Monday, December 25, 2006

jack-o-tree

i gotta say, whenever i have my own house, i'm gonna set up my holiday decorations special. in the spirit of oddball pagan rituals, i'd like to grow a fir tree in my back yard and periodically decorate it--with candles, berries, wooden carvings, and (best of all) top it with a large, grinning, glowing jack-o-lantern. just to make the odd person stop, think, and call me a jackass.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I Don't Brake for Jaywalkers

Berkeley residents, if you feel the need to dart into and through traffic, you better know--you're doing it at your own damn risk. I am sick to the teeth of my groceries spilling everywhere because I have to slam on my brakes for some asshole who has decided to run out in front of me against my green light. SORRY, but this is the only country in which that is endorsed by traffic enforcement. Everywhere else in the universe knows that traffic laws pertain to EVERYONE--motorists, pedestrians, bikers--hell, even trains and light aircraft. ("no, this is a Freeway, not a Runway. see the difference?") Why is it that foot-traffic gets to break the rules and we have to friggin' tiptoe around them like they're special? And don't fucking flip me the bird when you hear my brakes a-squealin'--you should get down on the fucking asphalt and THANK ME FOR NOT MAKING YOU PEDESTRIAN PUR√ČE.

Cyclists, this applies to you too. No, Members of Critical Mass, You Do Not Have The Right To Direct Traffic. Don't hold up your fucking hand to "stop" me while all eight hundred of you BLATANTLY VIOLATE traffic LAW and turn left in the middle of a red light. There's a REASON traffic laws exist. For your and my safety. I don't want to see you get killed, but you have to recognize that you're pissing off Everyone whom you're inconveniencing. You're not proving a point--you're being arrogant.

I really want one of you to tell me that this is for the sake of the "revolution"--that Berkeley still has what it takes to come together and fight for the common good. That doesn't exist anymore. Berkeley has become a fancy-pants exclusivist genius resort that bizarrely plays host to an inordinate population of delirious beggars and drug-addicted transients. the once-proactive hippies are now a sad lot of confused elderly folks who wander the streets during their lucid hours and spend the rest of their time watching the ants in People's Park. Berkeley is little more now than a rusting hull of a revolution, a modern Roman ruin, attracting tourists curious about how it used to be. We live in a world in which people need their cars. Motor vehicles in America are not a luxury--they are vital to business and family. We live in a very big country which is incapable of providing reliable public transportation outside of major urban areas, and nobody has figured out how to transport anything larger than a backpack using any method of transit outside of a car. The fact that you have time to get stoned and ride around the streets with your little friends is not an indicator that other people aren't on the clock, hauling stacks of lumber in the back of a pickup truck. Some people have to work for a living and aren't going to appreciate your roadblocks which stink of privelege and frivolity. You're not sticking it to the Man, man. You're sticking it to me--a young, poor, liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay, atheistic, Berkeley Bowl-shopping, recycling, artistic, theatre employee.

Listen to your mothers. Stop playing in the road. You'll get hit by a car.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

on heavy metal...

I've never understood why the word "metal" signifies a type of screechy, screamy, incomprehensible noise that some people refer to as "music." metal is only loud when you cut it. true, welding produces bright light and grinding throws sparks everywhere, so perhaps some of the onstage pyrotechnics used in metal concerts would be reminiscent of this, but i don't think that's what the gist is. as a welder, it is my principal responsibility to make structures that are sound and safe to be on and around. i grind down sharp edges and everyone knows not to touch a weld until it has cooled.

more to the point, "heavy" metal is just that. it weighs a lot. thick steel plating, iron pigs, and lead sinkers are...heavy. Aluminium, conversely, is not, and makes for light, sturdy ladders and trusswork.

If the name "metal" is in reference to the painful noise, heat, and sparks given off when one cuts steel box with an abrasive saw...that's hardly a good association to make with a sound that you'd like for people to listen to. Indeed, OSHA requires we wear eye and ear protection when we make those sorts of noises.

There's nothing offensive, edgy, or spectacular about metal. I don't get it. Maybe I'm just trapped in the mundane.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Frankenstein

Well, it was a long and arduous task, but my battle with Mary Shelley's life-defining work has come to a close. It was quite possibly the most overwritten book I have ever had the misfortune to borrow, recorded onto nine impeccably-maintained cds. Had it been my burden to endure this monster in its written form never would I have gotten past the first page. Yet with the same fervor with which the titular character was espoused so did I perservere to pursue this hideous wretch of a literary endeavor to its acrid end. The redundancy with which I was met on every track of this wretch was infinitely intolerable and i met with this calamity repeatedly and over again. I met each repetition with sadness and despondency, but as it grew into anger time and again i found it quelled by the slightest intimation of a potential development, only to be delayed in discovering it by the repetitions of still more declarations of intent and lamentations on the infinite desolation and accursed soul of the speaker.
The author herself would have benefitted greatly from the acquisition of a tube of wite-out and the purchase of a thesaurus. Indeed, entire verbose and i'm sure laboriously created chapters could have been omitted to the benefit of the story and its listener. Months worth of story and thousands of fevered hours spent in illness and insanity on the part of the speaker could have been left on the table and the agony of the scientist and his creation would not have been overlooked. Pages of exclamations upon Elizabeth's cherished beauty and caricature-like flatness and simplicity of goodness could have been omitted--indeed, she needn't have spoken or been referred to at all--and the horror of her demise could have driven Victor to his fervent desire for revenge. The entire narrative could have been reduced to a four-page short story and the tale would not have gone unappreciated. But in the style of those authors paid by the word did Shelley produce her action-bereft, character-undeveloped, overstated, overdeclaimed, overdwelt-upon piece of fiction, and only the gentle touch of hollywood's scalpel could reclaim this harrowing tale from an eternity of obscurity and isolation.
Oh Mary. Your marriage to a self-absorbed, condescending, chauvanistic upper class twit did you no benefit. His tendency to wax lyrical on the gloom brought by the west wind and his insistence that poetry be viewed as a legitimate career must have caused great damage to your frail, insecure, feminine sensibilities. What began as a harrowing tale befitting fireside disclosure became a heap of meaningless platitudes coupled with redundancy and an increasing number of utterances of words such as those viewed here. Oh that you had edited! Oh that your tale were legible! Oh miserable wretch!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

clawback hammers and existentialism

There is a vortex in the doorway to the toolroom. I'm not sure why or how, but the moment you pass through the frame all knowledge of what you went in there for magically escapes you. Its not just me, either--frequently I enter the room to find my coworkers with furrowed brows, concentrating hard on a shelf of pneumatic tools, trying to remember if they came in for a framing nailer or earplugs.

The taste of spiced apple cider reminds me of being ten and participating in a winter play at the James K. Polk birthplace. I was clad in 19th century backwoods garb my mother had made and I recall running around with similarly-dressed children while tourists and history buffs watched us with amusement. I took a sip of steaming cider and was astonished to discover that it didn't burn my tongue. It was only years later that i learned the principles of steam and realized it was really just that cold outside. In that same sip i swallowed a clove and thought i'd poisoned myself.

a foot has twelve inches. not ten. NOT TEN. Sheez i'm bad at math.

The play "All Wear Bowlers," which runs now through the 23rd at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, is an example of some of the finest humor since the invention of the sight gag. I love it. Everyone in the Bay area should see it. Be sure to sit in the front row.

I realized recently that I don't have trouble hearing, I'm just really lousy when it comes to listening comprehension. I'm listening--i swear. And i heard you. But my brain registered "Your mom's a lesbian spider" when you said "This is some delicious cider."

I had a dream recently that a doorframe I was building was out of square by 1/16." While this sounds like a pretty lame, mundane form of subconscious amusement, i'll have you know I burst forth from that reverie in a cold sweat. The following morning I checked said doorframe, found it to be square, and was so relieved that i did a little dance.

I have a love/hate relationship with the color red. I love to wear it, and in return it looks awful on me.

I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the other day I was listening to the radio and an economist was explaining with excitement that the estimated number of miles driven by Americans had dropped by one percentage point since last year. He went on to say that his firm had believed the $2.00/gal price of petrol would have caused the reduction, but it actually took prices closer to $3.00 to actually make an impact. Now... the statement "guesstimated number of miles dropping one percentage point" aside, it gives one cause to wonder if there's not some team of mole-people out there watching a bank of computer monitors day in and out and tweaking the prices of things just to watch our reactions. Either that or they're carefully figuring out the magical price to set on petrol that will simultaneously keep up demand, reduce emissions, maintain fear and loathing of the middle east, and keep the masses from rising up and demanding that the government improve and reduce the cost of public transit.

When you don't have homework, you don't get to procrastinate. I'm writing this, honestly, because i don't have anything better to be doing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

darlin

if you're reading this rather than working on your essay, I think that means you should be updating your own blog. its been a month.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kristen's helpful dish-washing tips

Because most college graduates don't know.

Handwashing

1. All dishes must be washed in hot water. Not cold, not warm, not even tolerable on the hands. The water should scald. You ain't a princess--get used to it.

2. It's the new millennium. All dishes should be washed one by one in RUNNING WATER. DO NOT plug the sink and allow the water to stagnate. Sitting water collects gunk from other plates and swills around bacteria and grossness (read: i wash my hands in the kitchen sink after work. Do you really want sawdust and tool oil on your spoon?).

3. All dishes should be washed with a degreasing detergent.

4. Stuck-on food bits must not make it into the dish drainer. If its stuck, guess what. Its your job to scrape it off. For metal, the best tool for this is steel wool. For plastic and wood you're best off with the scrubby side of a sponge. For Teflon, congratulations: you've succeeded in doing exactly what it tried to prevent. Rub hard with the soft side of a sponge. Do not scrape at Teflon. For glass i use a razor blade or matte knife.

5. Your hands are grosser than your mouth. Be sure to always scrub handles.

6. Wash the backs of frying pans every time you use them, even if they don't look dirty. There are few things grosser in the cabinet than sticky frying pans. If ick collects on them anyway, take an afternoon and scrub them with comet or a shiny-pan powder.

7. Do not put dirty dishes in the cabinets. That's just rude.

8. If you share your kitchen facilities with others, wash your dishes within 24 hours of using them. You ain't a princess.

9. Do not wash other people's dishes unless you are compensated for it. If you grudgingly wash your lazy flatmates' dishes you are a PATSY.

10. Always RINSE all soap from dishes before draining.

DISHWASHER

1. Home dishwashers do not scrub dishes, contrary to what the ads say. Do not put food with stuck-on chunks or dried smears of sauce in personal dishwashers. The only time this will actually work is if you have one of those massive industrial dish-smashers.

2. Never put wood, Teflon, or cut crystal in the dishwasher. wood will warp, teflon will wear away, and cut crystal will grow cloudy. (glass gradually grows cloudy too but its cheaper to replace.)

3. Lightweight, small dishes go in the top rack with at least 1cm of space between all dishes. Try to start at the back and fill forward to make the best use of space.

4. All dishes should have their reservoir end facing down. I.e. turn your bowl over so it don't get full of pondwater.

5. Be sure all dishes are securely placed between pegs so they don't fly around and damage other dishes.

6. Be sure no dish is likely to fall to the bottom of the washer. This especially goes for plastics, which will melt to the heating element (ruining the dish and stinking up the house.)

7. Never put stainless steel and silver in the same load. It will cause the silver to tarnish. I don't know why.

8. Liquid dish detergent usually works better than powder. Unless you want to spend a Saturday cleaning chunks of congealed powder out of your drain.

9. Spoons like to spoon. be sure to have them separated and, as much as possible, alternating up and down in the cutlery section. Dirty little spoons.

10. If the dishwasher has been run but not emptied, either wash your dirty dish by hand or put the clean dishes away. Don't leave it in the fucking sink.

Friday, November 10, 2006

voting rights

I divorce you, South Carolina. I stuck through for the good times and plenty of the bad, but you've publicly embarrassed me three times in one week and honestly i think you're doing it on purpose.

First it was the frat boys in Borat, saying nasty things about women and minorities. Then, though, they actually sued the movie studios for displaying just how prejudiced and idiotic they are. Way to go. Way to put my alma mater on the map. Way to reinforce the rest of the world's already-pathetic opinion of us.

But you went too far on Tuesday by voting--6 to 1, no less--to amend the SC constitution to include the most blatant prejudice on record since the civil rights movement.

I know that marriage is already defined by SC law as one woman and one man, but this doesn't just say that. It is worded to indicate that gay couples and any other pairings considered civil unions have no rights at all--as parents, homeowners, will executors, or anything else that people sign for together. It will force homosexual couples to pretend to be single, roommates, or merely "good friends" if they want to live together, raise children, and entrust one another with their health and safety. It also encourages employers to not offer insurance coverage for their employees' non-traditional spouses, prevents family hospital visitation rights, and, in essence, forces overtly gay people back into their quiet little closets, thank-you-very-much.

While I doubt this legislation will be used to take people's children away, it will wrap parenthood up in a lot of red tape and may change the names around on adoption documents and mortgages. What a big stinking waste of people's time and energy, just so the godbotherers can feel good about themselves for ridding themselves of the pesky eyesore that is anyone who isn't them.

Naturally, the ACLU filed the discrimination lawsuit the second the votes were tallied. Hopefully the courts will overturn this in the next few years, though it will take a lot of unnecessary work and money to do so. Seems its always more costly for the government to dig itself out of its actions than for it to just leave things alone.

The unfortunate thing about this is, though, for once its not the government just speaking on the part of the people without consulting them. Hundreds of thousands of SC residents voted yes for this. For many people this was the one reason they came out to vote at all. To vote yes for prejudice and have their own tax dollars wasted on preventing it from becoming law. Way to go.

This has gotten me thinking, grumpily as usual, and I believe its time the right to vote was reevaluated. No more of this "anyone can do it so long as they're 18" rubbish. Since when did age indicate a capacity for rational thought? Moreover, since when did the government actually trust the common man to make decisions? The Electoral College was established for a reason. Fact of the matter is, if you allow idiots to vote for what they want, you land society back in the dark ages of civil liberty.

Morons vote for religion, arrogance, and hatred.
Smart people vote for what they believe will benefit everyone, regardless of who they are or how they live.

What this country needs is not an AGE limit to vote, but an EDUCATION limit. Nobody who hasn't at least gotten accepted to an accredited 4-year university should be allowed to punch a ballot card. I don't care if you graduate or even if you go, but your base intellect needs to be evaluated by a legitimate college admissions board before the state accepts you as a qualified voter. Some religious fanatics and assholes will manage to get through this screen, but I think this would tip the scales significantly toward reason when it comes to public referendum. And, as an added bonus, it may encourage your more vehemently ignorant jerks to go to college and become enlightened. What a way to benefit the commonwealth! Force them to do something good for themselves in order to get what they want! Get South Carolina out of the sty and into the parlor with the civilized folk.

Monday, November 06, 2006

minnie

I have four different copies of Cab Calloway's career-defining "Minnie The Moocher"--three of which were recorded by Calloway himself. Odd.

I saw Borat tonight. wow am I embarrassed. Any longtime reader may know I graduated from the University of South Carolina. As if my theatre degree wasn't useless enough...now my school has been publicly shamed in huge blockbuster film that makes SC students out to be racist, misogynist, pro-slavery, ignorant...

Oh wait. We already knew that.

I applaud your efforts, Mr. Cohen, but unfortunately as a born-n-bred southerner i have to say...brilliant film. Hilarious film. Acutely accurate and revealing film. But you've done nothing to enlighten the greater mass of Americans. The people who resemble the caricatures you've drawn aren't going to get that you're pointing out how ridiculous they are. I know hundreds of people who will laugh at the body humor, agree with Borat's views on human rights, and nod self-righteously at the church politicians. Those who take offense to it are just going to become even more xenophobic and isolationist and support the terror war and W even more.

I can just hear the ladies in my neighborhood commenting around the bus stop next week about it..."well its good to hear that dirty-mouthed man found the way of the lord, at the very least."

Its sad to acknowledge, but the only people who are going to find the intelligent humor in this film are the people who can't stand the genre of folk in it anyway. The people who most need to understand the message of this film have no idea what you're saying.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

on the subject of taboo

all right you Freuds out there, whip out your pencils, 'cos i've been thinking about sex lately. unfortunately...not really in a fun way, but with the self-righteous disdain i usually reserve for politics and ex-boyfriends.

To state the obvious, many Americans want young people to be taught that sex before marriage is a really, really bad idea. Many laws have been passed to make sure that not only are children and teens taught the government-edited version of human reproduction, but that they understand it is wrong, dangerous, and frightfully uncool until a judge and a preacher permit it between you and only one other person of the opposite gender. Parents, educators, clergy members, and police officers alike are unified in their desire to see young people remain face-twitchingly horny until they've jumped through the appropriate hoops and signed the dotted line indicating that they're now permitted to fulfil a need their entire physiology has required for a decade or more.

I have touched on this topic before, but it never really occured to me to consider the history of what is now called "abstinence-only sex education." I remember all too well shuffling uneasily into the gym bleachers and observing fuzzy line drawings of my reproductive anatomy while a coach droned on about the dangers of STDs. I recall feeling horror and revulsion when a dry, flaccid condom was passed to me by the twelve year old to my left and hearing sob-stories about infections and childhood pregnancies. But until this week i never really thought to wonder Why all this emphasis was placed on deterring the young and unwed from getting jiggy. Is it to curb the spread of infection? No--in this country little tax money is spent on medicine so its not really hitting people in the pocketbook. Most people don't care if others have disesases, so long as they don't, and anyway the government doesn't give a rat's ass about young people's health or well-being. (They recruit young people to go get shot at, for chrissakes.) Is it to prevent unwanted pregnancy? Again no--the fact that someone is married is not an indicator that they want children, and thanks to hormone technology babies can be prevented until they're wanted regardless of marital status. Okay, then, it must be because Jesus said so. ...Still no. Though the Bible does speak out against adultery, it says nothing about premarital or unmarital sex.

What is it, then, that makes Americans so insistent that their children not only endure sexual frustrations to the point that they torture small animals, but actually pretend to not have these impulses? Today's parents like to imagine that their teens are asexual and only date with the mindset of finding someone who's nice to talk to. Though I'd be hard-pressed to find a rational adult who actually believes in this fancy, people nevertheless hope that their children aren't out using their reproductive organs, even after taking reasonable precautions.

I can only assume that they think in this way because they've been conditioned to by their parents and preachers, and those before them--even back to people who didn't know about sexually transmittable infections and didn't care if poor people got knocked up.

Nothing that is taught in schools legitimately adds up to a longstanding will among humans to prevent extramarital relations. The church states only that sex is an act to be enjoyed only by married couples, as though its a reward for putting up with the rest of their BS.

And then it hit me. The most logical reason why anyone would want their partner to not have experienced sex before they tied the knot is because they don't want them to know how it's supposed to feel.

Kristen's Axiom #1: Men are insecure about their penises.

Everything comes clear! Men want to marry virgins because virgins have never been pleased or displeased in bed before. They have no idea if their husband is doing a good job because they have no basis of comparison. They're terrified that they're lousy at pleasing their parter, but as long as the wife has never had better she's not likely to leave him on account of it. she's just less likely to want it much, or maybe she'll even believe that sex is supposed to feel that bad. Thus their marriage is not dependent upon their wife's appraisal of their ability.

which, of course, sucks for the woman. Many women go through life thinking that they don't have the ability to orgasm, or that sex is simply something to be endured as infrequently as possible in order to keep the family name going. They don't have a clue that there are men out there who are not only good at it, but enjoy going out of their way to make their partners happy. It is on account of the average man's fear of failure, paired with his unwillingness to put effort toward pleasing his wife, that for centuries humans have tried to keep sex from being an orgasm contest.

I believe that sexual failure is reasonable grounds for divorce.

Moreover, i believe unwed people should be encouraged to engage in protected, disease-tested sexual behavior. Girls and boys alike should go on dates with a stern warning to do it as safely as possible. Not just a reluctant "well i know you're going to do it anyway" but a serious encouragement to get out there and learn. So that if the young person decides to get hitched, they're more likely to have a good, low-stress adult life with someone they love. 'Cos face it, if you know what you're doing, you're very unlikely to glue yourself to someone who's incompatable with you in bed. That's masochism.

Human behavior is regulated by the body to serve its needs through a fairly simple system of rewards and punishments. Whenever you do things that your body likes, different glands secrete happy hormones into your bloodstream. One of these hormones is Oxytocin. It is released when people hug, when mothers breastfeed, and in significant amounts during orgasm. Oxytocin is also instrumental in the development of trust and friendship in the brain, as it associates the positive feelings induced by Oxytocin with the hugger, baby, or partner in question. Your brain, as smart as it is, very easily becomes addicted to things that make it feel good. Oxytocin is generated by the body and is not carcinogenic so its okay to be addicted to it, and more to the point its release rewards healthy behavior. The "mother-baby bonding" that happens during breastfeeding is not just a sweet idea--its actually chemically conditioning the mother to want to nurture the baby and the baby to trust its mother. Similarly, the happy stupid feeling people have after a good round in the bed is chemically induced and imprinted on the brain in the file marked "partner." Couples who have good orgasms are much more likely to start loving each other, and stay in love thanks to the brain's will to do anything to get more Oxytocin. If your brain was a junkie, and you were its dealer, this stuff would be your crack.

The key to a successful relationship is happiness, and the key to happiness is positive hormone reinforcement. And that means good relationships and good sex. The fact that we're uncomfortable saying this aloud and keep it behind closed doors indicates that a lot of people aren't having good sex, and may not be very happy. I believe it is time we encouraged the unwed to begin to practice and learn with their friends how to make each other feel good. It is about damn time we as a society grew up and had a healthy, mature attitude toward sex.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Religion or politics

As I'm sure everyone is already aware, the USA has one political party with two names.

Democrats and Republicans are both notorious for wasting taxpayers money, falling short on campaign promises, lying outrightly to everyone within earshot, and basically proving time and again that the last people you should put in charge are the ones who ask to be put there. But today I came to the realization that the two sides of the coin have decided to lump into one big ugly, distorted one.

NPR ran a bit today during All Things Considered which followed the attempts of several democratic candidates to reach out to "Persons of Faith"--i.e. the Christian Coalition, to try and get some more blue asses in chairs next month. They realized in 2004 that they were losing votes to Jesus W. Bush et al and it was time to try and steal back some punch cards. The message is clear: "Two can play at this game."

Yeah, Democrats, real smooth. two can play at social intolerance, prejudice, and using bible verses to justify just about anything we put our minds to.

What will it take to convince the general populace that Religion has no place in Politics?

I still find it funny that there are millions of people out there who continue to encourage the Government, that pillar of good intentions, to regulate morality. They try time and again to entrust this laughingstock, the usual gang of idiots, with the task of deciding what is right and wrong for every single American. Moreover, they expect them to base this decision on the pages of the Bible, a book which is notorious for its tendency to be out of date, jarringly inaccurate, full of loopholes, auto-contradictory, glaringly prejudiced, and, much unlike the Geneva Convention, open to interpretation.

Yeah, W's in trouble with the UN (again) for signing the fun new law which suspends habeas corpus for suspected terrorists, allowing pretty much anybody W and his cronies dislike to be sentenced without anything resembling a fair trial, be tortured, or simply held indefinitely without being charged with anything. The Supreme Court said no to this two years ago, but what does W care? he's king of the world. The international community referred to this action as "interpreting the Geneva Convention" (i.e. picking and choosing which articles to abide by or disregard.) and, in due fashion, are scheduled to start squabbling, bitching, and accomplishing nothing on the topic shortly.

If I may, I'd like to take a moment here to mention something that has become more obvious and funny the older I've gotten. Mind you, I'm the ripe old age of 22 and i'm taking my time to explore the world and figure out where I fit in it, which I expect will take the rest of my life. I'm not in any hurry to settle down and stop learning, and I feel that I'm currently among friends in this. But I took a glance through the ol' Facebook yesterday and realized that this is not the case for everyone. A huge chunk of the kids i knew in high school have stayed in south carolina, put down roots, gotten hitched, and in four short years have nurtured their xenophobia into full flower. I'd like to mention a few of the more prominent issues which I noticed in my search.

I thought the whole idea of erecting a wall along the US/Mexico border was a joke. I didn't realize people--educated people--had actually established Facebook groups lauding this effort and encouraging it to grow.

There are several groups, established in highly defensive terms, which support the Iraq war as the best thing we could be doing with our time, money, and lives. The group's name is actually "Support the War in Iraq--if you don't support the war, you don't support our troops!" in brave defiance of all evidence to the contrary. Even as these people's representatives acknowledge that this isn't a good idea and its about time we apologised, the sincerely gung-ho keep praying their friends and relations stay in the line of fire.

There are people who will vote for any candidate who wants to make homosexuality a felony, even if its the same candidate who believes we should make it harder for African countries to get medicine for AIDS, establish sanctions against Venezuela because Chavez is outspoken in his dislike for Bush, embezzle massive amounts of money, and call everyone who isn't white a terrorist. Oh wait, those ARE the candidates who want to ban visible homosexuality!

Many people who join the campaign group "Pro-Life" also join the campaign group "Pro Death Penalty." I get it--you think the government should decide who gets to live. You know, those cool guys who've killed hundreds of innocent women and children in Iraq this MONTH.

Some of these people have also joined groups for "Pro Gun Rights" and this is where it gets really funny. You want the government to force women to have unwanted children, who'll spend their lives in poverty, in foster care, and/or hated by the people who have to raise them. You will then allow these abused, neglected people to own and use firearms at their convenience, and then you will demand that the government kill them when they use them against you! Cheeky!

There is a Facebook group called "Anti Hillary Clinton 2008." Funny seeing as she hasn't said she's going to run for it. Equally as funny, there's other groups entitled "Jon Stewart for President 2008."

Looks like I'm voting for Alfred E. Neuman again.


The best encouragement I can offer anyone in how they vote is this. Before you choose your deciding issues, ask yourself: "Am I voting for what I think is best for Everyone in this country, or am I voting for what I enforce upon myself already? Will this policy benefit or harm good people--sane, taxpaying, well-behaved citizens--who don't live the same way I do?" At no point is it appropriate to think "is this the way Jesus would vote?" or anything along those lines. There are too many religions in this country--indeed, in each state, for anyone to vote so arrogantly as to think that its appropriate to inflict their religious lifestyle upon anyone else. The fact that you live that way does not mean it is necessary for anyone else to.

So in November, vote with your brain, not with your soul. Do your research, and figure out just how many times our incumbent God-tastic government has lied to us and screwed us over. If you can vote without considering what the candidate did or did not say about Jesus, your vote will go a long way toward helping our country and preventing terrorism.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Deuce-Deuce

Today is my birthday (Pacific Time.) I am twenty-two.

Super Bad

Today I realized that, of all the music in all the world that i've ever heard, the one song i will claim I absolutely detest is James Brown's "I got Soul (And I'm Super Bad.)" This may in fact be the worst song in existence. It has a good bass line and is sufficiently funky to get the ear jamming, but it turns a complete 180 several times in the recording when Brown...shrieks.

He does not shriek in a good way, or even in a way that could be percieved as an expression of excitement. At least three times in this song Brown makes a noise I didn't know human beings could make.

Someone who keeps a predatory animal as a pet (Boots is recovering nicely) may have heard this sound once or twice in their yard--the sound of a bunny losing its life. This high pitched squeal is at once horrifying and pathetic--the sound is loud, sudden, and unearthly, eerie enough to give you goosebumps--but at the same time you know it is the last, terrified utterance of a small, harmless animal who didn't do a thing wrong except look tasty to a hungry cat. One well-placed chomp and its over, often without much of a fight.

James Brown mastered this spine-tingling, eardrum-shattering noise and chose to demonstrate it in this otherwise inoffensive song. Every time I hear it i reflexively grimace, as though fifty seventh-grade teachers are scratching a chalkboard simultaneously with their long, horrible nails. Eeeeeurgh.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

goals

I have decided to start a list of goals that I have set for my life, in order that I'd like to achieve them.

1. Get job that pays enough for:

shared rent nearby OR shared rent further away and transit fees
food
internet
soap


2. Work way up to job that pays enough for:

List 1
repayment of student loans
gin

3. Retire.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

pad thai

I'm a really lousy cook.

Friday, October 06, 2006

life's little pleasures

I really like books that have a piece of ribbon sewn into the binding to serve as a permanent book-mark. I consistently lose the loose variety.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

tiptoe through the terrorists

Today it was announced that a Berlin opera cancelled its controversial modified "Idomeneo"--a piece in which Greek sea god Poseidon commands the mortal king of Crete, Idomeneo, to murder his own son. The king gets out of it when his son's girlfriend, in an act of altruism, rushes up to be beheaded in his stead and some how it works out that Poseidon's command is overruled and they all live happily ever after. In the modified Berlin opera Idomeneo appears onstage accompanied by the heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha, and the prophet Mohammed, in a visual representation of Mankind's victory over the gods.

The piece was cancelled due to the producers' concern that showing Mohammed's severed head on a chair may offend some Muslims and it could put theatre employees and patrons at risk for car bombings.

May I make a small request, please, of all religious radicals?

Could y'all kindly get down off your damn high horse?

First you got your panties in a wad because people included Mohammed in cartoons. Then your wedgies further shimmied between your cheeks when the Pope mentioned that the Big M was a douchebag. Now you've got the european theatre circuit scared out of their boots to say anything that might irk you in the slightest because its very bad PR to have your theatre blow up on opening night.

Dammit... KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY!

Most people--all religions alike--can take a joke. "So Jesus and Satan walk into a bar..." and "So Buddha is in a candy store..." are not uncommon openers for them. If the joke is good enough, everyone gets a charge out of it, and even the really religous people smile and hope their diety of choice enjoyed it too. Very rarely there's some uptight turd at the next table who scuttles over and expresses just how offensive they found that, you faithless heathen, and i'd appreciate it very much if you went and blew yourself, but that's typically the extent of it. Everyone gets a good laugh at the twit's expense and nothing ever comes of it. This is what we call "not letting one's religion get in the way of living." Because lets' face it--if we all lived the way it says we should in those ancient texts, life would really, really suck.

Now, however, it is not so easy to kid. Now we know that there's some Muslims out there who have a real chip on their shoulder about their religion, and they want to make sure everyone knows it. Mohammed is like every fanatic's little brother--you say anything mean about him, they're gonna fight you. En masse.

what makes you so goddamned special that you feel you have the right to take offense when people who Disagree with your beliefs express them? "We're the only right religion, all the rest of you are going to hell--in fact, i'm going to kill you now so you can be Hellward bound even sooner."--GUESS WHAT.

ALL RELIGIOUS PEOPLE THINK THEIR OWN RELIGION IS THE RIGHT ONE.

Otherwise they wouldn't buy into it.

a=b. the statements are synonymous. I believe it because I believe it.

The planet Earth is rapidly spinning out of the time of gods. We don't need them anymore--we've figured out that the gods we invented in our sacred texts don't actually encompass--or even shed light on--the true enormity of the universe. The incomprehensibility of infinity. Where babies come from.

The staggering number of wacko religious people is getting to be a good indicator that its time for change. These people are terrified that the world no longer has room for them. That their outdated ideas are rapidly fading from quaint to backwards, like when you realize that grandpa's war stories are actually the unintelligable babblings of a syphilis-rotted brain. The religious fanatic chooses to reject the truth of progress and resents all who have happily passed him by. Rather than fade quietly away or join the movement ahead, however, he gets angry at everyone and reacts violently. The zealot would rather have negative attention than no attention at all.

This does not mean, however, that we should be patient with them--try and coddle them into behaving and quietly going about their lives like everyone else. No--just like the child who has learned that throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store gets him candy, the only way to break the vicious cycle of violence and appeasement is to ignore it entirely. Eventually they'll have to cry themselves out, get up off the floor, and come along quietly.

I may have mentioned this before, but I find religion offensive and would rather not have easily-recognizable houses of worship in my town. Same goes for the Golden Arches of McDonald's joints. Both establishments convince people that the most staggeringly outlandish lies are true in spite of heaps of evidence to the contrary (for organized religions, its that the Earth is the focal point of the universe; for McDonalds, its that their chicken sandwiches are now somehow good for you.) They do it with the cunning use of crayons. Yes, Big Church and Big Business have figured out that if you lure in children with promises of fun, colorful baubles and unconditional love, they'll stick with you for life.

Congratulations, Deutsche Oper, you caved. You did exactly what the terrorists would want you to do--you compromised your artistic integrity, you let down your patrons, and you fuelled the zealots' fire by going out of your way to not offend them. You censored yourselves because you were afraid--terrified--that the big bad Muslims would spank you for saying something mean about their idol.

A more mature way of handling this situation would have been to identify that a threat was possible, tighten security at the entrance, and go on with the show. Tighten it around the block if you'd like. Anyone who's flown in the past five years is used to queueing in security lines. Its a necessary evil these days that we all hate and all blame on W...but its either that or change who we are to appease the men with bombs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I WILL FIND YOU

whatever psychotic IDIOT it is who shot my cat, I will find you. I will hunt you down. I will give you the beating of a lifetime. If you're lucky, you'll only wind up committed to a lunatic asylum for the rest of your life for expressing very clear sociopathic tendencies (i.e. deliberate, unfeeling cruelty to animals). If the rest of the world is lucky, I'll kill you. If you think its funny to hurt a cat, you probably think its funny to hurt a person, too.

At the very least, the police are involved. You fired a deadly weapon in a highly populated residential area--an area in which dozens of school-aged and younger children live--in the middle of the day at an animal that was minding its own business. This is not the kind of thing that neighborhood folk like to hear.

MY CAT IS 16 YEARS OLD. If you DARE to tell me that she attacked someone, got into your garbage, or even so much as left my yard...frankly, you're lying.

YOU DID IT ON PURPOSE. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE. YOU ARE A DANGEROUS CRIMINAL.

To say the least, I take it personally. My cat has lived in this neighborhood longer than you--this i can guarantee. To say you didn't know what Boots looked like is to say you didn't know you had a left hand. She wasn't some random stray making trouble. She doesn't wander further than thirty yards from my house.

Moreover, I guarantee you that our neighbors like my cat better than they like you.

YOU ARE A HORRIBLE PERSON. YOU ARE INSANE. I HATE YOU.

My cat is in critical condition. If she dies, or has to be put down because to keep her alive would be torture, I will fly home and crack skulls together until I find you. Boots has been a better friend to me than you will ever be to anyone, and the least anyone could offer her was the chance to die with dignity on her own terms.

You should be in prison, or at the very least an asylum. You're a sick individual and you should not be allowed in the presence of children. I hope there is such a thing as Karma and your leg is shattered when you're hit by a bus in the near future.

If I never do have proof of who you are, know this for the rest of your life: at the best of times, there are a dozen people who hate you. I'm one.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

not on drugs

Say you have a car that's in bad shape. In tinkering with it, over the course of decades, you manage to replace every single component of it. Not a single washer, wire, or drop of oil was actually part of this car when it left the factory.

...is it legal to not change the licensing, taxation, and insurance information on it? Could you conceivably pass it off as the same car you bought? I mean I know every car has a VIN visible through the windscreen, printed on that inaccessable part of the dashboard, but if you replace even the frame of the car...but it takes so long that each little fix and change would be minute and barely noticeable, if at all. I mean is it the same car? Perhaps, if you took into account the amount of time each replacement part spent among components of the original vehicle you could claim that the spirit of the original was carried, by varying degrees, in the replacements. But then it gets all blurry and metaphysical.

If you replaced the odometer I think it would make it ineligeable for legal resale.

I'm trying to figure out at what point it becomes a different car. To use another example, when I was a kid my dad bought a computer. Over the years we replaced the memory, the disk drives, the motherboard, all the wiring, the OS, all the software, the keyboard, the mouse, the printer...even the Monitor, before we scrapped the tower and its components and replaced them. But the keyboard, the mouse, and the monitor are all the original replacements which worked with the old tower--under the old regime, if you will. But when the tower changed, it was a new computer.

What do you have to replace to make it a new car?

Or in a person. Your cells refresh constantly. Over the course of a decade all the cells in your body will have died and been replaced. Except maybe the brain cells--nobody's ever really given me a straight answer about that. (The brain grows with the head when the body grows, and it is constantly being fed with blood, and you continue learning and making neurological connections every day, and yet people will tell you that when you kill brain cells, they're gone. That your brain is constantly boiling away whenever you take drugs or smoke cigarettes (though interestingly nobody ever mentions pollution in this equation.) I have a hard time buying that. If that were the case then how could adults get brain tumors (and how could carcinogens be to blame for this?) And moreover, people do recover from head injuries. The concussed are not always doomed. Folks can have their ability to read knocked out of them, but it can come back. People can forget and re-learn. To imply that the brain reaches a levelling point and then just dies off from there is folly. Or a bold-faced lie.) But if every component of you is replaced, does that make you a new person?

I think so. I think people's personalities, habits, and appearances change at about the same rate as their overall cellular refreshment. Some people call this "maturing" but i've known many people who have "matured" into assholes. I think once a person's entire self has renewed, they should get a new name. New social security number, new driver's license--everything. Because they've changed. Calling someone by the same name after they've transformed like that is the equivalent of showing up on Manhattan Island and wondering why nobody is wearing wooden shoes and speaking Dutch. (er, well, why nobody who isn't talking to themselves in gibberish is wearing wooden shoes.) The city has changed. The name has changed. It is no longer the same thing.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Going Places

I find it interesting--here I am, a new resident of a land previously only thought of as Far Far Away. I remember the drive, I watched as the entire landmass of the United States rolled away beneath my tires, I took pictures in every state and spent the early evenings of each day's drive dazzled by the setting sun. I know I have to look at the other side of the map now, but somehow...I don't believe it. My sense of "here" hasn't caught up with me yet. You'd think I'd get used to this by now--I've lived in four drastically different places in the past two years.

In other news, my old roommate lives in Seoul, South Korea now. I'm in California. My parents are in South Carolina. My boyfriend is in London. I live simultaneously in 4 different time zones, which encompass two days. The sun sets in the west, so you'd think the further west from California you got the sunset would get earlier, but it gets so much earlier that somehow it gets to being tomorrow. It hurts my brain to think of. All I can do to keep from getting a headache is to remind myself that time is not just relative--it is non-existant. An abstract, subjective concept that mankind has invented to try and make sense of a completely incomprehensible universe, like peace, justice, beauty, utility, right, and wrong. I'm all for eliminating abstraction completely. It would make life much less stressful--not only would ageing be moot, but you could never be too ugly or too lazy!

...and it occurs to me that my opinions, voiced here, would be rendered somehow more moot than they already are by the elimination of abstraction. Can there be varying degrees of moot-itude? maybe if something gets too moot it implodes and creates a little rift in the space-time continuum (which is also abstract and therefore moot) and disturbs no-one in particular.

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." -Ford Prefect

Monday, September 04, 2006

yeowza!

well, to put it simply, i now live in California.

to go into a bit more detail...i drove 4,000 miles to get here.

to trace out my route, you need a big map of the entire USA. Then, using a pencil, two pins, and a piece of string 1.25x the width of the country, draw a boolean curve between East Hampton and San Francisco. Then turn your pencil over to its trusty eraser side and rub out any curve between mid Arkansas and eastern California, and grab a ruler. Draw a straight line from Conway, AK to Barstow, CA and step back. What you've got there is a fairly accurate model of my trip across country. WHAM.

The collective presidential purchases of Thomas Jefferson and James K Polk amounted to the acquisition of a helluva lot of land--more land than we really knew what to do with. Much of Jefferson's purchase (what was then known as Louisiana) was useful farmland in the heart of the continent. A good chunk of Polk's, however, was arid, empty desert, that would turn out to be completely unuseable except for a little sliver along the coast in modern-day California. These huge landmasses, at the time largely uninhabited, were marked out on a map in giant squares. These squares were divided into smaller squares, and then smaller, and frontier-bound families were offered these stakes free of charge provided they just got out there.

Not that many people bothered.

So roads were built along the original map divisions. If you look at a close-up of Oklahoma, what you see there are not "generalizations" or roads that have been somewhat smoothed out. What you see is exactly what you get. And no, they haven't left out some of the smaller towns. If I moved there and built a shack on a quarter-acre of land, sat on my front porch with a shotgun and declared it "Kristenton, Population 1" chances are it'd make it onto the full-page map of the state with a dot indicating "medium-sized town."

Little has changed in New Mexico since Polk decided to fulfil the US's Manifest Destiny except for the addition of a 4-lane interstate and a few thousand miles of power cables, which make a side-by-side beeline for southern California and disturb little of the vast emptiness which passes for scenery around here. This hypnosis-inducing stretch is known as I-40 and is the best route from the East to the West, provided you're comfortable with never making contact with inhabited human settlements, trees, water, or temperatures below 110F. Posted speed limits have been replaced with signs reading "Go Faster." Wide, smooth curves in the road, visible for hundreds of miles before you reach them, are heavily signposted with "CURVE AHEAD: STAY ALERT." In place of county lines or city limits, you will see big outlines of the state with a dot to indicate "you are here."

In the Mojave Desert I had the pleasure of encountering a large yellow sign emblazoned with "WELCOME TO NOWHERE! Center: 250 miles" and an arrow pointing ahead.

I may be making that up.

The car did fine, and my navigator, on loan from London, had the difficult task of tracing the way across Texas. "I think, at this next mile marker...you should continue straight ahead for 2,000 miles."

We would have done well to set the cruise control, lock The Club on the steering wheel, and climb in the back to make out.

We traversed (in order):
New York (2 days, if you omit the 3 months i lived there--I picked up my foreigner from JFK and visited my sister in Harlem)

New Jersey (8 minutes to look at the map)

Pennsylvania (10 minutes to get gas)

Maryland (no stops)

West Virginia (no stops, and kept an eye out for yokels)

Virginia (stayed the night just outside of DC)

Washington DC (1 afternoon, toured the monuments and got the hell out)

North Carolina (no stops--it smelled entirely too bad. I think it must have been official Wildlife Road Crossing Day, but motorists didn't get the memo)

South Carolina (3 days to visit the folks, have free food, tour my university, pick up a shirt i made for a class, and hang out with my neighbors)

Tennessee (a few stops for lunch, gas, and dinner. Might i recommend, to anyone crossing that years-long state, a little restaurant on the Pigeon River called The Beantree. Picturesque, good service, good food, and inexpensive. We really liked it.)

Arkansas (with a one-night stopover at Grandma's where the Brit got an unexpected cultural awareness credit involving firearms. My vegetarian uncle cooked us some fabulous steaks and my Panamanian aunt made this wonderful beet-and-potato salad that kept us full till Albuquerque. And it wouldn't be a trip to Grandma's if she didn't send us off with a cooler full of food for the road. Cheapest gas on the trip was found here--$2.58 about 60 miles west of Conway)

Oklahoma (did we stop? i set the cruise control to 85 and mentally checked out.)

Texas (two stops--one in Shamrock at a very overpriced Best Western, and at a neat rest station with a beautiful view of a cragged, ravaged landscape.)

New Mexico (one stop in Albuquerque's historic Old Town, where we had a lovely mid-afternoon lunch at a neat Mexican place called La Placita. It had a big ol tree growing through the roof. another stop for gas in Tucumcari, the epicentre of nowhere, which has a gift shop full of junk)

Arizona (slept two nights in this state. First Holbrook, where we passed out in the middle of the night after I bypassed trashy Gallup, NM earlier in the evening. It was only after we crossed the AZ border that I realized the next motel was nearly 100 miles away. Then, after a fabulous day at the Grand Canyon (the most awe-inspiring ditch you'll ever lay eyes on. seriously, the depth and breadth of this thing are entirely too much for the human mind to comprehend in one try.) and a fortuitous wrong turn into the Navajo Nation and the equally beautiful Painted Desert (an area where you just have to stop the car every 500 feet, get out, walk a few feet, and gaze) we found a motel in Kingman in the middle of the night. Kingman is one of those odd western oases that is only a few decades old--the town was born during the construction of the Hoover Dam and just stuck around. There's not a whole lot there but we did find a Mobil station.)

California (yay! we made it! now on through the Mojave Desert, a land that gives clout to conspiracy theorists' claims that the Mars landings were staged. Interestingly, when whe hit the CA border the speed limit dropped but the average auto speed doubled. You'd swear these drivers were on fire. It was around here that my TD called to check up on my progress and suggested that I turn north at my earliest convenience, drive straight to Vegas, and put all my money on Red. or Black. Barstow was a wide space in the road, and Bakersfield was so industrial and inhospitable that i started driving faster, too. Interstate 5 wasn't particularly interesting but the clerk at the Los Banos Econo Lodge was fun. The drive into Berkeley was creative, as I'd failed to consult anyone on just how to get to the theatre until then, but to say the least I found my job and friendly faces who were happy to welcome me.)

I've been working for a little over a week now and I'm really enjoying myself. My coworkers are great, the weather is beautiful, and I'm starting to learn my way around. My better half has returned to his native land, which was a bit of a thunderstorm on my parade, but i'm keeping busy and hopefully i'll have a functional bike in the next few days.

Whew. that's been my last two weeks, in a nutshell.

happy labor day.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

When you think you're all alone...

One of my roommates has absolutely horrible taste in music. What makes it funny, though, is that he has no idea that i'm in the next room and he's singing along with it at the top of his lungs. To be polite, lets just say--he's no Frank Sinatra. Hell, he's no Shakira either. He wouldn't even do well in Milli Vanilli.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Adventures in Arkansas

I've just returned from a four-day sojurn in the depths of the American heartland, accompanied by the greater majority of my paternal extended family. The purpose was simple--to welcome my uncle's new wife into the family. The execution thereof was somewhat more difficult, as Tia Olivia is Panamanian and does not speak English. (its okay, my uncle speaks Spanish--its not like he just shanghaied her. No really! he was in the Peace Corps down there and they met in an internet cafe.) (damn i miss my Mac--i don't remember the numerical code for making an accent acute over the final e in "cafe")

Arkansas is one of those lost, pathetic places that started off poor and lost money from there. Travel magazines may refer to its "untouched, rugged beauty" but all it really means is "none of these toothless hill people have the know-how, much less the funding, necessity, or will, to build a skyscraper." Main routes throughout the Ozarks are dotted with failed townships and empty, collapsing aluminium buildings--"welcome to Shirley, population 64." 64 inbred, illiterate, God-fearing, Bush-loving fourth grade dropout voters who work hard in the field every day only to find that the soybean yield is low again this year and Tyson chicken farms are driving a hard bargain for their land. Arkansas is a state that is trapped in 1934--they never really pulled clear of the Depression and as a result education, art, and haute cuisine have suffered crushing blows.

My grandma's town--a vast Ozark metropolis with a population of just over 2,000--has three main hangouts for kids of all ages: church, the retirement center, and the world's cultural mecca, Wal-Mart. You simply can't go a day without braving the scorching asphalt of the Wally World parking lot to enter upon a trove of flimsy plastic furniture and dye-injected, guest-worker picked vegetables.

At the village Wal-Mart you are apt to encounter absolutely everyone who isn't comatose in the entire county. And a few of the comatose ones too. The teenage, morbidly obese, makeup-caked moms of three tend to congregate in the lingerie department. You'll find the young, lean, tanned, slack-jawed farm boys near the back in the firearm department, but don't linger--they all turn a glassy stare on any woman who dares venture back there (much like cattle when a car turns down their stretch of road.) The pasty, duck-footed, dangerously obese (and dangerously emaciated) middle-aged men can be found in the automotive department, mindlessly comparing prices on plastic hubcaps in their "git-r-done" printed tee shirts and hunter orange ballcaps. Everyone else wanders around the store in dumb-struck amazement at the sheer quantities of corn syrup and trans-fat available on the shelves, with which they can stuff their quivering cheeks the moment they get home.

Speaking of Wal-Mart: MACINTOSH! SHAME ON YOU! they've sold out to the corporate demons and now allow their white-earplugged mini status symbols to be peddled by the very Man their initial tree-hugging customer base so vehemently rejected. I'm disappointed.

Yes, Arkansas. The land that time forgot. The unpolluted breadbasket that may be the only place left standing after the rest of the world finishes shooting itself in the face with overpopulation and consumption of fossil fuels. But until that time, it will continue to be a beautiful state inhabited by a bunch of mindless, bigoted jerks who don't deserve it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

law enforcement

i think i'm going to join the highway department just so i can ticket people for going too slow. it has reached epidemic proportions around here.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

creepy crawlie

my house is infested with ants. big'uns. they're tracing trails over my dining room table and beating a strange, constant path across the living room floor. they seem very intent on something very important, as though the universe may cease to exist if they fail to follow the established path Exactly. there is a wine bottle on the table which holds a rose, and all of the anties actually go around it twice before continuing on.

kinda puts things into a sense of perspective--to other life forms bigger than earth, chances are they're really confused as to why metal objects move on black lines in the same direction at the same time in a condensed, frustrating, exhaust-riddled manner when there's so much more space around that we could move through. the dining room table is Covered in interesting things to explore, but the ants just follow the same path as the first ant, keep trudging right along, never questioning the life that has been established for them by their society, believing only what they're told...kinda pathetic, in a way.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

popup

Can anyone explain to me the continued existence of the pop-up advertisement? I can't think of a more effective way to discourage anyone from wanting my product than the pop-up ad. I can tolerate google's text-only border ads, and now that I've found Firefox's Flashblocker the number of ads that move, change color, and make noise on my desktop has diminished significantly. I recognize that advertisement is a necessary evil--the bills have to be paid somehow, and advertisers are willing to foot the bill for you so long as they can get something out of it too. Fine. But Haven't people figured out by now that absolutely no one is going to have a positive reaction to a pop-up ad?

Think about it--they get in the way. On some sites they actually block what you're trying to read and simply will not go away, even when you do click to close them. There are some that scroll down the page or slide out at random from corners. The pop-behind ad is just as bad--sometimes they are sensitive to your mouse clicks on the page in front and spin you into unending chains of garbage, one opening the moment you close another. Now AIM runs ads that spontaneously run video with sound, which occupies your network space and slows down your data transfer rate.

Who came up with this nuisance? And why? Did they honestly think it would be a good idea? Any legitimate company that resorts to pop-up advertisement is shooting itself in the foot--pop ups distinctly and invariably discourage consumers from wanting the product advertised. And anyone who hasn't been living in a cave since the 1990's has figured out how to spot the scam ads. If their effectiveness has been reduced to nil (or indeed, negative figures), what is perpetuating the existence of the pop-up ad?

On this line of thought, one is reminded of the controversy currently surrounding TiVo service. Consumers pay a considerable sum monthly for the ability to record shows and treat them like dvd videos, meaning they can fast forward through ads. Advertisers claim they have taken a blow in profits from this ('cos before TiVo, people apparently couldn't figure out how to change the channel, leave the room, or hit Mute) and have begun a huge, expensive campaign to undermine the viewer's clear message ("I don't want to watch ads")by going a step beyond product placement in television shows. Major companies are now paying tv producers to actively incorporate their product into the plot of the show. Now actors are not only holding the bag of Dorito's--they're talking about how much they like them, and using Dorito's brand seasoned tortilla chips to get into the heart of another character.

You know what this sounds like? Peer pressure. Advertisers are trying to convince viewers that they want their product by showing that all the really cool kids already have it. Y'know what? Anybody who falls for that sort of crap deserves the pile of artificially-scented plastic refuse they wind up with.

It just doesn't make sense. TiVo users PAY TO AVOID ADS, so advertisers make it so their crap can't be avoided. Meanwhile internet users and web developers spend heaps of money developing software to block popup and email advertisements, so advertisers spend even more money to circumvent adblocking software. It is a vicious and pointless cycle, as it means the average consumer becomes less and less likely to want products from or even respect companies that advertise to them in spite of their efforts to avoid just that. Consumers are literally being chased and hunted by advertisers these days. It is only a matter of time to see if the monster will be bested, or if it will feed.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Learn to Friggin...!

Good GRIEF nobody here can drive. I narrowly avoided no fewer than eight (8) accidents on my way back from the theatre today--its an eight-mile drive, two in the afternoon, clear skies for crying out loud. None of them would have been in any way my fault--i just drive along at (or often below, figuring traffic is a nightmare) the speed limit, have the obvious right of way (i.e. the other asshole has a STOP SIGN) and people just pull out inches in front of me like i'm not even there, causing me to slam on the brakes and even swerve to avoid hitting their Mercedes. Do i need to blow my horn constantly or something? By The Way there's other motorists on the road? Some bimbo in a very expensive foreign vehicle tried to merge straight into me--we were sitting, Stopped, at a red light, and she decides she's gonna change lanes--i wasn't in her blind spot, i could clearly see the dumb look on her face through her passenger window. I entertained the idea of letting the moron hit me but figured with a car like that she could probably hire a better lawyer than me. If this happened once a day i could say its just normal--people screw up. but this many times a day i'm really starting to think either new york should reassess their driving test or i should just stop hitting the brakes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

about a month

i have worked at the theatre for a little over a month now, and i have had one day off. (which i spent completely hungover. It was the kind of hangover that makes your legs twitch, leaves you so dehydrated that you can't sweat and even your hair hurts. sad thing is i really didn't drink that much the night before--i just mixed my poisons. it is naughty and irresponsible to have wine and gin the same night.) but yes, one day off in a month--and that's not all. about a week of that has involved working over 18 hours a day, and one that went over 24.

i think i am justified now in saying that this is the most poorly-run theatre i have ever encountered. the administration's scheduling capacity is pathetic. they made no semblance of time accommodation for the biggest, heaviest, most technically involved show in the theatre's history, meaning we had to cram a month's worth of work into two weeks. it is very cool now, on the brink of its premiere, but nobody in the crew really appreciates it because we've spent too damn much time fighting with it. thousands of dollars and labor hours have gone into it, its full of high-tech mechanized lighting and pneumatic lifts...and for what? some really pathetic choreography, mediocre singing, boring direction, and a completely incomprehensible story. at least the band is good. the dancers are very talented but you'd never guess from what they're having to do. Its the highest-budget high school musical you'll ever see.

On a lighter note, i watched a sunset on the beach the other day. By myself, of course, figuring everyone who is remotely friendly toward me is currently about 700 miles away, but it was still beautiful. The iridescent sky opened and extended beyond the limits of my comprehension. I could see the curvature of the atmosphere. I looked so far out i could see behind me. The brevity of our solar system was thrown into sharp relief for the briefest of moments and I understood my place in the universe.

Then the sun dipped below the horizon and i snapped out of it. I picked up a couple of pretty stones, stretched, and drove away.

Friday, May 19, 2006

5 days

i've worked at my new theatre for five days. very different work ethic than i'm used to. very much non-union. i don't know how long each workday is. when i come in in the morning, i don't know when i'm going to leave in the afternoon--moreover, i don't even know if i'll get a day off in the next month. some days its 9-6, others 9-8, others 10-3. sometimes lunch is an hour, sometimes lunch is twenty minutes. this whole theatre works like that. and whereas that's fine sometimes when there's a whole lot going on, that's been my introduction to how things work here--i don't know if it'll ever chill out or at least gain some semblance of regularity. some rules are strictly adhered to, others are disregarded. some techniques and terminologies i'm used to, some are completely foreign, and everybody has crazy accents that mean i'm spending most of my time staring at their mouths waiting for some recognizable syllable to come out. i had an easier time understanding folks in England. its the replacement of "A" with "oi" that gets me. the word "Ball" in the phrase "i'm having a ball" to me normally sounds like "ayme haaveeng ay bahl" but here its more of a "oime avin uh buh-ol" the whole thing almost sounds like a bad cockney, but the primary way in which it differs from Dick van Dyke's presentation in Mary Poppins is that you have to shove all of those unwritten syllables out of your nose. seriously--i think this may be one of several american accents that increase difficulty in speaking.

i think the biggest difference between academic theatre and non-union professional theatre is the attention paid to safety. in URTA theatres you better make damn sure everybody who is working around saws has shatterproof glasses on, everyone in an area where folks are cutting metal is wearing earplugs, every ladder has been inspected recently and is used according to its labeling, all scaffolding is put together properly with locked wheels when folks are on it, cables are dressed and any which may pose a tripping hazard are clearly indicated and floor matted (yeah, you cover them in carpet), and all paints and other materials that may emit fumes are used only in well-ventilated areas by people wearing respiratory protection. i don't know if this place even Has respirators. someone went out and bought safety glasses yesterday. the only way to get up where you need to hang curtains is by using ladders improperly and there's simply nowhere to paint except outside and it pours down rain here all the time. i've also gotten dozens of cuts and punctures from oversized screws poking through the back of wood and have tripped over countless ankle-height things on the floor in the dark. its just a matter of little things that i have to get used to.

Friday, May 12, 2006

So. I've been Busy

Hi, readership. Good of you to drop in, just to see if maybe that ranty girl has updated in the past month. To say the least, stuff's been going on. I shall do my best to briefly itemize those events here.

1. I graduated from university. Magna cum laude. This past saturday. go me. My grandma, a few other relatives, and some neighbors came, and we drank and had a good time. My dad gave me a banjo. I've been learning to play it but I've decided I don't like the way the book teaches it so I've been figuring out scales and arpeggios and working out where the notes are by playing old oboe music from high school. I still use the book, which does not teach scales or fret/string note correlations but instead focuses on plucking out tunes and building up speed, but I don't feel like i can really play the instrument until i know how it works.

2. My car blew a head gasket and died. Magna cum Suck. This past sunday. In the rain. On the freeway. With all my stuff in it as I was moving out of my house on campus. A bit of back-story--when i was in high school my parents bought me a car, and told me that all they really wanted it to do was get me through college. Now the car has blown out some belts and hoses, i've had to add oil to her every couple of weeks, and recently i've had to start adding water and coolant thanks to a new leak, but despite her 180,000+ miles and a few events on the side of the road my car has done pretty well for herself these past six years--better than perhaps she should have. Every time there was a problem this..mantra, of sorts, would be repeated--"just get her through college." It'll be fine if this car can just get her through college. Well. She got me through college--and not a second longer. The car actually broke down ten miles out of the town in which my uni was situated and started spewing smoke. "That's it," she said. "I did exactly as you asked. I ain't gonna move another inch." My mom came and got me, and now the car is in the process of being donated to the Kidney Foundation. (Its tax-deductable. The foundation actually sells the cars for scrap and makes money that way--unfortunately they do not replace people's kidneys with car parts.)

3. I'm moving to New York on Saturday for an internship in the Hamptons. I have a gig slingin' hammers this summer--perfect work for a college graduate. This will last until mid August.

4. I'm moving to San Francisco in August for a second internship, also in the hammer-slinging field, which will last a year.

5. This week i have done laundry, written thank-you notes, and generally just gorked out. I hadn't done that in a while so its been nice, but i'm ready to go do something now. I'm getting fat and inflexible again. I need to find somewhere to take yoga.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Brainy Nonsense

The techno next door is keeping me awake for the 16th week running, but rather than get angry about it again I figured I'd spend this early-morning time (for which I'd be up anyway) paying attention to my poor neglected blog.

I drank my day away at a very fun end-of-year gathering on the lake. The food, company, and amusements were all brilliant and I was on the whole very happy. Some wrong turns en route to the house, however, led to heated tempers, which distracted the driver enough that she made some spectacularly reckless errors that would have proved painful had other people not been paying attention and shouting "BRAKES!" I say "other people" 'cos it sure as hell wasn't me--I forgot to eat before getting in the car and was at that point the mental equivalent of jell-o.

After I'd eaten though I realized that the person in question is routinely a dangerously distracted driver. She runs red lights, sits at green lights, crosses intersections without looking, gets lost easily and is known for her tendency to gradually decelerate on the freeway as her foot wanders from the pedal. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was risking my life letting her drive as one day her errors might prove fatal.

What makes this somewhat funny is the fact that I believe a lot of this distraction is on account of a medication she takes to prevent it. The pill in question is called Aderol, and is prescribed by psychiatrists to patients who appear to have difficulty paying attention, or "Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)." Somehow it rearranges the taker's chaotic neurological firings into logical sequences that lengthen his or her ability to focus. Many hyperactive, disorderly, and ill-attentive children have shown marked improvements in their behavior and grades with the introduction of Aderol or other ADD medication to their cereal, and it is a well-known study aid among collge students around exam time.

That said. (Intro my opinion.)

ADD is a myth. It is a pathetic excuse for poor parenting and a child's genuine disinterest in academic pursuits. ADD's counterpart, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is an indication of even worse parenting and a complete failure on the part of society to properly and effectively teach desirable behavior in children. In no way does a child's inability or unwillingness to pay attention to or care about academic pursuits indicate that there is something wrong with their neurological function or that they require mind-altering drugs in order to do well in school.

There are several behaviors that are mistakenly diagnosed as AD(H)D. I wish to itemize a few of them here and give my opinion on them.

Example 1: Apathy-Related "ADD"
Little Timmy is not doing too well in school. He is not interested in maths or history and he rarely does his homework because he's too easily distracted by the TV, the video game console, the dog, or even the carpet. His teachers have commented that Timmy seems distracted and irritable in class. Little Timmy's parents worry that he will not go on to be a brain surgeon like his father. Hell, at the rate he's going chances are he won't even pick up any literature more mentally taxing than People Weekly after he graduates.

Guess What, Mr. and Mrs. Brain Surgeon--Its OKAY!!

Timmy is not handicapped. He's not a bad child, he's not stupid, and there's nothing wrong with his teachers. Timmy is one of billions of human beings who just DONT CARE ABOUT ACADEMICS. Timmy doesn't read books because he simply doesn't enjoy reading. He doesn't pay attention in math class because frankly, math is the least interesting abstract concept in the history of thought. Timmy got in trouble for dicing the frog he was supposed to be dissecting because it is more fun to hack things to pieces than to identify their components. Timmy doesn't want to do his homework because its a FREAKING BEAUTIFUL DAY OUTSIDE. Lets face it--school is boring. Timmy has every right to be bored.

Something we, as a society, have lost appreciation for is non-academic intelligence. Timmy may be very capable in pursuits which we have deemed un-intellectual. Perhaps he has a knack for running, building cabinets, painting, or plumbing. The fact that Timmy has no innate ability for memorizing names and dates of historic figures does not mean that he is stupid--he just doesn't belong in the kind of school he is required to attend by law. It is unfortunate that many blue-collar type jobs are sneered at in todays society while pointless number-crunching money-moving jobs are idealized when its the blue-collar folks who are actually productive.

Schools today do not teach anything that will benefit most children in adulthood. They teach pointless abstractions (mathematics), generally useless trivia (history), and even leisure activities (literature). The second two have no practical value, and the first is really only useful in mechanical design, which most people don't do anyway.

If a child seems bright--not just to a parent's eye--but doesn't give a rip about school, chances are he's not learning anything that interests him.

No amount of Aderol is going to make Timmy like or care about school. It will only make him hyper-focus on whatever you put in front of him. That doesn't mean he's interested in it. You've just drugged him to make him conform to an education system that he has no business being in. Square peg, round hole.

Modern society's insistence upon putting all children through an identical education system is less an effort to make us productive members of society and more an attempt to make us all conform to some silly ideal of how a human is "supposed" to think and behave. Fact remains, there is no "right" way to do anything, because "right," "wrong", and "supposed to" are abstract manifestations of the intellectual elite. People are different. Many people are not intellectual.

A much more effective education system that has, unfortunately, been abandoned in favor of state-regulated assembly-line style schooling was the apprenticeship system. Children who appear to have an aptitude for or interest in some field study under a master in said field until they can do it too. Likewise if the child is interested in academics he or she is sent to an academic institution, and if he or she has no apparent useful aptitude, interest, or inclination, he or she can join the military. Zing.

Example 2: Pain-in-the-ass Brat
Suzy Q makes noise. she bounces around incessantly, hits other children, makes farting noises with her hands and generally makes a nuisance of herself. She spends more of her day in time-out than her desk and has to take notes home to her mother regularly to have signed. She rarely finishes tests before turning them in and is distracted by shiny objects. She has difficulty carrying a conversation and shouts when she wants to be heard.

Two words--Bad Parenting. Suzy is one of millions of American children who have been raised by a television set, day-care center, and parents who's jobs or personal lives get in the way of establishing a good relationship with their daughter.

The constant flicker and color of the TV display have established a basis of activity to stimulate Suzy's mind and keep her interested, making sitting quietly while the teacher reads Where The Red Fern Grows intolerably boring. Nothing is moving! Where are the flashing lights? Dancing numbers and singing puppets? Chances are if she goes to any school that doesn't require its teachers to have a MFA in performance she is going to get frustrated. She will fidget, she will look around, she will tap her fingers and eventually ask, impatiently, for the teacher to pick up the pace already.

Many children who grow up in day care are loud. They have to be if they want any sort of attention from the staff--there are simply too many other children around for them to be heard any other way. Suzy has to compete constantly for any sort of attention, and when she actually gets it she's going to soak it up in a distinctly spongelike manner. Positive or negative--it doesn't matter. She craves any sort of attention she can get from grown-ups because by the time mommy and daddy get home at night, they're tired, hungry, and as much as they love their daughter, they just can't muster up the energy to play with or talk to her. Suzy may become angry with her parents for not loving her enough, and when she brings this up (in her day-care style) they may become frustrated and shout at her. Because mommy and daddy know that they're neglecting her, but they also know they can't afford to live in a nice neighborhood where Suzy is safe if they don't both work full-time. They feel guilty for not having a good relationship with their daughter, they hate the insane costs of day care, they have no idea what she's eating most of the time, but they can't find any other way to make ends meet. Suzy barely knows her parents and has never encountered real, consistent, understandable discipline from them. Sometimes she gets shouted at for talking, sometimes she's completely ignored, and on some occasions she's even encouraged to yell and run around.
No, Suzy is being raised in a group of thirty by one frazzled primary school teacher who simply does not have the opportunity to give any child individual attention unless there's a problem. (I have a new name for ADHD: SWS. Squeaky Wheel Syndrome.) At night she is entertained by children's television, the bright colors and flashing lights of which would give an adult a seizure. And in the morning she eats pink-marshmallow cereal because, though her mother knows it isn't good for her, she feels guilty enough for neglecting her child to buy her whatever she wants.

I recognize that "good parenting"--a situation in which the parent is in control of a child's diet, takes responsibility for the child's behavior, is helpful in the child's intellectual and moral growth, and inspires the child to imagine and aspire...is hard to come by. its simply too expensive to raise children in America for a parent to leave work and do any of said raising. I recognize that education tailored to each child's strengths and interests is impossible in America because of rampant overpopulation, strictly enforced statutes of universal conformism, consistently under-staffed schools and under-qualified teachers...but is drugging children the right means of accommodating this problem?

So. The kids who are already here--i feel for you. I understand how hard it is to be you, with society and the media molding you one way and school expecting you to behave in another. I know your interests rarely include theorems, sentence diagrams, the life cycle of trees, or Willard Fillmore's contributions to the American welfare state. And you know what? This kind of knowledge won't get you anywhere anyhow. Its what you learn when you earn a liberal arts degree--the degree that overeducates and underqualifies you for every job on the planet. You might as well not learn it, without frustration or guilt.

But to those adults thinking of having children--stop. Think. Can you afford to have kids and raise them too? Can you be home when they're home? Can you say No without crying? Can you keep them out of day care? Can you help them with their homework? Can you play with them outside? Can you be present to influence their growth and development? If you're not sure, or if you're sure you can't...maybe you should reconsider. Our population is in no danger of collapsing. Why have kids just so they can be drugged and brainwashed by governments and corporations?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Apartheid

There really is nothing quite like watching hundreds of schoolchildren being beaten, gassed, and shot at by police and military officials to make you feel guilty for being Western. I don't consider myself racist and I don't condone anyone harming anyone else for any reason, but nevertheless I feel like my very existence as an educated, white American is so unfair that it's wrong in light of other people's misfortune.

Today I watched a film entitled "Witness to Apartheid" for my African History class. It consisted of interviews and live footage of large-scale political violence in South Africa in 1985. I don't know how readily available this film is and if anyone else has seen it but the images it shows are utterly terrifying, and made more so by the fact that they're real. To say the least it'll stay with me for a while. The race-based violence, consisting almost entirely (in the film) of white military attacks on peaceful black protests was so nonsensical that you'd think it impossible. They were shot because they wanted equality, the ability to have a job, the ability to provide for themselves and their families, the ability to be educated and fed and left alone. It never occurred to me until today that I should appreciate the fact that it is safe for me to go to school. That I don't wonder if my class is going to be disrupted by armed men and my classmates and I hauled to jail because they caught wind that we disagreed with public policy.

If anything in this country we are wary of our schoolmates who might get disgruntled for no readily apparent reason and bring a gun to school. But at least in that situation there's an outcry. There's a public inquiry. The law gets involved and there are criminal repercussions. In South Africa, under Apartheid, there was nothing. Not even an attempt at or pretense of justice. No comfort for the bereaved and often no medical aid for the wounded. Doctors who offered their services to those hurt in these clashes would be jailed.

One's own problems seem so petty by contrast. I wonder where I'll be in five years, if i'll be making enough money to make ends meet. A small part of me fears I'll be so unsuccessful that I'll end up on the street, but I don't really believe it. I join the rallying against injustice in my own country, but where does it stand in comparison? Millions of people forced into cramped, unplumbed, unelectrified, fenced and frequently firebombed camps because folks of the opposite color believe they're somehow better than them. Laws enacted against them to prevent them from getting jobs because white folks fear they'll work for cheaper and their employment would be at risk. White people convincing themselves--or being outrightly told by their politicians and teachers--that black people are happy in their situation, or that they're genetically inclined toward violence so they must be strictly supervised for their own safety.

I don't have a leg to stand on in complaining. I'm never going to be rich or famous, beautiful, brilliant, or any way special. I don't expect i'll ever have a beautiful house or be able to keep a good companion. These are things I think and worry about because they're what my society values. The thing we seem to fear most here is mediocrity, the quality of not being better than those around us. But I really should appreciate my sensibly-shod, bodily-clad, overweight American mediocrity.

I'm not going to fall down on my knees and thank my maker for the bounteous gifts i've received in my life because frankly that's selfish. One of the most obvious debunkers of religion is the abject horror of so many people's daily lives in light of our own roofed and furnished existence. The fact that most of it is inflicted on them by other humans only heightens my awareness that we are floating through the universe unsupervised. Justice is a nice idea that we came up with to make sense of the anger we feel when we are harmed. I am not thankful for the life I lead because the only reason I know it is pretty easy is because I see people who don't have things as nice as I do. Because people exist who know nothing but suffering. I don't appreciate it. I feel bad for it. Bad that I didn't...i dunno, pay extra for it somehow. Bad because I don't deserve it, just like black South Africans don't deserve to be punished for wanting it. Bad because I'm one of the "haves" and I still manage to be discontent, angry, and afraid though I know others have it much worse. Bad because I'm wealthy, which is interesting, because I'm not.

I know that Apartheid ended. It shouldn't have ever started, but it only took about a century of enforced represison of an entire race for a few people to finally warm to the idea of inalienable human rights. Things aren't vastly improved, but they're a little better. They've gotten worse elsewhere and when that improves they'll suck further somewhere else again, but at least one situation had the capacity to get a little better. It is a strange, frustrating world we live in.

"This planet has, or rather had, a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small, green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

"And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches." -- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Saturday, April 15, 2006

better...ish

my stomach bug has been replaced with a mild head-cold. this is getting annoying. So still kinda dizzy, but now in an inner-ear sort of way.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

ill

I've caught some sort of stomach bug that's kept me from eating for three days. I've been drinking water and some drinks with sugar in them but the mere sight of food makes me queasy. As if i wasn't before, i feel like an utter space cadet today. Dizzzzzzzzy.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

rope? check. square hat? check.

that's right friends and neighbors--i'm graduating from university in less than a month. i've already gotten my sexy black dress and its matching square of cardboard, my drawer pull and yes, two lengths of yellow nylon rope. seriously, i look like a drapery store just threw up on me. But What is it with these horrible "gowns" you have to wear? They're about the least flattering garment known to man--i look like a bag lady in it (by which i mean a lady...in a bag), they're itchy as hell and made of the least comfortable fabric possibly ever, and they're made on the cheap to low quality standards but you pay a fortune for them. I guess its the university's way of screwing you over one last time before they let you go. This dress alone is a good reason to not go to grad school.

You know who looks good in a mortarboard and gown? Me neither. I look like i'm wearing a tent. They should come with anchoring stakes and a lantern. And the flat cap with a tassle...just a bizarre, bizarre tradition.

I think the concept of honor cords is funny--i get them because i'm graduating magna cum laude. What better way to identify your honor graduates than to...dangle rope around their necks? the damn rope is so slippery you can't even tie knots in it. Useless. and its got even more tassles on the ends--i guess they assume students with high GPAs have cats they need to entertain. I know my cat will certainly enjoy them--indeed, they're the only components of this $40 purchase that'll actually be used more than once. Terrific.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

flutter-by

I saw a butterfly today while walking between classes--it was happily flitting along near the center of campus and I turned my head to look at it. I say "turned my head" but my body came along too and I made a complete u-turn in the middle of the path to follow my new little friend as it ambled toward some flowering shrubs. I very nearly climbed into the brick-lined planter over who's wall it flew but was stopped short by good sense. and the fact that there was a professor watching me.

Monday, April 03, 2006

generica

I rarely buy national brand products at the store. I'm happy with my Top Care Ibuprofen and my K-Mart brand shoes. Not only am I a cheapskate, but i've actually developed a taste for the cheap. I don't just eat Piggly Wiggly cottage cheese, I actually Prefer it to the Breakstone's variety. Publix-brand tonic water tastes better because its two dollars cheaper than Schweppes or Canada Dry. Food Lion tater tots fry up just as greasy as Ore Ida's, and i don't care what you say, Bi-Lo cotton swabs are just as q-tippy as Q-tips.

That said.

About a month ago I splurged. I had an "impulse buy" which is to say I'd wanted it for a while, told myself i didn't need it, but bought it when my conscience wasn't looking. Its silly. Its overpriced. Its advertised.

Its lemon-flavored toothpaste.

Everyone I've mentioned this to so far has given me a look of utter repulsion. Lemon? Toothpaste? Why that's just...wrong. My own mother even gave me the Look--that mom-look of simultaneous distaste and disappointment--when she saw it on my countertop. But Crest must have heard there was a market for it, because they produced it and even had the gall to make a TV advert about it. It had something to do with it being refreshing like lemonade.

It is not refreshing like lemonade.

It is, however, very nice toothpaste. It tastes half minty half lemony and is yellow with sparkles. It looks, in essence, like something a four-year old would put on her purple light-up Barney toothbrush.

I don't understand folks's automatic dislike for the idea of lemon toothpaste. I love Lemon-flavored gum (though I have only found it in France--anyone care to mail me a packet of Hollywood Citron?) and nobody seems to mind lemon-scented dish detergent. They make lemon Skittles, candied lemon wedges, lemon Jolly Ranchers, and if you're lucky you might even find an actual lemon on the rim of your glass. People Like lemons. much more than most folks seem to like South Carolina, in any case. Just not my yellow toothpaste.

I'll stand up for you, lemon-flavored toothpaste. Its you and me against the world.