You Know He Be Knockin' Those Pins to the Ground

Important text messages from Kurosh at Lucky Strike lanes last night:

"Chris brown bowling in lane next to us ha ha"
"This just in. Cb uses the bowling alias monkeybitch"

No word on whether Kurosh was literally star-struck.



RED ALERT! RED ALERT! The Homeland Security Advisory System is under attack!... by our own government? Looks like the Obama administration is getting rid of the color-coded terrorist warning system. Its termination is especially sad for me because, back at its inception, I was one of its biggest, most vocal proponents.

My advocacy started on a lark. My friend had bought some fabric to sew her own dress to wear to her West African Dance class and then wanted to find a use for the leftover scrap so that it wouldn't go to waste. After that last sentence, I suppose it goes without saying that I attended a hippy-dippy liberal arts college. To help her out, I agreed to find a use for the orange fabric; since at the time our government had us under an orange warning, I hung up the swatch to advise my peers accordingly.

Apparently, we've always been on heightened alert. Not once in the past ten years has the terror alert color dipped below yellow, meaning that not once has it been all right for you to feel safe. I did my best to contribute to the paranoia by sometimes taking the fabric off the wall and wrapping it around my head. From there, I'd run around the campus screaming "ORANGE!" Usually, I said it like I were a pirate, so it'd come out "ARRRRANNGE!" If anyone were to ask what I was up to, I'd inform them to be on the look out for terrorists - you know, characters even more suspicious than myself.

I could be really fucking weird back then. ("Back then?" calls the chorus. Shut up.) But at least I was contributing to a lot of people's safety... even if I had to literally freak them out to do so. I would totally make a great government employee.


State of the Hostage Situation

So tonight was fun. Watched the State of the Union while drinking a lot, as any good American should. We started sipping at every utterance of the word "future," which comes up a lot as it turns out when the president doesn't have much good to say about the present. Still, the "future" references seemed a little taunting to most of the people in attendance... is every politician old-as-fuck these days? It's as if Obama were speaking to a convalescent home; most of those people were closer to death than Gabrielle Giffords. Speaking of Giffords, if you thought Obama would wait a full five seconds before mentioning her name, clearly you're new to politics.

Following the speech, I went to a comedy show. The transition from one drunkenly hilarious spectacle to the next was nearly seamless. Well, that is until I became involved in a hostage situation at the show. The details aren't entirely clear, but elsewhere in the same building someone was holding someone else hostage at gunpoint, which led to a standoff with dozens of police officers. The audience was on lockdown and couldn't leave the room. I hadn't been planning on leaving the room anytime soon, but you'd be surprised at how claustrophobic you start to feel when a whole bunch of people with guns are restricting your movements.

Anyway, I made it home safely and the state of our union is strong... even if downtown Los Angeles has once again proven why it is uninhabitable. I had hoped to channel some positive thoughts to go to bed with, but I instead received a new blog comment on a post I wrote more than a year ago to celebrate (read: mock) Bryan Adams's 50th birthday. In addition to skewering several of his embarrassing songs, I had made an off-the-cuff remark about the film Prince of Thieves. Apparently "Anonymous" (if that is your real name!) took offense to this comment, saying: "Prince of Thieves was a great movie. If you disagree then I suggest you get your head examined, and also look into having a new (good) sense of taste transplanted into the sad thing you laughingly call your brain." It's true, I can't refer to my own brain without laughing. But who let Kevin Costner on the internet?


Omnipotent Facebook

Facebook's sidebar is suggesting that I look at old wedding photographs of a couple who was divorced within a year.

So I realize that Facebook knows my vital information, friends, hobbies, and spending habits... but now it has discerned my sense of humor, too? I'd be really frightened right now if I weren't too busy chuckling at the bride and groom's misfortune.


Pirating Sunglasses

My mom was always a great parent volunteer when I was in elementary school: she helped out at the school library, chaperoned field trips, and was the classroom mother who organized the holiday parties. With all that activity, it's no surprise that she also agreed to run a booth at the school carnival. She and a fellow mother ran a pirate game that was actually pretty cool for kids of that age... and, come to think of it, I would still enjoy now.

Creatively, my mom constructed two large pirate ships out of cardboard that stood opposite of each other. For the game, kids split up into two teams and got behind each ship where they found buckets of water and sponges. From there, they attacked their rival buccaneers by hurling sponges in a wet pirate brawl.

There was one important rule: all little pirates had to wear protective eyewear. I'm not sure how a soaked sponge would poke an eye out, or why an accident leading to an eyepatch would do anything but increase the game's pirate reputation, but, you know, safety first. Rather than using goggles, my mom brought a bunch of plastic neon sunglasses my sibling and I used to wear.

Somehow, at the end of the carnival, all of the sunglasses went missing. My mom speculated that the other mother had "accidentally" taken them during the cleanup process, but they were never returned. This was pretty upsetting to me because, like any child of the 80s, I loved neon colors, particularly on things as fashionably cool as sunglasses.

More than a year later, while my family was on a road trip on a Vermont highway, we coincidentally found ourselves driving in the lane adjacent to the other carnival mom's minivan. As our families waved to one another, we were able to see that the kids in the backseat were wearing the pilfered neon sunglasses.

It might have been a pirate game, but clearly somebody had taken the pillaging aspect too literally. Here they probably thought they were safe to finally wear the glasses now that they were across multiple state lines, but we caught them in the act! There was no point in confronting them on the theft; just seeing the kids wear those cheap, silly, neon sunglasses was enough to convince me how dorky and unstylish they had been all along. Good riddance, I decided. They could keep them, as far as I was concerned - I wasn't the one who needed sunglasses to cover my guilty eyes anyway.


Life in a Northern Town

The Coachella lineup looks decent, but if there's not going to be a Dream Academy reunion, then you can count me out!

In all honesty, I always just assumed "Life in a Northern Town" was an Enya song; it looks like she doesn't own the copyright for chanting over synthesizers.

What they lack in being Enya, the Dream Academy members make up for in awkward enthusiasm. Friends, beware: henceforth, this song will be on my party mixes forever and ever.


Intoxicating Pictures

"I hate Facebook. My tagged photos are all basically 'A History of Ted Drunk.'" - Ted


Wine Whine

Recently, I ate dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant without a liquor license. The staff permits you to BYOB, so my friends supplied multiple bottles of wine and beer to accompany our meal. It was actually embarrassing how much booze we had sitting on our table.

As we ate and drank, with a greater emphasis on the latter, an unfamiliar couple approached our table. The woman held a half-empty bottle of wine and said, "We have to go and we can't finish this, so we thought we'd give it to you." I immediately laughed out loud, because it was clear that we already had plenty of alcohol. She seemed to take offense and said, "No, it's a really great wine, we just can't finish it." Attempting to apologize, Dan explained that the laughter was just because we already had so much, but that we appreciated it. She still seemed defensive and proceeded to explain that the wine is expensive and from an impressive vineyard she has personally visited. She wasn't grasping that our hesitancy to accept the wine had nothing to do with the quality (which should have been evident from our own collection) and everything to do with the fact we weren't going to be able to finish our own stock. Why not give it to one of the other tables that wasn't drowning in alcohol? Finally, we just accepted the booze and thanked her.

Once she was out of earshot, we made fun of her. We developed elaborate theories that she had roofied the wine and was now waiting outside the restaurant to rape us. Then we poked fun at her pretentious nature after disclosing the wine's value. Every time the subject changed, we'd inevitably get back to the woman and mock her some more.

It wasn't until we were leaving and someone made another crack about "feeling roofied" that I actually reflected on what had just happened. Even if she had been a little strange and pompous, she was still someone who kindly gifted expensive wine to strangers... who then gladly drank it while ripping into her for nearly an hour.

Sometimes we can be awful people.... but not as awful as that woman, am-I-right?


Help Wanted


I just found a job I really want to apply to, but decided to first apply to this other job that looked decent. Except that somehow I mixed up their email addresses, so I sent an email with the wrong cover letter and referring to a different job title to the awesome job.

Can I get a redo? It's probably not a good start to have to say "Sorry I addressed you incorrectly, and here's the real cover letter!" At the very least, I should take out the part of the cover letter that says I am "extremely detail-oriented," as the job posting had mandated all candidates be.



A Sign Things Have Changed

"Hey, it's Kevin. Whoa, whoa, whoa, before you hang up, hear me out. I know you dumped me because we weren't compatible, but things have changed... I'm a Taurus, now, baby!"

And... scene! The only reason I might actually give half a hoot about this astrological sign change controversy is because it proves how inconsequential it is. I pity the fool who now is torn up over which horoscope to read. If you want to waste your time on the most irrelevant part of the newspaper, read Family Circus.

Fortunately, my sign hasn't changed. The correct answer to "What's your sign?" has and always will be "Shut the fuck up."


More Than Words

Yesterday was Adrian's birthday. At a loss for something witty to say on his Facebook wall to commemorate the occasion, I instead searched youtube for "Happy Birthday, Adrian" and one of the first things that came up was a sister and brother team performing "More Than Words" for their other brother's 16th birthday. Although it also one of my favorite songs to harmonize to, it cracked me up; I think it's safe to say that the kids are oblivious to it being a sex song.

"More Than Words" is a former #1 song by the hair band Extreme, whose members are clearly trying to show their sensitive sides. But make no mistake - their sensitive sides are their penises. And don't fall for the song's gentle, acoustic nature. "More Than Words" is not tender like Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You," but predatory. The narrator is essentially saying, "Saying that you love me means nothing. You have to show me by getting physical." So put up or shut up. Or rather put up AND shut up. Let's consult the lyrics:

Saying "I love you"
is not the words I want to hear from you.
It's not that I want you not to say,
but if you only knew
how easy it would be to show me how you feel.
More than words is all you have to do to make it real,
then you wouldn't have to say that you love me,
'cause I'd already know...

Now I've tried to talk to you and make you understand.
All you have to do is close your eyes
and just reach out your hands and touch me.
Hold me close, don't ever let me go.

Hello, date rape. But people mistake it for something romantic. I've heard it as a wedding song, I've heard it dedicated on the radio to a loved one, and I've seen it listed as one of the 90s top ten love anthems. Is the creepy subtext lost on everyone? Because I'm pretty sure if the song were called "Sleep with Me or You Don't Love Me" it wouldn't be quite so popular.


Beware of Moster

My roommate found this flyer on his car after parking in Hollywood. Do you think the sign-makers intended to say "Monster" or "Molester"?


Hypodermic Needle

I volunteered on Saturday morning. Funny how an event billed as "tree planting" turned into "picking up litter on a highway median." The area's gotta be clean before you can plant trees, though, so I get it. The majority of the volunteers were kids, so with our bright safety vests and trash bags, we must have looked like the world's youngest chain gang to the cars whizzing by.

You'll find a lot of interesting things cleaning a highway median. Mainly there are beer/liquor bottles. I found an unopened tall can, but figured since it was the AM and there were children, I would just toss it. Better than beer, I also found a plastic folder containing the deed to a Rolls Royce. I threw it out, but maybe I should have tracked down the car and been like, "This is my car now, and I have the documents to prove it!" The headlines would read, "From Sanitation Volunteer to the Flyest Driver in LA." I'd have mad honeys in my car and we'd go for joyrides, but we wouldn't litter out our windows, because even though I'd have come a long way from cleaning others' trash, I wouldn't forget where I came from. You know, a modern day "Jenny from the Block."

However, the most disturbing thing that was discovered was a hypodermic needle. A little girl comes up and says, "Uh, I found a needle..." On the walk over to the syringe, I panicked. As a kid, it was firmly entrenched in me that if I were to see a needle, I was not to touch it, and to tell an adult. Clearly this girl had learned the same lesson, but now I was the adult. I may have gotten older, but no one ever told me what the adult is supposed to do in this situation!

I think we improvised a decent solution given the circumstances, but it wasn't following the letter of the law, which should have been adhered to considering the letters of this law spell A-I-D-S. And while AIDS isn't a goal of mine (it's not on my ten-year-plan anyway), I'd rather contract it through something fun like sex than wading through trash on a dirty freeway median, thankyouverymuch.


"Badminton Is a Water Sport"

I'm a fan of badminton. It's outdoors, it's "exercise" without actually being strenuous, the sound the birdie makes as it bounces off the racquet is enjoyably cartoonish, and the word "shuttlecock" is so funny that you should get a bonus point for saying it without giggling.

While I could play badminton all day/every day, sports broadcaster Mary Carillo sees the activity differently. As a former tennis pro, she might have some built up resentment toward badminton for being tennis' bastardized cousin. Check out this segment televised during the 2004 Olympics. Carillo begins innocently enough, but then after a minute, she falls into a psychotic diatribe about badminton. Her blood pressure must have risen off the charts; I don't think this relaxing backyard activity should be so stressful.

I first watched this clip with Jocelyn and Ben and we had to watch it again immediately. Since the two are actors, I suggested that they use her rant as a monologue for their next audition. They agreed that it would be a good idea considering it exhibits comedy, tragedy, as well as a wide emotional (if not mental) range.

"It's always Christopher Burr!"


The Adventures of Huckleb**** Finn

My dear old friend Mark Twain is in the news again now that a publishing company intends to replace the n-word in his books The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer with "slave." This move has prompted an overwhelming outcry from the public. A lot of people are speaking out against censorship and in favor of preserving significant works of literature, which the English major in me thinks is great.

But in this case, I don't agree with the public at large. Quit being so hyperbolic.

I just don't think it's that bad of an idea. Now if some overlord were demanding that all copies of this book be censored, I'd gladly be grabbing a pitchfork, too. But this is a single edition of a book meant to appeal to a subsection of people who feel more comfortable reading it that way, not replace the original entirely. For the countless school districts who have banned these books, this niche edition is an opportunity to put a historically relevant text back into the hands of students.

In the unfortunate age of permission slips, it's nearly impossible to get everyone on board. Half the time, kids will fake a moral objection in a mistaken hope that they'll get excused from the work entirely. Plus, there's always that one parent. Teachers, specifically English teachers, are overworked enough, it's not reasonable to expect them to create a second set of lesson plans and divide instructional time for another book, too. The only feasible approach is to teach the inoffensive option to everyone.

Don't get me wrong: if I were permitted to, I would teach the original version. So many of my students used the n-word freely anyway, it would have been a good jumping point to discuss the word and social context (as we did with To Kill a Mockingbird.) Even with the altered book, it'd be entirely appropriate for the teacher to lead a discussion about the censorship issue; the new edition of the book addresses the change in its introduction. Besides, if you believe that the message and relevance of the books hinge upon the use of the n-word, you're missing the larger point and should give it another read.

To some extent, I think that people are missing the point in this debate. To me, the book amendment speaks more to modern issues of race, language, and power than censorship of literature. It's about the word nigger. Nigger, nigger, nigger. Does that make you uncomfortable? It makes me uncomfortable to type it. Probably most of the most liberal, forward-thinking people you know don't use that word. I'm largely anti-censorship, but with notable exceptions like the above, I censor myself from using the n-word. For a variety of reasons, it's not something I permit in my vernacular.

Words are only as powerful as their speakers deem them. I can think of no other word in the English language that, for better or worse, has been assigned so much power. The new Huck Finn book is merely reflecting our society's mixed emotions toward the n-word. Heck, go read five editorials on this issue right now. In many cases, even the writers most opposed to eliminating "nigger" from Twain's texts are unwilling to actually spell out the word in their articles. How can we condemn censorship of a word that today's society - even its critics - actively censors?

Maybe I'm in the wrong on this debate. Maybe this change will in fact lead to a slippery slope, and before I know it, the words in my own blog will be censored. If that happens, I'll be the first to apologize... if they let me.

In an act of disclosure, I used to work at The Mark Twain House, which vehemently opposes this change, so perhaps my stance makes me a traitor. Although in befriending Jim, Huck was also considered a traitor, so I'll wear that badge with pride today.


I'm Too Neurotic to Play the Lottery

I don't ever play the lottery, save for a handful of scratch-offs I've been gifted over the years. The fact is that I am a cheap man with inexpensive tastes, so the lottery doesn't have much of an allure. Still, when the MegaMillions jackpot reached $350 million yesterday, I couldn't resist buying a ticket.

Here I am: underemployed, underinsured, and underwhelmed. Frankly, I could use $350,000,000 in my life. Rather than hoping someone hires me, I could create my own job opportunities: start a business, a publication, and a charitable foundation to correspond with my passions. I could also employ many of my brilliant and talented friends, allowing us to use our under-appreciated attributes for good. Just imagine what we could get out of life with that sort of bankroll.

As the number drawing drew closer, however, I started freaking out. What if I lacked all motivation once I got all that money? What if my friends resented my windfall even if I did try to include them? What if the money changed me for the worse? What if I didn't get to shop at thrift stores and buy discounted dented cans anymore?

I really didn't like the though of having $350 million anymore, so I resolved that I would just have to immediately give it all to charities because I was scared of actually having it. But what if people thought I was grandstanding by giving it away? And what if I ended up getting cancer and not having insurance or one of my friends was in need or I never get hired for anything ever again? Wouldn't I feel like an ass for not having that money?

At the time of the drawing, I actively rooted against my numbers being called, because I couldn't bear the thought of winning and having to make tough decisions. Fortunately, with only one number matching, this was all much ado about nothing, but I think it's safe to say that I won't be playing the lottery again anytime soon.


"Cleaning pee off the WALLS"

I had hoped this would be ripe for PassiveAggressiveNotes.com, but I guess they consider it not easily legible enough. Still, I think it's too funny not to share with the masses, even though my mother has branded it "disturbing."

My parents own a time share in Vermont. Each unit has its own guestbook where visitors typically write boring variations on how much they enjoyed their stay, where they dined, and what the weather was like. One recent entry, however, included a passive aggressive rant by someone who I can only assume is one of the understandably upset housekeepers trying to pass herself off as a guest. While I'm sure the gopher reference was meant to end the passage on a positive note, it was hardly enough to shake the image of urine-covered walls and littered condoms, particularly for my mother who attempted to touch everything as little as possible for the remainder of our stay.

Here is the note typed so you don't have to struggle with the handwriting:
This is Tsuki here. Hope you enjoy the mountain scenery. Be nice to the house-keepers, they're so nice. Even if they look miserable, it's only because people look down on them just because of their jobs. Tip them and make their day, at least. They would appreciate it, especially after dealing with spraying + cleaning pee off the WALLS of the bathrooms for a half an hour. They shouldn't have to deal with people's food, condoms, and other trash all over the floor either. They're to clean and make the place pretty, not clean after lazy people's stuff that they could have cleaned themselves because it's RESPECTFUL. And some people have to do this for a living, so it's hard enough as it is.

Thank you, I enjoyed my stay. The family of gophers are so cute and I loved downtown Stowe and Topnotch.



Resolute Resolutions

So I had a lot of New Year's resolutions, too many to even list, actually. Basically it boils down to BE BETTER AT EVERYTHING. That may be unrealistic, but why would you not resolve to strive for that? You want to regress? If you're not about self-improvement, you might as well kill yourself.

I want to be a better me - and I know I can be a better me. I say that as someone with very little self-confidence, which speaks to the state of my life right now. But onward and upward! 2011! 2011 is my year. I know this because eleven is my lucky number as it is both a palindrome and rhymes with my name.

My go-get-em attitude was thwarted on the first day when I barely left bed due to a hangover. As much as that is my fault, it's also not my fault, because the night before I went to a party and was greeted warmly by a woman. I recognized her, but had to ask, "Sorry, how do I know you?" To which she responded, "We met at the Lost finale when you lost your pants!" As you can see, I had no choice but to hit the booze to cope with that moment.

So yeah, I lost most of New Year's Day. But I cut myself slack since it was a holiday and holidays are meant for relaxation. Therefore, my be-better-at-everything resolution starts now! 2011 is my year! Better hang out with me now before I'm so much better that I'll be too good to associate with you. You've been warned.


The Mummers Parade

A couple of years ago, I spent New Years in Philadelphia, where I happened upon the most bonkers first-day-of-the-year celebration in existence: The Mummers Parade.

I was not previously aware of this tradition, and I honestly thought it was some sort of gay pride event. If you hear the participants tell it, however, there is nothing homosexual about men dressing in garish, feathery costumes and parading around with full choreography.

Current.tv has an interesting primer video on the phenomenon:

I find the whole thing fascinating from a cultural perspective. Most of the Mummers are tough-talking, working class men who see nothing queer about dousing themselves in glitter, donning dresses, and practicing a dance routine all year. Only more recently have women been permitted to join some of the clubs, which are sort of fratty in nature, and the parade also had a long history of blackface - though that aspect has been phased out, apparently.

It's a funny case study in how context determines perception. Since the Mummers have been a part of Philly culture for more than a century now, locals don't seem to think twice about how emasculating it might appear. Meanwhile, if someone were to start a similar parade in an unfamiliar city, I think you'd be hard-pressed to recruit the same type of participants given how flamboyant the whole thing is.

I can't call myself a fan of the parade; personally, headdresses and silly dance routines don't amuse me, particularly for hours on end. That said, I am a fan of culture that is otherwise counter-culture. I may not understand it, per se, but I kinda like knowing that men are cross-dressing and high-kicking in between cheering for the Eagles.