Monday, April 30

Perhaps the Greatest Moment in Cinema History Ever

[Listening to: 24-7 Spyz, "Social Plague"]


Sunday, April 29

Memories Can't Wait

Do you like nice people? Do you want a nice guy in your life?
Because I don't think you do.
I think everyone appreciates niceness. Some days it feels like there's hardly any such thing as consideration anymore. From the jerk who doesn't know how to use his turn signal to loved ones whose occasional missteps and oversights (despite their best intentions) seem to cut the deepest -- it's hard not to sometimes wonder just how difficult it is to think for a second before you speak, or to write something down once in a while, or to just think of how the things you're saying might make another person living on the same planet (much less standing right next to you) feel.
Do you remember anyone here?
No you don't remember anything at all.
I'm here, flat on my back.
Never woke up, had any regrets..
But that's not what I'm talking about.
What I'm talking about is what you want in your life. Day to day. Moment to moment. Sunrise to sunset.
Take a walk through the land of shadows
Take a walk through the peaceful meadows
Do you want to rely on people who always think of others, all others before making a decision? Do you really want someone who holds the door for everyone, who is always gonna come running when that call comes over the lines, through the skies, into their ears? Do you really want someone who can't say no? Someone who does their very best not to hurt anyones feelings?
Try not to look so disappointed
It isn't what you hoped for, is it?
It's like the oldest cliches in the book that nice guys finish last. That women go for the jerks. But thoughts like that aren't worth anything if the only ones saying them are the very same ones who are willing to accept that they are being victimized by that generalization.
Because the truth is that women don't love jerks.
Women love backbones -- and a-holes have them.
I like to think of myself as a considerate person. I try really hard to be there for people. I listen. I pay attention. I remember things. I let the little stuff go. I give a crap.

But you know what?
I'm not jerk enough.
Not that I've never been a dick. Not that I've ever let people down, or hurt them with words, actions, or inactions. Because I've done plenty of that. Ask my ex-wife, ask my father, ask j, ask my friends, ask my family, ask the people close to me who've ever felt unimportant, under-appreciated, over-needed, or blamed for all my shit even when it's really my fault. I'm not an asshole, but there is a healthy amount of things I'm pretty inflexible and insensitive about. In some cases, they are things I feel absolutely justified with -- but it's not like I'm gonna stand here and pretend every one of my issues comes from honorable places.

Because you know what nice people do? We pick our targets. Waitresses. Customer service reps. Panhandlers. People who fish off bridges. Coworkers with less standing or seinority. People nicer than us.
There's a party in my mind
And I hope it never stops
They party up there all the time
They'll party till they drop
Nice people don't always tip when they eat alone. Nice people litter. Nice people step on ants. Nice people take it out on the people they think they can get away with it on.
And when that isn't enough - we'll take it out on the people closest to us.
For every extra little project you take on at work, for every screwed up food order that you didn't make a fuss about and ate anyway, for every time you knew you were being worked, dumped on, worn down, used to make someone else jealous, left alone when you didn't want to be, or pulled into a crowd when you wanted to be alone. For every time you bent over backward, for every time you got down on your knees there's an equal and opposite reaction. It's like some natural law. I can't explain to you why there are some of us who just take it and take it and take it -- but I can damn sure tell you that eventually it's gotta come out, and for those of us who don't like to rock the boat it ususally ends up being the kind of deal that takes the whole damn ship down with it.

Yeah, you wish he'd remember to put down the toilet seat once in a while -- but when your in-laws are treating you like shit does he bring the pain or does he tell you that "it's just the way they are?"
Other people can go home
Other people they can split
I can never stop
I can never quit
I don't want to give up the part of myself that makes me different from all the douchebags you've ever dealt with in your life. I value that part of myself. I cherish the fact that I was raised by a man who was always there for me, still is, and will always be. But when we're both sitting at a restaurant picking at our food because we know what we shoulda done, what we should have fucking said it's hard not to wonder if things could have been different.
Everything is quiet
Everyone has gone to sleep
I'm wide awake
with these memories..
I want to be there for you. Every one of you that's in my heart. But when two of you call at the very same time, when I'm with you and the phone starts ringing, when you can't find me on the phone when you need me, when I wish things could have worked out differently, when that's just the way things have to be, when the memories can't wait..
That's when you'll wish I was a jerk.
[Listening to: Taproot, "Sumtimes"]


Friday, April 27

Actually Spoken at the 1:25 Minute Mark of This Video

"Oh my god, what the hell is wrong with Moby!?"

(NSFW)
[Listening to: Living Colour, "Happy Times"]


Thursday, April 26

Lemon Meringue

Tickets bought. Schedule cleared.
See you in the pit, Cholly.
[Listening to: Blindside, "Hooray, It's L.A."]


Friday, April 20

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Evening

"You're gonna choose Dungeons and Dragons over all this?"
[Listening to: Stray Cats, "Stray Cat Strut"]


Thursday, April 19

My Friend Goo

While the club I frequent isn't the hottest place in town, there are still a lot of reasons I love it. The main thing is that I feel comfortable there -- I've been going to Endo Exo for years, starting when it was called "The Velvet Room." I went to high school with one of the original owners, it was where bartender Christina worked forever (which made going there always fun), and the crew that works there now are probably the closest things to running buddies that I have, and they always take care of me.
That being said, they totally hung my ass out to dry last Thursday.
I walked in to find the place about a quarter full, regulars and locals embroiled in conversation, a few people watching the basketball game, and the rest off in their own world enjoying a few cocktails before going home. I sat down, ordered my drink, and gave a friendly nod to the guy sitting at the bar next to me. He smiled back, and then leaned in with an outstretched hand. I shook it heartily and asked "How you doing, buddy?"

Which was all Bill needed to hear
Because his name was Bill.
Hi, I'm Bill. Dude, I'm Bill. You and me, we're gonna be friends -- my name is Bill. You're all right, I'm Fucking Bill! That's what Bill's talking about! Hey bartender, bring another drink for my friend here and put it on Bill's tab! Excuse me a minute pal, I gotta talk to this girl -- hey baby, slow down, I'm Bill, and you're gorgeous, I know I sound totally drunk and you don't believe I'm serious, but I've never seen a woman as fine as you in my life.. I'm Bill.
Man, some bitches can't take a compliment, you know? I'm just trying to be friendly (shakes my hand), -- I'm Bill.
In between introducing himself to me fifteen thousand times and telling me that his name was Bill, I found out that Bill was in town from Chicago to take a training class for the railroad company he worked for. He had recently been promoted to management level, and had to go through (as he put it)
"Two weeks of corporate brainwashing bullshit that's trying to change what Bill's all about -- but Bill ain't having that, no fucking way. I mean, the money's great -- they're talking about paying Bill $103,000 a year"(!?) to think the way they want, but you know what Bill does when they talk to him? I just smile and nod -- and then they know I've beaten them at their own game."
Some of his classmates had wanted to go to a nearby Hooters for dinner, but
"Bill wasn't trying to hear that. Who wants to see a bunch of fine bitches who think they're better than you that you have absolutely no chance of taking home with you? Not Bill, that's for sure. I told them all -- Hey motherfuckers, lets go to a bar and find some real pussy. Not that Bill needs it, I mean -- we all need it, am I right? But I have this biker girl back home that loves me so much it makes my head spin. She's sooo beautiful and cool and Bill just got divorced but she doesn't care about all that mess and oh, hold on a sec..
Hey sweetheart, you're not just gonna walk by old Bill here without saying hello, are you? Boyfriend!? What's his problem, can't he wait a second while old Bill says hello and tells you how beautiful you are? What do you see in him anyway, always trying to tell you who you can and can't talk to -- Bill wouldn't treat you like that. All right, OK -- but when you get sick of him and his bull you know who's gonna be here waiting? That's right baby -- Bill's gonna be right here."
Man, there's a lot of stuck-up pussy in this place. I'm just trying to be nice, I don't mean no harm, you know what I mean? Of course you do -- because you know what's happening around here, don't you -- yeah, I can tell. You and me, we're gonna be buds. I'm serious, anytime you need anything, give me a call
..My name's Bill.
[Listening to: Sonic Youth, "Bull in the Heather"]


Wednesday, April 18

Go Cry, Cronkite

There were a lot of things that I learned when I trekked out to St. Augustine to go catch Earl Greyhound the other night:
1. Kamara Thomas is even hotter in person.
2. Matt Whyte is like 15 feet tall - and if he has anything close to a low-post drop step I want him on my team.
3. The best way to overcome a shitty sound guy is to play so loud you drown out the PA.
4. When it comes to music, Ashley is always right.
5. Pringles are really not an effective pre-drinking dinner choice.
6. Yes, that was a double vodka you ordered.
7. There's no such thing as too many jokes about the white girl dance.
8. Julius Airwave sucks.
Well, maybe that isn't totally true. Julius Airwave's songs (which were sort of like what I imagine a head-on collision between Coldplay's tour bus and a bad Smiths cover band might sound like) left me completely flat. But I totally loved watching their bass player -- because perhaps without knowing it he was the perfect embodiment of every bass player in every alternative band ever.

First off, he loaded his equipment (Ampeg cabinet, Rickenbacker 4003, one cable) on stage himself, plugged in -- made sure he was in tune, and then proceeded to stand in quiet annoyance while the other 4 members of his band proceeded to take 25 more minutes to set up all of their stuff up.

He was wiry thin with one of those olive-brown t-shirts that probably cost $50 but looks like it hadn't been washed ever, revealing just a hint of half-sleeve tattoos on both arms. Once the set started, he knew every song, hit every beat, and looked utterly disinterested in what he was doing the whole time. Occasionally dude would break into a "twist one of your legs in time with the beat without ever taking your foot off the floor" dance move, but once he noticed people were looking it would stop completely. Then when the gig ended he was unplugged, packed up, off the stage, and talking to women before anyone else had even started to break down their gear.
Dude was perfect.
Unfortunately, his band was just lame. Not in the sense that they weren't capable musicians, or that they didn't work together as a group -- but that despite their synergy and polish, the songs were just ..dull.

Which I guess is the reasoning that lies at the heart of my sense of music snobbery. Especially when it comes to live music, there are so many things that can ruin it for me. With local bands, it's usually a matter of one or more members of the band being so annoyingly bad at their instruments or respective roles in the group that they actually ruin the potential of a band that might have otherwise been something worth hearing. There's nothing worse than seeing a decent rock band lay down a solid groove only to have some wannabe singer come out and Fred Durst the whole thing. But then there are cases like Julius Airwave where the band has been around a long time, the members clearly knew their stuff, and yet still didn't do anything for me.

But man, I was clearly in the minority on that thought -- because the hipsters in attendance couldn't get enough of that mopey bullshit. Each song ending brought raised cans of PBR in appreciation. It's people like this that keep Moby and the White Stripes in business, and it's getting old. I mean, I'm all for different people liking different styles of music, but if something outright sucks it should be universal, right?

And while I'm at it -- can someone please explain to me why so many hipster dudes will go to any length and expense to look like Jerry Reed? Sure Smokey and the Bandit was a funny movie, but it was never intended as a fashion guide. Besides, what's the point of dressing like a trucker if all you drive is a Nissan Sentra?

I don't know -- maybe I don't have room to talk here; when I was in school I was still doing my best to look like I was one of the guitar players from Ratt -- but even then I still wouldn't lower myself to the level of Pabst.

Here's a hint: You don't need to look like an extra from the set of Hee Haw to see an advanced screening of the latest Wes Anderson film -- all it takes is 10 bucks and a couple hours free on a Tuesday.

Besides, we all know what happens when you take a Rivers Cuomo worldview and put it in a cowboy shirt, don't we?
[Listening to: Earl Greyhound, "Yeah, I Love You"]


Tuesday, April 17

Paperwork for Lunch

It is what it is. It's the right thing to do. It's what we both want. It's about time. I'll be glad to get it over with.
But it's still kind of a bummer.
[Listening to: Jane's Addiction, "Mountain Song"]


Monday, April 16

Hawk

As a Florida State University graduate from the heyday of the epic battles between our football team and the in-state rivals down in Gainesville, believe me when I say that one of the purest joys I've had over the years is seeing bad things happen to this guy. From the "Choke at Doak" to Rex Grossman looking like an idiot at the superbowl, I'll always crack a smile when anything happens that could possibly lead to the throwing of a visor.

All of which makes what I'm about to say all the more rare and worthy of writing down:
Way to go, Ball Coach.
I couldn't agree more.
[Listening to: Ill Niño, "Te Amo... I Hate You"]


Sunday, April 15

Telepathy Now

Hello. Were we introduced? Are you a friend of a friend? Did our names fall alphabetically in line in the seating chart in Mrs. Prime's 7th grade math class? Is there anybody in there? Did we both take equal joy in tormenting Meg Hawley while she tried to teach? Did I build a set for your show? Did I run sound for your band? Did I buy a guitar from you? Were you dating one of my best friends? Are you married to my brother? Just nod if you can hear me. Were you googling the lyrics to a Shinedown song a couple of years ago and just happened upon something I wrote? Did I like your poetry? Do I come back to your bar every night? Is there anybody home? Did you stalk me online for a while first, message me for two years (in one night) and even then had to sort of hit me over the head to let me know we had more in common than just the brand of printer connected to our computer?
Or are you one of the people I see, find interesting -- yet somehow never get up the nerve to talk to?
I don't know why I'm like that, but sometimes I just am. If you live a thousand miles away from me I'm your best friend. But in situations where it's like "go here, do this, meet people, make friends" sometimes I just get frozen, and I really don't know why.

Sometimes it doesn't bother me. Sometimes the images on the phone and the memories in my head are enough. Sometimes I don't need the unknown, the small talk, the mind games, or the bullshit. But sometimes I just sit here on the outside looking in and it burns more than any drink I try to wash it down with. Because it doesn't feel like the doors are closed -- It's just that I'm not walking through them the way I should be.
Ok - Just a little pinprick.
There'll be no more --aaaaaahhhhh!
..But you may feel a little sick.
Times like this in my past I've looked to people in my life sometimes too much -- clinging probably too tightly to them in the hopes that their momentum could fill my sails, push me forward, and get me to a place I somehow wasn't able to get to on my own. But there's only so far that can go -- and only so much you can learn from it. Even if being a part of something helps you find happiness, are you able to maintain that flow when those things grow up, graduate, move away, drift apart, or file for divorce?
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what you're saying..
It's like sometimes I get lost. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don't know if I'm actually seeing myself or if I'm just looking for someone else that used to be there. Someone you used to hang with. Someone you fell in love with. Someone you still think of time to time. Someone you've never met, sitting just across the room in silence
..Not saying anything at all.
[Listening to: Deftones, "Passenger"]


Friday, April 13

Sinn Féin

If you listen really carefully (which I sometimes forget to do) you'll notice that no one ever really says things like:
"Hey, you want in on an Irish Car Bomb?"
..because that would imply that they were only planning on having one.
And I'm here to tell you -- that wasn't the plan.
Not even close.
[Listening to: Incubus, "Nowhere Fast"]


Thursday, April 12

Why They Call Her Lassie

I hate to say it, but I'm actually kinda surprised at my level of diligence so far in going to the gym. It's been almost two weeks and I haven't missed a day. I suppose it's still the honeymoon period or whatever, but since my plan is to go after I leave work I'm always worried that a hectic day at the office is going to spring up and prompt me to drive straight to a bar instead.
So far, so good.
The other thing I'm happy about is that I'm already hitting that point where my body is looking forward to the workouts. There were those initial few days where my muscles were screaming out in protest, but more and more I'm leaving my workouts feeling really jazzed up -- which I'm taking as a good sign.

Unfortunately, there has been one negative side effect -- the inside of my truck stinks. Between being where I keep my gym bag while I'm at work and the first upholstered seat I sit on after I work out, things inside the Ford have started to get a little ..gamy.

I'm talking the kind of funk that laughs in the collective faces of Febreeze bottles and small tree-shaped air fresheners hung from the rear-view mirror.

I guess if I'm the only one who ever rides in there it's not that big a deal, but I'd hate to be out and about one night and have my game killed because of the silent but deadly killer living inside my vehicle. Not that the F-150 was ever really a chick magnet to begin with, but if things keep going like this the only hope I'll have is running into Mrs. Honeywell from Porky's


Oh boy, smell that air -- The boys' locker room always turned me on.
Really?
Yeah
..Yeah?
..Yeah.
Yeah
[Listening to: Sevendust, "Waffle"]


Tuesday, April 10

Too Many in the Kitchen

For a long time now there's been a big push in this city to change the name of Forrest High school to something, anything else. The problem is simple - while it's true that Nathan Bedford Forrest was a noted general in the Confederate army, he also happens to be the very first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

But last night the initiative took a real step forward as it was addressed in a committee vote that moved in favor of making the switch - a step that could give this idea a lot more momentum to move towards the local school board (the body that could actually affect the change).

To be honest, I'm sorta of two minds on this issue -- Obviously I don't think it's right to have anything in town (much less a school) glorify the memory of anything associated with the Klan, but at the same time I don't really think people have taken the time to really think this whole thing through. For example, if we're changing the name of Forrest High School, then it only makes sense to re-evaluate how we feel about neighboring Robert E. Lee high school, or my alma mater that's named after another lovable confederate by the name of Edwin Stanton.

I mean, it's noble and all to want to remove traces of lingering negativity from the darker days of southern history from current landmarks and institutions -- but if you're gonna do one then you probably really need to do them all, you know? I mean if we're going to apologize for the sins of the past, there's no sense in doing it halfway, is there?
I'm just wondering how long it will take before people remember who the city of Jacksonville was named after.
Because if we're gonna rake through the history books and talk about people who treated minorities like shit, then you've gotta have a place right at the top for "Old Hickory" -- who just happens to be the ever-lovin' namesake of our guilt-ridden little town.

The funny thing is that the ones the committee is trying to protect -- the students, are the ones who couldn't care less. When I was in school the kids I knew who went to Forrest preferred to call it "Poorest High." In fact, most all the schools in town had endearing nicknames like this that have literally been passed down for generations (I still know people who refer to Terry Parker as "Toilet Paper" and UNF -- the University of North Florida as "You Never Finish"). Adding flame to this fire is the fact that in student polls the student body themselves (which is made up of a number of different ethnic groups) has voted against changing the name.

But above all of these things is this problem that keeps coming up again and again in the modern south based off the idea that if we somehow obfuscate any trace of the civil war, slavery, and decades of civil rights indignities that they will somehow disappear. Like if we rename Forrest High school the KKK will vanish in some cartoon-ish puff of smoke and we'll all be able to hug and smile because, you know -- those things never happened, right?

Worse yet, the way that this debate works out -- it makes it seem like all the people who are against name changes like this are actually somehow in support of the ideas that those names represent, which I'm not really sure is the case at all. Unfortunately perception usually equals reality, and it's not that hard at all to spin this around to where it appears that groups of hardline rednecks are fighting against actions being taken by forward-thinking progressives who are trying to take steps to drag the south kicking and screaming into the politically correct 21st century.
Get something straight -- this is not a race issue.
This debate is about history, and how it's viewed in modern contexts. And the unfortunate and unavoidable truth is that Jacksonville, like so many cities in the Southern United States is built on a history filled with shadows that are easy to be ashamed of. But guess what -- a lot of history is like that. For every American city named after Andrew Jackson there are ten more in Europe named after Alexander the Great, and dozens more that were named in honor of Julius Caesar. The world is filled with cities, schools, libraries and landmarks named after pharaohs, emperors, and kings that were all named something else before their streets were stained with blood.

Here's a thought -- how about making this city one that's worth living in for the people that are here now. Maybe instead of arguing over the best way to whitewash the villains of a hundred years ago you could try working together to make Jacksonville the kind of city that doesn't need worry about the meanings behind the names. The kind of town where the past is learned from and grown past instead of being shunned for what people might think about it when they find out the truth.
After all, Timucus Indians used to call this area Ossachite -- and no one
seems to be all that concerned about how that changed, now do they?
[Listening to: Follow For Now, "Mistreatin' Folks"]


Monday, April 9

Sticker Shock

They say only two things in these life are certain.
And if that's true, one of them just walked up and kicked me in the nuts.
I've never been what you would call a financial wizard. I work, I make money, I wonder where my money went. Maybe other people do things differently, but I rarely think about how my financial decisions are going to affect my taxes until somewhere in early April when I'm staring at a computer screen saying things like "I owe how much?"

It's frustrating though -- because it's been a long time since I've actually gotten a tax return. I've been paying out to the government for a long time (and if this weekends results are any indication, that trend's not going to change anytime soon). But the worst part is that I've essentially got no one to blame but myself. The reasons my taxes this year are so ridiculous would have stung me regardless of which party was in power, or even if nothing was happening in the Middle East. Sure these things contribute to the percentages and all, but once you're at the point where you're actually discussing payment plans with the IRS it's not like those things really matter.

In the end it's almost like a epilogue to a chapter of my life that didn't turn out the way I was hoping it would, and the decisions I made along the way. Still, the sheer weight of it was enough to damper my spirits for the remainder of the weekend -- because now that I had a real number in front of me I could see all the unreal numbers that had been floating around in my head falling down like dominoes.

I'd actually been scheming towards getting a new vehicle, or maybe moving into a nicer place (or even a different city). Not that I'm rolling in cash, but I've got (or had) a little breathing room that I could see putting towards some kind of long-term goal. And that's where I think my weekend got torpedoed, because seeing those things evaporate in my hands made me want to be pissed at the IRS for seeing me rollin', hatin', patrollin', and wantin' to catch me ridin' dirty.
But I really can't be.
I mean, there's plenty of blame that could be thrown around, but it's not like if I find the right culprit the bill's going to go away or anything. So instead I'm adjusting my goals a bit, and finding a way to deal with it.

The thing about it all that sticks with me though is this sense that in at least this arena I'm still kind of a child. Taxes is a game for grown ups -- or at the very least requires a certain maturity in your mental processes if you want to get ahead of it. Through the whole tax preparation process the woman who was helping me (who was really sweet) kept saying things like "if you'd only done this," or "Man, that mortgage broker really did a number on you". She was only stating the obvious and perhaps trying to soften the blow, but all it really sounded like when it reached my ears was "are you sure you should be swimming in the deep end of this pool without your floaties, young man?"

For better or for worse, I've always seemed to approach tax day like a game show. I go in, give my stuff to someone, and after they put it all into a computer they kinda morph into Bob Barker with his skinny microphone either saying "A brand new car!" or "Thanks for playing, and please spay or neuter your pets."

Maybe it's just because I got stiffed with this monster bill, but it dawns on me that the older I get the more I need to get away from this sort of thinking. Because lately it's been more like that game I sometimes play in the bathroom called "What did I eat to make me do that?" -- which sounds gross, but I know I'm not the only one who does. You sit down to do your business, stand back up, look inside the bowl in horror and think to yourself:
"There's no way that thing came from the soup I had for lunch today."
I'm no doctor, and I'm not sure I even really want to know -- but it seems like there's a time period between when you eat that bacon cheeseburger and the day you're sitting on the can grunting obscenities about how you should never have eaten that bacon cheeseburger, and will never have one again as long as you live (whether you really mean it or not).
Which is exactly how I felt sitting at H&R Block this weekend
[Listening to: 40 Below Summer, "Falling Down"]


Saturday, April 7

Crunky the Snowman

I want to be in the ice storm.
It's a gorgeous day here in Florida. The sun in shining, the skies are clear -- it's almost beach weather. But if I had a choice right now, I'd be up north. Bundled up and dry-lipped, in the places where you have to keep your hands in your pockets whenever you walk.
Why?
Just because, yo. Just because.
[Listening to: Black Flag, "Wasted"]


Friday, April 6

Lady Bracknell's Phrase

Today in the café at my company they've set up one of those temporary storefront things where a couple of ladies are hawking a boatload of designer purses. I suppose it's cool that there's something other than work happening on a Friday, but it kinda seems like an ambush -- today being payday and all. I mean, people can choose whether they want to buy them or not, but having this thing right there in the middle of the campus provides very little chance for the person with low impulse control to avoid at least browsing through them.
Which seems to be the case, because it's like a frikkin' mosh pit over there.
Plus, it's purses -- which next to shoes is one of those things women seem to always have a soft spot for buying whether they need to or not. I mean, I know that's how selling things is supposed to work -- but it's not like the store is always there. Somebody let them in here, you know?

It's not a bad thing, just kinda weird in the sense that the audience they're shooting for seems kinda one-sided. Corporate culture is still steeped in the mires of political correctness, which I suppose tries to help keep the working atmosphere focused, but then when you see things like this you're not so sure. I mean, there's no way I'd ever expect to walk out there and see a bunch of tables pushed together and stacked to the gills with guy-oriented impulse buy items.
Could you imagine a mass email arriving in your inbox saying:
"Today in the café you'll have the chance to browse through a wide variety of Hooters Girl swimsuit calendars, naughty playing cards, "I don't wake up angry, I just let her sleep" and "Federal Boobie Inspector" t-shirts, and while they last -- those hats that you can put two beers in so you don't have to use your hands to drink while you're watching the game."
But beyond all that, the thing that struck me the most when I was waiting in line to buy my lunch and watching all this taking place was that the purses they were trying to sell were huge. Big old shoulder strap numbers bordering on luggage size. Is that the style now -- I thought it was going the other way? Like I would really know anyways, but these things remind me of the purses that my mother used to carry back when I was a kid.

It was the 70's, so styles were obviously different, but for years my mom lived and died by this enormous burgundy-bright red leather sort of thing. Actually the color bordered more on orange than anything else, which never matched anything else she was wearing.
She absolutely lived out of that thing.
It had pockets all over it, a pair of tiny straps stained to the breaking point, and continually bulged outwards because of all the crap she kept in there. Gum, tissues, wallets, notepads, calculators, sunglasses, paperback novels, toys she'd taken away from us and forgotten to give back, stuff for her job, spare change, coupons, small children, Sherpas.. You name it -- it was in there.

The funny thing about it though was she was always losing stuff. My brother and I almost always got into trouble messing with stuff in line at the supermarket because there would always come a point where she was doing that "holding one strap open with the other on her shoulder while she furiously dug through her purse with her free hand" move. Once she started doing that we knew we could start rummaging through the candy or magazines on the racks, because we knew her eyes were off of us.

Of course, once she realized that her sunglasses were actually on the top of her head or that she had already put her checkbook on the counter she'd snap her eyes back to us. The trick was to catch her quickly in that second of embarrassed exasperation, that moment where she'd actually say things like "I really need to go through this thing and take out some things, don't I?" where you could sort of mumble things like "Hey mom can I have this snickers bar?" and she'd be so wrapped up in her own Waterloos that she'd always answer:
"Just give it to the lady so she can ring it up, we're in a hurry!"
[Listening to: Faith No More, "Caffeine"]


Thursday, April 5

The Spheres Are in Commotion

I was never really any good in my science classes in school. Too much math, not enough essay assignments where I could blind the teacher with wordplay -- it just wasn't my thing. But I loved labs. Setting things on fire, cutting up frogs, mixing chemicals, all that stuff was what I wished for every day I walked into class. I know you need one facet of the class to truly understand the other, but I would have been completely happy to just go in every day, put on the goggles and gloves and rock it.
That's not the way it works though -- so the only
real science I do these days is mixing my own drinks.
Maybe that's what makes it so weird for me to work for a medical technology company. Because even though my job is all about the research and the reports, the office I work at is basically one big science lab. The people who manufacture the products spend half their day looking into microscopes, and there are research labs in every department. The surgical instruments we make have to be tested, qualified, documented, wined, dined, sixty-nined, cuddled with afterwards, and called the next day before they can ever be sold. So it's not uncommon for me as I run around the place getting to meetings or getting approval for my projects to see people all lab-coated up and getting their science on.

In particular there is this one research lab I pass by almost every day that I always catch myself looking into. Partially because there's this gorgeous girl working in there, but also because that's the lab where they're always doing the really crazy stuff (OK, it's mostly the hottie -- but there have been times when I've passed by and seen the team inside looking at things with black lights in the dark, mixing things under open flames, or whatever).

But the other day when I passed by there I saw something I still haven't quite figured out, mainly because even though it was clearly there -- no one seemed to be paying attention to it all:
A series of electrodes and cables
..plugged into a ham.
[Listening to: System of a Down, "Cigaro"]


Tuesday, April 3

Dr. McBastard

So I joined a gym recently, which I'm pretty jazzed about. It's a local place close to where I work that was built inside the renovated remains of an old Food Lion -- which is kind of an interesting thought, because if there's anywhere in the world where getting healthier was never a concern, it was the lion.

But it's a gym now, complete with all the bells and whistles -- including a series of free visits with their personal trainers and two consultations with the in-house chiropractor. Of course the whole aim is for you to shell out more money for regular visits and treatments, but it's kinda nice that even if they are free visits most of the people involved do their best not to make you feel like they're not making any money off it.

The chiropractor especially has been pretty cool -- even if everything he's telling me are basically technical-language filled euphamisms for "you're fat and you eat garbage."

One of the first things he had me do was keep a food diary. Basically I was supposed to write down everything I ate for a couple of days so he could get an idea of where my problems were (when my dad heard about it his response was: "Everything you eat -- I hope you asked for more than one page!").

So I started writing things down, but like a lot of homework assignments in my life I kinda got away from it and ended up filling it out sort of at the last moment. I tried to be honest filling it out, but even I have to admit the version I gave to him this afternoon was largely um, ..abridged.

It didn't matter though, because even with the things I left out, the problems were still pretty clear for him to find. I'm skipping too many meals during the day, not drinking enough water, and eating too late at night. But then he told me something I wasn't ready to hear at all.
"Oh yeah, and you probably need to cut down on all this orange juice you're drinking, too."
I tried to look like I was interested in what he was saying, but inside I was going nuts. Cut out orange juice? I don't care if it's where all the sugar in my diet appears to be coming from, do you have any idea just how much of this stuff (with and without vodka) I usually have in a day? I'm basically addicted to the stuff -- and have been for a long, long time.
Besides, what's the worst that could happen?
[Listening to: Deftones, "Birthmark"]


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