A friend commented that ey has noticed that I'm rolling my eyes a lot lately. It's a bad habit of mine that I developed when I was practically in utero. It's an even worse habit considering I do not realize when I do it and, consequently, have little control over it. Still, it's a sign that I'm becoming a bit antsy with my situation. I blame summer. I'm cooped up in my room doing grad school reading and my human interaction is limited to a far smaller social circle since a lot of my friends up and graduated a month and a half ago.

I used to be content to be snippy, but found myself happier once I dropped that aspect from my behavior. This catty urge has reawakened, however, so I figure I might as well channel its powers for entertainment rather than just evil.

It's been a while since I've read random blogs in order to make fun of them, but the cat in me is dying to hiss. Last night, I stumbled upon a great one, Homemaking Dreams. It's by a southern, married, Christian woman named Debbie. She's one of those bloggers who informs you of every mundane detail in her life. No quilting, cooking, or shopping story is too inconsequential to share. One day she'll announce that she has browned some beef on the stove and frozen it, then a few later report on how she used said beef as well as how it tasted after being frozen.

Unfortunately, mocking Debbie is nearly irresistible. In this post, she babbles about how she has been inspired by other bloggers to be sure to clean her house for at least 30 minutes a day. This "appeals" to her even. In order to better accomplish this goal, she has a sort of housekeeping journal. Additionally, she laments that she wants to read the entire Bible before the end of the year, yet is behind schedule.

Here, Debbie says she bought a mug inscribed "Grandma's Mug" at a yard sale, but feels old when she uses it. Her story ends with my new two favorite sentences in the English language: "The Brita pitcher was the best find of all! It was like the Lord put it there for me."

As much as I want to find her tidy house and vomit all over her for expressing such things as, "Looks like I will be a 'real' homemaker this weekend. Cooking, cleaning and sewing!!!! Can't wait!!!!", I must admit, as that last post might be an indication, we do have a crucial trait in common: thriftiness.

While I'm cheap, Debbie is pinching pennies more vigorously than her grandkids' cheeks. Nearly every day, she posts updates on where she used certain coupons and what the best bargains she found were. We share a mutual affinity for the liberry, which I love.

I'm pretty convinced, though, that her frugality borders on a mental illness. It's as though she cannot think of anything but how she can save money. Did you know that you can buy 50 dryer sheets for a dollar? To heighten the savings, did you know you can cut them in half? Also, if you're putting more than half a squeeze of toothpaste on your toothbrush, you're a sucker to the corporations.

Seeing these musings, I'm so terrified that this could become me, I almost want to run out and recklessly spend hundreds of dollars. Or I could just buy tampons in bulk. Yes, that's right, she may be a grandma, but she hasn't gone through menopause yet. I, on the other hand, just won't bleed.


Honorary Lesbian

During my junior year of college, I did a presentation/paper in my literary theory class on Monique Wittig. Though I had already come to my gender neutral pronoun kick the previous semester during an independent study, reading Wittig opened my mind to a new way of thinking about gender. If I were able to create a required reading list for everyone in the world, Wittig's article, "One Is Not a Born a Woman" (you can read a significant portion of the text here) would make my shortlist. During my presentation, I acknowledged the biological differences, and for a reason I can't entirely remember (though I swear it was legitimate), I suggested that I would be willing to present my genitals as proof of my maleness. Thereafter, Ted would refer to it as "that time I offered to show my penis to my class," which is true, but makes it sound more like pointless nudity than, you know, educational nudity. (Note: I would not afford the same offer to my high school students.) At the end, my professor applauded my willingness to tackle these theories, declaring me an "honorary lesbian," a monicker I, cheesily enough, cherished.

Despite my honorary lesbian status, I have never been to a lesbian bar before. Correction: I had never been to a lesbian bar before - until I went to two different establishments on consecutive nights.

On Wednesday, Jocelyn and crew took me to a place called The Hook-Up, a name that I respect for just putting it out there, for karaoke. Despite being in the middle of an eerily deserted road, this place was crowded. In fact, I haven't seen a bar this busy in my area ever, especially on a weekday -- apparently everyone's hanging out at the hidden gay tavern. (Alert the media, the gay bomb has already been detonated.)

The karaoke was pretty good. The busty KJ (Karaoke Jockey) referred to me as a "twink," and apparently, as an offering to the small assemblage of older gay men amongst the lesbians, skipped me toward the front of the line each time I requested a song. My best song was probably "Hey Ya" by Outkast, mainly because it got people dancing. And, by that point in the night, I worked up enough courage to shake it like a polaroid picture. If I ever return and my confidence increases, I might have to perform "Only Women Bleed" and then proceed to be beaten to death by a mob of justifiably bitter lesbians.

The best singer was this woman(?) who looked kind of like a man in drag to me, but whose voice was sweet and gave no indication of being anything short of feminine. As much as I think gender shouldn't matter, I must admit that it's still difficult for me to fight the impulse of trying to guess someone's "real identity" (whatever that means) all the same. I was so perplexed by trying to pinpoint a gender, I began to doubt if the person was even really as fat as ey appeared. I was either having a highly intellectual/spiritual moment, or I was drunk.

The thing about a lesbian bar is that, be it for biological or political reasons, I was probably not going to have much opportunity to "hook-up," despite what the name suggested. So imagine my surprise when I was described as being "exactly the type" of someone not present at the bar. I'm not really into the fix up thing, but I must say I would be intrigued to meet this person. I don't personally have a type, and of the people I've met that have a "type," I've never known it to be anything close to me. This is certainly uncharted territory.

Last night, Stacy and Alison brought me to Club Butchin'. There's not too much to report: the drinks were pricier and the lesbians were younger. It wasn't really my scene, honorary lesbian or not. You might think that by going to a lesbian bar, your female friend would not get groped by a scuzzy old man. Apparently, however, there's one in every crowd.

Oh, and I fell in love. I'm not sure I've had love-at-first-sight vibes since, who the hell knows when, but this girl was... wow. She stood next to me at the bar, made small talk and I was so smitten, I could barely respond. Though, again, I don't have a "type," I think if I were to have one, it would be the androgynous person with a hint of discernible femininity with a punk outfit and a shaggy, boyish haircut. Alas, my sudden affection was not unique, as I learned that, well, everyone thought she was fall-on-the-floor hot. I made an attempt to take a photograph of her with my phone, but missed and then felt super creepy. It's times like these, and truthfully, just the one time, I wish I had an honorary lesbian identification card laminated so I could have a shot with her.

Naturally, this post could only end with a Weezer song:

"I'm dumb, she's a lesbian.
I thought I had found the one.
We were good as married in my mind,
but married in my mind's no good.
Pink triangle on her sleeve
let me know the truth,
let me know the truth."


Staking My Reputation

Like most evenings, the conversation turns to Queen Latifah. Subsequently, I bring up the obnoxious holiday season commercials she recently did for Target. Desiree insists they were for Walmart. Initially, we agree to disagree, but I feel confident that they were for Target, and offer to stake my reputation on the fact. Desiree, feeling equally confident, agrees to put hers on the line as well. Ted wants in on the bet, too, putting a dollar on Walmart. Objectively, that's the more rewarding wager: a dollar has value; my reputation, as that of a slut, is worthless.

In the end, I win. Technically, Desiree is correct, Latifah whores for Walmart, not Target, but now that I've lost my reputation, I'm no longer a slut! Unfortunately, for Desiree, she now has my reputation: In addition to becoming a slut, she's also known for being wrong and making ridiculously stupid bets. As for me, I have a clean slate. The next time I defame my character, I will make another trivial wager, one I am certain to lose, and pass off my undesirable reputation to another sucker. This scheme is easier than confession.


Bobbitt Rehashed - If Not Reslashed

Yesterday, I referenced the fact that I brought a paper on the John Wayne Bobbitt porn to class for no other reason than I found it during my haphazard search and it tangentially related to whiteness. Still having it in my notebook today, I actually took the time to go back and read it while others were babbling about who knows what (well, I do know what, but I stopped caring) during class.

It was one of those last minute papers that I would do a much better job on were I not trying to do it the day it was due. (I was one of those bad students who procrastinated on watching the porn assigned to him.) Also, with an hour to go, I found out I had to reference the article and racial subject matter, (admittedly, this error was due to inattention on my part,) which required hasty revision. It was never my intention to bring in the white trash element, and truthfully I'm still unsatisfied with having to incorporate that as part of my thesis - I'm not sure it made sense even to me - but given the rather brief, narrowly focused article that I had to work with, I did what I had to do.

The pornography was an embarrassment. Ron Jeremy, perhaps the country's most famous male porn star, directed the film. Apparently, having a huge penis was not satisfying enough for Jeremy; he had to create a film that showed exactly how inadequate a lesser penis could be. According to the article, Bobbitt was not even aware that Jeremy was going to put himself in the film, and was too, well, "white trash" to notice he was being mocked throughout. As I recall, the movie was not arousing, but more of a morale booster to the common man, an opportunity for them to feel good about their own sexual abilities.

As a tribute to my unconventional undergraduate education and an essay that can only be described as hilariously absurd, I've decided to post it in its entirety here. I'm not presumptuous enough to assume you'll read all four and a half pages worth, so I've bolded some of the highlights.

In his ill-conceived pornographic flick John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut, Bobbitt comes across as a lowlife idiot, or as Constance Penley refers to him in her article “Crackers and Whackers”, “white trash.” The video, directed by Ron Jeremy, seems to intentionally exemplify a derogatory take on Bobbitt’s life. Considering that Jeremy is a former porn-star and well-versed in the industry, certainly his portrayal is intentional. While the coding of the script indicates his inferiority, Bobbitt is depicted as unaware of how ridiculous the whole scenario is, seeming to think his participation in this project is cool. Still, the essence of “white trash” permeates throughout the video, signifying that Bobbitt is to be judged, not heralded.

The Caucasian male audience, for whom this style of pornography is most commonly designed, is not allowed to connect or identify with the protagonist. When Lorena throws the severed penis out her car window and it lands at the feet of a random man, his comment is, “At least it’s not my dick.” The same sentiment is likely echoed throughout the video by the audience. While witnessing his lackluster performance, the understanding that most people could do much better than that prevails.

Primarily, the reason for the lack of relation between Bobbitt and the audience is that Bobbitt cannot easily achieve/maintain an erection like the average male: the best Penley can say of his penis is that it “sort of” (326) works. The amount of effort required for each woman to elicit an erection is remarkable. They spend long amounts of time with little success. For example, after mounting the stripper on the pool table, Bobbitt’s penis promptly slips out of her. Nevertheless, she can be heard moaning, “Oh yeah, that’s it!” Clearly, that’s not it, and once she realizes she is faking more than she even anticipated having to, she redirects his still limp penis into her vagina. In the party scene when he’s confronted with two women simultaneously, he begins to perform oral sex on one rather lazily. When the unoccupied woman asks the other if he’s doing a good job, she replies that “he’s just getting started,” indicating that she’s expecting more to happen, though several minutes later produces no better of a result. As sex writer Susie Bright comments, “This man does not know how to give head to save his life” (327). The inactive woman tries some cheerleading, shouting, “lick that pussy!” to no avail. Furthermore, Bobbitt rarely moves during sex, as if his entire body has been reconstructed, demonstrating a severe lack of knowledge. At one point, he confesses that after the incident he “didn’t know if [he’d] ever be able to… you know.” If he is not comfortable enough to say the words, he certainly is not comfortable enough to perform the acts well.

Though the women act as if they are fully enjoying the sexual experience during intercourse, the confessionals airing afterward reveal a different story, justifying the reasons for their encounters. While Nurse Judy explains that she “saw it as [her] professional duty” to have sex with Bobbitt, the others echo a similar sentiment about being curious to see how it would work. As demonstrated, verifying that it works and having it work well are two separate outcomes. By sharing their motivations, they remind that their curiosities were satisfied, if not their bodies.

Naturally, because this video is pornography, Jeremy, who can be considered the body of experience, steps in to remind everyone how sex, especially in the movies, is meant to be done. With his ability to produce a large erection on cue, perform adequate oral sex, and even ejaculate with confidence, Jeremy “shamelessly upstages” (327) Bobbitt. In doing so, Jeremy is asserting “porn’s expertise” (328), demonstrating that while Bobbitt has reached celebrity status, he is not qualified for this type of work. While Bobbitt is, understandably, never shown having sex with anyone a second time, in a confessional, Jeremy is still accompanied and even thanked by a woman he pleasured earlier. Ignorant to porn conventions and his own inabilities, Bobbitt is pathetic and clearly trash.

In that vein, the video also portrays Bobbitt as disgustingly misogynistic; “the film’s sympathies lie with the wife whose husband thinks marital rape is how a man has sex with his wife” (327). By allowing himself to be shown continuing to have intercourse with his wife who repeatedly asks him to stop, it demonstrates his ignorance to his own horrendous actions. Bobbitt’s lack of understanding toward women in general is further exemplified by his subsequent unimpressive sexual encounters. Being of South American descent, Lorena is exempt from the white trash edit, hence elevating her to a more respectable role than Bobbitt can ever attain, in spite of her shortcomings.

Later, after a pale, blonde nurse jumps atop Bobbitt and begins pleasuring him, a second nurse, an African American, watches from the doorway. At first she appears judgmental, but then seems to derive gratification from her voyeurism, sneaking in the room and masturbating in the corner. The distancing of the black woman from the white trash pairing illustrates an inherent difference between the characters. Also noteworthy, the black nurse is the only female throughout the video without enormous, (and presumably) fake breasts, which further demonstrates her to be the “othered.” Eventually, she joins Bobbitt and the other nurse, but they barely acknowledge her. In fact, the black nurse has to fight to make the event a threesome, stealing licks of Bobbitt’s penis at every free moment she finds and having to resort to reinserting his penis into the white nurse’s vagina when it inevitably falls out. Ultimately, the film suggests that the sole black character can neither participate in these white trash rituals nor should she desire to for that matter.

The white trash inherent in Bobbitt is exemplified by the constant contrast between himself and a classier lifestyle. Bobbitt seems positively out of place at a yacht party and “dating” a supposedly high-profile magazine editor. Additionally, he fails to live up to the expectations of the pair of women sporting red polished fingernails and high heels. The only times that Bobbitt does not seem out of his element are in the traditionally trashy locales, including the strip club when he takes a dancer’s bikini and wears it as if it was a pair of glasses, and the seedy basement with a tacky blinking stoplight.

If that were not enough, to make Bobbitt seem more unappealing, Jeremy allows Bobbitt to appear on several occasions to be uneducated. In addition to referring to himself as “simple,” he uses the phrase “me and Tiffany” only to amend it to the equally grammatically incorrect “Tiffany and me had the same interests.” Furthermore, while reading his narrations, he stammers incessantly. Although additional takes might not have improved his sexual performance any, repeated attempts at his voiceovers could have prevented him from appearing to be functionally illiterate.

In the end, Bobbitt has been humiliated whether or not he realizes it. As Bobbitt recognizes toward the end, “all anyone wants to do is see [his] penis”; once they do see it, they are disappointed, a theme consistent with his entire persona. His embarrassing closing line that he might settle down at some point, but “until that day, let’s party!” shows the extent of his clueless nature about his pathetic, unimpressive lifestyle. Though he has been exoticized because of his sexual difference, the video clearly shows that he is unworthy of this treatment, unable to produce anything exciting. He is a man clearly out of his element that has not earned this opportunity in the spotlight. Lacking the knowledge and anatomy required to make him a legitimate pornographic sensation, Bobbitt is left only with the distinction of being white trash.

Because you're bound to ask: A-


My Ethnicity Pales in Comparison

I'm currently enrolled in a graduate class that grapples with issues of race and ethnicity. It's interesting for me to engage in the dialogue because, like gender, that's another socialized aspect of society that I would like to eliminate. That said, I'm also pragmatic, and I understand that race is still too influential of an entity to merely pretend it doesn't exist at this point. Because the perception of race still has a monumental effect on people politically, economically, and socially, it's just as ignorant to ignore the power of race as to perpetuate the beliefs associated with it.

An assignment due for this class today was to find five objects that I have in my home that represent my ethnicity. Not my culture, but my ethnicity - in other words, my whiteness. For nearly an hour, I searched for things to represent my racial identity. Aside from the Klan outfit, I don't really have anything that celebrates my Caucasian status. I have plenty of things that are significant to being American or part of my generation, but that's far more cultural.

My five items were as follows:

1. An anthology of English literature. I explained that as an English major/teacher, this was something very dear to me, and if you were to read it, you'd find that a very small percentage of the text was authored by anyone other than Caucasians.

2. A box of potatoes. Due to my Irish heritage, I have acquired a taste for tatters, but not the skills to cook them without aid from Betty Crocker. Thank goodness the famine is over.

3. A depiction of Jesus Christ as a white man. I was raised Protestant, but now more so like its kitsch aesthetic. It demonstrates my whiteness since, given the region in which he was born, Jesus would not be fair-skinned as he tends to be portrayed in the western hemisphere. Unless, of course, seeing as it was a miraculous birth anyway, God's divine will saw to it that the baby be white in an area where everyone else was tan.

4. A college essay I wrote about the presence of the white trash archetype in John Wayne Bobbitt's pornographic film.

5. A bowling trophy for being on my college's champion team, Boner Patrol. I feel it's the only athletic pursuit that the white man still dominates at.

As part of a class where white students are the minority, I found that most of my peers had a much easier time selecting their items. With Chinese decor, Filipino toys, and Spanish-inscribed religious idols, even the individuals who I would subconsciously guess have acquiesced to the mainstream American culture had items related to their ethnicity.

As I watched these people share them items without having to struggle to justify the reasoning behind it, I was a bit miffed. In my head, I whined that the ethnic minority students had this assignment so easy before quickly catching myself and realizing that after all the white privilege I've had throughout my life, boo-fucking-hoo to me for a slight impairment on a small homework assignment. Sometimes you've got to put these things in perspective.


A Trivial Post

As a board game connoisseur, I have been acquainted with Trivial Pursuit throughout my life. Since my home had the original genus edition with questions from 1982, at a young age I was not especially a fan seeing as I could only correctly answer about 4% of the questions. Over time, however, I learned plenty of useless knowledge and came to appreciate the game for what it is.

Even though the game has led me to feel stupid hundreds of times, I don't think it's ever made me feel as inferior as the last time I played a month ago. Reading the title on the box, I, for the first time in my life, noticed the wordplay in the double meaning of the word "trivial." It struck me as so clever that I actually chuckled aloud. When I voiced the observation to my friends, they responded with words that amounted to "duh." Great. I feel smart. Who wants to be on my team?

I like when eateries provide Trivial Pursuit cards at their tables. I suppose it could be interpreted as insulting, since the establishment does not seem confident in its patrons abilities to maintain their own conversations. Still, as someone who has relied upon those cards on multiple occasions, I am thankful.

While playing at a cafe once, I realized that the answer on the card is taken as gospel. You'll trust what's printed by the "authority," discarding the answer you previously believed was absolutely true. I've re-confronted these issues recently when dealing with the teachers' edition to text books. There are times I'll look at what's written and say, "That can't possibly be right" and ultimately doubt my answer so much I usually just go with what the "experts" said. What do I know, you know? Anyway, during this particular informal game, I decided that if I gave someone a fairly simple question and read the answer confidently, I could probably convince my friends of anything.

Q: What was Amelia Earhart attempting to do when she disappeared in 1937?

Someone (I picture Alice most vividly, but I can't recall whether ey was duped or just laughed the hardest when the real answer was revealed,) gave the correct answer about attempting to fly around the world. I shook my head, expressed surprise at the actual answer with a shrug, and pretended to read off the back of the car that Amelia Earhart had been trying to find a husband. I don't think everyone bought it, but someone did, and was shocked to learn this new piece of information.

Today, I found a few cards in my pocket that I recall setting aside because they had some pretty funny questions. Unfortunately, like most things I store in my pocket, they went through the washing machine and were destroyed. Since I cannot integrate them back into the deck, I figure I'd reprint the barely legible text as an irreverent pop quiz. They're not actually that difficult to answer if you keep in mind that they're stupid. Highlight beneath each question with your mouse to read the answer.

1. What 1993 book saw its central premise refuted when Danish researchers announced that sharks "do" get cancer?

Sharks Don't Get Cancer

2. Who's the first Nike employee of Thai descent to make "more than 11 cents an hour," according to Jay Leno?

Tiger Woods

3. What did Stan, the first Spanish dog ever fitted with contact lenses, fail to see the day after his fitting?

The car that killed him.

How many did you guess correctly?


Give or Take

MM: (holding up a picture) An octopus! I love them.
K: Me too.
MM: They're great.
K: Yeah. If I had to decide to "give" or "take" octopi, I would... well I guess I wouldn't give or take them, that wouldn't make sense. But if I had to choose between "like" or "dislike," I would choose "like."
MM: What about tree frogs?
K: Like.
MM: A lion?
K: Sure... like.
MM: How about... I'm trying to think of an animal you would say you "dislike."
K: Hmm. I suppose it depends what it means to like/dislike it. Sexually?
MM: No!
K: That would make the whole "give" or "take" choice make more sense.


Have You Had Sex with Ben Savage?

During my first year of college, I had a friend whose best friend lost her virginity Ben Savage, better known as Corey Matthews of the television show Boy Meets World. Since the friend of the friend was not a star fucker, she only disclosed this piece of information to a couple of close friends, swearing them to secrecy. As you can probably guess, since I am privy to this information, clearly my friend did not keep her own mouth shut, telling at least five times the number of people the friend whose business it was ever told.

I'm actually a good secret keeper. This secret, however, had no consequence to anyone's life at my college's community, so I enjoyed teasing that I had this knowledge just to watch my friend whimper in regret for telling me the secret, while proceeding to disclose it to additional people.

One day, my college had a festival where you could make your own shirt with puff paint. I was in heaven! I thought long and hard about what I should write on the shirt before deciding on:

It reads, HAVE YOU HAD SEX WITH BEN SAVAGE? Given my artistic disabilities, it came out sloppy and somewhat illegible. I wear a lot of weird things, but even I wasn't comfortable wearing this shirt out in public, as I felt it implied that I had had sex with Ben Savage, which was neither the point nor true, mind you. Consequently, I wore it probably once before banishing it to my drawer until a special occasion.

That special occasion arrived when the best friend came to campus to visit. My friend asked me to please not say anything about the secret, so I promised not to say anything.

When the best friend arrived, I was sitting in my friend's room. I said hello then continued the conversation I was already having with other friends. Then I made a comment about feeling hot as I peeled off my sweatshirt, revealing my blue puff paint shirt that I had been wearing underneath. As promised, I was saying nothing, but I was letting my clothing doing the talking for me. You know, a fashion statement. Noticing the scene unfolding out of the corner of eir eye, an expression of terror crossed my friend's face. Simultaneously, Ted and Alice, who were seated by me, proceeded to tackle me to the floor and obscure the words on my shirt. I tried to break free, but before I could, my friend took the opportunity to quickly escort her best friend out of the room before she could figure out what was going on.

It was never my intention to get the friend caught, only to stir up a little shit. Having accomplished that, the shirt went back to my drawer, where it has remained unworn for the past five and a half years. Yesterday, while cleaning out my room, I rediscovered this shirt again and had a chuckle. Still having no desire to ever wear it again and realizing it would have no resale value at a goodwill store, I finally opted to throw it away. The shirt is gone, but the memories are not. (The memories of getting hot and sweaty with curly-haired Ben Savage.)

If perchance any of you have ever had sex with Ben Savage, please let me know in the next few days so I can rescue it before trash day.


Gay Bomb

Recently it has come to light that in the mid-90s, the United States military sought to create a "Gay Bomb," a non-lethal chemical weapon that would be used on enemy troops to turn them into amorous homosexuals who become more interested in having sex with one another than adequately fighting.

My first reaction is to laugh at the absurdity, then be a bit offended, then laugh again because they could never pull it off. The American government clearly has such little understanding of how sexuality works (admittedly, I don't either) that it could never craft such a complicated weapon.

Let me get this straight, err, make sure I understand: Once the gay bomb goes off and the enemy troops become gay, they apparently will become irresistibly attracted to each other and start engaging in sexual activity? It only makes sense, considering that gay people have sex all the time. I'd guess the explosion and intercourse would occur almost instantaneously. Plus, unlike heterosexuals, homosexual people demonstrate no discretion in their attractions. If it's someone of the same sex, gosh darnit, they're going to want to sex. And fast.

In reality, these soldiers would probably be perplexed by their sudden change (assuming a change) in sexuality and withdraw from others in confusion rather than act on any attraction, particularly if they do not realize their feelings are not uncommon amongst their ranks. Additionally, the long-standing disapproval imposed by army, societal, and religious beliefs would most likely lead soldiers to shame and depression, not horny behavior. I'd hazard that they'd need to come to terms long before they come to Elton John.

I'm no scientist, mind you, but I can't imagine hormonal impulses overriding the basic human instinct to survive. "We're being attacked! Let's make out." In a war zone scenario, what people would opt for sexual gratification rather than focusing on self-preservation? I don't care how gay you are, you're not going to become oblivious to the bullets whizzing by your head, even in a state of lust.

In those news reports that are always quickly brushed aside, it's fairly common for American soldiers to be killed by "friendly" fire. So what happens when we accidentally unleash a gay bomb on our own troops? Would our caring commanders, as evidenced by the ongoing Don't Ask Don't Tell regulations, actually assist the affected, or might they mysteriously disappear altogether? Assuming we would let them go home, we already have a startling number of veterans requiring counseling after returning from the war. Can you imagine how much therapy would be required for soldiers whose sexuality was transformed (again, assuming any transformation takes place)?

On the plus side, a weapon like this might finally put an end to the war. I bet the same people who see nothing wrong with killing foreigners for ambiguous reasons might declare the United States' actions inhumane after learning that we're stooping to the immoral level of turning people gay. I'd also like to see the government announce to the country's largely homophobic population that they have found a way to turn people gay, but not the other way around. The religious right might finally use its political clout to deem that the military is mismanaging its spending and cut the country's war budget drastically.

With the weapons invention, panic would undoubtedly ensue. If the Americans could create this sort of technology, surely enemy countries could replicate the weapon. With but a few hours as warning, the terrorist alert color would be set to purple. The midwesterners would cower in their basements and makeshift bomb shelters praying to Jesus to keep them on the straight and narrow, wailing about what might as well be the apocalypse while the people of San Francisco would take to the street and throw a parade. Though the threat would prove unfounded, across the country closeted individuals would finally act on long stifled impulses, claiming to be affected by gaydiation.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I might actually be in favor of a gay bomb. As someone who stresses regularly over the world's overpopulation problem, I must admit that the more people who forego reproducing, the better. We should be dropping gay bombs all over the place. Save the world: Spread homosexuality.

On a somewhat related topic, how come no one pointed out that I kept using the word "homophobe" when I meant to say "homophone." That, a grand mistake, after fixing and acknowledging several other mistakes. Color me embarrassed.


The Grass Isn't the Only Artificial Thing about It

A few months ago, Phoebe called and asked what I was up to. I replied, "Oh, Michael, Amy, and I are just looking at a coupon book. I know that sounds boring, but we're having a great time, actually."

Given my frequent sarcasm, I feel I should reiterate that my statement was sincere. We were just flipping through the pages, finding numerous humorous aspects, making witty commentary, and chuckling continually. With the right people, any event can be entertaining. I suppose the right coupon book doesn't hurt, either.

There's one advertisement that still comes to mind, though. As soon as Michael Michael flipped the page and this appeared in our sight, we both burst out in laughter.

I'm not sure who decided this method was the best way to sell astroturf, but I'd like to shake eir hand. It's all sorts of creepy. The mother model is uncomfortably close to the daughter -- I mean, there is a whole lawn of fake grass to sit on, and she's invading personal space, even for a family member. Additionally, the way she looks at the daughter is haunting. Is she seducing her? Is she about to suck her blood? Or is she just that proud that she can provide her offspring with such a lush lawn on which to sit? The daughter herself is another hilarious component. Her posture is all sorts of funny, as if to indicate she is not enjoying the manner her mother is touching her.

I'd like to imagine there was a director of photography dictating their poses. "Susie, curl your legs under themselves and point the feet outward in order to look a mermaid or perhaps someone with her legs not attached to her torso. Good, now have one arm hold them to further the idea that they are detached and would fall off otherwise. Don't worry about your knees, we'll cover that up with a graphic. Okay, now, look straight into the camera. Good, keep that gaze, maybe squint as if the sun is in your eyes, since it's a perfect summer day on the lawn. Let me think about your smile... You have braces, so you should be too embarrassed to smile fully. Why don't you smile just enough to show you have braces, but no more than that so we can still read the self-consciousness. Brilliant! What's missing? Oh I know, a glass of water. Can someone get this girl a glass of water? I want to portray that Susie is able to drink all the water she wants now that her family doesn't need to waste water on a real lawn. Hold it proudly, Susie, as if you're cheers-ing to the turf. Okay, Mom, come in close to Susie. Closer. Closer. Put your hand on her lap, show her you love her. Okay, bend in closer to Susie. Whisper sweet nothings in her ear. That's it! That's it! I've finally found the perfect image to represent wholesome family fun occurring on artificial grass. Don't miss this shot, Roger, it's gold!"

(For maximum creepiness, click on the photo to see it in real size.)


If the Shoe Fits

While waiting for class to begin, I witness a conversation between two female English doctorate students.

"Aren't my shoes cute?"
"They are cute."
"I know. I'm trying to break them in."
"How's that going?"
"I'm in so much pain, it's been three days."
"Is it getting better?"
"Sometimes I think so, but I'm not sure whether they're actually loosening up or my pain tolerance increased."
"It's the pain tolerance. I had shoes like that before, the material is so cheap, it won't change it's shape."
"Oh no, but these shoes aren't cheap."
"That's because they're still cute."
"I hope if I wear them for long enough, I'll build up calluses. Oh look, it's cutting into my foot."
"You can buy this material to rub on your feet to prevent that."
"Really? Is it a liquid?"
"Yeah, but it dries like a fake layer of skin. I use it all the time."
"That's amazing!"

Yeah, miraculous even. Thank goodness we've made significant scientific advancements to assist in the wearing of cute shoes. I've been in class with these women - they are intelligent people who contribute insightful comments during discussions. It pains me, perhaps more than an ill-fitting shoe, to see this dialogue performed seriously; it reads as satirical. Besides, these shoes are bright yellow and apparently plastic. They're only cute in a world where it would make sense to injure yourself in order to look better.

It reminds me of a quotation from one of my former favorite television series, Ally McBeal. I know he went downhill, but creator David E. Kelly is definitely a genius. It was his insistence on writing each episode (of multiple series simultaneously) singlehandedly that led to the well eventually yet understandably running dry. Anyway, I present to you a scene where politically incorrect lawyer Richard Fish educates an employee as to why gender inequality still exists:
"Georgia, give me your shoe. Why would a grown person wear these? They are hugely uncomfortable, make it easier to fall, cause back problems, but, hey -- call it fashion. What kind of person would spend an equivalent of two years painting her face and plucking out her eyebrows, and putting silicone or saline in her chest? There is a name for this kind of person, 'woman'. Why? Because, we 'men' like it. Don't talk to me about equality. Don't tell me you aren't disabled."

I know that there are many feminist scholars who have expressed the same sentiment in a more articulate manner, but I appreciate this monologue's bluntness. For my classmate, wearing these particular shoes is essentially self-mutilation; she's enduring pain in attempt to appear more attractive. In fact, it's reminiscent of footbinding, the main difference being that she determines whether she is to impose this pain upon herself. From here on out, I cannot take this person seriously. As long as women punish themselves in the name of looking good, equality cannot be achieved. You can be sure men (granted, with some exceptions) don't wear shoes that are uncomfortable in the name of fashion. Anytime you wear something that hurts, something skimpy when you know you'll be freezing, something that took hours to prepare before leaving the house, you're contributing to a society where we prioritize females as objects to be looked at. If you want to be more than that, don't be so complicit. If the shoe fits, wear it; if it doesn't, for crying out loud, wear something else. And, women, you've got to start being each others' allies. If a friend tells you she's trying to wear shoes even though they hurt, tell her to return them or donate them to Goodwill, don't encourage the behavior!

Part of the reason this culture of women as visual candy perpetuates is because women subconsciously believe it to be true. Though I was the only male present for the aforementioned conversation, it wasn't my opinion she sought. She wanted a female opinion to validate her status as a cute female. Men aren't given credit for being fashion experts, (I'm sure not, though I'm not willing to make such a generalization for the rest of the population,) which is all the more reason that women shouldn't dress for them. If you can't ask men whether your make up is on properly, then what's the use in working so hard to wear it for them? For that reason, I suspect that women resort to these rituals more so to be acceptable to other women, in which case it's time females band together and say, "No more! Let's find each others' newfound intelligence and insight attractive rather than limiting ourselves through ridiculous, normalized beautification routines!"
(Forgive the implied heteronormativity throughout this paragraph. I suppose it would make most sense for lesbians to try to appear attractive in standard ways since they're seeking attention from fellow women rather than men, though, thankfully, many seek a different aesthetic.)

To make it clear, men have their own set of problems. But that's for another day. Gender is stupid. Wear what's easy and comfortable.


Happy Birthday, Alison

Hey, it's my sibling's birthday. Considering that Alison loves attention, I figure the best present I can get her is mentioning her. One thing that's special about her is she has the tabloid queen mentality that any press is good press, so I can share embarrassing stories about her, and it's still acceptable, certainly preferable to not being discussed at all.

This Alison story takes us back to when she was in eighth grade. Our family was to leave on a trip to London, which made Alison nervous. When asked why, she responded that, "duh, we don't speak English." Her understanding was that in the United States, we speak American. I asked her what she thought she was learning in her English class at school. Apparently the discrepancy never occurred to her.

As much as I lament the public education system in California, I suppose I should acknowledge it happens on both coasts, whatever the hell a coast is, anyway.


A Double Dose of Karaoke

For as much as I reference karaoke, I haven't actually performed it since winning cash last August. Well, technically Madeleine and I have done several numbers, mostly Billy Joel, in front of the glow of a YouTubed computer screen, but if you're not publicly embarrassing yourself in front of strangers, it's probably not fair to call it karaoke.

In the past week, however, I've come back with a vengeance, going not once, not three times, not four times, not fifty-six times, but twice. The first occasion was on my birthday. We went to an unfamiliar place and I immediately felt welcomed and supported by the crowd. Unfortunately, the same welcome committee also had grabby hands and perv-y words for my female companions, thus making them understandably uncomfortable. Consequently, I was the only one to perform. The regular clientele, though trashy in nature and appearance, was actually largely talented. Generally, you get a few good performances a night, but these people were knocking them out of the park. While I tend to just half pay attention and wait for my friends and I to have a turn to sing, I eagerly watched many of the singers, genuinely enjoying their respective concerts. Still, the highlight of the night came not from a great performer, but Mr. Grabby Hands himself, who belted out a song I, thankfully, have previously been unfamiliar with. He claimed he wished he could dedicate the song to all of the ladies, but explained that he didn't yet know all of their names. The lyrics, which were projected on a large screen for everyone's benefit, actually made me cower in discomfort.

Only Women Bleed
Alice Cooper

Man's got his woman to take his seed
He's got the power - oh
She's got the need
She spends her life through pleasing up her man
She feeds him dinner or anything she can

She cries alone at night too often
He smokes and drinks and don't come home at all
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed

Man makes your hair gray
He's your life's mistake
All you're really lookin' for is an even break
He lies right at you
You know you hate this game
He slaps you once in a while and you live and love in pain

She cries alone at night too often
He smokes and drinks and don't come home at all
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed

Black eyes all of the time
Don't spend a dime
Clean up this grime
And you there down on your knees begging me please come
Watch me bleed

Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed

There was nothing more terrifying than looking at the screen and seeing the phrase "only women bleed" multiple times, the text so large that each letter was the size of someone's head. On second thought, I take that back. The more terrifying aspect was when he would take the liberty of changing the word "women" to "bitches" or "whores." That sure added... well, something to the performance. Is it any wonder that all of my companions declined his invitation to dance a short time later?

On Saturday, while visiting Susan, I'm sorry, that's Dr. Susan, for her graduation, I went out with her and her friends for some karaoke fun. Similarly, the destination was an unfamiliar dive bar. Because my friends' and my socializing habits have led me to be most comfortable at establishments I wouldn't normally be comfortable at, I was the only one who was immediately excited by the location. In almost no time, however, it seemed Susan and her friends realized that it was actually less embarrassing to perform in front of a bunch of older, lonely drunks than your contemporaries. Sure, they might be "gross," but so are poopy diapers, and we still find babies cute. I'm pleased to report that Susan's friends are all very nice, fun, good people, which is always satisfying to encounter. One of these friends is Kim. Kim, it's been a year since I've shamed you, and, as I miss your writing, perhaps it's time to shame you again. There's a difference between being tardy and disappearing altogether. The masses want a firsthand account on your rendition of "Big Pimpin'."


Reduced to a Fool

Though I got rid of my students yesterday, today was my actual last day of work. I spent the day attending meetings, finalizing grades, and most of all, cleaning out my classroom entirely. At the end of the year, I find myself with a lot of paper left over: worksheets I never distributed, completed assignments I never handed back, and a whole forest worth of sheets I never graded in the first place. Since my school doesn't recycle, I took it upon myself to bring it all home to dispose of it properly. An armload at a time, I transported all of this paper, which literally filled my entire trunk and most of my back seat. As I scurried back and forth between my classroom and the parking lot, many coworkers stopped me to ask what I was doing. Their response ranged as follows: "Good for you, I used to recycle"; "Oh, I just throw all that out"; "I can't believe you're willing to spend your time doing that"; and a very blunt "Why?!" At a meeting later, someone asked condescendingly, "Have you saved the world yet, Kevin?" followed by a cluster of people laughing, indicating it had been an earlier topic of discussion. Another individual referred to me as a "rabid recycler." Though the connotation was perhaps negative, it was said like a compliment, so I'll accept it.

As far as I can determine, the majority of people are okay with recycling, so long as it requires no effort or energy - at that point, pursuing the activity makes you crazy. Sigh. Still, I can't believe the attitude of some of my educated adult coworkers -- they could easily serve as ridiculous adversaries in a save-the-earth commercial. "You recycle?! What are you, dumb? You should litter! All the cool kids do it. I like global warming: it'll make my inevitable transition to hell less jarring." Previously, I thought I had been exaggerating the notion of recycling as a perversion, but I guess some people really are not only apathetic, but antagonistic to the cause.

Let's transition from recycling to reusing. In addition to paper, I had to remove the mannequin, the mascot I recovered from a dumpster, from my classroom. Rather than handing out multiple copies of announcements, I would generally just tape it to the mannequin's chest to attract the students' attention. (That, my friends, is known as reducing.) The only way it would fit in my car was to lay it vertically with its legs raised. The entire car ride home, I continually watched fellow commuters do double takes at the awkward body in my car drowning in a sea of papers. One car pulled up so closely alongside me to get a better look that I thought there might be a collision.

As teachers, we live by the three Rs: reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. That said, if we don't adopt an additional three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), are we really providing these kids with a solid future?


Saved by the Bell

It hasn't hit me yet. My first year of teaching has officially ended. As with most events, it seemed lengthy at the time, but so quick in retrospect. The students are gone, some of whom I will never see again. With these students, I shared some good times. More than that, we shared some decent times, as well as some bad times. And some horrid times, too. Anyway, the point is that I have spent a lot of time with these teenagers. Over the past months, they have been a larger part of my life than my family and most of my friends. I would have anticipated the last moments being far more emotional, but instead it was combative to the end, leaving me to haphazardly wish "a good summer" to the students who, while briskly walking out the door, remembered to say goodbye to me.

On this last day, I gave the district finals to the students. In one period, a student with an overall average of 13% who had no incentive to perform well, kept talking to other students. I warned eir to be quiet or get kicked out. After talking back to me, another student from across the room loudly called eir a "bitch." "What did you call me?" the first student said, standing up and calling em names back. Before I knew it, both students were out of their seats screaming at one another. When they refused to listen to my direction, consisting of "stop," I called security for their removal. The first delightful student walked up and yelled in my face how "mean" and "unfair" I am until, thankfully, security arrived to escort eir away. I'm sure going to miss that one.

In the last period of the day, my students had finished their final, and there was only about what I would guess was five minutes until the end of the day. I tried to confirm my estimation by looking at my wall clock, only to discover it was missing. Irritated, I paused before making the conscious decision to say what I had been wanting to express for quite some time. "Assholes!" Clearly, that's inappropriate, but to hell with them. When no one came forward with the clock, I had to threaten to call security to search everyone's possessions. No one would be able to leave and start summer break until the clock was recovered. With that, magically the clock appeared. Mercifully, the bell rang and it was finally over.

It'll take some time before I can effectively reflect on this entire experience. I've been so busy and stressed that detachment was almost a necessity, particularly in the last months. My mantra to myself was "push through." This sumer, I hope to set some time for myself to grieve/celebrate what amounted to a very trying and tiring year. Perhaps I'll Babble that inner-monologue once I'm ready to confront it.


Livin' on a Prayer

I'm sorry I've been overloading y'all with videos lately. I'm not going to lie, it's typically because I'm too lazy to write. Sometimes I try to construct a post around a video to feel better about the activity, since this blog is supposed to be my mode of forcing myself to write on a regular basis. Still, "putting in a video" is, in fact, cheating. As a teacher, I don't even resort to this cop out. I suppose the effort that gets put into not showing a video to my students results in less time and more videos for my blog readers. Why am I even explaining this? Kevin, you're babbling again.

As you might expect from this lead up, I'm showing you a video again for a couple of, what I feel are, valid reasons. 1) It's my birthday. Don't dwell upon this fact, I'm not one to get worked up on this sort of thing. 2) It's so good. I've been looking for this video for more than a year since the lovely, hysterical Enid introduced it in class.

After avidly avoiding Bon Jovi for most of my twenty-four years [insert obligatory yet genuine I'm-getting-old birthday shudder], I came to find them to hilarious to ignore further. I believe it was a karaoke performance I witnessed of "Livin' on a Prayer" that made me think twice. How ridiculously, enjoyably over-the-top it is. It just screams "scream me!"

This video, nay, piece of art (it was screened at some notable film festivals), features the aforementioned Bon Jovi song in a brilliant way. A single person accompanies emself in a four-part harmony. The result is positively delightful.



Sometimes, I'm a Tool

Since becoming a teacher, my life quickly became a routine. Not just the workweek, but the weekend as well. Typically, on Fridays I intend to cut loose and be social, but I end up falling asleep by 7 o'clock. Feeling lame the next day, I resolve not to be a lame teacher and instead seek diversion like that of an unemployed student. This was the case more than a month ago. Following a remarkably uneventful Friday, on Saturday, I went to a party with a host of people I love, most of whom were soon-to-graduate college seniors. It started out fairly harmlessly, but then debauchery reared its ugly-yet-seductive head. I resisted at first, using my tried-and-true excuse, "I can't, I'm a teacher!" Eventually, though, and I can't remember exactly how, I became a party to the party.

I blame the Peppermint Schnapps. I had been drinking vodka earlier, but when the party's alcohol selection dwindled, the Schnapps was one of the only remaining options. Most people expressed concern that I would attempt to drink it straight, citing that it tastes just like mouthwash. Personally, I'd contend that mouthwash is preferable to the taste of most alcohol anyway, so I was okay with that. Plus, I was repeatedly complimented on my refreshing breath -- an unattainable perk from consuming beer. Mistakenly, I decided that since it was a lower proof than most forms of liquor, I could drink a lot more and not be effected. I failed to account for the fact that drinking more than half of the bottle, straight mind you, would counteract the somewhat lower alcohol content.

And like that, I became a college student again. Frisky. I was hardly one of the worst offenders, but a participant nonetheless. It felt surreal as it unfolded, such that it was easy to ignore people, friends and strangers, snapping photographs.

Later, I became paranoid of the photos that would surface and be posted on the internet. When some finally appeared, I sighed with relief.

Sure, they're cheesy, but harmless. Our deviant fun consists of RJ letting his hair down and Andrew smiling with food in his mouth.

All was well until this past weekend, Mike posted the scandalous photographs to the web. I moaned in agony.

I look plain stupid, like I'm suffering from alcohol poisoning or something. Why you'd want to kiss/stick your tongue in my ear while I'm in this state, I'll never know.

"Pose for a picture!" Sorry, I'm too busy passing out on Daphne. I look like a creep, a lustful creep no less. It's worth mentioning that Daphne and I bonded that night, but it appears I maybe had other intentions that I don't quite recall. Embarrassing.

This is the photo that inspires nervous laughter on my part. All my life, I've strived to be better than your typical asshole. I think I successfully made it throughout college without appearing to be your standard frat dude. Here, however, I have that patented red cup, held at an elevated level to indicate a self-congratulatory mindset. I have a seductive, skin-showing babe pressing against me, with me in the dominant position. My face reads, "I am excited, yet too cool to look anything more than mildly amused and slightly mean." Actually, I find my own face somewhat attractive in this photo; it's scary to acknowledge that I kind of like the way I look as a douche. This photo demonstrates that as much as I think I'm better than most people, I'm still capable of being an utter tool, too. Ugg, it's gross.

These are hardly the most scandalous of the bunch, but I stop here since, though I am self-depricating, these pictures involve other people and I try to limit my defamation of others. Additionally, even my self-deprication has its limits -- I bet you already think less of me enough for one day.


A Concerted Effort to Have You Join in the Merriment

I almost patted myself on the back for becoming a more frequent concert-goer recently, until I remembered that though I have indeed seen four live shows in the past month, all four have been of 90 Proof. Not that that's a bad thing; in fact, I've become quite chummy with the members of the band; they named me the "#1 comeback fan" since I have reemerged after a year's absence.

Thanks to my connected friend RJ, I've learned that the world's largest Sound of Music sing-along is happening at the Hollywood Bowl on 6/30. Imagine the excitement of dressing up, heckling the film, and playing my favorite game. Every once in a while you have to do something ridiculous, and I think this is a must. Let me know pronto if you're in. The cheapest seats have already sold out, so I intend to purchase the next-cheapest seats by Friday.

Even more importantly, the Polyphonic Spree is coming to Los Angeles. I practically insist that everyone I know who is available attend this mind-altering concert. To tempt you, I will share this newly released music video.

At first, I thought the video wasn't loading properly and skipped a lot, only to learn that it's actually a compilation of 70,000 still photographs, which is awesome. Watching it practically makes me salivate. I'm not sure the stilted motion is entirely representative of the energy the show brings, but I'm enamored all the same. If you've spent a period of your life confined by braces, you owe it to your smile to allow it to be stuck in a permanently on position at this show for a couple of hours.


My Mind's a Burnin' Hell

The first time I heard the phrase "fag hag," I assumed the acquaintance who used the term had coined it emself, and considered it quite clever. Little did I know, I simply hadn't been watching enough Will & Grace (or any, really) to be familiar with it.

I was similarly caught by surprise a few weeks ago amidst a Melissa Etheridge sing-a-thon. I was never a big fan of Etheridge, though my dad was, so I'm still able to sing many of the lyrics as long as I have the original music to accompany me. Because of this unusual knowledge, Dallas inquired whether I was a lesbro. Immediately, it was love at first sound. Lesbro. Lesbro. I repeated the word many times, each with laughter. I only wish I knew enough lesbians to be a lesbro. Ever since then, I've tried to find a natural way to work it into conversation. Alas, not once have I been able to find a situation where the term lesbro would apply. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever used "fag hag" in conversation either. Life sucks sometimes. I guess I'll just have to settle for telling this (boring - apologies!) story here.

That wasn't the only thing I learned that night. (Yup, occasionally, on a good night, I might learn up to three new things.) Melissa Etheridge is fucking creepy. A sampling of some lyrics from her more famous songs.

Come to My Window
I would dial the numbers
Just to listen to your breath
I would stand inside my hell
And hold the hand of death
You don't know how far I'd go
To ease this precious ache
You don't know how much I'd give
Or how much I can take

Just to reach you
Just to reach you
Just to reach you

Keeping my eyes open
I cannot afford to sleep
Giving away promises
I know that I can't keep
Nothing fills the blackness
That has seeped into my chest
I need you in my blood
I am forsaking all the rest
Just to reach you
Just to reach you
Oh to reach you

I don't care what they think
I don't care what they say
What do they know about this
love anyway

Like the Way I Do
Is it so hard to satisfy your senses
You found out to love me you have to climb some fences
Scratching and crawling along the floor to touch you
And just when it feels right you say you found someone else to hold you
Does she like i do

Tell me does she love you like the way I love you
Does she stimulate you attract and captivate you
Tell me does she miss you existing just to kiss you
Like the way I do
Tell me does she want you infatuate and haunt you
She knows just how to shock you electrify and rock you
Does she inject you seduce you and affect you
Like the way I do

Can I survive all the implications
Even if I tried could you be less than an addiction
Don't you think I know there's so many others
Who would beg steal and lie fight kill and die
Just to hold you hold you like I do

Nobody loves you like the way I do
Nobody wants you like the way I do
Nobody needs you like the way I do
Nobody aches nobody aches just to hold you
Like the way I do

I'm the Only One
Please baby cant you see
My mind's a burnin hell
I got razors a rippin and tearin and strippin
My heart apart as well
Tonight you told me
That you ache for something new
And some other woman is lookin like something
That might be good for you

Go on and hold her till the screaming is gone
Go on believe her when she tells you
Nothings wrong
But Im the only one
Wholl walk across the fire for you
Im the only one
Wholl drown in my desire for you
Its only fear that makes you run
The demons that youre hiding from
When all your promises are gone
Im the only one

Please baby cant you see
Im trying to explain
Ive been here before and Im locking the door
And Im not going back again
Her eyes and arms and skin wont make
It go away
Youll wake up tomorrow and wrestle the sorrow
That holds you down today

A little more than a decade ago, these were all successful radio hits that people sang along to in their cars. Did people ever pause to reflect how Etheridge is a psycho, potentially murderous? It's no mystery as to why in each of these songs she's begging for someone to come back - if you dated someone as deranged as her, you'd be trying to run away, too. Recently, Etheridge has gone the route of Al Gore and is educating people about the dangers of global warming. If I were you, I'd be careful about what pollutants you expel, in fear that she'll come and shank you.


Fightin' My Irish

"Do you embrace your culture?" a student asks me out of the blue.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"You know, do you celebrate your heritage?"
"Um, no, not really."

I'm not a fan of obsessing with one's own culture. I'm not against it, per se, but on a personal level, I think dwelling on my peoples' traditions and beliefs don't better me as a person or help achieve the changes I'd like to see in the world.

"What are you?" the student asks.

It's very rare to hear such a question. I'm Caucasian; white. Generally, that outward appearance is enough for people. Though it is not uncommon to hear this inquiry made of non-white people in this country, particularly biracial individuals, one's whiteness is rarely broken down further than just that. You see, in the United States, we believe in the melting pot. So long as the ingredient you contribute to that pot is vanilla, you'll be fine.

I actually have to pause before giving an answer, since it is not something that is a part of me enough to let it slide off the tongue. "I'm mostly Irish," I say.
"Do you do anything special because of it?" the student asks back.
I have to think about that one, too. "Um... sometimes I eat potatoes? I mean, no, not really."
"Does being Irish mean anything to you?"
"When I think of being Irish, truthfully, I think of drinking a lot and the Notre Dame mascot ready to punch someone."

It's an impulsive response, but a telling one. Frankly, I'm surprised that these are the associations I have with being Irish; I never realized that I thought the Irish to be pugnacious alcoholics. Since I do not identify with my heritage, I don't believe these stereotypes to be reflective of me. Furthermore, I wouldn't want anyone to assume this idea to be true of me because I am of an Irish background.

This realization leaves me to wonder - do I not identify with my heritage because I really find it an unimportant subject, or because that particular identity carries with it a sense of previously unnoticed self-loathing?

At my school, students who express individuality and hang out with people of other races are often labeled as race-traitors. You've got to "be" Asian/black/white/Latino or you're obviously ashamed of your identity. Though it tends to turn me off, I can understand the notion of instilling a sense of [insert ethnic background] pride in order to avoid people being embarrassed by their culture. Inevitably, however, when people become too prideful and fascinated with the labels that identify them, it becomes counterproductive. By establishing norms for our cultures, we perpetuate the idea that people should behave in certain ways, even if incorporates the added benefit of positive feelings.

Generally, the people called race-traitors are my favorite people because they create an identity outside of what is expected of them. They are still labeled like anyone else, though perhaps differently, but they command more control of who they are than the average person. Wouldn't you rather create your identity than be born with one?

Though I reject the labels applied to me: white, male, and yes, sometimes Irish, in a lot of ways, I am bound by the them. Perhaps if I were to establish some pride in what it means to be these things, I wouldn't be so reticent to drop them, but I tend to find them too limiting to embrace with any sense of sincerity.

Though I am growing conflicted toward my convictions on the matter, I think I'm going to continue fighting against my cultural labels. Maybe that's just the Irish in me.


People Can Buy Masks of My Face

A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon this brilliant piece of literature by Simon Rich. I'm pretty sure I would be doing humanity a disservice by not sharing it with my nearest and dearest (and strangers similarly stumbling upon this blog.)

A Conversation at the Grownup Table, as Imagined at the Kids’ Table
MOM: Pass the wine, please. I want to become crazy.
GRANDMOTHER: Did you see the politics? It made me angry.
DAD: Me, too. When it was over, I had sex.
UNCLE: I’m having sex right now.
DAD: We all are.
MOM: Let’s talk about which kid I like the best.
DAD: (laughing) You know, but you won’t tell.
MOM: If they ask me again, I might tell.
FRIEND FROM WORK: Hey, guess what! My voice is pretty loud!
DAD: (laughing) There are actual monsters in the world, but when my kids ask I pretend like there aren’t.
MOM: I’m angry! I’m angry all of a sudden!
DAD: I’m angry, too! We’re angry at each other!
MOM: Now everything is fine.
DAD: We just saw the PG-13 movie. It was so good.
MOM: There was a big sex.
FRIEND FROM WORK: I am the loudest! I am the loudest!
(Everybody laughs.)
MOM: I had a lot of wine, and now I’m crazy!
GRANDFATHER: Hey, do you guys know what God looks like?
ALL: Yes.
GRANDFATHER: Don’t tell the kids.

Lately, whenever my group conversations seem to veer off the all-important subject of me, I like to throw in "I am the loudest! I am the loudest!" to make my presence known. Additional conversations can be found at The New Yorker.

In this vein, Stacy introduced me to an equally hilarious dialogue between Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon by Matt Passet "as imagined by someone with an American public school education who didn't pay too much attention in school."
NIXON: Hello, I see you're smoking a cigar and wearing a large hat.
CHURCHILL: So I am, young chap. Could I interest you in a cigar?
NIXON: Sure, I think I smoke cigars ... maybe ... I don't know.
(CHURCHILL hands a cigar to NIXON, who bites off the tip and lights it.)
NIXON: We were probably alive at the same time.
CHURCHILL: Indeed, my boy, indeed. I had something to do with World War II and I think maybe you fought in it.
NIXON: I'm not sure if I did.
CHURCHILL: There's not that much more about me that everyone knows.
NIXON: I once held up my hands and formed two peace signs. I was either about to get onto a plane or get off of one.
CHURCHILL: I have seen the photo, because I think there were cameras when I was alive.
NIXON: And what about Watergate? I did that.
CHURCHILL: Margaret Thatcher is someone else from England. She was leader after me.
NIXON: People can buy masks of my face.

For compelling interactions between Christopher Columbus and J.D. Salinger and Adolph Hitler and Abraham Lincoln, check out McSweeney's.


You Stupid Slot!

There was only regrettable incident about my most recent trip to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, I let incidents like this previous one linger in my mind long after. This time, we entered a tiny casino, Mermaids, with nothing but slot machines and quickly-served, strong beverages. Though I don't like slots, I don't mind slowly whittling down a dollar on a machine if I can receive a free drink or two in that span. Michael Michael was similarly not a slots fan, until, after playing for all of a minute, ey won more than $120. As ey was racking up the cash, ey shouted some words of excitement, much to the distaste of the gambler beside me. At least a couple of times, ey gave Michael Michael glares and shushed em. This gambler was winning a fair amount of money as well, so there was no reason to be upset. If you want peace and quiet, don't frequent a Vegas casino.

That, though, is not even what I'm here to complain about. To receive eir money, Michael Michael needed an attendant to come check the machine. Since ey obviously couldn't abandon the machine, I went to the cashier to fetch someone. "My friend just won a lot of money and needs an attendant," I told the person at the desk. "What machine is it?" ey asked. "Um, I'm not sure," I said. "It's the one in the far back corner." I pointed to the unmistakable area to which I referred. "Well, I can't send anyone without the name of the machine," the person said snippily. "Even if I tell you it's the furthest one in the exact opposite corner?" I tried. "No," the worker growled. "Okay, I'll be back then," I said, starting to walk away. "I bet you will," the employee said in an entirely condescending and mocking tone. Confused by such a strong, disrespectful response, I turned back and asked, "I'm sorry, was I rude to you?" The employee then stretched eir arm out and held eir palm open about six inches away from my face. I can't recall a time in my life where I've been made to "talk to the hand," and here someone was pulling that crap on me. The problem with receiving unprovoked rudeness is I that never know how to react. It's not like I had anticipated this, so finding an appropriate way to respond was not coming to my fairly intoxicated mind. Giving the hand back? Cursing em out? Causing a scene? It all seemed so dumb. Clearly, this person was dumb. I quickly resolved not to do anything to jeopardize Michael Michael's jackpot, and walked away, mentally shaken.

The sad thing is that I will continue replaying this occasion in my head for a long time to come, undoubtedly because out of dissatisfaction for doing nothing in the moment. How should have I responded? How do I forget about it now that it's passed?


Downtown Vegas

Once again, I ran away to Vegas for a day. My trip was nearly thwarted when the hotel room I had booked (it was confirmed even - Las Vegas really doesn't have scruples) cancelled my reservation just an hour before departing. Michael MIchael moved quickly to find a new room, discovering one at El Cortez located in downtown old Vegas. In my many trips to the reviled city, I've never spent any significant time downtown, though now I must say that I love it. Whereas the strip is expensive and full of people attempting to be trendy, slick, and over-the-top, the people that frequent downtown are trashy (yes, even more so), unapologetic, and true fish out of water. Given that the hotels, food, and minimum bets were cheaper than its commercialized counterpart (though, admittedly, it's silly to suggest any part of Vegas is not commercialized), it attracts a different crowd: the toothless and the couthless. And you know what? I fit right in. Or at the least, I felt better about it, knowing I couldn't possibly be judged harsher than the broke alcoholic seniors adjacent to me. I learned some interesting things, too: you can walk around in public with patches missing from your hair without apparent embarrassment, you can hold your crying child upside down by the ankles in an attempt to get em to shut up, and you can still play slots even if you have only one arm.

After a couple of successful blackjack hands, I went down $80-90 early. Fortunately, I was able to drown my sorrows. In addition to drinking a lot, I was genuinely having a fun time. I love a social dealer and the chatting/taunting that manifests in these situations makes even losing a fun experience. Later, I made up my money at the craps table, which I should by now realize is my area of expertise.

Though I was voted by my tripmates to be most hungover the next morning, I woke up without a care, solidifying my lucky streak. (There's no better way to greet the world than to an alarm singing, "This is why I'm hot!") I won more after Laura enticed me into giving blackjack another shot, walking away $40-50 up overall. Of course, after you subtract gas, hotel, and food (which includes two cuts of steak), I probably only broke even for the trip, but how many vacations can you say that about anyway?

Until we meet again, Vegas.



I've been steadfast in my quest to overcome my fear of blood and, consequently, have not freaked out the few times I've shed minor amounts of blood, choosing instead to ignore the wounds. Recently, I managed to jab a thick layer of skin off the top side of my right index finger while refilling a salt shaker of all things. Clearly I don't stand a chance in this world. I saw the blood and adopted the usual approach of looking at it for what I feel is a reasonable amount of time without sweating or vomiting in order to face my fear. From there, I went about my business, although I thought I noticed that the blood flow wasn't stopping, but intensifying. Dismissing it as my paranoid imagination, I did my best to think about anything and everything else until a housemate said, "Kevin, you're bleeding a lot." "You think?" I asked. "Yes, you need to put a band-aid on it." In former days, I would slap a band-aid on these situations so I wouldn't have to look at the wound, but now I had the confirmation I needed that this situation warranted a bandage. And, hell, it really was bleeding a lot.

In the next couple of days, the wound started to scab over. At the end of the day, I had to collect the laptops I distributed to my worst class, which required careful counting and recounting. As it turned out, the student I had enlisted to track the computer IDs and check them off wasn't actually doing eir job, so in the last few minutes, I was scrambling to recount and put away the computers all without letting any of them slip out the door with one of my untrustworthy students. Quickly moving my hands, I must have snagged my healing wound on something in the metallic cabinets because I reopened that area on my finger and started nearly spurting blood again. Before I had noticed what had happened, I had blood on the floor, blood on the computers, and blood on a student's shoe. Though normally a bloody situation like this would require the utmost attention, I had to make sure I could account for every computer or risk losing thousands of dollars. As much as I wanted to freak out, I had no time to waste. However, several students freaked out for me. "Mr. [Kevin], you're bleeding! There's blood on the floor!" Having a student pass me a post-it note, I haphazardly wrapped it around my finger, though it didn't quite do the trick.

Two days after that, my finger was scabbing over again. Before class began, a student showed me a minor paper cut ey had just given emself. Wanting to confront my fear and appear brave, I stared at it for an usually long time. Finally, the student asked, "So can I have a band-aid?" Ah, so that was the point of showing me the cut. As I opened the drawer to fetch the band-aid, I rammed the top of the finger against the edge, re-reopening the wound. And for the third time, it offered a heavy flow, much of it getting into the drawer, some of it nearly getting on the band-aid itself. I decided not to sweat, considering it convenient to injure myself en route to fetching bandages, only to realize that there was only one band-aid left. I had a temporary crisis of conscious: do I give the student the last one for a clearly insignificant cut or keep it for myself? I decided to let the student have it, but as I handed it over, the student said, "Ewww, you're bleeding, too." Admittedly, it was hard to miss. I slapped a tissue on to it and immediately started in on my lesson. A student commented that I was "brave." Sigh, I love freshmen. Of course they'd assume I'm a badass when it comes to blood.

It's worth noting that my blood phobia is not cured. Whenever I had to write the word "blood" growing up, my fingers would become so shaky that the word was barely legible, and it'd take several words afterwards before I recovered back to my normal style. It's funny how the word alone cripples me. It transfers over to my typing, too. I actually had to stop this post several times to step away and regain my typing ability. I really do have some kind of sickness, but I swear I'm going to get better! Just not better enough to post a graphic of someone bleeding as I initally intended. There's a distinction between making progress and being ridiculous.