Friday, March 31, 2006

today i destroyed a sofa

it was a rather nice sofa--less than ten years old, i'd heard--but it had been ruined (*ahem* stuffed full of corn) during a production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child. A lack of space for it paired with the considerable number of "modifications" (rips, tears, and corn) it endured for the purposes of the play meant that it was not worth fixing or keeping. It made me sad, in a way--an otherwise fine and well-built piece of furniture was forced into early retirement (*ahem* pulverised with sledgehammers and put in a dumpster in small pieces) because it had outlived its usefulness. shame.

that's not to say the sofa just submitted to its end peacefully--that somebitch put up a fight. the number of skin-grabbing exposed staples and splinters of wood increased with every downward swing of the hammer. Its simple wooden frame was springy and resistant to breaking even when angled and jumped upon by a fairly sizeable man. It may have known its doom, but it was determined to go out in a blaze of glory.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

hallway party

there really is nothing quite like being surrounded by four massive, hunky, blond haired, blue-eyed German togas.

Hey Missionaries: the fact that I do not think like you is not an invitation for you to try and change me. The Good Lord did not put us in the hallway together in togas for you to save my soul. I respect you regardless of your religion--it is only decent for you to offer me the same courtesy.

My toga went from properly wrapped to tied to stay up to an interesting dress with an empire waist to a rather attractive kimono with large, flowing sleeves. behold the multi-form bedsheet.

If you translate "run a red light" into Swedish it means "(go for a run, jog, etc.) a red light," which is completely incomprehensible. However, if you translate "you reap what you sow" or "you've made your bed, now you have to lie in it" into Swedish, they both mean "you must pay the consequences for your actions."

In Africa people like to start their birthdays early.

Swords may in fact be the most phallic weapons known to man, which explains a lot about Roman history.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

two faces

I've had a startling revelation. I, your humble narrator, am completely two-faced. Its amazing just how artificial I am in every social and psychological sense of the word. I'm one of those people who's really friendly with you when you're around and then talks smack about you behind your back. So nice and believably genuine that you honestly believe I like you and enjoy being around you, then the moment you've left my general vicinity I rant and rave and let off all the steam that's built up since the moment you opened your mouth.

Take my recent blog entries, for example. You think I ever call my flatmates "the kiddies" to their faces? You think I'm anything but sweet and helpful, jovial and even playful with them? (unless I'm drunk--then I just complain about the guv'ment at them).

Unless I directly tell people otherwise, I imagine they go along their daily lives not in any way aware that their slightly strange friend with short hair is cringeing inside at the very sight of them.

I'd love to tell a good 80% of the people I know where to shove it. I'd love them to know that at all times I'm barely restraining myself from ripping their throat out (with my tattered, bloody fingernails, all bitten to the quick from sheerest frustration at trying to contain the truth of my opinions).

I maintain surface-healthy friendships with people for years, decades even, while secretly loathing everything about them from their taste in clothes to that small crossover of their central and lateral incisors on the left side of their mouth. (note: this is not actually a reference to anyone i know, that i know of.) I resent my friends that are prettier than me. I abhor my friends who are smarter than me. Everyone I know is better than I am at something and I'd really just like to take their instruments, paint brushes, model bridges, trim thighs, cute clothes, nice handwriting, and perfect fucking skin and just tear them into tiny bits, and then I'll jump on them until..until...i've had enough.

But will they ever know this? Oh no. I'm so good at acting over the truth that not only my friends but even meticulous analysts wouldn't have a clue. I've had neighbors and co-workers go years thinking I considered someone a dear friend until I finally let loose the truth to them in a jumping, screaming fit.

My poor mother endures the majority of these outbursts. The one person who knows when I'm being artificial because she taught me how to do it. To keep face, to smile, to keep tabs, to restrain myself to the point that my temples throb rather than just tell the person to fuck themselves and get on with my life.

Its not like I just smile and hold back the string of insults when I briefly run into people socially. No no. I'll hang out with them for hours. I'll talk and laugh and get into deeply political debates and drink and party and hug and act real excited when I see folks. I'll seek them out. And then I come on here and complain about them all.

This is not benefitting anyone. Not the people I purport to be friends with, as they're being deceived. Not me, as I'm going insane and beating myself up with pent-up anger about it. Not the people I actually want to be friends with, 'cos the moment they find or figure out that I'm an utter phony they stop trusting my interactions with them. I don't have the balls to tell anyone to their faces that I can't stand the sight of them. I don't even have the nerve to be acridly sarcastic with them so they feel slighted. I have difficulty avoiding them or cutting them out of my life. I'm fucking NICE.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Attn: Rant. read only if you have a lot of free time.

I should mention that I'm home for spring break and i finally get a chance to relax--by which i mean jump around and scream and vent out all the frustration that comes from 12-hour workdays and sleep in fifteen minute intervals between train horns. Unfortunately my mother doesn't really agree with this definition of the word "relax" and, after about two solid hours of me babbling about how atheism is the answer to all the world's problems she finally put down her newspaper, put her fingers in her ears, and shouted "Enough already!"

so. i guess that leaves me the blog.


I begin by making a declaration of fact: America is peopled with jerks. The US government, the law enforcement community, my friends and neigbors, me. One huge landmass of nothing but jerks. You still with me? I thought so.

But i've noticed there's two different breeds of jerk--those being the Master Jerk and the Slave Jerk. Master Jerks are the ones screwing people over and Slave Jerks are the ones being screwed over and whining about it. I fall into the second category.

My "discussion" today is spurned from a series of tv adverts carefully misnamed "Public Service Announcements." I'm sure everyone has seen them--government-sponsored montages of beautiful people telling kids not to do drugs. And don't forget the montages of haggard, spent-looking people telling parents to tell their kids not to do drugs. They discuss the dangers of drugs and comment on how peer pressure is going to convince your middle schooler to drink, have sex, and get addicted to heroin before they're 15. Way to brighten my day.

Public Service Announcements (PSAs) have several different purposes all at once. Under the smokescreen of "providing positive encouragement for families to remain healthy" which i'm certain nobody with an IQ above that of a cabbage is going to believe, we have at least three different headings as to their function.

1. PSAs are an example of "Your Tax Dollars At Work"--visible proof that the government is really giving something back to the community. Where the other thirteen trillion dollars a year are going we're not exactly sure, but Something has been spent (with a couple of contributions from Philip Morris Co.) to offer a positive message to the population at large. Great.

2. PSAs are an example of the modern judicial system's CYA (Cover-Your-Ass) Policy. So long as the tobacco and healthcare companies make the dangers of smoking and drugs public knowledge, they are not at fault when people get into the advanced stages of lung cancer. Thus they are under no obligation to provide affordable health care to middle aged folks who come into the hospital coughing up bits of their aesophagus. Its this beautiful "told ya so" idea that also keeps the US from developing a NHS (this is where things start to get complicated.)

The government announces that "smoking/drug use/alcohol is bad for you."
Thus if people continue to smoke/inject/drink/etc its their own fault if they get sick.
To tell people they cannot smoke, drink, or whatever and pass laws about it would be a return to prohibition, which gave rise to the organized crime rings now forever glorified in smudgy 1930s' detective films. (i.e. to make normal behavior a crime is to make everyone a criminal.)
But at the same time, if you offer free healthcare to people who willfully give themselves lung cancer and cirrhosis of the liver (and hepatitis and obesity and AIDS and anything else you might pick up from living immoderately or imprudently) it gets pretty damned expensive. On the flip side, making healthcare really ridiculously expensive does encourage people, to some degree, to behave in moderation to reduce the chance of incurring hospital fees. Those who have accidents that are not their fault are just SOL*.
To offer free healthcare to only those people who don't smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs, overeat, undereat, share needles, have casual sex, pursue a career with known occupational hazards, breathe pollution or secondhand smoke, spend undue amounts of time in the sun, dress or drive inappropriately for weather conditions, or fail to floss twice a day is to offer free healthcare to one five-year-old in Idaho.
If it is not the government's fault that you get sick, the government concludes that its not the government's responsibility to make you better.
So there. No NHS for you.

*(When you buy private insurance you are betting on your illness or injury being someone else's fault. The idea is, if you pay them a lot of money, if someone hurts you, you can almost afford the hospital fees that your insurance doesn't cover. Unfortunately, if you hurt someone else, you pay the insurance company more--for a long time--so the person you hurt can almost afford the hospital fees that their insurance company doesn't cover. Worse, if you hurt someone else and yourself, you're screwed.)

3. PSAs are a well-crafted form of reverse-psychology. Many are targeted at the 10-17 year old demographic--pubescents and adolescents who's hormones are encouraging them to leave their parents and reproduce, as humans had been doing up until the eighteenth century when their bodies said they were ready. Parental retention of teenagers--often into the third decade of life--is counter to this biological impulse and so generates high levels of anxiety and claustrophobia which culminate in the urge to escape this suffocating pressure. (Just like being hungry is contrary to what feels right, so you look for food.) The fact that there is no outlet for these prolonged children to get away without running (and knowing that once flown, they will be completely unprotected and left to starve as they have no skills or money and no law-abiding American will employ them anyway) they must find means of escaping parental constraints without trying to make it on the street. This behavior is known as "rebellion" and is one of the primary reasons for petty crime and drug abuse among teenagers today.
It works like this:
You don't do drugs.
Mom and Dad say "don't do drugs."
The government and your teachers say "don't do drugs."
You get tired of being told what to do.
You do exactly what they say not to.
You do drugs.

This is not, however, the same process that occurs in teenage sexual behavior. That looks more like this:
You don't have sex.
Mom and Dad say "don't have sex."
The government and your teachers say "don't have sex."
Your body says "FOR FUCK'S SAKE HAVE SEX."
Your body has always been right before, it probably is now.
You have sex.

Though this very simply explains why premarital sex and drug use are incorrectly grouped in the same category of "rebellious behavior" i have veered very far from my point.

Anyone who has gone through puberty (read: any adult) knows that, from about age 10 to age 18, "No=Yes." Usually people who are in government and advertising are adults, so they know that for the PSA target demographic, "No=Yes." And they put ads on television--the easiest way of reaching their target demographic--and say "No."

Now this is not to say that they should say "yes"--it doesn't work the other way around. Advertising is an amazing form of mind control. Say you want to advertise your new antidepressant. For the sake of discussion, let us call it "HappyDrug." You start your ad by posing the question "Do you frequently feel down in the dumps? Like no matter what you do, your life will not improve?" And of course 99% of viewers say "you know, i do!" because chances are, they're barely making ends meet, they work too hard, they haven't gotten a good night's sleep in months because their house is right next to the wrong side of the tracks, and all their hopes and dreams of one day being rich and famous have collapsed. They feel down in the dumps, and rightly so. So you continue your ad. "If your life sucks, HappyDrug will make it better! Talk to your doctor about getting addicted to our product that gives you a false sense of complacency by artificially telling your brain to fire off endorphins and detach you from reality! For as little as $30 a day your life won't suck! (until you try to wean yourself from our product.) May cause nausea, decreased sex drive, inability to operate a vehicle, coma, or death."
Of course, all the average viewer has heard of this is "If your life sucks, HappyDrug will make it better!" so they tell their doctor they want HappyDrug and get hooked on it. When they don't have it they have headaches and nausea and body aches and feel grumpy and annoy the hell out of everyone around them. When they do have it they're usually tolerable if often inattentive and glazed over, or giggling incessantly.
That actually sounds a whole lot worse than saying "If your life sucks, Marijuana will make it better! May cause paranoia, weight gain, decreased(or increased) sex drive, inability to operate a vehicle, poor judgement, or nausea if taken with alchohol." But people take the risks with HappyDrug, even though it may cause loose and oily stools and is known to be habit-forming. Whatever.

So with humans, "No=Yes", but "Yes=Yes" too. Just like my cat--i just told her "no it is not dinnertime" but i know all she heard was "dinnertime!"

So, taking teenage rebellious behavior into account, we may concur that PSAs are encouraging the nation's youth to try drugs. Why? There are numerous theories to explain this. I will itemize a few.

a. It gives kids and police officers something to do.
b. It prolongs drug trading relations with third world countries, which keeps their populations employed (if repressed.)
c. It keeps adults distracted so they don't make a fuss when the department of homeland security takes away more of our civil liberties. College students probably will, but nobody listens to them anyway.
d. As long as young, rebellious kids are stoned out of their minds in front of the television, they're not out slashing tires and stealing road signs.
e. It placates the religious right who casually forgot that they were once rebellious youths too and believe that the Man is really looking out for them and their children.
f. It makes what would be a common weed with some medicinal properties, a beverage blessed by the Christian God himself, and a normal bodily function into generation-damning Problems (with a capital P)--the touting of which keeps more people than is probably healthy employed.
g. "He'll just use it to feed his addiction to crack" is a good excuse to not give money to panhandlers.

(If anyone has reached this point in reading, I encourage you to submit a few reasons of your own!)

Now here comes the fun part. Get your conspiracy-theorizing caps on, squeeze a fresh lemon, and get ready to think i'm insane.

There is a link between PSAs and Terrorism.

beyond the expected "well they're both keeping the government busy."

They are both means by which the government is trying to control us. And may even be succeeding.

I recently read a piece by Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts describing an event on 2 February in the Little Falls, Maryland public library. Apparently two security officers, in the name of Homeland Security, burst in and announced that it is forbidden to use the library's computers to view internet pornography. One then looked over a computer user's shoulder, found the website he was viewing unsuitable, and asked him to step outside for a little chat.

The librarian called the police, who came in, found the officials to be out of their jurisdiction, and politely told them to fuck off. Well done Maryland.

But what do i think might happen if this same scenario occurred in the Fort Milll, South Carolina public library? Officials burst in and say "dont you even think about watching pornography--here or anywhere. It gives money to terrorists." You'd have ass-kissers and morons alike screaming "hear, hear!" and "hallelujah!" and congratulating W and his team of freedom fighters for protecting ourselves from our sinful selves. And if they'd found someone reading a medical journal on the symptoms of breast cancer on the internet the citizen would be lifted from her chair by the scruff of her neck and dragged outside and berated for her filthy, filthy mind. And then Jaysus himself would descend from on high and...okay, i may be exaggerating a bit. But i guarantee you a good chunk of the population wouldn't care, or would think the officials justified.

Why on earth, you ask? Why would people embrace the removal of their civil liberties to watch pornography, smoke a joint, drink a pull of whiskey or spank their children when they misbehave?

Because so long as the officials are preventing behavior that you don't approve of, you dont mind that others, who may not mind it, can't.

There's a delicate balance here. On the one hand you can argue that some people might not mind murder or arson, so is it right for them to be free to kill people and start fires? But on the other you can argue that a group of people might disapprove of alcohol use, so is it right for their will to be imposed upon others either?

This delicate balance between acceptable and unacceptable is the reason we have government. To represent and enforce what the majority of people have decided is right and wrong. The majority may not always have the best idea--i'm sure if you dig back in my quotation book you'll find the name that goes along with the line "It is not worth an intelligent man's time to be a member of the majority--by definition, there are already enough people to do that."--but one of the flaws of the human condition is our herd mindset. Most of us will go along with what everyone else is doing. If most everyone agrees to one mentality, most everyone is content with it. Those who disagree feel screwed over but there's not enough of them to matter or sway public opinion.

Unfortunately, another commonly-believed line "if you don't like it, you can leave" does not seem to apply here. There's not really anywhere better to go.

So anyway. The Department of Homeland Security screws with your brain by running ads which say "watching porn gives money to terrorists." This affects your mindset next time you sit down to enjoy some, even when you know it doesn't. Likewise, ads tell you "smoking, drinking, and sex are bad." This affects how you feel next time you decide to smoke, drink, or screw, even if you're able to do it in moderation. They also tell parents to distrust their children and permit schools to teach myths and outright bullshit as truth. What does all of this have in common? its all MEDDLING. Carefully moving in and attempting to control what the population puts in their bodies and minds. Trying to regulate what information we have access to, and of that, what we believe. Using guilt as a means of controlling the population's sex drive. Using scare tactics to associate the word "terrorism" with a departure from desired behavior. Using the television to perpetuate cycles of addiction and abuse for children and disgruntled adults.

TV isn't evil. It is just frequently used by jerks to control you.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Dear repeat reader,

I would like to apologise for my continued use of my weblog as an airing area for the stress developed from my continued co-habitation with two freshmen.


that said...


Backtrack--2nd March 2006. My grown-up housemate and I had a good time making cake and brownies and buying beer for a birthday party for our co-worker today (3 March). We baked up everything and had it looking pretty, decorated it to read "Happy Birthday Nick" and put saran wrap over it to sit overnight.

I guess we failed to idiot-proof our confections because, like most academic housing, we don't have much yardage when it comes to countertops. We put the baked items on the stove (turned off) to wait overnight for the party today.

We didn't think a thing about it.

3rd March, 2006. I got up at 8, like normal, to go to class. I had a very long, brain-draining exam so when i got home, i set an alarm for 1:00 and crawled back into bed.

at 12:20 i was Rudely awoken by the piercing scream of the fire alarm. I found it odd, after the initial shock (it's several decibels beyond painfully loud) because it began ringing in my house, then the hallway siren went off. Confused (and mostly asleep) I stumbled out of bed and began putting on shoes.

Then i smelled it. That acrid, pungent, eye-watering smell of burning..something. Plastic, metal, food, hair--i didn't know what.

In my frustration at being awakened, and in further irritation at figuring out that it was someone in my house who had set the damn thing off, i made a hasty new rule for my household: "No more toaster priveleges for children."

I quickly pulled on some trousers and stepped out into the house. And saw it. A cloud of smoke that had filled the ceiling and had made its way to eye-level. And a pathetic child standing over the stove, soaking wet and wrapped in a towel, with a streak of soap suds on her cheek.

"I turned on the wrong burner. It was the wrong burner."

After wasting a couple of seconds stammering "What...the...hell?" I jumped over some chairs and quickly opened the windows in the common room. The smell was awful. Coupled with the eardrum-piercing noise and my eight-seconds-awake confusion the whole event progressed in still-frame panels, like a comic book depiction of an alleyway murder.

I remember telling the child to put a shirt on and get outside. The air was toxic and some residual lifeguard instinct told me I had to evacuate everyone. She nodded halfway and continued to stand, as though struck dumb.

The doorbell rang. The residence hall director stepped in to make sure we were all right. I said we were and the guilty party sneaked away to the bathroom while I grabbed some shoes and my keys. I returned to the hall to find the shower back on, the kid back in it, finishing what she was doing when she should have been keeping an eye on the burners. Flabberghasted, I exited the building.

The fire department arrived in the space of a few minutes. Or hours. I couldn't rightly tell as my brain was just then beginning to switch on and run some diagnostic tests. I stood for at least five minutes with my fly undone before i happened to glance down and notice my aquamarine-hued underwear glinting in the noonday sun. "Great," I thought. "Way to impress one's neighbors. Real smooth."

The child never left the building. I returned to the house after the firemen gave the all-clear to find the RHD waiting for me. Like this was my fault. After a brief conversation concerning the circumstances of the alarm and a scolding concerning the child's pet rodent in the common room, he wandered off, his conscience cleared of responsibility for the event.

After the door closed the child came out of her room and went to the stove. I got a clearer idea of what had transpired while i slept--she wanted to make hard-boiled eggs. The brownies and cake were on the stove, so rather than move these things from the stovetop, she just made space and put the (MY) pot, filled with water and eggs, on the down-right burner.

And turned on the up-left burner.

Mistaking down-right for up-right is completely understandable. It happens. You miss by an inch and turn on the burner behind or in front of the one you meant to. But missing down-right for up-left is almost impossible without spinning around with your head pressed against a baseball bat for thirty seconds while playing goofy golf. The right-burner knobs are on the right side of the stove. Likewise, the left-burner knobs are on the left side of the stove. Doesn't take a whole lot of brain power to understand the difference. But she turned on the burner that was under my pan of brownies.

Then--and this is the beautiful part--rather than stay a moment and watch to make sure everything is getting started properly, she apparently just trotted off to the shower before the burner even began to warm. So she was jarred from her activity by the fire alarm at just the same time as i was waking up.

She has claimed she will replace my 8" baking pan, which, needless to say, has been ruined. But on the whole, she doesn't seem particularly upset by this whole event. She came out of her room on the phone, talking and laughing about plans for the upcoming week. She continued boiling her eggs.

Everything in my house reeks. I have to get my comforter cleaned now--a long, boring process that i like to avoid when at all possible. My mildly-dirty laundry is now amazingly dirty. My 4 fabric wall hangings absorbed the smoke odor like freakin' cat litter. All the upholstered furniture in the living room smells. I'm sure the carpet will take its time airing out as well.

All because a child--who is expressly forbidden from living in my house but was granted housing here anyway--did a very moronic thing. Which is to be expected from children living in freshman dormitories--thats why freshman dorms don't have stoves, ovens, or anything else built in that the kiddies can hurt themselves on. This event proves the housing system's functionality--you put children in grown-up houses, they behave like children and break the grown-ups' things.