Monday, December 25, 2006


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


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.