Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Fog

The official start of the holiday season has always seemed a bit surreal to me. All those bright lights and obnoxious window displays, compelling you into a festive spirit. Giant inflatable snow-globes perched in front lawns, and small molded plastic santa sleighs (complete with the Rudolph leading the way) on rooftops while outside the sky is blue and the temperature hovers in the low 60's. Fake frost is sprayed on windows in an attempt to make LA seem more traditionally christmasy, even though the first xmas (if one is to believe the Bible) took place in a small, desert village near the sea. Seems if accuracy is important, the folks back east and up north would spray fake sand on their windows, and have giant, inflatable palm trees stuck on their lawns.

The leftover thanksgiving turkey is about finished (and what is left will probably go to the dogs tonight), and the malaise of a 4-day weekend again returns to the mundanity of a 5-day work week. Shopping for xmas gifts now looms as a threat about to be made carried out, and I still have to conjure up and create our xmas cards.

It’s finally time to wear a long-sleeve shirt, and my friends are talking about college football bowl match-ups.

This time of year has always made me a bit unsteady, as if some odd, omnipotent prankster was fucking with me just to see how I’d react to a lateral shift in normality. That feeling is tweaked even more this year, as an “uncle” of mine passed away last week. I use scare quotes because although he was not directly related to me (he was my mom’s sister’s husband’s sister’s husband), he was a fixture in my youth, and in the old country even indirect relationships are considered family.

The news wasn’t totally unexpected, as he was getting along in years, and was recently suffering from declining health. However, even if he were on total life support for a month, his passing would still have packed a pretty good wallop. I mean, no matter how prepared you think you are, a hard punch to the breadbasket is still pretty intense.

This is that odd limbo: the time between the death and the funeral, which adds even more surreality to an already disconcertingly unbalanced season. The funeral is when people get to say their final goodbyes and get closure. It makes the death both real and final. The priest mumbles, the family weeps, the coffin is lowered, and the ceremony is complete. This time, between the two events, is like an emotional version of Schroedinger’s box.

In the mean time, I keep going as always. I get frustrated at the traffic. I play with my dogs. I dread the thought of buying gifts. I try hard not to over-spice the marinara sauce. I silently mock the ignorance and arrogance of the geeks in the marketing department. But it’s all done in a bit more of a fog than is usual.

No wonder I like the summer more.

Ook ook

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Disagreement (50)

“I want to hear it.”

The cold muzzle pressing against his head underscored the threat in the words. “Fuck your mother,” he replied.

“Say it.” The naked, flinty click of the hammer cracked the air. This was serious. Finally he relented.

“Okay,” he admitted, “Kirk would kick Picard’s ass.”

Friday, September 29, 2006

One more 50

“Jeez, look at that guy!”
“Yeah, he is one really angry son-of-a-bitch.”
“It looks like he’s about to explode.”
“Wow, that guy is really in a rage.”
“His face is purple, his eyes are filled with hate, and he keeps pacing.”
“Hmmm.
Maybe I shouldn’t have shot his dog.”

A couple of 50's

Evidently the new rage is in trying to write little stories in 50 words or so. I'm game. Here are a couple of tries.


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
One of my best friend’s daughters
got married recently at sunset on the beach of Coronado Island.

There I was: an old, ugly guy in the middle of this crowd of fresh-faced, attractive, young people, on this beautiful beach.

I now feel a bit guilty for ruining their view.


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

To the guy with the manicured hair, the designer sunglasses, and the expensive tie in the big, and black, and shiny, and new BMW, that almost hit me as I was crossing the street.

I’m sorry I interrupted your phone call.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A sort of lottery

The trim blonde
in the short, blue skirt
stepped out of her black VW Jetta
in the Ralph’s parking lot.

She dropped her keys
as she shut her door,
so
she bent over
to pick them up.

As she did,
her skirt
rose high over her hips.

She wasn’t wearing any underwear,
so
I got to look at the face
of God.

Sometimes you get lucky.

Ook ook

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Monkey-wrenching

I answered the call during my drive home from work. It was the MonkeyWife, and I could tell it was trouble because she was speaking in one-word sentences.

Fez Monkey: Hey, MonkeyWife … what’s up?
MonkeyWife: Trouble
FM: Oh? What sort of trouble? Trouble: the house burned down; trouble: we have no beer; trouble: little Timmy O’Toole is stuck down a well?
MW: Sink
FM: Uh oh ... which one?
MW: Bathroom
FM: Is the faucet dripping again? I just changed the entire valve last month.
MW: Clog
FM: Okay, no problem ... I'll get to it after dinner. What is for dinner tonight, by the way?
MW: Food

I was putting a brave front during out talk, but this was going to be worse than I thought. I would be cast in the role of a man, which isn't something I am always good at playing. I'm much better suited for the role of pre-adolescent.

Anyway, when I got home the MonkeyWife was waiting with our snake in her hand. She handed it to me, pointed into the bathroom, and walked away.

The sink was clogged alright, and it smelled. Worse than me, which is saying something (another sad trait of Italians). So, after changing into a tee shirt and some torn shorts, I got to working. Now, running a snake down a drain isn't a big problem. Unless, of course, the drain has a rod running along the diameter. Snakes tend to have a flared head, in order to help grab and shred whatever clog of goo it touches. The flare of the snake was too big to get past this rod. All of this added up to the ugly truth that I would have to go beneath the sink, remove the trap, and run the snake from the slip-point coupling to reach the clog. (Don't be impressed ... I learned these terms online. I call them the curvy pipe and the long straight one).

So, I get our big-ass plumber's wrench - which to this point I have never used other than to wield as a threat against Eggs when his philosophical nonsense becomes too much to take. After much grunting and cursing, I managed to position myself beneath the sink. More grunting and more cursing loosened the top connection of the curvy pipe. How do I know I had loosened it? The flow of icky, smelly water now splattering my hands and hitting the bathroom floor.

Needless to say I didn't anticipate the fact that the water in the sink would have to go somewhere, and so had no bucket or anything to catch the water. Fortunately, MonkeyWife has seen me try and be a man before, and she had one ready. "You might need this," she mentioned once the water began to leak. Yeah, I might at that.

At this point I had a flash of inspiration. There would be no need for me to totally remove the curvy pipe. Since it was below the stopper bar, I could run the snake through it! I felt smarter than Einstein. I bet he never unclogged any sinks. So, in went the snake.

Now, running a snake is a process of starts and stops. You start by feeding the auger line a few inches until you feel resistance, followed by a few shots with the drill (which you connect to the snake to make it do that roto-rooter thing) to rotate it and move it forward, followed by more feeds of the auger line. The thing was, I could only get the snake in about three inches (of course, for some people, three inches is all they can manage, but I digress). Something was wrong, and oddly enough, the damn snake was now stuck. As it turned out, the curvy pipe had rusted through at the bend, and my snake was now poking through it. Yeah, I needed to get a new curvy pipe.

But first thing first. I needed to get at the clog. So, removing the curvy pipe completely, I started the frustrating start-and-stop feeding of the snake, eventually hitting a point where there was some severe resistance, and the drill was laboring to rooter. After a few moments of drilling and back-and-forth snake maeuvering, things finally broke free, and I was doused with a backflush of a considerable amount of icky, smelly water - with chunks of icky, smelly, black goo in in.

I was definitely earning my man-status now.

While I was engaged in this, the MonkeyWife had taken the curvy pipe with her to a local hardware store and bought a replacement. She arrived just in time to hand it to me, as I was using a smelly old dog rag to clean some of the thicker and stickier chunks of icky, smelly black goo from myself.

More grunting and cursing as I installed the new curvy pipe.

Finally, I stood up, my work finished, and turned on the faucet with triumphal theatrics. Water rushed into the sink, there was a small amount of gurgling, followed by the sink rapidly filling with water. The clog was still there.

Whatdidn't make sense was, if the clog was so far along the line (I fed close to 20 feet of snake before I hit paydirt), how could the sink become filled so quickly?

Back under I went, complete with grunts and curses, to once again remove the curvy pipe, only to again be soaked by sink water (at least this time it wasn’t icky and smelly). Yeah, I forgot to put the bucket down.

I removed the cuvy pipe and started to re-snake the line when the MonkeyWife called to me.

MW: Monkey …
FM: (grunting) Yah?
MW: Why are you doing that?
FM: You saw the sink . It’s still clogged.
(cussing)
MW: Monkey …
FM: What!!

At this point she tapped me to get my attention. I turned and she showed me the curvy pipe. There was a plastic bag containing instructions and extra connectors shoved inside it.

Hey, I said I wasn’t good at playing the man.

Ook ook

Just an observation ...

I was taking a little walk today
and I saw a squirrel lying dead
in the gutter.

It looked like it was taking a quick nap
but its pelvis and hind legs had been crushed
by the wheels of a car.

In a tree nearby,
a live squirrel was chattering away
energetically.

And it seemed to be saying:
"Better you than me,
Fucker."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Truth In Advertising

So there I was, watching TV (don’t ask the show … I was in a serious bout of vegetating), when a seemingly innocuous commercial ran by grabbing my attention as it did. I know, you are about to ask, “Monkey, if you can’t remember the TV show on account of your vegetating, how can you recall the commercial? You must be a filthy liar!”

Ease back, Poncho, let me finish.

At first the commercial didn’t register, as it was just another blur in an already blurry background. But, a few moments after it passed, some odd subliminal ohrworm awoke, snapping me back into this reality, and causing me to sit up.

The commercial was for Hamburger Helper, and after seeing it for a second time, I know why it caused me to snap into consciousness. It was more chilling than anything I’ve seen on TV in a long while.

No, I don’t mean that the concept of HH is chilling (well, it is, but for different sulfite, sodium, and preservative filled reasons), but the semiotics of the commercial itself caused me to genuflect for protection.

It featured a typical working-class, god-fearing, salt-of-the-earth, patriotic American family. You knew this for several reasons:

  • They spoke with a slight, undefined but noticeable accent that can only be described as a vague amalgam of Appalacian, Southern, and Midwest
  • They wore the sort of “regular” clothes one stereotypically associates with Red States (think ill-fitting off-brand jeans, frumpy blouse, generic plaid work shirt, and other things you would typically find at a Wal*Mart)
  • They were all a few steps past portly, as we all expect Red State Americans to be
  • The kids had fucked-up haircuts that can only be described as unprofessional, likely given by mom or some other close relative
  • They were white

Anyway, the script for the commercial went on about how great HH is, and mentioned that since both mom and dad work (mom on day shift and dad on night shift), and with a passel of hungry boys, dinner was the only time the entire family could spend together. Luckily, HH not only was something they all loved to eat (yum yum, gimme some!), but it was easy as hell to prepare, was ready lickety-split, filled all of their already distended stomachs with a sickly paste of carbohydrates and gristle, and helped stretch their dollar!

Okay, nothing bad there, right? Gross, maybe, but certainly not frightening.

The images for the commercial were the typical montage of a happy family working, playing, and loving really hard. There were shots of mom fiddling around in her tiny kitchen, of dad and junior playing basketball, of dad hard at work in a fiercely industrial setting, and of the entire family smiling the saccharine smiles of ignorant contentment in the belief that they sleep under a blanket of freedom provided by George W Bush, the General Mills corporation, and God (in that order, by the way).

“So,” you ask, “what is so chilling about that?”

Here it comes.

Since it's inception in 1970, HH has remained a viable option as a bargain food-like product for those on the lower rungs of society's ladder. Now in the past they at least tried to put a happy face on the dismal circumstances preciptating the need for HH by featuring otherwise upscale families (the commercials featured large homes, a stay at home mom, a dad who took a briefcase to work, and attractive children wearing nice clothing) in their commercials, who chose HH for reasons beyond it's low-cost. You know, making the poor folk feel better about buying HH since rich folk were too. But the words and pictures of their latest ad paint a picture of contemporary America in which the norm is to have both parents needing to work at dismal jobs, one on the night-shift, and having to eat HH in order to be able to maintain a standard of living consisting of a small home, cheap clothing, obesity, and haircuts that look as if Floyd the Barber used a butter knife after a very long night of binging on moonshine. This was the new, realistic American dream, and these people, with their contented smiles, were happy with their fate. Evidently, nowadays, there doesn’t seem to be a need for even a fa├žade of hope in commercials, as apparently the American public are so beaten down by constantly diminishing expectations and rewards, that they can show a family of semi-literate rednecks living one paycheck away from a double-wide, and portray it as some sort of idealized version of American nirvana.

And that is what is chilling. That this is the face of contemporary American society. Be happy you're working, Cletus ... the alternative is worse. And don't bother to strive for more, because you sure as hell won't ever reach it. Now shut up, eat your HH, and just count the days til your inevitable heart-attack sends you to the local Free Clinic for some aspirin and a pamphlet on planning a bargain funeral.

At this rate, you have to wonder what is next? A retro-commercial showing scenes lifted from Birth of a Nation meant to placate the nation regarding the plight of black people? Or, possibly (in the not too distant future), a new version of this pseudo-food called Soylent Helper. After all, if American corporations aren’t seeing windfall profits from all that oil, maybe they can squeeze a few pennies out of all them dead Iraqis.

Ook ook

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Big Mouth, small mind

So, three's this guy who just finished reading a book by the Scottish author Irvine Welsh that he enjoyed very much, and he happens to mention it to me and a casual acquaintance, whose ancestry is Scottish (though he, himself, was born here). The acquaintence proclaims that he thought the book was droll, and that the author was a hack. Fair enough, I think, but offer my feeling that the story was quite engaging, and that I found the author’s previous work to also be worthwhile.

The acquaintance then looks at me, and loudly proclaims that I am wrong, that I was a jackass for expressing an opinion contrary to his, and that I simply was incapable of understanding why since I was not Scottish, and that Welsh is considered to be a traitor to real Scots everywhere anyway.

Now, normally I would simply ignore this sort of nonsense, and give the acquaintance the benefit of the doubt, letting him babble his ignorance until he gets tired, except he has done this before … many times, to many people … and I am just tired of his hollow belligerence. So, I mention this to him, pointing out that his accusations of intolerance and name calling are hypocritical, after which he begins to froth-at-the-mouth about how I could dare react that way. His expletive filled rant continues and grows, focusing on how if I can’t take the criticism I should never have dared to express my opinion, and how I should just grow up and be a man.

Which makes me chuckle because once again the acquaintance has not only entirely missed the point, but is developing a rage embolism over a straw-man issue in order to pound his chest and make himself feel somehow superior. He uses the same insipid insults about pride and guts that boys have been throwing around since 2nd grade (“You won’t eat that bug cause you are a chicken!”), and basically proclaims himself not only the supreme victor, but also the arbiter of taste because he shouted the loudest, all the while questioning both my heritage and sexuality.

Now, I could have opted to continue to squabble with the acquaintance, I suppose. I mean, I don’t mind a good old fashioned row now and again, but there really would be little point, since the acquaintance is too shit-all stupid to understand the nature of the argument. Somehow it has morphed from his saying I can’t comprehend Welsh because of my lack of Scottishness to my fear of engaging in a shouting match. So, while I would point out that his claim that since my Grandpa didn’t wear a kilt I couldn’t understand Scot literature was one of the most ludicrous and condescending things I’ve heard, he would only hear the blood pounding in his ears, and do something childish and ridiculous … like pose holding a gun (to show his potency or incredible macho-ness -- I really haven't figured that silly thing out). His ability to understand the point has been totally obscured by a rapidly encroaching peripheral blindness caused by an internal eruption of hysteria and anger.

What the acquaintance will never understand is that getting into shouting matches with people just for the sake of shouting is just dumb, and my lack of desire to continue in his infantile name-calling and finger pointing isn’t because I am afraid of him at all, but simply it is not worth my time. I mean, why bother arguing with an idiot? In the end you’ll just be out of breath and the idiot will still be an idiot.

So, in the end, the acquaintance walks off happily, patting himself on the back for teaching me a thing or two about being macho and for having the last word in the matter … even though he has no understanding at all of the nature of the initial dust-up, and he has been in a tirade over yet another of his many straw men. Still, if it makes him happy, I suppose it’s fine. I mean, the acquaintance isn’t the only one to use a barrage of volume and insults to compensate for lack of understanding.

Yes, I know ... this post was very subtle.

Ook ook

Monday, August 14, 2006

Funny Is As Funny Does

The sense of humor is arguably (perhaps right next to the sense of beauty), the most subjective of opinion. I mean, getting a consensus on anything is difficult, from whether modern art is actually art, to how raw a steak should be to qualify as rare. But for some reason, humor is one of those things that has so many subtleties and nuances, that often times even two people who are laughing at the same joke are laughing for different reasons. And there are others who either stand there not understanding the humor, or who just don’t appreciate it.

Fair enough. Just because you laugh at something I don’t and visa versa doesn’t make either of us right. It means we just see things differently.

So, what do you do when some guy goes around insisting that something isn’t funny, and that anyone who disagrees with him is either some sort of dancing fool for the enemy, an idiot, or unable to see with the level of clarity needed because of a different cultural/religious background?

What indeed?

Yeah, this is a not-very-thinly veiled reference to a recent dust-up over at O’Tim’s blog, regarding a post he had on a small article written by Joel Stein. No need to go into the article in depth here, but the long and the short of it is I found Stein’s dry, straight-faced sarcasm to be entertaining, while another guy didn’t. And, for my opinion, it was explained that since I wasn’t jewish I was therefore genetically unable to ever grasp the nuances of what constituted funny from bullshit, and that Stein was a race-traitor anyway.

But what struck me was the supreme arrogance of this opinion. There was not a shred of consideration that humor is subjective. The conclusions were definite and clear:

  1. Not only was that essay not funny, but Joel Stein is the equivalent of a Semitic Uncle Tom (would that then be an Uncle Shlomo??)
  2. Anyone who found either that essay or Stein funny is dead wrong because either they are also Uncle Shlomos, or not being Jewish, they are simply incapable of understanding

Of course, this whole degradation into the belief that only True and Decent Jews (i.e. those that are not schande far di goyim) can judge the humor of Stein's work is so incredibly asinine and insulting as to fly in the face of reason. Does that also mean that only the Japanese can tell if the sushi tastes good? What about someone who converts to Judaism? Does the ceremony also confer this ethereal ability to judge the true essence and nature or humor? If a jew decides to leave the fold, do they also forfeit this gift?

I know, the whole thing is compltely ludicrous to the point of being laughable in itself. But then again, I would think that, since not being jewish I obviously don't have the DNA to know from the funny.

Ook ook.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Mel's Culpa

Okay, I know, posting about Mel Gibson's getting all shitfaced and then exploding in a venomous anti-Semitic rant it hardly a unique thing to do.

In fact, I bet thousands of these (blog opinions) have popped up on the net since old Mel got busted for drunk driving and showed his true sense of privilege and entitlement - you know, boasting how he owned Malibu and how he was going to make sure he "fucked" the cop who nailed him.

What a great guy! And certainly proof that conservative, Bush-loving, war-supporting Hollywood types can be as annoying, petulant, and immature as those on the left.

But there is more to Mel's meltdown than just that nugget. There was that little matter of a really disgusting barrage of old fashioned Jew-hating. Aside from the repugnant nature of his remarks and the sort of mindset and value system that would allow someone to say those things, Mel's assault on Jews is a great way to throw real anti-Semitism into sharp relief against those who are called anti-Semites by hard-core Israel-supporters simply because they don't follow lock-step behind every single action the Israeli government takes.

Unfortunately, nowadays anyone daring to raise the idea that perhaps (just perhaps) the fact that Israel's bombing the hell out of south Lebanon
in response to the kidnapping of two soldiers, killing (up to now) hundreds of innocent women and children in the process might just perhaps be a bit disporportionate is immediately branded by the Israel pimps as being anti-Semitic Nazis who threaten castration, coddle terrorists and ought, therefore, to be shunned, insulted, ignored, and ridiculed (at the very least). And that's on a good day.

The logic seems to follow the pattern that questioning Israel is de facto proof of hatred of Isreal, and thus, Jews as a whole. Israel-supporters will give you the argument that Israel is being proactive agasint the terrorist organization Hezbollah - and on the whole that position is a legitimate one. But, it begs the counter argument of whether those actions are reasonable. This is not a question of whether Israel has the right to defend itself (it does); whether it has the right to exist (it does); or whether its own civilian population has been victimized by horrifying terrorist attacks in the past (it has). However, it is a question of whether the current action is reasonable, viable, and responsible. An opinion saying "Israel has every right to be as brutal in response to the kidnapping because anything less would invite more assaults by the terrorists" is as valid as the counter-opinion that says "Israel's invading Lebanon and escalating the attacks to the point of open warfare just because two soldiers were kidnapped is overkill and will only lead to a much greater and more destructive confilct."

Note, the latter opinion does not (as Mel did) imply Jews are evil, Israel should be eradicated, or anything of that sort. What it does imply is the government of Israel is at fault for conducting an action that is inappropriate, counter-productive, and short sighted. Another way of saying it is by using a machine gun to kill a snake, Israel is screwing the pooch in a big way, and that they should be called out for it.

However, inevitably, those who support Israel, either blindly or not, will point out historical facts ("well, in 1978 ..."), or other so-called relevant points to try and prove that the anti-Israel action opinion is based on incomplete or improper assumptions, and is thus flat out wrong. If the offending opinion is not recanted and changed to whole-heartedly support the current Israeli action, it will quickly degenerate into name calling (usually along the lines of idiot, fucktard, or dumbass), and eventually charges of anti-Semitism.

Which is where Mel comes in. Here is a true anti-Semite. From his thinly veiled (well, not too thinly veiled) swipes at Hebrews in Passion to his re-connection to a sect of Catholicism that makes the Vatican look like the voice of tolerance, Mel has obviously got issues with those that follow the Torah. And when he launched into a slurred, vodka soaked tirade about how "Jews are responsible for every war in the world" and the like, well ... we get a good look at an old fashioned jew hater. The kind who really does believe the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was non-fiction. The sort of guy who should put those of us who do sometimes wonder at the nature of Israel's actions into the proper perspective, and make a distinction between anti-Israel (on certain topics) and anti-Semitic.

However, he won't. Pimps for Israel, like any other idealogue are basically by definition unable to see or acknowledge that distinction. The funny thing is how the most ardent and blind supporters will whip out some trivial incident in which they disagreed with the Israeli government as proof that they are not idealogues. Much like the most die-hard Bushwipes claiming disagreement with dubyas immigration plan is proof that they aren't sycophantic toadies. But all that does is prove how blindly they actually do follow. And, as anyone knows, you can't voice a contrary opinion to someone like that. Not unless what you want is name-calling, disrespect, and shouting.

Me, I just want a cool beer on a hot afternoon.

This is my opinion. Now call me names.

Ook ook

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Middle East Discussion

"Blah blah blah Israel is the bad guy blah blah. "
"Blah blah blah the Arabs are the bad guys blah blah."
"Yadda yadda yadda Israel kills children yadda."
"Yadda yadda yadda Muslim terrorists kill innocent civilians yadda."
"Gibber gibber gibber Israelis think Arabs are subhuman gibber."
"Gibber gibber gibber Arabs want to exterminate Jewish infidels gibber."
"Argue argue argue Jewsish aggression leaves the Palestinians no option argue."
"Argue argue argue Arab hatred doesn't leave Isreal any choice argue."
"Insult insult insult Zionist pig insult."
"Insult insult inuslt anti-Semitic bastard insult."

Sigh.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tetra

Happy Happy -Joy Joy

Anti-climactic seems to be a pretty good (if not somewhat sanitary) word to describe the end of this cup. Or, as I mumbled to my buddies Duende, Eggs, and Oso, it's more like having the most incredible sex with the most beautiful woman for hours, engaging in every act imaginable, and she just knows exactly how to touch, moan, caress, sigh, lick, and nibble you to set each of your pleasure senses burning, then, just a few moments before the most powerful and physically & emotionally satisfying orgasm anyone has ever had, she stops, get's up, and has to answer the phone, leaving you there with your raging chubb and a hand.

Buzzkill. I mean, in the end, you still shoot your goo, but it really just isn't the same.

Yeah. That whole sex thing is a much better description of this final. A world cup final should never be decided by penalty kicks. Ever. Never. When it happened for the first time in 1994, it was a huge letdown. It doesn't feel any different now even though the Azzurri finally managed to come out on top. There is something just fundamentally wrong with this ending. Just like having to manually bring yourself off after being immersed in your dream lover for hours.

At least the good guys won.


Shame on you, Frenchie!

The most bittersweet moment was also the strangest one I've ever seen in any world cup match since the opening kickoff of Spain '82: French icon Zizou turning around, gaining a full head of steam, lowering his melon, and barreling full-bore into the chest of Italian defender Marco Materazzi. It was surreal, and overshadowed a match that, frankly, really needed some sort of spark. Certainly in the afterglow of the game, that was the topic that controlled discussion. As in, "What the fuck happened to cause Zidane to snap?" Duende, who is no fan of the French, simply said, "Good" but now, a day later, it strikes me as just another piece to the whole incredible sex with no happy ending metaphor. Watching one of the best footballers of a generation leave the pitch in disgrace after something as incongruous as that just adds to the entire sense of confusion and hallucination.


El Sexo antes del futbol!

As it is, I've been questioning a lot of yesterday as I sip my morning coffee. Was that really Shakira shaking her perfect ass before the match? Don't get me wrong, if there was ever a woman I would cast in the role for the succubus of my opening paragraph, it would be her, but what the hell was she doing gyrating and grinding before a world cup final?

Still and all, the day ended in an appropriate, if not in a not-fully-satisfying manner. The
Azzurri earned the tetra, avenging not only the ghost of the Euro 2000 final (fitting that Trezeguet was the Frenchie that popped the crossbar), but also the 94 cup final.

We're all getting laid by Shakira!

Now I have to settle in to a long, four-year hibernation until South Africa 2010. It sure seems a long time away.

Ook ook

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Come On Baby, Light My Fire

You know that gag people try and pull when they are caught in a lie/unexpected/or otherwise unprepared, and they suddenly feel the need to escape, so they point behind you and, with as much surprise, shock, and fear as they can muster say, “Oh my god! Look at that!” You’re then supposed to turn around to look, distracted by their fear and warning, only to see nothing, and when you turn back, the person is gone.

You know the gag I’m talking about, right?

Sure you do. It never works. I mean, maybe on a five year old kid for the first time, but otherwise, never. Nobody is stupid enough to fall for it.

Or so you’d think.

See, the Republicans have been doing just that to us since the 2nd tower was reduced to dust, rubble, and bits of FDNY guys. At every possible turn, when anyone dared ask, “Hey, what’s going on?” the Republicans, led by their mighty leader, Prince George, would point behind us and with fake fear exclaim, “Oh my god! Look! A wilde-eyed Islamic boogeyman come to kill us!” And we fell for it every time. In fact, some morons have not yet bothered to turn around, and are still looking for the boogeyman. Hence the unnecessary and unjustified mess in Iraq (but that’s another topic).

The thing is, it isn’t just phantom wilde-eyed Islamic boogeymen that Republicans use to try and distract us (although those “terror alert” warnings every week during the 2004 campaign did make it seem so). They’ve been equally effective at using some non-existent moral high ground (“Oh my god! Look, they’re killing Teri Schiavo even though via videotape we can see she is completely lucid despite the diagnosis of doctors who have seen her in real life!”), or protecting us from the savages of eroding social convention (“Oh my god! Look, two people of the same sex want to proclaim their partnership in a marriage which will somehow mean that not only will bestiality become public school curriculum but that heterosexuals who are married will suddenly all turn into rabid immoral beasts bringing down the destruction of our nation so the wild-eyed Islamic boogeymen can kill us!”).

It’s sad, really. Even sadder that it continues to work. There are others too, most recently the “Oh my god! Look, there are millions of illegal immigrants storming over the border stealing our jobs and sucking the treasury dry even though they help construct our roads/homes/buildings and put the food on our tables, and pay taxes that helps offset the cost of our unjustified and unnecessary war in Iraq to prevent the phantom wild-eyed Islamic boogeymen from killing us!”

Well, they didn’t stop there. You wouldn’t expect them too, would you? Nope. Their last bit was the “Oh my god! Look, those wild leftyloons are lining up to burn the flag which will somehow through a series of Rube Goldberg-esque steps mean the utter destruction of our ability to remain free thus leaving us helpless against the hoards of illegal immigrants who want nothing more than to kill innocent brain-dead women who really are lucid anyway so homosexuals can get married and force our children to have sex with animals which will only result in wild-eyed Islamic boogeymen killing us!”

Thankfully, that last one proved too hard for the Senate to believe … but just by one vote. The oft-attempted amendment to the constitution that would outlaw burning the American flag failed. Again. By the slimmest margin.

The flag is not some sacred symbol, despite what those who wrap themselves tightest with it might want you to believe. In fact, in a truly free society, there can be no sacred symbols. The freedom to desecrate, through word or action, a belief or symbol, no matter how strongly held, must be un-questioned. It’s very easy to be for speech when it’s something with which you agree, but unless this freedom provides complete protection for the other side, it means nothing. And before you start chiming in with the famous exception to the first amendment about not being allowed to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater, it doesn’t apply. That exception singled out speech which would incite to violence or injury. Burning a flag only injures the pieces of cloth which were stitched together in Taiwan (and, maybe the idiot holding it or lighting it). It’s not the same. It is a symbolic act … like a bunch of morons protesting outside the funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq holding signs saying “Burn in Hell” and “God Hates Fags” because of some incomprehensibly perverse philosophy. As ugly, upsetting, tasteless, and offensive as they may be, they are protected, and we have to accept it as payment for our freedom.

Besides, as Sen. Kerry pretty concisely summed it up this way (and I am paraphrasing): “Burning the flag is an act of stupidity, but in this country you have the right to be stupid.” This is most evidently the case, otherwise we wouldn’t keep falling for the Republican tricks of pointing behind us with the intent of distraction.

Ook ook

Who's Surrendering Now?

I am still digesting the savory meal that was France v Spain in yesterday's WC06 match.

While watching it (thanks to the benevolence of ESPN360, which made its streaming video service available to all), I couldn't help but smile at the play. Jogo bonito may officially refer to Brazilian football (or, futebol), but in this instance, it transcended a team, and applied to the game itself.

It seems that every tournament produces one signature game ... a match for the ages that continues to inspire conversations and exclamations of amazement years after the final whistle ended play. Nobody who saw Italy v Brazil and France v West Germany in Spain '82; France v Brazil and Argentina v England in Mexico '86; or Argentina v Romania in USA '94 will forget the elegance, thrill, determination, and pure joy of those games. Not coincidentally, the names featured in them are also legendary: Zico, Socrates, Rossi, Platini, Rumenigge, Maradonna, Batistuta, and Hagi.

As I was watching France v Spain unfold, I couldn't help but be reminded of these classic matches. Both Spain and France played with abandon, forcing the pace and working for the win. France seemed to have the better of it, but for the fact that Henry continually found himself offside, killing drive after drive. And though Spain struck first on a PK, it was clear that the chances and creativity were being generated by France. Finally, some nice touches through midfield on a French build got the ball to Viera. Henry was alone to the right, but (as usual) in an offside position. Viera deftly changed field and left a nifty service to Ribery, streaking along the left. The ball was perfectly placed to match Ribery's pace, and he carried it through the area, geeking the Spanish goaltender and placing it just past the outstretched legs of Spanish defenders into the net for the equalizer.

The second half was more of the same. Both sides played the entire field, in a wide open display of true jogo bonito, but France continued to dominate the chances and dictate play, despite a consistently offside Henry. All it took was one free kick with Zizou putting the ball at the far post where Viera could tap it in to give France the lead, which was sealed when the old man received a through pass sending him into the area where he faked the goaltender and placed a nifty wrong-foot ball into the net.

It was very satisfying to see Zidane play in this match. He showed himself to have the form of 98 with his passing, ball movement, positioning, and ability to sense play before it happened. Considering this is his last (supposedly) cup, watching him takes a special meaning, and seeing this sort of game really does underscore the entire tournament.

Les Bleus next face Brazil in the Quarterfinals ... as they did in Mexico '86. That match was one of the legendary ones, ending in a 4:3 victory for France after the PK shootout. One can only hope that this one attains the same level

Ook ook

Monday, June 26, 2006

Matilda Waltzes Out of the Cup

Amazing ... the calcio gods finally decided to smile upon the Azzurri and grace them with a lucky break in a World Cup match.

True, this comes at the expense of the real popular "heart-string" story of the gutty little Socceroos from Oz, but hey, someone has to pay.

Italy, long the team to find themselves at the receiving end of some serious dry-entry, looked like they were going to have yet another hard luck tale to add to a pile that most recently featured the atrocious robbery they suffered against the Koreans in WC02. Only five minutes into the second half, Italy found themselves a man down when the official overreacted and showed Materazzi a red card, sending the defender off and giving Oz a man advantage for at least 40 minutes.

The match to that point was an evenly contested, well-fought 0:0 draw, although Serie A wonder-boy Luca Toni did have at least two very good chances at net. However, with the sending off it looked as if the plucky Socceroos would pull the same miracle the Taeguk Warriors did last time round. However, Italy again showed a resolve and toughness, and repelled wave after wave of Aussie onslaught.

Surprisingly, at times it seemed as if Australia were actually playing for a tie, taking extreme patience in setting up their attack, allowing the defensive minded Italians to regroup and get settled in formation. True, Oz had a few chances at net, but for a side that hadn't made the tournament in a generation, you would have thought they would have shown a bit more desperation and drive.

The second half saw the very rare Italian counter, with one particular drive almost finding paydirt but for Gattusso's service being far too hard and overshooting Del Piero on the far post. Still, Italy took their chances and made the effort. Aging midfield start Francesco Totti came in as a late replacement, showed some of the flair, creativity, and skill that has made him such a fixture for the national team, but it looked as if the match would end regulation time level, and likely make its way into the dreaded shootout.

Then, the miracle happened. The curse which seemed to hover over the Azzurri suddenly dissipated, and through a gutsy and determined run by Grosso, Italy gained a penalty eight seconds from time. True enough, at contact Grosso did his best to embellish the contact, and showed considerable skill in his diving form, but then penalties have been awarded for less. Much maligned Totti placed the ball on the spot, then shot a rocket just beyond the Aussie keeper's reach, and time was called.

Italy won, 1:0.

Now, the question isn't whether the penatly was deserved or not, and despite the howls of frustration and cries of some nefarious plot to see the traditional powers advance, the fact is Australia was not robbed. The penalty may not have been deserved, but Oz failed to win. They played for over 40 minutes with a man advantage, and had many opportunities to gain the goal they needed to claim victory, but couldn't. Rather than sit and whine about how Italy was gifted a win, people should wonder at how Oz couldn't pot a goal, or how Italy was so strong and resolute facing the man advantage.

All indications were that, had the penalty not been called, the match would have ended in extra time with the same 0:0 score it began, and the match would have gone to the shootout. So, why is anyone upset? It happened 30 minutes earlier than it otherwise would have. Italy won. And they get to face the Ukraine in what should be a very boring match.

Australia wasn't robbed. They just couldn't win.

Ook ook

Friday, June 23, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

Okay, so, it isn't my birthday, and this particular gift won't arrive until 2008, but still ... this is like one of those completely unexpected bonanzas that puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Sort of like getting woken up on a Saturday morning by a blowjob, or finding that hidden beer in the fridge when you were certain you were dry.

The news?

Comedy Central has announced they've agreed with Matt Groening to create a new season of Futurama.

Wow ... having this sort of news come during the middle of the World Cup is almost too much to believe. Now, if I can manage that beer and the hoover at the same time ...

Ook ook

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Random thoughts on WC06 and more

So, it's midway between matches today, and I am still trying to comprehend how Croatia could play so solidly and generate so many scoring opportunities against both Brazil and Japan, and yet still have not been able to find the net.

Certainly it isn't through lack of effort up front. Niko Kranjcar has done a nice job of creating through the middle and distributing balls, and Dado Prso has been a bear in making runs and getting himself available, yet they have not had more than two or three really valid tries on goal.

Is anyone else shocked at how huge Chilavert has become? Good grief!

I've been watching the matches on the Univision feed here in LA, because: 1/ it's nostalgic (the first three cups I watched (Spain 82, Mexico 86, and Italia 90) were all on KMEX); 2/ the American announcers are just no damn good; and 3/ the between-match programming on Univision features many scantily clad and very sexy dollies prancing about and otherwise sending waves of arousal coursing through my body.

The interesting thing is how the Mexican announcers, hosts, etc are so completely in love with Brazil. I can see why ... no, not because they are playing so well (jogo bonito thus far belongs to the albiceleste), but because of the Brazilian woman.

Which reminds me of a trip to Guadalajara I made a while back. (Trust me, there is a thread through all this nonsense). I love Guadalajara if for no other reasons than it is the birthplace and mecca for mariachi, and also because it is right next to the little town of tequila. Nuff said. However, while there, I had dinner one night at this Brazilian restaurant, which featured some entertainment. Essentially meaning women in incredibly skimpy bikinis who would "dance" to an incessant and hypnotic drum beat. I use the scare-quotes (not scarecrows) around dance advisedly, by the way, because the entire dance was less a series of steps and choreographed action, and more simply her vibrating in place. Hell, either way it was next to impossible to look away. The odd thing is, most of the Brazilian women who I've seen either in person or on TV, while magnetic all suffer from the same malady: cuerpo del deseo, cara del pesar. Indeed.

Anyway, the canarinhos are about to tee it up against the socceroos, so I have to be brief.

The US definitely redeemed themselves with a gutsy and passionate effort against the azzurri, but don't come whinging about the two red cards: they were deserved. Eddie Pope is a hack, and Mastroeni went in late and studs high.

Every cup has something that makes it stand out in the "this is so incredibly freaking stupid" way, and this time around it's this really stupid haristyle.


Nike again blows the competition out of the water with their commercials. Having Eric Cantona was genius.


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

Well, Brazil managed to dispatch Oz, but in a clumsy and very sloppy manner. Ronaldo looks fat, slow, and uncoordinated (he actually whiffed on an open net), and it really is sad to see. Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, and Kaka are carrying the squad, and even though Adriano potted the first goal of the match, he seems outclassed by almost everyone else wearing yellow. Ronaldo was mercifully replaced in the 2nd half by Robinho, who immediately showed himself to be impatient and ready to forget any level of discipline in the excitement of the moment. If Brazil hopes to gain the Hexa this year, they are going to need to do some serious improvement.

Meanwhile, the Cheating Koreans continues to gain points at the hands of poor referreing -this time a horrible call denying France their second goal in the first half. Sure enough, the Cheating Koreans capitalized and managed to draw level with only a few minutes left in the match. France tried furiously to get the go-ahead goal, but in their effort Zidane was booked with a yellow - his second of the tournament, meaning he doesn't play against Togo. Les Bleus aren't out yet, but they are well on their way. It's astounding to think of the luck that continues to favor the Cheating Koreans. One wonders what would happen if an official didn't tilt a game in their favor. Oh, wait ... no need for wondering. Turkey beat them in the 3rd place game in 2002. The evidence is clear: in an even match, the Cheating Koreans lose. How pathetic that they can only acheive success with the help of an official blunder.


Gooooooooooooooooooooooooool!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cutting close to some bones

Heh heh heh ...



The last panel is definitely true ... moreso for some than others.

Ook ook

Friday, June 09, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For

Boy, who knew there was anyone out there that really cared whether I ever posted again or not?

I'm flattered. To borrow a line from a giggly and slighly drunk actress accepting a statuette, "You like me. You really like me."

You poor sods.

Besides, you people couldn't have picked a worse time to try and rouse me from my stupor. And trust me, Skippy, a stupor created from an amalgalm (I like that word, by the way) of pseudo-ephedrine, alcohol, carne asada, and some intensely delicious and wickedly spicy salsa is one hell of a thing from which to be roused. Yep, no prepositions ending that sentence.

The thing is, I am feeling kind of frisky these days, and it isn't because I have again sampled Vanilla Ice Cream. I fear that will not ever be coming back, although I have recently developed a taste for newer flavors. But that is besides the point. Where was I? Oh yes, frisky.

It's the quadrennial even that keeps me from eating a bullet during the three off years that has my pecker up now. And if the opening was any indication, I am in for a month of orgasmic indulgence.

Germany beat Costa Rica in a wide open match, 4-2, which saw Miroslav Klose finally step on to the stage to live up to some of the hype he had in 98 and 02. He netted 2 goals (same as Wanchope for the Ticos), but the story was more the style of play. Up and down, with not the most elegant defense on either side. My Azzurri take the pitch on Monday, which is both good and bad. Good as in it gives me two more days to work into a frenzy, but bad as I will be at work, and unable to watch it until I get home and hit the play button on the VCR. Yes, that is VCR, not TiVo. I am so 1990's.

My big dilemma is whether to tape the ESPN feed, or the Mexican station. I think I'll opt for the Mexican as it will be far more nostalgic.

Oh, don't worry if none of the above made sense to you. It just means you're a provincial American doofus with about as much grasp of world culture as a concussed bee.

What else? Oh, I've found that I like NOFX. They strike me as very similar to the Offspring in that they are basically just a good old punk band.

Will someone please explain to me why there are still morons out there who believe that our invasion of Iraq was in any way jutified by prevailing events or the incessant beat on the 9/11 drum? A non-sequitor, I know, but it still amazes me. The idiots and boneheads who accept the propaganda behind it just amaze me. Though they do tend to help me understand how something like the NSDAP ever reached power. All I have to say to them is: You're an idiot. Endy story. No arguments. You are an idiot. Sell your nonsense to the tourists, because I'm not as dumb as you are to buy it.

So, are all you bitches happy? I've posted. Get off my tits and let me watch more footy.

Ook ook

Friday, May 05, 2006

I Read Dumb People

It's come to my attention that I've recently been de-listed by a few folks, for reasons which are entirely their own.

Hey, fair fucks to them. I suppose there is a casue for it beyond merely engaging in some sort of juvenile pissing contest, or popularity rankings, but I'm really not 100% sure and I don't really care. Whatever the case may be, it has happened.

My reaction to the whole thing: Oh.

I mean, am I supposed to be upset or insulted by this turn of events? Shall I engage in some sort of vengeance by following suit and removing them (if I have them listed) from my links section? I'll admit to more than a little confusion about the appropriate course of action since blogging is very low on my list of priorities. Right below cleaning excess wax from my ears, and above sweeping behind the refrigerator. So, tell me - what is the proper way to react?

My instinct is to do nothing other ponder the withertos and whyfores. But then again, I really don't care enough to mount anything more than an acknowledgment that at one point someone thought enough of my postings to have a link, but their mind has changed. And I understand that. I really do. I mean, on more than one occasion I've adjusted my link section as well; adding those I find entertaining or thought-provoking while removing those I find insipid, juvenile, self-indulgent or just plain boring. It's not personal, it's just opinion.

I guess blogging really is just another social structure - complete with cliques, ostracizing, alliances, rejection, and the like. And, much like the real world, it seems some folks really do take this far too seriously, and I may fall into that trap as well. Perhaps Snot Rag was right after all, eh?

So, if any of you now feel compelled to delist me, I understand. No hard feelings, etc etc etc. And if you don't see your site in that column on the right of this post, well, it's not you, it's me.

Besides, to paraphrase Groucho, would you really want to belong to a club in which a monkey would want to have you as a member?

Ook ook

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Damn Good Coffee ... and Hot!

Okay, it is pretty self-evident that the true fuel driving modern American corporate life is caffeine.

Screw all that talk of innovation, inspiration, and dedication. You can get all three in spades with enough joe. After your fifth cup in an hour, you’ll be more inspired, dedicated, and innovative than you could ever imagine. Only nitpickers and the types of swine who took jobs as grammar school hall-monitors seriously will care that the fruits of your innovation, dedication, and inspiration are basically useless gibberish.

The golden rule of business has always been throw the shit against the wall and see if it sticks.

Now, I’ve really only been involved in two subdivisions of the corporate ‘verse (yep, I’m a Browncoat): biotech and Internet, so my range of experience is limited. However, I still feel confident enough in the fact that I am smarter than you (much smarter than most of you) to make an engraved-in-stone conclusion. No industry needs caffeine as much as the Internet. Nope, not yours. Nor yours, Skippy.

And the evidence is everywhere. The fact that each desk is populated with at least three well-stained mugs, or that every conference table has so many coffe-stain rings that they look like modern design masterpieces. It is embodied in the pale, yellowish, gaunt zombies that stagger through the hallways, and the three-times-a-week delivery of bulk pre-packaged coffee from a central supplier.

These are folks who embraced the coffee generation sales pitch as if were chisled into tablets and left for some old geezer who refused to ask directions even though he wandered through a desert for 40 years, obstinantly ignoring the constant stream of “Are we there yet?” and “Are you sure we aren’t lost?” questions.

The thing that gets me, however, is the prevalence of these flavored coffees. You know the kind, they are often given clever marketing names hearkening to some exotic or idyllic ideal, such as Hawaiian Hazelnut, Essence of Vanilla, or Smooth Irish Cream. But when push comes to shove, they all have that over-perfumed, sugar-saturated, syrupy taste that strips whatever sense of coffee they once had.

What sort of person drinks these? Coffee is meant to be coffee, not some pseudo-dessert liqueur. If you like your coffee a bit on the sweet side, add that extra teaspoon of sugar. If you like some double-x chromosome flavor (yes, I am calling you a girly-man), then add some of that artificially developed chemical goo. But playing Frankenstein with coffee is just wrong.

You may have a contrary opinion about this. I respect that. But, of course, you are wrong. Accept it, I already have.

Ook ook

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Age of Fear

So, it’s been a while, eh? I know, you all missed me terribly – at least the two of you who do still occasionally drop by. Thanks for that. Loyalty like yours will be rewarded, but then again it is its own reward, so it doesn’t really mean much.

How can I say something like that? Well, first off, I live in the time of Bush II, where loyalty means compulsory unquestioning obedience and slavish acquiescence to authority. Second, I’ve also worked for several major corporations, where loyalty (at least their loyalty to employees) is essentially a four-letter word.

Yeah, I know a thing or two about loyalty, Scooter. The only loyal thing in life is your dog, and even they can be swayed by a stranger with some particularly aromatic meat.

Mmmm … aromatic meat!

Loyalty, like any other commodity, can be bought and sold – and usually on the cheap. The “what have you done for me lately” school of thought is definitely in swing. Or, maybe rapidly shifting allegiance is due to the fact that people are easily manipulated by slick-talking hucksters who promise that bigger and better is just around the corner. Nah, that can’t be it. If that were the case Prince George wouldn’t be destroying the country with his second term. That slimy bastard won through fear and intimidation. Don’t believe me? Then tell me how many times since the election have we had any announcements of terror alerts changing the color from ochre to mauve.

Yeah, that’s what I thought. The currency of loyalty is fear and horror. You don’t stay at your job because you like it, or because you are being treated so well, you stay because you fear unemployment. If someone came along with an offer paying you 5% more, you’d leave. Andyou idiots voted for Bush because you believed those insipid lies about how the other guy would immediately put us in danger.

Maybe that’s the true legacy of Bush II: bringing us The Age of Fear. Today we compare things on the negative, and go with what or who promises the swiftest, most painless death. The future? Screw the future, we are suffering in the now. How can I worry about how bad it will be tomorrow when I am concerned with surviving today.

No wonder TV is filled with advertisements of pharmaceutical bliss.

Good grief, I need a beer.

Ook ook.

PS: Yeah, I know, this made no sense. So what. Despite the protestations of others who desperately want to believe there is something of substance to blogging, it really is little more than public onanism. So, excuse me for indulging myself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

More Bushit

ABC News and the Washington post broke this small story about how our idiot boy-king went on Polish television in 2003 and proudly proclaimed that the US had uncovered proof of Iraq’s biological weapon program in the form of a couple of trailers.

The problem was, the trailers weren’t mobile bio-weapons labs. And the folks in the field sent in a report saying as much. Oh, and the idiot boy-king made his brash statement two days after that report had reached Washington.

So, the question is, did Bush lie yet again?

According to his mouthpiece, Scott McClellan, the answer is a resounding no. He claims that our intrepid idiot boy-king was basing his proclamation of proof on some CIA & DIA documents, which were issued by some folks who didn’t really get a chance to look over the trailers.

So, for the moment, let’s assume that McClellan is correct, and that Prince George didn’t knowingly lie. What does that prove?

Well, it certainly confirms Bush is probably one of the most inept and incompetent leaders that ever sat his ass in the oval office. Think about it, he went on TV and triumphantly stated as fact that his fear mongering about Iraq’s WMDs had been vindicated, even if it hadn’t. And he did so (and here is the clincher), before he had all the facts.

Let that sink in. Bush was willing to go in front of the world and start talking about things before he knew whether what he would say was true or not. And it's not like he had to wait all that long - the trailers were being further evaluated as he was inserting foot into mouth.

While that may not be lying, it certainly falls under the umbrella of being misleading. And absolutely irresponsible.

No one in any other job could get away with that sort of shit. Could you, in whatever job you have, be able to tell co-workers, your boss, your customer, stockholders, etc, something as if it were fact before you knew for sure? That is called making an assumption. No mechanic would state as fact that your car’s bad performance of late was due to a burnt out sparkplug before checking. No plumber would say your poor water pressure was due to a cracked pipe before looking. And no banker would approve a loan before doing an account check.

So why is it okay for the president to go off and continually make these embarrassing and costly statements before he has all the facts?

And the worst part is how quick his sycophantic worshippers are to apologize for him.

They must be getting really tired by now.


Ook ook

Friday, April 07, 2006

Two Week Notice

The conference room in which the meeting was held was small … only able to seat about six comfortably, but that was okay, because there were only two of us present. Well, three, but the third was there via video link from New York.

Technology: it’s an amazing thing.

We were supposed to start at 10am, but it had rained that morning, and as anyone who’s ever tried to drive in LA after/during a rain knows, that means traffic was snarled because of hysteria, panic, and insanity. I guess it’s something in the water falling from the skies. Maybe people think it’s the rapture.

Anyway, even the comfortable 45 minutes I gave myself to make the 20 mile drive now seemed like a gross underestimation. Particularly since I had been in the car for almost 30 minutes, and still had about 15 miles to go. I called the geek in HR, and broke the news to him.

“Phil, it’s The Monkey. I think I may be a bit late.”
”Oh.” Phil had an undertone in his voice that hinted he wanted to say more. More along the lines of: “You asshole. You’ve known about this meeting for a week, and you also know we’re setting up a link with a VP in New York. You expect us all to just accommodate you because you fucked up your commute?”

Instead, he just paused and asked, “How late do you think?”

Oh, did I mention this meeting was an interview for a job? Not a great way to start, calling and telling the Executive VP that you are going to be a little late.

Still, for some reason, I wasn’t flustered. I just told him it would be 15 minutes longer than expected. Good thing I wasn’t on video link, or my crossed fingers and rolling eyes may have worked against me. Besides, what did I care? It wasn’t like I needed this job, since I was already employed.

I arrived, shook hands, did the polite intro, and was hustled into the conference room.

Now, we've all been on job interviews, and know they can be stressful. You feel as if you’re being tested and measured and judged, and with good reason, because you are. You half expect to be asked to show your teeth, have your vertical leap measured, and pee into a cup. But, still, this time I didn’t feel nervous. Almost the opposite. There was a sense of boredom that filled me. Oddly, somewhere between my sending in my resume and being called for the interview, the dynamic had shifted to where I was the one evaluating them. After all, they called me in, which meant there must be something about me they desire.

I knew the job was mine in the first five minutes. The department director began by telling me how impressive my resume was, and how perfectly my skill-set seemed to match their needs. The VP followed by telling me he was blown away by my writing samples. For the next two hours we talked. There were only a few questions regarding my background and experience, with the most intense moment coming when the department director handed me a printout of some of their current web content, asking me to look it over and give my analysis. After a few minutes I handed it back and gave my evaluation:
The page was poorly written, and too verbose. The content flowed poorly, was occasionally confusing, the layout was counterintuitive, and the voice was too formal for the intent.

They were impressed. But hey, it’s what I do. I am, after all, a professional.

From that point most of the questions were better suited for sitting outside having a pitcher of beer and a basket of onion rings.

We talked about sports (the VP was a hockey guy), different parts of the world (they loved my stories about camping in the Baja), and compared fresh vs. salt water fishing. I asked some “big picture” questions regarding the company’s goals and directions, offering opinion and suggestion. I dropped Simpsons references which made the VP laugh. It was just three guys talking, so you know nothing of importance was said.

When I got home, there was a message on my answering machine. It was the geek from HR asking me to call him. I start in two weeks. I will be earning over $10,000 more a year and have a fuller benefits package. My commute will be cut in half.

Now all I have to do is tell my current boss. She doesn’t even know I’ve been looking. That will be fun.

Ook ook

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Latest Cell Phone Accessory

So, a month ago or so, Swedish researchers apparently discovered a significant link between cell phone use and brain tumors.

The study, which looked at data from over 2,000 patients with brain tumors, found that individuals who "heavily used wireless phones [sic]" had a 240 per cent higher probability of developing a brain tumor on the side of the head where they most often used their phone than those who didn't fall into that cohort.

Hmmm ... heavy cell phone use and brain tumors. That goes a long way toward explaining the jackholes and retards on the roads here in LA.

The thing that caught my attention is how this is presented as somehow a bad thing. Think about this for a moment: which segment of the population tends to use cell phones at an extreme level? Hollywood agents, marketing geeks, prima donnas, Paris Hilton, blabbering fashionistas, idiot teenagers, slick salesmen, and the sort of tragically-hip poseurs and trendsters that developed a market for hair gel and wrinkle cream for men.

Seems to me losing these folks to brain tumors is a fair cop.

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