Monday, December 20, 2004

On Holiday

Between December publication deadlines at work, and vacationing in California, I won't be blogging for the next little while. I'll post again when I have some time. Don't go abandoning me and never coming back. I know where you live.

Merry Christmas, ya'll!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Walmart Banshee

I was pushing a shopping cart around Walmart the other day, dodging what I could only guess were rednecks and homeless people, wondering once again why I sacrificed a pleasant, odor-free environment just so I wouldn't have to drive too far, when I heard an ungodly commotion coming from the pet supplies aisle.

“Get the f--- off me, mother f---ers!!” some creature was shrieking. “Don't you touch me, b----! Get the f--- off me!!"

Naturally I was curious. After all, in normal circumstances, the most exciting part about shopping at Walmart is leaving the store. This was certainly more interesting than anything else that had happened that day, not counting what happened on T.V. I had to get a closer look, so I nonchalantly turned my cart in the direction of the screaming, which increased in volume as I approached. “Get the f--- off me! Get the f--- off me!!” the creature moaned over and over again. Soon I could make out that someone was being pinned by what looked like half a dozen cops. About that time I reminded myself that I hate “lookie-loos,” the kind that stare like stunned cattle at anything and everything, especially near car accidents, causing much more traffic than the accident ever could. So I decided to keep my distance, continue shopping, and let the cops do their job.

But the screaming kept going, on and on and on. It seemed like Walmart had a recording they were looping over the loudspeakers, although why they would choose a chorus of “Get the f--- off me,” to their normal new-age elevator music, I can't begin to explain. Reaching out to younger markets, probably.

As the screaming continued, I kept staring at items I had no intention to buy, just so I could listen for any new developments, all the while pretending non-interest. Most people were not so discreet, often walking right up to the cops before being shooed away. Finally, the cops stood up and begin to lead the angry screamer towards the front of the store. I was surprised to see that the detainee was no more than a small, pudgy girl, that couldn't have been older than 16. My first thought was, wow that girl has lungs! What a waste of talent, entertaining the masses at Walmart instead of on a stage at a death-metal concert. My second thought was, why are some people so easily provoked into hysteria? The girl was still screaming, at full force, “Get the f--- off me, b----!” to the female cop holding her arms. She was in her own, rage-induced world, hollering for no reason other than to keep up her strange pseudo-rhythm. My third thought was deeper still: do I really need eggs? I could have sworn I bought eggs just last week.

It seems like it would take A LOT to get me as riled up as that girl; like someone murdering my parents, and then murdering my friends, and then murdering all the band members in The Stills. Perhaps then I could reach her level of hysteria. As to what brought out this rage in the girl, I can only guess. Maybe some of Walmart's “falling prices” hit her in the face. Or maybe she was attacked by that scary smiley face from the commercials. I admit, I would be upset if that happened to me. In fact, just that “rollin' rollin' rollin'” song alone could drive me into an insane rage. I'm wetting myself from anger, just thinking about it.

Damned Ladies 3

In the proud tradition of Damned Ladies 1 and Damned Ladies 2, comes the all-new, totally exciting Damned Ladies 3: quotes from all-girl coworkers around my cubicle. As always, no context will be given. Enjoy.

“Oh no, I have skittles falling out of my chest!”

"She's got hair like a human."

“I don’t just want them out of my life anymore, I want them DEAD.”

“I so look like Tori Spelling, with my big, long face.”

- “What is it that your mom always says?”
- “Oh, that I’m a lesbian?”

“I want big teeth.”

“Don’t suck on your hair, you’ll get diseases.”

- “What do you call it when you hold yourself up in a place?”
- “Hostagized?”

“Oh. My. Gosh. There’s a giant bald spot in my head.”

“He’s the only human being I can honestly say that if I saw him standing in the road, I would slam on my gas and KILL him.”

Friday, December 10, 2004

Free Concert

I just finished designing a flier for my Dad's band, the Sentimental Sisters, and figured why not post it here. If you're going to be in the LA area late December, you should check this concert out. How often do you get to hear fantastic, live 40s music? I'm a little peeved that I'll be flying back to Utah two days before the concert. Stupid job. I miss all my Dad's gigs living so freaking far away. I need a helicopter. A gigantic black helicopter. That would be so sweet.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Amazon Will Be the Death of Me

Having a degree in marketing, I am completely aware of what is doing to me. So why am I powerless to resist? I have bought more CDs from them than I care to say, yet they keep pulling me back in. It doesn't help that they have a freakishly large selection, worthwhile reviews, sound clips, and the notorious “recommendation” feature. I will buy a CD, and before I know it, five more are recommended to me. So I check them out. After all, these aren't hackneyed, random recommendations. They are usually dead-on. Half the time I find another CD I absolutely love, and add it to my cart. “You like The Stills,” Amazon coos. “Well then check out Plus Minus or Elected, they're good too.”

“Sure,” I say. Next thing I know, I'm buying another CD. And then there is the free shipping offer with a $25 purchase. So I have to buy more than one. And they ship so fast, too. Damn them!

There just has to be a line. Amazon has gotten into the habit of sending me follow-up emails with a list of further recommendations. Sure, I could ignore these, but I'm tragically curious. What if ignoring these recommendations is depriving me from some revolutionary new music experience? So I click away, listen to some sound samples, do a little research, and end up hooked on another CD.

Why is this a bad thing? Well it's not, exactly. It's just that it all adds up, money wise. I'm not driving myself into the poor house or anything, but I could do with some self control and stick to a tighter budget. Maybe I should blame commercial radio, being so lame and all. They have driven me to this, with their overplayed, soulless music and annoying Djs. I have no choice but to seek solace on the Internet.

I'm not going to fight it. Amazon has won. That's just the way it is. Who am I kidding, trying to break free from their delicious grasp? Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to look up some more West African Funk. I love you Amazon.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Squeaks and Shrieks

It's cold and the mice are invading. I suppose this is a natural consequence of working in a building surrounded by fields. When the temperature drops, the mice look for somewhere warm, which is usually a coworker's desk drawer and sometimes a filing cabinet. Fine, let the mice come. Rodents are people too, after all.

But wait. I work in a place where the overwhelming majority of employees are female. I hate to generalize, but aren't all women afraid of mice? Yes they are. Every day I'm greeted with more shrieking as an unfortunate coworker sees a mouse running from their cubicle or office. This always creates quite a stir and then the inevitable mob of women join the frightened victim to discuss the mouse-sighting and commiserate.

It's a mouse, ladies, not a rabid werewolf. I mean, even if it was a werewolf, and he was in the process of chewing off your arm, do you have to make so much noise? Honestly!

Traps have been set, of course, and they don't do a spit of good. The mice lick the peanut butter right off, defecate on the trap, and skip merrily away. If I learned anything from Pinky and the Brain, it's that mice are smarter than we think and we shouldn't underestimate them. Thankfully, my bosses haven't yet resorted to extreme pest-control methods, like sticky paper. Apparently, mice will chew off their own legs to get free when they're stuck on those things. Even more unpleasant than all the feminine shrieking, would be walking into work to find mouse versions of the movie “Saw” happening all around me.

My company's other building (in an adjacent city) is actually an old barn, which has been converted into office space. One of the employees at that building is a crazy cat-lady. You know the type. There are no less than 20 cats wandering the grounds of the barn. I guess if you've been with the company since it started, 35 years ago, you're allowed to keep pets. Heck, we have company sheep! The point is, we need to bring in some of those cats. Getting eaten is better than being trapped on sticky paper, as I see it. Then again, the women here would probably spend their time playing with the cats, making loud comments about how much they like cats, chatting about their cats at home, and exchanging various other cat stories. I think this would be much more annoying than the initial shrieking over mice.

Luckily, I have an out. I have headphones. No better way to snuff out petty commotions than with some SomaFM. They can keep their mice. God bless internet radio.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Le Poisson Est Mort, Vive Le Poisson

Deceased: one pet fish, orange-red, age 8 months. True, I had no emotional attachment to this creature. His sole purpose in life was to act as a decoration, and perhaps to give me something to write about in my profile. True, he only cost $3.99, the equivilant to a fast-food value meal, quickly digested and forgotten. And true, he probably had it coming, the little bastard. That's not the point. What bothers me is that I tried, if rather sloppily, to save his life and ended up doing a crappy job of it. It's like this: I remembered at the very last second, not long before leaving for the airport, that I would be gone five days and would not be able to feed the fish. It was too late to drop him off a friend's house, since I was leaving to the airport buttcrack early. I mean, who would like to be woken at four in the morning by a guy at their doorstep holding a fish bowl? I couldn't take the fish on the plane because that's just way too dangerous (thanks a lot 9/11). What was I to do?

Let him die, I suppose. That was my first thought. But I was crippled with guilt over the whole gerbil incident and couldn't bring myself to kill any more small animals. I had to do something. So I went to Walmart. That store has the answers to everything, doesn't it? Yup, a sweet slice of sin, that Walmart. I found what I needed: a white, sea shell-shaped wafer that disolves slowly in water, feeding a fish for up to 14 days. I was set. I had saved the day. Glory Hallelujah and whatnot.

The fish still died, of course. I didn't leave my heater on while I was gone and there was a snow storm. I came home to find the fish frozen to death. Betas are tropical fish. Duh, Jeremy. There was nothing to do but toss the corpse into the sink, turn on the disposal, wait for it to be ground up, then move on in life. Things happen, fish die. But, God, why did you have to take the Sea Monkeys too? They were only babies!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Winter Wonderland

I have lived in Utah for about 5 years now, and every year I go home to California for Thanksgiving. When I leave, there is not a flake of snow on the ground and every year I come back and the place is covered! This year I was so hoping there would be an exception to this bizarre rule of fate. California wasn't particularly sunny these last five days -- especially since I spent much of my vacation at my family's mountain cabin where it also snowed. I was hoping Utah would be nice this time. Alas, no such luck. (Shakes fist at Utah)

I really hate snow. Yes, you snowboarders and skiers out there, I hate it. It's like bubblegum. It's good for the first few minutes, but then you soon get sick of chewing, the flavor is all gone, and you wonder why you ever bother started in the first place. Snow gets old. Old, I tells ya! If I wanted to feel something cold and icy on me, I'd sleep with Barbara Streisand.

Ick, that was a bad comparison. Let us all delete that from our memories.

On top of dealing with the snow, I get to help my sister with her car today, which broke down on the way to my house last Wednesday. I went to meet her on the shoulder of the freeway where she was stranded. When I got there, she told me she had to relieve herself really bad. We were waiting for the toll truck guy to call so I told her to find a bush. She did so just as the toll truck guy called, and asked for her, so I started walking in her direction, not really thinking about what she was doing, until I noticed she was stooped down, frantically waving me off with her arms.
“She's uh. . .away,” I told the toll truck guy. Of course that didn't make a lick of sense since we had nowhere to go. But I wasn't about to say to the guy, “Oh, I'm sorry, but she's peeing on the side of the road right now.”

Not counting break-downs and snow, my vacation was great--a much needed five days. It's not like I have a stressful job, far from it, but it was nice to spend time away from the computer. So much food. It was pure gluttony, folks. Pure gluttonous bliss.

I also got to attend the 10th annual Thanksgiving get-together I have every year with my high school friends. We've been throwing these since sophomore year but, unlike snow, these gatherings never seem to get old. There's nothing like catching up with good friends. They actually told me they thought I'd gained weight. Me, gain weight. Hah! I wish!

Speaking of freakishly thin, so is my time. I have much to get to this morning at work but wanted to fire off another post considering I've written nothing since the lame joke about Otter Pops. Here's to a fantastic Thanksgiving for all of you. I hope you did some serious binging people. And maybe some purging. Whatever floats your boat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Old School Frozen Syrup Revelations

There’s a lot of hype going on right now over the new movie, “Alexander." Greeks are threatening to sue Oliver Stone because he depicts the famous conquerer as bisexual. Stone claims there is ample historical evidence for this inclusion, but these Greeks disagree. I think they’re both wiggling around the REAL issue here. This shouldn’t be about whether Alexander the Great had the occasional man-friend. What we should really be worried about is Alexander the GRAPE, the Otter Pop. Think about it. Alexander the Grape was purple, a gay color if I’ve ever seen one. Plus, he tasted FRUITY. Can the evidence be any more blatant? Now that I think about it, Sir Issac Lime and Little Orphan Orange were a little iffy themselves. I always suspected there was something strange about those delicious frozen snacks, but never this. Never this!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Holy Sandwich, Batman!

It’s not easy being the Virgin Mary. For one thing, no matter how much your life has changed since the Immaculate Conception, people still call you a virgin. For another, crazy idiots keep claiming they see your face in everything from tree bark to ketchup. The latest Mary sighting to make the news is her blessed appearance on a toasted cheese sandwich. The holy sandwich almost sold for $30,000 before it was removed by eBay authorities. I can’t find the original listing, but here’s one of the many replicas by some other jerk preying off religious fervor in the name of profit.

The owner of the original sandwich, Diana Duyser, claims that in 1994 she was taking a bite into her lunch and saw the Virgin staring back at her. You can imagine her awe and her joy--I mean, with these kinds of miracles happening, who needs a cure for cancer?

But the story doesn’t stop there. This Mary sandwich, or Virgandwich as I’ve decided to call it, has brought Diana special blessings. On her eBay listing, she claimed the Virgandwich had helped her win over $70,000 at casinos. She even has the receipts to prove it.

Well, that’s it, I’m convinced. She’s got receipts people. Receipts!

Now I’m going to really have to reevaluate everything I think about biblical figures. For one thing, they must be starved for attention. I can only guess they spend most their time daydreaming about life back on Earth and how they wish they were a part of it again. So, in the case of Mary, they make little cameos on sandwiches and whatnot. It makes them feel important again. Plus, helping their followers succeed at gambling is the kind of thing people do in heaven. Reminds me of Jennifer Lopez's mom, who after winning a shload of cash, gave all the credit to the Virgin Mary (who of course had everything to do with it.) Don’t question this stuff. You’ll understand when you get to heaven. Or should I say IF you get there, you faithless swine.

I don’t understand why people just can’t be realistic and trust the sandwich. The sandwich has PROVEN its power. All this cynicism has made me so mad that I’ve gone and spilled my soda all over my desk. Look what you made me do!

Wait...hold on a second...could it be?...yes, the subtle pattern of spilled’s Mary! Praise God! It’s a miracle, a blessed blessed manifestation from heaven.

And now for some manifestations from Reno. Blackjack, baby!

Monday, November 15, 2004


I think it's high time I wrote a post about Tab. If you're too young, too old, or too drunk to remember, Tab was a soft drink developed by coke with saccharine instead of sugar, was bottled or canned in pinkish-red pin-striped aluminum, and had zero calories. It also tasted like monkey-groin. I speak of it in the past tense because even though it is still around, it is no longer being marketed and is thus dead as far as the world is concerned. It was introduced in the sixties, but really reached its peak in the eighties. I have personally been addicted to it for years.

Why do I drink Tab? Well, not for the taste, that much is clear. Coke tastes better, and so does pig sweat. Do I drink it to be cool? Not really, since drinking Tab is pretty uncool as far as that goes. It is a beverage for old ladies. Do I drink it to keep the weight off? Girl, if I lost any more weight, I’d have to cling to trees during wind storms.

For me it’s about nostalgia and about habit. I started drinking it in high school while working on a literary magazine. The advisor would often bring in food to our meetings: large cookies from Trader Joe’s and 6-packs of Tab. There was nothing else to drink, except maybe sink water. Thus, much of my high school years were spent downing Tab--delightful, filling, piss-nasty Tab. There's just something about it, and I'm not talking about the amusing “Warning: May Cause Cancer” label it had for many years.

I kept buying it in college. It's got more caffeine than coke, great for staying up late studying, and it brought back pleasant memories. At one point I did a Tab advertising campaign for a class (see one of the ads below). It's amazing what you find when you do research on something you think is long dead. Does Tab still have a following? You bet it does. There are forums where people write post after post expressing their love for the sickly sweet liquid. Finding grocery stores that sell 12-packs equates to instant ecstasy for some fans. Others discuss the road trips they've taken to stock up on fridge packs. Of course these people are crazy, but they are crazy Tab-drinkers, so they're okay in my book.

Next time you're at the supermarket, pushing a creaky cart down the soft drink isle, keep a look out for Tab. If you're feeling adventurous, grab a 6-pack. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't. The point is, one of these days you're going to get cancer, and when that day comes, you're going to be very confused. “Why, God, why?!” you will ask. And for you atheists out there: “I hate you God, even though you don't exist!” And just when you are feeling like nothing makes sense in this world, think of Tab. Yes, Tab gave you cancer. After all, saccharine is a known carcinogen. Of course, you would have to drink an ocean of the stuff for it to really make a difference. It doesn't matter. Blame Tab. I intend to. Good old piss-nasty Tab.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Much Ado About Feet

I make books for a living. Most my time is spent doing layout design, plus photo manipulation and some illustration. When I tell people I design books, they always assume I just place words on a page. If that was my job, I would have driven an ice pick through my eye a long time ago, just to alleviate the boredom.

When you look at a book, magazine, billboard, or something of that nature, you don’t usually think of the process that goes into it. There is so much media out there, a lot of people think that printed material just “happens,” as if some gigantic, magical machine is pumping out what they read and see everyday. Along with this obliviousness, often comes unrealistic expectations and, in many cases, outright stupidity.

My editor found a painting she wants to use for the cover of a 4th grade textbook I’m designing on Pennsylvania history. The image belongs to a museum. Don’t be fooled. Just because someone works at a museum does not mean they are sophisticated and intelligent. In fact, when you see small, yellow buses parked outside a museum, don’t assume they are for “special” children on a fieldtrip. It’s just as likely that the buses transport in the museum employees.

So the museum agrees to give us the rights to use the painting on our cover. There’s an enormous fee, of course, there always is for this kind of thing. But then the museum decides that we can only use the image if we agree not to put any type over it. This is when you begin to question their intelligence. It’s a BOOK. Books have titles. There is going to be type. Finally, after my editor explains this to them and I send a mockup of how the title does not detract from the image, they agree to make an “exception.”

Problem solved? Hardly. They contact my editor again and tell her that we must show more of the old lady’s feet at the bottom of the painting. They don’t like the fact that the old woman, a tiny obscure element in the foreground, is cropped at the ankles. Did I crop the painting? I did no such thing. Why, then, do they accuse me of ankle slicing? I looked on the internet for other prints of the painting and every single example depicted a feetless grandma. Perhaps Edward Hicks painted no feet! I would think the museum people, who own the painting, would know this. In frustration, I grabbed my digital stylus, drew on some feet, and emailed it to my editor. Drawn-on cartoon feet are better than no feet at all, right? My editor was amused, but didn’t pass on the email to the museum. Too risky. If these people’s sense of humor is on par with their intelligence level, then we’d be in big trouble.

It will all work out. If the version of the painting they send us has feet, then by golly, the children will get feet! If not, no feet for them. What are feet anyway, if not fleshy entrails for our socks? Answer me that, museum.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

November 11

It’s Veterans Day and I have to work. It’s not right. My ancestors didn’t give their lives for some country in some war so I’d have to commemorate their sacrifice by clicking on a mouse all day. I should be out celebrating by torturing communists and murdering Germans.

My grandmother is German, but I think she’d be hard to murder. For one thing, she watches “Murder She Wrote” all day. I figure she must be an expert on the subject. She also has become a bit dotty in her old age and tends to forget episodes right after seeing them. Every time she watches, it’s all completly fresh to her, the suspense untouched and still exciting, Angela Lansbury’s phoned-in performance as new as ever. How nice would that be? I hope I spend my days watching reruns of the Simpsons when I get closer to death, thinking that every episode is one I haven’t see before. Yes, that would be fantastic. As it is, I’ve seen every episode multiple times, thanks to TiVo and to Fox for airing it twice daily.

My great-grandmother, before she passed away a couple years ago at age 100, was hooked on “the Young and the Restless.” Don’t ask me when this all started, but for as long as I can remember she has been attached to the show. When she traveled, she took around one of those little mini televisions so she wouldn’t miss anything. Now that’s dedication. Of course we all have our media-based addictions. I think I’m becoming addicted to ABC’s “Lost.” Still, my love for Lost pales in comparison to her love for that Soap, or her “story” as she called it. I suppose a dramatic character-driven Gilligan’s Island scenario has nothing on the addictive power of So-and-So’s daughter turning out to be So-and-So’s long lost mother.

There’s nothing like a great story. I mean storytelling has been in our history since the cave man’s ancient scratchings all the way up to our modern blogging. Find something that draws you in and you soon find that there’s no escape. In fact, it doesn't even have to be good -- just engaging. As much as I make fun of lame Harry Potter fanatics, I am ashamed to say that I’ve been addicted to Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” since I was 14. The series is now totalling 10 books and over 8,000 pages. Over the years I discovered that Jordan’s writing isn’t very good and his characters are a bit stereotypical, but the story! Quite the engaging story.

There you have it. For lack of a way to give any of this meaning, I will go back to Germans. They are people too. You shouldn’t murder them.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Hold the Ham

Dear Idiot Celebrities and Pompous Newscasters,

Please shut up. Honestly, there is no good reason for you to be talking. Sure, everyone has a right to their opinion, to speak their mind, yaddity yaddity. Fine, go on speaking, but at least surgically remove your tongue first. I’d much rather hear gurgly throat noise than anything you have to say.

Yes, Bush was re-elected. Is this a bad thing? Most probably, yes. Does that give you an excuse to say idiot things like you’re going to leave the country? No. Please give up the melodrama! I know that you’re paid to be melodramatic, but save it for when you’re reading a script or a teleprompter. The world is not going to end because you don’t like the President. Fifty percent of the U.S. population is not comprised of ignorant, slack-jawed yokels. Sure, we have plenty of those, but I’d like to think that they aren’t one out of every two Americans. If you think so, you are seriously out of touch.

For all your talk of open-mindedness, you refuse to even attempt to understand what drives many Americans. If you want to write them off as religious fanatics, war-mongers, or too-stupid-to-know-better you are being more ignorant than they ever could be.

I suppose I wouldn’t care so much, except it’s getting out of hand. Today I went to the website of a very talented author who will remain nameless. I’ve been reading his books for several years now. I’m eagerly anticipating his next book, the progress of which is announced periodically on his site. What did I see today? One long, obnoxious whine. He is so upset over the election, that he announced he is too depressed to write. He says it could take weeks before he gets out this funk. I’ve never wanted to slap a person more in my life.

Was I upset over the election? Yes, it made me rather sad for about a day. Did the results surprise me? Not really. Do I think the Bush family is going to turn America into a stinking cesspool of filth and corruption? Listen, we’ve had many a President making many a wrong decision. The history of this country is not coated in sequins and glitter. Life goes on. Things are never as bad as they seem. Light up a pipe, suck down some caviar, do a little yoga, whatever calms your nerves. We’ll be okay.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Weird Science

Genes are silly things. This became clear to me while working on a slideshow for my grandmother’s big 80th birthday celebration, sorting through some photos that my dad sent me of her and my grandfather. I was shocked at how much I look like my grandfather when he was my age. So I took a photo of me, and one of him and fused them together. (See below). The bottom half of the third photo is his face, and the top half is mine. The scary part is, if I only saw the third photo, I would think it was me.

Don't you think that's a little lazy and uncreative? My genes are just recycled Grandpa. I'm a 1980 rehash of a 1920s creation. It's like fashion, how it spits out old styles with slightly new twists every few decades. Pretty soon our genes are going to completely run out of ideas and we'll all just look like Mariah Carey. Pray that day is long in coming.

(left to right) Jeremy, Orlin, "Jeorlin"

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Punch, Punch, Punch

Anyone who believes that the elderly rule the country have only to look to their nearest voting station for complete confirmation. We are at the mercy of the elderly when it comes to the electoral process--they're the ones with the time to volunteer at the polls. They can make all the mistakes they want and blame it on Alzheimer's. Fear the elderly.

The cranky old woman at the elementary school where I voted took five minutes to write down my name. Her hand was so shaky that single letters seemed to be a great task for her. She was often distracted, snapping at her co-volunteers and babbling with a neighbor who came in to say “hi.” I had to reign in my desire to snatch the paper from her and finish filling it out myself.

I did get to vote though, despite the old lady's best efforts. Which brings me to my next point: punch card ballots are the downfall of democracy. They are just TOO fun to punch. After voting for the candidates and issues I had actually researched (the president, the governor, and whether or not to keep putting fluoride in the water), I was left with a whole slew of names I knew nothing about. Perhaps the responsible thing would be to not vote any further, since whatever voting I did would be horribly misinformed. I don't like voting along party lines, so that wasn't the answer. But I couldn't go and leave the thing blank. It was calling to me to make little holes in it. So I punched away. Punch, punch punch. Who should be in the congress? Let's give the Libertarian a try, his name sounds fun. Punch, punch, punch. What about such and such council member? Let's go with the Green Party; it's a nice color. Punch, punch. Reverse fund allocation in district X? Sounds good to me. Punch, punch, punch.

Punching completed, I put my ballot in the slotted box and received what I had really come for: the coveted “I voted today” sticker. If self worth can't be measured by cute little stickers, what can it be measured by? I walked out of that elementary school feeling glorious. Thank God for the stickers. Thank God for democracy.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Kids and Wigs

My first Halloween living in a non-college town, in a family neighborhood, and in a house meant there was no way to avoid being bombarded by greedy, candy-demanding children. I planned ahead, buying several bags of assorted treats, hoping to keep them at bay and defend my house from juvenile attack. But I failed to take into consideration that I live in Utah, were the average family has at least 20 children. They came in droves, swarms, mobs, with their pudgy little hands outstretched, bags open wide, and fervent expressions on their faces. I could not keep up. At one point, and I kid you not, no less than 40 children showed up simultaneously at my doorstep. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit. It was more like 37 or 38. I thought they’d never stop coming. I became less generous in my offerings. Two or three fun-sized candy bars became only one candy bar, became half a candy bar, became a wrapper and slap on the face. In no time, they had completely cleaned me out.

There was nothing to do but turn off my porch light and leave. Luckily I had a party to attend and thus a valid excuse for my escape. Still, getting away from them was like driving through an obstacle course. These children have no fear of death. They dart out in front of cars, wearing black witch costumes that camouflage them in the darkness, then stop and stare like deer caught in headlights. They form long trains, crossing the street, leaving me to stew over thoughts of slamming on the gas and plowing right through them. Thank goodness for busy surface streets. Freedom!

The party was certainly one of the most interesting I’ve ever been to. It was a “live” Clue game. Everyone who was invited was to dress up like one of the characters from the 1988 Master Detective Clue edition, which has four more characters than regular Clue. I came as Monsieur Brunette, a French art dealer. I suppose it fit. I wore a brown wig (since I’m a blonde) and small beard. I doubt I have ever looked more metrosexual.

The game took place in a large, well decorated house that had recently been remodeled. The rooms in the game were based on the rooms in the house. A whole new game board was made, with a photo of each room. The weapons were real, and the character cards had the photos of those in attendance. Everyone looked the part, which made it rather fun. We played the game and it ended up being Mrs. White, with the revolver, in the master bedroom. I was off by one—I thought she did the deed with the lead pipe. But if I learned nothing else that night (and I didn’t), I learned that wigs suck. And so do fake beards. They are itchy, they are sticky, and they are hot. If ever I lose all my hair, I will not get a hairpiece. Bald is beautiful, as they say, and more importantly, bald is comfortable. The wig was worth it though; it was good party. Plus I got to threaten people with a candlestick. Life goal #302, fulfilled.

I'm supposed to look menacing. I just look sad.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Thursday Special

History has become a hobby of mine. I had no interest in it until I started studying African history at college and now I’m all over it, like a cop on a danish. Currently I'm enthralled with American history as the result of designing state history textbooks at work. American history is full of so many interesting characters that do all kinds of whacky things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slamming the Present. But let’s be honest: it can get old fast. How many times do we have to hear about Brittany Spear’s wedding and still pretend like we ever gave a damn?

Let’s do ourselves a favor and make Thursday “History Day” on Flying Backwards. Yes, let’s do that. Every Thursday I will be bringing you the story of someone from American history which I am particularly tickled with at the moment. This week: Mike Fink (1770-1823).

Mike was a bragger, a boaster. They just don’t make them like they used to. Nowadays, professional boasters all make rap videos with the sole intention of informing the world that they have oodles of bling, skanky-hoes, and currency coming out their orifices. We already know that. Boring!

In contast, Mike’s boasting was delightful. There was no substance to it, of course, but it definitely had kick. He was a keelboat man, who went up and down the rivers getting into fistfights, shootouts, and winning bragging contests. Here’s a boast that got written down:

“I'm a Salt River roarer! I'm a ring-tailed screamer from the ol' Massassip'! WHOOP! . . . I’m half wild horse and half cock-eyed alligator and the rest of me is crooked snags an’ red-hot snapping turtle. . . . I can out-run, out-jump, out-shoot, out-brag, out-drink, an' out-fight . . . any man on both sides of the river from Pittsburgh to New Orleans an' back again to St. Louiee.”

I think people should use the exclamation “WHOOP” more often. It has a nice ring to it. As for Mike, he ended up moving west and becoming a fur trapper. Not long after, he was killed in a fight. No one ever claimed he was very smart, but he could sure strut his stuff. Hats off to Fink, our historical figure of the week. WHOOP!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Electronic Voice Phenomena

This is the time of year when freaking yourself out is fun. There's all kinds of ways you can do it; going to a scary movie, telling stories by a campfire, watching election news coverage…lots of ways.

I don't get scared often, I just don't. True, I'll get scared in situations where old grannies slam on their breaks in front of me on the freeway and I think, "Oh my gawd, I'm going to die!" but not ghosts and goblins scared. Even watching a so-called scary movie like “The Ring,” I'm never really afraid. Startled at times, yes, but not afraid. I can be thoroughly caught up in the eeriness of the flick, but in the back of my mind I know that I'm sitting in a theatre with lots of other people, watching a fictional movie.

So I always look forward to something that can really freak me out. I was listening to a radio program recently and they had guests on from the Ghost Investigators Society. These people spend their free-time going to known “haunted” locations and recording ghost activity. Most of it is audio. They set up tape recorders in different rooms to try to record some EVP (electronic voice phenomena.) They claim they never hear anything while they're there, but afterwards, while going over the recording, they often hear voices. A lot of these recordings are up on their website, Some of the recordings are just freaky-weird; like when two of the ghost investigators are sitting by themselves in a graveyard with the tape recorder on, wrapped in blankets. One of them feels a tug on her blanket and she asks the other “Did you pull down the blanket?” and the other says, “No.” Then you distinctly hear a child's voice say, “I did.”

You know, this is all more disturbing than you realize. If ghosts keep talking after they're dead, some people will literally NEVER SHUT UP. Can you imagine Roseanne Barr haunting you? That loud, shrill voice endlessly complaining about white-trash nonsense. Who needs hell with that going on?

Of course, this all could easily be a hoax, and probably is. That doesn't stop it from being entertaining. If you'd like to spend an hour or two in the dark with your computer, it's a sure way to give yourself the willies. (Yes I know there are lots of easier ways to give yourself the willies, but watching J-Lo movies can get tiring.) Give this a try. Have fun with it. Get yourself spooked.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Clutter, Clutter Everywhere

What is it about living in squalor that people find so attractive? What's so special about a broken birdcage or a box of dusty magazines? Why do some people feel like they have to hold on to every last thing they've ever acquired? There must be some part of the human brain that causes a person to be absurdly clingy, some kind of psychological defect that makes it impossible for a person to let go of old junk. Packrats are either neurotic or diseased, I can think of no other explanation.

On Saturday I helped an old woman move some of her junk from one storage unit to the other. She's a nice lady, although a bit on the pushy side, and as much as I'd rather have been doing something else on a Saturday morning, I felt obligated to help her. She has two mentally handicapped children who aren't much help and she can't lift anything herself. Her problem is she has way too much crap. Somehow she has managed to fill a gigantic storage unit with, for lack of a better description, boxed fecal matter. I did not find one thing in that mass of junk that could possibly benefit the woman anywhere down the line. But she will not let go. She insists she NEEDS every little thing. And the state of her apartment! It is stockpiled with junk. There is one narrow path leading from her front door, to her kitchen and down the hallway. The living room is filled to the brim, her counters stacked sky high. Let go, woman! Throwing away a broken appliance is not like sawing off a limb! You can do it. Try!

I have seen only one case worse than hers. This time from a man in Le Mans, France. The first time he invited me into his apartment, he could not open the door all the way. He shoved and shoved, and finally I could fit my skinny frame through the narrow opening. I was not prepared for what I would encounter on the other side. He is the sort I would expect to see on a daytime talk show program entitled, “I am a dirty slob.” It was almost unreal. Junk, EVERYWHERE. Piles, and piles and piles. Like a gigantic rat's nest, there were no doorways or halls, just tunnels through trash. I could not see the floor. Was there furniture? The smell!

He asked me to have a seat. I sat on a pile of newspapers, old mail, and expired medicine bottles. There was no rotting food I could see, nothing organic. But it was obvious he kept every non-perishable thing he had ever owned. At least he was embarrassed. At least he didn't seem content to keep living in that condition. It meant there was some hope for him.

I agreed to help. I came three Saturdays and gathered up junk, filling trash bag after trash bag after trash bag. When it was over, I had hardly made a dent and my motivation to help was sapped. He was impossible. I would find a crusty old rag, and as I reached to place it in the bag, he would stop me. “I can use that, I can wash that,” he would say. When he wasn't looking, I'd reach into the pile of “non-throwables” and put them in the trash bag. He didn't notice, usually. But when he did, he would get very irate. Then the opportunity would come less frequently. Those eyes, always on my back. “Ce n'est pas a jetter!,” he would croak (“That's not to be thrown away,”) as if I was desecrating some sacred jewel.

I could take it no longer. I felt sorry for him, wanted to help him. But hours of cleaning without much success tends to dishearten. I had to leave him on his own. I doubt he changed much after that. The trash pile must have continued to grow. Perhaps, after the neighbors complained too much about the smell, the police came by, opened the door, and were knocked back as trash collapsed onto them. Then they must have pushed their way in, cleared paths through the trash, searching for survivors. They would find nothing alive, nothing consequential. But I imagine before leaving they discovered beneath layers of trash, one telling item. A pile of soiled old clothes, and in them, bones.

Packrats of the planet, there is hope for you. It comes in plastic, aluminum and steel. You can choose from a variety of colors. It is called the trashcan. It can be your friend, your brother, your lover. It has the power to simplify your life, clean out the dusty corners of your soul. You must force yourself to let go. Find another vice. Take up smoking, it's cleaner. Discover heroine, it's quicker. Overeat, it's better for you. I refuse to clean another sty. I'm not that altruistic. You're on your own.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Moore's the Pity

Michael Moore came to Utah yesterday to unleash some of his famous rhetoric, you know, the kind that gets people all up in arms. What does he talk about that is so controversial? Who can say, but my money’s on gardening.

This all came just in time. Word on the street was that many Utahans were suffering from and outbreak of Offensanemia (severe deprivation from offense.) Seems people hadn't been appalled or offended in weeks and everyone knows that being offended is like ambrosia for Utahans. They feed on it, drink in its juices. If Moore hadn’t shown up to fire up some long-needed righteous indignation amongst the starving populace, who knows what could have happened. An epidemic, I expect. That Michael Moore, always caring.

You see, some students at Utah Valley State College invited ol’ Moore to stop by and give a speech. Moore is currently on a tour where he riles up “slackers” by offering them Raman noodles and underwear if they will go out and vote. But why bother with Utah, Mr. Moore? Utah is going to vote Republican. I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is here.

So, why try? Well, he did get $50,000 as a speaking fee, and heaven knows how many Twinkies that much money can buy him. If that’s not motivation, what is? And now people are angry. I can’t imagine why. If Republicans get to love Rush Limbaugh, why can’t the Democrats have their own angry fat man? But people were saying that 50k is way too much to pay. Mostly, they didn’t like the idea of a Liberal in Utah, sharing his filthy lies with impressionable students. An equal number of people were incensed at the first set of people. How dare anyone try to squelch free speech! All ideas should be shared and respected and whatnot. There you go: instant controversy.

To calm some of the outrage, and keep things “fair and balanced” (like that’s important), the UVSC student council also invited conservative talk show host and known douche-bag Sean Hannity to speak. Hannity came a couple weeks prior to Moore and didn’t charge ANYTHING for his blather. Too bad he left a $40,000 travel bill. Nice guy. Fortunately, a big chunk of these costs were taken care of with tickets sales. I thought about getting a ticket for Moore’s speech, but they were sold out within days of the announcement. For being so hated, Moore sure sells tickets!

So I tuned in on the radio. Pretty standard stuff. He hates Bush, the country is going to hell, Republicans are evil and corrupt, and so on. At one point he brought in a guest speaker, Roseanne Bar, a Utah native. I guess he figured, why have only one fat, loud person when you can have two? That’s good logic.

And so it goes. Moore is gone now. The youth are safe. Some people got to be appalled and offended again. Others got to hear alternative points of view. Everyone is happy. Me? I can tell you one thing. I’m not about to jump on Michael Moore’s bandwagon. With Roseanne Bar on it now, there just isn’t enough space. Have you seen that woman? Get a bigger wagon, Michael, and I’ll think about it.

Postscript: Yes, this post is nothing more than a bunch of cruel fat jokes. I’m sorry, obesity is funnier than politics. If you’d like a better account of what happened, click here.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Let's Rock

Some guy from Ontario was recently named the Rock Paper Scissors World Champion. Yes, it's true. They have a Rock Paper Scissors world competition. This just goes to show they will have a world competition on pretty much anything. Last month I met the 1996 World Yo-Yo Champion and let me tell you, being a world champion doesn't guarantee much success in life. If it did, you would not be entertaining small crowds of incoherant drunkards at an Oktoberfest in Utah.

But unlike Yo-Yo man, the RPS guy is still enjoying his moment of fame and the $7000 reward he got for all that strenuous hand-work. To be an RPS champion, you have to have a keen mind. It's like being a Chess master, if every chess game is played against lobotomized monkeys. And in a way, it's even more challenging than chess, because the hand positions require an opposable thumb. Sorry, monkeys.

You can read all about this skillful Canadian's victory on the official website of the RPS Society. The site has over a million hits, proving once again that the web was invented so people can waste their lives away. I am no exception. I have wasted many precious moments of my life (time which I can never get back) browsing this site and sharpening up my RPS skills. They have this groovy “Online Trainer” which pits you against an animated arm, eliminating the need for any human contact whatsoever.

This whole RPS thing has inspired me to take affirmative action. No, not to find an ethnic roommate, that's not what I mean. I've decided I need to be more proactive in my decision-making. From now on, everything I do will be determined by Rock Paper Scissors. And, just for fun, let's start right now: one, two, three, rock!

….Dammit I have to kill myself. Note to readers: don't make whether or not to commit suicide your first RPS decision. It was nice knowing you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

"Oh Give Me a Home..."

When I lived in southern California, at any given moment I could jump in a car and get to the beach in about 40 minutes. Here in Utah, if you want sand and salt water there are two options: 1) drive 10 hours to California, or 2) drive ten minutes to the Great Salt Lake. It’s a hard choice, because if you want to compare the two locations, just replace “California beach” with “chocolate cake” and “Great Salt Lake” with “dog vomit.” One is fantastic, but it takes a lot of work to get there. The other is pretty much worthless, but at least it’s closer, right?

But really, the Great Salt Lake does have its charms. For one thing, you can float in it. The salt is so concentrated it makes you very buoyant, as if little hands are lifting you up from underneath. The only other body of water with this much salt is the Dead Sea and that’s even farther away than California, or so I've been told. This is good news if you enjoy floating, and bad news if you enjoy drowning.

Floating is where the fun ends, however. The only other thing the lake has is brine shrimp, flies, stink, and ratbirds (seagulls). The sand is so covered with flies, they make a thick black carpet all along the shore. There is one exception. Seven miles into the lake is a place called Antelope Island which, at certain times of the year, is completely bug free. It’s home to 700 buffalo and various other animals, like (you guessed it) antelope. I’ve always had it in my head that I was going to visit this island but never actually did it.

Well I had Monday off work. Don’t ask me why they think Columbus Day is worthy of celebration. What did Columbus ever do for anyone? I'm not complaining, mind you. Crazy Spaniard or no crazy Spaniard, it's a day off! None of my friends had it off, so hanging out was out of the question. I was left with three options: 1) stay home, 2) pick my nose, or 3) go to Antelope Island.

Home was boring, nose was empty, number 3 it was. I put on my hiking boots, jumped in Abob (my car), and headed off. It was a sunny day and the Salt Lake shimmered as I drove along the causeway listening to Paul Van Dyk. There’s something about good weather, blue water and Trance that is very soothing. Not at all like bad weather, brown water and light jazz. That just sucks.

Once on the island, I pulled into the Visitor’s Center and looked around. There was this creepy old man who kept staring at me. I avoided his eyes, bought a postcard and walked out to take some pictures. When I came back in, he was still staring at me, standing hunched over, with no expression on his pruney face. As I walked past him, I smiled friendly-like. His face never changed. Stupid old man.

I decided to look for buffalo. They’re not hard to find. Really, they’re no-good, lazy creatures. It’s no surprise they were almost wiped out a century or so ago. Like cattle, they enjoy sitting around on their huge, hairy gluts. Most just lay there and stared at me, kind of like that old man. They must be distant cousins.

The only thing better than staring at bison is eating bison. That’s what I did next. A nice Hispanic woman cooked me up a buffalo burger at a small café on a hill. It was good, tasting mostly like cow. All the “exotic” meat I’ve ever had seems to taste like cow. Warthog, bison, emu and ostrich all taste like cow. All the other birds taste pretty much like chicken. Oh, except dove. Dove is the most succulent meat there is. I suspect Noah promptly ate his dove when it came back with that olive branch. That’s what I would have done.

This long-winded travelogue doesn’t have an eventful ending. I drove around some more, went in the water, did some hiking and went home. Nothing life changing, but a good day nonetheless. I decided that I like this little island in the middle of the fly-ridden cesspool they call the Great Salt Lake. Just goes to show that every bad thing always has some good in it. The Salt Lake has Antelope Island. Country music has a few hot vocalists. Hitler has that funny accent. And Celine Dion can’t live forever. Yup, some good in everything.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Please Pass the Adipose

I was sitting around, minding my own business, when this lady on T.V. started talking to me.

“Menopause,” she said. “It's more than hot flashes and mood swings. It's about gaining weight, in places we never gained weight before.”

Holy crap! You think your day is going well, then something unexpected, and yes, even magical happens to make it so much better. You see, I'm a skinny guy and the truth is I could benefit from gaining a few kilos. But when you have a metabolism like mine, the kind that would devour itself if you didn't stop feeding it, gaining weight can be a daunting task. Well, you can imagine my joy when the nice T.V. lady announced this amazing new way to gain weight: menopause.

But what is menopause? Obviously it's something experimental, and perhaps even a wee bit dangerous, as it seems to have the tendency to cause hot flashes and mood swings. Is it a revolutionary new drug? The next trend diet?

Maybe its meaning can be derived from picking apart the word itself: men-o-pause. Hmm. Sounds fishy to me, like it has something to do with slowing men down. Just another item on the checklist of the evil Feminist Agenda. Well darned if I'm going to let some rotten, no-good Feminists show me up. If I have to take out my anger by brutally beating up a prostitute and sexually harassing a Day Care worker, so be it.

But wait, according to Google, that's not what menopause means at all. Boy is my face red. Turns out you need a uterus for the whole thing to work. In a way, I feel a bit betrayed. The lady said “we” after all, and I could only assume she meant everyone. Here I thought I had a free ticket to weight gain and now I am left with only broken dreams.

Fat people think gaining weight is so easy. You lie, fat people. I've tried it all: gorging myself with Crisco, total abstinence from exercise, scouring trash bins outside liposuction clinics. Nothing seems to work. I suppose I could lift a weight or two, but when did I say I wanted muscle? It's fat I want, and lots of it. I want a belly so big I can rest my food on it like a table. I want to my regular breathing to sound like I just barely escaped drowning. I want to experience the “Big and Tall” section of department stores like I've never experienced it before.

Alas, I must give up these hopes. Sometimes you just have to accept your station in life, no matter how hard it hurts. And I suppose, after all has been said and done, I should apologize to that Day Care worker for what I did to her. But not the prostitute. She had it coming.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Watch the Skies

I live near a major Air Force base which means low-flying jets frequently occupy the sky above my house. Aircraft that fly so close to the ground tend to be noisy. Think of the gentle hum that your computer makes and multiple that by five million. That kind of noisy. It is a booming, skin-prickling, deafening sound. Ironic that noises made by real jets can sound so much like the music of that old rock band, The Jets, no? (Stop your groaning.)

I'm okay with this. Rarely do these jets interfere with my daily life. But there is one particular activity where having jets fly directly overhead makes me want to vomit with rage: when I am outside chatting on my cell phone. This gets me to thinking, why must these jets interrupt me while I'm on the phone? Why not when I'm mowing the lawn, or vacuuming, or sobbing myself to sleep?

In fact, I do not recall one occasion where an outdoor phone conversation has NOT been interrupted by a noisy jet. Sure, this could be because talking on the phone is the only time I actually NOTICE these jets which are, in truth, passing by quite regularly, but I reject this explanation. Screw Occam's Razor. The only other logical explanation is that this is all an elaborate government conspiracy against me.

What makes me think the government would be involved in some far-fetched conspiracy against a regular, unassuming citizen such as myself? Hello, they're the GOVERNMENT. What else do they have to do? Perhaps they monitor my calls and are trying to stop me from learning some devastating fact I can use to bring them down. If this is the case, which it most surely is, then I need to piece through some of my recent outdoor phone conversations and figure this out before its too late.

True, in the past I've admitted to having a mild case of Alzheimers, meaning I have some problems with my memory and theoretically would have trouble remembering enough information to piece together any worthwhile evidence. And yes, I may not be able to remember the name, face, or even the gender of many close friends and family members, but dammit, I DO remember cell-phone conversations that have been slighted by noisy Air Force jets.

Three such conversations come to mind. In one I was talking to my good friend about the recent passing of her father. While this was sad, the obvious theme here was death. Another time I was talking to a friend about our plans for that Friday. And yet another time I was telling my mother about my visit to Octoberfest. What does it all mean? It's quite obvious really: the government is planning on murdering someone on a Friday sometime in October. And it could be you!

Lock your doors, bar your windows, be afraid.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Supplemental Reading

Warning: This post will not be funny. Scroll down if you are looking for humor (or attempts at humor, or at the very least, complete sentences.)

Rather, this post is a plug for another blog I just started. As some of you may know, I studied in Africa for a couple months last year. I wrote quite a bit about the experience and wanted to get it out on the web so more people could read it. The blog, entitled "Letters from Senegal," is a bunch of emails and journal entries I wrote while there, along with some photos. I'll be posting them one at a time, every few days. For me, it will be like reliving the whole thing. As for you, feel free to pretend its 2003 and this is all happening for the first time. I don't care what you do, it's your body.

The emails and journal entries might overlap a bit, but I'll edit them to make sure it doesn't happen too much. I noticed while going back through my journal, that I had a lot of interesting details I never put into the emails. Again, this blog will be informative rather than funny. If you're interested in Africa, you will like it. If not, you MIGHT like it. Either way, I'd say you've got decent odds.

I've posted the first two entries. You can read it here, or you can click on the link in the right column. Never say I don't provide you with choices. Off with you now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Obsess Me

I've decided I need an obsession. These days you're hardly living unless you're obsessed with something. I realized this while watching a show on the TV called “Totally Obsessed.” There was a pudgy little woman who was discussing her obsession with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For those of you who are too young or too old to remember, the Turtles were basically like crack for pre-teen boys. I remember owning the toys and comics, watching the cartoons and movies, treasuring the trading cards, the party accessories. I loved those sassy heroes in a half-shell.

But I had nothing on this lady. More than ten years after the Turtles' slow demise in popularity, this woman still continues to structure her life around them. She spends her free time wearing authentic turtle outfits from the movies, acquired at great expense. “This is my real skin,” she said, her voice muffled behind a rubber Michelangelo head. Minimum wage worker by day, Ninja Turtle by night, this 30-something woman does not slack in her dedication. She has racked up enormous debts to buy the original outfits and weapons. She lives on a diet mostly of pizza with bizarre topping ideas she got from cartoon show. She spent hundreds of dollars taking karate lessons which she demonstrated on her brother in full costume for the camera. Sadly, after dodging a few of her weak punches, he pushed her onto the ground where she remained, breathing hard. So much for the karate.

Perhaps the most revealing moment was when she quoted a few lines about “believing in yourself” from a Turtles On Ice production--clichéd advice they likely ripped off from a Hallmark card. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears as she melodically recited the lines, her face thick with intensity. This woman really was totally and pathetically obsessed.

Isn't it great? This is why I need an obsession. I've gone over some potential things I could be obsessed with but nothing seems to cut it. I'm pretty devout in my religion, but I'd hardly call it an obsession; I leave that to those who participate in pioneer reenactment treks or attend seminars on food storage. I'm a huge fan of Bjork, but despite owning all her albums, attending concerts and having painted her portrait in oils, I still pale in comparison to my old friend Luis, whose love for Bjork is all consuming. (I kid, Luis, but you ARE pretty into her). True there have been brief stints with Mr. Potatohead dolls, furry rodents, and herbal tea but none really qualify for a true obsession.

I suppose all I have left to be obsessed with is…coke. No, not the soda and no, not the narcotic. The baked coal. Yes, without coke how could we get our furnaces hot enough to smelt ore into the iron we so desperately need for steel? Eureka, I've found it! Coke it is.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Bad Button

There is a little bar on the top of my blog with a button labeled “next blog.” Clicking it will send you off to some other blog, chosen at random. I decided to give this a whirl, you know, see what's out there in cyberspace. Perhaps I would stumble upon something truly engaging, hilarious, educational and/or inspiring. Well, turns out it was all a big lie.

Never push that button. Sure it looks innocent and unassuming, but so does Miracle Whip, which is really just rancid chalk.

“Come on,” the button may coo. “Push me. You know you want to. Aren't you curious? It's just one little click of your mouse. What could it hurt?”

Don't listen to the talking button! Call me naïve, but I thought the point of having a blog was to communicate some message to an audience. But 90% of what I read during my little browsing session was completely unreadable.

To be fair, I realize that there are people who are born with severe punctuation disorders. While some people are born without limbs, others are born without the ability to use periods, spaces or commas. I think these people should avoid the internet. You don't see Mr. No Hands trying his luck with the harp, do you? Same rule applies here. I figure, if you can't type legibly, don't type.

And then there are those who intentionally want to confuse you. I will call these people “Mixed Capitalization Douche Bags.” They type all their sentences like so: “HeLlO Im A dOuCHe bAG!” Why would anyone do this? It just boggles me. If I could ask God only ONE question, it would be about this.

Luckily, if you do a lot of rummaging, wading through all the muck, you may find something worthwhile. Really the best way to insure a safe, eye-sore-free blogging experience, is to avoid the “next blog” button altogether and instead use some kind of search engine. To help you, I’ve added a link to one such search engine, “blogwise,” in the right margin. They screen all the blogs first, at least, which tends to help. Good luck and happy blogging!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Change Comes To Us All

"I'm so grateful to be in a country where I'm not always living in fear of machine guns."

So said a rather odd fellow as part of his remarks over the pulpit a few Sundays ago. No one else in the congregation found this statement to be hilarious, so I had to hold back all my laughter. But today I will have to whole-heartedly agree: I'm so grateful I can change my blog's name without worrying about all those pesky machine guns.

And so I have. If you were counting, the name "Jeremy's Black Pit of Eternal Sadness" won the most votes with a whopping FOUR. "The Skinny" and "Happy Smile Land" tied for second and the name I ended up choosing was in third. Turns out I had been leaning towards that name all along, and my vote counts for at least a million, so in reality it ended winning with 1,000,002 votes. I did receive some other suggestions, but let's be honest: who in God's green earth would want to name their blog "i'M sO cUtE. LoL"?!

But there's a story behind the name I chose. Several years ago I kept a book tucked under my bed. Every morning when I woke, I would grab the book and quickly write what I could remember from what I had just been dreaming. I heard such a practice could help increase one's chances of "lucid dreaming," or the ability to become fully aware in a dream without waking up. It actually worked a couple times, but never lasted longer than a minute or so. And so I eventually lost interest and the book went in a box.

I opened it up again recently, and the first thing I read was, "I'm flying backwards with great speed," and for some reason this line just spoke to me. There you have it. In an attempt to make this whole thing relevant, I will say that many of my entries are about things I consider to be backward. Hah. There you go. The title has meaning.

In other news, this blog has now gotten more than 1000 hits. Thank you to the ten people who pushed the refresh button 100 times each. You will all receive virgins in heaven.

Monday, September 20, 2004

What the Scrap?

Scrapbooking is big business in Utah. I would venture to say it is as big as country music, Republicanism, and Jell-o. Somewhere down the line, Utahans decided that photographs in of themselves just don’t cut it. After all, it's impossible to accurately preserve a memory without colorful backgrounds, cutesy stickers, die-cuts and felt markers. Maybe it's the Utahans' ancestor-loving nature that pushes them towards this craft. Maybe it's just another kooky side effect of living in large, happy-go-lucky Mormon communities. Whatever the reason, scrapbooking is huge. Seems to me it must comprise at least one-third of the Utah economy.

So you can imagine the financial devastation Utah would suffer if scrapbooking suddenly became unpopular. Well give your imagination a rest. I know exactly what would happen. How? Time travel, of course. On my latest jaunt through time, I stopped off in Utah to witness “The Great Scrapbook Crash of 2011.” Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Fortunately I managed to recover a soiled newspaper I found in the gutter. I had to wrench it away from a dirty little toddler who was using it as her blanket. She'll probably freeze, but at least you’ll get to read this article:

FEBRUARY 12th, 2011. SALT LAKE CITY – The bread lines grew longer Tuesday as 500 more scrapbook stores were forced to close their doors. The majority of Utahans are now out of work, the streets of Salt Lake City brimming with shanty towns, impoverished families struggling to feed their children.
“I suppose we can only blame ourselves,” said Sheila Peterson, 43, whose family lost everything shortly after the tragic crash. “When you have to take out a second mortgage to finance your scrapbooking habits, you know something isn't quite right. I guess it was all just a matter of time.”
Sheila isn't alone. Millions of Utahans gambled their financial stability on glitter pens, squiggly markers, and specialty scissors. In a state that struggles to curb the steady rise of cheap Methamphetamine, who could have guessed the real danger stemmed from a much more deadly drug; the drug of creative memory preservation, or “scrapping” as it's now known on the streets.
“I'd been scrapping for 15 years,” said Kaydee Young, 32, from Pleasant Grove. “It was more than a habit for me. I couldn't stop. Even after the crash, I just couldn’t help myself. Sometimes I'd raid neighbors' closets, looking for whatever I could find. When things got really bad, I sold five teeth for a few sheets of paper with little American flags on them. I mean, how was I supposed finish the page on my Nephew's Eagle Court of Honor without the proper backdrop? Now pattern pages will cost you a kidney and I already sold one for a couple acid-free glue sticks. All is lost.”
Yet among the rubble and ruin of this once bustling economy, there still shines a beacon of hope. Franklin Covey has reported a dramatic increase in sales. Once shadowed by the scrapping craze, Daily Planners may yet prove to be just the medicine Utah needs. Instead of praying for more seagulls, Utahans would find a better miracle in the personal organizer, whose efficient dedication to time management may soon overshadow the dying art of the scrapbook.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

No Vote, No Voice

Please don't think I'd be so uncouth as to discuss the presidential election on this blog. Everyone knows that's a lose-lose situation. No, this post is actually about voting on a new name for this blog. Yes, I've grown tired of "Jeremy's Blog" as a title, so I'm thinking of changing it. Thinking sometimes requires input. That's where you come in.

So, my blog readers, you single digits you, read the following list of possibilites and vote on your favorite in the comments section. Some I'm really considering, some are thrown in to fill up space. Perhaps you think they all are terrible. If this is the case, feel free to suggest a name, as long as you refrain from suggesting something like "Jeremy's Porn Barn" or whatnot. The last thing I need is this blog attracting animal lovers.

The list:
1. Eat This Mr. Ebertson
2. Happy Smile Land
3. Santa, Elves, and Everyone
4. The Turbo Power 2000 Plus Deluxe Special Edition
5. Flying Backwards With Great Speed
6. Tab and Bon Bons
7. Jeremy's Black Pit of Eternal Sadness
8. The Skinny
9. Stuff To Read
10. Jeremy's Blog (it's so classic)

Do remember to vote, because if you don't, how could you live with yourself?

Friday, September 17, 2004

Damned Ladies 2

A month or so ago I wrote a post called "Damned Ladies," about working in a female-dominated environment. Since then, I've written down some of the things I've heard during their regular conversations right outside my cubicle. I've decided to compile a short list of quotes for which I will provide no context. They are more amusing taken as they are:

"Don't even look at me. I'm so scary looking today it's pathetic!"

"That's what I did with my emotions while I was married to the crazy man."

"Well, I beat my dog, but you don't know what my dog does!"

"I'm just greasy every day."

"I feel like you just told me you're going to marry Paul Newman."

"I was like all frightened of him. Him and his long braids."

"All farmers have bad breath."

"My pants smelled gross. I was so embarassed for myself."

"You mom brings you milk? My mom never brought me milk. She never even nursed me!"

"She's got a growth somewhere."

"Is that why I have a bulbous butt?"

I doubt these quotes are as amusing to you as they are to me, but I thought I'd share them anyway since they make me giggle, all giddy-like.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Would You Like Death With That?

Yes, it's true. Scientists are kidnapping people and replacing their brains with those of small monkeys. I know this because I read a news article today about a Chicago woman who stabbed her cousin to death in an argument over a box of french fries.

Now before we start getting on our high-horse and making self-righteous claims about the degradation of humanity and the effects of too much exposure to casual violence, let's step back and take a look at the larger issue: the deliciousness of those fries.

I can't remember the last time I've had fries so good I'd kill for them. This has to be what's missing in my life. (Yes I know that the thing-that's-missing-in-my-life changes every week, what's your point?)

Frankly, there are too few things in this world I'd be willing to kill for. I suppose I'd kill for my family, but that's rather vague don't you think? Better stated: I'd kill for my family and for the huge wads of cash they'll all happen to be holding in each hand.

Of course this whole thing is tragic. Here are two perfectly stupid human beings involved in a senseless murder. Nobodly likes murder, unless it somehow involves Fran Drescher. Really, people should not be subjected to things like "The Nanny." Shame on you, Fran.

Back to the point. Where did these deadly fries come from? The delicious folks at White Castle is where. Sadly, since White Castle is only available to the tiny-hamburger-loving eastern U.S., their sublime french fries have yet to grace my palate. All I know is that if I ever make it out to Chicago or some other White Castle-friendly town, I plan on sampling the fries. If they live up to the ridiculous expectations I've set for them, I'll add them to my list of things worth killing for. Until then, I plan on living a non-murderous lifestyle, no matter how many times I think of doing in Fran Drescher. And let me tell you, I think of it hourly.

No, I'm not making this up. Read the news article here.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I Dream of TiVo

TiVo has become my new crack cocaine. Before TiVo, my crack was shopping for furniture, and before that it was herbal tea. Perhaps there was a time when my crack was actual crack, who can say?

Yes, I'm addicted to TiVo. And not because I watch a lot of TV. It's simply this: TiVo makes me powerful. I can pause, rewind, fast-forward and record live TV. Perhaps I can even affect weather patterns. Who can say? TiVo has many powers.

For example, I was watching the very end of the BYU-Notre Dame game last week with some friends, and apparently I missed an amazing catch. Oh no! But was I doomed to a bad reenactment of this momentous event through my feeble imagination? No! Thanks to Tivo, I just pushed the rewind and lived it all over again. (sidenote: it wasn't that cool.)

Sometimes I’m listening to NPR in my car and am temporarily deafened by a loud sound (usually from some dumb semi truck) and end up missing an important point. What was that, Neal Conan? We're still fighting a war on WHAT? The National WHAT is coming in November? I'm listening to “WHAT of the Nation?” So I instinctively reach for the rewind button before I have to stop myself. Holy crap, the radio is not a TiVo! This realization hits me like a thousand voodoo needles. Then I can barely even see the road because I can't stop sobbing.

TiVo would be great in real life too. No longer would you have to sneak peeks at some attractive young thing across the room. Simply reach for the remote, press “pause,” then gaze away. And think of all the dry, meandering conversations you could fast-forward though. Hear that, old man Johnson? Your gardening stories have no power over me.

Yes, life is better with TiVo. But is TiVo better with life? This is the great question of existence. Only God can answer. And I'm sure he will get to it eventually, unless he owns a TiVo, in which case forget about it. He's busy.

Tamped On

This post is about tampons, as you probably couldn't guess after reading the title. You see, it was a PUN. Get it? You know, “tamped”...the act of tamping.

So tampons. Why would I bring them up, you wonder. Being male, I naturally would not have occasion to use them. Which is precisely my point. They don't concern me, so I'd like to forget they exist.

Why then do commercials try so hard to remind me? I could go my whole life without seeing a tampon commercial and be perfectly fine. But the folks at Tampax just don't seem too concerned about my feelings. I'm regularly exposed to ads where clever menstruaters use their tampons to solve little problems. What luck! You can fix a leaky boat with tampons. Oh rapture! You can use your tampons like a rope. Except these cute little ads still only remind me of what I'd rather not remember; that tampons exist to absorb gooey, bloody discharge.

Some feminine hygiene commercials take it a step further, not even attempting to deliver a message in good taste. I will quote from an ad I saw a year or so ago which has been permanently burned into my memory:

"Some things are kept best among friends. Like painful, burning, feminine itch."

Whoa, way too much detail Ad Lady. If it's kept best among friends, why are you telling the whole world? Yes, the WHOLE WORLD. The orphans in Romania haven’t stopped having nightmares.

Now girls, don't tell me I'm being too squeamish and wimpy and that it's a part of nature and I might as well get used to it. How many commercials do YOU see advertising products to eliminate thick, sweaty back hair on men? It's certainly something that some men deal with, but I seriously doubt anyone wants to be reminded of it.

Alas, I'm throwing up my hands. Really, nothing can be done, since the nature of advertising involves pushing a message through thousands of unintendeds to reach that special target audience. I've accepted that. But can I whine about it anyway? Of course I can. I can also make up verbs like "to tamp.” Don't tamp with me mother-tamper.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Golden Age

There needs to be more made-up holidays like Labor Day. Having a day off is a beautiful thing. I spent it at a cabin in Causey resevoir, among the pine trees and Pinesol scented air. You can't beat the mountains. Green things and relaxation go together naturally, like peanut butter and jelly or stomach pumps and Arbys.

The activities were uniform: hiking, stargazing, dvd watching, cheesy game playing. There were ten of us, a perfect number to fill the ten beds up in the loft. But think about it; when there's a bunch of single twenty-somethings, five guys and five girls, sleeping in a tight space in the middle of the woods, certain things are bound to happen...

Like long conversations about Eighties cartoons, for example. As a child of the Eighties, I never miss the opportunity to reminisce about the good old days. How could any boy claim to have had a horrific childhood when there was He-Man, Transformers, Thundercats, and Garbage Pail Kids? And girls had it good too, what with My Little Pony, She-Ra, Strawberry Shortcake, and Jem and the Holograms. Pity the female pre-teen today, with her Gangsta-Skank Barbie and complete lack of Kid Sister dolls.

It was the golden age of Saturday morning cartoons, unequaled by previous decades or any decade to come. What other decade had such catchy theme songs that can be so easily remade into techno songs? I mean the only thing the Nineties offered were thousands of Power Rangers spin-offs and those tended to cause severe mental retardation, or so I've been told. Today we have nonsensical shows like Sponge-Bob Square Pants. He lives under the sea, yet somehow he can go sailing on a boat on TOP of the water. I'm sorry, that's way too trippy.

Times are changing. What are my future kids going to watch? She-He-Man? The Adventures of Girls-Gone-Wild-Endless-Spring-Break Barbie? I say bring back the Eighties cartoons, or at least something like them. Kids need the stability, what with all the dangers that they face from terrorists and Michael Jackson. Who would you trust to protect you: a ripped, panther-riding super-hero or a talking dish sponge? Tight-pink shirts or not, my money's on He-Man.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Yesterday one of my co-workers, let's just call her Denise (since that's her real name), was let go. Denise was a bizarre lady from New Jersey.  She had a distinct, nasal Eastern accent, dressed tackier than a garden gnome, and possessed an unhealthy obsession for horses. The very first day she moved into her cubicle, she junked it up with glittery picture frames, assorted baubles, trinkets, ceramic knickknacks, and old photographs. She was eccentric and loud. She spent all of her free time with her ex-husband, who lives down the street from her. She was such a delightfully weird, freakish woman. Her constant bantering was often a welcome interruption into a slow day at work. Too bad she was incompetent. Despite her long years as a teacher and educator, she seemed incapable of handling simple tasks. To her, a computer was like a mystical creature that had to be tamed, usually by yelling at it and making loud claims that it was possessed. So no more Denise. But it was an interesting 6 weeks.

There just aren't enough strange people in my life. When I look around me, all I see are relatively normal, non-deranged, everyday people. It's getting on my nerves. I miss the odd-balls.

Like the crazy Parisian at my first job home from France, who did phone surveys with a voice so high-pitched it often became inaudible.  I remember clearly her pale, mullet-like blonde hair, the gap in her front teeth... She couldn't pronounce the word "or" (she said "of"), and complained long and loud that our job had no good "benefit." It turned out she was the ex-wife of my French professor, who told me he divorced her because she went crazy. According to her: "Je lui ai foutu par le porte" (I kicked him the eff out).

Then there was Margo, one of my favorites. She lived in the French city of Poitiers, and spent most of her life walking her dogs. She was from Philadelphia, and kept her brash Eastern mannerisms and harsh American accent intact despite her ten years living abroad. She carried baby wipes on her outings and would wipe her dogs' rear-ends whenever they relieved themselves on the sidewalk (which was frequent). I got the feeling the locals were afraid of her. Sometimes I would pass her as she sat in a cafe, energetically gesturing at someone across the table, an acquaintance or a stranger, whose eyes were usually wide with shock, desperately maintaining an uncomfortable smile.

So many loonies, so many memories. These three examples are of women, but I've known my fair share of crazy men: one who communicated primarily in long, cartoonish giggles, one who kept the pre-packaged photos of pretty girls in the frames to display around his home, and my Senegalese friend, Ass Faye, who has no idea his first name is so comical.

Charming eccentrics, all of them. But they're in low supply these days. I need to meet more weirdos. I would turn to the internet but it's too full of the creepy, molest-a-child kinds of weirdos. I want the harmless kind. But where is one to go? Not the library or the park; too many normal families. Not Wal-Mart; too many rednecks. Not church; too many purposeful believers.

I will have to wander the streets, seeking out the strange, the funky, the socially backward. Perhaps my journey will be long, fraught with regular encounters and everyday exchanges. But I will persevere. I will not shrink. Be afraid, freaks of the planet, I'm coming for you. 

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Pschitt Book

The "Pschitt Book" is now officially online for your viewing pleasure. No longer will it have to remain stuffed away in some box which I can no longer locate. Now the whole world can see it, meaning the world of people who read my blog (population: 2).

What is the Pschitt Book?
It is a short "book" of photographs I took four years ago while living in France. When I got home, I scanned the photos and fixed them up in Photoshop.

What is Pschitt?!
It's a French soda.

What does Pschitt mean?
In French it is pronounced "psheet," or the noise a soda can makes when you open it. But in English, it is pronounced "pshit," or the stuff you deposit when you visit the restroom.

Who are in the photographs?
Me (at age 20), a couple friends, and of course the lovely Pschitt himself.

This is dumb. Why would you waste your time?
Shut up, you.

Click Here to See the Book!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Silence, the Anti-Quote

I don't think it's right that great movies are always getting raped by quote junkies. It happens all the time: some funny movie comes out, and before you even see it, you've heard it quoted 40,000 times. Wow, you think, this movie sounds dumb as hell.

But it's actually a GOOD movie, it has just been distorted by bad-quoting; people flinging out lines that sound nothing at all like how the actor said it, and usually only vaguely close to the actual line.

Or, after seeing a movie, you want to relish in the fond memories of a great flick, but instead have to relive it through constant, painful quoting.

Shame on you Excessive Movie Quoters. You know who you are.

This happened recently to me with Napoleon Dynamite. This is an absurd comedy about a nerdy guy from Preston, Idaho. It's whacky, it's original, it's entertaining. But, man, is it over quoted. I hear it quoted at work, among friends, at gatherings, and even in the theatre before the lines are delivered!

Just because the film was funny, doesn't make YOU funny by endlessly repeating lines. Sure, once in a while, here and there. But not ALL THE TIME. It's obnoxious, it's annoying. It's what Satan wants.

Another example is Monty Python. You really have to be in a silly British-humor sort of mood to laugh at Python. But when it's quoted, you are usually not in that mood. Plus, the high-pitched cockney accents are always way off. Eric Idle would turn over in his grave. (No he's not dead, but if he were, he would turn.)

Not only has over-quoting ruined many movies, it has also damaged people's ability to distinguish between original humor and scripted humor. You know you're in a sad, sad situation when you're with a group of people and someone says something absurdly funny and someone else asks, “Where's that from?” Sometimes I want to smack that person.

It's all an interesting paradox, really. Yes, constant quoting can make a good movie seem bad, but it also has the reverse effect. Terrible movies, when quoted often enough, seem a whole lot funnier. Take Event Horizon for example. This movie is perhaps one of the worst I have ever seen. Yet there are so many delightfully horrid lines, I could quote it all day. Dune, the original movie adaptation of the old Sci-Fi novel, can be hilarious when quoted.

So there you have it. Don't quote great movies; they can stand on their own. It's the bad ones that need a boost. So, in conclusion, if you're ever in the mood to rent the American Idle classic “From Justin to Kelly,” do us a favor: quote away.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Curiously Strong Beef

Yesterday I went to the Curiosa festival in Salt Lake. I went, of course, to see the Cure and take the opportunity to enjoy Robert Smith before he starts to decompose (having passed away from old age years ago). The Usana amphitheatre was at capacity, brimming with all kinds of interesting people, although the majority seemed to be severely colorblind (not being able to differentiate between colors other than black). Goth or not, they were all fairly young, yet still rabid fans, even though the Cure has been around for a long, long time--since the Twenties, I think.

It's in these exploration years that young adults tend to experiment with harmful and often destructive practices—like rampant hedonism, drugs, and/or vegetarianism. Yes, PETA, everyone's favorite animal defenders and veggie-lifestyle advocates had a booth at the festival. PETA is known for protesting everything from the cruel slaughter of bovine to the cruel practice of staring down geese.

These days, vegetarians like to pretend they're hip, socially conscious do-gooders, and not just spacey hippies. Boy, do they have their work cut out for them. Yet I joke. I actually quite respect vegetarians, although it is not my lifestyle of choice.

But what vegetarians certainly don't need is PETA on their side. Let's be honest: PETA is whacky. It almost feels like they get some kind of sadistic pleasure out of barraging us with images of animals being viciously abused come slaughter-time. I just don't want to think about THAT while I’m chomping on a cheeseburger. Do you see me trying to ruin your soy yogurt by revealing to you what soy is really made of? (chalk dust).

The answer is no, PETA. Leave me alone. And please leave the teenage goth kids alone too, who want nothing more than to come see the Cure, smoke pot, and contemplate suicide. And yet you insist on distracting them. That's just cruel.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Love Letter

Dear Mr. Macintosh,

I have a confession to make. I think I have feelings for you. This wasn't supposed to happen. I was content to smugly downplay you as an inferior machine. I scoffed at your one-button mouse, your unfamiliar operating system, your goofy, sleek design.

But spending hours with you every day for the past few months has changed me forever. At first it was difficult to admit it to myself, having been against you for so long. I felt like a NRA member having to admit Charlton Heston is hopelessly insane. It's not easy, but it's the truth. I couldn't help but fall for you. You're simple and stylish. You're smooth, easy to navigate, and charmingly practical.

Do me a favor. Don't tell old man IBM. He wouldn't understand. How could he? We've been together so long, he just wouldn't be able to deal with someone new in my life. Besides, he doesn't suspect a thing. Let's leave him happy and ignorant. You'll have me at work and he'll have me at home. It's best this way.

Affectionately Yours,

I hope this letter was sufficiently creepy.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Toilet Bowl of Doom

I’ve often heard the phrase “that’s money down the drain.” It’s not supposed to be literal. It’s an expression like…”Who’s your Daddy?” (Which people say even when they know perfectly well who your father is.) Tell that to my toilet. I was rushing to get ready for a wedding reception, and was late as usual (see my “Marriage-a-Thon” post in the June Archives if you don’t believe me). I’ve decided to stop blaming myself that I’m always late to these kinds of things and just accept that the fact that tardiness to wedding receptions was coded into my DNA at birth.

So I was rushing, and in the process of changing pants I threw everything from my pockets onto the bed. I went to the bathroom to visit the toilet and as I was flushing, I noticed something fall into the swirling water. “What’s that,” I asked myself casually. Then I noticed it was green and looked like money. Oh Crap! It was the $10 I had just gotten from my debit card not 15 minutes before. And there it went, down to wherever toilets take your bodily waste—which is to San Bernardino, I think.

Looks like when I was tossing everything out of my pockets, it got stuck on the very edge and flew out as I reached to flush. I’ve used pay toilets before, but this was ridiculous. Most expensive trip to the bathroom ever!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

I, Cellphone

Movies whose plots involve sinister, murderous androids, like “I, Robot,” “Terminator,” or “Sense and Sensibility” are really not that far-fetched. In these kinds of movies, humans become too dependent on electronic things and, in turn, are overwhelmed by technology. We deal with this reality every day—being way too dependent on technology, that is (not being gutted by metal men with Austrian accents). Most of us couldn’t function without modern conveniences. I mean, how could we live without our talking dishwashers, personal jet packs or robot butlers?

Or better yet, how could we live without our cell phones? A recent scientific study found that 85% of adults that are separated from their cell phones for more than 6 hours quickly succumb to madness and literally claw their own faces to the bone.

I barely escaped this fate Saturday when I found that my cell phone was missing. I woke up to knocks at the door by someone who had been trying to reach me by phone but had to end up stopping by after leaving three messages. When the visitor was gone, and I was awake enough to think coherently, I began to wonder why the sound of the phone hadn’t woken me. Then, after frantically searching about, I realized my phone was gone. [Gasp!]

This is not the first time I’ve misplaced my phone. But usually after a few minutes of panic, I end up finding it, albeit in strange places like the refrigerator. This time, though, my search came up empty. What was I to do? I felt so cut off from the rest of the world. I live alone and I don’t have a house line, so I couldn’t call anybody. Plus, I wouldn’t know anyone's number, since they’re all in my phone. These days, memorizing numbers is pointless when a machine can do it for you.

So where could the phone be? The last time I remember using it was the night before. But since then, I had gone to three different houses and been in three different vehicles. Heck, it could be anywhere! (Well, not really anywhere, just somewhere in those six locations).

So I drove to my friend’s house and used his cell phone to call around. Finally, after several long, excruciating MINUTES, I tracked the darn thing down. It was at some girl’s house which I had visited the night before in the a.m’s. I didn’t even remember her name, but she was nice enough wait for me to drive over and pick the phone up.

Sweet joy! We were at last reunited. I was complete again, no longer a stranger in this scary, empty world of ours. The whole ordeal only lasted a few hours, but now I am fully cognizant of how much I rely on this silly electronic device, how much I depend on its ability to connect me with people. I have no idea how, only a year ago, I was able to live and function as a productive human being without a cell phone. I can only guess it was a dreary, Amish-like existence, filled with nightmarish pay phone visits.

So yes, having a cell phone clearly indicates a powerful dependency on technology; an addiction to convenience, if you will. So what. Pass me the heroine, some Tab and a conference call. I’m riding this addiction to the end.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Dog Hungry

No, the title of this post does not refer to any sudden cravings for certain menu items from the Korean restaurant down the street. Nor is it a commentary on the malnutrition of house pets. It's just this: today I realized what was missing in my life. It's not fame, it's not glory, it's not a wife. It's a dog.

I miss having a dog. I had a dog growing up, one that was grossly neglected and probably led a miserable existence, but dangit I loved it in the few instances I gave it attention.

But now that I'm grown (vertically if not horizontally), I'd like to think I'd be able to take care of one responsibly and give it the attention and affection it deserves.

It's just that I don't trust myself. I have the tendency to love animals only when it's convenient. My pet fish knows that I only take care of him because he makes a good decoration in my livingroom. He knows it, and accepts it, so I guess he's not a good example.

But gerbils are a good example. I owned gerbils a couple years ago and when I say gerbils, I don't mean two or three, I mean twenty-one. I started out with two, but then I decided it would be "cute" if I brought in a female and they had babies. (Reason #314 I think I may have been dropped at birth) Long story short: she kept popping out the babies, 7 or 8 at a time, even after I separated her from her mating partner (how was I supposed to know they go into heat immediately after giving birth?).

My room was overtaken by a maze of plastic tubes connecting cages, activity zones, bathing areas, and digging areas. My poor roommates. Not only were they subjected to the smell (despite the weekly 3-hour cage cleanings I did), but also the possibility of finding a gerbil chewing on their hand during one of their frequent "jail breaks." I was kind of like the crazy cat-lady but I didn't run around screaming and throwing them at people.

Eventually I had to get rid of the gerbils. I was going to study in Africa and I certainly couldn't take them with me. I tried putting up fliers, even offering the cages for free, but in a college town gerbils are not a hot item. So, one cold night, I released them into the mountains where they likely were eaten by snakes or just died from hunger or exposure to the elements, rotting under some bush.

So you see, I can't trust myself with animals. And since a dog is like 40 gerbils put together, that's just too much responsibility. Yes, the void in my life that should have been filled by a dog will have to remain empty, at least for now. Sorry Rover, no home for you.