6.30.2006

Friday Shitlist IV: Muppets Take Manhattan

1. Drunken NBA stars crashing their SUV while watching porn and masturbating in supermarket parking lots.
While the Timberwolves were introducing their 2006 draft picks at Target Center on Thursday, current center Eddie Griffin was served with a civil suit accusing him of crashing his SUV into a parked car because he was drunk and watching a pornographic DVD.
2. Burning Man

I don’t know much about Burning Man, all I know is a bunch of hippies, wanna-be hippies, and people-who-like-to-think-of-themselves-as-“different”-even-though-if-you-scratch-the-surface-of-their-personalities-they’re-pretty-much-the-same-as-everyone-else gather out in the desert, have sex, don’t shower, and act all “crazy” with their “crazy” piercings and tattoos. And then they burn the “man” down. Hence, Burning Man.

I sort of assumed, in the hippie-alternative-free love communal spirit, Burning Man was an impromptu mass gathering that was free for anyone who wanted to trek out to the desert.

Nope.

It has come to my attention that you have to buy an expensive ticket to Burning Man. GAY. There goes any notion I had that Burning Man was in any way, shape or form, a subversive event. Sell-outs. I’ve been told they "need" the money to provide security, permits, and toilets. Yeah, well so does Applebee’s. Good God, your stinky hippie forbearers would be ashamed of you. Actually, probably not, they’re probably the sellouts collecting the money.

You know how sometimes you’ll see those bikers? They have a Harley, full on bad-ass leather biker clothes. A vest with some motorcycle club name on it. At first, glance, you’re kind of intimidated. Whoa, a biker. I hope he doesn’t kick my ass six ways to Sunday for looking at him wrong. But then you find out he’s actually a harmless, nerdy accountant with a biker hobby on the side. It's pretty much just an act to make their boring, placid lives a little exciting. Well, I am now convinced all the Burning Man people fit into that same mold. Frauds.

3. Clarence Thomas

In a dissent form a decision that ruled the President had breached his Constitutional limits in Guantanamo Bay, Supreme Court Justice and Bush (President Bush, that is) worshipper Clarence Thomas made an ass of himself. Par for the course, but this time his stupidity and arrogance cannot slide.
Justice Thomas refers to Justice (John Paul) Stevens’ “unfamiliarity with the realities of warfare”; but Stevens served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945, during World War II. Thomas’s official bio, by contrast, contains no experience of military service.
What is it with these idiots who never served insisting on questioning the service of those who did? First it was John Kerry, then John Murtha, and now Justice Stevens.

4. Bill O’Reilly

MachoMan O’Reilly gave a vision of what Iraq would look like if he were president.
See, if I’m president, I’ve got probably another 50-60,000 with orders to shoot on sight anybody violating curfews. Shoot ‘em on sight. That’s me. President O’Reilly, curfew in Ramadi, 7 o’clock at night. You’re on the street, you’re dead. I shoot you right between the eyes. OK?

That’s how I’d run that country—just like Saddam ran it. Saddam didn’t have explosions. He didn’t have bombers, did he? Because if you got out of line, you’re dead.
Well, Bill, if your "solution" is to just emulate the "problem", genius, why didn’t we just leave Saddam in power in the first place? It’s not like it was some unknown mystery that it took an evil bastard in order to keep the Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd factions in Iraq from killing each other, no matter what Christopher Hitchens says this week.

5. Centipedes

Fuck centipedes.


6.29.2006

Seatbelts & Cigarettes

When I was a little kid, we didn't wear seatbelts. By "we", I mean nobody. Well, not nobody, but it just wasn't a big deal. In fact, even up until the late 80's, if you insisted on wearing a seatbelt, you were in jeopardy of being labeled some kind of conformist, straight-as-an-arrow, by-the-book dweeb.

Then, one day, everyone started wearing seatbelts. Once the logic of the seatbelt finally caught on, it seemed rather stupid NOT to wear one. Nowadays, if you don't wear a seatbelt, you are in jeopardy of being lectured to about the dangers of not wearing one. And don't get me started on car seats, Tessa.

So, America's seatbelt problem has been solved. And I can't really envision a situation where it would suddenly be cool to not wear them again.

Which brings me to my confusion over smoking.

While in the 60's and 70's smoking may have been cool, by the time I entered high school in the late 80's, in was most definitly not. If you smoked, there was a 90% chance you were a stoner, and hung out with the other stoners in your various Iron Maiden and Ozzy t-shirts at the designated off campus stoner location to smoke like the stoners you were. In the case of Lemoore High School, that location was known as "the wall"; directly across the street from the school next to Wayne's Market.

But the non-stoner's had finally listened to the anti-smoking propaganda that had been beaten into our impressionable heads. We realized that smoking would make you stink. We realized it would yellow your teeth. We realized that it would eventually make you look 30 years older than you are. We realized that it would eventually kill you. But most of all, we didn't want to be mistaken for stoners.

Bottom line is, for the most part, teenage smoking was dead, dead, dead. Logic had prevailed, just as it had in regards to seatbelts.

But by the mid-90's, a weird thing happened. All the kids were smoking again. None of the underlying facts had changed, cigs still stunk, cost a lot (more, even), aged you, yellowed your teeth, were addicting, and would kill you. And yet, there they were, the youth of America, puffing away. I thought this would be a short lived trend, and soon logic would once again prevail. But it's now 2006 and I'm still waiting. The majority of people I meet these days smoke, and I just plain don't fucking get it.

So, by now, I'm sure the smokers among you are acting defensive, thinking I'm attacking you. I'm not. I eat too much, you smoke. You won't date a fatty like me, I won't date a smoker like you. It's all good. I'm just seriously curious as to what happened to where smoking became acceptable.

These blogs don't have to be me venting to an empty room, so feel free to comment. Let me know why you smoke, and your thought process leading up to your decision to start smoking.

In the meantime, here's Eddie Van Halen with a message on what you can look forward to:

6.28.2006

How We Are Hungry

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When someone asks me what kind of stuff I read, I'm always at a loss. If I say "meta-fiction" or "post-modern literature", that just leads to more confusion. If I say "literary fiction", then I sound like an elitist asshole, and as you know, I would NEVER want to come across as an elitist prick.

The stuff I read tends to be somewhat sarcastic and ironic. The weakness is that the authors I like the most (George Saunders, David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers) often try too hard to be clever , and therefore stuff comes across clunk and forced.

Upon starting How We Are Hungry, a collection of short stories by Dave Eggers, I immediately thought this was going to be the case. For example, one of the stories is called "There Are Some Things He Should Keep To Himself". The story consists of four blank pages. Whoa dude! How arty farty and clever, bro! I was also immediately hit with sentences like this:
How did she kiss him? Desperately, pulling and pushing, like a woman trying to get to the bottom of a deep pool.
Uh, wha? You're trying waaaay too hard to be descriptive there, Dave. Not working.

Luckily, Eggers gets his sea legs pretty quickly, and the stories become immenesly readable and enjoyable. In a way, How We Are Hungry is travel fiction, with stories told from Costa Rica, Scotland, Egypt, Bakersfield (!?), and Mount Kilamanjaro in Tanzania. For every longer story, there's a really short one consisting of two to three pages, which feel like commercial breaks between the longer stories.

There aren't any grand themes in most of the stories. Three of the stories carry a common theme, the relationship between longtime friends of the opposite sex, and how the urge to act upon the underlying sexual tension in male-female friendships can compromise those friendships. We've certainly all been there and done that before.

The best story is saved for last. It's a semi-goofy story that actually got me a little verclempt. It's called "After I Was Thrown In The River And Before I Drowned". The story is told by a dog who, along with some other dogs in the neighborhood, regularly venture out into the woods to race each other, while squirrels watch and make sarcastic comments. Sounds dumb, but it's actually quite meloncholy. After unfortunate accident, the dog narrator goes to heaven, where, in the closing lines of the book, he reports:
The one big surprise is that as it turns out, God is the sun. It makes sense, if you think about it. Why we didn't see it sooner, I cannot say. Every day the sun was right there burning, our and other planets hovering around it, always apologizing, and we didn't think it was God. Why would there be a God and also a sun? Of course God is the sun.

Everyone in the life before was cranky, I think, because they just wanted to know.
Beautiful. That's what I read. That's why I read.

Anyways, I'm not a reviewer, I just play one on my blog. So suffice to say that after brief reservations, I really enjoyed the stories in How We Are Hungry, and I can confidently recommend that you pick it up if you want to try something new.

6.27.2006

Fuck Geraldo

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Last week, douchebag extraordinaire Geraldo Rivera had the balls to say, “in the last 35 years, I’ve seen a hell of a lot more combat” than John Kerry. Yeah, that John Kerry. Y'know, the Vietnam vet? Geraldo prefaced this with “Unlike me, he is a combat veteran, so he gets some props.” Some props? How about a Silver Star, A Bronze Star with a V for Valor, and three, THREE motherfucking Purple Hearts, you egotistical bag of liquid shit.

The last time I remember you seeing combat, Geraldo, you were getting kicked out of Iraq for giving away our troop locations out live on National TV by drawing a map in the sand.

Before that, in Afghanistan, you were caught lying about walking the “hallowed ground” of a location where three American soldiers had died.
Reported Geraldo: "It was just, the whole place, just fried really, and bits of uniforms and tattered clothing everywhere. I said the Lord’s prayer and really choked up."

One tiny problem: Geraldo wasn’t anywhere near the site of the fatal bombing. He transmitted his story from Tora Bora, hundreds of miles from Kandahar, where the friendly-fire tragedy occurred.

This rather humongous factual error was pointed out in a critical article by David Folkenflik, the television writer for The Baltimore Sun.

In response, Geraldo blamed "the fog of war." He said he had "confused" two separate incidents and actually had been at the scene where two or three Afghan fighters—not the American troops—had been killed.

Unfortunately, that version of the story hasn’t held up well, either. The Pentagon told Folkenflik that the friendly-fire deaths at Tora Bora occurred three days after Geraldo filed his initial report.
So, mustachioed one, spare us the macho bravado and go back to finding nothing in Al Capone’s vault, divorcing more wives, getting your nose broken by chairs thrown by skinhead-thrown chairs, and generally being the national laughing stock that you are.

Fucking idiot.

6.23.2006

Friday Shitlist: Ceser Chavez Park Edition

Inspired by people-watching at Th' Losin' Streaks show at CC Park.

1. Those trendy, oversized sunglasses.

Lame.

2. Smokers.

Lame.

3. Chest tattoos on women.

I don't know the official name of them, but it's usually like a bird or whateverthefuck in the middle of a girl's chest, kind of around the boobs. I vote: Lame.

4. Tattoos in general.

Specifically bad tattoos. I actually saw a calf (someone's leg, not a baby cow, idiot) tattoed with Fred Flinstone and Dino with two busty skanks on a desert island. CLASSY. Also, the whole wings on your back thing? Cut it out. It's lame.

5. Chubby, underachieving 34-year-old dudes with sideburns (hey 90210, you're 34)and bad skin, wearing CBGB shirts (have you ever even been to New York, poseur?), who bitch and moan about everything.

The lamest of lame.

6.22.2006

WMD's Found!

OMG! They finnally found the WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION in Iraq! See? It was all worth it. We know this because Man-On-Dog Rick Santorum said so:
"Congressman Hoekstra and I are here today to say that we have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Santorum said. "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustrade or sarin nerve agent."
Degraded? Hmmm...that sounds fishy. I wonder what that could mean?

Oh.
Santorum, in making his announcement Wednesday, was apparently referring to shells from before the Persian Gulf war whose chemical agents, sarin and mustard gas, were badly degraded.
So these were pre-1991 weapons that no longer work. I'm sure the dead and their families don't care.

While these brainiacs are at it, I hear Iraq also has huge stockpiles of Dihydrogen Monoxide.
Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death.
And a little bird also told me that sodium chloride can be found at various locations throughout Iraq. Stanford University declares sodium chloride to be a "...poison, suspect cancer, skin irritant, lung irritant, eye irritant".

So, onward Christian soldiers! Your mission has been validated!

(For the gullible, "dihydrogen monoxide" is water, and "sodium chloride" is salt.)

6.21.2006

Optimism

For the last 7 years, June 21st has been a shitty day. For as long as I live, June 21st will be a shitty day.

So, now that it's almost over, instead of wallowing in my own negativity, I'm going to make myself feel better by watching something that gave me chills, and made me feel good about our country and our future. Like a Chixdiggit song, this never fails to make me feel good.

Ladies and gentleman, I bring you your future President, Barack Obama, speaking at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. It's long (18 minutes), but it's one of the best speeches I've ever seen. You owe it to yourself to watch this. I actually teared up when I watched it live, out of love for my country, if you can believe that. The only negative is the realization that Barack is not yet President. Patience...


Get this video and more at MySpace.com

6.20.2006

Every Day I Get More Pissed

Two U.S. soldiers were kidnapped last week in Iraq. They have been found. Dead. And, apparently, tortured.

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As you know, I'm not the blindly patriotic type, but still, the news was like a gut punch to me. I do not like it when our soldiers die. We are in a war, and the deaths of fresh faced kids like these is to be expected. It's always sad, but we are always able to frame it in the larger picture of war. It's the tortured part that gets me pissed.

It's very easy to get indignant and call the people who did this barbarous, because that is exactly what it is. But we no longer have the moral high ground to lecture other's about the barbarism of torture. We ceded that ground when we referred to the Geneva conventions as “quaint”. We lost that right when we began the process of extraordinary rendition, whereby we send prisoners to countries that are known for torturing. We gave it up when the president signed a bill banning torture with a signing statement, which basically meant he didn't have to abide by the law he just signed. Sketchy motherfucker.

When the bill was signed, John McCain, who was tortured for years in Vietnam, said "We've sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists. We have no grief for them, but what we are is a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are."

John McCain is 100% correct.

So when George Bush says that the killings are a “reminder that this is a brutal enemy that does not follow any of the rules." I want to vomit. If he was so concerned about “the rules” he would have followed them. He would have called for the resignation of all those who didn't follow them He would have made it clear that we are America, and one of the things that makes us great is that we don't stoop to the level of our enemy. He would have made sure the Geneva conventions were followed instead of looking for loopholes around them.

So, all those people who joked about us torturing people, who insisted that it is necessary, can spare me the fucking lecture now that our boys are being tortured. I don't want to fucking hear it. And at this point, they can all go to hell. Our soldiers deserve better. Their families deserve better. Our country deserves better.

Of course, there is no way to ensure that, even if we followed the Geneva conventions and went out of our way to make sure we didn't torture prisoners, that our enemies wouldn't still torture our soldiers. But since we do torture, there's also no way to prove that they wouldn't have. “Moral high ground” may sound like an insignificant, unimportant phrase, but in situations like this, it's incredibly important. If you support torturing our enemies, how can you possibly complain when they torture us?

THIS IS WHY WE DON'T TORTURE!!!!!

6.16.2006

Friday Shitlist II: The Dream Warriors

"I'm sick to death of being constantly fucking sick of...."

1. Chipotle & Tabasco

Even though I like their food, I have hard enough time as it is thinking of Chipotle as “Mexican” food (white rice?), but their insistence on carrying Tabasco sauce instead of Tapatio makes it impossible. Tabasco is not meant for Mexican food. The only people who think it is arehonky crackers who think hot sauce is hot sauce, so what’s the difference? But then again, Chipotle is based in Denver, which explains a lot. But even from a purely economic standpoint, it makes no sense, as Tapatio is generally way less than Tabasco.

I know I bitch about this a lot, but the solution is so easy that I don’t understand why they don’t listen to me.

2. Lynn Westmoreland

Westmoreland, Republican congressman from Georgia (go figure), co-sponsored legislation “requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in the Hall of the House of Representatives and the Chamber of the Senate.” So, last night Steven Colbert simply asked him to name the Ten Commandments. His answer?
You mean all of them?—Um… Don’t murder. Don’t lie. Don’t steal Um… I can’t name them all.
(click the link for the video)

Better yet, after Colbert made a complete ass of him on National TV, Westmoreland posts a picture of the two on his website. Talk about clueless.

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It’s heartening that we have rely on comedians to expose these hypocrites.

3. Heather Faria

Faria was a high school teacher who had stomach cancer. In order to raise money for her treatment, her community held fundraisers and benefits, including a 50 mile relay by 12-year old girls. With their help, Faria received over $35,000 to help in her battle with cancer.

Except that, um, she didn’t have cancer.

4. The House of “Representatives”

The Federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour since 1997. Democrats in the House last week introduced a bill that would gradually raise it to $7.25 by 2009. Of course, Republicans killed it.

But at the same time, the same the House gladly gave themselves a $3,300 raise, bringing their income to $168,500.

They can go to hell.

5. Foie Gras

Yes, I know I’m a cow-slaughtering, chicken-eating hypocrite, but I draw the line at force feeding grain down a ducks throat just to fatten its liver, no matter how good it tastes. Got that, Megan? Your name is one consonant away from Vegan, so you should know better. :)

Okay, enough with the negativity, have a good weekend everyone!

6.15.2006

No Country For Old Men

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After four years of trudging through Underworld, I whipped through Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men in a less than a week, Sure, it’s 500 pages shorter, but still. Being used to a sprawling complicated novels, NCFOM really cleansed the palatte, and reminded me how intoxicating a simple, quickly paced thriller can be. Highly recommended.

While McCarthy is known for literary, poetic tomes such as Blood Meridian, this one is vastly different. It’s basically a violent crime thriller that occasionally gets a little deeper, but not often (except at the end, when the book loses a little steam) and not too deep. You can read reviews and summaries elsewhere, but the basic story involves an everyman who stumbles upon $2.5 million (as well as several dead bodies), a psychopath who is trying to track the money down, and a sheriff who’s trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. The book has a sort of conservative undertone, as the sheriff continually comments on this new breed of sociopathic criminal, and wonders where the world is heading. The following passage gives you an idea:
I read in the papers here a while back some teachers come across a survey that was sent out back in the thirties to a number of schools around the country. Had this questionnaire about what was the problems with teachin in the schools. And they come across these forms, they'd been filled out and sent in from around the country answerin these questions. And the biggest problems they could name was things like talkin in class and runnin in the hallways. Chewin gum. Copyin homework. Things of that nature. So they got one of them forms that was blank and printed up a bunch of em and sent em back out to the same schools. Forty years later. Well, here come the answers back. Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide. So I think about that. Because a lot of the time ever when I say anything about how the world is goin to hell in a handbasket people will just sort of smile and tell me I'm gettin old. That it's one of the symptoms. But my feelin about that is that anybody that cant tell the difference between rapin and murderin people and chewin gum has got a whole lot bigger of a problem than what I've got.
As I was reading NCFOM, I started thinking how cool it would be if Tarantino were to make a movie of it and stick exactly to the book, down to the last detail. So when I did my usual post-book Google search on the book, I was pleased to discover that the Coen brothers are indeed filiming it. And of course, Tommie Lee Jones will be the sheriff. I guess it’s supposed to come out in 2007. So, along with the upcoming Borat movie, that makes two movies I am excited to see. And if you know me, you know one of my many irritating traits is my movie-snobbishness, so that’s quite a feat.

Anyways, if you’re looking for a good summer read that you can enjoy while appearing to not be another Dan Brown-John Grisham worshipper, borrow my copy of NCFOM.

6.14.2006

Why I Hate Soccer

Every four years the World Cup comes around, and every four years I try my best to finally get into soccer. Every four years I fail. In fact, I don't just fail to like soccer, I usually come away disliking more than before. And the game of soccer has little to do with it.

"Why don't Americans embrace soccer like the rest of the world?" The question has been asked a billion times since the World Cup started, and there are about a billion answers. Dave Eggers came up with two reasons that make sense to me: 1) We didn't invent it, and 2) The amount of flopping that goes on turns off the America sports fan. I think those are somewhat valid, but their not the reason I personally dislike soccer.

Probably the most common answer is "soccer is boring". I don't agree with this either. my favorite sport is baseball. I'm not even going to try and convince a non-fan that it's incredibly exciting, even though it is to me. So I can handle a perceived "boring" sport.

No, my reason has more to do with attitude. Let me take you back to sixth grade to illustrate.

In sixth grade, we had a teacher, Mrs. Mercier, who tried to get us redneck kids exposed to some culture. Some attempts were traumatizing (the mime show), but others actually sort of worked. Like when she took us to Fresno to see the symphony. I was expecting to be bored, but it was actually pretty cool. Afterwards, we went to the Farmer's Market in Fresno, which had a variety of restaurants. Me and my friends, being sixth-graders, went to a hamburger stand. We were in line, when a girl named Monica walked by and condescendingly said, "You're eating American? Ha, I'm going to get some Italian food." Um, hello? WE'RE IN SIXTH GRADE FOR CHRISSAKES! She was probably just going to Sbarro or some shit like that, but baked ziti might as well been foie gras to our sheletered asses back then.

You probably see where I'm going with this. Monica represents the typical soccer fan. I cannot stand when soccer fans act like there's something about soccer my backwards ass doesn't get. Trust me, I get it. I understand the game. I know the rules; it's not brain surgery. I had to run around and eat orange slices at halftime like every other kid. I actually mildly like the game itself. But the patronizing attitude just ruins it. Think about the soccer players when you were in high school. Man, those dudes were uppity, spoiled pricks. Because they liked U2, went skiing, and sported more fashionable mullets than everyone else, they walked around with an air of superiority. Ugh, soccer players, the thought gives me the willies.

So, if you want soccer to take off in the United States, my advice is...well, actually, give up. It's never gonna happen. But if you want people like me, people who are on the fence about soccer, to come over to the dark side, keep your trap shut and have a reasonable, humble attitude about your sport. It's no better than any other sport. You prefer soccer and Sbarro, I prefer baseball and a cheeseburger. Deal with it. Just enjoy your sport and quit pretending a game of soccer is the artistic equivilent of a Renoir, and I'll probably eventually come around.

6.13.2006

I Don't Pee Right

In his stand up routine, Bobcat Goldthwait used to ask the crowd. “Remember the first time you blew a chimp? Remember the look on its face?” After an awkward silence peppered with nervous laughter, Bobcat would admit, “I never really blew a chimp, I just like the fact that for a second you all were asking yourselves, ‘Did I miss something?’”

Right about now, I feel like maybe I missed something. I was reading a Slate article by Seth Stevenson which praises the superiority of boxer briefs over traditional boxers and tighty whiteys, when I came across the following:
Some boxer shorts seek to rectify this with a button enclosure, but a button is the last thing you care to deal with when you urgently need to urinate. Boxer briefs use the much more effective and user-friendly Y-front.
Um, what? People use that thing? Am I supposed to be using it? I just yank the front of my boxers down, and I have always assumed everybody else did, too. I thought that opening was just a remnant of a bygone era. So I was completely confused, my understanding of how the world works had become wobbly. Then I read this, and my worldview completely shattered:
Trunks have many of the same benefits as boxer briefs, but I can’t understand the lack of a fly opening. Standing at a urinal, you’re forced to reach through the fly of your trousers and pry the trunks’ elastic waistband down with your thumb.
Reach through the fly of your trousers? Do other dudes seriously zip down their fly without undoing the button? Then reach in, and fish their, uh, weiner through the front of their boxers? This seems insane to me. I’ve always understood the process to be: 1) Step up 2) Undo belt and unbutton pants 3) Unzip pants (or unbutton if you have 501’s) 4) pull the front your boxers/briefs/boxer briefs down 5) Let ‘er rip 6) shake off, tuck in, zip up, button, wash your hands and be on your way.

Now I feel like an unsophisticated Neanderthal. Do other people pee classier than I do? Have I been using an inferior urinary method all these years? Is up now down? Is black now white?

Nothing makes sense anymore.

6.12.2006

Papal Infallibilty & Catholic Hypocrisy

Growing up, religion was never forced upon me, as my parents were not very religious. But my mom, either out of boredom, loneliness, or for entertainment, was more than willing to take an interest in whatever religion someone, anyone would come over to the house to talk to her about. That's why one of her best friends was a Jehovah's Witness. She flirted with that, and later she flirted with Catholicism. That's where I kind of got sucked into the whole thing. I don't really know how it happened, but one day I'm sorting baseball cards, the next day I'm being baptized in the Catholic Church. I had no interest in this church thang, but it seemed to make my mom happy, so I went along. I even tried to do that whole CCD thing for about a month. But eventually, my differences with my Church on a religious and social (snobs!) level became so obvious that I simply quit. I cannot understand why more people don't quit the Catholic Church in favor of churches that more closely resemble their own beliefs. Let me try and illustrate what I'm talking about.

If you're a Catholic, then you subscribe to the notion that the Pope is infallible. To the Roman Catholic Church, infallible means “incapable of error in expounding doctrine on faith or morals.” You get that? Incapable of error. So if the Pope says it. That's the way it is. If you disagree, you disagree with the Pope. But the Pope is incapable of error. So if you insist on disagreeing, you are wrong. So why remain a Catholic?

The Catholic Church is against the death penalty. If you are pro-death penalty, and you are Catholic, guess what? You're wrong. If you try to argue with any sort of biblical “eye for an eye” mumbo jumbo, well, might want to look for a new church that agrees with you. Because the Catholic Church is pretty clear on the matter.

The Church is against any form of birth control, including condoms when one partner has AIDS. Do you use condoms? Are you on the pill? If so, then you are obviously not Catholic, because that would be a slap in the face to the Pope, who I remind you, is infallible.

Pro-choice? Same thing. There's simply no way to reconcile this with remaining a Catholic. When a Catholic priest caused hell for refusing to give communion to John Kerry because he was pro-choice, I had no problem with it. Thems the rules, and I found the decision to be intellectually consistent What I I still don't understand is why the Church has no problem giving communion to its pro-death penalty and condom using members. That's intellectual inconsistency.

Early on I knew my beliefs were not consistent with the Catholicism. And I felt, and I still feel, that my beliefs are correct. So I quit. Well, I also don't believe Jesus is the son of God, but that's another story. The point is, how does the Catholic Church survive, when I can pretty much guarantee that at least 80% of its flock disagrees with the Pope on some issue, whether it be the death penalty, birth control, abortion, or plethora of other issues. To me it would seem, under the established rules, disagreement should equal excommunication.

But then who would fill the collection plate? Hypocrites, Catholics AND the church they belong to.

6.09.2006

Friday Shit List

A rundown of the things that have been tightening my jaws this week.

1. Axe Body Spray

I don't reallt get this, but I'm willing to be told I'm wrong. What is the appeal of Axe Body Spray? It costs $3.00 and is available at Albertsons. Is that sexy now? There's a reason no one under the age of 70 wears Brut or Old Spice. So why is Axe popular? That being said, I am a cheap bastard, and about the only think I don't skimp out for is cologne. But I'd rather pay $3 than $40, and the ladies like it, well hell, who am I to argue? So if I'm wrong, let me know, and next week I'll rave about Axe.

2. Hookah Bars

I have this same conversation with about one person a week, so if you've already heard my schpiel, move along, there's nothing to see here.

I know it sucks that America has no real culture to call its own, but you don't have to make up for it by stealing other people's cultures and trying to make them your own. Hookah bars are for Turks and Arabs, not Tad from Delta Phi. Hookah doesn't make you edgy or cultured, it makes you a culture stealing Ugly American. I'm willing to bet most of the honkies who frequent these places have an endless supply of "raghead" and "camel jockey" jokes. Yet when it comes to them trying to prove their hipness, all is forgiven. You want to prove how cultured you are? How about going out of your way to make some Arab friends?

3. The NSA and Myspace

Well, it's come to this. The National Security Agency, not content to tapping your phones and reading your emails, is now collecting information from MySpace pages. Now maybe your slutty-picture-posting-marijuana-bragging selves will start to pay attention. I'm already on the terrorist watchlist (no joke, but probably just another dude with my name messing it up for me), so I'm not to worried about it, although I do worry about Pixie's privacy being violated. Well at least the NSA can make a profile so they will get to take fun surveys, and be fooled into trying to get a myspace tracker and 20 top friends, and they'll start an NSA Myspace train with the FBI and CIA, and can post endless YouTube video bulletins, and check their inbox every five minutes, and meet for coffee with some random myspacers, and take pics of themselves, and fill their page with so much eye-straining, awful html code that everybody's browser crashes upon looking at it.

4. Edamame

It's fucking nasty. Stop pretending to like it.

5. Democratic But's

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the top al-Qaida operative in Iraq, was killed this week. This is good. Nothing but good. So I wish Democrats could wait one day, 24 hours, before the buts kicked in. "Yes, killing al-Zarqawi is a good thing, BUT...". Dude, there are plenty of legitimate "buts". But just wait a little bit. There's not a whole lot of good news coming from Iraq, can we at least have one freaking day before becoming a bunch of Debbie Downers? I'm NOT saying that there aren't a lot of buts, cause there are a shitload. But please, just one day, it's all I ask.

6.08.2006

Underworld

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I just finished reading Underworld by Don Delillo.

This was no small task; four years I’ve been reading this thing. I must have read twenty easier, shorter books while trying to finish this one. Me and this book have outlasted me and any relationship I've ever had. So it's kind of a bummer to break up with it, but alas...

Underworld is the third “epic” novel I’ve read. The first was The Stand, by Steven King. I was sixteen, and inspired to read it by the liner notes in Among The Living by Anthrax, which said the title track was inspired by the novel. Yes, I was that fucking metal; I read the books the bands wanted me to. While my tastes run more arty farty these days, I still have a soft spot for Steven King (and Anthrax) for introducing me to reading for pleasure's sake. Anyways, I really, really liked The Stand.

The second epic novel I read was Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace. It quickly became, and remains, my favorite book. It’s a very difficult read (there are reader companions available), but the payoff is enormous. I can’t wait until the day I get to read it again.

Which brings me to Underworld. Don Delillo is one of my favorite authors, so based on my track record (two for two) I was looking forward to diving into an epic by him. The book is sort of an alternate post-WWII history of America, framed by the journey of the “shot heard round the world”; that is, the home run ball Bobby Thompson hit in the 1951 National League Championship.

It channels Lenny Bruce, J Edgar Hoover, beatniks, and a host of other characters and is absolutely beautifully written. Yet, it never really pulled me in. If I focused hard, each sentence was a thing of beauty. Sentences like this are on every page:

The only thing he sees is a dog of the slinking type, been kicked so often it decides it's being petted.

Yet, I found myself having to read whole pages over again because my mind would wander. It was like listening to Rush: technically amazing, but boring and lacking heart. I felt this way a quarter into the book, but felt an obligation to finish, which explains why I kept reading other books all the while. So, now I'm done with it, and I'm kinda jaded on Don Dellilo. I think I'm going to have to re-read White Noise to remind me of what he can do when he's on. But for now, I have the bitterness of a bad break-up.

6.07.2006

Spank Cat Butt

A couple of months ago, it was big news when the Department of Justice tried to order Google to turn over information to determine what google users were searching for. Of course they needed to do this to crack down on child porn. That's like the all-purpose excuse. If you oppose it, I guess you support child porn, just like I supposedly support the terrorists since I don't like Bush. Anyways, it sounds all a little Orwellian to me, but since I don't use Google to access regular porn much less child porn, I figured I had nothing to worry about.

Follow me on this one.

Pixie, my cat, likes it when I spank her butt. It's not really spanking her butt, more like patting her back by her tail, like this:



Pixie is not the first cat I had who enjoyed this. I became curious as to what the big deal for a cat is. So, to satisfy my curiousity, I turned to my good friend Google.

I typed in "spank cat butt".

Then I remembered the DOJ is trying to collect Google searches.

Oh shit.

So this is an open letter to the Department of Justice:

I am not into any deviant sexual practices with my cat. She just likes her back to ve patted. I will be more careful in my choice of words in the future. God Bless America.

6.06.2006

Smokescreens

As Thomas Paine once said, these are the times that try men’s souls. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration (from me? never!), but the main point remains: we’re in a pretty shitty situation at the moment. Let me count the ways:

Confirmed U.S. Deaths in Iraq: 2475

Average price of gas in CA: $3.269

National Debt: $8,000,000,000,000 (that would be $8 trillion for the numerically challenged)

Trade Deficit: $321,000,000,000 (that’s $321 billion)

Foreclosures: Up %38

Terrorism, Iranian nukes, unsecure ports, global warming, crumbling infrastructure, corrupt Congress, yadayadayada. I could go on and on. Point is, there is plenty of work for Congress and the President to do to try and make our wretched lives a little better. Instead, what do we get?

Constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and flag burning. Good god, In answerto David Cross’s question, yes, we are a nation of six-year olds, distracted from reality by politicians jingling shiny keys in our faces. They reel us in every time.

Is this all it takes to divert the national attention? Fags and flags? Do you really give a shit about this stuff? As long as we keep falling for it, they will keep pulling these idiotic, juvnile stunts.

The flag burning amendment is on it’s face ridiculous and not worth a second of Congressional time. Is there a flag burning epidemic I’m unaware of? Didn’t think so. Also, before they worry about flag burning, an amendment banning this would be nice:

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The proposed ban on gay marriage is called the Federal Marriage Amendment, and would define marriage as between a man and a woman. Its supporters cite it as necessary to protect marriage. Protect marriage? Give me a break. Six words: Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire?

If the goal is to "protect" marriage, then we should probably first decide what the biggest threats to marriage are . Gays? Hmmm, two guys want to get married. This threatens your marriage how exactly? Are you going to turn gay because now you have options?

Okay, so what else? Adultery. Yeah, that could threaten a marriage. Why not make adultery a criminal offense? Gambling, strip clubs, porn, PMS, football, I can think of a million things that may threaten a marriage, and none of them involve "teh gay".

But without a doubt the number one threat to marriage is divorce. It’s pretty much the anti-marriage. If marriage was a superhero, divorce would be his (or her) arch enemy. So why not pass a Federal amendment banning divorce?

Probably because in the U.S. Senate, divorce is as popular as spewing vile bullshit about gay marriage and flag burning.

Allen, George (R-VA) – Divorced
Bond, Christopher S. (R-MO) – Divorced
Graham, Lindsay (R-S) – Unmarried… celibate?
Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX) – Divorced
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) – Divorced

That’s just those members of the “distinguished” Senate who support the amendment. The House is much too large to get into. God knows what a freakshow we’d find in that fetid swamp.

Leave the Constitution alone. It’s a fine document the way it is. Leave the gays alone. If they want the misery of marriage, let them have it.

And, next time you go to a gay wedding, make sure to bring a flag to burn. It's the American way.

6.05.2006

The Voices In My Head

I'm trying to post a daily blog, but it's 11:30pm, I'm tired, Colbert is about to start, so I'm going to mail it in. This is by Jack Handy (the 'Deep Thoughts' guy from SNL) and appeared in the New Yorker a few years ago. Anybody who's heard about my old roommate and how the "spirit" would "move" him to make decsions will understand why I find this so funny.

I never know when the voices in my head are going to start talking to me. I might be coming out of my apart­ment and I'll look up at the clouds. Sud­denly, the voices in my head will tell me to go back inside and get an um­brella, because it might rain. Sometimes I'll obey the voices and go get the um­brella. But sometimes I muster my strength and refuse to get the umbrella. Still, the voices don't let you forget that you disobeyed them, especially if it rains. They'll say; "I knew you should have gotten the umbrella. Why didn't you?"

I don't expect you to understand what it's like to have voices in your head telling you what to do. But it is a nightmare I live with all the time. Right now, for in­stance, the voices are telling me to go back and change the word "nightmare" to "living hell."

The voices torment me from the time I wake up. They'll say, "Get up and go to the bathroom to urinate." Throughout the day, they never let up: "Go get something to eat," "Go take a nap," "Go to the bathroom again," "Get ready for bed." On and on. Sometimes the voices even talk to me in my sleep, telling me to get up and urinate. My fear is that the voices will tell me to do something crazy, like go look for a job.

I used to think that drinking alcohol would calm the voices; but it usually makes them worse. They'll say things like "Go tell that person what you really think of him" or "Get up on that table and do your funny cowboy dance."

The voices used to talk to me about the Beatles. When I was young, they'd tell me to go buy a certain Beatles album. “But I don't have any money," I'd say. Then the voices would suggest I mow some lawns to earn some money "But that's a lot of work," I'd say. "Well," the voices would say, "do you want the album or not?" (Wait. That might have been my father.)

Sometimes I go for relatively long Pe­riods without the voices talking to me, such as when I'm watching TV, or watching ants, or lying on the floor and trying to blow lint balls into one big herd of lint. Or seeing which one of my cats is most afraid of "pillowcase head." But these golden moments are fleeting, and soon the voices return.
I just wish the voices would tell me something useful once in a while, like how to say things in French, or where my gloves went. But they hardly ever do. In fact, many times the voices like to taunt me, telling me, for instance, to turn left at an intersection when, it turns out later, I clearly should have turned right. Or telling me to wear a tie that obviously looks ridiculous.

Even worse, sometimes the voices themselves don't know what they want. They'll tell me to go up and talk to a pretty woman, then they'll say; "No, wait, she's too pretty for you," then they'll say, "Oh, go ahead," then they'll say, "What if your wife finds out?" (Man, make up your mind!)

When you tell people you have voices in your head, they think you're crazy. But when you don't say anything at all, and you just sit there and stare at them, they also think you're crazy. So you can't win.

I thought about going to a psychi­atrist to get rid of the voices, but the voices said it would be expensive, and would probably take a long time, and that I'd have to put my pants on and go to the subway, then come all the way back on the subway, then take my pants off, and who knows if it would even work? Sometimes, the voices have a point.

One day, I decided that I couldn't take it anymore, and I decided to silence the voices in my head once and for all. But I couldn't figure out how to do that, so I never did.

Maybe the answer is not to try to get rid of the voices but to learn to live with them. (I don't really think that; I'm just saying it for the voices.)

Will I ever be able to fully control the voices in my head? Probably not. But will I at least be able to adjust my life style so that the voices are not a threat to me or others? Again, the answer is no.

But I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet, because one thing I have learned is this: the voices may be bossy, but they're really stupid.

6.04.2006

Lemoore Photoblogging: Why I'm Fat.

Okay, so the title is misleading; I was actually in decent shape when I lived in Lemoore. San Diego taco shops and back problems are what led to my downfall. Anyways, so yeah, I went to Lemoore, my hometown, this weekend, and thought I'd give you a snapshot of my favorite places. Of course, they mostly involve food, hence the title.

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Up first, my favorite burger spot in the world, White Top. White Top has been around forever, and used to be run by a German couple, Werner and AnnaMarie Amman (they sold it off a couple of years ago). Post-Seinfeld, Werner would become known as the Burger Nazi. Why? Well, rumor has it that during the lunch time rush, if you couldn't make up your mind, Werner just ordered a Quick Lunch (double cheese, fries, soda) for you and that was that. I highly doubt that that actually ever happened, but it was a nice story to tell people. Anyways, this is the place I fell in love with the concept of Dr. Pepper with crushed ice in a styrofoam cup. This weekend I learned the magic doesn't translate to Diet Pepsi. I ordered the Giant Big Top (2 patties, cheese, and ham), while Mark had to one up me and get the Super Big Top, which has three patties. Fucking show off.

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Next up is the greatest pizza place on Earth: Me N Eds. This is the kind of place that you went to after every soccer and little league game, every birthday, every everything, and so you kind of took it for granted until you moved away and had to deal with inferior pizza. It's also the kind of place that had Astro-Blaster, which caused young boys to steal money out of their mothers purses so the could play all day. Not that I would ever do that. Right.

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Now we head out of Lemoore into the booming metropolis of Armona, sarcastically referred to as "Aroma". Well in this shithole resides a true treasure: Raven's Deli. Raven's, for a reasonable price, will cook you up some of the best turkey or ham for Thanksgiving/Christmas, a blessing to lazy, no-talet cooks like me. The real thing Raven is known for is their beef jerky, which is second to none.

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Onward to Hanford and Superior Dairy. Hands down, without a doubt, the finest ice cream I have ever had. Maybe someday I'll lose enough weight that I can actually have some again. Fuck it, I'm having some next time I go. Life is too short.

Okay, now for the funniest thing I have seen in a while:

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Now, unless cow-tipping, racism, homophobia, and chaw are considered "culture", there IS no culture in Kings County. I guess this picture of a yellow shack in Armona with sign in a font designed by a fourth grader says all there is to say.

On the I-5 on the way home, I passed a sign which I must have passed 100 times without giving it a second thought. "Vista Point" it says. So, not in a hurry to get home, I decide I will finally check out this "Vista Point". Sounds pretty exciting, eh? Here is what I see:

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WOW! A slight variation on the EXACT SAME scenery I've been looking at for the past two hours. Oh, plus the California Aqueduct, a glorified canal. GREAT. THAT definitely deserves its own exit.

And finally, the highlight of my trip, a conversation with Mark:

What I said: "Man I miss that apartment. Me, Amnah, and the canyon."

What Mark heard. "Man, I miss that apartment. Me, Amnah, and the Kenyan."

6.02.2006

Five More Things That Baffle Me

My weekly piss-and-vinegar-fest.

1. Why hasn’t Dillinger Four put out a studio album since 2002. It’s been four years, guys. I’m dyin’ over here. Feel free to mix in a west coast tour while you’re at it.

2. Dane Cook. Dude is just not that funny. He’s good for a laugh here or there, but it’s mainly style over substance. He’s a second-rate, vulgar version of Brian Regan, and can only dream about having the nuance and edge of a David Cross. So why is he so popular?

3. Napkin Nights/SacScene. You’re over 21, you can afford alcohol, and you have friends. WE GET IT. We don't need photographic evidence of it. Are you that insecure? Oh, and no matter how you wish it were different, Avalon is located in Sacramento, not L.A., not New York, not Las Vegas, but Sacramento. Get over yourselves, scenesters, you're not auditioning for Entourage.

4. Guys insisting on driving cars they do not own. When we took her car, my ex insisted that I drive, because she was a “nervous” driver and didn’t really like to drive. But I would never insist on driving her car because I’m “the guy”, yet I’ve known many guys who had this attitude. Needless to say they were all douchebags.

5. Why Homeland Security is such a pathetic joke. Federal anti-terrorism funding to New York has been cut, because “New York has no national monuments or icons, according to the Department of Homeland Security form obtained by ABC News.” The Empire State Building is just a “tall office building”, the Brooklyn Bridge is just a bridge, and the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, Stock Exchange, Rockefeller Center, New York Public Library, Times Square, City Hall, The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum and The Museum of Natural History? Eh, you can find that kind of stuff in Anytown, U.S.A.

6.01.2006

Those Wacky Latin Americans

So the Bush Adminstration has been busy lately trying to portray democratically elected Bolivian President Evo Morales as some kind of Castro-type dictator. Why? Well, see, he puts his countrymen above foreign corporations, which in Bush-land, is the biggest sin of all.

One of my more "leftist" positions is that any country should have full rights over it's own natural resources, and be free to nationalize industries involved in extracting natural resources when it deems necessary. That doesn't sound like a crazy idea, but when a country proposes it, there's a good chance the U.S. will fund a covert coup attempt, as in Chile in 1973 and Venezuela earlier this decade.

So let's hear the insane rantings of this leftist lunatic who is a threat to the U.S.
TIME You're a democratically elected President, yet U.S. President George W. Bush remarked this week that he fears "an erosion of democracy" in Bolivia.

MORALES The nationalization was simply my government obeying a demand made by the Bolivian people in the election. That's democracy, a communal democracy with consensus. I think Mr. Bush wants us to be a colonized democracy: dependent, submissive and subordinate to foreign interests.

TIME Why do you and so many other Bolivians believe that nationalization was necessary?

MORALES Bolivia is a majority indigenous nation, but that majority has always been excluded. So we needed to end that internal colonialism and return the land and its natural resources to those who have lived on it for so many hundreds of years, instead of putting our economy in the hands of the World Bank, the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and transnational corporations. We, of course, want [private] investment partners, and we want them to profit, but we should be the absolute owners of the land and resources.

TIME But would that nationalization plan be possible without the investment aid you expect to receive from President Chávez?

MORALES We have partnerships with U.S., European and Mexican companies as well as with Venezuela. The difference between Venezuela and other countries is that Venezuela supports us unconditionally, while countries like the U.S. always impose so many conditions in exchange for aid or credit.

TIME Do you see the success or failure of Bolivia's energy nationalization as a key test for the new Latin left?

MORALES Globalization and the neoliberal economic model have already been rejected in Latin America; it simply hasn't been a solution for our people. At the same time, Latin countries like Venezuela and Argentina are anti-imperialist and antiglobalization, and yet their economies are growing again. Globalization creates economic policies where the transnationals lord over us, and the result is misery and unemployment. I think the success of Bolivia's nationalization will be evident soon--and then the whole world will want to nationalize its energy resources.

TIME You and President Chávez have been accused of divisive meddling in the politics of other Latin nations, such as the June 4 presidential election in Peru, in which you have been supportive of leftist candidate Ollanta Humala.

MORALES I don't believe we're meddling in anyone else's internal politics. Historically, foreign powers have always been the ones to keep Latin nations divided. We're working instead for the economic and social integration of Latin America.

TIME Is that really a viable dream?

MORALES Right now, for example, U.S.-led free-trade agreements are dividing us. They don't represent our interests but rather those of foreign powers. We're proposing alternative trade pacts that allow for more national sovereignty, dignity and the defense of our identity, and that allow our natural resources to be in the hands of the state to benefit everyone.

TIME No Bolivian President has ever received the kind of international fame and spotlight that you have experienced this year. And your traditional sweaters have been celebrated in the U.S. media. Why?

MORALES I'm just the democratic voice of Bolivia. This is all really due to the new power of the indigenous movement. As for the sweaters, I've never read a U.S. newspaper, so I can't comment on that.

TIME Bolivia receives more than $100 million annually in economic aid from the U.S. Can and should relations be improved between La Paz and Washington?

MORALES We will never break off relations with the U.S. We're coming from a culture of dialogue, but dialogue without strong-arm pressures. We've met with Señorita Condoleezza--a very nice woman--and they say they want to be partners with Bolivia. But I think we still need to understand each other's definition of democracy.
How can the U.S. possibly deal with a man who is so obviously crazy?