Wednesday, March 25, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue twenty-five

25. I supported George W. Bush in the last two elections, and still feel he did a heckuva’ job.

Bush Turkey - Share on Ovi

Furthermore, I feel history will completely vindicate his presidency for all the so-called “crimes” liberals try to pin on him and the good, decent, hard-working people who served in his administration.

bush and cronies - Share on Ovi

And if I could go one step further, I think Robert Mugabe is doing an equally good job of running the government of Zimbabwe right now.

robert mugabe - Share on Ovi

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Narcissism of Great Powers, part two, KFC edition

To continue with the theme of connecting disparate items I'm reading, yesterday I read a piece, again in Slate, asking why capitalists are such a bunch pf pansies right now. Apparently, as part of the plan to rescue them from their own greed, Geithner will allow them to buy up the toxic assets for 84% of their value using loans from the government, guaranteed by Mister and Missus taxpayer, for 72 of that 84%. They would have to pitch in 6% and the government would match that with a 6% gift. Basically, they are risking only 7% of the assets' paper value, and stand to make a lot. We take all the rest of the risk. The article asks where the gutsy capitalists have gone.

The answer came in my mailbox, in the form of a coupon advertising KFC's "Bailout Buckets".

kfc bucket of chicken - Share on Ovi

Sure, the former Wall Street masters of the universe may have lost faith in your average American's ability to pay off his or her home mortgage, but they still have confidence that we'll drown our collective sorrows in cleverly marketed buckets of greasy, mass produced, corporate chicken-death-camp yumminess. Combine this with our national tendency toward Narcisisstic Personality Disorder and you can see why America behaves like the big, fat, greasy bully pushing everybody else around on the playground: Why play nice in hopes of trading bag lunch items in the cafeteria when you know your corporate parents sent you to school with a Bailout Bucket full of KFC to keep all to yourself?

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Narcissism of Great Powers

This last week I read an article in Slate about how as much as 6% of our population has NPD, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and rates for our children may run as high as 10%. I also listened to one of the Sunday morning talk shows where three prominent politicians went on and on about how great America is and how we'll come through this economic crisis better then we were before. Essentially they said we should all adopt the position of the thief on the cross next to Brian in Monty Python's The Life of Brian and "Look on the bright side of life" simply because we're American and we've got this great history which dictates our invincibility. I found myself wondering, without that history, did the founding fathers believe that Americans could weather any storm by the simple virtue of their nationality? In contrast, did the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, The Romans, the French, the Dutch, the Spanish, and the British all go through periods late in their empires where their leaders told them they needn't worry about looming disasters simply because of their countries' respective histories? And, if so, is it likely that, had the diagnosis been available, some 10% of those countries' populations might have suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Now, for the record, I'm not saying the American Empire is doomed. Or, to be more specific, I'm not saying it's necessarily doomed quite yet. Maybe we've got another three hundred years left in us, maybe a thousand. But empires come to an end. If we're going to take heart from the history of America's rise to prominence, we have to temper that with a recognition that history also teaches us about the inevitable demise of empires.

More specifically, if our own history is going to tell us we're great, it should tell us why. If America rose to become the global super-power because of its people's industry, I fail to see how narcissism will take the place of hard work. Personally, I'd like to believe that what has made the United States special are our ideals of liberty, our respect for law, and our progressivism. These seem to be the forces which called people from all over the world to cross oceans to become Americans. If this reading of history is correct, then looking on the bright side of life will not make up for a bullying foreign policy, the use of torture, or the doctrine of preemptive war. Too many of us have become too fearful; we're afraid of everything from terrorism to immigration to socialized medicine to stem cell research to gay marriage. William F. Buckley, the father of modern conservatism, famously described the job of modern conservatives as standing "athwart history, yelling, 'Stop!'" If "Stop!" is our only answer to this crisis, or if that is only qualified with Bill Kristol's advice to Republicans, "Obstruct and delay," then the past victories of the United States will not compensate for our current intellectual and moral weakness.

I take no joy in watching the people of my country suffer, regardless of their political stripes. Schadenfreude quickly comes to an end in times like these. But where derision provides no solace, at least there's the consolation of this accidental camaraderie. I'm at that age when a person discovers that his favorite athletes are younger than he is, that he is now older than some of his favorite musicians were when they killed themselves in one way or another, and that some of his dreams might be just as dead as those rock stars. I take a perverse comfort in the fact that life tries to beat some measure of humility into individuals and nations alike. Whether we prefer our comeuppance in spoonfuls or inundations, the universe gives us our medicine in the quantities it sees fit.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue twenty-four

Lots and lots of people have pet monkeys. It's a well known fact.

Pet Monkey - Share on Ovi

But I had a pet silverback gorilla.

silverback gorilla - Share on Ovi

His name was Fluffy, which seemed totally appropriate when he was just a baby.

baby gorilla - Share on Ovi

Then he grew up. Pretty soon things got a little frightening.

Gorilla_western_lowland_stern_face - Share on Ovi

After Paige and I started dating, Fluffy created a lot of tension for us. Eventually she would say things like, "I just feel like we're not alone when we're in your apartment," or "It's Fluffy or me," or "You do realize he could rip one of your arms off on accident, don't you?"

But I was very loyal to Fluffy until he did, in fact, rip a UPS man's arm off when Fluffy got to excited about a delivery.

angry gorilla - Share on Ovi

That was the first and last time I had to admit to Paige that she was right and I was wrong. I'll never put myself in that position again. And I learned my lesson. Fluffy had to go so that I could forge a relationship in which I'm always right.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue twenty-three

23. I love reality TV.

FearFactor - Share on Ovi

Watching fully grown adults...

reality tv - Share on Ovi

...try to scratch and claw their way to their fifteen minutes of fame while complete camera crews surround them to capture all that gritty reality just seems like the pinnacle of Western culture to me.

rock_of_love_2_reunion_fight - Share on Ovi

Who needs writers?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue twenty-two

22. I once picked up a woman at a bar. That's it. That's the whole story. I'm pretty proud of the accomplishment.

Bar - Share on Ovi

Sunday, March 15, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue twenty-one

21. You know when you see a car add and there's some tiny writing at the bottom that says, "Professional driver on a closed course"?

professional driver - Share on Ovi

That's not me. But once I pulled off to the side of the road because I'd witnessed an accident, and the driver at fault was that very guy.

perpendicular-car-crash - Share on Ovi

He can't drive very well in traffic; us amateur drivers freak him out.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue twenty

20. They once based an episode of Law and Order on an event from my life. It wasn't Law and Order: SVU, cause that kind of stuff is just gross.

svu - Share on Ovi

Plus, the real event didn't involve a murder, so they had to add that.

murder scene - Share on Ovi

Actually, it didn't really involve an interesting legal question, either. And it didn't really take place in New York. And it didn't make any headlines from which to be ripped. Mine was the one where the old lawyer gave this impassioned speech in court until the really slimy defense lawyer yelled "Objection!" while the super-hot assistant DA watched and looked concerned.

jack mccoy - Share on Ovi

Friday, March 13, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue ninetten

19. I am not bald because of some genetic predisposition.

adam_duritz - Share on Ovi

I had a full head of thick hair until the day when I learned a valuable lesson. I was living in Hong Kong at the time, and, as you can imagine, my apartment was very small.

tiny apartment 1 - Share on Ovi

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, was close to everything else.

tiny apartment 2 - Share on Ovi

This included the household cleaning products and my shampoo.

tiny apartment 3 - Share on Ovi

I'm not even sure which of the cleaning products I accidentally used.

household cleaning products - Share on Ovi

The place was too small for a shower, and the bed that converted into a bathtub was impractical, so luckily I was washing my hair in the kitchen sink. Otherwise I would have no eyebrows and would probably be blind.

melted face 2 - Share on Ovi

So, obviously, the lesson I learned was that one should always wash one's hair in the kitchen sink.

BE066574 - Share on Ovi

Mac Compatibility

After yesterday's lie, a friend sent me this useful graph that really ought to be shared. For those of you who missed the film Independence Day, it's now a documented fact that alien craft are compatible with Macs, if only to acquire dangerous and highly complex viruses from them, and as long as those viruses were written by noted computer expert Jeff Golblum.

mac compatibility graph - Share on Ovi

Credits: Caption by: pirroplato | Picture by: dunno source

Thursday, March 12, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue eighteen

18. I love Macintosh computers and refuse to use anything else.

macicon - Share on Ovi

Once, I had a chance to meet Steve Jobs backstage at the Macworld conference.

macworld - Share on Ovi

Maybe he was just having a bad day, and maybe I handled the situation poorly by giving him a bear hug before speaking to him, but as soon as he was free he started screaming about how I should leave him the f*** alone and go take all the other sycophantic freaks and go get a f***ing "ilife" 'cause at the end of the day it's still just a f***ing computer. Justin Long was standing nearby, and he really looked like this hurt his feelings.

justin long - Share on Ovi

I didn't have the time to worry about Justin, though. In a Mac-fan induced rage, I grabbed Steve Jobs by the collar and I slapped him hard across the mouth, screamed, "Blasphemer! You will burn in the digital fires of a poorly-designed virtual hell for an eternal load-time!"

windows-logo-loading - Share on Ovi

Then I ran away from security.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue seventeen

17. I am a member of the JabbaWockeeZ, a competitive dance crew.

jabbawockeez - Share on Ovi

We wear white masks and gloves when we dance. You may have seen us in that new Nike ad. We gained our fame on the show America's Got Talent before we won it all on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, but people probably don't know that I'm the one who came up with the name for the group.

Jabbawockeez-2 - Share on Ovi

Actually, I thought it would be more clever to be the "JabberWalkies". I thought we could mumble to ourselves and make nonsense sounds while we danced, as a kind of homage to the absurdity of Carrol's poem.

alice_in_wonderland - Share on Ovi

But that turned out to be taken by a bluetooth earpiece company. Another guy in the group, my hommie J-DoG LaRotZ, previously of the dance team LeViATHanZ, came up with the new spelling and capitalization, which we all agreed was off the hizzle!

snoop_dog - Share on Ovi

Monday, March 09, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue sixteen

16. I was once called upon by a friend in the police department to take part in a ransom drop because I looked like the brother of the victim.

ransom - Share on Ovi

The experience was pretty intense. I had to wear a wire and everything.

the_wire - Share on Ovi

I brought a suitcase full of unmarked bills into a bus station, sat down where I was supposed to, and waited. The victim came in between two guys in trench coats. We made the exchange, and then the police moved on the kidnappers in the parking lot, leaving me with the man I'd helped to rescue.

dnews sinclair shooting mab - Share on Ovi

It was one of the most awkward conversations of my life. We had nothing in common. For one thing, he was a kidnapping victim, and he'd gone through a few days of interrogation and torture. For another, he liked baseball. Even our taste in music was different. He really didn't like it when I asked him about his family. Plus, he seemed anxious and irritable to the point of rudeness. Finally I stopped asking him personal questions and we just sat there in silence.

bus-station - Share on Ovi

The next time my police officer friend called and asked me to take part in another drop, I said no. Kidnapping victims are not as sympathetic as they seem on TV.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue fifteen

15. One time I was struck by lightning.

Thor lightning 2 - Share on Ovi

I didn't gain any super-human abilities from the experience, and it hurt like a mother!

warning electrocution - Share on Ovi

All in all, a big disappointment.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue fourteen

14. I may or may not be a secret agent, working for the CIA.

cia - Share on Ovi

That's all I can say about that.

But I am.


On one highly classified mission that I can't tell you about, I may or may not have been sent by our government to shoot one of our own sitting senators with a dart which makes an otherwise intelligent man ramble on in a way that's designed to be career ending.

blow dart - Share on Ovi

In fact, this senator experienced this kind of attack multiple times. He may or may not be vice president now.

biden - Share on Ovi

Friday, March 06, 2009

25 Random Lies About Me, issue thirteen

13. In high school I raised carrier pigeons.

pigeons - Share on Ovi

Once I sent a long, eloquent letter to an ex-girlfriend who was older and had gone off to college. The letter begged her to take me back and to give the long distance relationship a try.

letter - Share on Ovi

I didn't get an immediate reply, and shortly thereafter I headed across the country to go to a different university. Two years and three serious girlfriends later, I found a pigeon dead on my doorstep carrying my high school sweetheart's reply. She said she was willing to make it work and would stay faithful until she heard from me. I wrote her an embarrassed Dear John letter, but since the pigeon was dead I attached it to the leg of a neighborhood stray cat and just hoped for the best.

Feral Cat - Share on Ovi

I don't know what happened to that girl, but I can prove that I've sacrificed for love, because that cat scratched the hell out of my hand and I have the scars to show for it.

Stop Podcasting Yourself: Literary Bloke

I love podcasts. It's become something of an addiction. One of my favorites is "Stop Podcasting Yourself". I highly recommend it.

On this week's show, the hosts, Graham Clark and Dave Shumka, asked listeners for suggestions for a literary figure to be a part of the League of Extraordinary Blokes. If you're not sure what a bloke is, think of Jason Statham.

Crank2 poster - Share on Ovi

Anyway, Graham and Dave started out just creating a list of blokes, then it morphed into creating a musical band composed of blokes, then blokey scientists, and now a shout-out for blokey literary figures. As someone with literary aspirations (failed, heartbreaking, soul-crushing, just-got-another-polite-rejection-letter-this-week kind of aspirations) I thought I'd share my two cents. Now, I'm not a bit blokey. I don't cheat on my wife, I rarely get a chance to drink, and I'm a pacifist, so bar fights are kind-of off limits. In fact, take Jason Statham, give him some glasses, remove his muscles, and take away his everything-that-makes-him-a-bloke, and you've got me. Basically, we share a hairstyle. But I can think of some writers who are blokey.

And alive. They have to be alive.

My first suggestion is Max Berry. He wrote Jennifer Government, a fabulously blokey book that will crack you up while it gives the middle finger to multinational corporations and the free market utopia they'd like the create. And how do I know Max Berry is a bloke? Just look at him.

Max Barry - Share on Ovi

My second suggestion is Salman Rushdie.

Salman Rushdie - Share on Ovi

This guy is so blokey he pissed off the Ayatollah Khomeini and had to go into hiding, where he hung out with guys like Bono from U2. Meanwhile, he married a supermodel, got divorced, and is rumored to have moved on to some other Bollywood starlet. This guy has won a Booker Prize, and I'll bet he would also headbutt you if pushed to it. Super-blokey!

The most blokey writer I can think of who wouldn't qualify isn't Earnest Hemmingway. He was just a dick. Sure, he was a genius, but he was a jerk, which isn't the same thing as being a bloke. No, the most blokey ex-writer is Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Douglas Adams - Share on Ovi

He reportedly thought of the idea for the brilliant, absurdist five-part-trilogy when he got drunk and passed out on a hilltop. When he woke up and looked at the stars, the premise came to him. Now that's blokey! Unfortunately, he died at 49. Was his death blokey? A bar fight? Headbutting a member of the paparazzi? Sleeping with a supermodel he'd just rescued from an evil gang leader? No. He got off the treadmill at the gym and had a heart attack. Not blokey. Still, when he told the story of his moment of inspiration, he originally said it happened in Australia, then changed his story, claiming it happened in Spain "because it's easier to spell." Now that's a bloke!