I've Got a Bracelet, Too

Hey, McCain and Obama:


Who would have guessed that the most memorable moment in last night's debate would be an old-fashioned BLING-OFF?

Honestly, I don't know who won this issue, because we weren't provided with any close-ups of the bracelets in question. My vote goes to whoever is wearing the most ostentatious jewelry. Flashy is classy. Whichever candidate first sports a grill will have this election locked up.

Why stop at bracelets? I wanted to see them compare their shoes. McCain keeps dimes in his penny loafers.

You just know Palin is excited, hoping the subject of fashion accessories comes up during her debate, as well. Finally, a topic about which she can speak competently and passionately.

I hear Nader has his taint pierced. Talk about a trump card. No wonder they won't let him debate.


The Economy Is a Non-Issue

The presidential race is increasingly outrageous, particularly the developments of the past week. Both the candidates and the media seem to be focusing on one topic, and one topic only: the failing economy. Economy this, economy that… I’m ashamed at how such a NON-ISSUE has become a focal point.

I don’t care if I lose my home, I care about that time McCain couldn’t remember how many homes he owned. I’m not interested in the knowing about the Dow Jones Industrial Average going down; the only down I’d like to hear about is Palin’s Down syndrome newborn. (You know Palin’s pro-life if she kept that one.) And I couldn’t be more indifferent to this whole $700 billion spending proposal, unless that’s the amount Obama pays for his haircuts.

Don’t allow diversionary tactics like the “economic crisis” (yeah, okay…) to cause us to stray from the important subjects. We the people of America need to regain control of our media and put the issues we care most about at the forefront:

  • Is Obama really black?

  • The endorsements of personalities from The Hills

  • McCain’s age

  • What McCain would look like while wearing Palin’s glasses

  • Tina Fey’s impersonation of Palin

  • Palin’s hair

  • Palin’s outfit during her interview with Katie Couric

  • Palin’s bra size

  • Palin’s beauty pageant experience

  • Palin’s favorite way to eat moose

  • Palin’s high score at Donkey Kong

  • The shape of Palin's latest bowel movement

  • Ultrasound pictures of Bristol Palin’s fetus baby

  • Third party politics (Just kidding, of course.)

  • Whatever it is that makes us take notice of Joe Biden

That, folks, is real politics. If I find that the candidates continue harping on finding ways to fix our economic woes, I will be so busy yawning, I probably won’t even be able to vote. Fortunately, McCain seems to be willing to halt all of his other business and single-handedly solve our economic dilemmas in a few days’ time, so ideally we’ll be back to the important issues shortly. I don’t know why no one thought to ask McCain to fix everything for us prior to now, because it would have saved us a lot of trouble and poverty. In the meantime, I’m eagerly anticipating the next time Palin discusses baby names with a foreign leader.


Possessed by a Ghost

Although I don't believe in ghosts, there was once a time when I was convinced I was either being possessed or attacked by one.

It all happened in my church basement, which is a truly creepy place. During youth group meetings, we would turn off all of the lights in the basement and play hide-and-seek, an activity that was fun, yet terrifying. Additionally, we'd sit by candle light and tell frightening tales to the point I was convinced I might be killed during the night. Though we were a church group, we spoke far more of spooky spirits than the holy variety. As terrified as I was, I pretended as though I were one of the brave ones, insisting to my friends that their fears of specters were unfounded.

For a while, the youth group operated a seasonal haunted house from one section of this same basement because the eery, dank environment was the perfect setting for one, until certain members of the congregation thought it was pretty blasphemous to glorify ghouls and murder and put an end to this tradition. I can't say I disagree with their perspective, but it sure was a lot of fun while it lasted. Although the haunted house had to cease, it was never sufficiently cleaned up; spray-painted messages of DEATH and STAY AWAY remained on the walls, and various makeshift "torture" devices were strewn amongst the rooms. This condition proved problematic when a new custodian for the church up and quit after a week, explaining that our church was haunted and apparently condoned ritualistic killing.

Obviously, this situation needed to be addressed, so it was left to the youth of the church to clean up the mess and turn that section of the basement into something more appropriate, like a rec room. Naturally, this necessitated a new paint job, so we obtained paints and brushes. I sloppily applied paint to the walls when all of the sudden I felt a surge through my body. Specifically, it felt as though both of my wrists had been fiercely karate chopped and then the pain pulsed through me. No one was close to me, however, so without an explanation for why that occurred, I decided to ignore the incident and continue painting.

I painted for about another ten minutes until a similar rush of pain attacked me internally. Again, it was as if I were grabbed by the wrist and overcome. This time I asked allowed what had happened, but none of my friends had any sense of what I was talking about. Frightened, I began contemplating the source of this feeling. Was it... was it a ghost? I didn't believe in ghosts, or at least, I didn't want to believe in ghosts, and I certainly didn't want to believe I was experiencing anything ghoulish.

As I persisted in painting, I wondered whether a ghost might resent me covering up its satanic imagery. Despite my effort to maintain some common sense, I panicked that perhaps a ghost was now possessing me. While battling logic and paranoia, I felt the same sensation overcome me a third time, only this time I refused to let it get the better of me so I continued painting as if the pain were not bothering me. This decision was swiftly followed by a fourth and fifth pulsation, at which point I recognized something distinctive about my action. I was painting over an electrical outlet. Wet paint... electricity... might I be shocking myself? Being not too bright, I decided to put this theory to the test and paint over it again. Indeed, it wasn't a ghost, it was an electrical shock. Then, being absolutely not bright at all, I tested it again, you know, just to be sure. Owww! Yup, still a shock. Clearly, I shouldn't fear ghosts, as they'd probably attempt to possess bodies smarter than mine.


Greenwich Village Funeral Home

Though many people call me "creative," very rarely have I been considered "artistic." In fact, the only time I can recall being complimented in this manner (aside from first grade when my art teacher totally dug my scribbling capabilities) was when I contributed some tongue-in-cheek pieces to an art show in college. A hippy-dippy art major approached me and told me how much ey "loved my art," how I had a "unique voice," and "defied conventions." At first, I thought ey was bullshitting me, only for the art major to insist I was in fact "brilliant." Ey was particularly enamored with the poetry I had written on a long string of toilet paper, so I did not take the commendation seriously, although I can honestly say that toilet paper has been the most frequently used canvas for my artistic endeavors in the past several years.

If I were an artist, I was the least of them. Try as I might, I've never been much of a drawer, painter, sculptor, or bedazzler. I hoped all of this might change after I first acquired my digital camera about seven years ago. Since photography is a legitimate art form and does not appear to be too difficult, other than pointing and clicking, what really stood between me and and the career of a brilliant artist?

About a week after I received the camera, I took it with me on a trip to New York City with Alice and Jessica. I thought I could take some meaningful shots of the gritty city, but lacked the inspiration. Every potential subject seemed cliched, which is obviously not my style, as evidenced by the the toilet paper. Late at night, as we walked the streets, we encountered a funeral home with sad elderly people shuffling out. This scene could be my first legitimately artsy shot! As I reached for my pocket to grab my camera, both of my friends attempted to stop me, shaming me for exploiting a sad situation. I didn't share their viewpoint. Would you discourage the Tiananmen Square photographer for being invasive? I happen to find the tiny women comforting one another after the viewing to be quite touching.

A couple of weeks later, I replicated the resulting photo to share with others. It's been called "tacky," "tasteless," and "sick." Instead of garnering me artistic cred, this photograph has been cited as an example of my bad sense of humor and judgment. Nevertheless, I still like it, and I'm sure I could find you a hippy-dippy art major who would think it is "brilliant," too.


Street Scene '08

On Friday afternoon, Amy I and drove down to San Diego for Street Scene, a music festival downtown with an impressive musical lineup. I was extremely excited, but it didn’t take long for me to remember why I often shy away from festivals: people. I just don’t like most people, as they tend to be obnoxious. Especially teenagers and scenesters, who comprised the majority of the attendees.

We got up close to the stage for MGMT, although I would have gladly stood further back if it meant being surrounded by better people. Somehow, a bunch of kids managed to sneak their drugs, alcohol, and rotten personalities through the gates undetected and wreaked havoc. Once MGMT started playing, I was instantly in a better mood, but it didn’t stop me from exacting revenge in somewhat subtle ways. While the crowd was dancing, I not-so-accidentally would ram my hips and limbs into the people I wasn’t fond of, and with one idiot in particular, rather than singing along to the lyrics, I kept screaming “douche” into eir ear. I’m sure it went over eir head, however, since before leaving, this same stoned idiot told eir companion with no sense of irony, “I love live music. I wonder who came up with it.” I shit you not, ey said it and ey meant it. I’d like to imagine that, after years of recording music, some artist had an epiphany: “What if instead of playing our music in the studio, we played it live for people? It’s so crazy, it just might work.”

MGMT closed with my favorite song of the moment, “Kids” and it made up for every cruddy interaction with teenagers thus far.

MGMT - Kids

Since the New Pornographers were coming up next at the same location, we were able to get up against the stage. While waiting for the set to begin, I happened to be next to a bunch of girls from Scripps College. It wasn’t yet 7 o’clock, yet some of them were so drunk that they couldn’t stand. “I can’t believe she can fall asleep with all this noise,” a friend quipped after her friend went unconscious. Actually, she didn’t fall asleep, she passed out, but I wasn’t about to point this out. After waking the girl back up, a few of the friends wandered elsewhere, only to be deemed so intoxicated that they were kicked out of the festival altogether. After receiving a text message sharing this news, their irritated friends left too, one of whom claimed, “It’s not even 8, it’s too soon to be kicked out.” Evidently, getting kicked out at a more reasonable hour would have been fine.

I am wild for The New Pornographers, even if Neko isn’t touring with the band. They were great, but I wish I had relaxed more and just enjoyed it; I was constantly on edge hoping they would play my favorite song of all time, “The Bleeding Heart Show.” (That’s not hyperbole, if you were to ask me what my favorite song ever is, I’d answer with that.) It was so important to me that I became disappointed each time another song, even those I loved, was played instead. Fortunately, they finally played it and I smiled like a goof.

The New Pornographers - The Bleeding Heart Show

At the set’s completion, as soon as I walked away from the stage, I could feel a previously unnoticed intense burning in my thighs, forcing me to sit throughout most of Spoon’s performance. Rather than dancing myself, I derived most of my enjoyment from watching middle-aged people dancing. While most of the people present were young and danced with youthful abandon, I most admired the trendy farts who spiked their hair up and made no apologies about getting into the mix. I was motivated during my favorite Spoon songs, like “Don’t Make Me a Target,” but, frankly, I was too sore, which I suppose is all the more reason to respect the 40-somethings shaking their groove things.

Spoon - Don't Make Me a Target

After Spoon, we trotted over to see Justice, who put on a hell of a visual spectacle. Calling Justice to Daft Punk-lite might be too obvious and limiting, but I heard multiple fellow concertgoers make the same comparison. We made sure to “do the dance, do the dance,” before trekking to Vampire Weekend.

I’m fascinated with Vampire Weekend, in part because it is one band I can legitimately say I was into long before they attained even so much as a blog presence. I first learned about them for a cheeky song about Cape Cod, “Walcott,” that was the right amount of silly and nostalgic.

Vampire Weekend - Walcott

Later, while looking for other tunes by the band, I stumbled upon “Oxford Comma,” and knew the band had stolen my heart with the opening line: “Who gives a fuck about an oxford comma?” (For the non-grammatically inclined, an Oxford comma is one used before an “and” in order lists, as in “red, white, and blue.”) I believe the lyrics to this song are some of the cleverest, most complicated I have ever encountered:

Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma

Oxford Comma
Vampire Weekend

Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?
I've seen those English dramas too, they're cruel
So if there's any other way to spell the word
It's fine with me, with me

Why would you speak to me that way?
Especially when I always said that I
Haven't got the words for you
All your diction dripping with disdain
Through the pain
I always tell the truth

Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?
I climbed to Dharamsala too, I did
I met the highest Lama, his accent sounded fine
To me, to me

Check your handbook, it's no trick
Take the chapstick, put it on your lips
Crack a smile, adjust my tie
Know your boyfriend, unlike other guys

Why would you lie about how much coal you have?
Why would you lie about something dumb like that?
Why would you lie about anything at all?
First the window, then it's to the wall
Lil' Jon, he always tells the truth

Check your passport, it's no trick
Take the chapstick, put it on your lips
Crack a smile, adjust my tie
Know your butler, unlike other guys

Why would you lie about how much coal you have?
Why would you lie about something dumb like that?
Why would you lie about anything at all?
First the window, then it's through the wall
Why would you tape my conversations?
Show your paintings at the United Nations
Lil' Jon, he always tells the truth

I love the bitter alliteration of “diction dripping with disdain.” I love the pun about “crack”ing a smile after applying chapstick. I love the subtle transposition of the word “boyfriend” to “butler” between verses. And I love the reference to one of the filthiest songs ever, “Get Low” by Lil” Jon, as an absurd, yet arguable example of honesty.

Vampire Weekend gets a lot of flak for being bourgeoisie, but the more I analyze their lyrics, the more I see the satire in their act. They are ridiculing pretension, the very image they put forth. Vampire Weekend’s songs are so rich in educated allusions, that I’ve had to do some research just to know to what obscure place or person the band was referring. Vampire Weekend is pretentious, too, but that seems to be part of their upper-class, prep-school Caucasian upbringing that they only sort of apologize for, and only sort-of have to.

Being both a participant and a critic of an identity might get you branded a hypocrite, but I’d argue for honest. For example, I can relate to hating the identity I’ve been raised to be, but still acknowledge that it is a major part of me. Heck, I simultaneously give a fuck about an oxford comma, and don’t. Perhaps it shouldn’t matter, but still, it sort of does. Call it tradition, call it elitism, but I have a hang up that necessitates me using one. And it probably has a lot more to do with the fact that I also understand the inside jokes about Cape Cod than I was previously willing to admit.

In short, I think a lot about the societal implications of Vampire Weekend. The concert didn’t necessarily provide me with any new insight, but it sure was fun. Maybe that's all I really need to understand.

To close the night, we slogged over to the main stage for Beck. I’m tempted to call Beck’s performance boring, but I think it’s more accurate to call myself boring. After about eight hours of standing, I didn’t have it in me to enjoy Beck like I should have. Though most of his repertoire features high-energy songs, my favorite in the moment was his somber lullaby-like lament, “Lost Cause.” Of course, I might have identified more with “Loser” had I made it to the set in time to hear it.

Beck - Lost Cause

Overall, I had a good time, and had the opportunity to check off a lot of artists from my “Want-to-See-Live” list. I’m going to have to contemplate whether I can handle large amounts of stupid people before attempting this sort of activity again, however.

(I’ve “borrowed” divShare, this better way of posting music to stream and download, from Preston, so credit and thanks to em.)


The Name of the Town Might Suffice

Naomi: You should go to New Zealand! I met a girl there, and I did her.
Kevin: Where in New Zealand?
Naomi: Her house.


Let's Give 'Em Something to Talk About

My house isn't too popular within my neighborhood. While we have a handful of neighbor friends, we get the cold shoulder from the majority. I don't blame them necessarily: our lawn hasn't always been in the best condition, we have dogs that used to relieve themselves in other people's gardens, and since we've had as many as eight people living here, that has meant owning just as many cars, which I suppose could be an "unsightly" amount for some. The biggest offense was when Shea was operating a biodiesel company without a permit from our garage. He collected used vegetable oil from restaurants and stored it in a truck, which went down without a hitch until one night it all leaked out. In the morning, the road was flooded with veggie oil, which the police deemed a legitimate "oil spill" and "biohazard." Oops.

We're good people, though. We may be younger and slightly less domesticated, but we're still polite, respectful, and predominately quiet. For this reason, it irritates me that a few neighbors really seem to have it out for us. They call the police to complain about the state of our yard, the presence of "mysterious" vehicles that we own, storing aluminum cans for the sake of recycling, and a few other assorted incidents that have amounted to nothing other than a visit from some officers who ultimately leave having nothing to even warn us about. On a couple of occasions, the police even apologize and explain that we've done nothing wrong, but their policy is to respond to every call. 'Tever!

While we don't know for sure who anonymously calls the police, we have reason to believe that the people in the house across the street levy at least some of the complaints given the other snippy comments they've made toward us and the occasions on which we have caught them spying on us from their windows. As I see it, they're older individuals without much to do, so if they want to invent some sort of rivalry with us, I'll just continue to smile and wave to be the bigger person.

Oh, but I'll also be a little passive aggressive. Our neighbors have recently put up an Obama-Biden sign in their yard. Being in favor of those candidates, I don't have a problem with it, but I can't help but feel if we were the ones putting up a potentially controversial sign, the police would wind up at our door. Also, look whose lawn is dying now, hypocrites.

This past weekend, my friends and I got hammered drunk while viewing Burn After Reading at the theater. It was great. Or rather I think it was great, I know I was drunk. In a way, it's all the same. On our trek back from the theater, we passed a sign posted on a street corner that reads: "Single? Claremontdating.COM" It made me laugh, so I wanted it, and helped myself. Arriving home, I stuck it in our yard, across from the Obama signage. This act would be my obnoxious counter-move toward my neighbors. You can't complain about a sign when you have a sign in your own yard, right? I envisioned the steam coming from my neighbors' ears. Our lawn might be green again, but now they'd have a new reason to resent looking across the street at our property.

In the light of day, I have a new perspective toward the sign. While still funny, it's actually remarkably tacky. By posting this sign in our yard, we're also making a lot of implications about ourselves, none of which are particularly positive. This act is spiteful, however, so I'm willing to degrade myself a bit for a small victory in this war. I eagerly await having the police arrive over this matter and citing us with some residential violation. That'll give me an excuse to take down the disgraceful sign and plan a newer, better counterattack!

You know, I might need a hobby, too.


Fanny Hill

This past Wednesday, we had our latest Erotic Book Club meeting. We had a smaller turn out, in part because it was the middle of the week (yet appropriately named hump-day), but we made the most of it. The selection, Fanny Hill, Or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland, is considered a classic and one of the first significant pieces of erotica in literature. After reading such a nasty choice penned by a former porn star on our previous outing, we wanted something a bit more refined with better writing. Plus, the description on the back of the book is appealing.
Forced by the death of her parents to seek her fortune in London, Fanny Hill is duped into prostitution by an old procuress. In Mrs Brown's bawdy-house the naive young woman begins her sexual initiation - progressing from innocence to curiosity and desire - and soon embarks on her own path in pursuit of pleasure, until she at last finds true love. John Cleland's story of Fanny's rise to respectability was denounced after its publication by the then Bishop of London as 'an open insult upon Religion and good manners', while James Boswell called it 'a most licentious and inflaming book'. But beside its highly entertaining and boisterous depictions of a startling variety of sexual acts, Fanny Hill stands as one of the great works of eighteenth-century fiction for its unique combination of parody, erotica and philosophy of sensuality.

The main incorrect assumption I held was that there would be some sort of plot. Alas, it essentially followed Fanny from one lover to another, with very little in the middle. Though I'd agree that the sexual descriptions could be entertaining to read, when placed in rapid succession, they grow tiresome. Nevertheless, the delicate language added an element of fun. Here's one of my favorite passages:
"The brute had, it seems, as I afterwards understood, brought on, by his eagerness and struggle, the ultimate period of his hot fit of lust, which his power was too short-lived to carry him through the full execution of; of which my thighs and linnen received the effusion."

I had to read that twice before it dawned on me what had occurred: premature ejaculation.

The one thing I did appreciate about the novel is that Fanny doesn't have some sort of moral transformation at the end and repent for her sexual lifestyle as I might have expected. Instead, she seems proud of the fact that she slept her way into a fancy inheritance which then allowed her to live happily ever after with the real love of her life.

At any rate, I don't recommend Fanny Hill; although the pieces are fine it doesn't add up to a worthwhile sum. We'll be sure to screen our next selection a bit more closely.

Like any erotica party, it's not just about what you read, but what you put in your mouth. As the host this time, I spent the better part of the day making food for the party, but as anyone can tell you, I'm hardly a chef. It was challenging not only on a baking level, but also on a creative level: what new erotic snacks could I bring to the table?

Phallic Faguette: Requires one loaf of French bread, two bagels, greens, and cheese.
Sausage Fest: Tiny wieners and dipping sauce
Celerbacy with Nut Cream: Celery and peanut butter
Cunt Cakes: These gave me the most trouble. After cracking the eggs, I managed to forget to put the whites into the mixing bowl, mixing everything without them, then pouring them into the individual cupcake tins. After realizing my mistake, Katy and I did our best to slip some egg into each segment of batter and stir it in, but I don't think it came out as ideally as it should have. We did have fun drawing vaginas with icing and shaving chocolate for pubic hair.


Sticky to the Touch

Last month, Lena, Lisa, Michael, and I were in the park for some late night mischief. While everyone else sat on the baseball bleachers, I climbed onto an overhead tree limb and shook it, accidentally dropping a lot of sap onto my companions below, causing them to become sticky. Lena complained that everything was now “sticky to the touch” which led to a highly philosophical debate as to whether it is possible for something to be sticky but “not to the touch” as stickiness is a sensation determined by touch.

Before this matter was settled, I wandered off to a tree with a curved spine. Since it appeared to be the perfect implement on which to scratch my back, I made like a bear and rubbed my backside against it vigorously. Once satisfied, I returned to the sticky-to-the-touch bleachers where upon I was ridiculed for humping the tree. Adamantly, I defended my legitimate back scratching action and denied any humping, explaining that my crotch never touched the tree. “You were reverse humping!” Lena countered. Though I will admit to doing nothing inappropriate, I did concede that it must have looked strange and perhaps even sexual in the dark from a distance, a fact I should have taken into consideration considering there were other people similarly meandering in the park.

It was a pair of these other people in particular that caught Michael’s eye. He claimed that in the distance, people were having sex on a picnic table. Everyone debated whether intercourse was actually happening, except for me who couldn’t even make out where the alleged incident was occurring, so I kept pestering for someone to point it out. (Don’t act like you are above taking a gander at a potentially fornicating couple.) “Right there,” Lisa said as if it were occurring immediately in front of me. “Where?” I said, seeing nothing. “Right there.” Lisa repeated, a little more irritated. “I don’t see anything,” I whined. “Right there!” Lisa stated firmly. Unable to see the subjects in question and unwilling to let the opportunity pass me by, I asked for her to give me an “o’clock” so I’d be able to pinpoint the location. Lisa responded again with only an angry “Right there!” Frustrated, I raised my voice, too. “Give me a time! Give me an o’clock!” Angriest yet, Lisa retorted, “Right-there-o’clock!” which sent everyone into fits of laughter. Right-there-o’clock is totally the best way ever to describe someone’s location.

For the record, those people were not having sex, although when we went to hang out at the same picnic table an hour later, Lena put her hand under the table and brushed against a substance she swore was jizz. I told her it must just be gum, but when she challenged me to feel it to prove my theory, I was unwilling to do so. After all, just because something’s is sticky-to-the-touch doesn’t mean I need to touch it.


Snapping Turtles

Several years ago at a party, I permitted (I’m not sure whether I verbally consented, but I know I didn’t fight it) two friends to vigorously hickey both sides of my neck, leaving me looking battered. This condition was problematic because I was seeing someone at the time and wasn’t sure how to explain the situation. After I demanded some help from the hickey aggressors, the three of us brainstormed ways to explain what had happened including a rare skin disease, a mishap with a vacuum, and an attack by multiple snapping turtles. Since none of these stories seemed remotely plausible, I panicked.

Me: "What do I tell her?"
P: "Tell her the truth."
C: "So snapping turtles then?"

Of course, I was above using a lame snapping turtle excuse. Barely, though -- instead, I just avoided her for a week until the situation cleared itself up.

Have I mentioned I’m not currently in a relationship?


Macho Man

Jessica to Mike after he grew a cheesy mustache:
"You look like you could be in the Village People! You could be any of them, except the Indian."


This Brilliant Book

Today I'm going through all of my material possessions and throwing out/donating as much as I can muster. I'm a sentimental pack rat, so most of my belongings are random pieces of crap of little to no monetary value that means something to me or make me laugh. Never is this aspect of my identity clearer than when I'm cutting down on the stuff I'm accumulated. Though I'm not your typical American in my consumerism habits, I am a major participant in secondhand economy. I buy used goods frequently, partially because I'm cheap, and partially because it is environmentally advantageous to reuse existing items rather than devote resources to making new ones. It's all crap anyway.

I have a penchant for buying used books for 10 cents because they're funny -- you've seen me make posts like this in the past. Too often, I bring them home, and while amusing, they just add to the clutter of my life.

So now, I retire the following books back to secondhand stores so that others with similar senses of humor may enjoy them.

How devout Christians teach their kids about sex.

The illustrations inside are killer. Jesus oversees kids' journeys through puberty. I'm pretty sure that this kind of book leads to this next one...

A guide to teenage pregnancy. While I made it out of those years unscathed, I should have passed it off to a student in need.

Some of my students have actually read this book, or pretended to anyway. When I used to do silent reading, I had to make some books available because they couldn't be relied on to bring their own. I included this Psychic Guide to Health and Happiness as a joke, and would often like to ask students about what they learned after reading it. It didn't seem to phase them, even though it was clearly the work of a nut job. Perhaps this shouldn't surprise me.

And finally, my favorite, Love Sucks. I've never even attempted to read the book; I only purchased it based upon the post-it note that someone attached to the front cover.

"This brilliant book on the discard pile?" I loved that little piece of sarcasm so much that I had to have it. Six years later, it still makes me laugh. But my bookshelf is overflowing, so can I really justify keeping it just for an anonymous jab?

Out with the old, in with the new. Or new old things in my case.



Over large bowls of Vietnamese soup, I confessed to my companions that I had been weepy lately, having teared up during movies on two consecutive days. I conceded that the films, Schindler's List and Darfur Now, are both about genocide, so if ever a subject matter to cry over, I reckon that would be it. Jessica took the opportunity to challenge my masculinity, prompting me to sob like the baby that I am.

Amy brought up a film about Irish terrorists, but none of us were sure whether or not ey was inventing the plot, so Paul countered by describing a film ey was "making up on the spot" that sounded suspiciously like Titanic. The rest of us kept suggesting constructive feedback to improve this film starring Leonardo DiCaprio about a historical disaster featuring a romance, bare breasts, and a Celine Dion power ballad. Then, inspiration struck. What if instead of making it about a famous boating disaster, this film took place on the Hindenburg? It would be the same movie as Titanic with the same characters, dialogue, music, and plot, but with a few necessary modifications to permit the film to take place on a blimp. It is sure to be a blockbuster, I surmised, because the Hindenburg is the greatest human disaster of all time.

Taking issue with my lofty claim, Jessica alluded to the issue of genocide which was discussed moments earlier, but naturally I pshaw-ed eir. Sure, genocide is horrible or something, but the fallout of the Hindenburg has been a true devastation. Had this accident not occurred and terrified our species, blimps would be commonplace and an environmentally-friendly transportation solution. Ever the contrarian, Jessica countered that blimps aren't actually too energy-efficient, so I admitted what was really being lost: fun. That's right, fun. Blimps are fun, but now that everyone is scared of them, no one is willing to partake in the fun. That, my friends, is a real tragedy.

The fact that we don't yet all live on peaceful blimp communities in the sky and instead blimps are relegated to advertising tires is a concrete example of how corporations are keeping the little people down in an attempt to profit and maintain supreme control. Don't allow them to use an isolated incident of blimp destruction to discourage us from progressing and having fun.


Baby on a Stick

When Katy and Amber returned from a summer of traveling in India, they brought back bags full of gifts to give to their friends and family. While their generosity collectively cost them hundreds of dollars, they were pleased to reveal that my gift only cost about fifteen cents, and was still the best one of all. They were correct. I present to you....

Baby on a Stick!

At one point, Katy and Amber found themselves at a small village's fair. Immediately, they spotted Babies on a Stick for sale and wondered who would buy such an absurd thing. Evidently, children would. As they wandered around the grounds, they saw hundreds of kids playing with these infant marionettes, at which point they realized I needed one. Again, they were correct.

Baby on a Stick is a cut out photo from a magazine with half-colored cardboard limbs attached to the torso with wire and connected to strings that pull on the appendages and make it appear as if it is dancing. I'm not sure why the baby has such long legs or why it is wearing mittens and high heels, but these characteristics certainly add to its charm. I am a bit thrown off, however, by the fact that this baby has four arms, especially when the arms on the photograph could have easily been trimmed to not include the original arms. Then again, given that it's from India, maybe the baby is a descendent of Vishnu.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I play with Baby on a Stick every day. Dance, Baby. Dance.


Senseless Violence

Several months ago, Alex introduced the film They Live to my household. In the movie, the protagonist, Nada, discovers a magical pair of sunglasses that enables him to see that grotesque aliens are disguising themselves as humans and slowly taking over the world through advertising and corporate control. Granted, it’s ridiculous in concept, but it’s a unique way to critique capitalism, I suppose. They Live was a moderate success in the late 80s and a cult classic today, still remembered by some for the infamous lines “Life’s a bitch and she’s back in heat” and “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass.. and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

While the quotes are great, They Live’s exaggeratedly long fight sequence is the most memorable aspect of all. I’m not generally a fan of even theatrical violence, but this scene is so over-the-top that it is difficult to resist laughing as they continuously beat each other silly over the act of trying on sunglasses.

If someone wanted me to put on a pair of sunglasses at any cost, I think I’d relent much sooner. In turn, I think if someone was that distrusting of my simple request to try on glasses, I wouldn’t choose them to assist me in a fight against alien domination.

In researching this scene, I learned that South Park had parodied it an episode. Immediately, I realized it must have been the controversial “Cripple Fight” in which two disabled individuals have an equally pointless out and out bout. If you’ve seen this particular episode, you’ve never forgotten it, as it is shocking and offensive. And while it now makes a little more sense given that it had some sort of inspiration, I don’t want to excuse it entirely. Below, someone spliced both clips to demonstrate their closeness.

If you pay attention, you’ll notice that South Park uses some audio straight from the movie.

As much as I don’t want to be involved in a physical altercation anytime soon, I hope that if one were to occur it would play out like this one.