch and eat a bowl of cereal. Usually, I don’t even bother closing the shades, because our apartment is in the back of the building and there is a rather large gap between us and the buildings behind us. So while often times I can see in the windows of those buildings, without the telephoto lens on my camera I can’t discern if they are fully clothed, just wearing underwear, or rolling around on the floor completely naked with their dog. Hence I feel secure, using the time tested “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me” logic, going about my business unashamed by original sin.
So when I found myself naked in the bathroom, just about to step in the shower, but suddenly realizing that I had left my unpacked toiletry case in the bedroom, I didn’t think twice about just walking out of the bathroom completely unclothed and going to the bedroom to fetch it.
Five steps out of the bathroom, though, something happened, the memory of which causes me to shudder and make that audible noise you make to distract yourself from a horrendously embarrassing moment.
(Side story: Back in college during my junior year, I met a girl in one of my English classes and we started to date. As we were leaving class one day, we ran into one of her friends in the hallway, a small, Asian guy I had recognized from another English class we shared. This was how our introduction went. I’ve changed his name to protect him from me:
Girl: “Dan, this is Tim. Tim, this is Dan.”
(Something feels weird as we shake hands.)
Me: “Whoa, what’s with the secret handshake?”
(Time pulls up his extra long sleeves to reveal two deformed hands, each with only three fingers.)
WHAT’S WITH THE SECRET HANDSHAKE?!
Point being, I have forever thought that would be the most embarrassing moment of my life. I might have been wrong.)
Perhaps now is a good time to inform you that there has been construction going on at the building next to ours for a few months. They are gut renovating the entire townhouse, and everyday there are between 10 and 15 workers filing in and out of the front door with hard hats, tools and dirty facial hair. Perhaps my foreshadowing skills have slipped since college, but I think you see where this is headed . . .
Standing in the middle of the kitchen, halfway between the bathroom and the bedroom door, I look up and see, right outside the window on the balcony of the adjacent building, a construction worker leaning on the railing having a cigarette. I have drawn this handy diagram to help you understand the gravity of the situation:
It is a clear, direct visual path from where I was standing to where the construction worker was standing. No more than 40 feet between us. He had on a blue flannel shirt, work jeans and a brown belt. He had short, dirty blond hair. I could have said in a normal voice, “How’re things going over there?” and, despite the operation of heavy machinery nearby, he would have heard me fine. WE LOOKED INTO EACH OTHER’S EYES FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. The best I can describe it is to say that both of us, not knowing how to react, looked away quickly, as though one might do when checking out someone at a bar and they catch you staring. It was probably the most intimate moment I have ever shared with a man, including the time I spooned a friend for warmth in a twin bed in Montreal. (Seriously, is there anything in this post that wouldn’t get me fired from my job?) I can’t even say I was a like a deer in headlights, because even a deer expresses some sort of emotion and eventually moves. I, instead, was so shocked that I just stood there, as normal as possible, like the Earth had stopped and I had all the time in the world to contemplate my many fears and problems, although inexplicably the construction worker standing outside my window LOOKING AT MY NAKED FACE IN MY EYE wasn’t one of them.
Finally, after blacking out for a few moments, I made it to the bedroom and assessed the situation: A strange guy had just seen me buck naked in my kitchen. Assessment: Poor situation.
I put pants on, waited a full minute and then peeked out the door. In hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best idea, because, if for some reason he was still out there looking in, the absolute hilarity of my face peeking out my bedroom door to see if he was still there would probably have been too much for me to handle. Luckily, he was gone, and I made my way back to the bathroom and washed myself clean of the whole event.
Until, of course, I had to leave my building and was forced to walk past the group of construction workers loitering outside. I think this is the closest I will ever come to knowing the feeling a girl gets when she is trapped in a closet at a party and taken advantage of by an entire fraternity, and then has to fix her hair and pull her cardigan tight as she leaves the party and can’t tell anyone because no one would believe her anyway, even after she sees one of them in school that Monday and he smiles to her across the class and makes a kissy face and she starts crying and runs out of the room. And all I could think while finishing my lonely walk to the subway station was that the days when the lid to the cocktail shaker was my biggest problem seemed so far, far away.
Again, not me. Although Scott won the hair-do battle.
Wednesday, August 9
I was going to write a long post about this, but I’m running out of time and I’m leaving this afternoon for a long weekend at the beach, so here’s an abbreviated version:
Coupon for free haircut at Supercuts comes in the mail. Awesome? Probably not. But maybe? Probably not. I’m a sucker for anything free? Absolutely.
Enter the store: immediate sense of dread. Greeted by a guy who looks at my shoulder when he speaks. Maybe gay? Maybe a robot? (Gay robots?) I contemplate leaving, but that would require a distraction and this guy won’t stop looking at my shoulder.
I sit down in his chair. He puts the cape on. We stand to go get my hair washed. Halfway there, he turns me around and sits me back down to ask me what I want done with my hair. I make weird hand gestures and use the word “choppy.” He makes pretend to understand. Not sure he speaks English. In fact, unsure he speaks at all. We go over to get my hair washed again.
I lean back in the chair. As he starts up the water he hits me in the head with the nozzle; tries to recover and sprays me in the face. If he were a woman this would be foreplay, but he’s not so it’s just incredibly awkward. I consider saying, “Hey, it looks better already! Thanks!” and leaving without removing the cape. He keeps his hand on my shoulder as he leads me back to his chair, reassuring that no part of this process will feel normal.
He starts cutting. And cutting. And cutting. Slow and deliberately but with such calculated motivation that I am transfixed. It’s like watching someone about to be hit by a bus – all you can do is point and say “Oh!” but you can’t stop it from happening. You can’t help them. Fate will have its way . . .
Already so much hair is missing. Before I know it, he has the hairspray out. Before I can say, “They still make hairspray?” he is unloading the canister on my head with unrelenting ferocity. Then he pushes every hair on my head forward. Then he forms a flip in the front. Then I almost die of embarrassment for the man in the mirror in front of me. The cape seems like it is 50 lbs. My arms are useless. In five minutes this man has managed to do what six years of paralegal work couldn’t: my will is broken. This is my Vietnam.
But then he takes out the hair dryer. I can’t imagine what purpose this could serve, but he apparently intends to use it on my hair-sprayed head. I honestly believe he is making this up as he goes along, that yesterday he was “in computers” but he found it “unrewarding.” Then he takes out the buzzer and goes to work on the sides. He nearly removes an eyebrow. We laugh. His is hearty, mine is desperate. I want to leave so badly, to see my family and friends again, to have hair and be loved. To run in wide open fields of dandelions and open presents on Christmas morning. I feel the “Free Haircut” coupon burning in my pocket, the remembrance of a Faustian deal. I regret.
Finally, it is over. He shows it to me in the mirror and all I can do is nod in disbelief at what stands before me. Nothing good; everything bad. It is almost impressive in its atrocity. I give in the coupon, tip the man, all the while looking down. I walk home looking down. I shower looking down. I am hideous.
My only hope is this thought: “If he can cut hair (and he can’t) so can I.” I refuse the bad logic and set about “fixing” my hair. It is a tedious process of misjudging the motions of my hand inverted in a mirror. In the end clumsy + no skills + limited range of movement = better job than Supercuts. I am somewhat relieved, though still noticeably ugly.
On the plus side, finally found a deal I can refuse:
P.S. I’d rather sign up for a reminder to get a colonoscopy from a kangaroo than to get a haircut at Supercuts.
P.P.S. I hate this woman with a passion.
P.P.P.S. Everyone have a great weekend. Especially me, because mine will be four days long, cut off from the technological world with only mojitos and steak to survive. I promise to think of each and every one of you, as I drink away the need to feel pretty.
Tuesday, August 8
Memo To The Old Bag On 83rd St. That Called Me A Jerk
Let me start by saying, and I mean this from the heart, that I have nothing against old people. I love old people. I love that they are the redwoods of society, that you could cut them open and from their growth rings learn the secrets of histories long past; how they play bingo and gamble because at this stage every day is a lottery of broken hips and broken dreams; how they think the internet is magic and use the word “negro” without malice. And I love how they shrink.
But here’s the thing, old people: you need to understand that due to such things as oxidation and osteoporosis, you are now slower than you used to me, yet the world itself has stayed the same speed. So when I’m walking down the sidewalk carrying 80 lbs of groceries and you are wobbling in front of me with profound apathy, I’m going to go around you. And because I’m polite I’m not going to woosh by you swinging my plastic grocery bags like pendulums of fury – I’m going to slowly move up beside you so as not to startle you and then advance past you. It’s a simple, polite gesture suggesting, “You’re the past, I am the future.” Embrace it.
But when you decide without warning to make a sharp left right into my gallon of milk, guess what? Well for one that’s going to hurt you a lot more than it will my milk. And for another, how about a little control over the movement of your body? You move at a turtles pace right up until you decide you need to turn left, then it’s as though they’re handing out free tennis balls for the legs of your walker and you can’t get there quick enough? There’s no rush – your doorway isn’t going anywhere. Unless you’re senile and that’s not your home in which case you might think, in your boundless senility, that your door ran away. And last and most importantly, IT’S NOT MY FAULT YOU ALMOST RAN INTO ME. I’M NOT THE JERK. YOU’RE THE JERK.
Listen: I appreciate that it can’t be easy walking around on the cusp of death. But you’ve got to choose your battles. It’s not like you’re bounding with youthful energy. You need your strength for the important struggles, like for the continued love of your family, or bladder control. My advice is to just make the best of the situation. Like the time I was ten and I was putting on a bike show for my mom, and ten seconds into the routine, during a difficult move where I wiggled my handlebars back and forth, I inadvertently wiggled too far to the right causing me to flip head first over the bike while taking a direct hit from the handlebar into the sternum. Sure, I laid in the middle of the road and I cried, but when I finally stopped crying I just made pretend that it was all part of the routine, my death-defying front flip dismount. And you know what? I felt better about myself. Just like you would if instead of calling people jerks you took the time to realize that a lot of what happens to you is your fault, and maybe it’s your inner jerk that you’re really mad at.
Just trying to help.
(Note: The woman in the picture isn’t the woman who called me a jerk. While she is a good physical likeness, I make no representations as to her character. She may very well be a perfectly nice old woman. But I doubt it.)
Monday, August 7
Link to article about cats on respirators.
Back to normal soon . . . as soon as I stop trying in vain to live a normal life and own up to the responsibility of being a superhero.
Friday, August 4
I’ve had four jobs over the course of my life (six if you count the three day stint at the “chain restaurant which shall remain nameless for to give it a name is to make the memories real,” and my brief flirtation with crime fighting when I was six, which was cut short when I couldn’t find any crime in my bedroom or the kitchen.)
My first job was working as a deckhand on a ferry, aka The Greatest Job Ever. My responsibilities were as follows:
1. collect tickets
2. flirt with girls
3. untie boat
4. tie up boat
5. flirt with girls
Granted the memories will all be tainted 20 years from now when I’m getting chemo for the melanoma ravaging my body, but for now I can still look back fondly and hold out hope that if people can get paid to do what I did, then a capitalist run, commodified existence can’t be all that bad.
During the winters, I worked at a gym. The owner was a large, black former body builder who entrusted the entire gym to me two nights a week. He was nice and sociable and, in hindsight, perhaps a little mentally unstable. Either that or he had been raised to believe that sitcom plots were born of real life events, and a 16 year old white suburban kid could really park his mountain bike in the back room and learn valuable lessons about business, responsibility and life all on his own. Because basically all I did was play the Weezer album and see how fast I could run on the treadmill before falling off. The gym closed not long after my employment ended.
And of course there’s my current job, where just last week I may or may not have had a cocktail with my lunch . . . at my desk. Soooo, yeah.
But amidst all that, there was one other job. I spent a couple of summers and a few vacations from school working with my father, who is a building contractor. It was, undoubtedly, the hardest job I’ve ever done (crime fighting included), but it was also the most rewarding. Whereas now at the end of the day I go home knowing that I helped someone get away with defrauding their business partner, or on the ferry left with the satisfaction of helping insecure teenage girls get sun poisoning “which will turn into a really great tan,” here I went home aching and tired and always bleeding from somewhere, but at he end of the day there was something tangible where before there had been only space. And more than that, it was going to be somebody’s home. (Well, actually most of the work was in the Hamptons, so it would be someone’s summer home. But still, years from now, after it has been bitterly contested in the divorce, it will still stand as a memorial to the manual labor that went into its creation. The same cannot be said of my intense efforts to get the 5’2” 160lb woman to fully extend her fourth leg press.)
Also, even despite the gaping age difference between the other employees and myself, no other job had the same sense of camaraderie. Being the youngest didn’t mean that I was treated any differently than the 40 year old guy who once shit in a spackle bucket, it just meant that I had different responsibilities (read: crap work) than everyone else. Such as taking food orders, unquestionably the most dangerous part of my job. I would fall through a partially shingled roof (which I did) than hand a man with a hammer on his waist a medium regular coffee when he ordered a large light and sweet. One time I forgot to order tomato on a guy’s ham sandwich and at 4:30, as we were packing up to leave for the day, he was still mumbling while walking past me, “How can you eat a ham sandwich without tomato?”
When I got all the orders right, though, it was a triumph and I was lauded for being the bearer of all things good. To this day, I don’t think there is anything I can do in my life that will generate more happiness in the world than carrying a box of food into a gutted house full of hungry construction workers. It was like returning to the platoon with news that the war was over, every single day. And we would sit down and eat our food, regardless of the layer of dust and dirt that covered our hands, because, as it was reasoned, the real dirt was on your hand, and the layer of dust over that actually protected your food. And soap was for girls.
What made all these memories flood back to me was walking past the construction site across from my office early this afternoon. With the temperature coming back down to a reasonable 88, the workers seemed happy once again to eat their lunch outside, sitting on anything that can be fashioned into a chair, be it an overturned bucket or a large spool of wire. Classic rock was playing on their small, dilapidated portable radio and in the 30 seconds I stood near them I heard conversation range from baseball to the startling pronouncement that, “A shark can eat a person in 30 seconds. Bones and everything.”
But what got me was this: during that 30 seconds, at least five very attractive women walked past these guys, ten if count “dressing slutty” as attractive. But not once did these guy even so much as LOOK at any of these women. It was unbelievable – like I had stumbled upon the first all gay construction company, or first all blind construction, or the first all chemically castrated construction company – and more than that it was disheartening. I felt like these men were passing up on the defining fraterizational event in the entire construction business. To put this in perspective, when I worked for my father, the workers and I would seize ANY AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITY to check out a girl. It wasn’t easy, due to the fact that we were working on residential projects in low traffic areas, but somehow we found a way. You learned to sense when an attractive woman was approaching. I mean, I saw guys spy out female joggers from the back yard, looking through a framed house. On more than one occasion, we would be working in the front yard of a house and a car would go by and someone would say, “Wow, did you see her? She was smokin’.” THE CAR WAS GOING 45 MILES PER HOUR.
And these men just ate their food and talked about what animals could eat a human the fastest?
My only conclusion is that when you work in such a busy place as New York, you become immune to it, as though it would be such an immense distraction that you wouldn’t get any work done if you didn’t find a way to overcome it. And in a way I respect these guys, but in a way I’m also sad for them. Because sure, they’ll still take home with them the knowledge that they’re building people’s homes and the satisfaction of “creating something tangible,” blah, blah, blah, but is that all there is to life?
And just as my sorrow is about to overcome me, I turn to walk away from the crowd as a tall, blond woman is passing by and three seconds later hear from over my shoulder, “Jeeesus honey, where’d you get those legs? Bloomingdales?”
Thursday, August 3
Everyone knows that all across the country people are suffering the effects of a devastating heat wave, and neighborhoods are losing electricity and poor people have no air conditioning and no homes and you can’t walk ten feet outside without entirely sweating out that last bottle of Poland Spring, but has anyone stopped and thought about the real victim here?
I mean, he wasn’t funny when he was on TV, and now he’s still not funny, not on TV and really, really hot somewhere.
Wednesday, August 2
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Two of America's top authors, John Irving and Stephen King, made a plea to J.K. Rowling on Tuesday not to kill the fictional boy wizard Harry Potter in the final book of the series, but Rowling made no promises.
"We're working towards the end I always planned, but a couple of characters I expected to survive have died," she said, declining to elaborate.
J.K. Rowling is sitting in her palatial flat drinking tea, hunched over a laptop sitting on an antique carved oak desk. A small dog sleeps on a nearby chase lounge. Rowling is typing. In a voice over we hear what she is writing.
Harry storms into the dungeon where he finds a hole has been blasted in the stone wall revealing a secret passage. As he cautiously steps through the opening, he hears Hermione scream. With this he charges forward following her strengthening wails. He races through the maze of dark corridors until he reaches a large, wooden doorway around which a faint light emits. Hermione screams, “Help! Someone help me. Please, Harry, help me!”
Harry gathers himself, knowing that on the other side of the door is the battle he has trained his whole life to fight, that others have given their lives so that he might come face to face with, and ultimately defeat, the black wizard. He knew he was ready, as a man, as a magician, he was ready to decide his fate. He takes a slow step forward, reaching his hand out for the knob. Suddenly a large stone falls from the ceiling and hits him in the head, cracking open his skull, killing him.
Rowling: “Oh my! I didn’t see that coming.”
Tuesday, August 1
So last week when I was writing a lot about Yahoo! because Yahoo! is my homepage and what I was doing is called “mailing it in,” I started to get really angry with Yahoo! (as I am right now) because their name is officially “Yahoo!” and it’s really annoying to continually type an exclamation point, mostly due to the fact that my typing style is slightly unconventional. Don’t get me wrong, I can type a string of common, three letter words faster than anyone I know. But throw in an “z” or a “q” or in this case an exclamation point and it’s as though I enter an autistic state where I move my fingers very slowly in a deliberate effort to press the right keys.
Naturally, I got mad at Yahoo! for making the exclamation point part of their name. But then I got curious as to whether people were allowed to use punctuation when naming their children. Like if I wanted to name my daughter “Sarah!” or “Nicole.” or “Amber?” would I be allowed to do that? So I tried to do some research on the subject, but man research is hard! And all I could come up with is an excerpt from an article on adults applying for name changes in the courts:
“Racial slurs and ‘fighting words’ or obscenity are also banned, as are confusing names such as numbers and punctuation.”
Which makes sense, because how are you going to convince a judge that you have a good reason for wanting to be named “You’re A God-Damned Fascist!”? But how does that apply when you’re basically just writing the name in on a birth certificate? Who’s going to tell you “no,” the doctor?
Doctor: “You have a beautiful son, Mr. Murphy. Have you decided on a name yet?”
Me: “Yes, we have. It’s Cocksucker McGillicuty, 13.”
Doctor: “Uh, I don’t think you’re allowed to name your child that.”
Me: “Really? That’s weird because you’re a doctor and I’m his father. It would seem that naming him would be my thing, not yours.”
Doctor: “Uh, but Cocksu-“
Me: “Cocksucker McGillicuty, 13. No hyphen. Thanks.”
So I don’t think the same rules apply to babies as they do to adults trying to change their names. I worked for at least an hour to find some official laws and regulations on this and got so fed up with trying a vast array of Google search terms that at last I finally typed in “name baby ‘Shit’.” Now every time I type an “n” into my Google search bar and I see “name baby ‘Shit’ ” on the list of saved searches I laugh, which is great because in this sad world laughter is all we have – but I still have no concrete answers. So the first person to provide me with some kind of actual law on this will get a reward. No, scratch that. Not a reward. That sounds too much like money or something valuable. They will get a prize* to be determined upon the deciding of a winner. Good luck everyone!
* Please note that prize will be at my discretion and will likely be worthless in both monetary and inherent value. Prizes are not limited to physical objects and can include such items as “a sense of accomplishment,” “the knowledge that you have made me happy,” and “being informed.” Also, when I name my first born son “Shoehorn Molasses Murphy” and he becomes of age to know that he is different and he cries and complains that it’s not fair and that I had no right to do that to him, I will specifically mention the winner of this contest in reinforcing the notion that I did, in fact, have the right to do it.
WELL it was a tough call because everyone failed equally well, but I think I at least have a better understanding of how our nation operates when it comes to naming children, specifically that no one knows shit because no one has had the balls to challenge the system and name their child “Pancakes!”
While Viscountess came close with “a mother . . . can give the kid "any surname she wants" to,” I have to think that that is oversimplifying things, because it doesn’t define what constitutes a surname. And Vokdardt seemed to do the most research, although their extensive efforts were unfortunately in the field of “name changing” not “baby naming.” So that kind of sucks. But thanks anyway. The person who came the closest to being helpful was a mysterious woman named Emma who sent my an article from the online legal database Lexis-Nexis with the following text:
"You must use the 26-letter alphabet; however, no punctuation except imbedded hyphens and apostrophes is permitted," says Doug McBride, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. In addition, you cannot use symbols, diacriticals or numbers in the name.”
I think it’s clear that this baby-naming business if a state governed affair, meaning this only applies in Texas, but it’s at least got some specific information provided by a reliable source, and that’s good enough for me.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an email address for Emma because she used the Lexis-Nexis automatic print delivery service to send it (how advanced!) so unless I hear from her within the next hour the prize will have to be forfeited. And by “forfeited” I mean “gone,” because the prize was a turkey sandwich, but I’m really hungry and it’s like 100 degrees out so I don’t want to go buy another one. In any event, though, I think we’re all winners here, because we learned something – not just about naming babies, but about helping and sharing.