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February 28, 2005

idling/chicken

If it's Monday, it must be AI time. 8pm EST.

Also, Robot Chicken is the funniest thing I've seen in ages. I heart Seth Green.

Update: Bo - who I hated up until about twenty minutes ago - totally rocked my American Idol world tonight.

Anyone who pulls off "Whipping Post" on American Idol is ok on my list.

When Advertising Goes Wrong

We just saw a local commercial for natural gas heat. The phone number to call, should you want to inquire about their product:

1-877-I'VE GOT GAS

My kids haven't laughed this hard since that time the old lady farted in the paper goods aisle in Target.

Ok, ok. I laughed, too.

...still laughing..

Dear Martin Scorcese [now with mp3 goodness]

I love you. I really do. I like you much more than I like your nemesis, Clint Eastwood. In the long run, you're the one who will retire with a clean concscience, because you never co-starred in a movie with a monkey. Or with Sondra Locke. Yea, I know Eastwood made some great films in his time, but he was in Drowning Dead Pool [damn me for not proofreading] (in addition to the monkey movies) and that really negates a lot of his Good, Bad and Ugly mojo. You, on the other hand, have nothing to be sorry for. You never tried to pull a BJ and the Bear moment on your fans, Marty. You have integrity, unlike a guy who would make a movie out of one of the most treacly, overwrought, sentimental pieces of crap books ever written. Yea, I'm looking at you, Madison County.

And Eastwood never had a song written about him quite like this one. Sure, there was that Gorillaz song called Clint Eastwood, but was that really about him?

This one' called Martin Scorsese
He makes the best fucking films
If I ever meet him I'm gonna grab his fuckin' neck
and just shake him
And say thank you thank you
for makin' such excellent fuckin' movies

Clint may have his silly golden statues, but you've got that, Marty. King Missile loves you. I love you.

You make the best fucking films.

Update: Once again, I offer you the King Missile epic, Martin Scorcese. Download here.

Why Hunter S. Thompson Should Be Shot Out Of My Hypothetical Cannon

Family looking for cannon to fire Thompson's remains skyward

Anyone wishing to provide the cannon is asked to write a 100-word essay and mail it to the Aspen Daily News, which will pass the entries on to Thompson's family. "Were talking 100 words, not 101. And snail mail only. No e-mails or phone calls," said Daily News associate editor Troy Hooper.

I hope they like poems. And hypothetical cannons.

My cannon is legendary in some circles
It is as coveted
as an original Boba Fett
(with the flaw)
still in the package
My cannon has been made smooth over the ages
With constant alcohol rubbings
Made of one part Jim Beam
and two parts Jagermeister
We once filled the entire thing
With several thousand dollars worth
of the finest Columbian Red
lit the fucker
and took turns submerging ourselves in it
wading through burning weed
inhaling deeply
and then Frank lit the cannon
shot me clear across the yard
I stopped, dropped and rolled
and then smoked my Levis

---

100 words.

so you wanna be a tycoon?

Well, I do.

I'm looking for a new game to buy (because I just have so much free time on my hands to play games..). I'm interested in a sim/tycoon type game. I love Roller Coaster Tycoon, to give you an idea of what I'm looking for. And I'm much better at managing things than people, so I don't want to play any of the Sims games (been there, done that, tortured my Sims to death for the hell of it). So I'm looking at games like Mall Tycoon. maybe Zoo Tycoon (maybe managing animals is easier than managing people? Is there a "animals go on wild rampage and take over the world" option?)..I like to know that if I buy a game and get bored with it, there's always the option for mayhem. Like locking your Sim in a makeshift closet until he pees all over the floor and then dies from starvation in a pool of his own urine, or making the roller coaster users puke all over each other. But most of all, I just want entertaining game play and the ability to have some control over people/places/things to make up for my sad lack of control in my own life.

Any suggestions?

take this snow and shove it, I ain't digging out no more

So the snow from the past few storms has mostly melted. The streets are finally clear of ice patches. My car has been scrubbed clean of sand and salt and acid snow residue. And it was kind of nice out yesterday. Sunny, not too freezing - I could almost taste the hint of spring the air. In fact, if I listened long and hard enough, I could hear Bob Shephard's voice in the breeze - now batting...... my heart fills with joy and anticipation and then....

THANK YOU MARIO! BUT OUR PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE!*

With a winter storm warning in effect and expectations of 8 to 13 inches of snow on most of Long Island, drivers are already dreading winter's next onslaught.

But there's even more bad news, said Adrienne Leptich, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Upton.

For one thing, the timing of the storm -- expected to start between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday and continuing until early Tuesday -- looks likely to make a mess of at least two commutes.

For another, winds are expected to be between 20 and 30 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph. "We're looking at near-blizzard conditions," Leptich said.

What god do I have to appease and who/what do I need to sacrifice in order to make winter go away? Do you hear me, weather god? I am tired of bending over for your eight or more inches every week! And now I'm starting to get that itchy, skin crawling feeling that usually ends up with me either crawling into bed for days at a time or going on a violent rampage. And if I'm going on a violent rampage, it's going to start with anyone who says "oh, but it's 70 degrees and sunny where I am, hahaha!" or maybe with the first person who says "man up, nancy, it snows in my neck of the woods 8 months out of the year, 42 inches at a time!" Well, I'm not in your neck of the woods, am I, bucko? Oh, but I will be. I will be. With my deadly shovel-o-death. How do you like them apples, snow freak?

I just love Mondays which follow a Sunday evening of insomnia and weather-rage.

[and this remind me that I was going to finish off my Poseidon Adventure treatise today. What better way to spend a blizzardy day than submerged, so to speak, in tales of a sinking cruise ship? Well, lots better. I have some more fellatio stuff coming up. I know that always catches your eye. More than, say, Ernest Borgnine or Shelley Winters in distress]

February 27, 2005

Fun and Games With Oscar/Open Thread

[side note: I just made the Best. Baked Zit. Ever.]

I may live blog the Oscars. Maybe. I don't know that I could really make fun of people who practically parody themselves, anyhow.

For now, it's play time, and the topic is:

Alternative Oscar Categories You'd Like To See

Interpret at will.

[And, the Academy Awards drinking game. And another one.]

Update: One little letter. Just one letter. ZITI.
Joke's over, people. JUST PLAY THE FREAKING GAME.
::smack::

And I don't think I'll live blog because my eyes are already glazing over and the real program hasn't started yet (Ann Althouse and Skillzy are live blogging, anyhow - so is FAD, with his usual sarcastic aplomb. And Roger Simon.). But feel free to use this as an open Oscar thread in which you can (ahem) answer my survey question or just make fun of the winners/loser/presenters or yell out BOOBIES! whenever applicable. Yea, that will be fun.

boobies11.gif!!!!

--

Update: Nice to see Drew Barrymore doing a salute to Ronald Reagan with her hair. The best commentary is over at FAD.

Estrogen Blogging

It's still Estrogen Week and I'd like to celebrate it with a repeat of my short story about a female....well, just read it.

First - because a lot of other people are focusing on the political women in the blogging world, I'd like to present of list of women bloggers who cover other topics.

Baz
Jaded Ju
Cheesedip
Peace Dividend
Ratty
Go Fug Yourself
Matrixland
Rossi
Tenth-Muse
Ordinary Morning
Skittish
Heidi McDonald

Short, female driven story below.

Single Girl Seeks Superhero (a short story)

The lady says to her:
“So, let’s get this profile of yours started. What exactly are you looking for in a man?

“A cape and a sword.

“Come again?”

“A cape and a sword. And he should look good in tights.”

The lady nods her head politely, but her eyes are saying “this one’s out of her fucking mind.”

“Right. Cape. Sword. Tights.” She puckers her lips tightly. “Seems like you’re looking for a superhero.” She chuckles as she says this.

“Yes. I am.”

“Aren’t we all, sweetie? Except mine would be wearing a silk robe and boxers.”

Anna nods absently.

“Anyhow,” puckered-lip lady continues, “Any specific traits you’re looking for?”

“Some kind of superpower. But not stretching. Been there, done that.”

“Superpower? You mean like breathe underwater or something of the sorts?”

Anna throws back her head and laughs, loud and hearty.

“Has he been by here? You would think after all this time he would just come clean and hit the gay circuit on the internet.”

Lip lady drums her pen on the desk. She puckers again. Anna thinks it could be a nervous habit..

“I’m not sure I’m following you here,” she says. “Are you some kind of reporter for a satire magazine?”

Anna exhales loudly.

“I am,” she says slowly just in case lip lady is not quite the bright light she makes herself out to be. “Looking for a man.”

“Right. Man with cape, sword, tights, and flying ability.”

“Did I say flying? No, I didn’t.”

“So, you’re open to other umm...superpowers?” Her lips get even tighter and they form a small, red-stained “o” and Anna thinks that lip lady looks like a balloon that’s about to pop.

“I’m open to anything that’s not stretching or flying.”

“You’re serious, aren't you.”

“Yes.”

“You know what the odds are, lady?”

“I’m quite aware.”

“Tell you what. Let’s skip over this part for now and get to you.” The lips unpucker and Anna can see red lipstick on the lady’s otherwise gleaming teeth. She says nothing. The lady stifles a yawn and continues.

“Do you have any hobbies?”

“I like scaling walls in my spare time.”

“Mmmhmm. So....you’re an athlete?”

“You could say that.”

“I will.” Lip lady taps, taps, taps the pen. She puckers and unpuckers and Anna thinks of fish.

“Would you prefer an athletic man?”

“If you mean leaping tall buildings athletic, yes.”
“Lady, every woman who comes in here is looking for Superman in one way or another.”

What? You think Superman is the only one who can leap tall buildings? I’ll have you know that he does not own a patent on that superpower.”

Lip lady is getting frustrated. She’s doing the fish thing with her mouth constantly now and tapping her pen on the desk.

“Can you not be so obtuse, miss? I’ve got a bunch of other women out there who will most likely cut the chase and ask for a SM/NS/DF and be done with it.”

“Well then, they will just be settling. There are million SM/NS/DFs in this city. And I bet hardly a one of them has a sword and a cape.”

“Let me guess, you’re looking for that specific one that does.”

Anna smiles. “Obviously.”

Lip lady thumbs through the papers on her desk, looking harried and impatient the whole time.

“I’ve got a D&D player uptown.”

“No.”

“I’ve got a stage actor on Long Island. He does Shakespeare so there’s sure to be tights and a sword invovled.”

“No.”

Lip lady is puckering fast and furious now and is just about to give up when a yellowed, wrinkled paper falls out from the pile she is holding.

“Hmm..what’s this?”

Anna leans forward and tries to read along with Lip lady.

“If you are looking for a super man with super power, that’s me. Don’t be afraid of a man in a cape, ladies. You never know what’s underneath that cape until you try.”Anna notices a big “C” marked in red ink across the top of the paper.

“C?”

“Crazy.”

Anna smiles.

“We keep the Cs around just for shits and giggles.”

“Well that shit and giggle is mine.”

Lip lady rolls here eyes. “This paper has been around here since 1991. I don’t even know if he’s still at this number or is even still looking for a woman. For all I know, he’s at a science-fiction convention right now dressed as Luke Skywalker.”

“You know so little, ma’am, it’s scary.”

Lip lady looks like she’s about to say something but instead tucks the paper into Anna’s file and makes the fishy face.

“I’ll try to get in touch with him and give him your fact sheet. You can take it from there.”
Anna stands up and walks out. Not a handshake or thank you. Just walks on out the door, and doesn’t see Lip lady taking out a red marker and scrawling a big “C” across Anna’s paper.

Anna’s phone rings two days later.

“Hello, is this Single Girl looking for Superhero?”
“Indeed.”

“Coffee at 5 today?”

“Sure.”

“Meet me in front of the candy shop by Penn. I’ll be the one wearing...”

“A cape,” Anna finishes.

“Right.”

5pm, right on time, Anna sees him standing in front of the candy shop. His cape is black, lined with purple silk. He sword is hidden under the cape, but she knows it’s there. His hair is slicked back in that obnoxious, macho way. She looks for the scar above his eyebrow, just to make sure. It’s there, bright and ugly. She gets a flash of anger when she sees the scar and remembers how he got away the last time. She will not disappoint her crew again.

Cape guy stands there, waiting, expecting a beautiful single women who will fall madly in love with upon first sight, and he doesn’t even give a thought to explaining to a mere mortal why he lives underground and why he can crush a two ton SUV with his bare hands. He just wants a warm body in bed next to him when he comes home from a hard day trying to save the world.

Anna approaches him, her finger steady on the laser gun in the deep pocket of her fur coat. She can tell by the smarmy look on Captain Crusher’s face that he is still the shallow, egocentric man she once worked for, still the guy who thinks he can get by on just his looks and his bone-crushing abilities.

She gets within two feet of Crusher, slips her hand out of her pocket and aims the laser gun at him.

In an instant it’s over. The invisible laser has struck Crusher in his groin, the one place he doesn’t shield with laser-resistant lead. He always had this fear that the lead would make him impotent. Some super beings have an Achille’s heel. Crusher had an Achille’s dick.

As the rush-hour crowd hovers over Crusher, assuming that the crazy guy with the cape had some sort of stroke, Anna makes her way back down the stairs, into the deep of Penn Station.

Her crew will be pleased, indeed. But not as pleased as she.

It had to be done

Pope makes surprise appearance in window

[I do not claim photoshopping as one of my skills]

February 26, 2005

The Guy Next Door

All the BTK capture news reminds me.

I went through this true crime phase. Phase might be the wrong word; I only gave up the "hobby" because I read every book true crime book on the shelves at the community college library where I was working.

There's one book I read that I've been wanting for years to find again, just to clear up one probably faulty memory I have of the case. But I could never remember the serial killer's nickname (they always have to have the catchy name), let alone the name of the book or the author. I just remember that it started out with a young girl hitchiking and being picked up by this guy, who then takes her to his house and puts her in some contraption in the basement, much like a very large coffin. That's it. I don't recall much else except the confinement in a box. Ring a bell to anyone?

Anyhow, take a look at this guy.

dennisr.jpg

I bet you've come across at least twenty guys who look like him. Helpful, unassuming, maybe will take your garbage cans in for you in a windy day. He held a leadership position in his church.

Here, he doesn't look as...off. The facial hair gives him a more trusting, mature look.

You never know what lurks behind the mask people wear outside. Joel Rifkin used to regularly come in the deli where I worked. He was just one of those people you looked at a bit sideways, thinking there was just something off about him, but you chalked it up to him having poor social skills. Ok guy, I thought. Quiet.

Just..weird. Thinking this regular guy lives on your block, goes to your church, shops in your store and all the while he's been killing people. And being a real asshole about it, too.

Anyhow, if that book/case I described above sounds familiar to anyone, let me know.

I've got a bad case of the creeps today.

Update: Hubris ties the whole thing (the guy, the food sounding name, the George Costanza oddity) together.

And yes, I know murder is not funny. But sometimes you just have to lean back and laugh so your mind doesn't combust.

Completely unrelated, I was just reminded that I never finished my 100 comics thing. So I will.

And uh...don't forget to vote.

Talk about your non sequiturs.

Fellatio Poetry Voting

Bet you've never seen that title for a blog entry before.

Go over here, pick your TWO favorites, and come back to the comments here and nominate them. Top five poll to follow later today or tomorrow.

I have to say, those were some of the best sexual haikus I ever seen.

Have I seen a lot? Not saying.

Life Altering Moments

I mentioned life altering experiences the other day and some of you seemed interested in that topic. I sat down to write something that had been forming in my mind for a long time. Something intensely personal that happened over a series of years when I was younger and which has colored the way I view the world and human beings now. And then I decided I wasn't ready yet. But I did find something else to write about, which reads as third person fiction but isn't and which are culled from old hand written journal entries from many years ago. I had posted some of them here a long time ago, sporadically, and I thought I'd put them down here all together on a Saturday morning when not that many people are around to read it.

Why? Just something about this time of year, this weather, this particular, specific instance in time with this song playing and the sun hitting the snow just like that and the dust of memories forming patterns in my head and it's just like breathing out. In with the good, out with the bad.

And who knows, it may be one of those things I put here and then take down, kind of like diary entries crumbled and thrown into a ashtray or letters written but never sent.

Pretty much untouched, unedited from the original paper and ink thoughts. They are way too self-aware, heavy handed and filled with cliched imagery. But they're my words and they're not fiction, per se, but a conglomeration of moments, instances and scenarios set to some music only I can hear, and they're not meant to be pretty.

But they are life altering.

He brought her lilacs when she was in the hospital, lilacs from their own garden. If they were someone else, some other couple, it would have been a sweet, romantic gesture. But they were who they were, and the gesture spoke more of selfishness than anything else. She knew that as he was leaving, reluctantly, to come see her their neighbor probably leaned over the fence and asked if he wasn't bringing anything to cheer his wife up. And that's when he scowled and stomped and tore the lilacs from the bushes. He wrapped the stems in some tissues that were in the car. The tissues were probably used.

That was the time when she had some strange disease that made her hands swell up so she couldn't even tie her own shoes. And he still wanted to know where dinner was. She ended up in the emergency room, watching all her joints rise in slow motion. Her mother drove her. He wasn't home.

There was the other time in the hospital when she had a miscarriage - a slow, agonizing miscarriage that took a week to happen - and she had to go for a D&C and he was too busy to take her, couldn't her mother do it? His business involved not work, but things for himself. Her mother drove her to the hospital, never saying a word, never asking why. Her mother stood there next to her the whole time and when she came out of the anesthesia, instead of her husband standing over her, wipin She took her home and she never cried again about the miscarriage because it wasn't that big a deal, he said.

There was the one other time in the hospital, where she gave birth to their first child, alone and scared and having difficulties. But he wasn't there because he wasn't all that into the childbirth stuff, and he would just wait out in the hallway and they could come out and tell him when he was a father. And as she pushed and cried and heard the heart monitor shudder and stop and emit a monotone beep, and as she had oxygen put over her face and vaguely heard nurses and doctors gasping and yelling, he was not in the hospital at all, but down the corner, doing something for himself. And when she was rolled out of the delivery room, finally, with a red faced, screaming child, he was just coming up the stairs, breathless and a little ashamed, and her sisters were there already, holding her hand and smiling for her.

She sat alone at weddings and funerals and birthday parties because he was busy. Too busy for family, too busy for her. She slept alone in bed on the nights he went out to do stuff for himself, and she slept alone on the couch on the nights he locked himself in the bedroom, shouting at horses and screaming into the phone.

She dreamed of a funeral, of the pretense of mourning and of the guilty glee that came when the coffin was shoved into the ground. She fantasized about accidents occurring in the dead of night on the New Jersey Turnpike, car overturned, wheels spinning, broken glass piercing his eyes.

She dreamed of her own death but then shook the thought from her head and replaced it with dreams of flying. Sprouting wings and flying high above everything, the taste of freedom on her tongue. She landed in places that were not so dark, not so bleak and when she woke up it was always with the sinking feeling that her wings had been clipped. There were times, in the silvery light of the early morning, that she clung to the idea that the past few years were all a dream and she would wipe the sleep from her eyes and find herself in her parent's house, unwed, umothered, lifted from her bitterness. But it never happened that way and she woke every morning in the same house, the same life, the same bitter bed she made for herself.

But last night she had a dream. Again, she was given wings. This time the wings did not just sprout off the muscles in her back. They were handed to her. She looked carefully through the fog that was circling around them and saw the person who had handed her those wings. It was herself. And she knew. She knew what she had to do to fly.

---

They are leaving for Disneyworld in the morning. Not him. He didn't want to go. She is going with the kids and her mother and now the washing machine is broken, filled with dirty clothes and murky water. She leaves the machine like that and he promises to have it fixed when they get back.

She wonders what he will do while they are gone. No, she doesn't wonder. She knows. He will not miss them, he will not think of them, he will not be home when the kids call from the hotel room to shriek about the rides and the shows that filled their day. He will be doing his thing, like he always does, even when they are home.

Disney is crowded with families. Men and women holding hands, carrying babies, smiling as if the sun was shining just for them. They wear matching t-shirts and the men push the strollers and the kids have ice cream running down their chins and no one yells at them.

Everyone is happy in Disneyworld. Her own kids are beaming, bursting with energy from sunrise until way past nighttime, when she carries the little one onto the monorail that runs through their hotel, and he sleeps in her lap unaware that his mommy is plotting something that will forever alter his life.

They are on the Star Wars ride for the third time, bumping and jiggling and holding on for dear life and her mother leans over and whispers in her ear. You seem preoccupied, she tells her. I am, she whispers back. She gives her mother a knowing glance and just the way her eyes shift and her shoulder slump and her mouth quivers, her mother knows. She doesn't say anything else but nods a vague sort of approval.

And then a sunbeam breaks through the cloud hanging over her and makes everything bright and yellow and warm. She has said it without saying it, just acknowledged that it was on her mind and that broke the spell of silence that had been hanging over her for two years, as she plotted and planned her breakout.

For the rest of the trip, she avoids looking at happy, complete families, the ones that come in sets like some Fisher-Price Happy Handsome Family collection; Mom, Dad, smiling kid, smiling baby, never an angry word or a tear shed. She has stopped living in the dream where she is part of that collection. She has now become one of the discarded sets found at garage sales; the mom and kid and baby, smiles and daddy missing.

They come home and he picks them up at the airport. He doesn't ask how the trip was, if they had fun, how the breakfast with Winnie the Pooh went. He doesn't say a word. Her mother sits in the back of the mini-van with the kids and now she is embarrassed that her mother has to see the silence of their lives. She breaks the ice and asks him how his past week has been. He mutters something about it being nice and pleasant, spitting the words out as if their arrival home had destroyed the balance of his world. She doesn't cry, doesn't get upset, because she has that beam of sunshine slicing through her anger. It's coming, she says to herself. It's coming.

There's that phrase the straw that broke the camel's back. It's always a little thing, something as light as a plastic straw that can bring your house made of glass tumbling down, shattering at your feet. For them, it was the washing machine. It was ten days that the machine sat there, full of soiled clothes and gray water that was starting to smell. She asks him about it, wonders out loud why he didn't have it fixed. He shrugs his shoulders and goes in the bedroom and closes the door, and she goes back out the van and brings the suitcases in. She tucks the kids in bed and then proceeds to empty the water out of the washing machine, a bucket at a time, going from laundry room to the bathtub for each bucket, wanting only to lay down in her own bed and sleep.

And when she is done, she curls up on the couch and smiles to herself. Because this is the last night this fake collection of a family will present itself as whole. Tomorrow. Tomorrow she would tell him.

She remembers the dream she had about the wings. It's time to fly.

---
[almost three years later]

It is early evening in late summer. It's that moment between dusk and darkness, when the world is bathed in serious shades of blue, and the shadows seem to be debating about whether to come out or not. The stars are poking through the sky and the last remnants of the sunset have disappeared over the horizon, leaving one last streak of magenta trailing behind. She is chasing fireflies on the front lawn, her kids squealing and giggling as they catch one and then throw it back into the air and watch it take flight.

She is running with them, and giggling with them and it finally feels good. She spots a firefly on the far side of the garden and runs after it. It lands on the lilac bush. And she remembers. She remembers how she hates lilacs and the way they smell and how she attaches every bad memory about him to that particular lilac bush.

And then she moves away from the bush, leaving the firefly sitting there, blinking at her, and she runs back towards her children. She has cleared a hurdle. She did not let those memories weigh her down. She goes back to chasing fireflies until the ice cream man comes jingling down the block and they run after him, meeting up with the kids next door, everyone screaming for ice cream.

She sits down on her neighbor's steps and they watch their kids become stained various shades of strawberry and grape and orange, melting ices shaped like cartoon characters bleeding onto their smiling faces. She talks with her neighbor about the little things; school starting soon and summer ending, plans for Labor Day weekend. She feels a sudden surge in heart and almost doesn't recognize the feeling. Then she remembers. It's happiness. Contentment. Finally.

She knows she has passed some imaginary line. She has conquered the demons behind her and slain the dragons and landed her house upon the wicked witch of the west. She's not naive. She knows there are hurdles ahead, but she feels the trail of dead dragons behind her has given her strength and courage to take on whatever faces her.

Maybe she will meet someone who will want to face her challenges with her, someone who will stand by her side and hold her hand when the past tries to snatch her away. And maybe she won't meet someone. That's ok, too.

And just to prove something to herself, later that night she goes outside and cuts some lilacs from the bush. She puts them in a vase and sets them out on the counter. They have lost their spell. They can do no harm.

Saturday Morning Quickies

Excerpts from the never-aired 1973 Scooby Doo episode with guest star Hunter S. Thompson (I should just make a permanent link to Iohawk in every morning post)

Dave has a really, really, really hard Guess the Song Lyric by Rebus thing going on.

Make your own road sign

The ACME chocolate registry

Gallery of Unfortunate St. Patrick's Day Cards

Every Calvin and Hobbes strip ever drawn, in chronological order.

One of my favorite blogs is going on hiatus for a while. Enjoy the time off, Ed.

February 25, 2005

THE GOGGLES, THEY DO NOTHING!

Ohmydearlordjesusonapogostick, somebody get me a fork to stick in my eyes. Or sulphuric acid. And something for my brain, the part where visual memories get seared - maybe a long knitting needle to stick in my ear far enough to puncture my brain.

Ok, it's my own fault. I knew I shouldn't have clicked. I knew it. But someone sent me the link and I don't know what came over me. I mean, Fred Durst. Having sex. Why the FUCK would I click that? I deserve this.

No matter what I do I will never, ever be able to unsee what I saw. For the rest of my entire life, I will have that vision of Fred Durst doing unspeakable things to some bimbo in my head. Oh, I won't always think about it - but at some inopportune time - like at a relative's funeral or in the middle of a job performance review - the memory will seep out of its hidey place in my brain and BAM, Fred's wang and the [shudder] places he stuck it will just flood into my head and I'll go into immediate convulsions as my body tries to stop my mind from making me go insane with the horror.

PLEASE MAKE ME UNSEE THIS!

I'm going to take long, long, steaming hot shower where I will scrub myself with pumice stones and use 18 bars of soap and then I'm going to stick needles in my eyes.

No matter what, don't do it. If anyone sends you that link, DO NOT CLICK.

RIP, Optimus Prime

Even if you didn't see the Robot Chicken episode where Optimus Prime dies, it's still kind of amusing that National Prostate Cancer Coalition saw fit to eulogize him.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pop culture fans are mourning the death of Optimus Prime today as the famous Transformer passed away last night from prostate cancer on the new Cartoon Network Show, “Robot Chicken.”

“When it comes to prostate cancer, there’s more than meets the eye,” National Prostate Cancer Coalition CEO Richard N. Atkins, M.D. said. “Often times when one has symptoms for prostate cancer it’s already in its late stages, that’s why early detection is so important.”

The scene from Robot Chicken, a new show created by Seth Green, showed Optimus Prime with incontinence (or urination) problems followed by a trip to the doctor and then death.

“Being a Tractor Truck, Optimus should have known the importance of check-ups – oil, anti-freeze, spark plugs – the works,” said Atkins. “It comes as such a surprise – my kids loved that guy.”

Best. News item. Ever.

Peace be with you, OP. You were a giant among robots. And now, perhaps you're death will not be in vain.

Get your special area checked, guys. Do it for Optimus.

[After a viewing of the Transformers movie tonight, I'll pour a 40 of motor oil on the ground for Optimus]

FridayFunBlogging 2

I got your meme right here, baby. And I got it from Sheila.

1. What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

CookiePuss.
Or Milk and Cookies.

2. Who is America’s most overrated actor?

Kevin Bacon. My god, that man makes me cringe every time he appears on camera. And Nicholas Cage. I’m one of those strange people who loved Con Air, but Cage’s terrible acting skills almost ruined it for me.

3. Name a guilty pleasure.

I’ll name more than one, ok?
American Idol.
Trading Spouses.
The music stylings of 2Gether.
7-11 hot dogs.

4. “Scrubs” or “Everybody Loves Raymond”?
I’ve never watched either, honestly. I never remember when Scrubs is on, so I just don’t get around to watching it, though I’m told I would like it in that it’s very reminiscent of Dream On, an HBO show whose demise I mourn to this day.

My mother made me sit through a Raymond marathon on Thanksgiving. I thought it ws all the same episode. Ray says something stupid. His wife gets mad at something. His mother intrudes in their lives. His father makes sarcastic comments about the mother. His brother acts like a doofus. In the end, Ray and wife go to bed and bang the living daylights out of each other. Or maybe that’s where I kept dozing off and having bizarre dreams.

5. Name two things you can’t live without.
If I could make a wish
I think I’d pass
Can’t think of anything I need
No cigarettes, no sleep, no light, no sound
Nothing to eat, no books to read

Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you

Uh...where was I? Oh, yea. My Hello Kitty vibrator and rechargeable batteries.

6. Your first pet’s name + your mother’s maiden name = your porn star name.

Thor Caranno? A porn star with that name would be sporting a twelve inch studded strap-on and a whip.

7. What song are you listening to right now?

The Wizard, Black Sabbath. My iPod’s shuffle mode is cooperating nicely today.

8. Name your celebrity crush.

Ok, here goes. This makes everyone go ewwwww....Bam Margera.

9. Favorite punchline from a joke.

She knew she could get felt for free.

10. Who do you want to pass this meme off to?

You can't have it. I’m going to sell it on eBay.

FridayFunBlogging

It's Friday. I hope you're not looking for anything serious or in depth here today. In fact, I think it's going to be all memes, quizzes and "wow, look what I made with some nifty program."

sbjlego.jpg

Me, as a Lego, getting ready for Steak & BJ Day.

[Don't miss the Make your own Mr. Man here]

mtsteaknbj.jpg

Mr. Steak and BJ, courtesy of JP

Yea...
/link dump

Don't forget the fellatio haiku contest (thought it's tough competition at this point).

Does this new banner make me look fat?

It's..uh....... GatesGate?. Yes.

I am a collector and this is my collection. Of collections. Hello? OCD hotline? ok, I am insanely jealous of some of those collections

[More link dump stuff below]

mnc.jpg
Make your own Mr. Men or Little Miss

Random List

Games I played on the Sega Genesis that I really enjoyed and probably would never make anyone's Top Ten Video Games list, unless that person was a five year old kid:

  • Tiny Toons Adventures
  • The Berenstain Bears Camping Adventure
  • Aladdin
  • Mickey's Ultimate Challenge
  • Talespin

I always hated the Berenstain Bears on principle. Too preachy. Too trite. I remember reading a couple of the books to Nat once and she said, with a hint of both boredom and disgust, "Do all these books have to end in a lesson?"

Yet, somehow we ended up with Berenstain Bears Camping Adventure. And somehow I ended up in front of the tv at 2am, trying like hell to get through that cave and get all the diamonds. Just like when I ended up in front of the tv at 2am trying to get all those carrots for Buster Bunny.

There were some points in Bears when I just let Sister Bear hang out on the tree limb and get stung by bees and I'd be whispering,"there's your lesson, Sister Bear!" I never did beat that game. And all these years later, I still think about that. A game meant for 5-9 year olds and I didn't beat it? What's wrong with me? Too much time trying to make Sister Bear have an allergic reaction to bee stings, that's what.

I was thinking about downloading a Genesis ROM, but I'm going to go one better than that and dig the old Sega out from storage. It's time to free Sister from the bees and finish off the game.

Ohh, I hope Aladdin is in that box. (Flashback: A, B, B, A, A, B, B, A. Skip level.)

That's pathetic.

(Yes, this was an invitation to list your favorite stupid but loveable Genesis games)

bored with the white stuff

There are some things from my childhood - like comic books or Razzles gum - that have maintained their appeal well into adulthood. Snow is not one of them.

Send spring. Please.

February 24, 2005

Bottoms Up!

[I think there's some confusion as to the purpose of this post. I didn't "delink" anyone. Tis the other way around. I don't even have a blogroll.]

Raise your cup and let's propose a toast..

A song for the evening: Faith No More - Last Cup of Sorrow

*

I'm having Guinness with a Goldschlager chaser. Name your poison.

*Little dead girl property of Roman Dirge
*Big live woman property of Coop
Both from really, really old posts.

A Very Special Holiday:
a fellatio haiku contest

I would like to remind everyone that a big holiday is coming up.

Steak and BJ day is less than a month away.

Last year, I tried to turn S&BJD into a business by recruiting women (or men, as the case may be) to, well..here:

1-800-SEND-BJS!

What a great present that would be. Birthday? Promotion? Your team won the World Series? Imagine how much better those already joyous occassions would be if a busty young blonde knocked on your door and dropped to her knees right there. The girls (or guys, whichever your case may be) could also sing you a little song.

Congratulations on your special day
Your brother sent you this BJ!

And now, with Steak&Blowjob Day on its way to becoming a national phenomenon, 1-800-SEND-BJS could come to the rescue of significant others who are just too busy or have weak gag reflexes.

You cook the steak, the BJ staff will do the rest. I’m a business genius.

I didn't have many takers. Oh, I had plenty of eager receivers. But not too many people wanted to be hired to do the job. Shame, too, because we could have made a lot of money and instead of bitching and moaning about not being able to pay the rent this month, you could have been sitting around watching your giant plasma HDTV and doing mouth exercises in preparation for the holiday rush and another bundle of cash.

So this year I'm going to try again to cash in on the holiday. This time, I'm coming up with a line of greeting cards:

See that blank space on the card? That's where you come in.

I need to fill that space with sentimental greetings appropriate for one celebrating Steak and BJ Day. I thought that because this is sort of a crude holiday, we could soften it up a bit for the guys who might want to send this card as a reminder to their loved ones/booty calls/hos. Haiku about meat and, well, meat would make the sentiment seem much more appealing than it actually is to some people.

Remember, a haiku is 5-7-5 syllables. All other forms of poetry will be disqualified. There's no prize, but if you print out one of the restulting cards, maybe you'll get lucky. And girls, don't feel left out. There's always the Cunninlingus Fairy.

Most Important Games Ever (3 and 4): Thank You Mario, But...

[See first in this series here]

Yesterday I mentioned something about doing a post on life altering experiences, in addition to doing the important video games thing and I realized that in a way, the two can be done at the same time.

I'm saving the bad life altering experiences for another time. For now, let's talk about how a dragon that looked like a duck, a plumber and a princess changed my life.

char_yorgle.gifMy favorite console video game ever is Atari's Adventure. It was simplistic and crude, but it thrilled me nonetheless. The thrill of slaying the dragon/duck, searching for keys, opening doors, finding the chalice - I had never played anything like it before. It had all the makings of one of those fairy tale adventures I loved so much when I was young. Well, minus the prince and the knights, but I had a good imagination. The best thing about the game was finding the Easter egg.

Select game 2 or 3 and enter the maze in the Black Castle. Move screen to the left of the first maze screen. At the bottom center of this room is a closed cubicle. Use the bridge to enter that area and collect the "dot". Carry this item to the screen just above the catacombs, located one screen down and to the right of the Gold Castle. Note: The "dot" is the same color as the ground outside, so care must be taken not to lose it in transit. Drop the "dot" here, and bring two other items onto the same screen. Move through the line on the right side of the screen to view the programmer credits.

There were also little quirks like different ways to get around the bat or make it so the dragon can't eat you. And really, was there anything more terrifying than the noise the game made when that dragon tried to chomp down on you?

I dreamed about Adventure. I played it in my head. And I thought how cool it would be if they would expand the game because I wanted more. More dragons to slay, more treasure to find, more quirks to discover.

Enter Nintendo. I clearly recall sitting in my living room one night with my sister Lisa, watching the Olympics. We saw a commercial for the Nintendo and made up our minds right there that we had to have one. An hour later, we were at the Video Vault (conveniently located in the lobby of Modell's, which was then a giant department store and not a sporting goods store*) buying ourselves a Nintendo.

I don't remember how long we played for. I know our eyes probably glazed over at some point and thumbs were aching and our asses had gone numb, but we were hooked.

I described Super Mario Bros. as Adventure times infinity. It had all the magic of Adventure - the quest, the hero, the villians, the scrolling from screen to screen as you tried to find your way around. But it was so much more. It was that expansion I was looking for. More worlds. More hidden features. More suprises. You never knew what would happen next. Would this brick bring a star or a mushroom? What will happen if I crouch down on this pipe? You can go up into the clouds!! Every time you played, there was something else to find, another clever trick or hidden surprise.

And the graphics! No more was I running from a pixelated dragon! Everything was so well defined. The colors were plentiful, the characters had real shapes..this is the stuff I had been dreaming of!

And now we get to the real reason why SMB is one of the most important games of all time: "Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!" thing? That was awesome. That, my friends, is how you learn coping skills. That's how you learn to handle disappointment. Put your kids in front of Super Mario Brothers and let them play their little hearts out until they think they won, and then those lowly mushroom retainers appear with the bad news and your kids will have learned one of life's greatest lessons. Disappointment sucks, but you must go on! I taught my kids how to play SMB at an young age just so I could let them know early on in life what if feels like to have the rug pulled out from under you. It comes in handy later. "I know you completed the entire project on time and you did a great job, but I think I want you to write me a ten page essay, too." THANK YOU MARIO! BUT OUR PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE!

You just can't beat a video game that's not only fun to play, but gives you a harsh dose of the realities of life to boot.

I still have so much love for the 2D side scroll games. In fact, I prefer them over today's 3D games that tend to be more about art than gameplay. I'm more interested in finding secret rooms and hidden weapons than I am looking at my heroine's perfectly formed tits.

And that's probably my next gaming post, so I'll stop there.

*I worked at both places at various times

Responding to some comments/emails on cutting/music/teenagers [Updated]

Let's revisit yesterday's post about cutting.

Michelle Malkin has updated her post and all her anecdotal evidence that cutting is on the rise is buttressed by quotes from people who are using the "today's pop culture is leading us down the path to hell" tactic.

It's the same thing with blaming video games when a kid goes on a shooting rampage - there had to be some problems there to begin with if the kid thinks it's ok to mow people down with a gun. One does not watch an interview in which Christina Ricci talks about cutting and says "gee, that sounds like a great idea, where's the knife?" If it's an idea that appeals to someone, there's a reason. And the reason generally isn't Hollywood or music or wanting to be part of a fad.

Also, I never said that cutting isn't a problem because it's been going on a long time. I was just pointing out that it is not a new phenomenon. The problem with sounding the alarm bells and calling it a new fad amongst teenagers who listen to emo music is there will be a Reefer Madness reaction by overzealous parents, educators and moralists. There will be lists passed around at PTA meetings that say things like "If your child is wearing dark clothing and listening to Taking Back Sunday, she's probably a cutter! Go search her room for razors and call in the special forces!" And of course, that's exactly what most parents will do. Just like in the 70's, when every kid who sat in his bedroom and listened to rock music for hours was most likely a drug addict, in the eyes of those who are supposed to be the experts. And no one ever talked to their kids about it then and no one is talking now. Instead, it's send them off to the psychiatrist (in the 70's it was "rap sessions" with a social worker), medicate them and send them to their rooms.

Self injuring is a coping mechanism. No, I am not an expert on this subject, but I've read enough and talked to enough cutters - going back to the 70's - to have a little understanding of what the thinking process behind it is. And here's a theory for you to chew on - maybe cutting is so prevalent among teenagers today because so many of these kids are growing up with no coping skills whatsoever. This all goes hand in hand with the self esteem movement and tendency of modern parents to never want their children to have to feel disappointment or failure. From cooperative games where no child ever loses to the dumbing down of fairy tales, from the banning of Dodge Ball to the PC way in which kids are instructed to handle conflict, they have been raised to think that everything will be handled for them, every fight will be mediated and nothing will ever hurt, this generation of kids has been raised - for the most part - to think that every little problem will be taken care of for them and no one will ever be allowed to hurt them or cause them pain. Now these kids are teenagers and they don't know how to cope with pain, anger and sadness. And maybe that's why cutting is more of a problem now than it was in the past.

It's not the music. It's not Angelina Jolie. It's not the internet. Sure, the internet has made it easier to find fellow cutters. But don't think that years ago these girls weren't getting together in the school bathroom or some local hangout and talking about it.

It's so disingenuous to pass blame for our kids' problems onto Hollywood, the internet, music, movies and video games. I think that's what bothered me most about Malkin's column - it was devoid of any real substance or research and what she did write was sort of a condemnation against Hollywood and emo music. She says that parents and educators are concerned and want to get the word out, but then she quotes parents and educators who want to pass the buck. It's the culture of today. It's the lack of God in schools. It's everything but what it really is.

What about the parents? When does anything that's wrong with kids today become their fault? When do the "blame society" parents stop shoving their kids into the arms of therapists and start talking to them on their own? When do they stop pointing at books and movies and start looking in the mirror?

I know my kids aren't perfect. They've had their problems and they will continue to have problems because growing up is a hard, long road and there will be mistakes and missteps. That's how you learn. You let your child make their own mistakes so they learn how to rectify those mistakes, how to cope with their losses and how to grow from each experience. And you talk to them about it. You have open communication. You make them feel at ease with you. Don't be judgmental. Don't tell them their music choices suck and their clothing choices are stupid. It may seem like trivial things to you, but they are major issues to a kid and when you belittle their clothing and music, you belittle them. Listen when they tell you their heart feels broken and don't trivialize high school relationships. You may think they're silly and unnecessary, but your saying so doesn't make your child's very real pain go away - it just makes them want to internalize it. Don't be dismissive. Don't be passive. Look at them when they talk. Let them know you're listening. Find some common ground with them.

These are ideas that were passed on to me by parents wiser than me. I took them to heart and I pass them on to anyone who will listen. And when things go wrong - as they always will in life - we sit back and think of what we could have done differently instead of looking for someone outside our home to blame.

So my kids listen to emo music. I don't put the idea in their head that this music will make them depressed or lead them on the road to suicide and they most likely won't think that. When I was their age and listening to Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, my parents never once shrieked that my choice of music would lead me to devil worshiping and suicide. They just closed my bedroom door and went and listened to their hip-shaking Elvis, who never did lead my parents to certain doom like it was foretold.

My kids are the product of a "broken" home. I've been divorced for eight years. Both my ex husband and I have remarried. It hasn't been easy on any of us, but we've managed to - together and apart - raise our kids to the ripe ages of 12 and 15 without them yet heading into a life of crime or drugs or therapy because of our divorce. It saddens me when people try to throw a guilt trip at divorced parents and blame them for the ills of society. Whenever a negative teenage fad is announced in the press, the hand wringing starts and the accusations are thrown around - I bet at least half of those kids are from divorced homes! The high divorce rate is to blame for everything! My kids are not without the scars of divorce. But who are you to say that they wouldn't have the scars from living with a bad marriage, either? I suppose this is another topic for another day, but it was addressed in the cutting post and I just wanted to touch on it.

I'm sure this post is clumsy and disjointed, but this topic kept me up most of the night and I wanted to answer some of my critics from yesterday as well as expand on some of the things I wrote about.

I'm going to take some deep breaths now and move right back to talking about video games and tv themes.

Update: More here, and here, where Greg says: Malkin wouldn't know an emo band if they set up their gear in her dining room and cried through a soundcheck during dinner.

And I meant to make a comment about Malkin claiming Taking Back Sunday as one of those dangerous, cutter-supporting emo bands (knowledge she gained through a cursory glance at a cutting message board). TBS is one of my favorite bands. I can't come up with a single song that would set off alarms that maybe they're in some secret underground emo cabal trying to get kids to harm themselves. Maybe, just maybe, the kids on that board who like TBS just, you know, like them. Maybe one has nothing to do with the other. Ya think? Is it possible that sometimes the music one likes has nothing to do with what's going on in their lives? I'm listening to Nick Cave's Murder Ballads right now. Alert the authorities. Or don't.

And Ilyka has more here.

morning quickie

Regular blogging later.

Go enter this:

The Michael Jackson Jury Contest

Or, you can update your Pope Pool.


Happy Birthday, Abe Vigoda!

Update: For those of you who - like myself - find it necessary to keep track of whether Abe is dead or alive (and use Firefox), there's an extension that puts Abe's current status right into your browser.

abev.jpg

I can't tell you how comforting it is to open my browser and see the "alive" status there. We love you, Abe!

And apropos of nothing, I currenlty have 1,755 songs on shuffle mode on the iPod and it still insists on playing the Cure's Pornography every fifth song.

February 23, 2005

Songs of the Night
(required listening)

Five songs (and two downloads) that are rocking my world right now.

1. The Mars Volta - Widow
Take everything that was good about 70's rock and everything that was cool about 80's power ballads and put them in the hands of a torch singer. You will be singing this song in the shower one day, fake microphone, air guitar and all. Download Note: You don't have to listen to the last two minutes or so. You'll know what I mean.

2. Queens of the Stone Age - Little Sister
The band that could do no wrong. I swear, if they put out an album of Neil Diamond hits as envisioned through polka stylings, I'd still buy it. And it would still rock. Download

3. Muse - Hysteria
I'm too late to jump on Muse's bandwagon, so I get no indie cred for liking the song. Too bad, as I was hoping to gain enough cred points to trade in for the High Fidelity soundtrack.

4. Straylight Run - Existentialism on Prom Night
Pretentious title and indie swagger notwithstanding, this is a good song. Sing me something soft/sad and delicate/or loud and out of key/sing me anything Sigh inducing.

5. Jack Johnson - Sitting, Wishing, Waiting
Acoustic singer/songwriter stuff. Reminds me of one of my high school idols, Steve Forbett. Why am I listening to this? Why am I liking it? Egads, I just washed years of metal cred down the drain.

I better go listen to some Fear Factory before I turn into an adult.

Now, I want you ALL to download the Mars Volta song and tell me what you think, because it's been years since I fell this hard for a song.

the cutter [updated]

[When you're done here, there's more here]

News flash: Self-mutilation and cutting among teenagers is not a new fad. It's been going on a long, long time.

There are just as many "root causes" for this as there are ways to mutilate yourself. For most of the teens who do this, it's a kind of release. They have bottled up emotions and the only way to let the pain out is to cut themselves.

It's a terrible thing. It causes life long scars, both physical and emotional. I don't really want to get into a whole post about the hows and whys of cutting, but I just want to address this post I found on the subject:

Emo kids are cutting each other? Thank God!

Apparently I am behind the times. Emo kids are now slicing and dicing each other to prove how "hardcore" (or is that passe, isn't it now "post-hardcore") they are. They're doing it all wrong, you see. If they were truly hardcore they'd take the razor blade to their wrist and slash up and down making a nice straight line from wrist to elbow......Kids, kids, kids. This is what happen when emo kids listen to sans testicles backed by a four power chord punk band. I know any metalhead who reads this will probably laugh their ass off because emo is such a pathetic genre that listening to it to the exclusion of other genres is the first sign of a mental problem.

It would take too long for me to address all the ways in which you are an asshole. Just know that you are.

Michelle Malkin does no better in laying the blame on Christina Ricci and Llamabutchers raises my hackles by suggesting that divorce/broken homes (how I hate that phrase) is a root cause of this self destructive behavior. Secure Liberty also blames it (a specific case that all three blogs write about) on the kid being upset about her parent's divorce.

Do you know anything about the statistics of cutters that you can just whip that little nugget of information out?

If you listen to some people, you'd think that every single child of divorce is doomed for a life of crime, drugs and despair.

Maybe they're not all broken homes. Maybe some of them are fixed homes, you know?

I'm going to delete this post, I know it. But, like a kid who cuts, I just needed to release a little of the anger building up over the "thank god" quip and the rocks thrown at divorced parents.

Update: I needed to quote this line in Malkin's piece:

There is even a new genre of music -- "emo" -- associated with promoting the cutting culture.

I laughed when I read that. It's a naive, uninformed sentence. Where did she get that information and where's her evidence, anecdotal or otherwise? Or is that just something she pulled out her conservative hat?

First, emo is not new. Not by a long shot. It goes back to the late 80's. And I have never heard of emo being associated with promoting the culture of cutting. I've known kids who cut while listening to country music. Does that make it associated with the culture of cutting?

Let's see. My kids are from a "broken" home and they both LOVE emo music. I better get home and hide the razor blades!

I'll probably have more on this later. There's a whole can of worms - no, three cans - inside of this one post waiting to be opened.

Update: Kimberly Swygert has more about emo and cutting.

Update 2: I also think a lot of you are missing the vital point here - while Malkin's pathetic take on emo music is frustrating to some, the real issue here is her (and that other idiot I linked to at Blind Mind's Eye) trivialization of self-injury and cutting.

You may be wondering why someone would intentionally harm themselves. Self-injury can help someone relieve intense feelings such as anger, sadness, loneliness, shame, guilt and emotional pain. Many people who cut themselves, do this in an attempt to try and release all the emotions they are feeling internally. Others may feel so numb, that seeing their own blood when they cut themselves, helps them to feel alive because they usually feel so dead inside. Some people find that dealing with physical pain is easier than dealing with emotional pain.

The more you know...

Here's another link that was left in the comments.

Jesse also sends along this link: The Healing House

Most Important Games Ever (1 and 2)

Hey, I already wrote a post like this. That makes my work a lot easier.

The two games mentioned below are just two of the most important games ever. I thinke each platform and each genre have their own heroes, legends and forerunners. These two certainly were leaders in the industry.

When it comes to reading a book that has been made into a movie, I always prefer the book, no matter how well made the movie is. The reason is simple - I like to use my imagination. I prefer to conjure up the scenery, the look of the characters. I have a definite vision in my mind of the world that exists within the story I’m reading and no cinematographer will ever match what I envision.

I thinnk this is why I fell in love with text adventure games. From the first time I loaded up Zork on my Vic 20, I was obsessed. It was a story, but with choices. I could direct which way a scene would play out. The hero’s life was in my hands. No, I was the hero!

There is a small mailbox here.

> look in mailbox

That mailbox probably looked different to everyone who played Zork. For some, it was made of wood, for others it was gold, or silver, or just a shabby, rusted box by the side of the road. I read the leaflet that was in the mailbox. I was on my way. I stood in the open field, west of the big white house with the boarded front door.

And thus my adventure began. And it was my adventure, nobody’s else’s. No matter how many people were playing Zork at that exact moment, no one was having the same adventure as me. I had a set vision in my mind of the way things looked in the house and in the cellar and underground. In fact, I dreamed about these places - in a precursor to the days when I would dream about falling Tetris blocks - and thought about them even when I wasn’t playing the game (yes, I did stop to sleep and eat once in a while).

I never wanted the game to end. I wanted an endless array of puzzles to solve. Yet I did want it to end because I had to prove I could do it. Once I finally solved it, it was like a piece of my life was missing. Pathetic, I know. But there were sequels to Zork and many other adventure games to keep me going once I finally got back to the mailbox and found the barrow.

You are in a twisty maze of passageways, all alike.

>

Colossal Cave Adventure was made before even Zork; it was the first known interactive fiction game, created by Will Crowther originally to simulate his cave exploring experiences. I played "Adventure" so often that sometimes I would fall asleep at the computer. So many days and nights meeting dwarfs and saying plugh, catching the bird and falling into a pit because I forgot to turn my lamp on. Again, I got lost in a world that existed solely between my head and my keyboard. There were other text adventures I played endlessly, but Zork and Adventure are the ones that I can still reenact in my head; every detail I gave to those worlds still exist for me (Later on, Level 9 would add graphics to Adventure).

Eventually, graphics were added to the adventures. I thought I wouldn’t like it, but I was amazed by the pictures that appeared on the screen before me (Hey, I hear you young whippersnappers laughing. Those pixilated graphics were amazing for that time!). Pirates convinced me that I could get used to having pictures to go with my games. Once you got into the gameplay, you were only concerned with getting to the end.

Some of my favorite graphic adventures came from Windham Classics. Sure, I felt a little odd sitting there playing games based on children’s books, but the puzzles were hard and the authors of the games kept them interesting enough so that you never felt like you were in a child’s world; there was something very adult about Alice’s adventures in this Wonderland. Same for Below the Root; the story was fascinating and the gameplay pretty hard.

Colossal Cave Adventure and the Infocom games paved the way for future generations of amazing role playing and adventures. From Zelda to Metal Gear Solid, they all owe a debt of gratitude to the simple command choice of north, south, east or west.

Of all the games we geeks played, of all the nights we never went to sleep because we had to find our way out of the chasm, for all the grues we met and treasure we found and all the times we had to say xyzzy, for the trolls and dragons, for the drafty room and for the trial and error way of getting that last point in Caves, and for all the reasons the readers have shared, I am claim Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork: The Great Underground Empire as two of the Most Important Games Ever.

[The original of this post has a special place in my heart as Dave Lebling, one of the co-authors of Zork, left a comment. One of my greatest blogging/geek moments]

You can nominate your VIG (very important games) in the post below this one. Or this one. Whatever floats your boat, spins your dryer, butters your toast.

You Go Ahead and Play While I Work
Quiz and a Poll

Today turns out to be much busier at work than expected.

And I've decided to do the games post today and save the other stuff for the rest of the week.

While I'm trying to clear off my desk so I can blog without work-guilt, I've got a few things for you.

First, see if you can name all these games by the screenshots.

Second, a gaming poll. We've done the best arcade games, worst video games and tons of other polls here, but we've never covered the subject I am going to write about later: The Most Important Game EVER.

Nominate a game. State your case. We'll discuss it later.

Choose Your Own Blogging Adventure

After a four day weekend, it's hard to get back into the swing of things. I'm totally thrown off track today - it's a Wednesday but seems like a Monday. The kids are on vacation, which is making the morning now feel like a Saturday. I am a slave to routine. Days like this make me feel discombobulated all day long.

I have a bunch of things sitting in my "to blog" folder, none of which I will get to until later in the morning, after I get settled at work. Here's where you come in. You get to choose today's topic.
From the rarely seen inside of the mysterious "to blog" folder:

What's your preference?

"stop blogging" or "shut the hell up and get back to work" do not qualify as choices

In Dreams: The Case of the Missing Sticky Stick

I've been thinking about starting a side blog just to record my dreams. This will have to do for now.

As many of you know, I have a bizarre, all too real dream life. Most of my dreams play out like high budget movies. Often, I wake up exhausted from taking part in them.

I think last night's short dream was - while pretty benign compared to most of my nightmare visions of death and destruction - the strangest, most unexplainable dream I've had in a while.

In the dream, I have this friend named Skippy. Skippy is an astronaut and is always in full astronaut gear, including helmet. He looks sort of like a grown up Buzz Lightyear, without the lasers and whatnot. The gear is all white.

So Skippy is getting ready to go on a shuttle mission. I drive him over to NASA. He gets into his spaceship, which is just parked in the middle of a grassy field and the door (which is lowered and doubling as a ramp) raises up behind him and closes.

I walk into the control room and a dozen men in white lab coats are running around, freaking out. They all look like Dr. Scratchensniff from Animaniacs. They surround me, all yelling at once. Something about a stick. A sticky stick. Finally, one of them speaks above the rest.

-Have you seen the messy stick?
-What? What messy stick?
-The one with the pancake batter on it! If he took it into the ship, we're doomed!
-I swear, no one made pancakes in my house this morning!
-No, no...Skippy got it from one of the morning shows he was on today. I think he tripped over the chef and somehow ended up with the stick.

There's a huge monitor and it's showing a picture of a white, plastic stick - about six inches long - covered with pancake batter.

-Oh...I see. Well, Skippy didn't have anything in his hands when he got on the shuttle.

The NASA guys look all worried and they're punching a million buttons and making phone calls. Outside, the shuttle is getting ready to lift off. We all run out to the field to watch it go up. There's a full length glass door on the side of the shuttle, and Skippy is standing there, waving and grinning. We all wave back. As the shuttle lifts off, Skippy turns from the window and walks away from us. When he lifts up his feet to sort of float away (I know, he should still have gravity at this point, but it's a dream, what do you expect?) we see the messy stick stuck to the bottom of Skippy's boot. The NASA guys all gasp. One says "It's the sticky stick!" I scream NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! as the shuttle flies farther and farther away from us.

And then I wake up. I don't know why having that pancake batter on board meant certain disaster, but it's obvious it did.

Which will teach you to never eat pancakes the morning of a shuttle mission. Don't say I never taught you anything.

February 22, 2005

make it stop

Almost six weeks after giving up smoking, I am having the most intense cravings EVER.

I'm going to ram someone's head through a door in a second. Most likely my own.

I tried taking it out on American Idol contestants, but it's not working.

I see a gallon of Haagen Daaz in my immediate future.

Complete the Band Breakup Trifecta

Blink 182 broke up today (or infinte hiatus, whichever phrase you like better).
The Jayhawks broke up today (huh? who?).

(Despite the rumors saying otherwise - and what would have been long overdue -, Korn did not break up today).

So what band would you like to see complete the break-up trifecta?

can one of you big, strong men open this jar of whoop ass for me?

Kevin Drum has once again drummed up (bet he never heard that one before) the "where are all the women bloggers and why would you read them if you found them anyhow" debate.

Meryl takes him on. So does Ilyka. So do a whole host of bloggers.

Don't forget, it's Estrogen Week. Us girlie girls will just sit around and giggle and watch soap operas while you manly men tend to the business of blogging the big, important stuff that we're too delicate/stupid/unaware to deal with.

There's a war on? Oh my, I'm getting the vapors!

[This has been a fainting flower pundit post]

Quick, someone give me $750

You know my obsession with the movie Earthquake? And Sensurround?

Look what's for sale on eBay.

I am going to look into selling my soul for this. Think I can fetch $750 for a used soul?

And no, I have no idea what I would do with a GENUINE MOVIE THEATRE SENSURROUND SUBWOOFER! Except have weekly showings of Earthquake in SENSURROUND in my living room!

Sweet.

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the greatest moment in all of sports history.

lg_usa_all.jpg

More on this later.

[By "later" I mean this evening]

Ok, I never got around to it, but Sheila did.

The Garfield Burning Goat Scandal! [Updated with more scandalous goodness!]

It's no secret I hate Garfield. I never understood the popularity - how many years now has Jim Davis been squeezing jokes out of a cat eating lasagna and the cat's owner being a clueless dork? I'm sure if someone did an in depth study of all the Garfield strips ever created, we would find out that there were really only three punchlines, spread thin over 25 plus years.

I came across yesterday's strip via Fark. And now I have to wonder - has Jim Davis finally tired of writing Garfield? Is he sick of the damn cat and the drooling dog and Jon's lame attempt at having a life? Is Jon going to go down in history the way I envisioned Cathy going down?

sga050221.gif.jpg

Apparently, Jon is burning goats for heat. I can't think of any other explanation for the "joke" in this strip. Which can only mean one thing - Jon has turned to Satan. Everyone knows that goats are representative of the underworld, and to sacrifice a goat means that you are summoning the power of the Dark Lord himself (and I don't mean this dark lord, though that would be a really interesting cross over).

Or maybe not. After some research, I see that one can sacrifice goats in order to gain riches or appease the gods. However, all of these sacrifices include drinking blood and here, Jon is just burning the goats in his furnace. Maybe he's poor and can't afford the oil to heat his home. Not wanting to make Odie and Garfield come down with pneumonia, he goes out to the farm to look for wood and, finding none (because he's an idiot and doesn't think to tear down the fence posts), he grabs a couple of goats and throws them in the furnace. I don't know why Garfield doesn't hear the screams of painful goat death, though. Unless he's chosen to ignore that.

The other theory is a little more unsavory. Apparently Jon, unable to secure a date for the 5,000th day in a row and now feeling somewhat sexually frustrated, has his way with the family goats and then burns them alive so they can never, ever tell what happened. Remember, this is a place where cats talk. So why not goats?

Either way you look at it (and I'm sure there's some logical explanation for this strip that I'm just missing, maybe some inside Garfield joke that you have to be a fan of the comic to get), Jim Davis is clearly saying that Jon runs a goat-fueled furnace.

I'm sending this strip to PETA. Maybe for once in their existence, PETA will do some good for the world and bring about the long awaited end of Garfield.

[I suggest that Jim Davis make the last strip one in which a home invasion leads to the bloody end of every character in the strip. The eventual movie version will star Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts as the killers.]

if someone really does get the joke here, please explain it to me.

Update: See Mark's photoshop ">in the comments.

Update 2: Maybe this strip from 2/19 explains it.

February 21, 2005

Making the Rounds

It's Estrogen Week over at Ilkya's place and she's using the purty, girly banner I made for her. Maybe we'll do each other's nails and read Teen Beat together.


Iowhawk has Mommy Aid
(a response to the Super Moms article)

I'm linking to Meryl because I love her. She's got so much good stuff going on, just start at the top and scroll down. Also, when she has some free time, we are going to do a cross-blog debate on Porky Pig.

Dr. Grosz has a sleek new design.

Star Wars crap. A Jabba the Hut eraser. Man, I thought I had everything.

The Line Begins to Blur (New NIN!)

With Teeth is what the album will be called (as you already know if you're a NIN fan) and one song The Line Begins to Blur- - has been leaked, of course (there was previously a teaser of the song up here, but just about ten seconds of it.

It is good. It is very good. Oh god, it's SWEET. I have such high hopes for this album - I don't recall anticipating an album this much and I know now I will not be disappointed. The official release date is May 3. I'm going to start a countdown. I am jonesing for this.

If you want the mp3, leave a note in the comments. I'll mail it, but I'm not posting it here.

[THIS OFFER HAS EXPIRED!]

It's so good to hear his voice on something new. He still sounds so pure. And the music - industrial, hard, melodic. Good shit. Like old times. Not that the new times weren't good, but...this is GOOD.

I'll stop now before I start sounding obsessive.

[Some reviews in the comments]

February Made Me Shiver


February is the month of lying in wait. Waiting for spring. For spring training. For the winds to subside, the snow to stop, the temperatures to rise.

Waiting for the day we can hang the winter coats up for good, put away the mittens and scarves and waterproof boots.

Waiting for the sun to hover just a little longer, for trees to start sprouting buds, for the road to stop crunching underfoot.

Like it's summer counterpart, August, February seems to be nowhere land, the waiting for a season to die already, sick of all the weather and acroutrements that come with it, eager to turn the calendar page to something better. Something warmer. Something less confining, depressing and bleak.

February is black and white photos. There is no color. It's sharp icicles and frozen hands that never seem to warm up.

February is a bike waiting to be cleaned off and spruced up. It's forlorn, like the image of a toy no one wants to play with anymore.

It's longing to hear the words Play Ball! or to exchange the sleds for bats and gloves and skateboards.

But so, so photogenic.

That photo of the toy horse is really depressing me. I think I'm going to go rescue it from the garbage pile. I guess I still haven't gotten over that childhood belief that even inanimate objects have feelings.

All Your Presidents Are Belong To Us

Guess the Presidential Hair
Presidential Quiz

Personal tidbits about my favorite President, George Washington:

  • I played Martha Washington in a third grade school play.
  • His dog was named Sweet Lips
  • He liked to fish and explore caves
  • His favorite soup was cream of peanut
  • The cherry tree tale, while fascinating and a good morality story to tell your children, is not true.

President Hangman game
Abraham Lincoln quiz
The Lincoln Bedroom Quiz
Facts and trivia about each President
Quiz on the presidencies of James Monroe and John Quincy Adams
The First Ladies Quiz

Personal tidbit: We visit the Theodore Roosevelt sanctuary at least once a year.

Our 16th President, Abe Lincoln
Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln


What President are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Happy President's Day!

Here's the Mail, it never fails,
makes me want to wag my tail in a Pavlovian manner

An "anonymous" blogger emailed me this week to say:

I bet you're sorry now that you abandoned your blogging buddies. All these big stories are coming out and you would just look like a hypocritical jerk now if you covered them. And you know you want to. You are salivating at the attention we are getting and the traffic some of those bloggers you give the cold shoulder to now are getting. You may think you left us behind, but we left YOU behind. You are a disgrace to the right wing, to the Blogs for Bush, to loyal patriots, to the Iraqis and to the right side of the blogosphere. No one reads you anymore. No one has you on their blogroll anymore. YOu spend all day writing about that stupid stuff no one cares about and I bet your (sic) crying because you gave up the opportunity to be part of something bigger. Right bloggers are taking over. We are the new frontier. And you are not a part of it, and not part of the hits we get and the recognition we get, like being at CPAC and being interviewed on tv and having newspaper columnists devote so many words to us. Go cry over your empty posts and your declining fame. You know you want to. Bitch.

I smiled. I grinned. I did not reply and I deleted the email (it was from a gmail account with a name obviously made just for this occassion - the things you can do when Gmail gives you 50 free accounts to give away!)

Let me do this publicly, Mr. Anonymous Blogger (or Ms., as the case may be):

See this? That's my Sitemeter. That's 10,000+ hits a day you're looking at there, more than I ever got when I did political/news blogging. I'm at 36 in the Ecosystem, not bad for a non-political blog in a sea of them, and higher than some of the blogs you referenced in your mail. 38 in traffic rankings, higher again than many of the blogs you mentioned as "running my ass off the road."

Bottom line? I decided to look at blogging as a hobby, not as a job opportunity. I'm enjoying myself immensely the past few months here and I think that's what makes you, dear emailer, so bitter towards me. The rest of your email was somewhat telling - you've been waiting to see me quit in frustration because I lost my audience or I realized I'm a disgrace to what you describe as "the big boys club." Sorry to disappoint, my friend, but - I'm having the time of my life.

And I do think that a) you're not really a blogger, you're just a loyal - if somewhat misguided - follower of the bigger blogs of the right and b) some of the people you claim to be a voice for would probably distance themselves from you if they knew what you wrote. While I have had a few blog relationships disappear into thin air since I stopped doing politics, and while I have felt a bit of a cold breeze from some people, I think they are all way above anything you wrote.

Anyhow, I just wanted to give you the satisfaction of publicly writing about this. I know that's what you wanted and I figure if I take care of it here instead of email, you'll figure out that you're a great, big asshole and back off. Or did you not know you sent the same email five times to two different addresses? Could be you're just an idiot. Yea, I'm inclined to believe that.

Hey, if you'd like to hang around, I've got some "empty" posts about television coming up. No, nothing about Jeff Gannon or his gayness, or anything about being a blogging journalist, but maybe I'll throw in a Three's Company/Jack Tripper reference or I'll mention that show where Dabney Coleman was a reporter. Best I can do for you, buddy.

Now piss off.

this post will most likely self destruct in a few hours

Added, by request:

bender.JPG

February 20, 2005

RIP Dr. Gonzo

Wow.

Hunter Thompson dead.

Not really surprising when you think about. I mean, who expected him to go quietly?

Still. Wow.

Say what you will about him - he was batshit crazy, twisted, out of his mind,you hate his politics, etc. - but the man knew how to paint with words.

Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of "the rat race" is not yet final.

--- Hunter Thompson, in Pageant (Sept. 1969)

Thompson was a brilliant writer and one of the counterculture’s most recognizable figures. And with his death, America has lost a fascinating bit of its living history.

Lots of stuff about HST, for the curious.

Plenty of info and links here.

In February it will be, my snowman's anniversary...

With cake for him and soup for me
Happy once, happy twice
Happy chicken soup with rice!

Ah, February. Reminds me of sweet children's poems and falling snowflakes and deep, dark cold nights and neverending piles of slush and bitter wind and short days and bad things that have happened to good people and I hate February.

I just do. It should be done away with. Rename it Gladuary or Funuary and have local municupalities hand out giant sun lamps to every home (in areas that need it, of course. Wouldn't want to waste government money).

March may not be much warmer or even brighter, but it's closer to that glimmer of hope called spring and therefore, better.

Knowing full well that I just can't wipe February off the calendar like that, I've decided to take the Monty Python approach and look at the bright side of life. So, February is:

National Black History Month, American Heart Month, Wedding Month, International Boost Self-Esteem Month, International Expect Success Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Caffeine Addiction Awareness Month, National Cherry Month, National Children's Dental Health Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Single and Searching Month, Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month, Publicity for Profit Month, Potato Lover's Month, Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month, Spiritual Teachers Month and Wise Health Care Consumer Month.

It's kind of interesting that Single and Searching Month runs the same time as Wedding month, eh? That's gotta make for some icy stares in the card store aisles. Or knowing laughter.

Anyhow, let's celebrate! I'm going to load up my neighbor's collection of supermarket carts with potatoes and pancakes and go feed the birds.

I'm not touching the obvious Cherry Month jokes.

If I make you coffee will you boost my self esteem? Let's work this month together, people!

Dick for a Day

Over here, Charles left this comment:
I commend unto you Dick for a Day, a late-90s collection of essays edited by Fiona Giles, in which a few dozen notable women are asked "What would you do if you had one for 24 hours?"

So I thought - hey, why not? That will be today's post. What I Would Do If I Had A Dick For A Day. Compelling, no?

Well, not really. Because I'd probably just masturbate and fall asleep a couple of times. Ok, maybe I would see just how hard it is to hit the inside of the toilet bowl while peeing. And, well....maybe there are some other sex things I would want to try, but that would hinge upon finding someone who was willing to experiment with a chick with a dick and frankly, I'd rather not venture into places where one might find a guy who is into hemaphrodites.

I think I started having penis envy in high school. It wasn't anything sexual; I was just jealous. When we would spend long nights hanging out in the sump drinking cheap beer, the guys who had to pee would just, you know, get up and pee. Go stand in corner, take a whiz, shake it off, zip up. As a girl, I had to go find a secluded place, pull down my pants, squat in such a way that the pee wouldn't trickle into my lowered pants (found that out the hard way) and then find something (usually a leaf) to wipe with. For guys, peeing in the great outdoors is a competition (Look, my piss went farther than yours!). For girls, it's a hazardous journey around dangers like poison ivy and wet pants and the fear of little woodland creatures biting you in the ass. So I suppose that if I had a penis for a day, I would drink a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and, when I had to pee, just go outside and take a whiz on nature.

Maybe I'd also do things like grab my crotch and say "I got your offsides right here, buddy" while watching hockey. Or adjust my package in front of company.

I think I'd take one for the team, so to speak, and let some little kid hit me in the balls with a baseball bat. I'd see if it really hurts that bad or if you guys are just wimps when it comes to pain. I'd film it for America's Funniest Home Videos because a hit to the groin really makes that audience laugh. It's second only to "baby tries to walk and falls down, slamming face into sharp cornered end table."

I'd let all my girlfriends touch it. Not in a sexual way, though I'm sure I wouldn't be able to help it if I got a rise out of the situation, but just so they could really, really look at a dick and examine it without feeling like they have to then give it an obligatory hand job. I mean, how often to you get to touch a penis and not have to finish it off?

Apparently, when you have a dick, it's ok to use work time to masturbate if one of your cube mates makes you horny. I'd like to try that one out. "Uhh..boss, Janie is looking really hot today and I'm afraid I might molest her, so I'm just gonna go in the bathroom and rub one out. Back in ten!" How much would that rock?

Maybe I'd write songs about it. Or at least write songs referring to it. I mean, lyrics like suck on the end of this dick that cums lead have absolutey no equivalent from a female perspective. Anger is a powerful thing. Anger mixed with dick sucking references? That's golden.

Speaking of golden....nah, nevermind.

Ah, I know what else I'd do! I'd sing Monty Python's Penis Song!

Isn't it awfully nice to have a penis?
Isn't it frightfully good to have a dong?
It's swell to have a stiffy,
It's divine to own a dick,
From the tiniest little tadger,
To the world's biggest prick.

So, three cheers for your Willy or John Thomas,
Hooray for your one-eyed trouser snake,
Your piece of pork,
Your wife's best friend,
Your Percy, or your cock.
You can wrap it up in ribbons.
You can slip it in your sock,
But don't take it out in public,
Or they will stick you in the dock,
And you won't come back.

And with a dick, I'd finally be able to sing it like I mean it! And when I was done with that, I'd sing:

My ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling, I want you to play with my ding-a-ling! Maybe I'd whip it out and shake it around a little while I sang. OH! Then I'd whip out my big ten inch

So, yea. I'd like a dick for a day just so I can sing songs about having one in a meaningful sort of way. After I peed in the backyard and went through a box of tissues.

I hide my dirty minutes under the dirty mattress and they are making me itch My time is spilt milk.

February 19, 2005

S-s-s-s-aturday night

I've been spending the evening flipping back and forth between Toy Story 2 (Disney channel) and Carrie (UPN) and looking for parallel story lines between the two.

What?

Anyhow, I just wanted to pop in here to say this:

Napoleon Dynamite is a role model for today's youth, and Roger Ebert is a stupid bodagget
.

I bet Treacher has sweet dance moves.

And I bet he has nothing in common with either Toy Story 2 or Carrie.

And just so you don't think I'm crazy: Pig's blood....pig...ok?

Long Distance Dedication - Penis Envy Edition

Dedicated to Ilyka. See post below, and comments, for reference.

King Missile - Detachable Penis

Lyrics below. In case you'd all like to sing along.

I woke up this morning with a bad hangover
And my penis was missing again.
This happens all the time.
It's detachable.

detachable penis....detachable penis

This comes in handy a lot of the time.
I can leave it home, when I think it's gonna get me in trouble,
or I can rent it out, when I don't need it.
But now and then I go to a party, get drunk,
and the next morning I can't for the life of me
remember what I did with it.
First I looked around my apartment, and I couldn't find it.
So I called up the place where the party was,
they hadn't seen it either.
I asked them to check the medicine cabinet
'cause for some reason I leave it there sometimes
But not this time.
So I told them if it pops up to let me know.
I called a few people who were at the party,
but they were no help either.
I was starting to get desperate.
I really don't like being without my penis for too long.
It makes me feel like less of a man,
and I really hate having to sit down every time I take a leak.
After a few hours of searching the house,
and calling everyone I could think of,
I was starting to get very depressed,
so I went to the Kiev, and ate breakfast.
Then, as I walked down Second Avenue towards St. Mark's Place,
where all those people sell used books and other junk on the street,
I saw my penis lying on a blanket
next to a broken toaster oven.
Some guy was selling it.
I had to buy it off him.
He wanted twenty-two bucks, but I talked him down to seventeen.
I took it home, washed it off,
and put it back on. I was happy again. Complete.
People sometimes tell me I should get it permanently attached,
but I don't know.
Even though sometimes it's a pain in the ass,
I like having a detachable penis.

PSA - Gender Confusion Edition

I am not a guy.

Nearly every email I get from a new reader or from someone who stumbled upon ASV from Google or another blog assumes I am male. In the past three days alone in addition to the emails - there were four blogger who linked to me as a "he" and two who left comments referring to me as a guy.

I could easily rectify this by putting my name somewhere on the blog, but it's still a curious thing. Does my writing just reek of masculinity? Or are people just being presumptuous?

Well, let me clear this up. I am all female. Further physical proof not being offered, so don't ask.

Update: Here's the gender genie mentioned in the comments.

I put in two different blog entries. One said I was male, one said I was barely female. Then I put in two different pieces of fiction, and both declared me to be a male.

Just looked down my pants and, much to my chagrin, I have not grown a penis.

Release the Robotic Richard Simmons!

bios_townspeople_burns.gif More misunderstood than evil, Mr. Burns may possess unparalleled power in Springfield, but he can barely lift a baseball bat.

Ladies and gentlecommenters, your winner of the Simspons Secondary Character Award, C. Montgomery "Monty" Burns. He edged Willie the Groundskeeper out by a mere ten votes to earn this award. When asked for a statement regarding his victory over Willie, Burns said, of course, excellent.

Perhaps Monty's best known episode is the two part Who Shot Mr. Burns?, but it's certainly not his best.

Who could forget Homer the Smithers, in which Homer replaces Burns's manservant?
I'll have my lunch now. A single pillow of Shredded Wheat, some steamed toast, and a dodo egg.

Or this exchange from A Star is Burns?

Burns: Get me Steven Spielberg!
Smithers: He's unavailable.
Burns: Then get me his non-union Mexican equivalent!
----
Burns: Listen, Senor Spielbergo, I want you to do for me what Spielberg did for Oskar Schindler.
Spielbergo: Er, Schindler es bueno, Senor Burns es el diablo.
Burns: Listen, Spielbergo, Schindler and I are like peas in a pod. We're both factory owners, we both made shells for the Nazis, but mine worked, dammit! Now go out there and win me that festival!

Or this episode, which any Burns fan will know just from the picture:

Here's a lenghty biography of Mr. Burns.
The lyrics to See My Vest (my favorite Burns episode)
And a Burns trivia quiz.

I'm almost sorry this is over. Any ideas for other contests featuring beloved cartoon characters? Maybe I'll conjure up something with Bugs Bunny in honor of this.

Congratulations, Mr. Burns!

February 18, 2005

Friday Night Music Mayhem - Quickie Edition

All selections tonight come from my favorite compilation ever, Short Music for Short People - a collection of 101 30 second punk songs.

Have a listen while I go over and tabulate the winners in the Mr. Burns v. Willie showdown. Damn, I'm tired - I'll give you a dollar if you do the counting for me...

Hand Grenade - Offspring
The Ballad of Willhelm Fink - Green Day
Freeghan - Bigwig
300 Miles - One Man Army
To All the Kids - Vandals

Vandals lyrics included. You can look up the rest of the lyrics here.

To all the kids with
Headgear and braces and freckly faces
Glasses and acne and foster care families
Eating disorders who sit on the corners
Bikes with a basket and pants with elastic
Retards and spastics and Star Trek fanatics
And guys in gymnastics with lives that are tragic
Chess club contenders with speculative genders
Friends they imagine with matching pajamas
(God loves us all)

How can you not love that?

remember, downloads expire the next day

Kill the (New) Wabbit

A piece of me died when I read this:

The carrot-chomping smart aleck is making a comeback - as a futuristic, slimmed-down superhero. The extreme makeover also revamps Bugs' buddies Daffy Duck, Road Runner, Tasmanian Devil and Wile E. Coyote in an attempt to charm young audiences with old favorites

news02172005003.jpg

Why? For the love of holy cartoons, why? Like there aren't enough "extreme" cartoon characters running around the networks to satisfy the needs of the hardcore children of America? Do we really need another incarnation of Bugs and friends? I knew when Space Jam came out that we were riding the proverbial slippery slope to animated blasphemy.

This is just not right. Look at that face, that posture, that menancing stare.

Can you imagine that in a dress? Singing opera? Giving Daffy a good natured ribbing? Reading to Buster?

Sure, Bugs is mischevious. He is diabolically devious. But he is not...evil. He is not extreme. The old Bugs is the greatest practical joker. The new Bugs looks like a serial killer. A murderer. The kind of rabbit you would run from if you met up with him a dark alley. He doesn't eat carrots. He sharpens them and uses them as deadly weapons. He puts the lotion in the basket!

Ah, I'm getting carried away, I know. But we're talking about one of my childhood heroes (hell, one of my adulthood heroes) being turned into a creepy looking rabbit overlord, one who would just as soon scalp you than do your hair.

Do these people not feel even the slightest twinge of guilt over what they are doing to a great American icon?

"The new series will have the same classic wit and wisdom, but we have to do it more in line with what kids are talking about today," says Sander Schwartz, president of Warner Bros. Animation. The plots are action-oriented, filled with chases and fights. Each character possesses a special crime-fighting power.

What a maroon. Why make a new Looney Tunes at all? Just create new characters and then make another cookie cutter, cliched, boring, poorly animated cartoon superhero series. Because we just don't have enough of them as it is. Crap like this makes me long for the days of the Smurfs. And that's not a good thing.

Stop fucking with my childhood, please. Stop remaking my favorite movies and stop giving my favorite cartoon characters makeovers. Is the entertainment industry so bereft of new, creative ideas that they have to basterdize everything that was good about tv and movies? Eh, don't answer that. I know the answer.

This is a sad, sad day for Bugs Bunny fans.

February 17, 2005

The Cult of Motherhood

[This post started out as a response to this article, which was taken apart by James Lileks before I could take it apart myself. See here. It turned out to be something else, though the base of it lies in all the same aspects of the article that James pointed out. And because I'm putting it up here so late in the evening, you're getting tomorrow's post today!]

Soon after my daughter was born in 1990, I was encouraged to join a local mother's group. I did that and then was encouraged by some of those mothers to join various other groups - I think one was called Our Babies are Better than Yours and another was Face It, You Are A Lousy Parent. They were loose groups of a couple of women each, and they would force their way into your home once a week to regale you with stories of how practically perfect in every way their children were and how your kids could be more like that. And you, more like them.

I was assaulted on all fronts. On Tuesdays, Grace would drop by and chastise me for using disposable diapers instead of cloth. On Thursdays, I got Mary and her desire to get me to make all of my baby's food from scratch. Friday evenings, Jane would drop by for Impressionist Art Flash Card Hour, and we'd watch Natalie drool and fall asleep as another Degas was held in front of her. Ballet School. This one is called Ball-et-schoooool. Nat was five months old. I told Jane that I didn't think the cards were making an impression on her (ha ha, get it?) and Jane informed me that children just absorbed information like sponges. Osmosis, baby. Renoir. Ren waaaaaaah.

The other days of the week I was visited by a stream of well meaning career mommies. This was at the height of the mommy wars. Stay at home moms and working moms were rumbling in the alleys, knives drawn and guns loaded. It was an ugly time to be a new mother, as you were constantly pressed upon to choose a side. The working mothers would attack you from one side: You'll lose your sense of identity if you don't continue your career! You'll spend your days with formula spit on your shirt and strained pees in your hair and some day you will resent your children for making you live the life of a slave to their childhood and you'll end up an old, bitter hag with a dysfunctional family! And the stay at home moms would counter attack: Your child will grow up with a sense of abandonment! You'll be too tired to help her with homework or read to her! She'll look for love everywhere else besides home and eventually she'll end up on a street corner selling herself for crack!

I just wanted to be. You know, learn the ropes on my own, just like my mother did. But I had people throwing all kinds of books at me, whipping out names of experts and filling my head with theories about family beds and weaning. I was being drilled on the proper way to teach an infant how to count and speak in three languages while simultaneously learning how to make organic mashed sweet potatoes and raise a family of goats for their nutritional milk and really, the only thing I wanted to know was why the hell was my daughter spewing vomit across the room at 90 mph? Oh, sure - the perfect mommies will teach you how to clean the house using non toxic, home made cleansers, but when it comes to projectile vomiting, they are completely useless.

I realized about six months in to this mothering thing that there was a Perfect Mommy cult and half of the members lived within shouting distance of me. My kid shouted, they came running. Pick her up immediately, or she'll feel like she can't trust you! Ok, but my mother said to just let her cry if she's not hungry or dirty and.... NO! Never let the baby cry, it causes irreparable damage!

Damn. Everything I did was wrong. Every move I made was somehow harming my daughter. Every wrong food fed, every pair of pajamas not washed by hand with organic soap, every diaper rash not treated with secretions from the pancreas of a rare breed of llama - I was inching my baby closer towards mental ruination. She was still an infant and already my failings as a mother were destroying her life. Help me, cult of motherhood, you're my only hope!

And so it went. By the time Nat reached toddlerhood, I was being instructed on which classes to sign her up for, which nursery schools to look at, which sports should she play and musical instruments she should master. The cult mommy's kids were scheduled from morning until night, seven days a week. Gymnastics, Karate, pee wee soccer, Spanish, art class, dancing, learning center, computer center, French, etiquette...these kids were THREE!

And all the while I was stuck in a game of tug-of-war between different parenting groups vying for my attention. When I say some of these women were batshit crazy, I am not exaggerating. They followed trends like some people follow sports teams - with this undying devotion. I half expected to show up for the "How To Get Your Baby To Sleep" lecture and walk into an auditorium filled with face-painted women wearing Ferber t-shirts and holding up "Let Her Cry It Out!" posters.

I was finding new motherhood stressful not because being a mother made it so, but because dealing with the other mothers made it so. I could never be sure if what I was doing was right. My values were constantly called into question. My skills were tested. I spent half my time with other mothers defending myself and my parenting choices. When another mother would come to my rescue, two more would pop out of the woodwork to enter the fray.

Why do so many otherwise competent and self-aware women lose themselves when they become mothers? Why do so many of us feel so out of control? And—the biggest question of all—why has this generation of mothers, arguably the most liberated and privileged group of women America has ever seen, driven themselves crazy in the quest for perfect mommy-dom?

And why do they want to drag everyone they know into their world of perceived perfectness? Because it justifies that world, of course. Karen, my super mom friend, was constantly trying to get me to go back to work full time. When she wasn't harping on that subject, she was throwing pamphlets at me for sports schools and dance schools. If I would just join her lifestyle, if I would just assimilate, then maybe she wouldn't feel quite so crappy over the life she was living. If all her friends jumped off a bridge....well, you know how that goes.

It wasn't enough for Karen's schedule to be filled. She had to fill her kids' schedules as well. Her day was occupied, every block filled, from 6am until midnight. Work, clean, iron, laundry, dance class, baseball, dinner, PTA meeting, then home to spend an hour on the living room floor, cutting and pasting construction paper for her son's science project.

Every once in a while, we would get out for coffee. We'd meet at the diner and Karen would look absolutely haggard and I knew what I was in for. Two hours of her non-stop whining, crying, complaining and bitching. She has no time to herself. Her kids leave her exhausted. She practically lives in her car. The family never eats together. She never spends time with her husband. Nobody, but nobody lifts a finger to help her out. She. Is. Just. So. TIRED.

I would stare glassy eyed at her and repeat the same thing I said to her the last time we had coffee. So pull Katie out of French class. She's five, she doesn't need to be bilingual just yet. Tell Jason to choose one sport instead of three. Make them do their own homework. Get a freaking babysitter and go out once in a while.

She would balk at every suggestion. Shuttling her kids off to a dozen different place every single day was her way of showing them she loves them. She signs them up for these thing to make them better people.

Jobs—and children—were demanding. And the ambitious form of motherhood most of us wanted to practice was utterly incompatible with any kind of outside work, or friendship, or life, generally.

But it only had to be that way if you made it that way. I worked. I had friends. I had a life. I had two kids. But I didn't over schedule my kids and I didn't take on more than I can handle just so I could turn around and bitch about how much I had to handle. Martyrdom, anyone?

Yet as mothers many women face "choices" on the order of: You can continue to pursue your professional dreams at the cost of abandoning your children to long hours of inadequate child care. Or: You can stay at home with your baby and live in a state of virtual, crazy-making isolation because you can't afford a nanny, because there is no such thing as part-time day care, and because your husband doesn't come home until 8:30 at night.

Ah yes, the virtual isolation. I felt that, too. For about five minutes. And then I went to the library and found other stay at home mothers. I went to the park and made friends while pushing my daughter on the baby swing. I knew every Burger King with a ball pit in a five mile vicinity and frequented them all, where I found other moms (and sometimes dads) and we would sit and have coffee while our children bounced around the play area. Oh, sometimes a parent or two would stop over at our table and admonish us for letting our children play in that filthy ball pit where kids peed and vomited and spit up orange juice. We'd tell her to lighten up even though we knew she never would. I pitied those mothers, the ones with the ideas of perfect parenting that they were so sure of, they wanted to force them on every other parent in sight.

I ran into every fringe group of moms in my first few years of motherhood. The organic moms. The craft moms. The "dump your child in day care and run for your life" moms. The guilt moms. The No TV moms. The over protective moms, the self-esteem moms, the non-toxic moms. They're all out there and they are all armed with books and pamphlets and the sure knowledge that they know best what's right for your child and your family.

I was discussing this post with a friend as I was writing it and she asked, about Super Moms:

"Are they too dependent on experts and the media to think and parent independently, or do they merely resent YOU for thinking and parenting independently?"

That's a great question and I think it's a little of both. When I was pregnant with Nat, it was boom time for parenting books. A new one hit the shelves every day and new mothers were eating them up. And they all had contradictory information, so if you were going by the books, you never knew which one to follow. So most of the moms went into groupthink mode. Well everyone I know says this is best, so it must be best, etc.

Then there were the women who were astounded that anyone would not follow along with a book or an expert. Fly by the seat of your pants? Parent on instinct? Unheard of! And they hated me and moms like me when our solutions worked out right or when our kids appeared to be just as bright/charming/well fed as theirs. And they lorded it over us when we made mistakes.

Motherhood was a competition, I found out. A brutal, cut throat competition that puts any reality game show to shame. Whose house is cleaner? Whose kid is smarter? Who has the biggest SUV? Your daughter had a 101 fever? HAH! Mine had 102! And chicken pox! How many activities does your kid have in a week? I remember being in a gathering of mothers once where we were trying to set a date to go pumpkin picking together. It was a blur of pencils and calendars for about ten minutes. One mother looked at me - what does Nat have on Thursdays? Nothing, I replied. Heads swivelled. Gasping ensued. Nothing? A day with...what do you call that...free, unscheduled time? They then proceeded to bury me in the ground up to my neck and then took turns stoning me. Metaphorically, of course. =
The article ends on this note:

We are simply beating ourselves black and blue. So let's take a breather. Throw out the schedules, turn off the cell phone, cancel the tutors (fire the OT!). Let's spend some real quality time with our families, just talking, hanging out, not doing anything for once. And let ourselves be.

Thanks, hon. I've been doing that for fifteen years without benefit of your self-realization and subsequent book. It's what most of us have been doing. Had you not been hanging out on the fringe, hell bent on hanging yourself on the Motherhood is Hard cross, you would have come to that conclusion ages ago. Without the government funded caveats you suggest. It's called reality. Some of us live in it, some of us choose to live in alternate hells of our own making, replete with cloth diapers (no time for your husband when you spend the night washing strained carrot poop out of diapers!, empty platitudes (this scribble you made is the best scribble ever!) and home made baby wipes (it's cheaper to just buy the box at the grocery store).

James Lileks wrote:

I never have to worry whether I’ve sold out my gender because I’m not standing in a meeting room explaining a pie chart. Raising Gnat is the most important thing I do. But she’s a child, not a project. I don’t get a bonus if she exceeds quarterly projections.

You don't even have to be a mom to get it. It's that simple.

The Final Battle: Burns v. Willie

[Update: Poll will stay open through this evening]

burns44.gif

[See background to this battle here and here]

It comes down to this. C. Montgomery Burns against Groundskeeper Willie.

Cast your vote in the comments. Difficulty: You must support your choice with one quote from your candidate. Any vote made without a supporting quote gets disqualified.

Poll open until I feel like closing it, announcing the winner and finally putting this thing to rest.

Lileks Ate My Brain, Part II

I hate James Lileks. Once again, he ate my brain.

I was emailed a link to this story last night. It's all about the poor, overextended super mommies who think that society isn't doing enough to help them raise their children so the mommies end up exhausted failures.

I had a whole post planned out. I recited it to myself eagerly in the shower this morning. And then I get to the computer, check the Bleat as I do every morning, and see that James has once again used the magical bendy straw to suck an idea out of my head.

It's just as well. I am in the midst of writing a comedic novel about mothers just like that. It's all based on my experiences with the Perfect Parenting People. I'm up to chapter five and I think I'll just go ahead and model the stay-at-home dad who appears in this chapter after James. Sans witty repartee and matchbook covers.

And now, I must go in search of a new blog topic for this morning.

[Update: I decided to go ahead and write it, but it won't be ready until tomorrow morning, at which point you'll all have lost interest in the topic, anyhow.]

February 16, 2005

100 Things I Love About Comics - A Work in Progress [Updated]

[I've moved this up top because I update it - a lot. But it's still not done and it's taking longer than expected thanks to work, kids, etc. I'm having fun making the list and finding the links, so I don't mind stretching it out a bit]

A meme stolen from Johnny Bacardi.

This is my my addition to this comics blog meme - 100 Things I Love About Comics. Some made lists, others went all out and fancy.

My goal is to provide not only a link for each numbered entry, but to link to anything I may have written on the subject previously. That's what those bullet points next to some of the entries are.

I figure if I put the incomplete list up here, it will motivate me to finish it faster than if I just let it linger in the 'draft' pile. Hopefully, I'll finish this some time today, workload permitting. Your two cents on my choices welcome, as always (as well as the inevetable - and helpful - comments about what I didn't include).

List below.

  1. Sandman
  2. Preacher
  3. Transmetropolitan
  4. Watchmen
  5. Roman Dirge
  6. Milk and Cheese
  7. Trent Kanuga
  8. Johnny
  9. Squee
  10. # Lenore
  11. Grrl Scouts
  12. Blankets
  13. Mike Mignola
  14. Warren Ellis was once a guest poster on ASV
  15. The Beat
  16. Fantagraphics
  17. Dark Horse
  18. Adam Warren
  19. Toren Smith (*)
  20. Amok Time
  21. Back issue boxes
  22. Filler Bunny
  23. Creepshow
  24. Archie, Veronica and Betty
  25. Frank Miller
  26. TCJ
  27. Acid Keg
  28. Maakies
  29. Comic Book Guy
  30. Achewood
  31. Action figures
  32. Madman
  33. Stan Lee
  34. Dave Sim, mostly
  35. Free Comic Book Day
  36. (Some) comic book movies
  37. Sam Keith
  38. Spider Jerusalem
  39. Dave McKean
  40. Will Eisner
  41. Harley Quinn
  42. Reading Spider-Man in the Daily News
  43. Maus
  44. Getting my son interested in comics
  45. getting my daughter to read Sandman
  46. Sitting on the floor at Borders, with the graphic novel section all to myself
  47. Rorschach
  48. Bone
  49. Kavalier and Clay
  50. Jimmy Corrigan
  51. Vertigo covers
  52. Cassidy
  53. Delirium
  54. Slave Labor
  55. Shadow Star
  56. Josh Reads
  57. Calvin and Hobbes
  58. Lobo
  59. Reading comics in public
  60. CBLDF
  61. Sideshow collectibles
  62. Escapism
  63. Scott McCloud
  64. Cerebus
  65. Comic blogs
  66. J. Jonah Jameson
  67. The Batmobile
  68. Eltingville/Dork
  69. Too Much Coffee Man (that is a horrible website. horrid)
  70. Snoopy riding a zamboni. Or fighting the Red Baron. Or playing hockey with Woodstock.
    tsnoopy.gif
  71. Penny Arcade
  72. Neilalien
  73. The Crow
  74. The defunct Four Color Hell
  75. The Maxx
  76. Skellebunnies
  77. Frank Frazetta
  78. Gary Larson
  79. Garth Ennis
  80. A shared obsession with my husband
  81. The Acme Novelty Library
  82. Shaun of the Dead as a comic
  83. Little Gloomy
  84. Red Meat
  85. Newspaper comics of my youth
  86. Simon Bisley
  87. Get Fuzzy
  88. Jim Treacher's parodies of old comic book ads
  89. Iceman
  90. Bazooka Joe

startin' up a posse [update]

Who wants to join me in hunting down Bettman and making him pay for the demise of the NHL?

Good. Fucking. Bye.

Free Stanley!

Clarification on the Bettman thing:

I hated him from day one. I thought he was absolutely the wrong guy to bring into the situation. And he proved me right time and time again. He took every hope people had for the NHL and rode them right into the ground. So my Bettman hanging is partly from this and partly from every frustration he's caused to build up over the years.

Yea, the players and Goodenow can kiss my Long Island ass, too.

new simpsons poll to make up for my apparent xenophobia

Some of you are very fierce in your Simpsons character loyalty. I had no idea this little poll would open the floodgate to trollish emails and death threats. Really.

Apparently, some people think I left certain characters off the poll because of prejudices:

How could you not have Charles Burns, or Smithers or Apu. What are you a anti-capitalist homophobic xenophobe?

I do think that the commenter - who goes by the name BM (insert Beavis giggle here) - meant Montgomery Burns, and not this guy.

apu.gif black2.gif burns22.gif jebidia.gif mayor_quimby.gif

Actually, the reason I didn't include all your favorites is because the poll only holds ten choices. But I don't want to go down in history as a xenphobic anti-whatever blogger who dissed major Simpsons characters, so I'm willing to make a new poll, putting your favorite characters up against yesterday's winner, Groundskeeper Willie. Think Battle of the Bands, but with cartoon people. And no music. No cover charge, either. But maybe there will be a wet t-shirt contest after the festivities, and girls drink free!

What was I saying? Oh yea - give me candidates for the new poll. I won't take repeats from yesterday - it's not fair to put Principal Skinner through that humiliating procedure again. There's a bunch of characters you all got your panties in a bunch about - Duff Man, Moe, Apu - and some of you complained about not having main characters in a poll so I'll accept them for this one as well. So what you have to do is nominate your character in the comments - but I'm going to need convincing. Give me a good quote, their best episode, any reason why you think that character is deserving of the "Best" title.

Update: In accordance with a suggestion from Hubris in the comments, Lenny and Carl can be included as a team.

Long Island - Home of Bad Slogans and Deranged Women

The powers that be at the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau are, to put it bluntly, idiots.

Desperate to come up with a new tourism slogan for the Island, they hired an agency to come up with something that will build up the image of LI and promote it as a place where people can "recharge their batteries." And the winner is: Another day. Another memory.

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Ok, fine, I get what it's supposed to mean but I don't see how it pertains to tourism and building up Long Island's image as a tourist stop. Another day, another memory. The phrase does not invoke any sense of place. They would have done better to find a slogan that sets Long Island apart from the New York metro area; a saying that promotes the idea that Long Island can stand on its own as a place to visit, rather than the place that's next to New York City. It doesn't stand out in a crowd of slogans as one that makes you want plan for Long Island as a vacation destination.

Another day, another memory. Ah, yes. I remember being stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway for hours. Those traffic cones and construction trucks sure were pretty!

Another day, another memory. I remember the miles and miles of strip malls that all looked the same, each one with a Starbucks and Walgreens. Remember when we played count the "For Rent" signs on the storefronts? Good times, good times.

Another day, another memory. My favorite memory was driving out to the Hamptons to gaze at the houses we could never afford and dream about being a celebrity and then going into town to get ice cream and being stared at as if we were invading Martians!

If the tourism gurus over here were really smart, they'd run an honest tourist campaign. Go for the gusto, aim at what people really want to see. "Long Island: We Grow Them Weird" Provide tourist buses that make daily rounds to Long Island hot spots. This is where Amy Fisher shot Mary Jo. And this is where Joel Rifkin tried to hide the bodies. And here is the Lohan house, where Lindsay's mom first approached the idea of giving her teenage daughter bigger boobs. In a few minutes, we'll cross the spot where Billy Joel crashed his car! And this is where the Mepham High School boys first got the idea to stuff pine cones up the....Hey, look, it's a Baldwin brother!

That's Long Island. Sure, we have museums and theater and sports. We've got miles of beaches and pretty lighthouses and a really nice amusement park. We've got a beautiful arboretum and gorgeous public gardens and a world class aquarium and nature trails and historical mansions. But that's not what we are known for, no matter what the people in charge want to believe. No, we are known for our terrible accents, our infamous murderers, are maligned pop stars and our traffic problems. So just go with it. People love a sordid tale of a love triangles involving an underage homicidal maniac, especially if its been made into a tv movie starring Alyssa Milano. People are ghouls. They would pay good money to visit the spot where the hookers were found in the trunk or the crazed man went on a shooting rampage or the house in Amityville that is famous for the pig with the red eyes. Or the woman who brought down a preacher. We just love deranged women around here!

Seriously, if they offered a tour bus with the "Long Island: We Grow Them Weird" sign on it, stopping at all the infamous points and serving Long Island Iced Teas along the way, they could make enough money to fix every pothole on the Meadowbrook Parkway. And have enough left over to hire an ad agency who can come up with something better than another day, another memory.

I know, I don't have a future in public relations.

February 15, 2005

just sayin' [Update]

Principal Skinner doesn't have even one vote yet.

Update: Obviously, Skinner cheated. He paid you guys to vote for him, didn't he? I demand a recount!

Wait, I don't have to demand a recount. I made this poll and I can read the results any way I want to.

Groundskeeper Willie wins!

Speaking of winners, I'll announce the VDay poetry winner and his prize tomorrow.

I ♥ Comics

Busy.

I'm working on my addition to this comics blog meme - 100 Things I Love About Comics. Some made lists, others went all out and fancy. My attempt is to provide a link for each thing on my list, and maybe throw a few graphics in.

This will take a while. I'm up to number 69. Feel free to throw in your own suggestions.

Guess the Michael Jackson "Illness"

Judge: 'I received word that Mr Jackson fell in on the way to court. He is in the emergency room in the Marian hospital'... Jackson's lawyer Thomas Mesereau: 'He is very, very ill'.

A. Suicide attempt
B. Faking it
C. Hair on Fire
D. Passed out when he realized that if his only hope is Elizabeth Taylor and Kobe Bryant, he's screwed
E. Sympathy pains for Shanley

Write your own MJ epitaph!

Treacher's is here
Unabrewer's here

in a can

The last 46 53 comments I got (all in the last half hour) have been spam, and they've all been on posts from the last three days.

It's depressing to realize that you have more spammers than commenters.

They are slowly killing my desire to keep at this.

[I'm not going anywhere. I'm just royally pissed off at "Bob" today]

Save Me, Jebus! (A quote game extravaganza)

Today also happens to be the birthday of Simpsons creator Matt Groening. In his honor, I'm going to go Simpsons crazy today.

Sure, I might have kissed the series off earlier this year, but The Simpsons still remains my most favorite tv series EVER.

We'll start today's Simpsons extravaganza with two things. First, a poll:

I couldn't think of the word I wanted besides secondary. So this is basically a vote on your favorite non-Simpsons family Simpsons character. (The poll is below the fold so it doesn't slow the page down).

Also, I've got a new quote game for you. I start off with a Simpsons quote and then list a character. The next person has to give a quote from that character and then list a character for the next person to quote. Repeats of characters are obviously ok.

Game over. Just name your favorite quotes.

I had mustard? -- Barney Gumble

Ralph Wiggum

Happy Birthday, Nat

This is the same baby picture I used last year on her birthday. Sometimes I'm just very wistful for that age - everything that comes out of a kid's mouth when they're three is either funny or sweet. Every day brings a new achievement in cuteness. Awww, she's going potty, how freaking adorable! It's a good age because it's a forced obedience age. You are their master. You pick them up and put them in the car seat when you want to go somewhere. They wear pretty much what you put on them. They eat when you sit them down at the table. They're strapped into strollers, booster seats, car seats. They're a captive audience, with no real choices and no real means to fight for their right to party. Oh sure, you'll get temper tantrums and willful disobedience, but that's when you just pick them up and carry them out of the store or into their bedroom. Try that with a fifteen year old.

Yea, fifteen. Fifteen years ago from about right now, I was on my way to the hospital, clutching my huge belly and thinking that nothing in the world was quite worth the pain I was in. It's a weird feeling, knowing that you are in the midst of something you can't stop. No, I changed my mind, I don't want to have a baby! I don't want to push this human being out of my vagina! Uh...a little too late for that.

Anyhow, this is about my daughter and I should really try not to spend her birthday morning reliving the hell of birth, although recounting at least part of that story at just the right juncture (what have you done for me lately, mom?) really makes a succint point, no?

I promised her birthday banana pancakes this morning before she heads out for school. So I'm just going to say Happy Birthday, Gnat (yes, I bestowed the same exact nickname on my daughter as the Lileks family did theirs - I guess it just comes wit the name, though we have also called her Bratalie, which James just might do some day when his own Gnat passes out of the "always cute" stage). Below is my absolute favorite post about my daughter and life as a parent.

-------------

Babies, Songs and Stepford Mommies

I dragged Natalie to Wal-Mart with me yesterday to pick up some odds and ends. We stopped briefly in the electronics department to see if they carried the thingie that I need to transfer my photos from camera to computer, as the one I own is packed away somewhere in a box that must be buried under boxes we intended to not open for years.

They didn't have what I was looking for, but they did have three giant bins filled with DVDs! Three for Five Dollars! While Supplies Last! Of course, we had to look. I know I will never, ever find anything I want in these bin sales, but I look anyway, always hoping that one day the corporate heads at Conglomerate Central will decide that their store should no longer carry any Gary Oldman movies and I'll be able to complete my collection cheap.

No such luck. There were some Tony Danza movies, a couple of Part IVs to movies that should have never had a Part I and kids videos that were all mean to cash in on the Barney craze way back when but never had quite the impact that the grown man dressed up in the polka dotted lion suit hoped for.

As I gave up hope of finding anything interesting (and after explaining to Natalie that Monkeybone was not worth even $1.75), I was smacked in the face by nostalgia.

Baby Songs. Oh, not a good thing to see while I'm suffering through a raging battle with PMS. No, not the kind of PMS where I want to tear someone's heart out, but the complete opposite, the kind that makes me cry at the mere site of orphaned kittens or little babies or an old couple holding hands.

When Natalie was wee tiny, someone bought us a few of the Baby Songs tapes. I scoffed, as I was not going to be one of those parents who stuck their kid in front of a television. In fact, I vowed that Natalie would not even know what a television was until she was older. Perfect Parenting 100 begins with the mantra Kill Your Television.

We listened to music instead. Natalie was strangely soothed by the harmonious melodies of the Traveling Wilburys. I have a video somewhere of Natalie in her little bouncy seat, having one of her patented screaming fits. When she had these outbursts, she was unconsolable. She didn't want to be held. Didn't want to be fed. Nothing could calm her down. But in this particular video (and why we were taping her screaming, I have no idea), she's at fever pitch; arms flailing, feet flying, head spinning 360 degrees with pea soup flying out of her mouth and suddenly she stops. Just dead stops. She cocks her head like a cat listening for the devil. And you hear it.

Been beat up and battered 'round
Been sent up, and I've been shot down
You're the best thing that I've ever found
Handle me with care

The tears stop, her face lights up. I zoom in close with the camera and I swear she is smiling. Smiling! and thus began the beginning of the end of my infatuation with that Wilburys song. After five days of using it to stop the crying jags, I never wanted to hear it again.

One time, not too long ago, I put the song on just to see if Natalie remembered it, or if she would have some subconscious reaction to it. Nope. She just said "Hey, I know this song, dad has this CD at his house," which left me a little mad that he has something I think belongs in Nat's baby box.

So Natalie's savage mood swings were soothed by music, and this bode well for one very tired mommy. I was able to put her in the swing or the bouncy seat, switch on the stereo and everyone was happy. Mommy could do some cleaning or read the paper and Natalie would bounce and swing and make little baby attempts at singing, which some people call cooing, but when your child is obviously some kind of genius, it is singing, damn it.

Then the stereo broke. Just stopped working, just like that. Now what? The crying jags came back. The red face and balled up fists were like powerful magic, turning me into a stressed out, frenzied mother who wanted nothing more than to not be a mother whenever Nat was struck by these moods. Music, had to have music.

There was the television. Staring at me, just daring me to turn it on. But...but what about my Perfect Parenting score? What would the other women in the Mother's Group think? Won't my baby immediately turn into an idiot if I put her in front of the tv?

Well, it was just music, after all. I just needed music. So I hesitantly put on MTV. The crying coming from the monster baby in the swing stopped. The cooing/singing started. Yes! This had to be worth the points I would get taken off my Perfect Parent license. I took Natalie out of the swing and put her on my lap, right in front of the tv. I was losing control over my ability to perfect parent! Maybe I was going to become the idiot, not my baby.

It didn't matter because the MTV fascination lasted as quick as the Prince video we were watching. They segued from Prince into Guns N Roses and, let me tell you, there has never in fourteen years of Natalie's life been anything that frightened her more than Axl Rose. It wasn't just an aberration that Welcome to the Jungle was making her cry that day. It turned out that no matter where we were, whether it was on the tv or a radio, GnR never failed to pitch Natalie into a crying frenzy. [Then there was the video for Live's I, Alone, which caused Natalie (at a much later age) to have a recurring nightmare about Ed Kowalczyk eating her for dinner.]

It was at one of these Perfect Parenting meetings that I broke down and confessed I was a bad parent who tried to use television to make my child stop crying. The other mothers took turns chastising me and using a cat-o-nine tails on my back while I had to repeat over and over again that I was a bad mommy and would never, ever turn on a television again. Points were taken away. Tears were shed. This was worse than the day I confessed that I wasn't signing Natalie up for Gymboree. Or the day the other mommies noticed that my child was not wearing Baby Gap clothing.

After the de-scoring ceremony, I left the mommy group feeling dejected and horrible about my parentings skills. As I walked to my car (points off for having a Mustang and not a mini-van) a small, meek woman approached me. She was wearing a trench coat and dark sunglasses and furtively glancing around.

I have to make this quick, she said. I've been banished from the mommy group for letting my kids watch television and for not having soy milk available in my home. She then reached into her deep pockets, pulled out a video tape, and whispered two words into my ear: Baby Songs. She confessed that she had been letting her twins watch the tapes since they were old enough to see straight. She related the story of the day one of the lead mommies came to her house for a suprise visit and saw the twins propped up in front of the television, all smiles and giggles, watching a video. She tried to defend herself by showing the ruling mommy how happy the twins were, but the mommy just said they were the smiles of idiots, not happy babies. She immediately turned off her tv, and offered the lead mommy a snack, but the lack of soy milk did her in. Banishment followed immediately.

The trenchcoated woman explained the importance of the Baby Songs tapes. How they soothed her children, but were educational, too. How the tapes gave her time to unwind, read the paper, have coffee, do a load of dishes without having to hold or entertain the kids.

I gave in. I took the tape from her and to anyone looking on from the shadows, we must have appeared to be two desparate housewives making a crack deal to aleviate the boredom of our lives. She offered the crack. I took it and ran.

It was nothing short of a miracle, this tape. The second the music cued up, Natalie did her little hand-waving, foot-wiggling act. She smiled. She giggled. I think she may have applauded.

I was able to make dinner peacefully. I dusted and vacuumed. I read a chapter of a book. All the while, Natalie cooed and sang and never once approached the danger zone of the whimpers that would lead to a full on tantrum.

Yet, I felt guilty. The tv was on! How terrible! So I fought with myself.
She's happy, you're happy.
No, no, she's not happy, she's just smiling an idiot's smile!
Look how much you got done.
But what good is a nice dinner when your child is losing IQ points?
These songs are so cute!
The Mommies are going to take away your membership card!

I had this image of the Lead Mommy looking very much like Angelica Huston in The Witches. Would I be able to hide my dirty deeds at the next meeting or would she just know, just by looking at me, that I was a hideous creature, a mother who dared to let her child watch television and wear K-Mart clothing?

Then Natalie clapped. Really, truly clapped. With delight. I sat down in front of the tv and put Nat on my lap, rewound the Baby Songs tape and started from the beginning. We watched the whole thing together, me laughing and her singing and clapping. Angelica Huston be damned, my kid was happy. She was not crying or thrashing about or turning red with kiddie rage.

The next day I went to my Perfect Parent meeting as usual. When it came time to sit in our circle and take turns airing our parenting gripes in a non-confrontational, non-judgmental manner, I quietly took my place on the floor. After listening to a few women bitch very non judgmentally about other (non Perfect Parenting) mothers who don't enroll their babies in vocabulary enhancement classes, it was my turn. I stood up - even though standing up was considered a threatening, aggressive move -and told the other perfect, wonderful mommies that my child was enjoying watching television and furthermore, I was enjoying the fact that she was enjoying it. And, even furthermore, I was going to purchase even more videotapes and oh, by the way, I don't add tofu to my daughter's baby food, I think Baby Gap clothes are ugly and overpriced and (looking straight at the Lead Mommy at this point) I have it on good authority that you buy store brand diapers! Well, you can imagine the cacophony of gasps and squeals. I fled the room, ran to the car (cradling Natalie under my arm like a football, which is a big no-no in the Perfect Parenting world) and took off in my non-conformist Mustang, tires screeching, radio blaring some Satan's spawn rock song.

Man, that was one long tangent. Let's get back to Wal-Mart, yesterday.

So we stand there still digging through videos and I start thinking about the Perfect Parenting mommies and wondering how I've fared since I left the group that purported to have my child's best interests at heart. Did I raise her right? Did she turn into a good young adult? Would she pass inspection from the Lead Mommy? What would her scores in self-esteem and individuality look like if her life were a scorecard?

We're approached by a loud group of giggly girls that turn out to be Nat's friends from school. One of the girls is a friend of a friend, one of those clique cross-over girls. She stares Natalie up and down while Nat chats with one of the other girls. Natalie notices this.

What? Do I have a booger on my face or something?
Uhh..no. I'm just like..uh...I hate those pants you wear.
Well, it's a good thing I don't dress to please you, isn't it?

Yea, I've done alright.

The girls left and I grabbed three of the Baby Songs DVDs and showed them to Natalie. Remember these, I asked? And my fourteen year old starts singing, in the middle of Wal-Mart. Mommy comes back, she always comes back, she always comes back to get me. My mommy comes back, she always comes back, she never would forget me.

She remembered. Surely, not from her infant days when I propped her in front of the television; more likely from my second round with the tapes when DJ was a baby. But listening to her sing those words all these years later made my eyes fill with tears. Natalie glared at me. You are not going to cry, mom. Pause. Are you?

I look at her and think of her as a baby, a toddler, a Daisy Girl Scout. It really wasn't that long ago. She's still sort of a kid, right? I'm getting all teary for nothing. I still have years of her childhood left to savor. I go on and on like this for a few minutes, staring at the Baby Songs videos, looking at her, trying to not to break into a PMS crying fit.

Natalie breaks my reverie.

Oh, Mom. Forgot to tell you. I got my high school schedule [for September] today.

Damn straight I cried. I'm crying now, still.

[Baby Songs]

Happy Birthday, Nat.

February 14, 2005

my blogging valentine

I choo-choo-choose Hubris.

(I just want you to go read his site. And bookmark him. It's not like I'm going to be offering him sex or home made meals. It's just blog love).

Happy V-Day. Hope yours was good.

Who Ownzzzzz the Chiefs?

This blog is officially in mourning.

Just for the hell of it: hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey

Read this

Of Valentines, Plastic Statues, Infidelity and Felt Frogs

I heard on the radio this morning that a poll shows at least 47% of women will be disappointed today. And I know of at least one of them. No, I don't know who she is, but I know what she's getting and where it was bought and there's a breakup on the horizon for this couple.

How do I know this? Well, I ventured to the 99 cent store yesterday. I'm sure you have one of those stores in your area - I've never driven through a town that didn't have at least one. Some of the stores might mark up for inflation (Everything One Dollar!), but it's the same idea.

I like this store. They have shelves filled with name brand stuff - Palmolive dishwashing soap, Scott paper towels, Arizona ice tea - as well as shelves brimming with name brands imported from other countries. Like a box of Tampons from Japan - you recognize the name and the branding symbol, but you're not sure if you're buying super size or light days. For 99 cents, you just wing it.

Every 99 cent store has at least two aisles devoted to kitsch. Small, useless statues. Plastic hand held games that haven't been seen since the 1960's. Precious Moment knock-offs emblazoned with cheesy sentiments. I always walk down the aisle in amazement, wondering who actually buys these things and why.

I found out the answer to that burning question yesterday. Those kitschy items are bought by the desperate. Men with shaky hands and darkened eyes who, when pressured, make bad life choices. If having an affair isn't a problem in and of itself, shopping in the dollar store for both your paramours just reeks of bad karma.

So I'm in the store picking up some paper towels and Scotch tape. As always, I find myself in the kitsch aisle. There's a display that's obviously meant to catch the eye of the cheap Valentine shopper. A row of plastic men with Barney Gumble physiques, arms outstretched, gut sticking out are placed at eye level. Chiseled on the base of the statue are the words I Love You This Much!

Hang on while I summon the Google-fu.

Found it! This is what passed for sentimental tokens of love back in the late 60's and early 70's. A whole line of these statues (called Silliscupts) made their way into our homes and wet bars, their big eyes and bulging stomachs standing guard over our shag rugs and linear furniture. That the inventors of these statues - the Berrie brothers - went on to form one of the most profitable stuffed animal companies ever is a bit alarming, as they built that empire on the backs of people who thought plastic sentiments like this made for good gifts.

The statues that line the shelves of the 99 cent store aren't genuine Silliscups, but they are from the same mold, so to speak. Trite sayings, cheap plastic, deformed people, animals that appear to have been part of some bold experiment in cross breeding - they're all right there in the most bizarre Valentine's Day display since, well, last year's traveling vagina show.

I buy something from this aisle every time I'm in the store because I once thought of starting a blog just to itemize all the strange findings - and then it just became habit. Yesterday, I was eyeing a plastic, five inch chicken whose eyes and beak were painted in such a way so that the thing looked lovelorn. I pick up the chicken with the intention of giving it to my vegeterian daughter with a note that says "thank you for not eating me." Which I will place on her dinner plate one night when the rest of us are chowing down on chicken.

As I pick up the statue, a nice looking middle aged man comes down the aisle. He stops in front of the row of Silliscups rip-offs and begins fondling each one, seemingly to judge the sturdiness of the plastic. He picks up the guy with outstretched arms then puts him down. Picks up a wide-eyed girl who is saying "You're the BESTEST!" Puts her down and fiddles around with the Barney Gumble guy again. I notice a wedding ring on his finger. He's also holding a Valentine's Day card he's going to purchase along with his piece of kitsch. He puts the card down on the shelf to better caress his would-be purchases and I notice it's one of those double entendre cards that say "I love you" but mean "Strip naked and blow me." I'm thinking that this guy is in deep shit if he goes home with that card and 99 cent statue for his wife. I think about offering a little unsolicited advice, but keep my mouth shut because, who am I to judge? Maybe his wife likes cheap tokens of love. Maybe she thinks Barny Gumble is hot.

His cell rings. I recognize the ringtone as Rod Stewart's Do You Think I'm Sexy and a little warning bell goes off in my head. He's a playa. At least, he is in his mind.

So I stand there, feigning interesting in a plastic frog with felt heart eyes. His little froggy hand is holding up a sign that says "I'd croak without you." I listen in on Mr. Playa's half of the conversation. It's not hard to do, he's talking loud enough for me to think he wants me to hear him be the manly man that he is.

I know, sweetie. I know. But if we can't be together on Valentine's Day, we have the rest of the year to be together....

Yes, darling. Aruba does sound lovely. I just have to umm...wait...for umm....the right, uh, time....

It's you, baby. You're my real Valentine. Heheh, after all, who's getting the fur coat? And who's getting me? Hehe......

I swear he winks at me, but I turn my head, my attention diverted by a stuffed dog that has seen better days. It's ears are ragged and it smells like pepper, a smell that vaguely reminds me of church carnivals. The dog comes with a marker and there's a piece of white felt draped over it's back. I suppose you're supposed to write your own sentiments on the dog.

Victoria's Secret, eh? That pink one I liked so much? Really? Hehee

The guy picks up the Valentine's card he left on the shelf, glances at it and suddenly looks disgusted. He sticks the card back on the shelf, shoving it between the smiling clown figurine and the lighted seashell. His voice goes down one notch.

Well, I have to buy her something. You know how it is, uh uh...mmhmm....oh god, silk? Really? You what? Right now, you are?

I have this curious urge to check out the guy's crotch because I can tell from the tone of his voice he's sporting wood. Whoever is on the other end of the Do You Think I'm Sexy line is playing him for all he's worth. Instead, I grab the chicken and, for some reason, the frog with the felt eyes, and walk up to the cashier. Sexy guy has officially creeped me out and I want to get out of the store and back to my safe little world where people only buy 99 cent figurines as a joke. Because in the scenario I came up with, Sexy guy is buying that for his wife, while his mistress in pink silk is getting fur. I wonder how the wife will react. And then I wonder if that plastic statue is heavy enough to inflict damage if brought down on someone's head. Probably not.

When I get back in my car, I make a quick run through the radio stations before I pull out of the parking spot. One of the classic stations is doing Valentine songs. I laugh as I hear this:

They say our love won't pay the rent
Before it's earned our money's all been spent
I guess that's so, we don't have a pot
But at least I'm sure of all the things we got
Babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

Geez, what year did that song come out? I'm thinking it's about the same time that Sillisculps were appropriate gifts of love and appreciation. Still, worthy lyrics, even if Cher would later stomp on Sonny's heart.

So I woke up this morning thinking about Sexy guy and his wife and whether or not he actually gave her the statue as a Valentine's Day gift. I think the best present a guy like that could give his wife is to run off with whatever hobag he's sleeping with. Hopefully, he'll contract some sexually transmitted disease and his dick will fall off. While it's inside his ho.

I suppose Sexy guy's indiscretion isn't as bad as that of an old friends' ex husband who, for Valentine's Day in 1998, bought her a sexual aid that involved spikes, batteries and a safety warning that said "Have 911 on speed dial." A week after she had a hysterectomy.

Anyhow, Happy Valentine's Day to all of you. If we were strangers hanging out in a bar, I'd stick my tongue down your throat and make inappropriate comments about your sexual prowess. But we're not, so you'll just have to settle for a card.

Love ya.

V-Day Sing A Long

I'm working on a long ass Valentine's themed post that I hope will enlighten, amuse, offend, digust, charm and/or confuse all or most of you.

In the meantime, here's a Valentine's Day sing-a-long kind of thing. Just post some lyrics to your favorite love ballads. Extra points for hair metal power ballads (Ten bucks says the first thing Mikey thinks of is Extreme's More Than Words. Or maybe a Nelson song).

Living without you, living alone
This empty house seems so cold
Wanting to hold you, wanting you near
How much I wanted you home

But now that you've come back
Turned night into day
I need you to stay.

I know you're singing.

Valentine's Day Poetry Contest - Voting

Of course I'll have a Valentine themed post for you later - in fact, I'll probably spend most of the day doing commentary on the most superficial and annoying day of the year.

For now, I present to you the finalists in the Third Annual ASV Valentine's Day Roses are Red Poetry Contest. Read, pick, use the comments to vote.

Thanks to everyone who helped me pick the finalists.

From Hubris

Linda Lovelace to Harry Reems:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
It's been thirty-three years
Since I swallowed your spew.

-----

From Joe

Michael Jackson to Corey Feldman:

Roses are Red
Its so nice to see ya'
That pic on the right?
That's gonnorhea.

---------

From Matt:

Mickey Kaus to Andy Sullivan:

Roses are red
Your blog is blue.
200 Gs in two years?
I'd quit, too.

---------

From Adrienne:

Napoleon Dynamite to Uncle Rico:

Roses are red,
Your mustache is gay,
If I see you again,
I'll throw a nunchuck your way.

------

From JP:

Mary to Joseph:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I'm having a kid
And the Dad isn't you.

-----
From Spd Rdr:

Sitting Bull to Ward Churchill

Roses are red,
But you are a fraud,
Who's ever heard
of Souix named "Ward?"

-----

And, in the doesn't rhyme but made me giggle, dept:

From Dave

Howard Dean to the DNC:

Roses are red.
And roses are yellow!
And they're pink!
And they're white!
And roses are purple!
And lavender!
And they're peach colored!
YEEEEEAAAAAAAARRRRGGGHHH!!

---------

To vote, just leave a note in the comments. Vote for ONE only.

February 13, 2005

in which i don't blog the grammys

I had every intention of live blogging the Grammys until I remembered that they are both predictable and irrelevant, so I'll just offer you some Mindless Self Indulgence lyrics, which would pretty much cover anything sarcastic/witty/ironic I felt like writing, anyhow.

In the twilight of my life
I don't need no grammys
Rock my gay acceptance speech
Most of all I'd like to..

Thank god
For programming my beats
I'd like to thank god
for making me hard like I'm from the streets
God wrote all my dopest rhymes
Especially the ones about shooting niggaz and
getting fucking high

--

And then someone will say how amazing Bono is and someone will dedicate their Grammy to Ray Charles, someone will say that Green Day is the voice of their generation and then they will give a rock/alternative/metal grammy to someone who fits none of those categories.

The end.

Update:

FREEEEEEEEEEBIIRRRRRRRRRRD!>

I just had to say that. Reflex.

Ok, that was kind of cool in a flashback-to-the-time-I-wore-a-cowboy-hat-and-Charlie Daniels-t shirt kind of way.

And why have I never seen Keith Urban before now? I don't care what kind of music he plays, I just want to lick his underwear or something to that effect.

I swear, I'm not liveblogging the Grammys. I'm going back to my good old dent in the couch now. Skillzy's got you covered, anyhow.

Get the Led Out

In honor of Led Zeppelin being presented with a Lifetime Grammy award, I offer you a partial past effort, on the meaning behind Zep songs, and a short survey. And a gratuitious picture of me in a Led Zeppelin shirt (and Dorothy Hammil haircut and perky boobs), circa 1976.

There was a time when I considered Led Zeppelin to be gods. Most people my age went through that phase. We quoted lyrics left and right and debated the meaning behind each song. Plant and Page were geniuses, deep thinkers, philosophers.

Yea, right. What is deep thinking to a 14 year old mesmerized by heavy guitars and pounding rythms and Robert Plant's hair turns into foolishness and pretension when you take away the haze of few joints and flights of teenage fancy.

The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

Did we really sing these lyrics out loud? Valhalla, I am coming? How did we not break into fits of laughter when we said those words?

On we sweep with threshing oar

We must have been really stoned.

Sure, they had plenty of tunes that were about love and sex and things other than faeries and Norse gods. But those weren't the lyrics that were endlessly debated. Those were not the lyrics quoted as if they were the mantra of your life.

We sang The Battle of Evermore as if we were story tellers. We felt the pain, the despair, the anguish. Oh, we were so deep, so in tune with our lyrical heroes.

Queen of Light took her bow, And then she turned to go,
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom, And walked the night alone

You know, we had no idea what they were going on about. It just sounded good. It sounded like poetry. It sounded deep. In turn, we thought it made us sound scholarly and deep when we sat around ruminating about the Prince of Peace and his Queen.

Our favorite song at one point was No Quarter:

The winds of Thor are blowing cold.
They're wearing steel that's bright and true

Maybe our Tolkien-drenched minds kept us from finding the lyrics to be amusing and pretentious, like I do now. We were living in this outer realm, where hobbits existed and wars were fought between inhuman creatures. Plant knew that, he knew the mindset of the kids those days. And he played on it. Either that or he did a lot of acid.

Now, forgive me for this next part. I know that some of you consider Stairway to Heaven the Greatest Song Ever. I sure did back in the day. But please, look at these lyrics.

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now,
It's just a spring clean for the May queen.

One summer night, five of sat on the open tailgate of a someone's mom's station wagon, parked in the last row of a drive-in theater (double feature: Kentucky Fried Movie and Groove Tube). For two hours, we discussed the meaning behind the lyrics to that song, spending an awful lot of time on the "bustle in your hedgerow" line. We each had a different interpreation of the song. We each took our own meaning from it. And that was deep, man. I mean, wow...they spoke to each one of us in a different way. How fucking cool!

It was only years later that I realized the words probably mean nothing except that Robert Plant read a lot of books. He strung some thoughts and words from his favorite novels together, mixed them in a blender and called it Stairway to Heaven.

When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.

Anyone care to explain that line? To be a rock and not to roll. They revisited that theme again in The Rover with the line You got me rockin' when I ought to be a-rollin', which took on a decidedly different tone than the rock and the roll from Stairway. Maybe he was just running out of words at this point, a consideration to be taken seriously when you realize that the next Zep album was Presence.
-------------

I still do listen to Zep once in a while, and there are far, far better songs than Stairway to get my old school groove on to. After careful consideration, I'd have to say my favorite Zeppelin song is either Trampled Underfoot or Ramble On, both for very different reasons. Though you can still find me playing air guitar to Black Dog every once in a while.

So, what's your favorite Zeppelin song?

[I just remembered to add this - last week we went out to eat for a Chinese New Year celebration at a local restuarant - they had a meal time show with dragons and dancing and a 40 minute drum/gong/cymbal solo, during which I yelled out Moby Dick..Dick...Dick...!]

Reminders: Poetry, BJs and Meat

Taking the day off today. Blogging will commence this evening when I Voting for the VValentine Poetry Contest will not commence until later this evening, so you have until about 6pm to get your entries in.

For those of you who have little regard for Valentine's Day, especially for the guys who feel like they make so much effort on V-Day and get nothing but a two dollar card in return, just a friendly reminder that the two best holidays ever are is coming up: Steak and BJ Day on March 14, followed directly by Eat An Animal For PETA Day on March 15.

There's a way to make a joke out of the juxtapostion of those two days and eating meat, but I'll leave that to someone else.

February 12, 2005

lesson of the day

Result of tonight's party of 20 teenagers in my house:

I have realized I am officially old.

Today's PSAs

I will not be blogging again today (unless I end up barricading myself in the bedroom with the laptop during the Teenage Riot party tonight), so I leave you with

A) A reminder:


[click]

and B)

Another creepy Valentine for you to caption/discuss - below. (more like that here)

stalker2.jpg

Last night's barely noticed Creeptastic card (and song) is here.

Wherein My Parenting Skills Grind to a Halt

Saturday already? I was hoping someone out there would be hard at work inventing a time machine, turn the wrong screw at the wrong time and we'd either pass right over this day or maybe get stuck in a frozen time zone that would put this day off for a while.

Ok, so I exaggerate a bit. It's really not that much of a horror to have 21 (wait, I think we're at 23 now) teenagers over for a party, right? 14 and 15 year old girls and boys just hanging out, playing DDR, eating pizza, drinking soda - what could possibly go wrong except that I end up eating a bottle of Excedrin Migraine and mediating whatever arguments ensue, because in a group that size and that age, arguments will always ensue?

Honestly, I'm looking forward to seeing what a group of kids this age does when they get together in large numbers. Because I'm remembering the parties I attended when I was fifteen and that's a frightening scenario.

I wonder now if I was a product of my times or a product of the people in my neighborhood, the kids I hung out with? At fifteen, I was already smoking pot. I was already hanging out by the 7-11, bribing the older kids into buying us beer. 40 oz bottles of Michelob, stolen bottles of Boones Farm wine, 75 cent packs of Parliaments and a nickel bag of Columbian were weekend staples. We hung out in the sump by school or in the abandoned house by The Village Green (yes, that village green) and wondered what else it was we were supposed to be doing after we got drunk or high, besides staring at the stars or watching Chris try to get his hands up Marybeth's shirt.

I tend to think it had more to do with the times (mid to late 70's) than anything else. It was a permissive era, a Free To Be You And Me time, when parents were told to just let their kids run free and they would magically turn into responsible adults. The funny thing is, my parents were pretty strict. I had an earlier curfew than everyone else and there were certain people I was absolutely not allowed to hang out with. If anything, my parents were just too naive. They thought making me go to Catholic high school would make the pool of friends I could choose from better than what I had in the public school system. They thought making me hang out with my cheerleader/football playing cousins would set me on the straight and narrow. It was my cousins who taught me how to play quarters.

There was no drug education in the schools then. At least not the way it is now, so pervasive to the point of overeducation. We were just told, in an offhand way, that drugs are bad, mmmmkay, yet we knew that most of our teachers were lighting up as soon as they left the parking lot at 2:20.

Today's student is taught from kindergarten on that drugs, including cigarettes and caffeine, will kill you DEAD. It's the same drugs are bad, mmmkay, thing, but with a bit more oomph to it, including glossy take home pamphlets and lectures on how taking your best friend's Ritalin is not a good idea.

I'm sure that most of my daughter's friends have never seen pot up close, let alone smoked it. Oh, I'm not as naive as my own parents. I know there are kids in the school who smoke pot and drink. I know there are kids who are having sex. And while I know my own daughter isn't part of that, I don't know some of the kids who are going to be showing up at my house tonight.

So I give her the lecture. There will be no cigarettes, no hidden cans of beer. She looks at me like I've lost my mind. Beer? Cigarettes? Who do you think I'm inviting? She reminds me that these are theater guild people. Key Club people. Model Congress people. I say something stupid like, "Yea, well I was in the theater club, too and I know what...." And I stop.

"You know what, mom?" Pause. "Oh! Did you drink beer in high school? Did you get drunk? Did you smoke? Ohmygod, what did you smoke?"

This happened at 11 last night. I told her we would continue the discussion in the morning.

The can of worms has officially been opened, as I knew it would be some day. The question is, how much do I tell without being dishonest? How much does she really need to know? I could use this to my advantage, by telling her first hand experiences of how much it sucks to be so drunk that you don't know what you're doing, but do I really want her to know that her mother once drank so much she passed out in a bathtub full of ice cubes on the senior trip to Disney World? Or do I just gloss the whole thing over and say something like "Oh, I smoked once or twice, had a couple of beers at a party once. Didn't do anything for me." Because I'm certainly not going to say "Holy shit, mescaline was a blast! We had so much fun driving home from the movies that night we forgot our 3-D glasses were still on and that time I thought I saw the Statue of Liberty on Bear Mountain, what a rip!" I need to give an answer that will let her maintain her respect for her mother while getting the understanding that, well, drugs are bad, mmmmkay?

Just when you think you have this parenting thing down pat, they throw you a curve. Hopefully, she won't remember that we were supposed to continue the conversation this morning. Preparing for the army of teenagers coming through here later is going to be a Herculean task as it is, without the added dilemma of explaining away my youth and/or turning it into a morality tale. Or just telling bald faced lies.

I still think kids should come with manuals.

February 11, 2005

Creepy Valentines 6
And A Fitting Song

I'm going to be sad when Valentine's Day is over. I'm having way too much fun posting these cards.

The first one - not sure where it's from. I found it on my hard drive and I really don't even want to remember the story behind it, if there is one.

And, of course, our creeptastic Valentine of the evening.

Hey, I have a heart on!

Tonight's musical accompaniment:

Faith No More - Jizzlobber (download)

Don't forget to enter the Valentine's Day Poetry Contest!

Crime and Punishment: Question of the Day

One last thing before I head out.

What is the proper punishment for someone who throws a baby out of a car window? Because death just doesn't seem like enough.

Update: The whole thing was a lie.

and while i'm on this VD kick

And while I'm blogging-indisposed due to having the day off from work yet being cruelly put to work thanks to my idiotic idea to let me daughter have 21 of her closest friends over for her 15th birthday tomorrow night, which means a day spent at Costco or in the house preparing for this horde of teenagers or just tearing my hair out in advance of the onslaught and eventual broken things including, but not limited to, hearts and vases, I'm just going to offer you my Valentine post from last year, not the one about the vaginas, but the one about revenge, sweet revenge.

[note: image added for Paul]

Fourth grade, circa 1972. I fit all the criteria of being one of those kids. I had no real friends to speak of. My nose was always buried in a book. My mother dressed me funny. So it was no surprise that every February, I would be unofficially crowned Least Likely to Get A Valentine. You get used to these things after a while, so it didn't phase me as much as my tormenters hoped it would.

Remember, this is back in the day when self-esteem issues had yet to seep their way into the school curriculum. We still played dodge ball and called the Russian kid a commie (Turns out he wasn't really Russian, he was Polish). So, when Valentine's Day rolled around, there were no guidelines sent home by the school administrators imploring parents to have their children hand out a card to everyone in the class or no one. It was every outcast for himself.

I had a plan, though. I was going to take a stand for myself that year. I wasn't going to give out cards.

See, I learned my lesson in third grade. That year, it became painfully obvious that no one wanted a card from me. I found at least five of my carefully decorated valentines in the garbage on the way out of the classroom that day. Two of them weren't even opened. As is my standard operating procedure, I was more pissed off than upset.

Fourth grade would not be the same, I vowed to myself. I remembered the third grade incident clearly, so I took the pre-packaged cards my mother had made me fill out for my classmates and threw them in a garbage can on my way to school. I'll show them. They may be able to make fun of me for getting no cards, but I'll be dammed if I'm going to let them ridicule me for asking my sworn enemies to be my Valentine!

I spent the morning feel smug and superior to the rest of the kids. I had finally figured out a way to show them I didn't care about them. Certainly not enough to hand out some crappy Hallmark heart with a goofy sentiment and sparkles that got all over your dress.

I waited patiently for the moment of truth. We made mailboxes out of construction paper and cardboard and put them on our desks. We were supposed to decorate them for the holiday. Susan and Patricia drew hearts and flowers on theirs. I took a black crayon and drew a stick figure on fire. Well, that's what it was supposed to be. The teacher thought it was some kind of morse code.

Finally, the time arrived. Mrs. M. instructed everyone to take out their valentines, walk around the class, and deposit the cards in the proper mailboxes. Everyone scurried about. I sat at my desk. Mrs. M. kept looking at me, surely wondering why I wasn't getting up. I couldn't wait for her to come over and ask me. I'd finally get my say. Me, the girl known as "Mousy" because she very rarely spoke, would let go with a torrent of anger and pain that had been building up since Kindergarten. I am not giving out any Valentine cards because no one ever gives them to me and I think that's pretty rotten. So the hell with you all! I am not going to give you the chance to humiliate me by throwing my cards in the garbage pail! Mwahahahahah! Well, that's what I had planned on saying.

And then it happened. I learned the meaning of irony. For, one by one, the kids in the class came over to my crude mailbox and deposited Valentine cards. Susan. Cynthia. Ray. All the cool kids and the not so cool kids. Every single one of them. I had been tricked by fate!

Was I pleased at this turn of events? Did I feel shame for what I had done? Embarassed? Not at all. I was pissed. Obviously, Mrs. M. had instructed them to give me cards. Not only did Mrs. M's efforts ruin my planned soliloquy, but it further alienated me from my classmates and gave them new fodder for their rule against me. They gave me those cards relunctantly, and they let it be known later in the day that it wasn't their choice to bestow me with Valentines.

They say what does not kill you makes you stronger. Tis true. Not only stronger, but wiser and a hell of a lot more evil.

Two months later, I had to bring in an Italian dessert for our Heritage Pride day. My grandmother helped me bake cookies that looked something like this. After taking them from my grandmother's house, I made a quick stop at my neighbor's gate. I took the plastic wrap off the tray of cookies and held the platter out for Thumper the German Shepherd. He licked those cookies good. I put the cover back on the tray and brought the cookies to school the next day, gladly sharing with my classmates.

Hey, it's not the ultimate revenge, but it was pretty clever - and satisfying - for a fourth grader.

[And there's always spitball valentines if you want more VD stories]

Roses Are Red: the 2005 Valentine Poetry Contest

It's time for my third or fourth annual Valentine's Day Poetry Contest (not to be confused with Mig's Limerick Contest). This is totally different. Really. In fact, I'll just copy and paste from 2003:

When I was in fourth grade, the boy who sat next to me received a Valentine's Day card from the girl he was smitten with. This girl was quite the bitch and honed her skills early on in life. The card to Mr. Unrequited Love read:

Roses are red
They grow in this region
If I had your face
I'd join the foreign legion.

She and her friends got quite the giggle out of this. Personally, I thought it was cruel.

Yes, but life goes and all these years later I am not bothered by romantic cruelty at all. Nor am I so virtuous that I would not take the impending "romantic" holiday and turn it into a joke.

So, a contest for you.

Valentine's Day poems. No, not sweet, lovesick poems. They have to be from one famous person to another.

For instance, from Michael Jackson to Corey Feldman. From Courtney Love to Dave Grohl. Ernie to Bert. From Jessica to Nick. From Roast Beef to Molly. Hugh Hewitt to the CEO of Target. You get the idea. I hope.

Must be in the form of Roses are red, etc.

Deadline entry, Sunday 2pm, when I'll put it to a vote. Winner will get some kind of prize.

[update: If your poem doesn't begin with "roses are red" you are automatically disqualified]

February 10, 2005

Creepy Valentines 5
And Some Songs

Two Valentines again tonight, and two songs. With sort of a theme going on.

The first Valentine is from the sparkling Be My Anti Valentine selection.


[click for bigger]

And tonight's creeptastic Valentine:


[click for bigger]

Couple that with tonight' songs:

Shellac - Prayer to God (download)

Hot Hot Heat - Oh, God Dammit (download)

And you've got yourself a theme. The Shellac song is a bit startling if you never heard it before. The Hot Hot Heat song - well, it just rocks. They are my newest obessesion.

Anyhow, creepy Valentine commentary, as always, is welcome. I'm curious as to what you think of that woman's ass.

[downloads have expired]

OMFGWTFLOFL!!1!ELEVEN1!1!!

I have a couple of questions for you. Burning, important questions that I just need to know the answers to.

Have any of you ever really spit soda/beer/coffee all over your keyboard? Did you ever hold anyone to it when you said they owe you a new keyboard? Do you often sit around with liquid in your mouth while you are reading?

Have you every really rolled on the floor laughing? How does that work? Do you just accidently fall to the floor because you're laughing so hard and then you roll around in an attempt to gain your composure and get up, or do you - when you find something you read online hysterically funny - get up, throw yourself down on the floor, roll around laughing and then get back to the computer and write ROTFL?

I know none of you has ever done a LMAO literally, so I won't even ask. And if you have, I don't want to know about it.

I'd like to suggest a new acronym: TWPFAILBNODI. (That was pretty funny and I'm laughing, but no overdoing it.) Or maybe that's what hehe is for, though I just assumed that people write hehe when you're not funny at all, but they don't want to really insult you because, after all, you're about two minutes away from showing them your tits.

Ok, that's all. BBLIGOFCFTTCTYOTCR

(Be back later. I'm going out for Chinese food tonight to celebreate the year of the cock. Rooster.)

Update: Ok, IAFI (I'm a fucking idiot). I deleted this post by mistake, so I had to put it back and the comments are gone. I did my best to replicate them, though.

living on the dark side ain't easy

Jason Giambi repeatedly apologized to fans, the New York Yankees and his teammates on Thursday but refused to say why — or discuss whether he used steroids.

...

"I'm sorry I can't be more candid with you guys about everything because of the ongoing legal matters," he said.

Kiss my ass, Giambi. Seriously. Kiss it. Pathetic, indeed.

This is going to be a great year. I'm not a fan of Randy Johnson, I don't really care for A-Rod and I think Giambi should be tossed out on his steroid-filled butt. It's hard to hate the team you love, you know.

the missing link

An important note: I just noticed (because I rarely read my own site, I guess), that in last night's creepy Valentine post, there is a missing link. The peeing cat card can be found at Be My Anti-Valentine, along with a slew of other cards just like that. So everyone go there and make up for the referrals the site should have gotten last night, because I feel like I committed this huge blogging faux pax. And you know what happens when you commit a link faux pax, right? Mean people will call you bad names!

That's Be My Anti Valentine. Brought to you by Brainsluice and Meish.org.

it's all downhill from here

Can't stop.

nnb.jpg

here

More below, as I think of them.

boner.jpg

hack.jpg

pus.jpg

Ok, ok. I'm done. For now.

dept. of complaints, bite me division

1800.jpg

I love this bumper sticker thing.

More below. I think I'll just blog in bumper stickers the rest of the day.

ribs.jpg

mj22.jpg

to whom it may concern

I wrote here about reconciliation and atonement. True to my word, I did try to both atone and reconcile with someone who I once was close to. It wasn't an easy thing to do, as I had to admit some failings on my part, apologize for certain behavior and actively seek out forgiveness for those things.

A response of "no, thank you" would have been better than the silence I got. The total lack of acknowledgement to the words that I know damn well were received makes me think that perhaps my sincere apology was wasted on someone who didn't really deserve my groveling.

Your loss.

Stuck

noblog.jpg

Apparently, zombies came and ate my brain during the night. They also stole my good night's sleep. This is going to be a fun day.

However, I did find this great bumper sticker maker thing. I know there's a million uses for this (blog wise, at least), and I'm sure I'll find my funny/sarcastic/mean streak later and put it to good use. And I know you will, too.

Anyhow, blog later. Must find brain right now.

February 09, 2005

Creepy Valentines 4 :
A Catblogging Moment

Two Valentines for you tonight. One from Be My Anti-Valentine and the other from the creepy pool of cards I've been dipping into.

There's something about cat lovers that make them so darn...easy targets, I guess. And I say this as someone who will be adopting two kitties sometime in the next month.

You definitely know someone who should get this card:


[click for bigger]

Perhaps you can couple that with the world's scariest pussy:

[click for full effect]

As always, I leave the commentary up to you.

They've Come to Snuff the Rooster

This is the official place for you to leave your juvenile, albeit funny, jokes about this being the Year of the Cock.

Til Death do us Part

Cathy has finally tied the knot with Irving. We can all breathe a little easier, sleep a little better knowing that this star crossed duo has made the ultimate commitment to each other. At long last, love.

I've mentioned before that Cathy is one bad day away from starring in a comic strip adaptation of Natural Born Killers (my whole idea there was that Cathy and Beetle Bailey would go on a cross country murder spree - Cathy exacting revenge on the world for all her weight gain, bad financial decisions and relationship disasters, and Beetle treating everyone he comes in contact with as a surrogate Sarge, his mental and physical tormenter for life).

So I don't have much hope for this marriage. Oh, they will live happily ever after in the comic strip, I'm sure. Because the author of the strip doesn't like to face reality. If she would just be honest with us once in a while and insert a little reality into Cathy's daily adventures, maybe - just maybe - there wouldn't be hordes of people out there calling for the death and destruction of this strip.

If Cathy were more life like, we'd all be taking bets on how long this sham of a marriage will last. I'd give it two months before Irving stabs her to death with a fork. A bent, dirty fork. Because here's how it would really play out:

Cathy, finally feeling like she bagged the big prize, throws all pretense of being thin out the door. It's not like she's trying to impress anyone anymore - she got what she was after. So she goes on an eating binge, gaining about 75 lbs in two weeks. She takes a leave of absence from her job because she's gotten into the habit of sitting on the couch all day long, eating donuts and watching Jerry Springer. She doesn't cook. She doesn't clean. The only time she goes out of the house is to head to the plus size store, where she purchases housecoats by the dozen, and then to Target, where she goes on wild spending sprees that are nothing more than a manifestation of her realization that she married a short, bald, boring man and nothing will ever seem new for her again. Her mother visits often but only stays long enough to chide her for not being pregnant yet. Too bad Cathy hasn't put out for Irving since the wedding night. Sure, she'll offer him a hand job once in a while, but that's only when she wants Irv to drive to Krispy Kreme for her. And a hand job isn't going to get you babies, so Cathy is doomed to be a disappointment to her mother, who obviously likes Irving better than her own daughter, anyhow. And who could blame her? Cathy is a whiny, bitchy, ungrateful brat who's never satisfied with anything. Eventually, Irving forces her to see a doctor, who prescribes an anti-depressant and some diet pills. Cathy suddenly becomes focused. She loses weight, goes back to work and starts fucking the copy repair guy. Meanwhile, Irving has been relegated to henpecked husband status, and exists only to put a paycheck in the bank so Cathy can buy more shoes, more dresses, more lingerie she wears while straddling her lover. Irving has enough and stalks Cathy and her lover, which scares the copy guy away. Cathy goes ballistic and, in a culmination of every single disappointment she has suffered in her life, beats the living shit out of Irving. In a last breath attempt to die with some dignity, Irving grabs a fork off the kitchen table and stabs Cathy in the head. Several times. They both lay dead on the kitchen floor for days, until Cathy's mother finds them there. Before calling the police, she kicks her daughter's dead body and curses the fact that she will never, ever know the joy of being a grandmother.

Other scenarios are possible. Any way you look at it, this marriage is doomed and Cathy Guisewaite is the only one who doesn't know it.

Ashes to Ashes

[note: I started out writing a story about the time I tried to give up candy for Lent and this is what happened. As usual with something this long and written this early, the "may be edited for clarity" disclaimer applies]

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

And why, you may ask, do Catholics get these ashes - in the shape of a cross - marked on their foreheads?

Q: Why do they have their foreheads marked with a cross?

A: Because in the Bible a mark on the forehead is a symbol of a person's ownership. By having their foreheads marked with the sign of a cross, this symbolizes that the person belongs to Jesus Christ, who died on a Cross.

There you go. Don't say I never taught you anything.

I've been an atheist for a long time now, though admitting it to people - and to myself, in a way - didn't come about until the last ten years or so. But growing up Catholic has had some affect on me that will never go away just because I gave up the ghost, metaphorically speaking. There are lessons and stories and symbolisms that will stay with me always, regardless of my belief or non belief in God. And this time of year - starting with Ash Wednesday and marking the 40 days until Easter - always brings me back a bit closer to my religious roots.

My admiration for Jesus began in earnest when I was 11. It wasn't going to religious education every Wednesday afternoon, nor was it Sunday mornings spent in church that did it. No, it was seeing Jesus Christ, Superstar in the movie theater.

Even then, I had lingering questions that nobody really wanted to answer for me. So I took the standard reply of "Jesus died for your sins because he loves you" as the be all and end all of anything Jesus related. It's the only answer I would ever get and the only lesson I truly remember being taught. That lesson inspired a guilt so profound to manifest itself within my soul that it still exists today. The gist of the lesson was never spoken directly, but was implied often: Jesus got nailed to a cross and died for you, you sinner. And what have you done to repay him? Nothing! Now drop and give me twenty Hail Marys!

So I spent a good portion of my childhood both fearing and loving Jesus. I loved him for dying for me, but I was afraid that I would never live up to expectations he had of me and, therefore, his death was all for nothing. This was very egocentric of me, but I was about eight years old when I formed this idea, so I had little capacity to think about this in the broader terms of the entire Catholic population of the world.

I did separate Jesus from God early on, which a lot of my religious ed peers seemed to have a hard time doing. I knew that God was the one who watched over you 24/7 and he would report to Jesus whenever someone sinned, so Jesus could mark it down in a big book that you made him mad. And then God would punish you. He would make you trip or bite your tongue or fail a test you studied for, depending on your infraction. I was kind of confusing the lessons my Jewish friends were teaching me with my catechism lessons and the resulting conglomeration of the two was a powerful detriment to lying, cheating, stealing and fighting with my siblings - all of which were confessional booth sins.

So I had all this in mind when I went to see Jesus Christ, Superstar with my mother. I was prepared for yet another story about how Jesus hated me because I was disobedient. I certainly wasn't prepared for rock music. Or a dancing Herod. Or to be so overcome with emotion that I spent the night crying over the fate of Jesus.

My opinion of Jesus and what he wanted from me changed that night. It would change many times over the years as I learned more about him and discovered more about myself. And when the time came to finally say out loud the thought I started formulating late in high school - that I don't believe in God - I felt that I had let down not only my entire family, but Jesus as well.

So how does a person who suddenly declares herself to be an atheist still worry about Jesus? Simple - because somewhere along the line I began to view Jesus not as a religious figure, but as an historical one. No matter how much of the bible I believe is fairy tale or revisionist history, no matter how much of the story of Jesus I push aside, I do believe that a man who called himself Jesus Christ once walked the earth in pursuit of making the world a better place.

Did you ever see the movie Tommy? I eventually came to view Jesus in much the same light as Tommy; a man who believed very much in what he was doing, but who was pushed forward with great strength by his followers, making him believe he was ultimately more powerful than he was. A power trip, so to speak. Jesus's message was a beautiful one, but he got carried away with the adulation and adoration and it all went to his head. He was, after all, only human. But that's a theory for another day.

I love this time of year. Even though I haven't practiced religion in years, the season of Lent still means something to me. It's a time of renewal, a time to atone for past transgressions, to admit to your failings and make the effort to do better. It's a time to lift up your heart and see the good in yourself as well as in other people. And it's at time to think - what have I done for others? Have I carried someone else's burden? Have I given of myself, spiritually or emotionally, to those who asked for it? You don't have to subscribe to any particular religious doctrine to think about those things. It's just that all those years of partaking in Lenten activities made so much of that a part of who I am, so even though I gave up the core of what Lent is, I still took with me some of the valuable lessons.

Have you ever seen a re-enactment of the stations of the cross? It is one of the most powerful things I have ever seen in my life. I say that without exaggeration. What makes it so moving is the absolute faith and hope that are entwined with the despair and sadness. It's sometimes hard to watch. It's sometimes harder to understand. When Jesus falls for the second time(the seventh station), that's the one that breaks my heart. Even all these years later, even after denouncing belief in what Jesus held to be true (that he is the son of God), even after giving up my faith, I still cry when I witness the stations.

I don't know if all that really happened. Part of my disbelief in the Catholic church is my disbelief in most of the bible. Still, who hasn't seen or read a work of fiction that moved them to tears or made them rethink parts of their life? I'm sure we all have at one time or another. And I don't mean to belittle anyone's faith by saying these things - I admire your faith. I sometimes envy it. There are times I miss having something larger than myself to believe in or to look towards when I'm in need of guidance or reassurance. There are times I miss the group experience of church, the shared beliefs, the singing, the feeling that we all had a common ground that was moving us toward something bigger than us.

I like to think I took the best part of what I learned in church and on my own and brought it with me to my life outside religion. You don't have to be a follower of Christ to live a Christ-like life. Kindness, forgiveness, selflessness, service to others, tolerance, love - those are all things any human being should strive for. The fact that Jesus devoted his life - his entire being - to these virtues is both admirable and awe inspiring. If I can take all the lessons learned through Jesus and apply them to my life, then all those years in catechism and church did not go to waste.

And so Lent begins again and, while I should concentrate all year round on being a good person and living an unselfish life, it's this season that reminds me to make more of an effort, to renew my faith in myself, to find the good in everyone, to sacrifice for others, to stand tall in my beliefs and to remember and thank anyone who has sacrificed for me.

When people ask my how, as an atheist, can I honestly raise my children with any kind of faith or morals or values, I give them the short answer: because I still believe in the core teachings of Jesus. I've gotten weird responses to that - some people have responded angrily, telling me that Jesus wouldn't want me and that I'm making a mockery of their beliefs by co-opting their savior. That's not my intent, of course. Many people find their life's beliefs through historical figures, maybe in philosophers or economists or authors.

Wherever you find something that pulls at your heart or your mind and makes you want to be a better person or make a difference in this world, embrace it, regardless of what people say.

February 08, 2005

She Cried More, More, More:
Creepy Valentines 3 And Some Songs

More from the Creepy Valentine archive.

val37.gif

What I mean is, I'd like to suck your dick.

You know, this card takes on different meaning depending on which gender is doing the giving and the receiving.

And that monkey? Could suck the proverbial chrome off a trailer hitch.

And the songs, all from this post here, as promised.

Brand New - Saco Amaretto Lime (from Your Favorite Weapon)
Taking Back Sunday - Cute Without the E (from Tell All Your Friends)

And, why not - Billy Idol - Rebel Yell (From Greatest Hits)

[remember, all downloads expire the next day]


Brand New - Soco Amaretto Lime

Passed out on the overpass
Sunday best and broken glass
Broken down from the bikes and bars
Suspended like spirits over speeding cars
You and me were kings over the parkway tonight
And tonight will go on forever while we
walk around this town like we own the streets
and stay awake through summer like we own the heat
Singing "everybody wake up (wake up) it's time to get down"
(everybody, everybody wake up its time to get down)
And when I pass the bottle back to Pete
on the overpass tonight, I bet we laugh

I'm gonna stay eighteen forever (cut me open)
So we can stay like this forever (sun poisoned)
And we'll never miss a party (this offer...)
cause we keep them going constantly (...stands forever)
And we'll never have to listen (new haircut)
to anyone about anything (new bracelet)
cause it's all been done and it's all been said (eyeliner)
we're the coolest kids and we take what we can get

The hell out of this town
Find some conversation
The low fuel lights been on for days
It doesn't mean anything
I've got another 500, 'nother 500 miles
before we shut this engine down,
we shut it down

I'm gonna stay eighteen forever (cut me open)
So we can stay like this forever (sun poisoned)
And we'll never miss a party (this offer...)
cause we keep them going constantly (...stands forever)
And we'll never have to listen (new haircut)
to anyone about anything (new bracelet)
cause it's all been done and it's all been said (eyeliner)
we're the coolest kids and we take what we can get (wait forever)

(you're just jealous cause I'm young and in love)
Eighteen forever (first kisses)
(your stomach's filled up but you're starved for conversation)
So we can stay like this forever (new stitches)
(you're spending all your nights growing old in your bed)
And we'll never miss a party (collar weekend)
(and your tearin up your photos cause you wanna forget... it's over)
cause we keep them going constantly (appearance ticket)
(you're just jealous cause I'm young and in love)
And we'll never have to listen (November to...)
(your stomach's filled up but you're starved for conversation)
to anyone about anything cause it's all been done (...remember)
(you're spending all your nights growing old in your bed)
and it's all been said (nightswimmers)
(and your tearin up your photos cause you wanna forget... it's over)
we're the coolest kids and we take what we can get

Just jealous cause we're young and in love
You're just jealous cause we're young and in love
You're just jealous cause we're young and in love
You're just jealous cause we're young and in love
You're just jealous cause we're young and in love
You're just jealous... [turntable scratch]

If it's tuesday afternoon, this must be a meme

Via about a hundred people, but most recently Jim:

10 albums randomly selected from my collection:

Well, I'm at work so I'm selecting ten random albums from the iPod.

  • Anthrax - Attack of the Killer B's
    Startin up a Posse'. Milk. Keep it in the Family. I'm the Man. It doesn't get much better than this if you're into Anthrax.
  • Billy Idol's Greatest Hits
    What? He rocked. I still have fantasies about that sneer and spiked hair.
  • Clawfinger - Clawfinger
    Scandanavian metal with lyrics like:
    Nobody perfect but I'm pretty fucking close
    and I'm here to give you all a heavy heavenly close
    I think you better listen cos I know who you are
    and I think that you should treat me like a superstar

    It's the kind of stuff you listen to when you feel like dropping on anvil on someone's head.
  • Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends
    Long Island emo. Decent album that I can take in small doses. The double vocal thing gets tiring after a while. Update: Joel mentions in the comments that TBS lost about half their band in between this album and the follow up. Tell All Your Friends is infinitely better than Where You Want To Be, which seems to have been made with marketing in mind. So if you're going to try ayn TBS, pick something from TAYF (I'll upload a track tonight).
  • Strapping Young Lad - City
    You haven't heard hard until you've heard Strapping Young Lad. Oh My Fucking God is the most dangerous song on earth.
  • Limp Bizkit - Three Dollar Bill Y'all
    Shut up. I know, I'm always beating down on Fred. But this album was pretty decent. It was before Fred starting whining instead of screaming. Before he discovered the nookie and before Britney broke his heart.
  • Mindless Self Indulgence - Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy
    How to explain MSI? I can't. Here:

bitches love me cause they know that i can rock
bitches love me cause they know that i can rhyme
bitches love me cause they know that i can fuck
bitches love me cause they know that im on time
throughout the projects

Like that. They're fun, but not exactly work friendly. I skip around MSI a lot when I'm in my office.

  • Combustible Edison -Four Rooms Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    Best instrumental soundtrack ever. The movie itself was great, but listening to this music makes everything seem like fun.
  • Black Label Society - 1919 Eternal
    Zakk Wylde owns you.
  • Misfits - Box Set Disc 4
    Not so much work friendly, either, but I just can't resist a little Angelfuck during the day.

What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

At home, about 24 gigs. On the Ipod, I have 8 gigs.

The last CD you bought is:
Brand New, Your Favorite Weapon. Both my kids own this CD, but I wanted my own copy. How many times have I mentioned this Long Island band in the past two months alone? I'm obsessed. YFW is their first album and it's chock full of great song writing. While they matured greatly - both musically and lyrically - on their second album, Deja Entendu - YFW still has some of their best moments, like Soco Amaretto Lime (which I'll offer an mp3 of tonight). Some might classify Brand New as emo, but I don't want to pigeon hole them like that. Think Dashboard Confessional with more depth.

What is the song you last listened to before this message?
Snot, Snooze Button

Five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you
# Weezer, Undone
# Toadies, Tyler
# Faith No More, Midlife Crisis
# Incubus - Redefined
# Quicksand, Thorn in my Side

[These are five songs that I've been listening to a lot lately. Songs that mean a lot to me would take up too much time, and I've already started working on that, anyhow]

Who are you gonna pass this stick to?

Whoever feels like fetching it.

What's Black and Green and Blue All Over?*

Sometimes I think about people for whom life seems effortless. Their kids are basketball stars, on the honor roll and beautiful. Their houses are clean, their bills are paid and their hair is perfect. And they never seem to break a sweat or have a worry. They're never called up to school for an emergency meeting. They're never dismayed at a report card. Their children just seem to float towards perfection without any effort on their part. Their cars hum and their breasts are perky and their lipstick is never smudged. Their Italian shoes are unscuffed and their ties are always straight and they never go bald or get paunchy around the middle. They smile all the time and wear identical outfits in family pictures and take harmonious vacations to tropical islands and the siblings never argue and the pets never piss on the rug and they serve the perfect martinis at their perfect cocktail parties at which one of their excruciatingly polite children will play a concerto on the piano and they never, ever curse or raise their voices or bitch about traffic, because traffic just seems to part for them.

I hate those people.






* don't even try

Game On!

coalition.jpg

It's never too early to get the party started. Leather Penguin has started the ball rolling and I'm joining the camp. While I may not be as ummmm...voracious as Mr. Penguin, I'm certainly ready to get the smack talk started.

Pitchers and catchers, the two sweetest words in the world. It may be 28 degrees outside right now with snow in the forecast, but when I look at this page, my brain thinks spring and I have the urge to open all the windows, plant some azaleas and break out the scorecard book.

One week. ONE WEEK. Hockey who?

[If you'd like to join the coalition, drop a note in the comments and the Penguin will add you to the roster. You can grab the image for your own website, but save it to your own server, thanks]

Cartoon Intolerance [Updated/Edited]

Editor's Note:

I hate the way this entry turned out. One good rule of blogging to remember is this: don't blog about important issues when you're in a bad mood. Even if that mood has nothing to do with the issue at hand, it's hard to write with clarity when your mind is clouded with things that are making you feel like your brain took a crap on your soul.

So I will rework this post and present it again another day this week in a more concise, less rambling manner, leaving out some of the seeping cynicism and tangential opinions that turned the post into something it wasn't supposed to be.

Hey, I know what I'm talking about. That's all that matters.

February 07, 2005

We shall call him Englebert Humperdink

Today is Eddie Izzard's birthday.

Cake or death?

monday morning fun in lieu of real content:
chain reaction movies

This day was just not meant to be, so I'm packing it up early - going home to take DJ to the doctor and then crawl back into bed and hope that things look better when I wake again.

Of course, I do not leave you empty handed.

First, Mig (to whom I owe a long email) is having his Fourth Annual Valentine's Day Limerick Contest. I won an award one of those years for Best limerick about the dangers of premature ejaculation. Sharpen those rhyming skills and head over there with your best poetry.

Second: I was thinking about a game I played here a couple of times called Band Sausages, and I thought (however mistakenly) it would be fun to play the same game but with movies (which I may or may not have done here already, but after four years you tend to forget things).

Basically you take two or movie titles and string them together in a chain. Example: Peggy Sue Got Married to the Mob or Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures in Babysitting. It's more fun when you come up with an actual plot for the movie, but it's Monday and I'm not expecting anyone to think that hard. Unless you really want to. Otherwise, just aim for long titles. The person who can string the most movie titles together wins....my undying admiration. Which goes for about a buck fifty these days.

Have fun with it.

Jesus and Zombies, together at last!

At least that's what I said when Andy proposed a writing exercise in which several people would get together and write something based on - well, here, read this and you'll see.

So we were given two characters, an opening line, a setting and scenario and told to write. I intended to write a very short story but, as usual, got carried away with myself. So now I have what appears to be the opening chapter or two in a much longer saga - a lighthearted look at religion, zombies and armageddon. It's untitled as of now, but clever suggestions are welcome.

Unedited, unrevised partial story below.

[Andy's is at the above link, Walter's is here and Copygodd's is here]

untitled

They had never met before, but Avi was certainly happy, although a bit reluctant, to put a face on the nickname Jay used while commenting with that nonchalance which had come to characterize him.

Avi had met people from the internet before. His World of Warcraft guild met just last month in New York City, and some people from a local Halo clan got together on the Island during the Christmas break. He also met a couple of bloggers he corresponded with while he was on duty in Iraq. The meetings always turned out well; shared interests and a few pints of Guinness made it easy to feel comfortable with each other. But this one was different - he was meeting up with someone one on one. There wouldn’t be a crowd of people to turn to if conversation got stale. There wouldn’t be a bar bathroom to slink off to if things got uncomfortable. What was he thinking by flying all the way to Missoula to meet up alone with this guy who called him Elian Gonzales - in resposne to Avi’s Xbox Live name of Cubanidad - over and over again just to get a rise out of him when playing Madden 2005?

Even with all the shit talking, there was something about Jay - who went by the screen name ReplacementJesus - that made Avi feel at ease, as if they had been friends forever. Ironically, this made Avi feel uncomfortable on the occasions when he gave it too much thought. He pulled up memories of all the sordid stories of people who died at the hands of people they met on the ‘net. Was he being too trusting? Jay seemed so trustworthy, so harmless. Avi even thought of introducing Jay to his neighbor Ariel - he thought they would make a really cute couple. And then he would think of Henry Rollins singing “Liar” and Avi would get so worked up with worry that three times he picked up the phone with the intent to cancel their meeting.

Yet there he was boarding a plane to Montana to spend the weekend drinking and playing video games with a skateboard fanatic who called himself Replacement Jesus. A virtual stranger.

Four hours later, Avi’s plane touched down at Missoula International Airport. He felt a slight twinge of nervousness as the plane skidded to a halt. It was a feeling Avi was very familiar with - he called it his Cloud of Impending Doom. He was prone to bouts of anxiety that left him feeling as if the world was ten seconds away from ending. Avi tried to get a grip on the anxiety before it became full blown but he couldn’t shake it. When he got off the plane and headed toward the gate, he had already convinced himself that there were terrorists hiding in the garbage cans in the terminal.

As Avi grabbed his luggage and walked away from the carousel, an infant in a stroller sneezed. Avi muttered a “God bless you” out of habit and the baby’s mother smiled at him, then let out a terrible cough. All around him, it seemed, people were sneezing, coughing, looking pale and deadly. Great, he thought. He had landed in the midst of some great Montana flu outbreak. A small thought about the latest bird flu scare tugged at the back of Avi’s mind, but he shook it off. Things like that frightened him, ever since he read Stephen King’s The Stand. He had become somewhat of a germaphobic since then, sure that every single sniffle of a nearby stranger meant that some ungodly disease was being spread like wildfire.

He looked around nervously for Jay, and then realized he didn’t know who or what he was looking for. When they talked earlier and Avi tried to make some kind of plan so he would know who Jay was, all Jay could say was “Don’t worry, you’ll know me.” So Avi scanned the airport, looking for some tell tale sign of his internet friend. When he spotted the guy in cargo shorts and a Minor Threat t-shirt holding up a sign that read “Elian Gonzalez,” Avi grinned and felt his bleak mood lift.

------------------------------------

They pulled up to Jay’s house a short while later and Avi was taken aback by the sprawling ranch and barn. Jay had told him he had his own place, but Avi expected a bachelor pad worthy of a 22 year old punk, not something out of Architectural Digest. Avi made a mental note to sneak some questions about Jay’s obvious fortune into a conversation.

Avi scanned the expansive sky. Thick, low clouds hovered over Jay’s house like fists ready to strike. Beyond the clouds that seemed to single out Jay’s home was sky. Miles and miles of shades of blue, like a vast ocean with no horizon in sight. The nearest neighbor was about a mile back the way they came and all around them was nothing but nature, above and below.

“God’s Country, eh?”
“You have no idea,” Jay grinned.

---------------------------------

Jay knew three things going into this meeting with Avi. One, that Avi was somehow, in the next 48 hours, supposed to save humanity from complete extinction. Two, that Jay himself - Jesus to friends and family - was just supposed to be a conduit to the scenario in which Avi plays Superman and nothing more. And three, that Jesus was in no way supposed to reveal his true identity to anyone.

Jesus’s foster father - a/k/a God, forgot one important rule. He should have forbade Jesus from drinking because once the Captain Morgan started flowing, Jesus’s tongue started wagging.

24 hours, seventeen games of Madden and several gallons of alcohol later, Avi and Jay were walking from the house to the barn, where Jesus/Jay was about to prove to Avi that he wasn’t just some internet wack job and he really, truly was Jesus.. He was going to perform miracles.

Avi followed Jesus on the path to the barn, both of them staggering on rum-hobbled legs and Avi peppering Jay with questions.

You don’t look like Jesus.
That’s because I’m the Replacement Jesus. Duh.
How did that happen?
Because O.G. Jesus retired.
I didn’t know he could do that.
Well there’s no rule that says he can’t.

A few seconds of silence while Avi contemplates what he’s hearing. And seeing.

"Ok, tell me more about your powers."

Jesus turned towards Avi. "Hey, Avi? How come you believe me? No one ever believes me."
"Because you’re walking on air."

Jesus looked down. Sure enough, he was doing the float thing. It happened when he got excited, sometimes his powers would have a mind of their own.

"Ok, then. At least I don’t have to spend an hour trying to convince you."
"I still want to see some miracles, though."

They had reached the barn. Jesus was fiddling with a large key chain. Avi kept the questions rolling.

So how did you get this gig?
I was weeding God’s garden when him and Jesus had the big fight. And Jesus was just like, here dude, it’s all yours, and he rubbed his hand on my head and I had all his powers.
What did God say?
God freaked, man. Totally freaked. But there was nothing he could do about it because Jesus took off and no one has seen him since. And only Jesus can take my powers away because he’s the one who transferred them.

So what are you down here on Earth?
Oh, I’m supposed to be saving the world from some catastrophe.
I thought God wasn’t interventionist.
God has nothing to do with this. He’s just a figurehead. Bert sent me.
Bert?
Yea, Bert. He pretty much runs the universe.

Jesus finally found the right key to the barn door and Avi followed him inside.
------------------------------------

Having been holed up inside of Jesus's home away from home for 24 hours straight when the only thing playing on the television was video games, Avi and Jesus had no way of knowing that the world was in crisis and people were dropping dead, thousands at a time. Bert, being a bastard overlord, deciced to not contact Jesus with the news that the grandest of all fuck ups had begun. Let nature run its course, Bert thought. We don't deal in intervention.

--------------------------

High Anxiety

I'm in the midst of an anxiety attack. I'm trying to write my way through it.

It's been a while since I had a full blown attack like this. In fact, I've only had one since going off the medication 10 months ago.

It started on my drive in to work. Panic attacks are bad enough, but having one while driving is a special kind of frightening. For those who have never had the pleasure of experiencing an attack, let me walk you through it to give you an idea.

It starts off with a shortness of breath. It's almost slight, like something tickling at the back of your mind. Hey, something's wrong, just can't put my finger on it.... and then your brain says, hey, idiot, you're not breathing! Your eyes go wide and you get a tingly feeling in your hands, arms and legs as a surge of adrenaline rushes through your body. Full alert! Defcon 1! You suck in a deep breath but no matter how much air you suck in and no matter how deep into your lungs you push that air, you never feel like it's enough. So you breathe again and again, taking in rushes of air which, of course, just exacerbates the situation because you're starting to hyperventilate. Then your chest tightens up and it feels like your heart has just seized up and turned to stone. There's a rock sitting in the middle of your chest and everyone knows you can't get blood from a stone so now your heart isn't doing what it's supposed to be doing, in addition to your lungs starting to collapse and you can't feel your fingers or your toes, but you know that your hands are shaking and you try desperately to get a grip on yourself because you know damn well this is all in your head and that at least five minutes have passed and if you're not dead on the floor yet, then you must still be breathing and your heart must still be pumping blood, right?

Except all that doesn't matter to a person in the throes of an anxiety attack. No matter how much you know that you are not dying, it still feels like this is the end. I am going to die. DIE. Right here, right now. There is no way you can convince me that my untimely death is not imminent.

Now imagine all this in Monday morning traffic on a busy road. I tried to conjure up all those exercises I learned over the past 25 years that help alleviate the attacks. Multiplication tables. But they just wouldn't come to me. Not even the simple two times tables. I concentrated on the song playing. Pushed the lyrics out of my mouth, which only wanted to form a small "o", like the look of someone in a constant state of surprise. I sing, loud. Four months at sea, four months of calm seas only to be pounded in the shallows off the tip of Montauk Point. I suck in air. In with the good, out with the bad, the mantra my religion teacher taught me in 12th grade when I confided to her that I started having panic attacks.

I finally pull into the parking lot at work, I'm early and the place is nearly deserted so no one sees me practicing some bizarre form of Lamaze breathing as I walk up the ramp and into the doors. When the elevator doors part on the second floor, I practically sprint to my office, drop the keys while I fumble with them, finally get the door open and head straight to bathroom where I don't even bother turning on the lights before splashing my face with cold water.

My office is a safe place to continue on with the attack. Unlike being in my moving two ton car, going crazy while sitting in my office chair isn't going to result in harm to anyone else. It's still quiet here. None of my bosses are in yet. I plug my iPod in, put on some calming music and forego the morning coffee in favor of a glass of cold water.

The biggest myth about anxiety attacks is that the person suffering one has brought it on by thinking too hard about their problems. Mostly, they just come out of the blue. I rarely have suffered an anxiety attack while I was in the midst of wallowing in my problems. The anxiety always manifests itself later, at some unsuspecting time. Like 7:40 a.m. on a Monday morning on Hempstead Turnpike when the only thing I was thinking of - as I passed by Nassau Coliseum - was the fun I used to have going to Islander games.

It's only when the surprise attack starts (and this may be specific to me, I don't know) when I start thinking of everything else, because my brain automatically goes into "what is wrong with your life that is causing you to panic like this" mode, even though one thing often has nothing to do with the other.

So in this case, I start thinking of the phone call from DJ's guidance counselor in which she voiced her concerns about my son (who is home with strep throat today) in regards to his social skills and could I please come in for a meeting with this teachers on Tuesday morning? And I think of my daughter's report card, received in the mail this weekend, which, despite every ounce of effort on Nat's part, resulted in several teachers leaving notes in the end column that her test taking skills are horrible and I feel awful because no matter how hard she tries, no matter how much effort she puts into her studying and her classwork, those test grades are always going to keep her down and she'll never get into the college she has heart set on attending and....then there's the fact that the company that my husband got the bulk of his free lance jobs from went closed up shop this weekend and well, that sort of fucks us up bad for the moment and the next week will be one of feeling like the heavens are raining down dollar signs made of stone on our heads, something that leaves me awake most of the night staring at the ceiling...none of which I was thinking of before the attack hit, but which all come flooding into the brain the second my chest tightens up.

I don't bother asking for help or telling anyone what's going on because people who have never had an anxiety attack cannot understand what goes on in a person's brain when they are having one. A pat on the back and a "stop worrying so much" consolation doesn't help. It's not about worry. I've had attacks when life was just peachy and there were no worries in sight. And there's just no way to explain to someone who has never experienced it that feeling as if your world is going to end any second is not that easy to get over. My husband is the only one who has the patience to get me through one of these things, so when they don't happen at home, I'm on my own.

Well, I have you, don't I? Sort of. Whether you read this or not doesn't matter. Feeling as if I'm talking to someone certainly helps. Especially when that someone isn't patting my back and trying to patronize me through the whole episode.

I've been writing for over half an hour now, and it's been a good exercise. My breathing is normal. The tingly feeling in my head has gone away. My hands are steady. My heart is still pounding a bit, but that will subside eventually. A little typing, a little Nick Cave goes a long way.

I think I'll just sit at my desk for a while and repeat Step Back to Hackensack! over and over. (update: Hah!)

[I should take a cue from FAD and make a "posts I'll want to delete" category]

Update: Read this by Rob, who knows of what I write. He describes what I call "disassociation" that comes with attacks well.

Wednesday's Child: Follow-Up

On Saturday, I wrote this long post about children who grow up to murderers. The thoughts were brought on by reading about this child, a local boy who became a killer. I wondered:

Maybe this guy in Newsday today didn't have a father, didn't have a mother who doted on him. But she sent him to school, she fed him, clothed him, did she do everything but love him?

The first thing I see in today's Newsday is this:

Police: Mom an accomplice in jewelry murders

Police said Christopher DiMeo's mother, Maryann Taylor-Casey, went into J&J Jewels in Glen Head before the Dec. 21 robbery and scoped out merchandise her son could steal. Then she allegedly drove his getaway car after the robbery, which became a murder when jeweler Thomas Renison was fatally shot.

Well, that answers a lot of my questions regarding this particular case. Christopher DiMeo never had a chance. And while he is responsible for his actions that led up to him pulling the trigger, his mother is ultimately responsible for the person DiMeo ended up becoming.

That's sad in so many ways.

February 06, 2005

Super Bowl Wrap Up, Sort Of.

[I warned you that the last post would be deleted. And, it was]

The one single thing I took away from this year's big game:

Step back to Hackensack!

I am going to try to work that into daily conversations.

Also, Paul did not whip it out during Hey Jude. Which is just as well, I suppose.

For the curious: The ad where the Hackensack line came from.

I ain't no god damn son of a bitch:
Super Bowl Song of the Day/Open Thread

I can't let the day pass without making mention of who I'm hoping wins, can I?

Thanks to my all out hatred of anything related to sports in New England, the Eagles have my back today. I also promised Alan I would cheer for his team, although he's not going to get me to sing the fight song, no matter how many glasses of yucca drink I've had. Maybe if he calls during the third quarter, I might accomodate him. We'll see.

I was looking for a good song for the Eagles and I remembered that Aschroft once crooned something called Let the Eagle Soar, but I decided against torturing you like that.

Instead, today's theme song for the Eagles:

Misfits - Where Eagles Dare mp3

Lyrics below. If anyone can suggest a good song for the Pats, feel free.

Consider this an open thread for Pats fans and Eagles fans and anyone else interested in the game to talk shit to each other or make predicitions.

we walk the streets at night
we go where eagles dare
they pick up every movement
they pick up every loser
with jaded eyes and features
you think they really care?

i ain't no goddamn son of a bitch
you better think about it baby
i ain't no goddamn son of a bitch
you better think about it baby, babe

an omelet of disease awaits your noontime meal
her mouth of germicide seducing all your glands

i ain't no goddamn son of a bitch
you better think about it baby
i ain't no goddamn son of a bitch
you better think about it baby, babe

let's test your threshold of pain
let's see how long you last
that's happened in your rape
on bosoms of your past

with jaded eyes and features
you think they really care
let's go where eagles dare
let's go where eagles dare

i ain't no goddamn son of a bitch
you better think about it baby
i ain't no goddamn son of a bitch
you better think about it baby

i ain't no goddamn son of a bitch
you better think about it baby
i ain't no goddamn son of a bitch
you better think baby, babe, babe, babe

Stormin' Norman's Top Rock Songs

Remember when I asked for help in making my list of top ten rock songs of all time for the list Norm was compiling?

Well, Norm (who is profiled in today's Sunday Times) has tallied up the resultsand the ensuing compilation can be found here: the normblog not quite top hundred greatest songs of rock 'n' roll.

None of my songs cracked the top ten, which isn't surprising, given that I based my list on a dream I had about Will Collier and Rob Byrnes.

However, it is an interesting list and could spark some decent discussion among those of us who aren't spending the day watching the ten hour pre-game show.

Back Off The Bowl, Man!
Advice to Women Who Hate Football

I'm sure you can find a hundred articles today detailing how women can enjoy the Super Bowl even though they hate sports. Because, you know, there are no women who like sports. Not at all. We're all running around in our high heels and pearls, acting all silly and dumb and watching Desperate Housewives in between making you some pie and birthing babies.

Oh, look. Here's one. 10 Easy Tips to Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday (Even If You Are a Girl)
My favorite:

6. Toilet Penalties and Seat Fouls. Every time the boys leave the seat up, girls get a 2 minute reprieve from the football talk. Feel free to bring up any non Super Bowl related topic for two whole minutes without being shushed!

Ladies? You know that myth about Super Bowl Sunday being the day when most wives/girlfriends get a domestic beating? It probably stems from all the women who have ever tried something like this. Don't be a statistic, ok?

A few of the other tips on that page boil down to this:

Show your tits, shake that ass, pry his eyes away from the tv with promises of sex that you'll never make good on. And if all else fails, pretend to know something about football.

As one of those women who actually like football, I'll give those of you tempted to follow this misleading advice a few pointers.

First of all, there are few things more annoying than watching a game with someone who feigns an interest. We don't want to answer your incessant questions, especially "what color are we again?" You've had all season to pretend to be interested in football. Super Bowl Sunday is not the time to start asking why the guy with the whistle is waving his arms like that.

Second and most important piece of advice: Why don't you just leave the game watchers alone instead trying to ingrain yourself into their world? Can you imagine the uproar if a bunch of men walked in on your scrapbooking party and started wagging their dicks and pretending to care about your creative borders and special scissors? Someone would end up with the nickname Bobbit, that's what would happen. So why do you feel it's ok to barge in on the biggest day of the year for your football fanatic boyfriends and husbands? Are you that insecure in your relationship that you can't just let him be for a few hours?

It's obvious when you're faking it, I just want you to know that. I've been at many Super Bowl parties where women have been hostile towards me because I was allowed in the inner sanctum of the couch in front of the tv, rather than being relegated to the back of the room or the kitchen. Why was I let in? Because I really have an interest in, and knowledge of, the game. Some of the other ladies would get jealous and try to wedge themselves between me and their husband, thinking that my intense interest in the NFL was somehow going to make her spouse stick his tongue down my throat any second. Nothing could be farther from the truth, ladies. I could sit there stark naked with a vibrating dildo in my hand and your husband wouldn't even notice. The only things on his mind are wings, beer and the end zone. That end zone. Not mine. Or yours.

Just let it go, girls. If you hate football, give the day over to your husbands and boyfriends and, yes, their female friends who enjoy the game. Don't spend hours trying to figure out a way to insert yourself into the picture; it will only cause resentment later. Go find all the people you know who don't care about football and start your own party. Get sloppy drunk and sing hair metal karaoke. Strip down to your underwear and play Twister. Or watch a Women in Peril marathon on Lifetime. . Whatever floats your boat, ladies. I just know there are guys out there who hate football, too, and I'm sure they'd be happy to join you rather than trying to spend another winter Sunday trying to play the part of interested participant.

Super Bowl Sunday is not Take Back Your Man Day. It's not an opportunity to discuss toilet bowl etiquette or ask what those white lines all over the field are.

Back off the Bowl, man. That's all.

February 05, 2005

random super bowl thought

Obviously, they went with SIR Paul McCartney as the half time entertainment during the Super Bowl because he's a safe bet. You're not going to get wardrobe malfunctions from a Knight, you know.

I was thinking, wouldn't it be great if Paul just lost his shit during halftime and whipped his dick out?

Not that I want to see McCartney's thang, but the resulting pandamonium would be just sublime.

A Consumer PSA for my Long Island Readers

Meenan Oil in Wantagh sucks.

Their customer service staff is completely unprofessional and their service is not what one would call quality.

Beware these people. Previous rant about them here and here. They've officially lost our business, spectacular locked in rate be damned.

Wednesday's Child

16156537.jpgI opened up Newsday this morning to get my daily dose of local news and I saw this photo montage. I don't know this boy who turned into a murderer, yet those pictures make my heart ache.

Those are the faces of a middle school child. A kid who had friends and played basketball and watched cartoons. A kid who maybe thought he'd grow up to be something - an athlete, an astronaut, a teacher. Anything but a murderer. Or maybe, judging from what his former classmates recall, he never thought that much of himself. But I'm sure that age the age of 13, he never imagined he would become a heroin addict, a thief, a killer.

note: Sitting here thinking about this, I realize I wrote something on this very subject a couple of years ago, so I'm editing pieces of that within this.

I sit at my desk each work day and watch the parade of prisoners that are brought past my office. Some are in orange jump suits, feet shackled. There are men and women both, some well-dressed in business suits and dresses, some unkempt and reeking of alcohol. They all have their arms behind them, their wrists bound together in cuffs.

They were children once. They were babies who smiled and toddlers who giggled. What does a parent think as they appear in court to bail out that child? What does a parent think when they turn on the news and see their son or daughter's face in mug shot form with the words "wanted" underneath it?

I look at the tv and try to imagine killers and terrorists as babies. I see the drug addicts and petty thieves march into the courtroom every day and I try to imagine them learning how to ride a bike, their fathers holding tight to their arms so they don't fall.

16156502.jpgNo, not everyone has that. Maybe this guy in Newsday today didn't have a father, didn't have a mother who doted on him. But she sent him to school, she fed him, clothed him, did she do everything but love him? I wonder how someone can look into the eyes of child - their own child - and not care enough about what happens next, what happens to him down the road when that lack of love or safety or stability comes back to haunt him.

I think of mothers in other countries, mothers who praise their god when their son dies in a suicide bombing because he was able to kill many "enemies." I think of fathers who train their children in the use of explosives, parents who dress their children in weaponry and ammunition, parents right here in my own town that teach their children to hate others that don't look like them or talk like them or worship the same way, fathers that school their sons in how to make a fist and use that fist for power, mothers that don't bother to look at a kid's report card or show up for his baseball game or make it seem like she cares even the slightest bit.

I don't know what it's like to have a policeman knock on your door in the middle of the night to say your son has been arrested for manslaughter. I don't know what it's like to have your daughter call you from a payphone in the city, asking you for help in getting away from her pimp. I don't want to know.

All the things that happen between infancy and young adulthood, all the things that create your path and direction and lead to your future, they are not at all controllable. We can only do our part to give my children the values and morals they need to become decent adults. But we have no control over the outside world. We have no control over the influences of people they meet outside our homes, the affect the events of the chaotic world around them have on their psyche.

I just know I feel for every mother or father who has had to watch their child become something less than human. I feel for the parents who did all they could but lost their children to evil in the end. And I feel anger towards parents contributed to the downward spiral of their child's life, so when their baby picture ends up on page two of the newspaper, no one is really surprised because they remember the kind of house that kid grew up in.

In the end, the ultimate responsibility for a person's behavior lies with themselves. But you can bet that the parent of nearly every serial killer, every mass murderer, every shoplifter or hooker or societal drop-out has said to themselves at one point Where did I go wrong? How did my child go from that laughing infant to the man I see on tv in handcuffs?

That is, every parent save for the ones who bring their children up to hate and fight and kill. Or the ones how bring their children up without ever showing them how to love and respect and care.

Look at those photos. Look at that kid's face. He was a 12 year old once, like my son. Maybe like yours. It's frightening to think that maybe there's a boy or girl in your child's class who is a future murderer. Maybe there's a kid who is just one year away from a nasty drug habit or two years away from a life of prostitution.

I try to do everything I can to make sure my children grow up to be good people. That's all I want. I don't care if they become president of the United States or the person in charge of bringing the carts in from the supermarket parking lot. I just want them to be good, honest, caring people. Maybe this kid's mother didn't do enough for her son, but there are plenty of mothers and fathers who show up in court every day to bail out their grown children and wonder where the hell they went wrong, because they gave their children love and guidance. It's a crap shoot, sometimes. The older they get, the less control you have over who they say, where they go, what they do in their spare time. You can lay the groundwork, but all it takes is one time of veering off that path for it all to go haywire. It's up to us as parents to make sure that the groundwork we did lay down is enough so that our kids recognize when the path is wrong and they make an immediate U-turn. Not just because they are our children and we want what's best for them, but also because that is our debt to society, to make sure our kids are viable members of it.

It saddens me when I think that every child starts out with the chance to be good and sometimes that goodness is taken away by the very people who are supposed to nurture it. And it's just as sad to think of all the parents who did nurture that goodness, but somehow it just didn't matter. No one wants to see their child's middle school picture plastered across the front page of the paper with the word "killer" underneath it. Hell, you don't want to see that happen to anyone, because it's just a reminder of how easily it could all go wrong.

Teach your children well.

February 04, 2005

Creepy Valentines 2
And Four Songs of the Day!

[first card here - images from here]

Some sorta creepy love songs to go along with the valentine - four thirty second songs.

NOFX - See Her Pee
Avail - Not a Happy Man
Nerf Herder - Doin' Laundry
Gwar - Fishfuck

val1.gif

While you're enjoying the music, you can offer your commentary on tonight's card. Or the songs. I'm not picky when it comes to comments on a Friday night.

Groovy

Stolen from The Between:

Raimi will be directing and producing Evil Dead 4, which will star Bruce Campbell as ASH and will also have many of the actors from the previous Evil Dead movies. Raimi says that "This is the project I really want to make. The remake can belong to someone else, but part 4 will be a continuation of the original". Ted and Sam Raimi have begun writing Part 4, and will be developing it for production later this year.

I don't care how much you think this will suck. I am just about peeing my pants in excitement.

[For you ED fans, go answer Joel's questions here.]

Friday Fun: iPod version [updated]

You know what love is? Love is mentioning that you're bored with the songs on your iPod and getting to work, plugging the thing in and realizing that your husband spent last night dumping about 40 more albums onto your playlist.

The best part of not being the one who loaded up the iPod is being surprised at what comes on next. So far, this has been a stellar musical morning. I was going to do one of those "what's playing" lists, but thought this would be a good opportunity for a guess the lyrics game.

And you have to play, or Matilda will be unhappy. This is what Matilda looks like when she's mad. Is that what you want? No. (Thanks to Wayne for the image)

20 (or more) songs below:

Update: I'm adding more as the other ones get guessed.

  1. For you things seem to turn out right, I wish they'd only happen to me instead
  2. Well, when I realize that you need love too, gonna spend my life
    makin' love to you
  3. For her lips were the colour of the roses, they grew down the river, all bloody and wild
  4. Everything you do is simply delicate
  5. I got the clearance to run the interference into your sattelite, shinin a battle light
  6. If he stops to think he starts to cry, oh why
  7. Holy Matrimony is not for me, rather die alone in misery.
  8. Anarchy and chaos as the blood runs red, but this would change if it was up to Dredd
  9. the clouds will part and the sky cracks open and god himself will reach his fucking arm through just to push you down
  10. Ain't no use setting up with a bad companion, ain't nobody got the better of you know who
  11. An omelet of disease awaits your noontime meal, her mouth of germicide seducing all your glands
  12. We lack the motion to move to the new beat! We lack motion!
  13. You’ve waged a war of nerves, but you can’t crush the kingdom
  14. I wake up with a shrug, to the floor with a thud. Where in this hellhole is my coffee mug?
  15. She's made of hair and bone and little teeth and things I cannot speak
  16. I leaped on the counter like a bird with no hair, running through the mini mall in my underwear
  17. What do we have for entertainment? Cops kickin’ gypsies on the pavement
  18. Paint splattered walls and the cry of a tomcat, lights going out and a kick in the balls
  19. I don’t want to talk to you don’t you understand? Why are you inside my house you’re just my fuckin’ mailman?
  20. Check it out, I'm like a buzzbomb

Added:

21. It was a stratocaster with a whammy bar
22 See the devil kiss the hand of god
23 Pushed back to square, now that you’ve kneed her in the throat
24 Begging for your fatass dirty dollar
25 it's been two years and counting since they put her in this place
26 A heartless hand on my shoulder a push - and it's over
27 If you let them fuck you, there will be no foreplay.
28 All these thoughts they make no sense, I find bliss in ignorance
29 You said you read me like a book, but the pages are all torn and frayed
30 My eyes shut tight to avoid the sight, anticipating the end, losing the will to fight
31 She's got tits like microwaves, burritos that explode
32. Pig sweat a million miles, I got a heart atomic style

33. I’d drive you to las vegas and do the things you wanna do, I’d even have wayne newton dedicate a song to you.
34. My life has been extraordinary, blessed and cursed and won
35. Should of been, could of been, would of been dead
36. Pack and get dressed, before your father hears us
37. A 2 minute song is just 1 minute and 59 seconds too god damn long
38.For her lust she’ll burn in hell, her soul done medium well
39. Bye bye beautiful, don't bother to write

40. i found her out back sitting naked looking up and looking dead
41. Scattered seeds, buried lives, mysteries of our disguise revolve
42. Empty fossil of the new scene
43. Cause every supersonic jerkoff who plugs into the game is just like every subatomic genius who just invented pain
44. The microphone explodes, shattering the molds
45. But as for me, I wish that I was anywhere with anyone, making out.
46. So, we're talking forever and you almost feel better, but, betters no excuse for tonight

47. (I don't expect anyone to get this, I just love the lyrics):
Last night I swallowed liquor and a lighter, and this morning I threw up fire
48. Behind closed doors your words ring hollow

I Feel the Earth Move: Earthquake! and the Disaster of Marjoe Gortner

First: Thanks to James for the link. He explains in today's Bleat a bit more about why he doesn't like Towering Inferno, but that's an issue I'll address later. Also, I have to revise my list of disaster movies - I am no longer going to include animal/insects run amok as being in the disaster genre. In fact, they will get their own series when I'm done with the disaster theme.

Today is Earthquake day, and Part II in the Disaster! series.

earthquake.jpgSo much makes sense about this movie when you read the IMDB listing. Director Mark Robson's previous credits include Valley of the Dolls and Peyton Place. It was written by - and I didn't know this until now - Mario Puzo of Godfather fame. All this perhaps explains the melodrama that threatens to turn this disaster flick into a soap opera with the shakes.

But - before the drama, before the disturbing sexual undertones, before the Evil Kneivel rip off scenes, we must address the issue of Sensurround.

Earthquake was intended from the start to be more than just another disaster story. It was supposed to be revolutionary, bringing interaction to movie theaters so viewers can do more than watch the movie - they could feel it. In a pre-cursor to the days of being rained upon with toast and water during midnight screenings of Rocky Horror, the Earthquake audience was originally supposed to have Styrofoam blocks bounced off their heads during key scenes. I kid you not. Other ideas:

  • Use live actors in full makeup running out from around the screen, emerging from the disaster
  • Show slides of earthquake destruction on the theatre walls during the big quake
  • Divert the projected image on screen to the ceiling and walls during the quake.

The only interactive idea that made it to the theaters was Sensurround.

According to Halliwell's Film Companion the process involved "the augmentation of violent action on screen by intense waves of high decibel sound, enough, in some documented cases, to crack ribs."

Basically, Sensurround was the equivalent (at the time) of turning Grand Funk Railroad's American Band up all the way, with the bass on high and the treble on low, until your mother started screaming from the living room that the couch was moving by itself.

Specifically developed by Universal Studios sound engineers W. O. Watson and Richard Stumpf for the theatrical release of "Earthquake," Sensurround essentially created subsonic, low-frequency vibrations between 5 and 40 cycles at sound pressures of 110-120 decibels, causing the audience to feel low vibrations during the main earthquake and dam collapse.

Exactly. There were two problems with this. One, the theater obviously had to be equipped with the right speaker system and accessories for the effects to work. Would the movie draw in enough of a crowd to make purchasing a Sensurround system worth it? Hey, it was the 70's. We were all about cheap and cheesy gimmicks. So most of the big theaters at the time bought into the fad and presented Earthquake in Sensurround.

In the days before multiplexes, the larger movie venues had two full sized theaters, side by side. At the time these theaters were playing Earthquake, with all of its shaking and rumbling, they were also showing Godfather II. Unfortunately, the Godfather II audience was treated to the shakes and rumbling of the Earthquake audience.

I know it was you Fredo
. Rumble. You broke my heart. RUMBLE. You broke my heart! Seats shake. Sodas tumble. Pacino emotes as the movie goers wonder what the hell is going on.

So Sensurround had its problems. But that didn't stop the fans from coming out in droves to see an otherwise unspectacular movie, nor did it stop them from using Sensurround again.

Now, if all this sounds exciting to you, let me assure you that you didn't miss much. I actually saw Earthquake in Sensurround and all it did was make me anxious. What if there is a real earthquake outside while this is going on in here? We'd never know. We'd think it was part of the movie and we'd just die right here in the theater with sticky floors and dirty seats and a mouthful of popcorn and we'd never, ever know that it was all real. My reminded me that we were in New York, where there really isn't an earthquake problem and then promptly told me to shut up and enjoy the movie.

Ah, the movie. Yes, there was a plot to go with the gimmick. It had all the markings of a disaster flick. Airport survivor George Kennedy. Skyjacked and Soylent Green hero Charlton Heston. A beautiful woman. The beautiful, yet cheated on wife. The kid in peril. The stalwart authority figure. Add to this standard list of characters a motorcyle daredevil, Victoria Prinicipal with a 'fro and Ava Gardner (born 1922) playing Lorne Greene's (born 1915) daughter.

There were so many subplots in this movie, you almost forgot that you were waiting for an earthquake to happen. Everything is shot in wide angle, so you feel like you're viewing the movie from a vast distance, which takes away any modicum of suspense the film should have. And when the quake finally made its appearance - an hour into the film, after the soap opera plot lines are established - it wasn't the Sensurround that got you shaking, but the laughter that ensued when the special effects were found to be not so special. There was once scene in particular where a man was standing in front of a crumbling office building and was hit in the head with a huge boulder. Which bounced right off of him. There were really bad attempts at blood and gore as well as misplaced cows. People were dying, choas was ensuing, fires were erupting and we, the audience, were giggling. Not a good sign.

Between all the death and destruction, you had some guy with a case of sever angst over his motorcyle jumping career, Victoria Princicpal being sexually assaulted by the creeptastic Marjoe Gortner, Heston having to choose between saving his lover or his wife, a cameo in which Walter Matthau is dressed like a pimp, and dialogue like Give me your panty hose, damnit!

gortner_pub_small.jpgLet's talk a bit more about Mr. Gortner. You see, I've had nightmares about him. Although Marjoe didn't have much of a career after Earthquake (he was in another favorite cheese film of mine, Food of the Gods), his role in this movie left an indelible impression on me. I think I could walk the halls of a thousand prisons and never come across anyone that more terrifying than Gortner. And it's not just the character he plays in Earthquake (who goes by the rather non-threatening name of Jody) that makes me squirm, it's him. No, I don't know anything about him. I don't know what he's like in real life. But the creepiness that exudes from that face transcends the silver screen. Yes, I'll always remember the terrifying moment in Earthquake when the little boy almost got electrocuted, and I'll never forget Heston's torn between two lovers moment, nor the upside down cows in the truck or the elevator scene where the dead man takes a breath or Richard Roundtree's lightning bolt jumpsuit or Victoria Principal's tight t-shirt. But it will always be Gortner's Jody that will define this movie for me. Perhaps he was a metaphor for the earthquake itself - a predator, a destroyer of lives. Yes, that's it! The movie was not as bad as you all think because it worked on so many different levels!

Ok, not really. This movie really is bad. It's a disaster movie in all ways. Yet, every time it's on tv (usually during some AMC disasterthon) I watch it from beginning to end. Oh, I have to avert my eyes when Gornter eats up the screen, lest I have a repeat of those nightmares in which Jody corners me in a grocery store and threatens me with a cucumber, but I still manage to get through all of it, flying chunks of Styrofoam concrete and all. And that, movie fans, is what makes a film rise one level above suck.

If you haven't seen Earthquake, rent it. Don't buy it. Unless, like me, you're a sucker for Richard Roundtree in a jumpsuit.

[all images from earthquakemovie.com]

February 03, 2005

creepy valentines

The one thing I do love about Valentine's Day is being able to post my favorite creepy valentines.

val31.gif

What do you suppose is going on here?

linkage [updated obsessively]

A few links I've been meaning to get to, which I don't want to get lost in my disaster movie blogging craze, which is bound to last another day or two before I realize no one is quite as interested in the topic as I am.

Mark Smith's wife is looking for a job in the Jersey area. Check out his blog to see her very impressive resume and qualifications. Maybe you know someone who knows someone?

Joel waxes poetic on winter.

Jim (the new father) remembers when Hetfield was cool.

My crush on Juliette Lewis just came to a screeching halt.

Agent Orange. The good kind.

Museum of Weird Books

InstaRage? I prefer to call it "being a big fucking dick." FREE AUSTIN!

And I think that concludes the cleaning out of my "link this" folder for today. We will now resume our disaster blogging.

Update: Dean Wormer is dead.

And one more thing (I think): I like what Tim had to say about Sullivan's retirement. I once went on hiatus for a little bit (turned out to be about two weeks) and had someone email and ask for a refund on the five dollars they put in my PayPal account several months earlier. And I felt guilty enough to honor their wishes. I don't think anyone is asking Sully for any of the $200,000 in donations he got back. Nor do I think he'd give up his "earned" vacation to refund any of that money, mine included. Just saying.

Update: Val had a medical mishap today and appears to be....pregnant?

Another:
ASV should will no longer be referred to as a blog. It's an OND. See comments here for details.

The Ultimate List of Disaster Movies

Which, of course, is of little interest to anyone but me. I started with the 70's, as that's when my interest in disaster films began. So you can help me fill in the 70's blanks and start piling on the 80's and forward.

Why? Because. I feel like it. Eventually I'll review all the movies I've seen, just for the hell of it. If anything, it will give me an excuse to watch all these films again.

I'll eventually put them into categories, like man made, natural and bees.

Do insect and animal gone wild movies count as disasters? I think the criteria here has to be that they threaten more than just one town. Still working on that, but for now I'll accept species-related disasters for the list. After all, worms coming out of your shower head would certainly be a disaster, no?

MovieYear
Airport1970
Poseidon Adventure1972
Earthquake1974
Towering Inferno1974
The Hindenburg1975
Airport '751975
The Savage Bees1976
Squirm1976
Food of the Gods1976
Empire of the Ants1977
Airport '771977
Rollercoaster1977
Swarm1978
China Syndrome1979
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure1978
Meteor1979
Airport '791979

Now, I've seen every single one of these movies. Let me tell you, Food of the Gods scared the bejeebus out of me. My mother took us to see that in the theater - I was 14 years old and told her I was way too cool (or something like that) to go see some ridiculous movie about giant chickens. But she dragged me with her anyhow and it was a long time before I could look at a chicken - even one dead, cut up and covered in seasoning - without shivering.

I do think I need your help here not just in compiling the list, but in defining just what makes a movie a disaster flick. No, not the Uwe Boll kind of disaster. The other one.

Update: Thanks to Jeff Goldstein for reminding me of Rollercoaster. Helen Hunt and Henry Fonda!

The Roof is on Fire: A Treatise on The Towering Inferno

Welcome, Bleat readers. When you're done with this post, you might enjoy today's installment in the disaster series, in which I take on Earthquake.

[Part I in a series on disaster movies]

Yesterday, James Lileks wrote something that struck a nerve. It was as if his hand reached all the way from Minnesota to New York and slapped me right where my film aesthetics lie.

And now back to the Towering Inferno, which just sucks.

My first reaction was childish. I stuck tongue out at The Bleat and said does not!

Maybe we just have to define our meaning of the word disaster. See, there's disaster as in so bad that anyone who worked on this movie should never be allowed to work in the film industry again (see Uwe Boll). And there's disaster, as in Death! Destruction! Former A-list actors emoting! Special effects gone wild! One cannot apply the word sucks to the latter.

I'll admit it. The Towering Inferno does, in a small way, fit both categories. The dialogue was cheesy. The special effects elicited laughter. And, thanks to my fireman father, I can recite from memory the litany of things they just got wrong in regards to fighting fires.

So what does Inferno have going for it, then? Simple. The 1970's were the heyday of the disaster genre and Inferno - even though it wasn't the first of its kind -paved the way for all other movies like it because of its critical success.

We had our first disaster in 1972, with the Poseiden Adventure. The success of that party cruise gone wrong movie spawned Inferno (also directed by Irwin Allen of Poseidon fame) and Earthquake in 1974, and Airport '75 in, yes, 1975 (the first Aiport movie came out in 1970, but that was so lame as to not count) as well as Swarm ('78) and Meteor ('79). Inferno, Earthquake and Poseiden formed the Earth, Water and Fire trifecta of 72/74 (Wind didn't make an appearance until the 90's with Twister, unless you count Wizard of Oz).

The Big Three of disaster flicks had similar threads running throug them: children in peril, clandestine love affairs and what would become the staple of all disaster movies - the greed/laziness/evilness of man. After all three of this movies, the viewer is left thinking, is nature our enemy or is progress our enemy? Or, are we our own worst enemy?

No, not really. I think I might be the only person who went off on a philosophical/sociological bent after watching these films. And I was only ten when Poseidon came out. Most people, after watching any of the films, were left thinking, holy shit, the cheese in that movie could feed an army of mice or, did you see when that boulder bounced off the actor's head?

This is why Inferno rules above all other disaster flicks. It's not just about the fire. tf2.jpgSure, there are people to rescue, flames to douse, love to be rekindled (no pun intended). But there's a message, too. A deep, resounding message that is made quite clear when Steve McQueen as Chief O'Halloran says:

Now, you know we don't have a sure way to fight a fire over the seventh floor, but you just keep building 'em higher and higher.

Damn you and your filthy progress!

Another choice quote from the Chief:

You know we got lucky tonight, body count's less then 200. Someday your gonna kill ten-thousand in one of these firetraps, and I'll keep eating smoke and carrying out bodies until someone asks us how to build them.

See? If you think this movie is just about burning people falling out of glass elevators and cheating husbands incinerating themselves so no one finds them dead in the arms of their lover, you're missing out on the meat and potatoes. It's the classic battle of man v. man, when one man is the good public servant and the other man is the evil, greedy bastard who just wants to make his money, damn humanity. But, of course, in the end the evil man either gets his comeuppance or he realizes the error of his ways and crawls on his hands and knees to Steve McQueen or Charlton Heston, begging to be shown how to make things right. So he doesn't go to hell, of course.

I'm not making my case, I know. Ok, you know why Towering Inferno doesn't suck?tf3.jpg What other movie can boast numerous deaths and Fred Astaire? Fred was nominated for an Oscar for this role! Earthquake may have Victoria Principal's boobs and Sensurround and Poseidon Adventure may have Shelly Winters's deathly water ballet, but Inferno has a Brady kid and O.J. Simpson.

tf4.jpgAnd really, it's riveting in the way few movies are, because it works on so many levels. You have the inter personal stories involving love, greed and corruption. You have impending doom, certain death and explosions. All this is combined with dialogue served with so much fromage, it's like the Atkins platter of movies.

James Duncan: Senator Parker is flying in from Washington tonight for the dedication ceremony. He's almost guaranteed to sign the Urban Renewal Contract. Do you know what that means? Skyscrapers like this all over the country. You design 'em and I'll build 'em.
Doug Roberts: Don't you think you're suffering from an edifice complex?

I rest my case. How can you not be a sucker for a line like that? Especially when it's spoken by Paul Newman.

A-list actors. Bad dialogue. Unbelievable script. You know, this is nothing different than George Lucas is doing these days, and people stand in line for months to see his movies. At least Inferno didn't pretend to be more important than it was.

If you have never seen this movie, I dare you to watch it and not be riveted. Look past the cliche script and you'll see great cinematography in action, a few good acting turns and a story line that makes the 2 ½ hour viewing time go by in a snap.

Don't listen to Lileks and other naysayers. Earthquakes, tornados and global warming be damned. Astaire, McQueen and Newman make Inferno the greatest disaster movie ever.

Here's your proof:

The Towering Inferno received Academy Awards nominations for Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Astaire), Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound, Editing, Song ("We May Never Love This Way Again"), and Score. It won three of the awards, for Cinematography, Editing and Song.

What other disaster movie can claim such pedigree?

Next up: My statement in support of Earthquake.

the diary, week three

Today marks three weeks since I quit smoking.

I've saved about $100.

I have been sleeping through the night without a single apnea episode.

But I will still tear you apart with my bare hands if you come near me while I'm in the midst of an intense craving.

I know those cravings will subside soon. I'm sure my family knows that as well and they're not plotting a coup or anything like that.

Anyhow, just wanted to thank you for all the encouragement and advice and let you know that I'm still a quitter.

February 02, 2005

Double Talk Duty

I'll be doing live Idol chatter, as always, over here.

I'll also be in the Command Post chat room to discuss the SotU address at 8:30.

And don't forget, the Colorado Danger Duo of Steve and Andy will be live drunk blogging Bush's speech.

Andy said he would kiss Steve for me. With tongue. On camera. So wait for it.

True Romance

While we're on a Valentine roll, let's have another quickie survey.

Favorite romantic movies:

True Romance
Empire Strikes Back
Shaun of the Dead
Sid and Nancy
Singles

Best romantic quotes:

If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn. People die. But real love lives forever.
--
Even if, you know, even if we never talk again after tonight, please know that I'm forever changed because of who you are and what you've meant to me, which - while I do appreciate it - I'd never need a painting of birds bought at a diner to remind me of.
--

The man I bought it from explained to me that, when a husband gives it to his wife, they become two halves of the same person. Nothing can separate them... not even death.

--
I love you.
I know.

--
I spy because I care!
Well I care, too!
Well why don't you say so?
I JUST DID!
ALL RIGHT!

--

I just happened to be nowhere near your neighborhood.

[only one of those quotes is from an above-listed movie]

Your turn...

Geez

You people are acting as if action figure blogging is something new.

It's not.

My Annual Valentine's Day Screed

By request. I think I wrote this first in 2002.

Not that you need a reminder, what with all the storefronts decorated with sickening pink and red hearts and little cherubs with pointy weapons, but V Day approaches. I hate this holiday. People who do not have significant others do not corner the market on hating Valentine's Day.

It comes down to this: the greeting card and chocolate and floral industries have gotten together and formed this great conspiracytmv.jpgcalled Valentine's Day. Sure, this day existed a long time ago, set aside to honor a saint. Not a day to buy your wife a black teddy and a garter belt. And certainly not a day to make people who are not in a relationship feel shitty about themselves. And most certainly not a day to make all the people who don't think of being romantic or spontaneous or thoughtful all year long think there is one specific day where they can do these things and then be off the hook for the rest of the year.

Valentine's Day is not a day of amnesty. It is not a day where a guy or girl can say "Well, I've been shitty to my partner all year long, but if I buy them a huge boquet of flowers on February 14th, I'm off the hook!" It doesn't work that way. Me, I'm lucky to have someone who is a romantic fool all year round. But it wasn't always that way. I was once married to a guy who thought that if he took out the garbage instead of making me do it, it was a romantic gesture. Valentine's Day would come around and I would get a box of chocolate ($3.99 at CVS) and it would have at least two pieces with the dreaded coconut, which means I got a cheap box of chocolate of which I could only really enjoy about 4 pieces.

Chocolate is not a good gift. Chocolate says "I would like you to gain a few pounds so then I can say to you in a week or so that you look like you could lose a few pounds." Flowers are not good. Flowers say "Here are some beautiful works of nature that will wilt or dry out and lose their beauty in a relatively short time. Like you. Which is when I will leave you for a younger woman." Sexy lingerie is not good, because that just says "I really hate the way you look naked. Do you think you could dress like a stripper when we have sex so I can pretend that you are Shana from The Raven's Nest?"

Valentine's Day is a crock of falsehoods. It does more harm than good. Have you ever been that kid in class who got three valentines while everyone else got 20? Have you ever sat home crying in your beer and eating a pint of chocoalte chip mint ice cream while burning pictures of your ex? Then you know. You know how Valentine's Day only causes pain. Even for the guys who have a girlfriend because they feel they can't live up to the expectations that the media has set for them as far as presents go. Diamonds are a man's best friend apparently, especially if he wants sex, some free time or the right to do anything you please any way you please because women are shallow like that.

For the girls who have a special someone, it sucks if they have been watching some woman-centered morning television show where some guy pops out of the audience in a tuxedo on Valentine's Day and gets down on his knee and begs his girlfriend, who is a grip or stagehand or something, to marry him. And then Katie Couric sends them on a trip around Manhattan in a horse drawn carraige and the snow falls gently on their heads as he puts a diamond ring on her finger and....well that's not reality for everyone, folks. So don't think it's yours. Valentine's Day only serves to get your hopes up and then have them crashed down on top of you by the end of the night when all you got was a kiss and an offer to let you watch while he plays Grand Theft Auto. Any other day of the year that would have been good enough for you.

I've digressed again. I'm just saying. To hell with Valentine's Day. No flowers, no candy, no crotchless panties. If you love someone, tell them. That's all. And really, that should be every day.

[image from my creepy valentine]

Kill Phil, Volume I - Groundhog Poetry time

That's groundhog talk. For those of you who out there who don't speak groundhog, here's a handy translator so you can say cute things to Phil or whatever the hell the groundhog is named in your area and have him actually understand you. For instance, if you want to say "That's not a shadow, that's my boot about to kick you upside the head. Is there a taxidermist in the house?" you would say this instead:

ghd12.jpgSqueak'hehaa ooat hehaa hehaa, squeak'hehaa sheeah ooat ehteht chirp ooat hehaa chirp chitter chitter. Urp....groundhog squeak urp ooat

Conversely, when Phil comes out of the ground and says:

Ehteht chirp sheeah. Chitter squeak chirp chitter ehteht urp ooat urp. Hehaa chitter, hehaa sheeah. Ooat ooat chitter urp. Chirp, chitter urp chitter sheeah, chitter urp, grunt! Ehteht sheeah grunt chitter?

The translator tells you that he's saying:

God damn it. Every freaking year you have to do this?What are all you people doing out here this early in the morning in the middle of freaking winter? Are you idiots? Hey, you with the camera - bite me. Take one more picture an I'll go all Sean Penn on you. Now move out the way, people. Punxsutawney Phil is feeling lucky today! Where my bitches at? Morons, your bus is leaving!

Anyhow. I've composed a haiku in tribute to Phil on his special day.

Look! It's Phil's shadow!
How will I ever warm up?
Mmmm....mmmm....groundhog stew!

Feel free. Haiku, limerick, poetry, whatever. We could come out with a whole line of "Kill Phil" greeting cards. Or just make fun of the people who stand outside at 5am in a wind chill of ten below to see some mangy woodland creature be an unwitting participant in an old wive's tale.

February 01, 2005

Songs of The Night - Hard/Soft II
anti love song version

Keeping with the theme here (and keeping with my Brand New obsession), one mosh worthy song and one tune of the kind you sing while drinking Jack straight up and smoking a cigarette in a dingy bar.

Sevendust - Bitch mp3

Brand New - Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis - mps
(words below)

Don't read too much into the anti love song theme today (as a few have already). I love my husband like a fat kid loves cake.

We'll do something with real love songs tomorrow. Tonight is for the hatas, not the playas.

Also, feel free to suggest other anti-love songs. I haven't compiled a non-Valentine Valentine's CD in two years.

"Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis"

With one or two I get used to the room
We go slow when we first make our moves
By five or six bring you out to the car
Number nine with my head on the bar

And it's sad, but true
Out of cash and I.O.U's

I've got desperate desires and unadmirable plans
My tongue will taste of gin and malicious intent
Bring you back to the bar
Get you out of the cold
A sober, straight face gets you out of your clothes
And they're scared that we know
All the crimes they'll commit
Who they'll kiss before they get home

I will lie awake
Lie for fun and fake the way I hold you
Let you fall for every empty word I say

Barely conscious in the door where you stand
Your eyes are fighting sleep while your mouth makes its demands
You laugh at every word trying hard to be cute
I almost feel sorry for what I'm going to do
And your hair smells of smoke
Who will cast the first stone?
You can sin or spend the night all alone

Brass buttons on your coat hold the cold
In the shape of a heart that they cut out of stone
You're using all your looks that you've thrown from the start
If you let me have my way I swear I'll tear you apart
Cause it's all you can be
You're a drunk and you're scared
It's ladies night, all the girls drink for free

I will lie awake
And lie for fun and fake the way I hold you
Let you fall for every empty word I say

I will lie awake
And lie for fun and fake the way I hold you
Let you fall for every empty word I say

I will lie awake
And lie for fun and fake the way I hold you
Let you fall for every empty word I say

You'll Find This On Snopes Eventually

Supposed hostage:

GI Joe Doll
bd0450.JPG

Coincidence? I think not.

[mystery solved on Fark]

You mean to tell me not one editor at any of the 2,000 or so AP sites this showed up on found that picture at all suspicious? I looked at it for two seconds and knew it was an action figure.

Hostage head
GI Joe Head

Farkers were the first people I saw figure this out (not that it was an action figure - because most of us realizes that way before the media did - but that it was specifically a GI Joe Doll, and which one). Credit goes to TFers Orange Milfaus and xmscratch.

We have captured Rainbow Brite, and we will hang her as an infidel at dawn!

not your mother's bible

Contemporary revisions of the bible. Not for the religious-offended.

Revelation, 20:5 - Tired old, ho-hum verse:

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

New, Contemporary, Revised Verse:
After a while I noticed people weren't staying dead. This was the original Evil Dead. I couldn't wait for the sequel.

Find your own revisions at the Bible Re-Write project.

This is not a love song - updated-

It's time to play Guess Song By Lyrics, Valentine style.

Well, no. Anyone can sing a love song. But it takes a special kind of someone to sing an anti-love song.

Give us your best lines from songs about love gone horribly wrong. Don't put the title - it's everyone else's job to guess the song.

I'll start you off with a couple.

I've added a few and crossed off those that were guessed correctly.

I don't care for any casanova thing
I could make you happy you know, if you weren't already
Wish I hadn't bought you dinner right before you dumped me on your front porch
em>Love was twisted and pointed at you
I’ll come to you like an affliction and I’ll leave you like an addiction

Grey would be the color if I had a heart.
You disturb my natural emotions, you make me feel like dirt
And the resentment rides high, but emotions won’t grow

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

The questions I asked of you last night were part of my reaction to this article in yesterday's National Review: Is the Y Chromosome for Yuks?

The piece was written by Warren Bell, " a 15-year veteran of the sitcom business." (his IMDB page)

Here's the premise in a nutshell:

Are women as innately funny as men?.... ...Okay, men are funnier. Way funnier. Not even close. Male writers, male actors, male stand-up comedians. All funnier.

My first reaction was to attack the article on its face. Men funnier than women by default? How dare you! However, I realized two things after reading the article again - first, that I do find men - in the arena of the entertainment industry - funnier than women and also that the chromosome premise isn't really what bothered me about the piece.

See, Bell starts off on a scientific bent, but then descends into something else entirely, mainly dividing men and women into what they perceive to be funny. Which is a lot different than being funny.

I asked the questions of my readers last night because I was speaking to a friend about this and he reminded me that I'm not your typical women, so for me to get flustered about lines like:

Okay, show of hands: How many girls memorized all the dialogue from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when they were 14? No one? Not a surprise

didn't mean that those words are an affront to all women. Yet, out of all the women who answered the questions and, knowing the comedic favorites of my female friends and family members, most of us can recite dialogue from the Holy Grail.

Bell then makes an argument against genetics and claims that men need to be funny. It's important to them. Why? For the attention, of course:

A good sense of humor is never going to compete with a 90-mph fastball in terms of babe appeal, but it's a better path to alpha-male status than, oh, say, learning to program a Radio Shack TRS-80 home computer.

Young women, on the other hand, have no need for the funny:

Young girls who want attention have other weapons — they can scream, they can cry, they can grow breasts. They can be heartbreakingly beautiful and call me a nerd for imitating the Coneheads all the time. Learning to be funny would seem, for girls, to be more of a last resort.

I have news for Warren. An ugly girl with breasts is, well, an ugly girl with breasts. And no D cup in the world is going to make a guy pay attention to a girl with a face that only her mother could love. But that's a whole other story, isn't it?

After a few paragraphs spent denigrating women, their sense of humor and their capability to be funny, he goes on to make the typical "but some of my best friends are funny women" comment, then slams the brakes on that (before he goes overboard and gets made fun of by his Boys Only Club, I guess) and turns the other way:

Also, a writer's room filled only with men can descend quickly into pagan rites, the days and nights wasted with Nerf dart gun wars, discussions and demonstrations of bodily functions, and endless mind-numbing recitations of entire scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And as lovely as that sounds to the 14-year-old still very much alive in me, I need to remember that the women in the audience will not be impressed.

You are wrong, Warren. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It seems to me that Mr. Bell has a rather archaic view of women, in that he sees us as prim, proper, easily offended. We giggle politely at jokes about periods and ex-boyfriends (but not too hard, guffawing isn't lady like) and those funny birthing baby stories, but we avert our eyes and cover our ears when someone makes a fart joke and stifle a yawn at Monty Python humor.

Are men funnier? Perhaps. But just because the male of the species can tell the joke better, doesn't mean that women won't get or laugh at those jokes. I think it's a matter of upbringing, not genetics, that make us laugh at the things we do. Nurture, not nature, so to speak.

I was brought up in a family where humor played a big role. I think I told my first fart joke at age two. I could dish out the worst of the worst puns by four. By the time I finished grade school, my sense of dark, black humor had been honed to a fine point. The movies we watched, the jokes my father told, the things my parents laughed at - they all had a role in defining what I laugh at today. I like my humor dark, sarcastic, caustic. I also like it subtle and dry, depending on the situation.

So, sense of humor: nature or nurture? Am I this way despite being a girl, or in spite of being a girl?

As for Mr. Bell, I fart in his general direction.

meanwhile

That post I talked about last night will be ready soon. I just thought I'd share this in the meantime.

My husband has a tendency to talk in his sleep. This morning, he was singing - while dead asleep - what appeared to be a jingle:

It's so easy to get inside my pants. Come on! Give it a test ride!