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Charlie/Male/31-35. Lives in United States/Massachusetts/Watertown, speaks English. Eye color is hazel.
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Saturday, July 19, 2003
No, Really -- I Have Plenty to Do

In blog, no one can hear you scream.

It's going to be a long weekend. I can see that now.

I'm in between jobs right now, so unless I have an interview or some sort of appointment, every day is pretty much Saturday, just without the drinking and all the fun. Or at least without other people to drink and have fun with, which only occasionally stops me. Still. This is just my first week 'off', and I really only had Thursday afternoon and Friday to myself. In that time, I mowed the lawn, did the laundry, and went to the grocery store. Which may not sound like much to you if you're well-versed in this whole homeowner gig, but I've only had three months on the job. Cut me some slack; I'm easing my way into it.

But now I have a problem. The litany of accomplishments that I just gave you (and which I put on my resume, as well, thank you) also represents my entire list of responsibilities for the weekend. And they're already done. This was a Gross Error in Judgement™ on my part, and I'm only now realizing that. See, there are only two directions that things can go in now, and neither of them are good.

The lesser evil, I suppose, is that I find some more little projects to do, and continue to get further and further ahead of myself. Now I'm a creative guy; I figure I could entertain myself in this way for a couple of weeks. I could give the dog a bath, and alphabetize my closet, and sanitize our phones, and build Christmas ornaments out of pipe cleaners, and... well, you get the picture. Little stuff. Stupid stuff. But soon I'd run out of things to do, and then where would I be? I could either write fourteen blog entries a day (and nobody wants that) or start watching soap operas (Um, no. Oh, but wait! No. On the other hand... no. Just, no.) No, I'd rather go out of my freakin' mind with boredom, and run around the house naked and screaming. (As opposed to naked or screaming, which happen with some regularity, but rarely together.)

So that's Door Number One. Not pretty to begin with, and even less attractive once the naked screaming starts. (As is usually the case outside the magical world of porno flicks.)

And what's the other, more sinister option? Well, I'm glad you asked.

See, I'm married. And in most cases -- though not all, these days -- when a guy gets married, he's issued a wife. And among the wife's many responsibilites is to minimize the amount of time when her husband is either naked or screaming, or, heavens to Betsy, both. (All the nudity and yelling tend to upset wives' tummies, you see.) So, of course, the womenfolk have come up with a 'solution' (my quotes) to this little conundrum, which is to keep the manperson occupied with a series of Herculean tasks, to exhaust him past the point of flinging off his clothes and scurrying around shrieking like a banshee.

Now, I have to admit, I watched my mother lay this trip on my dad for years and years, and the system does work. I almost never saw him screaming uncontrollably, and just the one time naked. *shudder* However, it doesn't seem like a lot of fun, and there seem to be a lot of situations in which one could easily lose a finger. Or *gulp* worse. A lot of these jobs are oily and dirty, and usually involve back-breaking labor and side-splitting effort. So, given that I'm rather comfortable with my unbroken back and non-splitty sides, I'd like to avoid these sorts of activities at all costs. And believe me, when you live in a ninety-nine-year-old house, there are plenty of opportunities for both breakin' and splittin'. Pee-lenty. We've got a porch to be stained, not to mention re-foundationated (yes, Virginia, that is the technical term...), gravel or concrete to be poured into the driveway, garden walls to be re-mortared or replaced, and the painting! Oh, the painting. Walls and ceilings and trim, oh my! If I weren't already in my chair, I'd need to sit down, just at the thought.

So as you can see, there's a lot to be avoided. Now, I'm not all about shirking work, mind you. (I did go to the grocery store, don't forget. And I hate the grocery store.) All of the above challenges should certainly be met, as well as the fourteen thousand other things that I've forgotten about (but my wife probably hasn't). And I'm up for doing, or helping with, most of them. Just not by next Tuesday, because 'I have the time', or because 'I need something to do', or because 'I'll start flashing neighbors if I get too bored'. Certainly, all of these things are true, no question. I'm just not quite ready to live in my painting pants and heavy gloves for the whole summer, especially if I can manage to stay out of work for that long. It's almost enough to make me want to look for a job! Almost.

Anyway, I've learned my lesson. From now on, I'll keep a couple of things back for the weekend. You know, 'busy work', so I don't look like I need something else to do. 'Cause what happens when the jobs I know about are done? What then? I don't see myself shingling the roof or installing new lighting or anything like that. Well, I can picture it, I suppose, but there's always a horrible, painful death at the end of those visions, so I try to suppress them as best I can. With beer, usually. Which is what weekends are for.

And that brings us full circle. It looks like I'm gonna have to bite the bullet this weekend and take on some sort of project or other. But I'll get in a couple of beers while I'm at it, and now I have a system to maximize the beerin' in future. I think I'm gonna be okay. But keep an eye on me, would ya? It's okay if I do a little painting, or some yard work now and then. But if you see me on the roof, or fiddling with an outlet, just shoot me, okay? Right there, on the spot. At that point, I'm gonna end up dead, anyway, and you'd be saving me a lot of pain and agony. Just don't aim for my head. I want to look good in the casket. I think I'll be buried in my painting clothes and garden gloves, with a beer hat on my head and a six-pack by my side. Because you never know which way weekends in the afterlife are going to go.

Friday, July 18, 2003
If It's Friday, I Must Be Out of Real Material

This here is my blog. Is it not nifty? Worship the blog.

Okay, kiddies. Let's try something different. Ready? Okay, hold on tight. Here's:

The Friday Five Questions That Nobody Asked, But I'm Answering Anyway, Dammit

This week's topic: The World of Television

1. Does TLC exist for any other reason than to rip off shows from the BBC?

A: Not any more.
Sure, TLC used to stand for The Learning Channel, and had lots of educational shows and interesting cerebral diversions. But then the honchos there discovered that brainy shit don't sell in America, and sold out. That's when they became BBC8, or BBC9, or whatver the next available number is. They copied Changing Rooms, transforming it into Trading Spaces. They heisted House Invaders, more or less, and now we watch While You Were Out. They filched Faking It. They even weaseled away What Not to Wear. What's next for these bozos? Benny Hill's Fashion Tips for Young Birds? Monty Python and the Holy Gardening Tips?

Look, to be fair, other stations do the same thing. Big Brother, Survivor, the new Coupling -- these are all blatant rip-offs of the Beeb and others in a bare-faced attempt to make a few bucks. But the high-brow stations are supposed to be above that sort of thing, aren't they? Sure, PBS used to play Fawlty Towers and Doctor Who, and thank goodness they did. The difference is that they didn't rip them off and remake them, trying to cast Bill Cosby as Basil Fawlty (with Nell Carter as his badgering 'fishwife'), or a young Harry Anderson as the Doctor. (Yes, Richard Moll would make a great Dalek, but you're missing the point.)

So now TLC stands firmly for Transcribing Limey Content and it'll be that way for quite a while, I'm afraid. We'll just sink deeper into the bastardization, and spin off ultra-Americanized versions, and it's already started. (See Trading Spaces: Family for the first sign of the apocalype.) Soon we'll have Trading Double-Wide Trailers and Faking It: CEO Edition, and we'll never go back. If we want real, original programming about real-life home improvements and issues, we'll have to start watching channels such as HGTV, and shows like -- oh, I don't know -- Ground Rules. What? Oh, fuck. I give up. Just flip it to UPN and leave me the hell alone.

2. How long before those catty bastards on Last Comic Standing have a no-holds-barred hair-pulling rumble?

A. Never.
And the reason is very simple. Number one, fat people are funny. That's just the way it is. Number two, by their nature, fat people are heavy. So, do the math. If fat people are funnier than most people and heavier than just about everyone else, then it's pretty clear that this little competition is going to come down to the chunky girl (Tess) and that roly-poly behemoth dude (Ralphie). So, as much as everyone else in that house will bitch, and moan, and scheme, and whine, making the damned show nearly unwatchable in the process -- isn't this shit supposed to be funny, by the way? -- no one's actually going to throw down, for fear that one of these big rhinoceri will get involved and sit on their head.

I gotta tell you, though, I'm losing patience with the show. The less I like these petty bitches, the less funny I think they are. I'm to the point now where I only watch the last ten minutes, anyway, when there's actually a smidgen of stand-up being performed. Even at that, they cut-away and voice-over in between the sets to talk about who's pissed, and who's pouting, and who likes who, and who's making breakfast in the morning, and... just shut your damned pie holes already! Please!

The 'reality show' aspect of this thing is really getting on my nerves, and it's ruining the comedy. Somebody needs to bitch-slap the lot of 'em into shape, and just have 'em do stand-up back to back to back for an hour. Now there's entertainment! Hell, I'd go whip them into shape myself, but -- well, you know -- that Ralphie dude's pushing four hundred pounds, by the looks of things. I don't mind having the weight of the world on my shoulders from time to time, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna end up with his fat ass on my head. Nuh-uh. Send in the Fridge or something. I'm out.

3. HOT or NOT: the new (not-blonde) intern chick in the Dell commercials?

A. Oooh. Tough one.
I'm going to go out on a limb on this one and say that she's hot, but just by the skin of her teeth. (And for the record, if she actually has skin on her teeth, I'm changing my vote. That's nasty.) But it's a qualified 'hot' -- a 'marginally hot', maybe, or a 'hot-ish'. But I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. I guess I'm just nice that way.

Anyway, the folks at Dell aren't helping her at all, that's for sure. She's no actress, for certain, and they're not giving her a lot to work with. She generally seems uncomfortable, usually stands like she has a stick up her ass, and delivers her lines like a computerized voice on a luxury car. ('Your door is ajar. Your door is ajar. Buy Dell computers. Your door is ajar.') Plus, the folks in wardrobe aren't doing her any favors. In one recent commercial -- where she delivers her famous, 'Can you imagine?' line and a weird sneery look that's supposed to mean 'confused' -- they've got her wearing some skirty thing that, um... well, it tents. Now, it's not a Good Thing™ when a guy has pants that tent, but on a girl, it's particularly disturbing. So why give her even a shaky thumbs-up?

First, she seems to be generally attractive, the apparent lack of acting ability and the, ah, crotchal region unpleasantness aside. (And believe me, if it were any other sort of crotchal region unpleasantness than 'coincidental tenting', we wouldn't be having this conversation. Oh, we'd be having a conversation, you bet your ass. But it wouldn't be this one.) Anyway, for the most part, I think she's just been a victim of unfortunate circumstances, and perhaps lighting. And yes, tenting. Unfortunate tenting. It's rather hard to let that one go...

But there's a new commercial out, and she's doing a bit better in it. There are a couple of simulated hand-held cam shots where she looks more natural, and it sounds like she's doing the voice-over for this one. She's got a nice voice, and she seems more at ease. So I'll give her this vote of confidence, and see how she does in the next spot. I'll give her about a 7 now, or maybe a 7.5, and reserve the right to raise or lower my opinion just a bit. Of course, in the event that her pants start 'raising' and 'lowering' depending on 'her' mood, I'll lower it a bit more than a bit. Quite a bit more than a bit, and I may need a stiff drink, as well. (Heh. I said, 'stiff'. That oughta get some people tenting around here.)

4. Does that damned Carrot Top dickhead actually entice anyone to use C-A-L-L-A-T-T?

A. Only people who need to be shot.
Seriously, I think the 'Top only plays well to the overly-hyper, neon-redheaded, mentally ill crowd. Which is a much larger segment of the population than you might think. (Alfred E. Neuman has had a lot of illegitimate children over the years.) So maybe AT&T is getting their money's worth, after all. Still, I wish they could target their marketing somehow so I don't have to see that shit. We should all get a different C-list celebrity, based on who we would most likely identify with. How cool would that be? Stay-at-home trailer trash types could have Ricki Lake, the upper-crust folks could have Ben Stein (if he can tear himself away from his Visine spots), and Martin Mull could shill for the Baby Boomers. Sweet! Of course, I'd end up with Fozzy Bear in this scenario, so I'm not so sure I want to go through with it. 'Dial down the center! One - wakka wakka wakka - C. A. L. L. A. T. T. Haaah! Haaaaaah!' Yeah. Never mind.

5. Seen those VW Touareg SUV commercials? Is everybody involved with that thing smoking crack?

A: Apparently.
So, I have to admit that I've only seen a couple of these ads, and only a couple of times. Still -- what the fuck? The commercials I've seen are supposed to be 'auditions' for drivers for this new gas-guzzling behemoth. Fine -- 'Drivers Wanted'. I'm with you. But the people they've chosen for these spots! There's the gaggle of young guys who come off as not being the shiniest shoes in the store, if you know what I mean. They look like a slope-browed carpooling boy band, and believe me -- they're bad enough.

But then there's the one with the woman. She's attractive, and enthusiastic, and generally into the spirit of being captured on film. All of this is well and good. Her problem is that she's apparently had a rather thorough lobotomy at some point, and should under no circumstances be allowed to drive a car. I truly think they gave her speed just before turning the cameras on. She zooms, and she giggles, and she titters (no, not in the good way, men -- focus), and flips her hair, and generally manages to look both manic and unfocused throughout the commercial, all the while sitting in her folding chair and pretending to be in a car. Imagination is good, folks, but I'm pretty sure that this one has all sorts of 'friends' to talk to, and to play with, and apparently to drive around with, as well.

But my problem is not with her, per se. Not until I actually see her behind the wheel of an automobile, at least. No, my issue is with Volkswagen. See, this series of commercials is just another in a long line that follows one of the Grand Tenets of Mass Marketing, namely:

It is always a good idea to feature blithering, drooling morons expressing interest in your product.

And apparently, the droolier and blitherier, the better, at least for VW. Which, while I'm here, is how I imagine this car must have gotten it's name in the first place. I think they let the hyper chick out of her straightjacket and gave her a crayon, then let her loose on a wall. And she scribbled down a bunch of gobbledygook letters, and that became the new SUV's name. Voila! Sure, they took out the '9' that she had in the middle somewhere, but essentially, this is her baby. What other explanation could there be? What the hell is a 'Touareg', or what could it possibly be derived from? It actually looks better backwards: 'Gerauot'. At least then it sounds like a damned car, albeit something that Renault or Fiat might try to stick us with. But 'Touareg'? No. Native American deity? Maybe. Hairy Russian hooker? Perhaps. SUV? SUR-ely not.

Anyway, I've never understood the 'morons sell' strategy, and I certainly don't now. How many sins against good ol' common sense can one marketing campaign commit, anyway? They're asking us to follow in the path of obvious Neanderthals to become interested in the product. Then, they barely, if at all, actually show the damned vehicle in the ad itself. And to top it off, they've provided us with an unpronouncable name to remember, which contains approximately three dozen vowels and ends in '-areg'. How many words do you know of that end in 'areg'? Or '-eg', for that matter, other than 'leg'? Or contain 'ouar' anywhere at all?

Look, it's one thing to stand out from the crowd with a bold, original new name. But it's a completely different thing to let some chimp take a whiz on the keyboard and just use whatever shows up onscreen. Definitely different, not to mention messy and smelly and probably fairly noisy, to boot. I can't say for sure, of course, because I don't have a chimpanzee of my own to try it out with. But when I tested it myself, it was certainly all of those things, plus I had to buy a new keyboard. On the other hand, when I tried it, I came up with 'Haagen-Dazs', so maybe there's something to this, after all. Perhaps I should do more research in this area. I'll put down some plastic and drink lots of water, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Well, that went well, I think. Nobody got hurt, the FCC didn't shut us down, and I even managed to keep my pants on through the whole thing. (Okay, fine. Two out of three isn't bad...)

So, I don't know whether this will become a regular feature at the blog (or WTH?, as its friends like to call it). If you liked the questions, let me know. Hell, answer 'em yourself, if you're into that kind of thing. Go nuts. Maybe I can come up with something every week. Hey, stranger things have happened. Not much stranger, I concede, but still, stranger is stranger. Or is it, 'stranger is as stranger does'? 'Nobody likes a strange-ass'? I dunno. All's I know is that I'm hungry for candy now. I'm gonna go see what's in the kitchen. Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 17, 2003
Happy Blogiversary!

I may not know much, but I know what I blog.

Hello, one and all. I'd like to take the time now to thank each and every one of you for stopping by today. (I'd have tidied up if I'd known you were coming. Sorry the blog's such a mess. You know what they say, 'A cluttered blog is the sign of a raving, unstable lunatic.' Heh. Yeah.)

Anyway, today my special blog is one whole month old! (I know, it doesn't look a day over three weeks, does it? You're too kind.) And in that all-too-short time, lots of things have happened. Or been made up and exaggerated, rather, but still, we've had a lot of fun, haven't we? There even seem to be a couple of people coming back over and over, if my stats logs are to be believed. (Ma, is that you? You know you should be taking your medication, Ma.) I haven't been able to nail down specific IP addresses yet -- you know, so I can drop by and deliver wet, sloppy 'thank you' kisses -- but I'm working on that. And I'm practicing with the dog in the meantime, so I'll be really good by the time I get to you. Promise.

So, I'm not quite sure what to do to commemorate this most solemn and important event. The blog and I have only been together a month, after all, so I don't want to go too fast. You know, if I get something too lavish, I might scare it off. I can't come on too strong. I think I've decided on finally sorting the blog links on the sidebar into a BlogRolling roll, and linking that up, instead of managing it by hand. That seems like a nice gesture, I think. Plus, that sort of 'tidying up' is pretty similar to what I did for my now-wife on our one-month dating anniversary, when I organized her underwear drawer. (I sorted by looking at colors to start, then subcategorized by using... um, my other senses.) And I think that went over well, so I thought I'd try something similar here.
(Well, to be honest, there was a bit of awkwardness at the time, but most of that was just a misunderstanding. See, my now-wife was living in a dorm room with another girl at the time, and I couldn't be sure whose undies were which, so I went through both dressers. You know, just to be safe. Anyway, I was trying to surprise her with it, but she walked in just as I was in the middle of the project. And working in the wrong dresser. And in the process of, er, subsorting her roommate's stack of 'pinks'. But we talked it out like rational people, and -- once I could walk again -- got right back on track. All in all, one of our better anniversaries, now that I think about it.)

All right, enough of that. We're here today to talk about this blog's Big Day, not some freshman coed's pink panties. Al-though... No, best not to go there. Onward and upward, instead. Onward and upward.

So, check out the old-but-newly-formatted blogroll to the right of this text. Marvel at the formatting, the sublime shading, and the exquisite font. (Each letter has been lovingly carved from rich Corinthian leather, carefully hand-painted and stitched together, and delivered right to your door! You know, by barefoot kids in grimy sweatshops, the way Nature intended.) Don't embarrass the blog or anything, but just say 'hello', okay? 'Congratulations,' maybe. That sort of thing. Be kind, rewind, and all that. Or leave a comment -- the blog loves comments. (Or thinks it would, anyway, if it made enough damned sense to anyone to warrant the occasional remark.)

So, that's it. I may be back later with a 'real' post, but I just wanted to be sure to wish my blog well on its special day.
(I may even be back later to throw a surprise party, with balloons and cake and donkeys and everything. So don't tell the blog, okay? If it finds out, and then I can't get the donkeys rented, it'll be so disappointed. Shhhhhh.)

So until later, Happy Anniversary, blog. Soak it all in, and take it easy today. It'll be another whole month before I'm nice to you again. So enjoy it while you can. Peace out.

And Now, for Your Non-Listening Probably-Not-Pleasure...

As you go through life,
two rules should never bend;
never blog about yourself,
or pee into the wind.

I bought CDs today. I was supposed to be buying shoes for an interview tomorrow, but I bought CDs instead. It's kind of a long story, and involves there not being a shoe store where I was, but there being a CD store instead, and me deciding that the pair of shoes I already have would be fine, anyway, and then deciding that I wanted to look for some CDs. Hum. I suppose that wasn't such a long story after all. My life just got marginally less interesting. Drat.

Anyway, I've been buying a lot of CDs lately, I've found. Not when I'm supposed to be buying shoes, necessarily, but still buying rather a lot of CDs. A few weeks ago, I bought a whole slew of CDs when I meant to be buying sushi. Now it seems like that might be a long sort of story, but I suspect that it's probably a lot like the last story. Quite a lot, in fact, and since my life Interesting-O-Meter™ is in danger of dipping into the red as it is, I think I'm just going to move on, and let you believe there's a quirky, whimsical, interesting story behind 'The Day I Bought CDs Instead of Sushi'. Even though I know better. Oh, and I still went and bought sushi later, so it's not even a very good title. Double drat.

Back to the CDs, then. My mood recently has been a creamy swirl of nostalgic and adventurous. (Think of one of those combo soft ice cream cones, with French Vanilla, just like you had as a kid (or Strawberry, or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, or whatver scoop you poop), mixed together with brand new Banana Tofu. Or Broccoli Ice. Or Skunky Monkey. You know, something new and titillating. Or new and nauseating. (Are the two really so different?)

Where was I, then? CBs? That doesn't sound right; what the hell do I know about CBs? Oh, CDs. CDs. Ah, right you are.

So, getting vaguely back on track, I'm thinking that the combination of nostalgia, experimentation and nausea are appropriate. They're the Three Musketeers of Getting Old. You long for the old days, seek out new adventure to console your aging self, and then are sickened by how poorly your withering body is able to handle it. Fun for the whole family! At least with music, the effects are relatively mild. Finding old crap that I used to listen to isn't always easy, but I pick up bits and pieces occasionally. The adventure comes in branching out into whatever 'all the kids' are listening to these days, or at least what they were listening to three or four years ago. (Hey, I was old then, too. Baby steps, people.) The only time I actually get nauseous in this scenario is when I try dancing to any of it.
(For the record, that pretty well turns the stomachs of anyone watching, too, so I have to be careful. On my way home tonight, I was in my car head-bopping to the Propellerheads CD I'd just bought. (That would fall under 'adventurous', thanks.) I stopped at a light, and a girl at the bus stop saw me shimmying my shoulders, and started heaving over the trash can. Humph. To be fair, I can't tell whether she was hurling or hee-hawing at me, but neither could be construed as good where I come from, you know? Or where you come from, for that matter. I checked.)

So my recent music purchases have ranged from the 'old-skool' semi-mainstream (a old Police CD, the Call, the Cure's greatest hits, and a Big Country compilation) to no-one-heard-of-them-then-and-sure-as-hell-don't-know-them-now alterna-rockers (the dBs, Billy Bragg, XTC) to more modern (or more, ahem, 'rump-shaking') selections (Primus, Porno for Pyros, the aforementioned Propellerheads). Okay, so even the 'new' CDs are relatively old. If I can't listen to what the 'kids' are into, though, I ought to at least tap into what the snotty, angst-ridden college kids used to listen to, right? Um, right?

So, anyway, my whole collection is setting up into factions, and -- more often than not -- facing off against each other to compete for my attention. It's 'Where Do You Want to Go Today, the Musical', for thirtysomethings, by thirtysomethings, and with thirtysomethings. Do you want to pretend you're sixteen again today? Or twenty-two? Or twenty-six, perhaps?
(It's really the difference between when you had the energy to really care about the music, or the liver to really drink during the concerts, or the ear to really appreciate the craft, then, isn't it? And any of those is better than my current aged state: I really don't give a damn, the hangover's not worth the trouble any more, and my hearing isn't what it used to be. 'It has a good beat, and I can dance to it' has turned into 'Leave me the hell alone, and turn down that crap that's making my sternum vibrate'.)

At least I haven't completely gone the way of the old fart, and decided that all the new stuff is 'noise' and 'crap'. (I'm not quite ready for dentures and applesauce just yet, no matter what my wife might lead you to believe.) And I do have some semi-current music in my rotation -- Disturbed, for one. *Pause* I'm sure there are others, dammit! I'm not gonna try too hard to think of more, though, 'cause if I can't, then I'll realize that I only listen to ten- and twenty-year-old crap, and that'll make me just like those Beatlemania crackpots and Monkees freak jobs that I taunted when I was a kid. I don't want to be those people. Please, mommy, make me not be those people. Okay. Thank you, mommy. I think I need a nappy-bye. Or a timeout, with graham crackers and milk. Graham crackers makes everything better.

Ah, well. So I'm old. I knew that already. (And one day soon, I'll tell you the story of just how I found out.) But I'll console myself by believing that I'm only listening to old stuff because it kicked major ass, and there's just not that much good shit out there, in any era. Hey, the eighties gave me Husker Du and the Alarm and the Beat Farmers, and the nineties contributed Soul Coughing and the Smashing Pumpkins and Rusted Root, but they had their Britneys and Justins and American Idolers, too. They were called Menudo, and Tiffany, and George Michael, though not necessarily in that order. Every generation is inundated with unlistenable talentless hacks, and I think the trick is to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff and hold on to those kernels of goodness for all they're worth. But there's no reason to just lightly dismiss any generation, new or old. (Though the seventies makes a strong case to be the exception to the rule. What the hell were those post-hippie disco dickheads thinking, anyway?)

The point is to get the good stuff from that era, and move on to the next one. The problem with going back as far as the eighties, of course, is that you can't get everything you want on CD, unless it was popular enough to have made the conversion. And as we've seen, much of the popular 'pop' music from the eighties (Thompson Twins, anyone? Huey Lewis?) was unadulterated drivel, so it's not worth having in any format. One of these days, I'll actually get around to figuring out how to transfer my small vinyl collection (of cherished shit that you've really never heard of) onto CD. I suppose that's going to necessitate actually buying a turntable, if such things exist any more. I guess that's what eBay is for.
(And is there anything eBay isn't for these days? You can buy a car, a house, mail-order brides. What's left? I saw somewhere that 'peace of mind' was listed for sale on eBay. That's a useful thing to have, I suppose, but I wonder if it comes with installation instructions. I mean, do you just pour the contents of the envelope into your ear when you get it? Or eat the package itself? (That might give you 'peace' of 'mind', but also 'acid' of 'reflux'. Caveat emptor.) I'd be worried that I'd get peace of mind, and then bend it or break it or something trying to jam it into my head with all the other crap that's in there. And if I'm worried about that, then I don't really have 'peace of mind' in the first place, now do i? Dammit, I hate false advertisting!)

What was I saying? Oh, yeah, I was getting to my point.

So, I gotta tell you -- I don't think I really had a point. Other than I was all excited about my new CDs, but dimly aware that I'm trying to live vicariously through them back to a happier time. A simpler time, without layoffs and mortgages; a time with sunny afternoons and frothy beers enjoyed while skipping class. So, that point's not all that interesting, though it does make me rather thirsty.

Oh, the Propellerheads CD is quite good, if that sort of thing interests you. And the music from the 'Death Death Kill Maim Shoot' scene in the original Matrix is on the album, which always makes me smile. (You know, the 'lobby scene' where Neo and Trinity come storming back to get Morpheus the hell outta danger.) So at least now I'm yearning back for a me that's only a couple of years old, the 'me' who was watching that movie in the theater and 'ooh'ing and 'aah'ing over the special effects. Yeah, and the soundtrack. And now I've got a little piece of it at my fingertips, on CD (and now MP3, natch). Not to mention the 'lobby scene' MPEG clip I snaked off of a peer-to-peer site a few months back. 'Morpheus', I think the service was called.

Hey, there's a full-circle moment! The 'saving Morpheus' scene downloaded from Morpheus, the P2P thingamahicky. Which itself is now old, tired, and pretty much dead. Just like me! I'd better end things here, then -- there's little chance I'll wander into a higher note than this to end on, the way this one's been going. So I'm off to bed -- I'd like to thank all of you in the studio audience this evening, and a special thanks to my guests tonight. We'll see you next time, folks. Our current house band, the Propellerheads, will play us out. Take it away, boys!

CRAP (see this post for the CRAP 411):
Hey, speaking of ice cream -- And I was! Up there! Look at that! -- my most favoritest flavor ever, 'cause I know you're just gonna sit there and wet yourself if I don't tell ya, was Baskin Robbins' Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. It was dark, and rich, and musky, and thick, and tangy, and delicious. (And no, I don't 'likes my women like I likes my ice cream'. Though now that you mention it... they could have just called it Foxy Brown, and we'd have all known what to expect. Might've brought them in some more business, too. How come nobody asks me about these things until it's too late?! 'Foxy Brown ice cream. Too hot to touch, just cool enough to run your tongue around. Let's get Foxy, baby!'

Anyway, it occurs to me these days to wonder what the hell was actually in that ice cream. I mean, at the time, I thought they were actually using truffles -- you know, that pigs dig up and cost a Donald Trump gold ashtray to buy. Now obviously, that wasn't the case; Baskin-Robbins wasn't distributing expensive French delicacies by the scoopful, no matter how much we loved them. (I even hear that it was the Belgians who came up with 'French' Vanilla. But nobody would buy 'Belgian Vanilla' anything, so the French took it over. Their lone successful coup. Mon dieu!)

Now, I also know that there's such a thing as a chocolate truffle, but I don't think that's what it was, either. First of all, the stuff already had chocolate in it, and even in the name of the flavor. Or flavour, if I haven't pissed off all you European-style readers with the French Vanilla bit. Anyway, they also chose to separate 'chocolate' and 'truffle' in the name, so I think they must have been separate entities. Besides, I ate the stuff, many times, and I can tell you -- there were chunks of something in there among the chocolicious bits and the raspberritality, and it wasn't more chocolate. No way. 'I know chocolate, and you sir, are no chocolate.'

Still, what would make a good, frugal truffle surrogate for them to use? I mean, sure, it only had to fool twelve-year-old kids, but it had to be something different, too, or we'd have recognized it. So it should be something similar to real truffles, I would think. So let's see -- what do we know about truffles? Well, they're a fungus -- a pungent, musky fungus that grows on tree roots, and that farmers use pigs to root out and dig up. Sounds tasty, huh? Underground funky-ass mushrooms covered in swine spit. What do you substitute for that? Slivers of old gym socks? Chopped-up just-worn panties? Randy moose niblets? Ugh. No wonder I could never pick up girls, with that crap on my breath all the time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003
The Next Day of the Rest of My Life?!?

If it weren't for blog posts, I'd have no posts at all.

Well, shit, here I am again. Late, as usual, and with little time to think of something clever to say. It's like high school all over again, when you get up the nerve to call that special someone for a date, and then blank when you hear 'Hello?' At that point, you're on the clock, almost out of time already, and you'd better come up with something good, fast. And no, 'Hey. Whatcha doin'?' is not 'witty banter'.
(For the record, my brain usually didn't thaw quickly enough to even get that much out. It'd start to grind into action at around, 'Who is this, anyway?', perk up a little more at, 'Hello? If you're just gonna sit there and breathe, I'm gonna hang up, whoever you are.', and finally get lubed up and ready just in time to hear, 'Tsk. I oughta call the cops. Perv. *click*' But damn, could I sweet-talk the pants off the dial tone then. You ain't had phone sex till you chatted up the sweet, sweet not-there sounds of a young girl's private line, men. Nothin' says lovin' like, 'BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP'. You just gotta make sure you get in and out before her old man picks up the phone to make another call, brother. 'Cause he knows where you live. Trust me.)

So, where was I? Oh, right, nowhere in particular. Fan-frickin'-tabulous.

Well, let's see. What trouble can we get into tonight? Maybe a little bit of blog-talk. (C'mon. It's like pillow-talk, only grittier. Like steamed oysters. It'll be fun; you'll like it.) So, as a way to amuse myself (that doesn't involve cream pies or battery acid, for once), I've decided to put a cap on my 'blogroll'. (No, those of you bloggy neophytes, my 'blogroll' is not the flabby hunk of flesh that I'm cultivating by spending so much time at the keyboard in writing this crap. Maybe it should be, but it's not. Decidedly not. Though, whatever that's called, I think I need a cap on it, as well. Or a tent, or something. But that's gross, so I'm gonna back slowly away... and move on...)

Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, the 'blogroll' is the list of links to other blogs that we bloggers plop on a sidebar or an auxiliary page, and it typically points to blogs that are admired, or revered, or blatantly plagiarized, by the blog's author. The blogroll serves as a handy (and delicious!) way for the blog's author and audience to check out similar stuff out there on the internet. (And more importantly, to get those other blogs to see the referrals in their logs and link back in sympathy. Don't think I'm above a little sympathy anything, folks. Links, beers, cash, lap dances -- it's all good. Though if you have a -- *ahem* -- 'blog roll' of your own, I think I'll skip the lap dance. Thanks just the same.)

So -- careening wildly towards the point -- I've decided that my life just isn't damned complicated enough, and that I should put a cap on my list of links to other cool (sorry, this is the web) kewl blogs. I decided that I shall never have more than twenty lucky(?) blogs in my roll at one time. Only the tops of the pops, the creams of the crops, and the bitches with mad props for me, my fancy friends. And for you, too, of course. Since my blogroll is out there for all to see, you -- yes, you! -- can benefit from my diligent and scientific analysis. I pick only the ripest, juiciest blogs, then distill them into a fine paste of their inherent humor, wit, and snarkiness. I crystallize that, make a refreshing Tang-y concoction from it, and drink it down. Only those blogs that don't come hurtling back up my gullet in a spew of sugary crap, or a spasm of concentrated bitterness, or a Technicolor yawn of seething political pissiness, will make it to my list. And if a new brew wants in the game, it's gotta knock off an incumbent. It's Survival of the Bloggiest, in all its hair-pulling, eye-scratching, genitalia-biting frenzy. No blog is safe, and there's always a new blog coming up through the ranks, looking to make the Big Time™. So have a look -- but be quick about it! Your favorite may not be there tomorrow, after all. But if it does get booted, I'll guarantee that it'll be replaced with something better, and funnier, and jaw-droppingly super. (Or a blog full of naked breasts. Or this, which is always in contention. Only the finest, folks. Only the finest.)

All right, I think I milked that for all it was worth, and then kept squeezin', anyway. (Is there a saying in there somewhere, by the way? A 'don't beat a dead horse' sort of warning? 'Don't squeeze a dry teat, son.' No? No, I suppose not. Ah, well. 'You can't get milk from a dead boob, I guess.' Nothin'? Rats.)

Well, I suppose I'll quit while I'm behind, then. I've got my second day of being whipped into employable shape tomorrow, and I don't want to miss that. Today was the 'Ridicule Your Resume and Your Job Prospects' day. My guess is that tomorrow is the 'confidence building' day, so they'll build us back up and get us ready to merge back into proper society. On the other hand, this company was hired to talk to us by our now-former employer, so it's entirely possible that they're going to have some fun with us, now that we've signed our no-lawsuit exit documents. If we get into the room tomorrow and they turn the fire hoses loose on us, I'll know it's the latter. Maybe I'll wear my raincoat tomorrow, just in case. And if I'm wrong, I can always get some jollies by flashing the woman giving the seminar. That could backfire rather easily, though -- she's paid to critique, and may give me more feedback on my 'prospects' than I've bargained for:

'Your, ah, 'skill section' appears to be rather short, Charlie, and I doubt you've had much working experience. None of your references remember you at all, with the exception of a Ms. Rosy Palmer, who found your work 'sloppy' and 'uninspired'. You may want to refrain from showcasing your, um, talents, to recruiters until you can -- *cough* -- beef up your 'resources' and 'education' a bit more. Or ideally, a lot more. And no, I won't be needing your contact information, thank you.

Which will be a drag, no doubt. But even in that light, I think I can find some positive spin for my resume. I've been, er, 'self-employed', so to speak, for a very long time, after all, and I've learned how to be an effective self-starter. I manage with a firm hand sometimes, but I definitely know how to get the most from my headcount. I can work independently, if need be, but I prefer being a team player. And I'm always eager to stimulate my co-workers with an infusion of incentives...

All right, that's enough. I'm stopping right here before my headcount starts rising through the ranks and I have to perform a restructuring. Nothing that would necessitate a severance package, mind you. (*shudder*) I just don't want to be a victim of inflation and see the bubble burst all over again. Um, so to speak. I did say I was stopping, right? Right. G'night, then.

P.S. Please remind me not to blog without a topic in future... see what you end up with? And now I'm all... itchy. Maybe I'll slip into bed and see if I can negotiate a merger. Rawr! Or even a hostile takeover. Who can afford to be picky in this economy?

(God, that's embarrassing...)

Tuesday, July 15, 2003
The First Day of the Rest of My Life?

Hey, if at least ten people read this, I get to count it as community service!

Welcome back, folks. I'm afraid (and you're probably happy) that I won't have time to get too worked up tonight. This laid-off thing isn't apparently all that it's cracked up to be, at least not yet. See, even with my out-of-work, will-genuflect-for-food status, I still have to get up and be shaven and presentable at 9am tomorrow morning.
(Actually, the 'still' isn't even really appropriate; I generally rolled into my last job at around 10:30 or so, so this is pretty much new territory for me. Or at least really, really crappy old and forgotten territory from my days in school. Either way, this territory sucks ass.)

Anyway, tomorrow is the first half of a two-day seminar offered by an outplacement service that was hired by my old company to deal with those of us who've been herded off the ranch. I think it's officially titled, 'Why Your Resume Blows Donkeys and You'll Never Get Another Job Again'. I'm crossing my fingers that the subtitle is then, 'Without Our Help', and that they fix all that ails me and show me how to get that beer-tasting gig I've always dreamed of. But I'm not holding my breath.

So we'll see how it goes, but I can't expect to stay up until my customary wee hours, and then be able to focus in the morning on actual words spoken in my direction. Or to keep myself from drooling all over the front of my shirt, for that matter, or to even put my pants on facing the right direction. (I may have mentioned that early morning -- meaning anything before about eleven -- is not my best time of day. If not, then consider it mentioned. Don't make me mention it again.) It's all I can manage to keep my tongue from lolling out of the side of my mouth at nine, so we'll see what happens over the next two days. And after that, assuming that the employers won't (yet!) be lining up outside my door to kiss my ring and sign me up, I'll go back to my newfound state of 'temporary retirement'.

With that in mind, I'll tell you a little about my first day sans job, and you can decide for yourself who's life you'd rather be leading. Please, don't all of you get jealous at once, folks. Form a single-file line, or I'll have to send you out and start over again. Thank you.

  • 8:53am: Woke up. Didn't really want to get up, with a full one-third of the morning remaining, but I decided to be motivated and courageous and will myself up to face the world. Oh, wait, no -- that was the dream I was having a few minutes before I woke up. Yeah, if I hadn't had to pee so badly, I'd've stayed in bed until noon. Or later.
  • 9:05am: Finished peeing (see, I told you I really had to go!), and contemplated going back to bed. Dog looked at me disdainfully and shamed me into staying up.
  • 9:58am: Finally completed the blog post that I had A) started the day before, 2) planned to finish that night, and then iii) put off after playing softball and drinking far too many Guinness (which was the major cause of the bladder-busting bolus of bile mentioned above).
  • 10:58am: Made the rounds of the blogs on my list; noticed that Hilatron used my entry for her first Blogatron blogcation post. Had another Guinness to celebrate.
  • 11:16am: Finished post to thank Hilatron, officially ending List of Things to Do to Put Off Getting Anything Useful Accomplished. Drank a Guinness to mourn.
  • 11:30am: Let dog out to pee; had breakfast while standing over kitchen sink.
  • 11:42am: Took shower. Wondered when 'laid-off routine' was going to start differenng from 'working routine'.
  • 12:07pm: Started looking at questionnaire to be filled out for seminar tomorrow. Saw that it asked for fifteen accomplishments and thirty-eight additional questions to be answered. Tried counting to thirty-eight. Foamed at mouth. Foaming made me hungry.
  • 12:19pm: Had lunch (microwave burritos) and started watching television. Learned about paella, polenta, and eggplant antipasto on Food Network. Wondered whether today's drivel was brought to us by the letter 'P'. Wondered how the hell I watched nearly two hours of Food Network without seeing Emeril or Iron Chef. Caught parts of Alec Baldwin and Neve Campbell SNLs during commercials. Giggled, but only slightly.
  • 2:03pm: Tried starting seminar questionnaire again. Read question #26: 'What habits do you have that you believe might be at least mildly annoying to others?' Ran out of paper while trying to finish question. Curled into fetal position.
  • 3:14pm: Recovered, and continued filling in questionnaire. Ran out of accomplishments. Listed 'Made burritos for lunch today' as accomplishment number three. Realized that I'd forgotten to microwave said burritos. Suddenly felt nauseous and returned to fetal position.
  • 3:55pm: Returned to questionnaire. Reached question #6: 'How would poeple have described your personality growing up?' Lost myself briefly in thoughts of childhood. Unrepressed several memories. Had three more Guinness and resumed place in fetal position.
  • 4:03pm: Wondered again when schedule would begin to differ significantly from working life. Decided that even questionnaire wasn't as horrific as being tech support monkey. Had Guinness and started working on questionnaire again.
  • 5:19pm: Reached question #25: 'Do you feel lucky?' Answered 'Punk? Well, do ya?'. Went to get Guinness to celebrate cleverness. Found empty refrigerator. Swore loudly, fainted, and curled into fetal position.
  • 5:32pm: Discovered that forehead was frostbitten. Made mental note to close refrigerator door before fainting in future. Microwaved forehead and burrito for snack. Ate burrito, but saved forehead for later.
  • 6:29pm: Abandoned questionnaire to watch Simpsons, then Seinfeld, then Simpsons. Mmmm. Seinfeld sandwich.
  • 8:03pm: Tried to finish questionnaire while watching Fear Factor. For question #29, 'What are your non-business-related skills?', listed 'climbing rope ladders, falling from scaffolds, and eating bull snouts'.
  • 8:28pm: Decided to wait until Fear Factor was over to finish questionnaire.
  • 8:41pm: Wondered whether bull snouts taste like chicken.
  • 8:43pm: Wondered whether chickens have snouts.
  • 8:47pm: Wondered whether a really good psychiatrist would be able to help me.
  • 9:02pm: Finished questionnaire while watching MLB Home Run Derby contest on ESPN. Answered final twelve questions by asking self, 'What would Gary Sheffield say to this?' Expect to be escorted from building at some point tomorrow.
  • 10:55pm: Went to computer room to see all the hits routed from Blogatron post. Briefly did the Cabbage Patch on top of desk. Pulled a muscle. Whimpered softly.
  • 11:48pm: Started writing this post. Wondered yet again when schedule would differ from usual routine.
  • 11:52pm: Wondered whether chicken snouts taste like beef. Banged frostbitten forehead on table until wondering ceased.
  • 12:55am, approximately: Going to bed. If have trouble falling asleep, will recall that house has no Guinness left. Will immediately tuck into fetal position and cry myself to sleep.

So that's it, folks. Life as an unemployed software engineer / smartass punk isn't pretty, but it's mine, all mine. Just wait until this seminar's over, and I can stop shaving, and -- you know -- wearing pants and all. Then we'll have some fun, eh, kiddies? Until then, wish me luck! (And somebody, for the love of all that is sacred, please bring me some Guinness! I'm beggin' ya!)

Monday, July 14, 2003
She Likes Me! She Really Likes Me!

It's not the blog that gets you. It's the humidity.

Hey, all -- just a short note this time. (I think I'll have an entry ready for you tonight. I'm mixing the chemicals now, so if I can manage not to blow myself up, the concoction should have cooled enough to post by this evening. It's the last drop of vitriol that tends to turn things rather explosive, but I think I have it under control. So stay tuned for that.)

Anyway, I wanted to send a big honkin' 'Thank You' out to Hilatron over at Blogatron, who selected my submission for her first blogcation entry! Yay, Hilatron!

Now, my entry over there is the same sort of crap that I post here just about every day, and she's on vacation for a week, so I'll have to give you different instructions depending on what you're used to. If you've:

A) come here from Blogatron and liked my post, feel free to look around. There's only four weeks worth of drivel here, so browsing won't take long.
2) come here because you're a regular fan of my blog, then both of you should head over to Blogatron and read Hilatron's archives. More quantity there, as well as quality. Fab!
iii) come here from Blogatron because my post sucked and you want to flame me, kindly piss off. Aren't Mondays bad enough without that sort of nonsense?

So, to recap, thanks to Hilatron, read both blogs, and don't forget to spay or neuter your pets. (Not to mention most children, but that's probably a longer post...)

Oh, and yes, Hilatron, you got it right; I am a guy. I had no idea that this stuff was gender-neutral enough to possibly pass as being from a girl. (An angry, disturbed, sometimes-pantsless girl, but still, a girl.) I suppose that's a good thing. Maybe I'm closer to Universal Truths™ than I thought. Woo hoo!

Sunday, July 13, 2003
That's It! I'm Drawing the Line -- Here! No, Here! Here? How About Here? No?

Blog -- the choice of a new generation

I'm not very good with 'principles'. I mean, the big ones, I can handle. I've never killed anyone, or drop-kicked my dog, for instance. (Though I've been sorely tempted to do both, at one time or another.) I try not to piss my wife off, I pay my taxes, and it's been years since I've tied paper bags around a cat's paws to amuse myself. Or at least months. I forget, really. But I'm working on it, okay?

So, anyhoo -- I think I've pretty much got the major things covered. It's developing principles for the little, day-to-day things that I have trouble with. Well, to be precise, I don't have any trouble in developing those principles; it's sticking to them that I can't seem to get right. I come up with these grandiose, well-considered schemes, and they sound perfectly reasonable, but then they simply fail to fit into my lifestyle, and I end up chucking 'em out the window.

Here's a recent example: over the past couple of years or so, I've become fed up with a lot of advertising, especially on television. Nothing surprising there, right? Everybody's seen at least one ill-conceived, horrendous commercial that fails more or less completely to interest any rational person in the sponsor's product. Sometimes, the product's not really featured in the ad; other times, the concept is simply ludicrous or asanine, and leaves you wondering about the sanity of everyone involved in the production. In any case, it's obvious that millions and millions of dollars were wasted, and you're completely turned off.

My favorite personal examples are the recent Old Navy commercials. I get this twitch over my left eye when one of these spots comes on now. Even with a quick trigger on the remote, I end up seeing much more of these ads than any human should ever have to suffer through. They're annoying, cloying, and nonsensical. I know they're shooting for 'camp', but it's not even good enough to qualify as campy. 'Crampy', maybe, or just plain 'crappy', but not 'campy'.

Anyway, think about these ads from the company's perspective, whose goal is to attract more business. Bringing back washed-up semi-stars from the past thirty years of television drivel and making them sing grating, sugary jingles doesn't seem to me -- now this is just me, mind you -- like the best way to sell cargo pants, or rugby shirts, or whatever the hell they're peddling. Look, I can understand bringing back an 'A list' actor or actress from the recent past to shill your shit. I really don't have anything against that. Think of Bill Cosby -- at the height of his popularity, you couldn't think of the 'Cos without a 'puddin' pop' in his mouth. (Which may say more about Cosby himself than it does about his Jell-o ads, but I'm gonna leave that one alone. This time. 'Hey hey hey!') But that was fine. His star faded, and he hung up the popsicle sticks, and now he stays largely in the background, as washed-up old celebrities are supposed to. These people they've been parading out to do the Old Navy bits, though? They've been out of it for years -- decades, in some cases. Their careers have been dead, buried, and forgotten forever, so why cake makeup over their wrinkles and wheel 'em back out for this? Did their Social Security checks stop coming? Are they raising money for another facelift? (Speaking of dead, did they bring Sherman Hemsley back from the grave? He doesn't look so good, for one thing, but I thought he went the way of Redd Foxx back... well, back around the time Redd Foxx did, come to think of it. Didn't they party together, back in the day?)

So, I made a Big Decision™. I decided to create an Inviolable Principle for myself, and the principle was this:

I shalt not frequenteth those places of business or buyeth those products whose advertisements annoyeth me or maketh me cringe.

(Yes, it's best to use the Biblical vernacular when creating Inviolable Principles for yourself. For one thing, it makes it feel more like the voice of God, or Buddha, or Allah, or Nature, or whatver you follow, speaking to you directly. Or in my case, saying your new Inviolable Principle out loud will make you giggle. And it's always good to start on such a solemn, important journey with a goofy grin on your face.)

So this should be a piece of cake, right? I made the rule, and I'm the only one who's bound to follow it, so how could it possibly go wrong? Well, lots of ways, as it turns out. First, I realized more or less immediately that I wasn't going to follow the inverse of the rule. That is, if a company makes a good, clever commercial, then I'm not going to run out the door and buy whatever they're selling. I don't buy Budweiser beer just because those frogs were a cute idea. Or if Massengill, for instance, or Tampax were to ever quit with the 'not so fresh feeling' crap and make a really good, entertaining commercial -- well, I can honestly say that it wouldn't affect my buying habits with respect to their products in the slightest. Oh, I'd still buy the panty liners -- the ones with wings are great for wiping up spills in the kitchen -- but I wouldn't really change the way I shop. So that was a little disappointing; you always want an Inviolable Principle to be sound enough that you can use it from all angles, and this one already had holes poked all around it. Still, the rule itself was intact, so I soldiered on.

I made a list of all of the companies whose products I wasn't going to support. Old Navy was at the top of the list, of course, followed by Dell Computers ('Dude! You're goin' to Hell!'), Mazda (that 'Zoom zoom' kid needs a wedgie. Badly.), Enterprise Car Rental (they're using Paige Davis from Trading Spaces in one of their ads. For the love of God, people, don't encourage her! What the hell were they thinking?), and a whole host of others. And life was good. I never liked Old Navy anyway, I had my last two computers custom-built locally, and I already own a non-Mazda car, which kills two birds with one auto. Sweet!

That's when it all came tumbling down, of course. I was minding my own business, watching some drivel or otheron television, when it happened. My show went off, and Britney Spears appeared and started prancing around my screen, mewling like a sick kitten about the 'Joy of Pepsi' and being generally rather annoying. And then I saw another of the ads, and another, and another. PepsiCo had gone and signed her to some multi-commercial deal, no doubt worth millions, with the money apparently contingent on emulating as many different American pop culture bimbos as possible. Wonderful.

Now look, friends -- I've been around the block a few times, and I've seen many a blondie bimbo traipsing around onscreen. That's fine -- I honestly have no problem with these folks trying to make a buck or two, as long as they generally keep their mouths shut and stay out of the way of the real entertainers and entertaineresses. They can host an MTV special if they like, or cameo on a sitcom, and they can do Conan or Leno if they get enough ink, but otherwise, they should show up, wave to the nice people, and know when the hell to leave. (See 'McCarthy, Jenny' for a good example of how to handle one's bimbosity more or less correctly.) The last thing I want one of these trashy tramps to do is to hawk my favorite non-beer beverage in a mega-series of commercials just after I've made a resolution to boycott any advertising that annoys me. Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch!

So now, I've got a dilemma. Stop drinking Pepsi, or violate my Inviolable Principle. Well, that was a no-brainer. You see, folks, when it comes down to fundamental values, I'm fundamentally weak. I chucked my resolution out the window and grabbed a can of my favorite cola. Oh, I avoided the commercials as best I could, and bitched about them when I failed to switch channels fast enough, but I continued to drink Pepsi, regardless. My rule lasted all of about a week, and even at that, it was one of my more successful Inviolable Principles. (Come to think of it, I should really come up with a new name for those, seeing as how I'm always, um, violating them. Which makes it sound dirty, too, doesn't it?)

Anyway, there you have it. I'm weak, and I play loose with my principles. When the going gets tough, I tend to err on the side of personal comfort and established routine. In short: I'm a man. All of my really inviolable rules these days get handed down from my wife. (And occasionally from the dog, but I think it's okay to do what she's asking, because she hasn't instructed me to kill anyone. Yet. I'll have another dilemma when she does, I suppose.) I think the best thing for me to do is just to give up trying to better myself on my own, and await instructions from whoever's willing to give them. I may not end up doing the most noble or virtuous things that way, but at least I can tell myself that it's no longer my fault. And really, at the end of the day, what more principle does any man need?

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