Thursday, May 28, 2009

Holiday Roundup

Had a fabulous time in Charleston over Memorial Day weekend. Rode through a lot of flat, green country on the way there. Ate, drank, and lounged by a pool to excess. Walked on a beach in the rain. A change of scenery can be very liberating.

Wyatt and I stayed with Claudine and her husband. It's become an annual event. We again sat on their back porch and drank Bombay Dry gin and ginger ale (we didn't get Blenheim ginger ale this time unfortunately, a serious oversight.) I warned them that when and if the fall of civilization arrives, bad guys after their canned goods might hide in the pool and they'll be difficult to shoot in there. But it's hard to worry too much about stuff like that when it's warm and you're on vacation with a drink in your hand.

Claudine has sattelite TV too, and Wyatt and I got sucked in to that more than once. We don't have cable and even when we did, we just had the basic package, so we are utterly defenseless when it comes to the distracting power of such a large number of channels. We watched part of Star Wars The Phantom Menace, for Chrissakes, and remarked out loud the whole time that we can't believe how bad it is.

Which turned out to be a synchronistic event in a way, because when we got home, we had the film Fanboys waiting in our mailbox. The story takes place about six months before the release of The Phantom Menace, and it's about a bunch of Star Wars fans and their plot to break into George Lucas' house to watch the rough cut of the film. It's ironic that such a good movie was made about such a shitty one.

We also watched Choke at Claudine's. I liked this movie a lot too, though I've read a lot of online bitching about how the movie's not as good as the book. So my advice is to see this disturbing, quirky, funny movie unless you have read the book. Warning: It is not family viewing or first date material. It has bounteous booty scenes.

Claudine gets something called Free Speech TV and on it I saw part of a documentary about Islam in Bali called Promised Paradise. This was the most interesting thing I've watched in a long time. It's got Muslims from opposite ends of the extremist spectrum arguing about Islam in much the same way you'd see Pat Robertson and (gee I wish I could think of a famous moderate or liberal Christian I could compare him to) talking about Christianity. It made me realize that in all the fuss since 9/11, all I've heard is Muslims explaining Islam to Christians or Christians explaining Islam to Christians. Hearing Muslims talk to each other opens the door to a whole nother realm of understanding about the religion. It's got your hardcore Holy Book literalists, and it's got your more laid back Let's Use Our Common Sense To Interpret the Holy Book folks. At one point the subject of the documentary is talking to a guy in jail about why said guy in jail is a terrorist. Guy in jail says something like "I follow the Koran blindly and disregard my own common sense because I don't see the big picture, and I trust that the author of the Koran does/did."

His words rang quite a bell. They took me back to Vacation Bible School in my tender youth, where I heard that same argument for following the Bible blindly.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Graduation Gall

I went to a recent graduation ceremony that really pissed me off. There was a time in my life when I went to four or five of them every year. While boring, they were all inoffensive. But this one - at a college - really took the shit cake.

It was because of the main speaker. We'll call him Fathead O'Douche. First, the guy who introduced O'Douche almost brought himself to the point of climax carrying on about O'Douche's accomplishments. That was all fine and good, but it wasn't making anybody else hot. The audience was full of fussy babies and parents trying to settle said babies. And uncomfortable, possibly incontinent old people patiently waiting for all the bullshit to end so they could see their loved one walk across the stage. These family members had made a considerable journey to get from the parking lot to their seats, and they deserved more respect than they got for the effort they'd made.

Then O'Douche gets up, and it's as if he thinks the introduction for him was just to get the crowd fluffed for his orgy of his self aggrandizement. I'll paraphrase his speech: "Congratulations you all, I know you've worked hard to get to this place. But I've worked harder and done more, and without the advantages you've had. Blah blah blah, me me me, I I I, get down on your knees and worship me as a god."

All that's plenty bad enough, but then he capped it off with "You all are graduating at a difficult time, and you're probably worried. Well, you've got reason to be. You're going to have to go to work earlier and stay later than everybody else to be successful."

It was as if nobody had told him that many of the graduates in front of him had returned to school after 10, 20 or 30 years of working for companies that laid them off (and maybe screwed them out of some pension money) despite all their overtime and neglected family life. Or that most of them were already familiar with the concept of giving %110 percent because they've been juggling a job, school, and/or a family. It was as if this supposedly brilliant man was too dumb to understand that people graduating in this economy might appreciate a little inspiration and encouragement instead of yet another reminder that the job market is a scary place right now.

Somebody let go with an air horn during this self-absorptionfest. The crowd seemed to appreciate the distraction.

Schools need to readjust their ideas about who graduation is for. In my mind, it's supposed to be for the graduates. Why do schools feel like they have to get people who have never attended classes there to do the commencement speech? They always look for somebody with a recognizable name, or somebody with money, a stranger to provide yet another mind-numbing exercise to complete before graduates can get what they worked so hard and went into debt for: A goddamn diploma.

When I graduated from college, our commencement speaker couldn't make it. What a fucking relief. The gods surely smiled upon us that day, because one of our own gave the commencement speech. He was a familiar face, he was in our shoes, and he did a great job. And he probably didn't cost anything.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


To a certain degree, Wyatt and I are luddites. Me maybe more so. Before I married him, I hadn't lived in the same house with a TV for 10 years. Even now, we don't have cable. And I hate cell phones. Shit on video games. Fuck a Wii. Don't like power windows or door locks either - that's just more I might have to pay to get fixed later.

But yesterday, a tsunami of new technology hit this household. Since business requires that it be easy for people to contact me, I bought a Tracfone. And we got tired of the clutter of CDs, so Wyatt purchased an I-Pod.

It's not that I'm stupid, but I do have a pathological lack of patience. I'm depressed because we've purchased all this new shit that I now have to learn how to use. And today is not a good day for that. I don't remember consuming any live rodents yesterday, but now it feels like one is trying to claw its way out of my abdomen. My head is sore and every few minutes I get stuck with the dilemma of whether or not to fight the urge to barf. I'd be nice to get it over with, but at the same time that's my least favorite activity in life so far.

There's a lot to be done today. If I could sneak off and hide in a quiet, warm, dark place, I would. Usually I'm down on opiates but right now I'd be all about some.