Thursday, January 31

Leave The Hairnet On

So apparently the little café they have at the office will be offering a special menu next week in recognition of Mardi Gras. The flyers that have been showing up in my email inbox and on bulletin boards all around the campus talk about things like Cajun flavors, Dixieland music, and authentic Bourbon Street-styled decorations for everyone to enjoy.
Of course where I'm from, Mardi Gras has a different sort of meaning.
..I'm bringing beads.

[Listening to:  Sex Pistols"Holidays in The Sun" ]


Wednesday, January 30

Cocaine is a Hell of a Drug

OK, true believers -- caption contest time. What sight/news story/rumor/etc. made the marmot do this?

[Listening to:  XTC"Making Plans for Nigel" ]


Actually Spoken During the Course of My Evening

"I can't believe this -- you're a mermaid racist!"
[Listening to:  Bloodhound Gang"You're Pretty When I'm Drunk" ]


Tuesday, January 29

An Objective Review of My Lunch


[Listening to:  Pixies"Monkey Gone to Heaven" ]


Monday, January 28

Story of My Friggin' Life

There are some things out there in the world that you just can't really get that mad about, no matter how much you want to. I mean, you could -- but it only ends up being wasted energy because it's not like the situation was created to piss you off, it's just one of those things that ends up that way.
Either that, or you find yourself somewhere that reminds you
of the things you don't like about yourself -- which is never fun.
I don't know -- sometimes I can't help but be keenly aware of just how solitary my lifestyle is, and what I need more than anything is someone to talk to, even if it's just useless conversations about inane crap. Sometimes you just want to be around people, have something going on other than the bubbling of the lava lamp or the babble from the television set.

So I guess it's a good thing that recently Endo Exo has been experimenting with being open for happy hour after work (which is something they haven't done in a long time). A couple of times over the past week I've ended up there, just hanging out and shooting the breeze with the crew and the various folks who wander in.

Of course -- since hardly anyone knows where the place is, much less the fact that it's open during the afternoons now, most of the time I'm in there it's just me and the bartenders, which is fine -- since they're friends of mine anyways. The problem is, the two main guys working this shift are bachelors in the prime of their game -- who have no problems using the mystique surrounding their job to help them woo members of the opposite sex.
As a result, I've been getting third wheeled a lot lately -- and it's starting to get old.
I mean, lets be honest here -- these are good looking guys who know how to play the game, and would (and probably do) continue the hunt whether I was there or not. But If I get one more wordless nod of the head accompanied with a motioning of the eyes towards the door, or a sudden need to "Close the place down early since it's only the three of us anyways.. You want a free one for the road?" I'm gonna take a hostage.

I don't know -- it's just one of those times when I'm feeling sad-sack lonely and find myself in a situation where no matter what I do to try and escape that feeling, I keep finding myself in situations that only end up reminding me more.
But I mean, what can you do -- Go into the bar and say, "Hey Ralph -- stop getting laid?"
It reminds me of the situation so@24 had recently where he got together with the boys to hang out and swap stories, only to realize he didn't have any stories to swap. I mean, in the end it matters nothing and it doesn't change anything about what kind of person he is or the connection he has with his buddies,
But that doesn't make it suck any less.
Maybe people are gonna read that wrong and think that everythings about comparison or whatever, but that's not really it. It's more about that feeling of negative resonance that it seems like sometimes you just can't seem to get away from, especially at the times when you're trying to escape it the most.
Leaving you sitting on the couch alone, drunkenly wishing you had a time machine, scads
of frequent flyer miles, or at the very least friends who get publicly shot down once in a while.

[Listening to:  Bjork"It's Not Up To You" ]


Friday, January 25

Donnie Say Vacuum

Ok, actually Donny doesn't say vacuum -- because despite the fact that the non-naked side of the web is usually an all-encompassing encyclopedia of video clips from television shows that were cancelled ages ago, there is apparently next to nothing on the web featuring footage from Just Shoot Me.
Honestly, Internet -- isn't this the kind of thing you're supposed to be good at?
Anyways, as much as I'd like to share every second of the brilliance (at least in my mind) that was the episode that first introduced us to David Cross playing the part of "Slow Donnie" -- this is the best I could come up with:
Which cracks me up to no end, but without any corroborating evidence of any of the rest of the jokes or setup from that particular episode not only leaves anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about in the dark, but also serves to make me look like more of a dork than I probably already do at this point.
And while I'm at it, can I just speak for a moment to the dude who posted this video?
Look bro. I love boobs as much as the next guy. But this two fully clothed actresses running through a grass field -- with the suggestion being (I guess) that we're supposed to be all gaga at what might be happening under the shirt of the semi-famous one? I mean, are you kidding? This is what gets you going? It isn't even hot. In fact, considering the fact that you just had to go and do that whole lets-roll-the-tape-backwards-and-watch-those-puppies-jiggle-in-reverse trick makes the whole thing just sorta creepy.
What are you, 12?
No doubt the Internet is home to crazies, weirdos, and childish behavior -- but you get the idea if the guy who posted this were to accidentally set foot inside a Hooter's, his head would explode.
Ladies, this man does not speak for the rest of us.
This one does:

[Listening to:  Nothingface"Can't Wait for Violence" ]


Thursday, January 24

Ghost in the Machine

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to meet my iPod:


Maybe I should explain. See, when I originally bought my iPod Nano I fell instantly in love with it. The features, the ease, the seemingly endless storage space -- it was a dream. But then last week when my hard drive crashed, one of the really unfortunate side effects was some sort of glitch within iTunes that first wouldn't recognize the iPod at all, but then (after much hand-wringing and effort) decided to accept the input, followed by a fascinating sync session wherein everything I had put on the thing disappeared completely.

Fast forward to the present -- and I've got the computer running again, complete with a newly downloaded and re-installed version of iTunes. Unfortunately because the hard drive was new (or something like that) iTunes considered it to be a whole different machine, and made me jump through a couple of hoops before it would let me start refilling it with songs
One of which must have been the virtual equivalent of sacrificing
a chicken over a pentagram -- because now it's acting really weird.
First it was little things, like displaying the names of songs I uploaded, but then not actually playing them. Then it started storing my podcasts in the song library, hiding them inside the "various artists" category.

A little research on the web helped me get those things fixed; enabling me to get back to the task of loading all sorts of CD's and mp3 files from my personal collection onto the thing -- which is one of the main reasons I had wanted to get the thing in the first place.
Miles Davis -- check.
Frank Zappa -- bring it on.
Living Colour -- plenty of room
Mindless Self Indulgence -- dos of those babies
Cibo Matto -- entire library, thank you very much
Nothingface, Nonpoint, Deftones, Taproot, Sevendust, Skindred, Motograter, Ankla -- oh hell yeah
Meshell Ndegeocello, Prince, James Brown, John Legend, Marvin Gaye -- ain't no party without no ripple
Bowie, Hendrix, Talking Heads, King Crimson, PIL, Radiohead, The Police, TMDR, -- gotta have it
The Clash, Sex Pistols, Social Distortion, Vandals, Dead Kennedys -- I can't believe all this is fitting on here
Various one-offs, guilty pleasures (more on this later), and j's mix CD's -- All right, that's probably enough.
But then as I was putting all these things back on the shelves and packing it all up I realized that there were like 3 or 4 CD's that I had passed over while getting all this stuff that might be good to have on the Nano as well. So I opened iTunes back up and tagged on a couple of beloved favorites from Siouxsie and the Banshees, Killing Joke, Bauhaus, and The Cure.

Satisfied with a job well done, I packed everything up -- gawked in wonder at the 4 gigs of free space that are still available to use, and then caught the end of the Packers game (which by the way -- has anyone checked on Tom Coughlin's face to see if it's recovered yet? Dude was starting to look like Darth Maul for a while there).

Anyways, long story short -- I come to work the next day, put on my headphones, hit SHUFFLE SONGS and what do I get?
Cure Peter Murphy Cure Birthday Massare Cure Cure
Love and Rockets Siouxie Sioux Cure Cure Bauhaus Cure
Look, I like the stuff. It's good music. Hell -- I'm the one who put it on there. But it's just one of the many different styles of music that I enjoy -- and I sure as hell didn't spend two days stuffing songs onto this thing just so I could hear Bela Lugosi's Dead four goddamn times in a row.
It's like the ghost of some bitter little goth has gotten in there and taken over.
I mean, I'm not the worlds best math guy or anything, but if the shuffle function is supposed to choose random songs from a library that's already pushing 900+ items -- how the heck does something like that even happen?
I'll tell you how -- Ted must have gotten to it.
Ted S.; college roommate, former friend, and slumlord to us all for the first few years we lived in that off-campus apartment at FSU -- was infamous in the house for his obsession with two things: Listening to classic rock and telling anyone who would listen about the superior qualities of his super-expensive and finely tuned stereo equipment.

As such, he was more than happy (almost insistent, really) to set up his component system in the living room of the apartment for all of us to use.
There was only one problem:
Ted's CD player wouldn't play any of our stuff.
It was the weirdest thing. He'd set it up and put in one of his endless collection of greatest hits albums ("What, you guys don't like Boston? -- That's cool, because I've got Foreigner too.") and they would play like a dream.

But then we'd put in one of our Public Enemy CD's and the thing would immediately lock up, or skip through the songs so badly that you could barely listen to them at all. So we'd put different discs in there -- Bad Brains, Living Colour, Jimi Hendrix -- none of them would work. Ted would fiddle with knobs and buttons for a minute (to no avail), shrug his shoulders, and then say something like, "I don't know guys -- something must be wrong with your CD's."
And we'd be all like: "No way dude -- Your CD player is racist!"
He'd get all mad and huffy, call the whole idea ridiculous -- but no matter what we put in there, whether it was John Coltrane or Snoop Dogg it would just sputter, spin, and then flash the words "No Disc" before our eyes. What's worse, whenever we put the same CD's in Spruill's little $20 boombox they would play just fine -- which only added fuel to the fire.

I mean the whole thing was just kinda weird -- and all the teasing was intended as a joke, but just like everything else Ted sorta took it personally, and would get really mad whenever we called it names like "The Ku Klux Memorex" or "Massa."
..I can't tell you how much happier things became the day he finally got
into his CRX with the tiny speakers in the doors and drove out of our lives.
Of course none of this is gonna do anything help me figure out what to do about the ghost in the shell inside my Nano so I can randomly hear tracks by 40 Below Summer again. I mean, I guess I can put together playlists or whatever -- but to be honest, I was kinda looking forward to hearing what a shuffle mix of all my different musical tastes might sound like.
Then again, I could always call in a professional:

[Listening to:  The Cure"Charlotte Sometimes" ]


Wednesday, January 23

Bad News, Gang

61%

[Listening to:  Sex Pistols"Bodies" ]


Tuesday, January 22

If You Have Something Important To Say To Switch, I'd Suggest You Say It Now

Spending the last two days trying (unsuccessfully) to back up files while constantly pushing ignore on the little pop-up message telling me that "Windows has detected a problem with my system volume, and suggests backing up all data and programs immediately before a total hard-drive failure occurs" -- leading to a wonderful series of waltz-like conversations with various members of the Squad de la Geek regarding what exactly my repair warranty agreement does and doesn't entitle me to, followed by many hours of un-installing promotional programs that the system restore disk put on my new hard drive, reloading the software that I actually use, re-setting preferences, and then discovering that all of that effort has led iTunes to believe that I'm not actually me anymore, making it appear that I might have to actually buy all the things I've bought from them again in order to bring my iPod (which itself got wiped out when my HD decided to do it's best Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs impression) back to life -- has offered me pause to consider just how tethered my life has become to this little box with the TV attached.

Look, there's no doubt that the Internet is an amazing way to instantly connect yourself to information, entertainment, and people all over the world -- but it's strange how the advent of living without it for a few days makes you realize just how much time it actually takes away from you. Time that could easily have been spent in the real world learning things, finding ways to help your fellow man, and perhaps discovering more of your true self in the process.

I mean, maybe I do spend too much time with my computer. Maybe there is more to life than the things I read, the things I post, and the pr0n that I download. Perhaps it's time to finally admit that despite my intentions to use the web to promote myself as a writer and exchange ideas with like-minded individuals that it's turned into something different, something that not only closes me off to honest-to-goodness physical interactions and real world experiences, but has perhaps lulled me into a regrettable state of mind that sees email or IM exchanges as more important than talking to and actually listening not only to the things that people are actually saying, but taking example and inspirations from their actions as well.
In other words -- I think the time has finally come to shut off the computer, stand
aside my fellow man, and find out what's really happening in the world around me:

-- News Conference, LA County Courtroom, 1/14/08

..Nevermind.
[Listening to:  Mindless Self Indulgence"Bring the Pain" ]


Friday, January 18

Waitflixing

Just a day or so I was having a conversation with j where she was on me for still not having finished this book we're both reading so we can finally talk about how we felt about it, which sort of turned into a general conversation about how incredibly lazy I can get sometimes, even with things I like -- with the main example being the way that I'll go into Blockbuster to rent a movie and pass up all sorts of things that I've heard are good and that I honestly want to see, but just don't seem to be in the mood for at that specific moment.

Well today bopping around the web I discover that not only am I'm not alone in this process, but apparently it's gotten so commonplace that they've come up with a name for it. According to the folks over at Buzzsugar, "Waitflixing" is the practice of adding a movie to your list of movies you want to see, but then continually passing it over or putting other movies ahead of it to the point where you never actually watch it.

"Waitflixing" is the new companion term to go along with "Notflixing" (getting a film in the mail from Netflix or Blockbuster and sending it back without ever actually watching it) and "TiNoing" (which is the practice of TiVo-ing a program with the intention to watch it, but never actually going through with it).
Otherwise known as: Two Out of Three Things that I Do All the Frikkin' Time.
Two out of three because I am among the tivo-less, (but I'd be willing to bet all the warranty cards I've never sent back that if someone gave me one of those things tomorrow, I'd be doing that too).

Remember that scene in Pee Wee's Big Adventure when the pet store catches on fire, and Pee Wee goes in there to save all the animals -- and he frees a bunch of cats, and he herds out the hamsters, but every time he goes back in he looks at the cage full of snakes with a creeped out look and decides that he'll, you know ..save them later?

Well the way he runs out of the pet store with his hands full of garter snakes, screaming at the top of his lungs and convulsing in pure grossed-out fear is probably exactly the way I'm gonna act when I finally break down and rent 300.

Seriously -- the day I finally decide to get over whatever hangup is preventing me from spending money on things like 3:10 to Yuma, The Descent, The two Grindhouse films, and Paprika I might as well put on a silver suit and a red bow-tie, because it's gonna look like this:

And it's kinda stupid, because these are all flicks that I really want to see -- but for whatever reason I keep pushing them down the line in my Blockbuster queue online, and passing them by whenever I'm actually at the store browsing for titles.

I think a big part of it is that one of the things that I love about good movies (and even moreso for movies that are supposed to be good but actually suck) is the experience of watching them with someone and talking about it afterwards. You know, times when the experience is shared and the context is fresh in everyones minds? You can't always get that when you watch flicks alone, even when people you know have seen the film -- because to set up the point you want to talk about you almost always have to re-narrate the scene from the movie to get everyone in the right place to see what you're talking about.

And unless it's a movie that demands multiple viewings, the process itself is so tedious that it becomes a chore to go through, not only for the speaker but for the listener as well.
To me there's nothing better than seeing a movie with someone and sharing that moment where you're so unanimously annoyed/pissed off that you actually have to press the pause button so that your complaints about it can be aired without distracting you from the rest of the film itself.
Movie nights rock anyways, even with the worst of films -- and maybe the fact that I don't have anyone to really share them with right now makes it easier for me to pass on things that would normally bring out the movie snob in me and go for mindless junk that can be ingested and forgotten easily instead (case in point -- I'm all about zombie flicks, and I love me some Milla Jovovich, but Resident Evil: Extinction was such a complete yawner that I tuned out about halfway through -- I was actually mad at myself when I realized the credits were rolling and I didn't even bother to watch the big fight at the end).
Not that I actually rewound it and watched it or anything -- but if I
spent money on something, I should have at least tried to watch it, right?
At the same time, there are soo many movies out there at any given time that unless you give time to it every week (and who really has time/money for that anymore) seeing everything you want to becomes a chore in itself.

Which of course, all provide the perfect excuse for me to just bag it all and finish this novel that admittedly I should have really finished by now, but have just sort of fallen off the wagon with, even though I really, really, really want to know how it ends.
..Which I guess should be called Waitbooking?

[Listening to:  Ankla"Glimpse" ]


Thursday, January 17

From Miami With Love

Once again, a comment thread has spawned something so shockingly evil that the only way to stop it is to become it.
Comments for this post will only be accepted if they are written David Caruso/Horatio Crane style.
Anything less.. (puts on sunglasses) would be criminal.

[Listening to:  Rush"A Passage to Bangkok" ]


Wednesday, January 16

This Way to the Egress-erfield

This is what I don't get. Everyone bitches ad nauseum about how every movie Hollywood puts out these days is a remake, that there are no original ideas in the movie industry anymore -- and then someone throws together a string of commercials for a monster movie without showing the actual monster, and everyone jumps on their knees like Tri-Delts at a frat party.
Three things you need to know about Cloverfield.
#1. Once you see the monster, the movie is over.
Um, hello -- Blair fucking Witch Project much? Is anyone really chomping at the bit to shell out $10 this weekend to see a bunch of hipsters and pretty girls running, screaming, and cowering in hospital wards throughout lower Manhattan, or are you simply hoping to finally get a good look at the monster?
..Yeah, I thought so.
Well bad news people -- because all that hipster-hospital-ohmygod-what-is-it-why-us-what-did-we-do-to-deserve-this-where's-Heather-I-thought-she-was-with-you-she-was-just-here-a-minute-ago drama?
That's what you're gonna get.
Don't expect to see any more than an elbow or an asshole of the bad guy until at least the last half hour.

Because I gotta tell you, once you see him -- the spell will be broken. He won't be big enough, you'll see a zipper, the computer-generated edges will be too noticeable, he'll be in too many scenes where he's like 10 miles away and the whole "shaky cam" gimmick will only give you so much perspective on him...

Think about it: the main force behind this thing is the guy who produced Lost. You know, the show that had people on the hook for like 2 years and then told them that the evil killer presence walking around inside the tropical island was a polar bear.
Polar bear. Tropical Island.
Who doesn't love a payoff like that?
Seriously, have any of you been to a freak show -- ever? I'm not talking about that Lollapalooza Jim Rose bullshit where you pay $20 to watch some meth addict stick a carpentry nail in his eyeball, I'm talking about that tent outside the traveling circus that wants you to pay $5 to see the "Dog Boy" -- only to find yourself standing in a darkened room staring at some teenage hillbilly with a leash around his neck in a cage chewing on a bone with what seems like the kind of facial hair growth you'd get if you didn't shave for a month?

Maybe it's just because I live in Florida and I've been to the bait and switch capital of the world, better known as St. Augustine's Old Town far too many times -- but there comes a point where you start to wonder exactly why it is they are keeping this such a complete secret.
So yeah, after you're done seeing Cloverfield -- give me a call and I'll take you to see the
honest-to-goodness-no-that's-really-it-see-it-says-so-on-your-ticket Fountain of Youth.
Trust me, it's awesome (and huge, btw).
#2. If you want to see this movie, make sure you see it first or at least before your buddies/friends do.
Because by Saturday images of the monster and spoiler reviews will be everywhere -- and anyone you know who has seen it will be armed with the one fact about the movie you don't know, and even if they don't give it away (which you know they totally will anyways), you'll be able to read enough from their eyes to know too much going in.

The reasons movies like the Saw and The Sixth Sense tend to resonate with people is because the twist at the end is just icing on the cake. There's enough content or shocking moments in actual film to wrap your head around that the huge revelation at the end only really adds depth to the things you've already come to like about the film.
But think about it, every time you watch The Usual Suspects now that you know who Kaizer Soze actually is, doesn't the experience kinda pale in comparison to that first time when you didn't?
If you didn't learn your lesson with Blair Witch, think for a second about War of the Worlds (either the original or the Spielberg remake). The Tripods. They're monsters, they're huge, ruthless, unstoppable killing machines. We have to find a way to stop them before they kill us all. How are we gonna stop them?
..Wait, how did we stop them?
Oh yeah, we didn't. They caught the flu, and then just sorta died. Movie over.
Look, I know War of the Worlds is an old school sci-fi allegory that Speilberg ramped up and made into a bigger thriller -- but my original complaint about the story still holds, namely -- what's to stop the aliens from coming back to earth, buying some Sudafed, and then killing us all?
And if you haven't seen that flick and I just ruined it for you -- understand this is exactly how you're gonna feel when you're standing in line for the 3:00 show and some zit-faced teenager and his friends are walking out saying, "That was stupid, who would ever believe New York could be destroyed by a giant squid (or whatever it turns out to be)?"
#3. You've already seen it.
The director can dress it up any way he wants, but I'm telling you -- you've already been here, just with a different name:
I hope I'm wrong about this. Honestly I do. I love Giant Monster/Godzilla-style movies, and when I first heard about this thing started to get really jazzed for it. But honestly, once a marketing campaign these days gets past the viral stage and they're still jerking people around like this what it usually is means they've got something to hide.
..like perhaps a crappy movie that could still pull good opening weekend numbers
if they can just manage to keep up this PT Barnum shtick for like two more days?
So don't come crying to me if you sit in a theater for an hour and a half only to realize that the creature that ripped off the Statue of Liberty's head and terrorized New York City turns out to be Larry the Cable Guy or Cedric the Entertainer on stilts.
..Or when they make 10 more sequels of it.
[Listening to:  Diecast"These Days" ]


Tuesday, January 15

Resistance is Futile

One of the secret fantasies I've harbored ever since I was a little kid was to be a Supervillain. Sure I loved all the superheroes and good guys that were presented to me in comic books and on Saturday morning cartoons -- but the thing that separated the shows and comics I stayed with versus the ones that I didn't really like was the coolness of the arch-enemy involved.

But being the weird sorta kid I was -- a lot of my playtime fantasies were actually spent pretending to be a henchman of a given supervillain, carrying out their evil schemes while waiting for the perfect moment to rise up and take over the bad guy army for my own evil purposes. As such, I spent a lot of time playing Imperial stormtrooper attacking the rebels, Motorcycle Apache chasing Speed Racer, and things like that.
It was good fun, and it allowed me more opportunities for death scenes --
which were always my favorite part of playing good guys versus bad guys.
The reason that I bring this up is that I currently make my living working for an multinational corporation. Which means that as much as I'm thankful for the gig, and like the place I'm working at -- I hold no aspersions to the fact that somewhere far up the ladder of this company there's a guy in a black cloak wringing his hands and laughing evilly while he muses over his plans to screw someone over somewhere in the world in the name of his new world order that will finally end this pointless conflict and bring balance to the galaxy.

Of course the place I work at is just a small manufacturing wing, and as such probably isn't really directly privy to the big picture evil scheme that's going on. Hell, we don't even get to wear matching uniforms or insignias -- or shout out things like "Cobrrraaaaaa!!!" every time we submit an expense report (which, btw -- I am totally suggesting at the next office morale brainstorming session).

At the same time, there are moments when the singular vision Supervillain side of this company shows itself.

It probably happens where you work too. You have to look close, because it's not like a publicly traded corporation is gonna come right out and say something like: "We're the Misfits, Our songs are better, We are the Misfits -- we're gonna get her!!!"
But make no mistake, it's there.
Lurking somewhere beneath the fliers offering discount tickets to Universal Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights and this month's training schedule is the proof that underneath it all, waiting to strike is the ultimate desire of your corporate overlords for all the employees to dress in the same outfits, drive special vehicles, and attack all that is right and good in this world.
Which is where I kinda have a problem, because this is ours:
Every manufacturing company has one of these, and for good reason. Things are dangerous. People get hurt from time to time. No joke, we make laser scalpels and endoscopic blades here. All day, every day people work with saws, lathes, presses, and all sorts of other things that could easily screw up any one's good looks if they aren't careful. Safety equipment around here isn't just required, it's common sense.
Which is exactly why I feel like this new poster campaign is suspect.
Seriously, it's not like the guy who uses the ultrasonic welders around here needs to be reminded that wearing goggles is a good idea. He's probably the one who went to the boss one day with singe marks on his fingertips and said "What the hell man, does someone have to die around here before you tightwads fork out for some gloves?"

In other words, all these posters that have popped up in the last week aren't really for the people who work with the slicey-dicey stuff -- they're clearly here to show potential customers that there are ongoing initiatives happening to deal with the various personal injury threats inherent in our given line of work.
Which in my mind means that the symbol chosen
to represent this message could have been anything.
I mean it's not really that hard to come up with a smiling animal to represent the rank and file and their specific need to wear safety glasses when working around machines. But being a big-dollar corporation, you know that there were meetings. Teams of specialists assigned to the task of whittling down all the possible choices until they found the one that best represented not only the need for safety awareness, but a perfect metaphor for what a happy henchman employee of this company looks like.
But seriously, a Turtle?
OK -- maybe I could see the shell being the precursor for some sort of body armor, but even so -- does the idea of a horde of evil turtles really strike fear into the heart of anyone?

Even the colors seem kinda gay. I mean, bright yellow and dark green might provide good camouflage if our bid for world domination involves guerrilla combat in canopy jungle, but I'm having real trouble believing that even a heavily-armed garrison of people dressed like this could effectively conquer/oppress anyone.

Nevermind the suggestion that any group of prisoners that we might want to capture could probably easily outrun us, or that any band of rebels could overthrow legions of our combat forces simply by pushing us onto our backs -- how about offering us some symbolism we as an evil army could get behind?
How about Giant Safety Mecha-Killbot? That's got a nice ring to it.
Or if you're really stuck to the whole Turtle thing, maybe jazz it up a little -- like Hey Kids, it's Tommy Tortoise -- The Remorseless Ninja of Death! At least have him transform into a jet fighter, or get one of his hands changed into a claw or something. For crying out loud, turtles in the Pokemon world have guns on their backs -- is this really the best we could come up with?

How about this:
Gamera says,"Be Safety Smart -- Always check the city streets for moving cars or attacking tanks before stomping the buildings and eating the people. And remember, high-rise office buildings are built with sharp glass that can often become a projectile risk when broken. So no open-toed shoes while on the rampage -- and put on those glasses, k?"
To me that sounds a hell of a lot better than standing up in front of the United Nations holding up the severed head of the commander of the worlds resistance forces and saying: "Your armies have been defeated and your defenses are in ruins. The leaders of your world governments have surrendered to our might -- so throw down your arms and accept your true fate..
Kneel before Safety Sam!!
[Listening to:  Frank Zappa"Pygmy Twylyte" ]


Monday, January 14

Crap, I'm a Jam Band

Saw this over at the jodiverse the other day, and as much as I've been overmeme-ing lately, this one is actually a little different than most -- and I just couldn't resist jumping on the train once again.

Generate a fake band and it's first album:
Step 1: Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

Step 2: Go to http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four words of the very last quote are the title of your album.

Step 3: Go to http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/
The third picture -- no matter what it is, is your album cover.
Throw it all into some image editing software, mix well, and voila!
Serves as many people that are willing to take the time to glom on and do one themselves (although if you do, please leave a link or whatever in the comments so we can all go see what you came up with and swoon over it). Part of a complete balanced breakfast. Professional driver on closed course, do not attempt without parent or guardian supervision.
p.s. -- Where was this back in college when I needed it?
I mean, sure Kamojang sounds kinda lame -- but
it's still better than Soulphoto any day, knammsayin?

[Listening to:    ]


Sunday, January 13

Get Me a Whopper

It's a weird world. You come into it unspoiled and aware, open to every possibility without question, doubt, or fear. You're given love and care, provided with boundaries to keep you safe from harm -- while at the same time you are offered the opportunity to discover and explore the world all around you.

Unfortunately, the unspoken cost of wisdom and knowledge is the loss of small portions of that same sense of unfettered innocence. In a strange way it's almost like the more things you learn and the more explanations you get, the less you're able to be fascinated and amazed by. Not that your quality of life is horrifically lessened, but that there's a certain tiny philosophical dent that gets put in the side of the brand new car that is your sense of wonder when you understand the reasons why the sky is blue.

Most times you let it go. Most times you put that on a separate shelf, so that it doesn't interfere with the good feeling you get when you wake up on a weekend morning and look out your window to see a bright and sunny day staring back at you.

But that moment. Those tiny instances in time where those facts come into conflict, and you can't help but get a little mad that things aren't the way you wish they were..
That's when he comes out.
I'm never more of an annoying white guy than when I'm complaining that things in my life have changed from what they used to be. Not that guys from other cultures don't get mad about these sorts of things too, but that somehow honky complaining about quality of life now versus when they were younger brings out the worst in those of us who can't escape what we are, regardless of how much we dislike the image it presents.

In other words, when white dudes get all riled up about "these kids today with their music and their Internet-enabled phones" or whatever it's like we act differently. Our asses clench up and we tend to wave our hands around a lot while we talk. Then we stand there with clenched fists while random veins in our foreheads pop out and pronounce themselves. I think we walk funny too (I mean, we always kinda do -- but it's sooo much worse when we're incensed).

Seriously, I would give anything to alter the way I cuss when I'm stuck in traffic. Call me an Uncle Tom, or Michael Jackson or whatever you want -- but if there was some sort of pill or injection I could take that could reverse whatever genetic engineering makes me say "Shit, Shit, Shit!" the way I do when I can't wordlessly impose my will upon an interstate filled with people who won't speed up and let me merge, I'd be the first in frikking line.

And make no mistake, we all do it to some extent. Seriously, -- if you order something at a restaurant and your server messes it up to the point where you've just gotta tell someone about it, you could be goddamn Eminem up in that hizzy and the words "I need to speak with a manager" would still sound awful.
All that being said, I'm pissed.
It's the same mental attitude that has launched a thousand ruined cultural relationships -- and I'm not trying to crack back on anyone here (even inadvertantly), but you know just as much as I do that there is nothing more infuriating than when things you are used to start working a different way, or disappear altogether.

I know it's called progress, and there's a negative stigma attached when you're the only one standing in the back tugging on the rope trying to pull things back into the past -- but man, this sucks.

After an accident that wasn't my fault and a whole bunch of mess that I had to pay for myself I finally get my Mustang back -- only to discover the "Service Engine Soon" light blinking back at me. So I come home to get the info for the body shop, only to find that somethings wrong with this computer that I've only had for a few months -- and when I control-alt-delete to get that fixed up I get a blue screen of death. I get through recovering all that the best I can, and now my iPod won't sync.
All Dude ever wanted was his rug back.
And all of this would be ok, because you know -- shit breaks. It's just part of living in the go-go-gadget world, and as frustrating as it can be there's really no use whining about it, especially when you paid the extra cake to ensure that you could repair/replace said gadget should this sort of thing happen.

But then I go to blog about it, you know -- vent off the anger, try to laugh at it a little, only to discover that last.fm has discontinued the practice of offering embed codes for songs on their website. You know, the little flash-widget thingee that I put at the end of all my blog posts where you can hear 30 seconds of the music I'm listening to?
Gonzo.
Man, I loved that thing. I don't know if anyone who ever visited this site actually ever clicked on any of the song clips I put on here ..ever, but because music is such a big deal in my life, I always liked having those tunes there. And not just as a way to add a multi-media appeal for readers, but also as sort of a scrapbook of who I was at the time I was listening to the tune. I know it sounds kinda corny, but if you click on the archives and notice the kinds of artists and songs I put in the bottom corners of the entries -- it sometimes helps zoom in on certain memories, certain people who came into my life at that time who affected my musical tastes, introduced me to new artists, or put me in certain moods reflected by listening choices I made at that particular moment in time.

But more than that -- I just liked having those little clips there. It was cool to me, like fins on the back of a '57 Chevy, or drive-up diners where the waitresses rode roller skates, or the roaring 20's, or when they invented the light bulb, and when Jebidiah traded in his horse for one of those new-fangled Model-T contraptions, or when Ooog discovered fire, or when we all found that monolith and decided to throw the bones we were eating up into the air..
See what I mean?
In the end it matters nothing. It's just something I used to like that went away, probably in the name of moving up to something cooler that I'd probably like even better if I'd just give it a chance. Beyond that, getting mad about it and complaining this way makes me look kinda doofy and uptight -- which despite my good intentions, shames us all.
Not to mention the fact that this doodad I found to replace it is fugly as all hell in comparison.
I mean seriously, the next thing you'll be telling me is that they're gonna cancel one of my favorite shows and replace it with some sort of half-assed remake of something I liked as a kid.
How much would that suck?
[Listening to:    ]


Thursday, January 10

A Light in the Dark

One of my beliefs is that one of the most important things you can possess in this life is an inquisitive mind. The ability to question things, to wonder why, to want to figure things out. I really do think that this kind of spirit has been the impetus for so many of the great things that we have in this world. To be honest, I'm also of the belief that many of histories greatest human tragedies are a direct result of large groups of people blindly accepting ideas and events around them without question.
But it's not a perfect theory.
That human beings could cross the threshold to the point where we can isolate, understand, and split the very atoms that make up the world around us is nothing short of incredible.
But that's not where that particular story ends, is it?
Tuesday night I was feeling really restless. I was filled with this a sort of bubbling, positive energy that was begging to get out. Between being in a really good place with my writing, getting my car back from the shop, the sense of optimism that's surrounded the embracing my latest attempt at re-envisioning my life in a healthier light, and the sound of urging, breathy voices talking to me on the phone from far, far away making me feel as if they are still close enough to share headphones with -- there was this sort of tide swirling all around me, making the thought of simply staying in and doing nothing seem like a waste of kinetic potential.
So I got in the car.
Tuesday nights are largely a wasteland in this town. Places are closed, a people stay home -- you can find things to do, but the kinds of choices you're left with are kind of limited in comparison to later days of the week. Not that there aren't places to go or things to do -- but they all seem to come with asterisks. It's a night that I normally choose to stay in and save my money. But like I said, I was feeling pretty good and wanted more than just the television and the sound of passing cars for company.

My thought was to head out to the beach -- have a few beers, maybe shoot some pool. So I turned the key, fired up some music, and steered into the night. Out of the driveway, onto the interstate, off at the exit; move down Beach Boulevard with every intention of getting from my side of town to the oceanfront.

I like driving at night. There's something about it that's inspiring and electric. Storefronts, multicolored traffic signals, and passing cars create this patchwork of light and sound that's easy to get lost in. I mean, you're driving and you have to pay attention to what you're doing -- but there are times when it can be mildly hypnotic, drawing you in to a place where you find patterns and intricacies that speak to you in ways that can't even really be explained to other people, but make you quietly happy inside.

I don't know -- maybe hypnotic isn't the right word. Maybe it's more like you're hypersensitive, sort of a place where you're keenly aware of more things than you normally are, and your mind likes the feeling of processing that many things at once. It's like a minor version of an athlete getting in a zone, or when you hit a really rich vein when you're writing and you just don't want to stop until you get it all out.

Things catch your eye. They draw your interest and pull you towards them. It's not a bad thing.
But there are two sides to curiosity.
I was pulling up to a red light at an intersection that I swear I've stopped at a million times before. The kind of driving where you're aware of what you're doing, but there's a certain amount of instinct and repetitive memory involved. Which is probably why I found myself looking around more at that point than say, when I was navigating traffic on the interstate or trying to make a turn from one street to another.

I didn't even notice it at first. It was just another light in the dark. Just another person, someone going somewhere, heading in a direction that led them to a destination. Part of the matrix of lights outside, but individually nothing worth giving any extra thought to.

But unlike the rest of the background, this light was moving in an unexpected way. Erratic and jumping, hitting the windshield of my car at different angles, creating enough flare and reflection to separate it out from everything else in the ever-changing panorama you normally see when you're driving around that late. Enough distinction to make me wonder what it was.
Until I realized that it was moving towards me.
It was one of those moments where your focus is pulled away from everything outside and locks onto a single detail. Where this little voice in your head says things like, "What is that? Can you tell what that is?"

Until that moment when you discover the secret inside the atom, between the neutrons, where all the energy is tightly packed and relatively safe, until someone comes along with an accelerated particle and cuts it all loose into the world around it.
Which is exactly what happened when I realized that the light coming towards me was a motorcycle, sliding on its side across the median from the oncoming lane where it had been into the side of the road that I was on.
..without a rider.
It was like time slowed down, like the connections between the visual information I was getting and the reasons that might explain why I was seeing such a thing fell into place, each with a crashing sound as the dots of circumstance connected within my mind while friction finally took hold and brought the sliding wreckage to a wobbling stop, bathed in thick, backlit smoke coming from the scraped metal underneath and the exhaust fumes rising through the still-spinning wheels.

The feeling in my stomach was so ..thick. My whole system became unsettled as I pulled off to the side in an attempt partially to avoid colliding with the motorcycle and partially just to process all the implications that had come into focus inside my mind. Everything was sorta blurred, but you could still see things happening all around you. You could see other cars coming to a stop. You could see people standing on the side of the road, eyes wide open, hands held to their mouths in shock, speaking words into cell phones, looking around everywhere hoping for something that would provide a better answer, or some sort of explanation.

It's like horror movies. Horror films don't scare me. By and large I find them funny. I get surprised when monsters jump out of dark corners, and I feel disturbed and queasy when I see orchestrated scenes of violence or torture -- but I've seen enough of these kinds of films in my time that they don't really bother me on any kind of deep level, probably because I rarely ever separate the concept in my mind that I am seeing and hearing frightening things with the fact that they're all happening on a screen in front of me. Not that I can't suspend my disbelief, but more like I rarely close the door behind me to the point where that I can't make a distinction between what's real and what's make believe.

The reason for that I think is that most horror films these days give you too much information. If you watch enough of these movies you get to the point where you know exactly what's going to happen. When the monster's gonna jump out. When certain characters are about to die. When the scared girl will have her "hero moment" and start fighting back. There's so much focus on creating the illusion of gore and terror that you actually can't help but reach a sense of closure with it all in your mind during the two hours or so that you spend with the movie.

If I see the killer waiting to kill a character, and also see that character worried that he's going to be killed. If I see the knife in the bad guys hand, if I see the motion of the stabbing, and the fake blood coming out, and hear the screaming performed for the microphones it all registers. It's disturbing and frightening as a moment, but in a lot of ways it’s encapsulated. It's part of the story that's happening on the screen.

In other words, While I would hate hate hate to have to crawl through a pit of needles to find a key or an antidote to save someone's life -- I'm always somehow aware that it's not really something that's happening to me, so it's like I'm watching a representation of someone else's fears and terror rather than exploring or delving into any of my own.
Unless it's Hitchcock.
I don't know exactly how that little fat man figured it out, but to this day the things that happen in his films (some of which are like 50 years old) creep me the fuck out. There's something about the way he presents things, the way he only reveals parts of the terrifying ideas that make them too open for a mind like mine to sit still and just accept it as part of a movie, or a story that I'm reading.

It's like he somehow understood that it's not the monsters under the bed that are scary, but the idea that you're there on top of the bed -- never really sure what it is that will bring them out. You don't know if you can move around on the mattress, you're afraid to make a sound (but at the same time you're terrified to fall asleep because maybe it's the lack of sound or movement on the bed that it's waiting for..), you're damn sure you can't put your feet on the floor close enough for a clawed hand to reach out, grab them, and drag you screaming under there with them.
The less you know about something, the more your mind focuses around the idea.
It's like the opposite of wonder. Engaging the obsessive part of your mind that wants the mystery solved but doesn't have enough evidence to make it happen. The part that can't help but think about that shower scene in Psycho where all you have to go on is an approaching shadow on the shower curtain that you can see because you're watching the film, but instantly know the girl taking the shower can't see because she's standing under the water thinking about something else
Just like you do every morning before you go to work.
That's when it gets me. That's when I find myself standing in the bathtub, trying to wake up and get into my day only to see a certain pattern of water swirling into the drain that gives me a mental connection that sends me into an irrational kind of panic that has me suddenly peeking out from the shower curtain to make sure no one's there, and then paying waaaay to much attention to any signs of unexpected noise coming from outside the bathroom the entire time I’m in there.

Because you wouldn't be able to run. Because you don't know what all those birds perched on the jungle gym are thinking. Because as much as you want to know what the man in the apartment across the way is hiding and where his wife went, you have no way to tell Grace Kelly to stop snooping around in there and get out -- because he's coming up the stairs right now!
I knew that motorcycle had a rider.
But as the wreckage sat there smoldering on the ground, the fact that I couldn't see that person struck a very real, very dark chord inside my mind.

Because without even trying, without even really wanting to -- the logical centers in my mind began formulating the scene. Playing it backwards. Trying to answer my unspoken question of where the rider could be, and any number of all too possible and graphic reasons why he wasn't still sitting on the back of that machine right now.

It was like the fact that I didn’t know what happened, didn't have enough information to process or try to understand put me in a place where all I could do was wonder. Explore the idea. Subconsciously explore it, examine it in parts, and even worse -- put myself into the situation so I could have a better frame of reference with which to try to gain the sense closure that I so desperately wanted to feel at this moment.

Closure that I still somehow knew wouldn't be reached even if there was some way to see the rider. Especially at this point.

It's regrettable that people rubberneck and look at car accidents when they drive by them. Regrettable that as horrible as the footage of the World Trade Center attacks and the Space Shuttle explosions were that I (and millions of others) felt some sort of morbid need to watch them. But I think a lot of times we do it so that we can come to a sense of inner peace with them in our minds. It's like "ok, the paramedics are taking care of them -- they're gonna be ok," or "the car is really messed up, but I can see someone surviving a wreck like that."

It's like we're looking for information. Finding clues that will help us draw a conclusion. Turning to the last page in the book to make sure everything comes out ok, the way all horror stories do at the end in the books and the movies.
It's almost like instead of telling myself "It's only a movie, it's only a movie, it's only a movie"
I was quietly screaming inside "Please let this be a movie, please tell me this is only a movie"
Maybe that's what made all of it bother me so much. Because part of me needed to know that next piece of information, but part of me was terrified of what it might look like. Not sure I could handle it.
But it was like I had to know, you know?
I needed to know that he was ok, or that my worst fears were true. Either way, I needed to know that there was a glimmer of conclusion to the story in front of me.

By this point I was standing beside the open door of my car, looking around, searching the gathering crowd across the road, asking people if they had called for help. And eventually I did catch the sight of what I was reluctantly looking for. But it's not like I could go up there and find out everything I wanted to know. It's not like the facts were available for discussion or understanding.
He was just there, lying on the ground.
As sirens came closer and the situation began to take form it became clear that there was really nothing I could do at this point but get in the way. I don't have any medical expertise; I hadn't really seen what happened, so I couldn't tell the police anything helpful..
The light was changing. Car horns behind me began to honk.
I wish I could tell you more. I wish I knew the real ending to this story. I wish I didn’t need to tell it in some form to try to get it all out and try to understand why it’s bothered me so much and robbed me of any sort of restful sleep for the past two nights. I checked the news, but even that was sort of a bad idea.

But I will tell you something that's been echoing in my mind ever since that night. Something I've never really ever told that many people before:
I’ve always sorta wanted a motorcycle.
..I always thought that would be a cool thing to have.

[Listening to:    The Police"Invisible Sun" ]


Tuesday, January 8

Ten Things That Shouldn't Be Fun, But Totally Are

The ongoing conversation that's sparked up in the comments regarding a previous post about the utter awesomeness that is roofies has got me thinking about all the other things that I probably shouldn't laugh at, but still do anyways.

I wouldn't really call this a meme, and I'm not much for tagging people anymore -- but if you want to jump in on this thing, feel free; I'd love to see what some of yours are.
  1. Hydroplaning
  2. The C word
  3. Getting away with silent farts in mixed company
  4. The blatant disregard my roommates seem have for anything that belongs to me
  5. Talking dirty/Flirting with bill collectors and telemarketers
  6. When little kids cuss
  7. Shoplifting
  8. Flavor of Love 3 (You know I'm gonna watch -- but seriously bro, jokes over)
  9. Drunk dialing
  10. Moments when you realize who your own worst enemy actually is -- like when I opened up the microwave to warm up a healthy side dish of mixed vegetables to have as part of my dinner last night, only to discover a plate of leftover pizza inside there that I guess I had wanted to eat after coming home drunk Saturday night, but passed out before the buzzer went off and then totally forgot about until that moment.

[Listening to:    Rush"Before and After" ]


Monday, January 7

Pretty Hot and Tempting

It's a New Year, which means a new resolve to get things in your life in order that are messed up. Most people call them resolutions, but because no one I've ever really known has ever really stuck to one -- it seems like that name isn't really all that effective anymore.
I mean, I resolve to do things all the time.
It's almost like people's general half-assery and lack of follow through has sort of unofficially changed the meaning of the word "resolution" from being something you vow to do and actually try to accomplish into being more like something you wish could happen to you before the year ends without you really having to do anything about it yourself.

In fact, it seems like the people that are really able to influence change within their lives are the ones who really know how to set goals. How to measure progress. How to quantify and adjust their processes in order to ensure that what they are doing isn't just some sort of band-aid fix to a long-term problem, but a fundamental shift in the way they approach their lives.

For example, a few years back I decided that I needed to put up or shut up when it came to Jacksonville's annual big road race called The River Run. It's one of this cities oldest established traditions, but when you get right down to it -- is more of a social event for the majority of the participants than it is an athletic competition. Not that it isn't a challenge to complete, not that it didn't have a benefit for me, or that I'm not proud of the fact that I ran the thing twice and did a fairly decent job considering my fitness levels at the time.
But I look back on the whole thing, and I realize that one of the real problems was the way I visualized the goal.
Because when you get right down to it, all I had to do to succeed at that challenge was run the race -- which I did, twice. I trained for both of them under the guise of getting into a healthier lifestyle and prioritizing a running/exercise regimen instead of being a complete couch potato -- but once I ran the River Run, the goal I set was accomplished.
Which is probably why after successfully completing two of them, I stopped.
Not that the goal wasn't valid, or that doing it meant nothing -- but that at the time I was too wrapped up in other things to realize that I was aiming at the wrong thing. The River Runs that I did should have been milestones that I used to measure the relative success of a lifestyle change that I was trying to make. If my goal had been something more effective -- I'd probably be in a better place with it by now.
Didn't have enough perspective, I guess.
Instead what's happened is that I've had two or three times in the last decade where I've jumped on the losing weight/getting healthier bandwagon to the point where I've reached certain levels of success, and really loved the way it felt to be a little thinner and look a little better -- but it's never been something that I've been able to make stick.

I like to eat. I have horrible habits when it comes to the managing of meals, the ingredients I choose, and balancing the kinds of things I put into my body. Worse yet, overeating is frequently something that I fall into when I'm depressed, angry, or bored. All of which are bad enough on their own -- but when you pair it with a general disdain for exercise in general (despite the fact that I'm a much happier person when I'm in good shape) what you get is something far worse than the social and personal shame that comes from thinking you're a fat guy:
Which is being a fat guy who doesn't think there's anything he can do about it anymore.
I have broad shoulders. I'm not as young as I used to be. I'm never really gonna be skinny or ripped (but fuck you just the same, Peyton Manning) -- but one of the mental concepts that I continually struggle with is this idea that my battle against being fat is already over -- and the fat won. That in some form or another I'm always gonna be this way, and all I can really do is buy "bigger shirts" and lie to myself with energy bars and yearly contracts to a gym.

In other words, you're never gonna get a fat person to say that they love being that way, but in quieter moments alone -- far too many of us on the wrong side of our ideal weight find it more demeaning to face up to the problem and drag their asses into gyms full of skinny people who all seem to be able to go through their reps without any effort, while sticking to any sort of routine for the rest of us seems a slow exercise in suicide that's much easier to despise rather than embrace in any meaningful way.
Q: Why do I hate working out?
A: Because I'm fat.
Working out is nothing short of an assault on my body. The machines ask my joints to do things that they don't really like to do, for longer than they want to, usually in a room full of people who don't look like they need to be exercising at all.
And what's the reward for all this?
Sore muscles, sweat-stained shirts, and seemingly nothing changing on the scale.
I never feel fatter than when I'm at the gym. It's supposed to be a motivating factor, and sometimes it is -- but it never lasts, because honestly it's really hard sometimes to get in your car and drive to a place where you pay for the priveledge to be ugly for an hour three times a week.

And that's not a damnation of the skinny people at the gym who just figured out that exercising regularly is the best way to keep your fitness level and self image in a good place. It's not their fault I put on this spare tire. It's not their fault I like cheeseburgers more than I like treadmills.

It's not their fault that I can't help but compare myself to them when I'm in there.
..But that's what I do.
Besides, as much as I want to be in better shape and get these pounds off -- nothings ever gonna get fixed until I do something about my eating habits. That's what continually kills me. The way that my brain has become wired to release endorphins whenever I hear that someones brought donuts in to share at the morning meeting. The way that I view eating fresh vegetables as somehow equitable to having to sit in a room discussing Metaphysics with a panel of esteemed laureates that includes Dog The Bounty Hunter, K-Fed, and Rosie O'Donnell.

What's worse -- the weight loss industry in this country is such a mindfuck that if you're not 100% committed to making a real change, there's a billion ways for you to bullshit yourself. Sure I can eat carrot sticks or powerbars a few times a day, but until I start thinking of Hardees thickburgers as an indulgence instead of something I wish I could have all the time (especially with the curly fries and that dipping sauce -- oh hell yeah!) what difference is any of this GNC crap gonna make?
I'm not a cold turkey guy. I wish I could be, but I'm not.
If I want to make this happen, it's gonna have to be a gradual thing. It's got to be a long-term goal dotted with events and milestones placed strategically along the way to help me understand that I'm doing it right. In other words, saying you're gonna lose 10 pounds sounds really cool -- but once you actually lose them it's far too easy to convince yourself that you climbed Everest and reached the summit, which is a victory in itself -- so lets go get a tub of ice cream and celebrate!!!

The other thing I've got to get a handle on is that no matter how much I would prefer to -- I can't do this alone. I'm gonna need help, reassurance, re-direction, affirmation, temptations to resist, punishers when I do, and the kind of people who can call bullshit on me when I brag to them that the cookies I bought at the store say fat free on the package.
Here's what it all boils down to: I'm bigger than I'd like to be -- and it affects my happiness.
At the same time, I haven't really figured out the way that I'm going to be able to effect the changes in my overall lifestyle that I know can fix this problem in a way that's actually going to be more than just a three-month thing that I revisit every eight months or so. Not so much that I don't know the things I need to do to lose weight or get in shape, but I still haven't figured out a way to ingrain those habits into my everyday life in such a way that I don't hate doing them and wish I could just get skinny so I can finally eat the things I like again.

So here's the deal. I'm gonna try to lose a few pounds (again). Get back to a place I was before when I was taking care of myself better where I can then re-evaluate the way I'm living and then try to punch some more good habits in there so I can at least stay at that weight. Right now what this is going to entail is eating more than one meal a day, and trying to balance the things I like with things that I need, and finding ways to get more active when I'm not at work -- so that when I reach a place where working out isn't such a hassle I don't feel like a complete eyesore when I do it (which only serves to make me want to stop going to places where I feel so self conscious about it).

But instead of leaving it at that easily escapable finish line, I’m gonna add an obstacle. The first in what I hope to be a long string of milestones that I can use to measure my progress with until I get in a place to readjust the goal.
Cold. Hard. Cash.
A bunch of guys at work are doing a weight loss challenge. Basically we all threw in $20, weighed in on one of the companies freight scales (a nice touch) with the agreement that at the end of the month we’ll do it again, and the person at that time who’s had the highest percentage of weight loss over the next three weeks takes everything in the pot.

It’s winnable, but at the same time I think winning the whole thing would actually be the worst thing I could do. Much like the River Run, should I walk away with the cake I’d probably be able to fool myself into thinking I’d reached an endpoint of some kind, and take my winnings to the nearest Ruth Chris and load up on sweet rolls and booze.

But say I work hard at it, lose some weight, get into the habit of doing the things necessary to not be the fattest fat guy I work with -- and then still come up short?
Might buy me like three more weeks, if I play it right ;)
[Listening to:    Sevendust"Shine" ]


Sunday, January 6

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Day

Me: This war movie is pissing me off
j: what movie?
Me: The Thin Red Line
Me: when I tuned in it was all action and tension
Me: now it's just Sean Penn whining about the government
j: lol
Me: it's a gorgeous movie, but Penn wont shut up
j: what channel?
Me: History channel
j: ok, I see it
Me: all these hotties are about to die
Me: Adrian Brody, Elias Koteas, the Water Horse dude..
j: cute owl
Me: he's a spy
Me: and Sean Penn wants him to vote for Obama
j: lmao
Me: there's this whole fascinating theme about nature going on in the film
j: i have to watch something else. i hate war movies
Me: there was this great plotline going on earlier where Nick Nolte's character was having
this battle of nerves with the other soldiers on the line -- and it was just awesome
Me: really intense, fantastic acting
Me: But now it's at that point where I'm supposed to feel bad about everything, and it's lame
Me: ..there goes blue eyes
j: ??
Me: the dude with the bedroom eyes just bought it
j: Nooooooooooooo!
j: lol
Me: oh wait, it was Jesus
j: what?
Me: I can never pick that guy out on sight
Me: James Caviezel (sp?)
j: oh yeah
j: that guy
Me: dude, they shot Jesus!
j: that's fucked up
Me: and Sean Penn's still there
Me: shoot HIM
j: ur mean
Me: there's this point when a movie loses it's connection to you (books too) and you can't
help but treat it like that point in Super Mario when you try to set Luigi on fire
Me: like the entire second half of Garden State I just wanted an anvil to fall on Zach Braff's head
j: lol
Me: That reminds me, I was reading Piercing all morning
j: did u finish?
Me: I'll finish it today
j: u better
Me: I'm loving what he's setting up
j: that book is fucking crazy
Me: I'm right in the middle, where he's taking her in the cab maybe to the hospital
j: oh it's all downhill from there
Me: it's got a cool rhythm to it
j: it's disturbing
Me: it is
j: but funny
j: do u feel bad for laughing?
j: i did
j: sometimes
Me: I don't feel bad about it, but I have laughed a bit
Me: I laugh at anime porn, I feel bad about that
j: anime porn is hot
Me: tentacle rape looks like a lot of work
Me: just buy her dinner!

[Listening to:    Nonpoint"Witness" ]


Saturday, January 5

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Evening

She: Hey, did you put a roofie in my drink?
Me: I don't know -- would I need to?
[Listening to:    The Clash"Tommy Gun" ]


Thursday, January 3

Elgin Baylor Lumpkin

One of the things that continually fascinates me is the way that companies that maybe don't really need to advertise their products to get people to buy them tend to project their "personalities" to the world through their commercials.

Essentially, mega-brands like Coca-Cola and McDonalds have become so ingrained into our collective consciousness that it seems like their advertising campaigns are more designed to keep their images, jingles, and logos fresh in the public's mind not only as providers of products that are available, but active presences within pop culture itself -- complete with attitudes and personalities that are designed to emulate and therefore appeal the personalities of the people watching at home.
In other words, if Mountain Dew was a guy -- he would yell a lot and always want to go snowboarding.
If The Gap was a woman, she'd have pretentious taste in music and a baby who dresses like a Republican.
Sure if there's a new Mc-whatever sandwich being introduced at Mickey D's they might need to get the word out or whatever, but by and large advertising for companies like this is more about making sure the brand remains relevant and vibrant in peoples minds, lest they start to pine for something new.

In short, Budweiser will always be Budweiser -- but if they were still throwing Wasssup ads at us, there's a good chance people might start to think of their mindsets as tired and lame, and maybe even start leaning away from them when it comes to choosing a cheap beer at the next happy hour.

At the same time, advertising a company's image instead of the benefits of a specific product provides these corporations with the unique opportunity to align themselves with cultural concepts that not only open up new markets to them, but can enable a corporate image to mirror current cultural concerns and even in some cases influence peoples thoughts.
Think about the songs that have been introduced to us in iPod ads that have become hits.
Think about the endless string of annoying catchphrases that you first heard in a beer commercial. Think about all the parodies you see on YouTube and jokes based around advertisements for candy, hamburgers, or toys. Think about all the references that show up in hip hop lyrics that reflect popular products or twists on advertising jingles.
To me these things stretch far beyond decisions people make at the grocery
store or the mall -- creating a world where in many ways consumerism is culture.
And sure, we could go on for hours about the dark side of that; the ways that media and advertising create images that no one can possibly live up to, and even in some instances attempt to shame you into thinking that their products can help hide or change your social shortcomings (Not for nothing, but is anyone else getting a little tired of the Visa Check Card ads that make anyone who can't pay for anything in one swipe of a plastic card look like a leper?).
But sometimes you have to look past all that.
Look a little beyond the dangers inherent and see what something like that can do when they put their mind to damning the consequences and seeing what happens when advertisements start saying the kinds of things a company really wants to say.
For example, you've probably seen this ad for Levis 501 Jeans.
But have you seen this one?
It came on the other night when I was watching Project Runway. The original ad with the girl was one they'd played to death during previous episodes of the show to the point where I didn't really pay much attention to it much anymore. But for whatever reason (probably because the chick in the phone booth is really hot), I always kinda look up when it got to the punch line -- only to find an ending that quite frankly fit a lot better and just made a hell of a lot more sense given the mood of the ad and the type of man they had playing the part of the "pants puller upper."

And while I can't help but notice that essentially what I'm saying is that the dude kinda looked like a Mary, so I actually felt a better sense of closure when the Adam and Steve moment happened, the main thing that happened when I saw the ad was an honestly shocked and surprised smile directed towards whichever suit over at the Levi Strauss company had the balls to greenlight this version and get it on the air.

Not that I'm naïve enough not to realize the potential financial benefits of putting an ad like this on a network like Bravo during a broadcast of a show like Project Runway, but when you get right down to it -- this is still a world where this type of :30 second message is a really big risk for a publicly traded corporation to take.

Being the 21st century and all you'd wish that wasn't really the case -- but think back to that Super Bowl commercial where the two guys wanted the same Snicker's bar and ended up kissing (the ad was played for comedy, and the central joke wasn't so much about breaking boundaries as it was based in homophobia) -- an ad that the Snickers corporation actually issued an apology to its shareholders about.
Which in my mind makes this ad about much more than just hawking jeans to skinny people.
Of course, as cool as I think this commercial is, watching it here on YouTube a few times has made me realize that neither the straight or gay versions address what I feel is the real problem with this advertising campaign -- which is that if you go ahead and purchase a pair of jeans that possess the ability to pull phone booths filled with attractive people through the floor of your Manhattan apartment building without killing them --
What happens when you pull your pants back down?
I mean yeah, I'm all for a pair of jeans that can automatically understand my sexual orientation and then magnetize objects containing hotties that fit my particular preferences, but I'm so not sure I'm as convinced that they're a great bargain if once miss thang gets around to pushing said button-fly's down off my hips (which from where I'm sitting is sort of the whole point of buying expensive jeans in the first place) -- only to send her careening back through the floor?

Plus, what happens to poor Enrique in the phone booth over here when pretty boy decides to toss his jeans in the dryer?
What about that, Levis?

[Listening to:    Ginuwine"So Anxious" ]


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