Saturday, November 29, 2003
Next Thing You Know, I'll Be Passing Legislation... Or Getting Arrested Trying
Well, here it is, a half-hour after midnight, and I'm still watching the West Wing marathon.
And that's the thing -- I'm actually watching it. It's been on from time to time in the past, but it's just in the past couple of weeks that I've actually started watching the damned show. My wife's watched it for a while, now -- she even TiVos it, which is rare for her -- but I've avoided it until recently. That's mainly because I have no interest in real-world politics.
That's a whole other story, but suffice it to say that I don't follow the day-to-day, or even year-to-year or term-to-term, sniping and backbiting between the political parties. The whole business of give-and-take and say-this-but-mean-that (or say-this-but-reverse-it-three-months-later) just leaves me cold. Frustrated, and cold. Like an Eskimo locked out of his igloo. Or a horny polar bear, maybe. Or... you know, something. I'm fishing a little bit here. Let's move on.
So, I've been watching the West Wing all day, and I'm reminded, once again, about a little personality quirk that I have. (Yeah, yeah -- 'one of the quirks'. All right, 'one of the many quirks'. But I'm only gonna talk about this quirk tonight. Shaddup.)
Anyway, here's the thing -- I'm very easily affected by what I'm watching on TV or in the theater. The effect is somewhat subtle, though -- I don't cry during the sad parts and cheer during the happy endings. (Well, okay, maybe when Homer gets reunited with his mother on the Simpsons. That always chokes me up.) Instead, I pick up nuances. Moods. Mannerisms. If I watch a show or movie for any length of time, the 'feel' of the show seeps into my brain. My whole mindset is altered, and I start thinking -- and worse, talking -- like the people I've been observing.
(And honestly, the same sort of thing often happens with 'live' people, as well. I tend to adapt to the personality of the group, when I can be bothered to do anything but sit quietly in the corner and watch people. I'm sure the whole thing has something to do with a need to fit in, and a fear of not being accepted, and... oh, hell, I don't know -- maybe I was breastfed too long. Freud would have a field day with me.
And yes, I'm acutely aware of the irony of 'confessing' that I have an unhealthy need to be accepted by writing it on a personal web site, the logs of which I check approximately every ten minutes that I'm awake and within twenty feet of a computer. And if that sounds a bit terse and flippant... well, I've been watching the West Wing all goddamned day. This is exactly what I'm talking about.)
So. Here I am, after several hours of West Wingery, and I'm acting just like the staffers on the show. Well, okay, not just like -- I'm not as good-looking as them, for one thing. (Well, okay, I could out-shimmy one or two of them on the catwalk, granted. But most of them are far prettier than me. Bitches.) Also, I don't ever dress as nicely as the characters on the show, and this is the second day of a four-day weekend. I'm sitting on the couch in sweats and a T-shirt -- the only one I've got a shot at 'outchic-ing' at this point is Josh, but only in the episode where he sat in his office, hungover, in a coffee-stained wifebeater and fisherman's waders. (Which aired last hour, by the way -- it was nice to see at least one of these politi-dildos look worse on a simulated Saturday morning than I did at my own freaking wedding. Fruit loops.)
Anyway, my attire and two-day beard aside, I've taken on an air of... well, I don't quite know what, but if you've ever seen the West Wing, then you'll know what I'm talking about. I'm speaking in rapid-fire, near-monotone sentences. I'm being a snarky, dry smartass. (Okay, so that part's not the show's fault. Moving on.) But I find myself doing that little half-head cock that seems to precede witty repartee on the show. And then... well, and then making some random, asinine comment that's meant to be witty repartee, but isn't, really. (And how the hell would it be? It's one o'clock in the frigging morning, and I've been sitting on the couch, blogging and watching TV all damned day. My brain is applesauce. Cut me some slack, goddammit.)
All right, where the hell was I? West Wing, right.
So, it's an interesting phenomenon for me. It's a bit odd to find myself doing and saying things that aren't normally part of my personality, but it never gets completely out of hand. I don't watch the Powerpuff Girls, for instance, and end up running around in a dress pretending I'm pounding on monsters. But anything I can relate to in some way seems to just wiggle itself into my brain. Law & Order makes me argumentative (Sam Waterson is the best), 24 gets me all business-like and bossy, and West Wing... well, apparently, West Wing makes me cock my head and get all... all... quippy. Or quippyish, anyway. Yeah, that's not a word. Never mind.
Anyway, that's how my after-Thanksgiving 'free-from-work Friday' has gone. I suppose it could be worse. I could have been doing yardwork or something crappy like that. Instead, I stayed inside, safe from the rain and the cold and the wind, and I watched many, many hours of a pretty good TV show, even if it is about politics, more or less. And I wrote four entries -- three here, and one over at LinkFilter. So it wasn't a completely wasted day. Um, depending on how you look at it. I still have to work all weekend; only now, it's just a garden-variety two-day weekend. But that's all right -- I do love a challenge.
At least, tonight, I do. Tomorrow, I might find a Married... With Children marathon and temporarily hate my job altogether. (Not to mention pick up the habit of sticking a hand down my sweatpants while I'm watching TV. I can hardly wait.) In any case, I'd better get to bed. The West Wings are starting to repeat, and I've had about all the legalese and Capitol Hill shenanigans I can take for one day. Hopefully, my new pseudo-personality will wear off by Monday morning. I'm not sure my boss would mind, exactly, being called 'Mr. President', but it might throw him off just a bit.
Yeah, it's definitely bedtime. Those quips are getting worse and worse. I'll catch up with you later. Sleep tight, folks.
Friday, November 28, 2003
Well, That's Three for Three... It's Just a Different Three, That's All
Here's everything you need to know about how I handle long weekends.
What I planned to do today, in order:
- Get a good, solid start on the project at work that I said I'd have finished by Monday
- Practice the standup set that I have to perform on Wednesday night
- Find out how to add skins to the blog, and maybe design a couple
What I actually accomplished today:
- Learned how to black-background text, so I could write my last post
- Watched several hours of the West Wing marathon on Bravo
- Wrote an entry for the LinkFilter journal I earned today
Whee. And to think I have two more days of this before I have to go back to work. Am I friggin' thankful, or what?
(Yeah, I really need the weekend drinking to start. Soon.)
If I Disappear, You'll Know the Pentagon Brass Has Their Claws Into Me
I'm a little worried.
Lately, I've been getting a lot of hits from a certain .mil domain. Rather a lot, and it's got me thinking.
You see, this particular domain -- NIPR.mil -- is, from what I can gather, a gateway set up for several, um... sensitive military domains, quite possibly including the Department of Defense and the Pentagon. Yikes!
So, here's the thing -- the hits coming in are all from the same subdomain, based on what I can gather from the IP address info I get in my logs. And there are a lot of hits lately. Specifically:
On 11/24: At 9:58:42pm, 5 hits over twenty-five minutes
On 11/25: At 1:27am, 18 hits over two hours and forty-five minutes(!)
At 2:11am, 2 hits over seven minutes
At 3:37am, 5 hits over fifty-two minutes
On 11/27: At 7:09am, 4 hits over 2 minutes
At 7:17am, 6 hits over 18 minutes
At 7:17am, 8 hits over 18 minutes
And no, those last two lines aren't a typo. If the logs are correct, there were two sessions that started at exactly the same time, with exactly the same duration, within one second. Creepy, no? Like they've got some sort of intelligent, sarcasm-seeking automated web crawlers or something. Of course, if they do, that's probably classified info. I might get
arrested flogged fanny-spanked by John Ashcroft for writing about that. *gulp*
I suppose it's possible that it's just a fan, or several fans in the same office. (Or bunker, or missile silo, or Area 51 alien-hiding tent. Whereever these military types hang out and read blogs.) But it seems unlikely. For one thing, I don't think I really talk about things that would pique the typical soldier-girl's or flyboy's interest. (Assuming those people wouldn't just kick my ass in the first place for calling them 'soldier-girls' and 'flyboys'. Some of these folks are pretty close to the snapping point already, you know.)
On the other hand, maybe it's even someone I know. I've got a couple of friends in the Air Force and Marines... I even had a really good friend in high school who freelances, doing Chinese document translations for the DoD. But I haven't heard from her in a while -- since before I started the blog, in fact -- and I doubt she'd get clearance behind the 'official' firewall, anyway.
So, there's a real possibility that the sudden, near-obsessive interest from the NIPR.mil domain is more... professional than personal. And so, I'm left wondering -- have I mentioned anything here on the blog that would be considered questionable? (In terms of threatening national security, I'm talking. Everything I write here would be considered questionable in terms of good taste, propriety, sanity, and even plausibility. Even the grammar needs work. (Which is, itself, a sentence fragment. Ooh, and so is that! And that! And... okay, I'll stop now. Sorry.)
But I can't think of anything that would set off the warning bells of the Federali watchdogs. Honestly, look around -- there's crap about the grocery store, and a job interview I had, and made-up shit about the Wheel of Fortune. What's so sensitive about any of that? On the other hand, I did once mention the Great Wall of China. And the Iran hostage crisis. And more recently, I even talked about Ramadan. Twice, and the second time Mecca and Eid al-Fitr even came up! *gulp*
So maybe I am in trouble, after all. Right now, they're just trolling around, collecting 'evidence'. But it's only a matter of time before they step up their efforts. Maybe they'll start following me around, or even tapping my phone. Hell, who knows -- they might even start hacking my computer and censoring my blog posts. (Nah, that'd never happen. Even a bunch of gun-toting, paranoid Pentagon hacks wouldn't go that far. Would they?)
Anyway, it's probably just someone, or someones, who enjoys this particular brand of ridiculous drivel. And if that's the case, then welcome! Glad to have you, and feel free to look around all you like. You can even leave a comment if you like, just to let me know the 'heat is off', if you know what I'm saying. I won't tell anyone, and you can even use an alias. Seriously, it'll set my mind at ease.
On the other hand... if I start seeing those black cars with tinted windows driving a half-block behind me, or 'pizza trucks' stationed outside my house... well, I don't know what I'm gonna do. This blogging thing is fun and all, but I don't want to end up being pistol-whipped in Langley or thrown in a cell in Guantanamo Bay. I mean, I like to party and all, but goddamn -- that shit is serious.
But if the Feds are after me, then I will say this: If you think for one damned minute that I am gonna let you guys go to all the trouble of reading this blacked-out stuff without giving you an Easter Egg or two, then you've got another think coming, brother. Like it or not, I am well within my rights in saying that I've now got a journal on LinkFilter. I don't know how much I'll post there, but feel free to check it out at: http://linkfilter.net/?s=j;user=hatton98.
And another thing, dammit, while I'm on a roll -- um, yeah, I really don't have another thing. I just think another line or two of blackened text would look cool. Oh, hey, if you like the effect and want to use it, just check out the .blackened CSS code in the header of the page. There. That's another thing. I feel much better now.
So, that's it, then. I guess it's only a matter of time before they read this and cart me away at gunpoint. Ah, well -- I had a good run. Just tell them my wife had nothing to do with it, okay? She doesn't even read this shit. (Why would she? She hears all this crap all day, every day. Poor girl.) So maybe she'll at least keep the house, and the dog, and whatever the military goons don't break when they cart me off.
Or maybe I'm wrong, and the web hits are from people looking for a good yuk. Whatever. I guess you'll know when I'm back later today for another installment. Or when I'm not. At least I've got my free speech for now, though. And no overzealous government weenie is gonna take that from me. Bastards!
Thursday, November 27, 2003
Can We Have Tabouli Instead of Mashed Potatoes This Year?
My Thanksgiving gob-stuffing started a little early this year, but in a rather unusual way.
You see, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ended early this week, ushering in the celebratory three-day feast known as 'Eid al-Fitr'. The celebration is all the sweeter for practicing Muslims, because Ramadan is a month of fasting, when they are forbidden from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset each day.
I learned most of this yesterday. I knew a bit about Ramadan, and the fasting, but had honestly never given it a lot of thought. As it turns out, though the building I work in has quite a few Muslims in residence, and they were more than happy to enlighten us, and -- more tastily -- share their feasty goodies, even with us unwashed infidels. (Well, okay, I took a shower yesterday morning, so I suppose I'm technically a 'washed infidel'. Still.)
Anyway, there was a truckload of food there, all home-prepared, and it was spec-freakin'-tacular. Hummus, baba ghanouj, couscous, and all sorts of other tasty crap that I don't know how to spell. There was even some sweet dish, the name of which involves some sort of back-of-the-throat gargling noise. It had coconut, and almonds, and some sort of dough, and... well, let's just say that if the other people there would have left the room, I'd have licked the tray it was in. It was that good. It sucks that I'll never be able to order it, because I can't remember the name. (And even if I did, I'd have to have bronchitis to say it right. There's a 'cccggghhh' in there. Or a 'gggghhhlll'. Something like that.)
So, what was I saying? Oh, Ramadan, right.
So, the other thing about Ramadan is that it wiggles around all over the calendar. The beginning of fasting is dictated by when some particular full moon occurs. Or new moon, or when the swallows come back to Capistrano, or the camels return to Riyadh, or something. (Look, I was eating, all right? I couldn't pay attention to every fricking word they said.)
Anyway, the point is, the holiday moves around the calendar -- sometimes it's in winter, sometimes summer. So it's just a coincidence that it ended this year just before Thanksgiving. And that's probably good, at least for Muslims in America -- I can't imagine that it's good to eat very little for a month, then feast for three days, and then follow that up with another funky food-fest a day or two later. Sure, that 'feast-and-starve, feast-and-starve' works for boa constrictors, but I'm pretty sure it wonks people's insides up pretty badly. On the other hand, between those four days of stuffing your face, you could make up for a lot of missed meals over the course of a month. An extra slice of pumpkin pie, and you might be right back on schedule for the year. Nice.
Of course, it's different in other years. And I've got to imagine that some seasons are easier for fasting than others. Summer would suck, if you can't drink water all day. Especially because many Muslims traditionally live in pretty damned hot areas -- man, talk about torturing yourself to make a point. I think I'd have made the rule that you couldn't eat or drink after sunset or before sunrise. Hey, it's about the same amount of time, right? Why not make things a little easier on yourself?
Ooh, and what happens if you live in Alaska, or Siberia, or down in the Falkland Islands? You're so close to the poles there, the daylight can last an hour or twenty-three hours. If you get close enough, it might never get light -- or dark -- at all. That's gotta be a friggin' adventure every year. Sometimes, Ramadan's a breeze -- you can have a snack, watch the West Wing, and suddenly, it's sunset. Woo hoo -- get out the popcorn! Other years, it'd suck cold ass: 'Um, dude, we're gonna have six minutes to eat for the day -- you wanna put everything in the blender to make it faster?'
Or maybe that's not the way they do it. Maybe it's sunup-to-sunset at some certain spot -- Mecca, or somewhere like that. Although, how the hell you're supposed to know whether it's dusk yet in Arabia when you're freezing your ass off in an igloo somewhere is beyond me. But maybe they've got it all worked out; certainly, Muslims have had a while to work on little logistical details like these.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun -- I learned something about another culture (though not quite enough, obviously), and got in some Thanksgiving practice. Now it's time to put those skills to use on a big dead bird and all the other stuff we're having. I'll be back with more as soon as I'm able to stand up again. Gobble, gobble, gobble!
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Well, So Far, I've Got 'Sloth' Covered...
Okay, that's better. Several hours of sleep have helped my brain, though maybe not my mood. I'm feeling a little snarky today. Maybe I slept too long; I don't know. (Does it really have to be so complicated?)
Anyway, just pretend that it's still Wednesday night. Or pretend that I have a time machine, and that I wrote the last post, then slept for nine hours, got up, watched my wife watch Santa Claus in the Thanksgiving Day parade (which I mistimed, by the way, and ended up seeing Clay Aiken, as well... damn my rotten clock management!), and popped backwards in time to write this. Or make up something equally as ludicrous -- I don't really care. The point is, I'm here, and this post counts for Wednesday. That's just the way it is.
So. I've been doing some thinking about Thanksgiving, particularly about all the food that's going to be shoved down people's gullets in the next twenty-four hours or so. And I realized -- probably several years later than everyone else -- that Thanksgiving as a holiday has been pretty fully 'Americanized'. That is, the original meaning has been marginalized, if not lost completely, in all the marketing and hype and hoohah that precedes it. Sure, individual people may keep the true spirit of the holiday in mind, and more power to them. But Hollywood, or Madison Avenue, or Wall Street, or Microsoft, or whoever you believe controls such things, has forsaken the pilgrim and the family and the 'thanks' for cartoon turkeys and orange and brown bunting.
(Hey, I said I was snarky. I'll try and lighten it up from here on out, okay?)
Anyway, it struck me that Thanksgiving is, in many ways, about one thing: gluttony. It's a handy excuse to pack our pieholes full of... well, pie, among other things. But also turkeys and hams and yams and stuffing and cranberries and potatoes and all manner of dead animals and tablecloths and small children and pretty much anything else we can get our desperate, greasy hands on.
So that got me thinking about other holidays, and how they may have gone awry over the years. If Thanksgiving is 'gluttony', how are we doing with the other 'Deadly Sins'? So... after looking them up, because I don't keep track of such things -- here's what I came up with:
Gluttony: Thanksgiving. I said that already. Keep up with me here, folks.
Greed: Well, clearly, this is Christmas. It's all about the 'gimme, gimme gimme'. From letters to Santa to window shopping to Internet wish lists, it's all about the loot. (Hey, there's nothing wrong with that -- I've got a wish list myself. I'm just saying.)
Lust: Valentine's Day. Though it could be 'Envy', if you're on the outside of a sexy pair of undies looking in, rather than in there getting busy yourself.
Pride: I dunno, the 4th of July, maybe? I know a lot of people who see the message in that as less 'hey, look how far we've come', and more 'everybody sucks but us'. Or, in some cases, just 'everybody sucks'. Some people are never frickin' happy.
Anger: Lessee, how about St. Patrick's Day? Not that the holiday itself pisses people off, but with all that green beer being swilled, somebody's eventually gonna get their undies in a bunch over something. Nothing says holiday like 'bar room brawl', right?
Envy: Erm... I dunno. I'll go with Halloween. I just remember when I was a kid, every one of the other little pissants around had better candy than I did. Ninety percent of my shit was candy corn, those horrible styrofoamy 'peeps', and candy apples that I wasn't allowed to eat. ('There might be a razor blade in it!' Well, fine. I'll eat a razor blade. Maybe it'll help me forget that my candy sucks ass!)
Sloth: This is a tough one. The point of every holiday is to get some sloth in, right? That's why we stay home from work, and sleep till noon, and sit on the couch all day. So you could make a case for any 'official' holiday here that gets you out of work, or school, or whatever responsibility you normally have. On the other hand, I haven't used Easter yet, and it's in dire need of a sin, so I'll go with Easter here. Your mileage may vary.
So. Wow. That was an interesting little exercise. Not necessarily funny, or even entertaining, but interesting, nonetheless. So at least I got something out of this post. (That would be 'self-serving', folks -- a mix of Greed and Pride that fosters Anger in you, as you realize that you just wasted ten minutes of your life reading this crap. So sorry.)
Anyway, what do you think? Have I got the holidays in the right slots? Are there others you would add? Am I just a big fat Grinch for even thinking of such things? Or are you pissed that you're still reading this, and it hasn't gotten any damned better?
(Hey, I'm doin' the best I can here. If I could make you wet your pants with every post, I'd do it. I wouldn't ask to borrow your chair ever, but I'd do it. Really.)
In any case, I'm well-rested and ready to face my gluttony today. I'm gonna throw on some 'fat pants' (do guys even have those?) and get ready to throw down some chow. Whatever you do, don't get near me at the table. If you get near my hands, you might end up in my mouth. And... um, not in a good way, either. Normally, I only bite on request -- today, I'm biting down on anything that comes near me. So be sure it's not your finger, and you'll have one more thing to be thankful for. Bon appetit!
Beddy-Bye, Here I Come
Sleep, glorious sleep, and it's almost here. I can hardly wait.
Sure, I'm gonna have to work all damned (long) weekend, but not tonight. And more importantly, not at nine o'clock in the friggin' morning, either. Or ten, or even eleven. Oh, sure, my wife will get me up by noon -- it's Thanksgiving, after all, and she'll want me to watch Santa coming 'round the corner in the Macy's parade.
(Which does me a big bunch of no good. I've never been a huge fan of parades, just on principle. I mean, it's just a bunch of people walking down the street, often to crappy music. What's there to celebrate about that?
I mean, sure, Macy's version is a little better -- blow-up dolls improve any occasion, of course -- but still, it's not worth getting up to see the beginning. Or the end, if I happen to be enjoying a nice lounge in bed. If you've seen one fat man dressed up in a red suit, you've seen them all, I say. Throw Denise Richards on the damned float in a furry red bikini, and maybe I'll bother watching. Maybe. But a chubby guy? With a beard? Wavin' to a bunch of snotty kids? Nah. I'm sleepin'. Piss off.)
Anyway, soon I'll hit the sack, but I wanted to check in here first. My wife and I spent a few hours this evening installing some new home theater equipment (bought at a deep discount via her workplace). And I have to say this -- it kicks shiny-cheeked ass! Five tiny little bitchin' speakers, a DVD/CD console, a raunchy subwoofer... man, this stuff's almost as good as sex.
(And loud, too. I'm pretty sure that if you sit in just the right spot in our living room and turn the stereo all the way up, you'll have sex. Technically, at least, and whether you wanted to or not. It'll just shake the juice out of you. It's just that cool.)
But all that audioizing didn't leave much time for blogging. And we're not even done -- for one thing, all the extra crap and cords and paperwork that we didn't need are still piled on our couch. For another, the cords leading from the amp to the rear speakers are strewn all over the damned living room. And for yet another, the speakers aren't quite hooked up the way they were before -- with the old stereo, turning off the TV would also kill the sound. Now, not so. The picture goes black, but we continue to hear Homer Simpson, or Dan Patrick, or whoever the hell was talking when we got tired and clicked the thing off. We're either gonna have to get used to a two-remote-control tango, or I'll figure out what's changed and fix it. (Or, I'll figure out what's changed, work on it for a couple of weeks, tear out my hair in frustration... and we'll get used to a two-remote-control tango, after all. See why I rarely bother in the first place?)
Anyway, I'm afraid I don't have a lot for you here on Turkey Eve. Maybe I'll back-date something better for you when I get up in the morning (or, as I think I've made abundantly clear, perhaps the early afternoon). Until then, wish me sleep. This is gonna be fun. G'night!
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
See, This Is Why You Shouldn't Blog Without a Good Night's Rest...
Well, I was right when I said it yesterday -- I'm pooped. I stayed up way too late, slept way too little, have way too much to do, and I'm way, way tired. I just sat through two and a half hours of meetings, and I'm afraid to even ask whether we're having our regular Tuesday afternoon powwow. Stick a fork in me, Skippy. I'm cooked.
I'm sitting at lunch now, concentrating on nothing more than keeping my sandwich out of my damned hair. I have to be vigilant, too -- there's a fair chance that I'll slip while taking a bite, or get overzealous wiping my mouth with a napkin, or simply give in and plop my head in the middle of the thing for a nice, relaxing nap. Man, that sounds good. I wonder what kind of dreams I'd have, surrounded by the smell of pickles and banana peppers. (Hey. Get your mind outta the gutter. I'm tellin' a story here.)
Anyway, the sleep situation doesn't look much better tonight. There's another work meeting at nine in the morning. (Who are these people? What the hell did I ever do to them?!) And with all the crap I need to do, I'm likely to be up late again. Not working, necessarily. I might be thinking about work, or avoiding work, or putting off work, or even just stressing about how much work is sitting there not being done. So I'm not likely to be productive, per se, but I'll be awake. Not sleeping, and not working, in a sort of procrastinatinatory insomnial limbo. Welcome to my life, boys and girls. The alcohol's in the cabinet over there; you're probably gonna need it.
So, here are some even-randomer-than-usual thoughts that occur to me, as I sit here eating/wearing my sandwich:
What's the driving force behind the unfortunate comeback that sideburns are making lately? Seriously, can somebody tell me, so I can kill whatever it is, and stomp on the carcass?
Is it That Damned 70's Show? The X-Men movies? The clueless boobs in those 'hemi' truck commercials?
There's a guy sitting in front of me right now with big nasty shagburns all the way down to his frickin' chin. He looks like he's wearing carpet remnants on his cheeks, and ugly remnants at that. His hair's thinning on top, too, which makes him look all the more ridiculous.
Maybe he's growing out the 'burns to try some sort of 'comb-up' maneuver; who the hell knows? Whatever he's trying, it's not working, and it's not pretty.
It's finally getting cold around here. Not 'chilly', or 'brisk' -- we had that covered back in September. Now it's getting cold -- from what I hear, we'll have snow by the end of the week, and it's all downhill from there.
Now, I've never really minded cold weather all that much. I like being a bit cool, and I rarely wear a coat. It's a simple matter of time management -- if I'm going to be in the cold for twelve seconds to get to the car, and then in the car for twenty minutes, back outside for twenty seconds, and back indoors for the next eight hours, then why the hell do I need a coat? If I can just grit my teeth and get through the half a minute that I'm actually in the cold, then I won't have to spend the rest of the day sitting on the coat, or hanging it up, or dropping food on it, or leaving it on a damned bus somewhere. It's simple, really.
But this year is a little different. For one thing, it's our first winter in the hundred-year-old house that we moved into. That's the hundred-year-old house with the forty-year-old heater, by the way. Which means that there's no real guarantee that 'inside' is going to be significantly warmer than 'outside' for the next six months or so.
Granted, we do have a fireplace -- and we just had it cleaned -- but we've had precious little experience in the area of deliberately starting fires. Sure, if you want an accidental brush fire, or a grease fire in the kitchen -- we're your couple. We've even managed to get flames to shoot out the ass of our grill in the back yard.
(I wrote about it somewhere, but I'm too tired to look it up. Just search for 'flames', 'ass' and 'grill' in the search box up there in the upper right. You'll either get the story I'm thinking of, or a description of my spicy jerk chicken. Mmmmm... it's flaming-ass good!)
But the house isn't my only problem this year. You see, my current job has me sharing time at two offices, with no good parking solution at either. So those 'twenty seconds' or so that I usually spend sprinting my freezing ass from car to office and back is more like fifteen minutes. And I'm tough, people, but I'm not that tough. Fifteen minutes in harsh New England conditions could have some consequences and repercussions, if you know what I mean. My nose could go numb, for one thing. My fingers could get frostbitten. My nipples could turn black and fall the fuck off, fer Chrissakes! Now, I don't mind making sacrifices for my job, but the nipples are strictly off limits. I've only got, what -- four or five of the things? I simply can't risk losing any to the elements.
So, maybe I'll have to start wearing a coat, and going through the ridiculous dance of bundling and unbundling, wrapping and unwrapping, layering and unlayering, that most folks go through every winter. Tsk. What a time sink that is. Personally, I'm only interested in 'bundling up' if I'm gonna go play in the snow, and I'm only excited about taking off a bunch of clothes if there's gonna be sex in the near future. The very near future. (And don't ask what I'd wear to have sex in the snow. In my tuckered-out condition, questions like that could give me a fricking aneurysm.)
I came to lunch today to get caffeinated, hoping that would wake me up. Several of the people in my meeting were slurping coffee instead. Man, it's days like this that I wish I could drink coffee again.
It's not that I'm allergic to coffee or anything like that. It doesn't even upset my stomach. Hell, I even like the taste of coffee -- enough to prefer it black and unadulterated. But I haven't been able to drink coffee since high school. Tenth grade, to be exact.
You see, in the tenth grade, I had Social Studies class. And in that class was a teacher. And that teacher was... well, um, actually, I find that I can't actually remember her real name. I can only remember what we called her -- 'Old CBB'. As in, 'Coffee Bean Breath'.
Now, I don't know how many pots this woman went through a day, but the bitch must have bled brown. She had this habit of walking up and down the aisles, between the desks, as she lectured, and it was a hideous, cruel torture, indeed. The smell of day-old rancid coffee just oozed off this woman, like heat waves from sunblasted pavement. We could smell it from three, maybe four seats away. Flowers wilted, lights dimmed... if we'd been a junior high class, we'd have shrieked and screamed in terror. But we were tenth graders, wise in the ways of the world. So we sucked it up and stuck it out. It wasn't easy, but we managed.
On the other hand, I suspect that I'm not the only former pupil in that class to have been turned off coffee forever. It wasn't that it ruined it for me, exactly -- I can still enjoy the smell of a really good, rich pot of boiling joe. But I could never imagine putting other people through the hellish nightmare that I went through in that damned Social Studies class. And I have no idea where the 'threshold of putrescence' is -- how many cups can you have before you start to reek? One? Three? Twelve? And since I don't know, I've just sworn the stuff off. I have plenty of other ways to walk around offending people's senses, without adding 'hot black halitosis' to the list.
But, of course, there's a consequence to my decision. Since I've chosen not to make others suffer, I suffer sometimes myself. Like this morning, when I damned near had to hold my mouth shut with my hands to keep from drooling all over the conference room table. I jammed a pen so far into my palm, quietly trying to will myself awake, that it stuck in there, like a plastic sixth finger. (Which has it's upside, once you get past the excruciating pain. I know what I'll be picking my nose with for the next few days, for instance.)
In the end, maybe it would be better to just bite the bullet and brew the beans. To admit defeat and take my caffeinated medicine. And under normal circumstances, I might. But goddamn, people -- you have no idea how bad this woman smelled! I've never experienced anything like it; my eyes still water, just at the memory. So I just can't bear to do it -- sleepy or not, even drooling down my shirt, I simply won't perk myself up with coffee. I couldn't. I just... won't. *shudder*
Finally, randomly, and just because it doesn't deserve its own post: Why the hell is there no 'Peace in'?
People are always saying, 'Peace out'. It's everywhere. I'm surprised Dan Rather and Penis Jerkings... um, sorry, Peter Jennings (yeah, I'm still kinda proud of that one) don't end their newscasts with that. Walter Cronkite had the street cred to pull it off:
'And that's the way it was, on this twenty-fourth of November, two double-zizzle and three. Word to the mutha, all you pimps and bitches in the hizzouse. Peace out, and have a pleasant tomorrow.'
Or, um, something like that. Anyway, the point is this -- what if 'peace' works like 'time'? You call 'Time out', but then you eventually have to say, 'Time in,' right? Well, we wonder why there are wars and killing and hatred all over the place these days -- what if it's all these numbnuts walking around calling 'Peace out', and nobody picking up the 'Peace in' slack? Did anyone ever think of that?
I think I'm gonna start conversations that way -- hell, I might even start answering the phone with 'Peace in?'. (Instead of my current greeting, 'Hello, unless you're a fucking dickhead telemarketer'. Which is useful, no doubt -- but it does tend to frighten grandma when she calls up.)
Anyway, maybe there's something to it. Maybe if we all started doing our part with a 'Peace in!' now and again, we'd finally lick this 'world peace thing'. Or maybe I'm just a sleep-deprived drooling moron with pickles in my hair. Whatever. Either way, I'm too tired to do anything about it right now. I'm gonna head back to the office, prop myself up against a wall, and pretend I'm working while I catch up on some naptime. I'll catch up with you folks later. Peace out. (And... peace back in! Woo! Now didn't that feel good?)
Congratulations? Thanks? Come Again? What?
Well, I'd love to keep this little game going, since it's generated lots of sweet, delicious comments, but I should probably declare a 'winner' in the 'contest' to post the 200th comment:
<! -- dramatic drumroll -->
It's Jeff A, of Jeff's Darn Blog! Woo hoo! Two hundred comments -- yay! Jeff, if I had confetti and streamers and strippers jumping out of cakes right now, I'd... well, frankly, I wouldn't be talking to you, now, would I? (Sorry, that's rude -- let me try again.)
If I had confetti and streamers and cakes (sans strippers), then I'd throw you a big 'Thank You' party. Or a 'Congratulations' bash. Or a 'Happy 200th' soiree. Or something. I'd make a mess and you'd get cake. And ice cream, too. Hell, even beer, if you wanted. I know I would.
So, a big 'woo hoo' shoutout to Jeff A. (Even though his comment was playfully snarky. At least, I'm taking it as 'playful'. My blog, my rules. Nyah.)
And -- since I'm just one hell of a nice guy -- I'll also give mad (but not quite as mad) props to Tanya of Life's Like This and Lara of 75 Degrees and Raining, for playing my little game, and leaving me comments for the sole purpose of trying to be the 200th. (Um, yeah, come to think of it... is that really what I wanted? I feel so cheap and tawdry now. Maybe Jeff A was right. Dammit.
Anyway, thanks to everyone for playing. And if you didn't win this time, remember -- there's still 250, and 300, and 500, and many more milestones to shoot for. I'm not goin' anywhere, and those comments don't write themselves, people. There are only a handful of you out there; there's no reason we can't all be winners here. Bring on the stripper cakes! Woo hoo!
Monday, November 24, 2003
A Rant, a Story, and a 'Contest' Update -- What More Could You Want?
Well, tomorrow's gonna suck.
I hate knowing that the next day has a big oily, greasy, smelly black fog hanging over it... but my tomorrow has just that. At least all the gloom is work-related -- it's actually worse to have a dinner I don't want to go to, or some huge house chore I have to take care of.
Still, though, there's some suckage involved. I've got assloads of crap to do tomorrow. (And where else would a bunch of crap be but loaded into asses, eh? Yeah, don't answer that. Just... don't. You don't wanna sink to my level.) Anyway, I got a couple of things done today, but not nearly as much as I'd hoped. And I've already -- like a big fat goober -- committed to having something finished by next Monday. So it's either work my tail off tomorrow and Wednesday, or burn the midnight oil over the long weekend, trying to earn my keep. Neither option is good, but working on the weekend could seriously get in the way of my sleeping and drinking plans, so I'm gonna shoot for 'Plan A'.
Complicating matters, however, is the early-morning meeting I have tomorrow. Now, normally it's at nine o'clock. And if you've been paying attention for any length of time around here, you know that it's all I can manage to keep my genitals on the correct side of my pants before ten am. So a nine am meeting -- where I have to be awake, alert, and even coherent -- is positively excruciating for me, under any circumstances.
But tomorrow's a double-whammy -- not only do I have a bit of work to wrap up tonight (which I'll put off until the last possible minute, as per my regular M.O.), but tomorrow's little love-in has been moved up -- not back, dammit, up(!) -- to eight-thirty. Eight-thirty! In the morning! Christ, aren't there laws about shit like that? I mean, I'll stick around until seven or eight at night if you want, but I gotta get my beauty rest, folks. (No, really -- you've seen me onstage -- clearly, I need my beauty sleep. And obviously, I'm not getting enough. Bitches.)
Anyway, that's tomorrow. I'll worry about that crap when it gets here. (Or I'll 'accidentally' oversleep and roll in around ten, ready and able to work all day. As opposed to collapsing in a drooly puddle on my laptop keyboard at four in the afternoon, which is what's gonna happen if I manage to get there anywhere near eight-thirty in the morning. Cause and effect, people... cause and effect.)
So, enough bitching. (About that, anyway.) What other trouble can we get into?
Ooh, I know -- since Lara asked, I'll finish up the 'Broken Lock Saga', mentioned here and continued here. In short (as short as I get, anyway), I broke my front door key off in the lock on Friday evening, and then proceeded to more or less completely ruin the lock getting it out of the door, trying -- and failing -- to extract the key, and putting it back in the door... where it got stuck, and wouldn't come back out. Finally, I managed to extricate the old lock cylinder, and get the new one almost-but-not-quite-installed. And stuck. Dammit. That's what I get for having the temerity to try a little home repair, I suppose. In the end, we called a locksmith, and that's where the story left off.
Well, here's what happened since Saturday night:
I spent much of Sunday afternoon staring at the door. I've mentioned elsewhere that I simply hate being beaten, especially by inanimate objects. I mean, what the fuck is this overgrown brain and these opposable thumbs for, if a frickin' door is gonna outwit me? How the hell do you live that down?
So, I took turns throughout the day cursing at the lock in the door and scheming ways to get it out. Finally, I went over and jiggled it a little.
(That's the lock I jiggled, folks -- I'm not saying that I thought walking over to the door and 'showing it the goods' would get me anywhere, okay? I might 'jiggle it a little' to get the kid at the counter to super-size my fries, or to get out of a parking ticket, but that shit doesn't work on doors, or door-related accessories. Seriously, I've had a lot of experience in this area -- it's just pointless.)
Anyway, I went over there and gave the half-installed lock a twist, and it moved a little. So I grabbed my brandy-new can of miracles -- and a girl's second-best friend, from what I understand -- namely, Mr. WD-40, and soaked that lock in slick oily goodness. After just a little huffing and puffing -- and most of that over thinking about 'slick oily goodness' -- I managed to get the cylinder moving, and out of the door. Hooray!
Of course, that only got me back to square one. The door still didn't do us any damned good -- it just didn't have a big useless piece of metal hanging out of it. But now I had confidence, not to mention a plan -- the Tenacious Trio would get the job done. We couldn't fail -- we had my brawn, my wife's brain, and WD-40's oh-so-slickery lubricatiousness. We were an unbeatable, unstoppable, nearly-frictionless team. There was nothing we couldn't tackle.
So, my wife and I spent the next hour and a half sticking our fingers in various holes in the door, trying to deduce how the mechanism inside works. I'm still not sure we have all the details, but we did get the information we needed. (Part of which is that the inside of a door lock is really, really, really greasy. Especially if you've been splooshing WD-40 into it for two days, because you keep getting shit stuck in there. Yeah, you'd think that would have been obvious, huh? Shaddup.)
In any case, we found the little doojobbie (technical term; leave it alone) that would actually unlock the door. So we spent some time studying the cylinder, to see which part of it might act like a finger to accomplish what we'd just done manually. Eventually, it dawned on us that the lock would work -- but it had to be installed upside-down, at least with respect to the original mechanism. I think this was the part where the smoke started coming out of my ears -- the two cylinders look identical. In the old one, the keyhole's toward the bottom of the cylinder, and the key turns one way. In the new one, the hole's up top, and the key turns the other way. How the fuck one worked, and the other one was going to, I didn't know. All I could say for sure was that I had a mushy brain, a really greasy finger, and what looked like a workable plan. So off we went.
And dammit, it worked. The thing went in, the key turns, and the door opens. How? I don't know. And frankly, I don't give a flaming bag of beagle poo. The door locks, and unlocks, and with all that grease swimming around in there, it's actually easier than before. Breaking that key off in there is the best thing I could have done -- I used to have screaming conniption fits in front of that door, because the key wouldn't turn, or the key would get stuck, or it would turn, but the damned door wouldn't open. I threatened to break it, and burn it, and chop it up into little pieces and do a Mexican hat dance around it... and all the time, it wasn't the door's fault at all. It was the lock, which was completely separate and is now languishing in hell, with half my key shoved permanently up its ass. Yes, life is good. (And I apologized to the door for all the abuse. It's gonna be a bit awkward for a while, but I think we'll be okay.)
So, that's the story. All's well that ends with a door that has a working lock in it. Or something like that -- I always forget these saying thingies. In any case, the deed is done, and all it took was jiggling the thing a little, lubing it up, and wiggling our fingers in there for a little while. Er... um, yeah. You probably shouldn't let that get around. That's how rumors get started. Meh.
Oh, and a final note before I leave -- there's still time to get in on the 200th comment action! So hop in there with a thought or a joke or something, and be number 200. I can't offer much more at the moment than a public thanks and a bit of free publicity, but hopefully that's good enough. You want cash and fabulous prizes, you'll have to find it somewhere else. Or wait until I'm rich and famous. I'll hook you up then. No, really.
Totally Topicless Tidbits
Hey, all -- I'll have some actual material-type stuff for you later, but for now, I wanted to tell you three very important blog-related things:
1. After six weeks or more of absence, Shampoo Solo has made her triumphant return.
(Well, her return, anyway... but if 'that's right, motherfuckers, i'm back.' isn't triumphant, then I don't know what the hell is.)
So go -- read her new post, dig through her archives, and bask in the warm fuzzy glow of her highlights. Go. Go now. I'll be here when you get back. Promise.
B. This blog is -- thanks to you wonderful folks -- X comments shy of 200. And no, I won't tell you exactly what 'X' is, for fear that you'll get there, and stop commenting. I'll only tell you that it's... um, less than 100. And I just figured out this morning that the 100th comment was left by Psycho Dad. So a belated 'Thanks!' to PD, and good luck to any of you out there who care enough to try to be number 200.
(And hey, if you miss that, there's always 250, or 300, or 500... if you keep thinking of things to say, I'll find a way to thank you eventually. Hang in there, troopers.)
III. Be on the lookout -- by Christmas, hopefully -- for my Weblog Review review. After several weeks in the queue, I'm up to 17th on the list of sites ready to go through the wringer. I have no idea what their holiday schedule will look like, but I'm hoping that I'll get a nice, big positive review as a Christmas present. (Or a Chanukah treat, or a Kwaanza surprise, or whatever combination of holiday name and good thing floats your particular boat. Knock yourselves out.)
Oooh, speaking of the holidays, I've got a bonus tidbit to share -- over the past couple of days, I've set up an Amazon wish list. I'd like to link to it from here, but I'll probably wait until January to do so. I wouldn't want you to think I'm fishing for goodies here; I just think it's an interesting thing to do. So look for that, sometime after New Years'.
That's it for now -- go check out the 'poo, get in on the comment action, and keep an eye on the Weblog Review. And as an added-added bonus, if you're good -- and she picks my story -- I'll even tell you when my short story's reviewed by the Fiction Bitch. So you'll have yet another way to snicker at me. Stay tuned for that.
Hey, that's five useless tidbits for the price of three! Damn, are you people lucky. Don't say I never gave you extra crap, now, you got it?
Sunday, November 23, 2003
Hey, Who the Hell Stole My Weekend?
Damn, it's eight o'clock Sunday night already? Holy shit, I was just getting warmed up. What the hell happened, anyway?
I had such big plans for this weekend, too. Three big plans, actually. On Friday afternoon, I told myself that I'd have the following accomplished by... well, pretty much by now:
- 1. Decide what material to include in my comedy set on December 3rd, and practice, practice, practice.
- B. Catch up on blogging (including a second entry for yesterday).
- iii. Get started on that project at work that I meant to do on Thursday... or Wednesday. The Friday before last? I forget.
Now, with just a few waking weekend hours left, let's see how I did.
1. Standup material -- The plan was brilliant. Take a look at what I've got on Friday night, put together the best bits I can on Saturday morning, and practice in the afternoon. Perfect.
Yeah, if you're one of those anal-retentive responsible types, who actually like to make a plan and then stick to it. Pansies.
Or if you're one of those comics with loads of good material, and you know how long each bit lasts, and you have no trouble writing seques between them. I'm not one of those people, either. Come to think of it, I fail on pretty much every point.
(*sigh* I really wish I wouldn't write sentences about people cooler than me. Bitches.)
Anyway, I failed more or less miserably to get anything done on Saturday. I poked and prodded, but there's one bit that I just couldn't wedge into the plan. I didn't like the order of things, and it was way too long, and I wasn't sure it would work. So, I did what any true-blue, red-blooded American man would do when the chips are down -- I said, 'Fuck it', and went to bed. Out of sight, out of mind, at least until morning.
And in the end, it actually helped. Which is good, because I was seriously thinking of calling in sick or dead or imcompetent or something, and just forget about doing the show. The secret -- as usual -- was in the shower. I swear, I should shower six times a day -- I have my best ideas in there. I don't exactly know why -- maybe it's the water, or the brazen nudity, or all the scrumptious wet nakedness... I'm not sure. Maybe the shampoo leaks into my ear and seeps into my brain. Who's to say?
All I know is, I got in the shower this morning with no plan.
(Well, 'no plan' with respect to the comedy set -- I had a very definite plan about what to do in the tub. Much of it even involved washing myself. Well, some of it, anyway. Not that the soap was particularly good for cleaning anything after the first couple of things I had in mind... but it's the thought that counts, right?)
Anyway, the point is, when I stepped my naked ass in the shower, I had no ideas. But when I dragged my dripping, wrinkly butt out of there forty minutes later -- hey, these brainstorming sessions take time, people -- I knew what my comedy set would look like. More or less, anyway. There's still some tweaking to be done, and some 'tightening' I need to take care of, but progress has been made. I'm at least in the right demesne. I even practiced a bit this afternoon. Not a lot, just 'a bit'. Hey, there was football on. Why the hell did you think I wanted to get the important thing done on Saturday?
B. Bloggery -- This is, as always, an ongoing effort. As most of you know, I do my best to prepare a little present for you each and every day; a little surprise or two to help brighten your day. Like finding an extra ten dollar bill in your wallet, or having a boring meeting cancelled. Or coming home, and finding your sweetie wearing nothing but sunglasses and a smile. And maybe some Cool Whip, or Cheez Whiz, if you're into that kind of thing.
(Okay, look, this crap's not nearly as good as that last thing, or even an extra ten bucks to spend on beer. Or Cheez Whiz, if you're planning a surprise yourself. These are just examples, people -- cut me some slack, all right?)
Anyway, it's a lot easier to throw an entry or two together when I have some topics lined up. Some days, I'll write down a subject or two, and think about them during the day (and preferably, in the shower), and the posts almost write themselves. And so, of course, with several things to get done this weekend, I came home Friday night with...
Nothing. Abso-freakin-lutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zero. In a way -- a very sick, twisted, annoying way -- breaking my key off in the goddamned door on Friday night was a blessing. Or at least a 'help', because it gave me something to riff on, and fill some space with. (Hey, look, I just got three more sentences out of it. Score!)
So, it took me a bit of time on Friday, and then Saturday afternoon, and this morning, and now again on Sunday night, to get the weekend's blogging done. But I'm hitting the home stretch. Just a couple more paragraphs, and the deed will be done. And for me, that's a relief. For you, it's a few thousand words of drivel to get through. So I understand if you're not exactly 'relieved'. Still, you'll read it all; you know you will. You're cool like that.
iii. Work stuff -- Well, by now, you can see where my priorities lie. And since I've only just gotten the standup material under control, and am finishing up my blogging duties, you can probably predict how much work I've actually accomplished. Big fat none, that's how much.
Eh, s'ok. It's nothing I'll get fired over or anything. Um, probably. I think. Maybe. Whatever.
Besides, I don't actually have to produce anything until the Monday after Thanksgiving. So there's really no reason to do anything for another couple of days. And I can always fool myself into thinking that I'll work all weekend next weekend, so why worry, right?
Um, yeah... right. Yeah, I think I should probably wrap up here and get a couple of hours of work in before bedtime. Maybe if I walk in tomorrow with something, it'll buy me some good will. And since we all know that I'm gonna stop thinking about work shit on Wednesday around three in the afternoon, I'd better get a move-on. I mean, I can't put it off until tomorrow all the time, right? Besides the fact that it'll eventually catch up to me, there's always a blog entry to be written tomorrow, too. I've got my priorities, you know.