Monday, June 30, 2008

Random Musings

- If I were king of New York, there'd be way more bike racks.

- Recently met a woman who writes about business and economics, but is also a skilled palm reader. Encountering anyone with this rare combination of abilities merits a blog entry on its own. But she read my palm and it was shockingly accurate. We were at a very lively casual little cocktail party (in her home) and I wasn't expecting to be presented with so much deep truth about myself. The part I remember most clearly was that in another life, I probably would've been more conventional, because I am a person who actually likes order and structure, but that due to an exquisite sensitivity (her unfortunate -- though eloquent -- words) I forced myself onto a much less conventional path. (Afterward, when I told her I'd dropped out of high school, she seemed gleefully impressed at how dead-on her own reading had been.) She also said I needed to get out of my head more, though she said it in much more refined language. I think the implication was that I'd get laid more if I went back to thinking with my balls (or my heart -- sniff).

- Lately, I've been finding myself attracted to married women. Not just because I've become a sick bastard who only wants what can't or shouldn't be had, but rather because married women aren't trying. They're just more at ease, more confident, and more genuine in their interactions with you, and that vibe is so much hotter than what I encounter in the single women out there. This is a problem. If I don't let go of this, I'm gonna be alone for a long time. Unless I meet some real hip swingers. Make ourselves a nice wobbly 'H'.

- I'm toying with the idea of getting a new digital camera. If this blog starts filling up with photographs, you'll know that I went through with the purchase. But I've been to B&H recently (it's on my ride home from work) and the camera selection is a veritable diner-menu of frustrating excess. So this may take a while.

- Maybe I should offer my services as a video shooter to the married couples out there, if they want to spice it up in the bedroom by making some high-quality personal pornos. I mean, there's only so much you can do in bed when you're holding the camera yourself. And some people get off on being observed. Freaks.

- I think I have psychic intestines. I start farting BEFORE I eat something that will give me gas. Is that possible?

- I read in a book about Vedic spirituality that if you always tell the truth, you eventually come to embody the vibration of truth and gain the ability to make things come true with your words. So, if you're a pessimist, you should probably lie from time to time. Just to be safe.

- Based on my mention of the book "All the Shah's Men" in a previous post, my friend Justine suggested I write up a little book-recommendation list. I will happily do that as soon as I read some more books. Look for it soon. If you, like, y'know, know how to read and all.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

16 Things a Guy Named Stefan Sagmeister Has Learned in His Life

Stefan Sagmeister is a designer who gave a funny, inspiring talk at the TED conference back in 2004. Toward the end, he put up a slide of a list he found in an old notebook of his: 16 things he felt like he'd learned in his life. I like the list. I agree with the list. I could've written the list. I did not write the list. I can't say I always live according to the list. But I'd like to. Here is his list...

Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.

Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now.

Being untruthful works against me.

Helping other people helps me.

Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy.

Everything I do always comes back to me.

Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.

Over time I get used to everything and start taking it for granted.

Money does not make me happy.

Traveling alone provides a new perspective on life.

Assuming is stifling.

Keeping a diary supports my personal development.

Trying to look good limits my life.

Worrying solves nothing.

Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.

Having guts always works out for me.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'm an Idiot

So I was going out to Governor's Island today for the Figment Festival, and from there I was going to go to Sally and Daniel McKleinfeld's for a party. I figured I'd buy a nice bottle of booze to bring them, and for some ridiculous reason, I decided to buy it in MY neighborhood, at the beginning of the many bicycle miles I'd have to ride. This was a bad idea on several levels. Most immediately, it was a hot, humid day. Like the inside of a dog's mouth. Having any extra weight in my backpack, plastering it more firmly to my back, was contra-indicated. But I didn't think of that until after I bought it, and I was too lazy to return the unopened bottle to the store to get my money back.

I rode all the way down to the bottom of Manhattan, stood on the line to get on the Gov Island ferry, and then some random person said people with bikes had to go to a different line. At first I didn't know whether to trust him or not, but the line I was on was so bloody long that it wouldn't matter if I got out of it and returned later. I had nothing to lose by leaving to investigate the possible existence of a special bicycle line.

And lo! There was such a line! And it was much much much shorter, and in the shade! Bikes RULE!

BUT... upon being let into the shade and onto the line, a security guy said I'd need to open my bag to let them search it. I don't think they searched anyone else. But I was looking particularly terroristic so I didn't mind. Better safe than sorry. I could've blown up Governor's Island, for all they knew. Of course, that meant they'd find my brand new, unopened bottle of top shelf liquor. I didn't want them to think I was trying to smuggle it over to the Figment Festical, so I freely offered the information that I had it, and was giving it as a gift to a friend at a birthday party later, and they confiscated it.

I told them at least to drink it themselves, or give it to somebody, anybody, a homeless guy.

They threw it in the garbage.

I kind of feel like the Figman Festibule people didn't sufficiently warn me that my obvious booze would be confiscated, after all, Governor's Island has no commerce or provisions to speak of and if there was anything we'd need throughout the day, we were instructed to bring it ourselves. What if I needed booze? The event organizers should've recommended concealing our booze in non-booze containers (classy to give as a gift that way). And it's not like a drunken disorderly person could really do any harm. What was I gonna do, try to break Fort Jay?

What a waste. But still... rules are rules and I probably should've anticipated that.

Oh well. It still turned out to be a fun-ish day out there. Things certainly improved once I got to Sally and Daniel's. They threw a great backyard bbq party. And when they took the second bottle of booze I bought that day away from me, thankfully they didn't throw it in the garbage. Therefore, I like Sally and Daniel better than Governor's Island Ferry Security guards.

"Oh Jon," you say, "But that's like comparing apples and oranges!"

Oh yeah?! Compare my foot up your ass!

"Oh Jon, that doesn't even make sense."

Oh yeah?! Make sense of my foot up your ass!"

Some years ago, I found myself peering out the wraparound windows of a corner office on the 42nd floor of a midtown skyscraper after hours (never mind what I was doing there) on a beautiful clear night. The view to the south, of the Empire State Building and all the way down to lower Manhattan was glorious. But I had a vision, clear as day, of the far distant future when all of it would be gone. The vision wasn't frightening, and it didn't make me sad. It was just stating a fact. Don't get attached. It's all temporary. And our way of life will probably turn out to be a lot "more temporary" even than the stuff we worked so hard to build on this tiny sliver of bedrock.

I bet those security guards will feel stupid for blindly following the rules then!

Friday, June 27, 2008

What I'm Pondering Today... whether or not I'm gonna go to Burning Man this year. Or ever again.

On my mind because 1. the event is coming up soon, 2. I recently started having a facebook-email conversation with Natasha, a cool healer girl from the scene, about her Burning Man plans and logistics, and 3. the benefits at my job have started to kick in, including a little bit of paid vacation time that has begun to accrue. Which means I could, like, go someplace. Possibly two places! And maybe one of the places could be the Burning Man.

But to be honest, I have a slight problem with the Burning Man (my burner friends all gasp).

What possible "problem" could I have with Burning Man? Well... it's not really a problem with the institution, as much as a personality quirk of mine: I'm not a joiner. I don't like "belonging" to things / groups of people / etc. I don't do family stuff. I don't belong to a religious organization. I dropped out of every school I ever attended. I never formed a rock band. Never participated in the school play, etc. I was in my high school marching band, but in retrospect, despite the many good friends I had in that organization, being in the band, you know, sucked hairy goat balls.

According to a book about human beings I read a little bit of once, people are naturally either extroverts, or introverts. Extroverts make up about 79% of the population and introverts about 21%. Why such a huge difference? Well, assuming there's some genetic component to it, it makes perfect sense. After all, it's much easier for louder, more outward-directed, people-person type people to find each other and hook up for some baby-making, than it is for quiet, inward-directed loners to. So, the vast majority of babies that get made each year end up containing extrovert DNA. Of course, in order for society as we know it to continue, a few introverts must reproduce every once in while, for without inward directed loners, all art forms would be much shittier and there'd be no such thing as Alternating Current.

Extroverts thrive on being around people. They are energized by it. When left alone, they go a little nutty. That's why solitary confinement is considered such an extreme punishment.

Introverts, on the other hand, thrive on and are energized by solitude. Without solitude, we go a little nutty, and can't accomplish very much that's worthwhile. When I'm around lots of people, no matter how awesome cool fun creative and awesome they may be, I feel a bit drained. Not their fault in the slightest. And doesn't stop me from loving them. Just that to me, they're kryptonite, that's all. Just kidding. There's no such thing as kryptonite.

Given that extroversion is the norm (like right-handedness) and introversion is comparatively uncommon (like left-handedness), people who are extroverts don't always even recognize the existence of introverts. Instead, they sometimes think everybody is the same, so... extroverts (the default) and some of us are merely being shy for some temporary reason. Like, maybe we're just not feeling well. This is incorrect. And sort of a nuisance. You'd never ask a left-handed person "Are you okay? Is there anything I could do to help you be more right-handed?"

Of course, there are shy people, and both extroverts and introverts can experience moments of shyness. But people aren't born shy. Some people are born introverts though. Apparently, I am one of those.

Still, I enjoy being social as much as anybody (well, maybe not anybody). I do enjoy parties. I even enjoy throwing parties. But sometimes, I find it good to disappear from them, just for a bit, just to recharge my batteries so I can continue partying more. At Burning Man, that's not a readily available option. Sure, there are vast open areas, but then you hit the fence. And spending a ton of money, and putting forth an immense amount of mental and physical effort to be able to attend a week-long 40,000 person party in the desert, only to spend much of the time wishing you could achieve some solitude, is pretty dumb.

But more than that is the hang up I have about community. The Woody Allen / Groucho joke about not wanting to belong to any club that would have a person like me for a member kind of applies, but more than that is I guess I'm somehow addicted to being an outsider. I don't really know how to loosen up and let myself simply enjoy belonging, even when I do truly value a community and everything it stands for.

Of course, part of the central metaphor of the entire burning man experience is how amazing it can be once you let yourself get outside your comfort zone. Just by BEING there this will automatically be the case for much of the time, due to the sheer desert heat during the day, the severe cold at night, the high winds which produce dust storms so thick you can't see your hand in front of your face and the more-or-less constant noise. But it's really more about getting outside your psychological comfort zone. And Burning Man provides a stunning and immense array of delightfully intense ways to do that too. One of those ways, for me, simply comes from realizing that for better or worse... these ARE my people, this IS my "tribe" so to speak. It just... well, it gives me the willies. So, I guess that's a good thing. ?

Meh. We'll see.

I'm definitely open to being talked into going. Or, you know... try some reverse psychology on me an' shit. Like tell me how much it's gonna suck this year, and how burning man has totally jumped the shark, and how there's no more good art anymore and they're going to prohibit all public nudity and sex, and fire, and biochemicals, and they're thinking of putting up a shopping mall. Black Rock Mall. Oh look honey... there's a Sunglass Hut.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Oh my god... We're the Assholes!

Except under the rarest of circumstances, nobody thinks of himself as an asshole. But in our world of constant karmic collisions, bad shit does occasionally happen, and sometimes it is somebody’s fault. The bad shit could've been an accident, or done on purpose by conscious choice. If a conscious choice, I’ll wager that nine times out of ten, the person making the asshole choice thinks he/she is making a good choice. So just on a purely statistical basis, some of us must be mistaken/deluded/misguided at least some of the time, and instead of being normal citizens, we are in fact, being asshole citizens. You know, sometimes.

But I don’t really care about that. After all, nobody’s perfect. Napoleon supposedly once said, “Never attribute to malice, what can be explained by incompetence.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself fucking up recently and had to apologize to somebody. But I gotta say, even if a person you’ve wronged is on an emotional hair-trigger and has some severe immediate knee-jerk reaction, once you sheepishly say, “Sorry, my bad” they’re usually pretty gracious and forgiving, and then everything is good again.

So, clearly, the real problems start when we are unwilling to admit we’ve done the asshole thing. I mean, it’s not like we’re children -- we should be able to admit when we’ve fucked up, right? Anything less would be really weak. And if you've unknowingly been engaging in annoying asshole-type behavior over some extended period of time, and have been way too self-absorbed to even take notice when the offended but kind people around you have desperately and repeatedly tried to gently alert you to your wrong-doing, if there is, finally, a moment when someone or something does get through to you, it can be the most incredibly wonderfully humbling and amazing moment of your life. OH MY GOD... I'M THE ASSHOLE!! [And the heavenly light of healing truth shines down upon you.] You might have to go vomit and cry for a while, but once your stomach is empty and you have a chance to calm down, you'll be living in a much MUCH better world. (Not that I would know about any of that from personal experience or anything.)

Of course, there are those times when we simply have no idea we’ve done anything wrong. Sometimes we do know and try to deny it/cover it up/make excuses. And sometimes, even after our fuckup is painfully obvious to all concerned, ourselves included, we still insist that not only did we do no wrong, but that we are, instead, in fact, in the right! This is when we cross the line from being merely incompetent assholes, to being genuinely crass and terrible. Because obviously, we can’t correct a mistake until we face up to having made it. More to the point, the person or people we've hurt will probably only feel greater and greater anger toward us for our continued refusal to even come clean. Of course, it would be great if we took active steps to rectify the situation, but even without fixing the problem, merely admitting we fucked up would go SO FAR toward defusing what might be an ever-growing powder-keg of our own creation. But no. We gotta be a dick. And the longer we deny that we ever caused a problem, the worse the problem gets.

To my mind, the worst and most blatant example of this dynamic at work in the world today... is... America's Global War on Terror [ding ding!] I know we're all tired of hearing about it, but keep reading, because I've got a slightly different take than the usual slop.

Okay, so... as we all know, the folks calling the shots 'round here claim that there are these radical Islamic fundamentalist nutjobs, who hate us for essentially no reason (for our "freedoms"), and despite the fact that we never did anything to them, they just come out of nowhere (out of their caves) and try to destroy us in cowardly and despicable ways (9/11). Okay. Now, if all you know about the world is what you've seen on American television, then that probably seems like the correct and complete assessment of our current trans-national shitstorm. But it ain't necessarily so.

Let me take you on a little journey...

First: Imagine back to when you were a little kid, riding in the back seat of the car with your younger brother as Dad drove the family a great distance to go see the wonders of Wholesome Family Vacation Spot™. Think of how restless you and your brother got after so many hours in the car. (This was back before portable DVD players, after all.) Eventually, your younger, much less mature little brother, just snapped and started bothering the fuck out of you. You tried to be good and not retaliate. You politely asked him to stop poking you. He wouldn't stop. You tried to keep your cool, continuing to circle the words in your word-search activity book, thinking if you just ignored the poking he'd get tired of doing it and stop. But no, he just poked at your pencil, causing you to fuck-up your word search. Your little brother had the pester-power™ of a housefly on amphetamines, the mindless tenacity of a salmon swimming upstream to spawn. No force on earth could deter him from his incessant poking. And poking. And still with the poking. So eventually, you complained to Daddy. But Daddy was busy looking for the exit to Wholesome Family Vacation Spot, while trying to get a weather report on the crappy radio. He couldn't address your grievances right then. So the poking continued. Eventually, you simply couldn't take it anymore. You lost your shit, became enraged and poked your little brother back. Hard. So he poked you hard. So you hit him. So he grabbed a fistful of your hair and pulled with all his might. And you grabbed his arm with both hands to give him an 'indian burn' and back and forth and back and forth, escalating violence and screaming and tears. Mommy noticed the meat-grinder the two of you had become but her intervention was ineffective until she, in a panic, told Daddy to pull over. He quickly glanced back over his shoulder to see his out-of-control spawn trying to gouge out each other's eyes, immediately pulled over (infuriated that he had to deal with this shit on his only week of relaxing time-off for the entire fucking year) slammed the car to a stop, demanded to know just what the hell you thought you were doing, leveling an especially accusatory gaze at you, since you were the older, more responsible one, and threatened to end the vacation right then and there. And also ground the both of you for the rest of the summer.

"BUT HE STARTED IT!!" you complained, craving even the tiniest bit of justice.
"I don't CARE who started it... I'm FINISHING it" said your dad.

And thus, the matter was resolved. You both had to calm down, or else spend an entire summer vacation under house-arrest. But this new "calm" was a tense and uneasy one, as you couldn't help seething with hatred for your younger brother who had, after all, started it. And I mean, come ON -- everybody knows that the one who STARTS it is the bad one, and it just ISN'T RIGHT for you to be punished just as much as the other person if you DIDN'T start it. You even tried to be GOOD! For SO LONG you tried to reason with your younger brother and plead with him and ignore him and shouldn't that count for something? How could anybody expect anything more of you!? Aaargghh!! NO FAIR NO FAIR!!

Now: from that purely hypothetical story, let's move to something real, from the actual history of our actual world...

In the beginning of the 1950's, Great Britain still had some power and influence around the world, fueled (literally) by an enormous supply of practically free oil they had tucked away under the ground in a country called Iran. Like many oil-rich countries, Iran was ruled by a corrupt despot. His name was Mohammed Reza Shah. The Shah of Iran. He had sold out his people and the valuable resources of his land to the British in exchange for a small share of the total oil wealth -- small enough not to matter to Britain, but which would be more than enough to make him, a single individual, ludicrously wealthy. Meanwhile, British geologists took care of the technical workings of the oil business and the people of Iran struggled in crushing poverty.

Then, in 1952, an amazing thing happened. Despite his wealth and power, the people of Iran rose up and ousted the Shah. They then held the first democratic election process in Iran's history, basing it on the system of the most admired nation in the world, the United States of America, and elected a president named Mohammed Mossadegh, largely due to his promise to nationalize Iran's oil industry -- to give Iran's oil wealth to the people of Iran.

Now in office, Mossadegh knew the Iranian people lacked the expertise to run the oil industry, and he knew the British would hate to lose all of the free oil they'd been sucking up out of Iranian soil, so he offered the British a deal: he would let them keep 50% of the oil and in exchange, all they had to do was let their geological engineers keep doing their jobs.

The British didn't like the idea of their free oil supply being cut basically in half, and contemplated the use of force. But since they had many citizens living and working in Iran, they decided it would be too dangerous. Instead, they sent diplomats to America, to meet with then president Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was like, "Yo, what up?"

The British were like, "Listen ol' chap, do us a solid and remove that rat bastard Mossadegh from office, would you please? We'd do it ourselves, except it's rather a sticky wicket for us, what with so many of our countrymen potentially caught in the crossfire and all. So, what do you say? We'd be ever so terribly grateful, you know."

Eisenhower was like, "No way. America ain't in the business of ousting democratically elected leaders, no matter where they are! We're the good guys, yo!"

The British were like, "Hmmm..." and left. Then they came up with a plan and a little while later, they came back to Eisenhower and were all: "Yeah... but, like, Mossadegh is a... um... a commie! Yeah!"

So Eisenhower was all like: "Aw HELLS no. We can't be havin' no spread of communism! Especially not in that region of the world. That would mean that those Soviet Union pricks could end up with access to a fuckload of free Iranian oil, since all them commies stick together! We GOTTA do something."

So Eisenhower earmarked a shit-ton of American taxpayer money for what became known as Operation Ajax: America's first-ever plan to overthrow a foreign head of state through covert spy-shit. The spy in this case, was former president Teddy Roosevelt's grandson, a guy by the name of Kermit Roosevelt who was like a real-life James Bond, even though his name was Kermit. (And even wussier than that was his nickname: "Kim". Seriously.)

Kermit Roosevelt took the ass-load of American taxpayer money, went to Iran and started fucking shit up. He paid gangs of thugs to go around shouting pro-Mossadegh slogans while destroying store windows and property. Then hired other gangs of thugs to go after the first gang of thugs shouting pro-Shah slogans. He did all sorts of things to make it seem like all shreds of civil society were coming completely unraveled under the new guy, who must be totally incompetent. By the end of it in 1953, Mossadegh was overthrown, had to flee the country and the Shah was re-instated.

The British were overjoyed! They came to Washington DC and were all like, "Jolly good show, Americans! Well done indeed. We'll go back to drilling our oil now, thank you very much."

But we were all like: "Not so fast limeys -- ain't your oil no more. We did the heavy lifting on this, we re-installed that Shah dude, so now he deals with us, and ONLY with us. Why don't you fuck off back to wherever it is you came from."

And the Brits were like, "Um... that would be, Great Britain... maybe you've heard of it?"

And we were like, "WhatEVER!"

And thus the British Empire lost the biggest single source of energy it had, and as a result, lost virtually all the power it had. Wah wah. (They could've had 50%, but instead ended up with zero! Lesson: don't be a greedy piece of shit.)

Meanwhile, back on his throne, the Shah didn't forget the fact that many of his own people had worked to oust him, and his regime became even more dickish and oppressive than before.

And when the vast majority of people in a region live in poverty under an oppressive dictatorship for years and years, that region becomes highly susceptible to the onerous influence of -- you guessed it! -- extreme religious fundamentalism. The re-instated Shah, now in bed with America (a country the Iranians once admired and wanted to emulate) was able to enjoy his wealth and his oppression of his own people for about 25 more years until the people had finally had enough and an extremist Muslim Cleric called the Ayatollah Khomeini led a massive uprising, now known as the Islamic Revolution. The Shah was again overthrown, permanently this time, and fled to the United States for a bit (I remember when he was here in NYC).

Khomeini was now the unchallenged head of a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy in Iran (a country which had almost become the only progressive democracy in the entire region until we killed it) and with his massive newfound power, influence and support, Khomeini declared the United States (an obvious friend of the hated Shah) to be an enemy of all Islam.

And here we are, 30 years later, in Iraq, a neighboring oil-rich nation, fighting Islamic fundamentalist "insurgents" who are trained in, and backed by... Iran.

Whose fault is that?

They hate us for our freedoms? Nooooo. They hate us because 55 years ago we stole theirs.

Just because we don't teach our children about this extremely pivotal part of our history, doesn't mean that the Iranians would choose to be ignorant of what is, to them, a completely earthshaking moment in their history. Iran would be a completely different country today, had we not sent Kermit Roosevelt over there -- one with freedom, democracy a high standard of living, a well educated populace, and probably close, friendly ties to the West.

And some people wonder why it's so hard for folks around the world to take America seriously when we claim to be in Iraq on a mission to spread democracy to the middle east. We're the ones who toppled middle-eastern democracy when it was taking its first all-important baby steps. We went against our own most cherished ideals, and the Iranian people went from loving us to hating us.

So... Iraq. We know that the WMD thing was a lie. But it turns out that it was never about spreading freedom and democracy either. It is, and has only ever been, about oil, and about rich people fucking over poor people.

Don't believe me? Read about it in a book called "All the Shah's Men" by Stephen Kinzer. You could also read the book that Kermit Roosevelt himself wrote about what he did in Iran, if you could find an out-of-print copy.

So right, I know. It's a real sinking feeling. Almost makes you wanna puke. But unlike our government, I'm not going to treat you like a baby, because I love you, I respect you, and I have faith in you. I think you both deserve to know, and can handle the truth!

But yeah, it's definitely a bitter pill to swallow, knowing that at least some of the "terrorists" might not actually be insane, and that we may have brought this entirely down upon ourselves. We don't actually have the moral high-ground, nor have we ever had it. Because when it comes to this whole mess between us and the Islamic world... WE STARTED IT.


And while finally knowing the truth doesn't magically make the mess go away, it is definitely the necessary first step toward FIXING THE PROBLEM.

The obvious next step is to admit that we've been killing the Muslims in order to get their oil, and then stop killing the Muslims to get their oil. But for that to happen, we would really need to break our addiction to the use of oil, which is why I ride a bike everywhere.

Holy shit. Has this whole thing actually been just another pro-bike rant? How'd he do that?

Please help me spread the word.

Thank you and good night.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Those Two Wacky Americas

My buddy Jon (not me), who lives in Dallas, sent me this video and holy sheepshit but I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I mean, the thing is obviously hilarious, but the mere fact that places exist where such a video would help a candidate get actual votes, is just so tragic. It may push the limits of comprehension, but keep in mind... this is not a parody:

Thank God Big John is out there fightin' the heathens, doin' the Lord's work for Texas, keeping Texas in power and making the lesser states squirm.

On the other end of the culture spectrum, I just saw the best movie I've ever seen in my whole life and am humbled by its greatness. The film I speak of... Zombie Strippers. You think I'm joking. I am not (well, mostly not). Zombie Strippers is so good I may have to own it. Definitely ups the ante on the low-budget zombie flick. And since I'm currently writing my own script for a low-budget zombie flick, I went into this one with a seriously critical eye. So believe me when I tell you that I gotta say, my hat is off to Jay Lee, the principal creative behind this undeniable masterpiece. Practically a perfect film. Thankfully, it is very different in tone from the one I'm writing, which, if I ever get my shit together, I hope will be as good as (better than?) Zombie Strippers. But O' such a high bar to clear now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Craigslist Ad

Inspired by a previous post, I created the following actual craigslist ad...

Skinny Jewboy seeks Hot Aryan Shiksa - m4w - (Midtown West)

Reply to:
Date: 2008-06-22, 4:41PM EDT

Seeking hot blond Republican female who desperately needs to work through feelings of guilt and self-loathing over what the idiot war-pig leaders she voted for have done to our country and the world for the last 8 years. If you think it might bring some relief to be sexually punished and humiliated by a skinny leftist Jew-boy for a night, send me a recent photo and I'll send you mine.

  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 728760964

Incredibly, I've actually gotten some interest already. A woman (presumably a woman) emailed thusly:

"Are you for real? Please email me back at [email address withheld]... etc."

I responded saying that yes I was for real, though partly kidding. Though mostly not kidding!

(Though, I am mostly kidding.)

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I'm in a phase right now where I refuse to let myself so much as touch anybody I could have an actual relationship with. Not sure why that is. I don't feel like I have the classic dude-symptom of commitment-phobia. In fact, some of the most enjoyable times of my life were when I was in serious relationships. But I seem to be up to something else. So, I'm only going after totally inappropriate women. If you know (and want to fix me up with) any of the following, I'm totally open to meeting...

- Republicans
- Lesbians
- Psychos
- Vacationing Europeans
- Army Privates off to Iraq in two days
- Death-row inmates
- Cute girls with non-communicable terminal illnesses

I feel this is a positive step forward for me. Years ago, I never would've entertained the notion of knowingly putting my dick into a Republican. And I had a golden opportunity at one point.

I was working for MTV Online, doing the website for Choose Or Lose 2000, and we were down in Philadelphia covering the Republican National Convention, wherein George Dubya Bush would receive the formal nomination of the Satanic Party. These days, there's never any actual news at the political conventions, as the nominee is decided well in advance. So it's all just a great big nauseating media clusterfuck for its own sake.

In fact, the biggest story of that entire week was one that we MTV folks had deftly engineered ourselves. Seeing that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (a superstar at the time) was making a brief appearance to "endorse" dubya or say something macho to the audience or something, our higher-ups got him to come by our little "booth" in the gigantic media tent, to do a real-time online chat with our audience (fairly "cutting edge" back in 2000).

We totally stole the show that day. The media loves covering itself. The networks didn't even know what the hell MTV was doing in the same tent as them, but then we trumped them all by hijacking all of THEIR resources, forcing them all to train their cameras on us. It was a stroke of evil publicity genius. And complete nonsense, obviously. But you shoulda seen the hundreds of camera guys from every conceivable media outlet in the world clawing over each other to get a clear shot of The Rock and my intern and our little thrown-together booth of hastily purchased Ikea furniture--budget $1026. (Compare that to the million-dollar set-ups that ABC and NBC etc. had created, which nobody was paying any attention to).

After all the smoke cleared, young teenage girls whose daddies were Republican delegates from bland places across this great land, were coming up to me and asking for my autograph. I was like, "you do realize that I'm not a celebrity, right? I mean, I'm not on MTV, I just work there. You understand... work?" They didn't care. They wanted autographs anyway.

Strangely, other media people wanted to interview me. I was quoted in several obscure newspapers, magazines and who knows what else.

And at several points, this smokin' hot blond woman came by our booth to make sure we had everything we needed. I don't remember her name, but she turned out to be something like the Media Liaison for the Republican Party. Throughout the week, she'd periodically make the rounds to all the media booths, doing her job obviously, but whenever she came by our booth, she'd linger for no reason, just sort of hanging out. She got pretty flirty with me several times, but after the huge "live chat event with The Rock" she became even more forward with me, inviting me for drinks repeatedly and talking about how nice her hotel room was, etc.

At the time, the fact that she wasn't merely voting Republican but actually serving the party turned my stomach so much that I seriously doubted her hotness (considerable hotness) could've outweighed her inner festering-death-rot and enabled me to achieve an erection. So I just kept politely turning her down, claiming that I had too much work to do, etc.

Now I seriously regret not having boned her.

If I'd known that her evil monkey was going to end up in the White House, I might've accepted her invitations, just to get her to beg me to do nasty things to her. And then do them. And then never see her again.

So, right, if you know any hot Aryan Republican chicks who need to work out feelings of guilt and self-loathing over what their idiot war-pig leaders have done to our country and the world for the last 8 years, and who think it might bring some relief to be sexually punished and humiliated by a skinny leftist jew-boy for a day or two, you let me know.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


A few months ago, I was riding my bike downtown to see a band. They were going on late, I was set to arrive even later. So this put me on the streets well after many areas of Manhattan had emptied of almost all automobile traffic and much foot-traffic as well.

I like riding late at night. Feels like you own the city.

But heading down Broadway, I reached a congested area. Some roadwork was creating a pretty severe bottleneck. A cop car was in the bottleneck as I squeezed up in between the ten or so non-moving vehicles. I emerged from the clot and continued down Broadway until I came to a stop light at one of the few busy cross streets, busy enough that I actually had to stop instead of blowing straight through the red, which I definitely would've done otherwise.

Eventually, the cop made it out of the clot too, and pulled up to the stoplight near me. Then he rolled his window down and called out to me. We had the following exchange...

COP: Excuse me...
ME: Yes?
COP: Did you know that you came very close to hitting one of those cars back there?
ME: Um... okay... ?
COP: Are you careful when riding that thing?
ME: Of course. That's why I didn't hit anything when squeezing up through those tightly packed cars back there. I'm always very careful, I assure you.
COP: Well... you should be more careful.

[At this point, I notice the cop is maybe 22 years old. Possibly less? When are new cops turned loose? What's the youngest a NYC cop can possibly be? This guy was that at most.]

ME: Is almost hitting something a crime now?
COP: No, but you have to obey the rules of the road just like everybody else.
ME: (considering my response extremely carefully.) Um... okay...

[The light is still red, but there are no more cars crossing our path as far as the eye can see, so, anticipating being able to get moving again, I start re-arranging the pedals to make it easy to start forward in a moment. I don't go anywhere yet, but it probably looks as if I'm about to take off.]

COP: You're about to run this red-light! You're really gonna do that right in front of me?! Right after I just told you you gotta obey the rules of the road!?
ME: I'm just getting my foot set on the pedal. I'll wait till it's green.
COP: Because you have to! You have to obey all rules of the road!
ME: (biting my tongue, biting my tongue... ... deep breath, then very calmly) Fair enough.

After what seems like several minutes, just standing there over my bike frame, poised to continue my journey, the light finally turns green. I let the cop leave first. Then I finally get moving again. I immediately go back to running red-lights and disobeying whatever rules of the road I don't happen to need at any given moment.

The other way that exchange could've gone was...

ME: Is almost hitting something a crime now?
COP: No, but--
ME: Okay then. [translation: 'Then shut the fuck up.']
COP: Look--you have to obey the ru--.
ME: Blah blah blah--this is your first day on the job, isn't it.
COP: Now listen here--
ME: No, you listen pal. I know you think you're just doing your job, and maybe on some level you think you're protecting and serving me. But in all the time I've been riding a bike in this town, do you have any idea how many cops I've run red-lights right in front of? You're the very first one who has ever seen the need to remind me, or any of the tens of thousands of other cyclists I imagine, about the rules of the road, and I didn't break any of them in front of you. I know it must be boring riding around in your squad car all night, but that's a little gung-ho, don'tcha think? What next? You gonna stop and lecture all the jaywalkers?
COP: Don't make me get out of this car! I'll give you a ticket, no problem!
ME: You'd have to catch me first.

Then I would've immediately turned 180 degrees, and sprinted back up Broadway, going against traffic until turning off a side street, taking a few nonsensical turns, doubling back randomly, and would easily have lost the cop in probably no time. But that would've been a bit more of a commitment than I was willing to make, just to satisfy an ego I try not to have in the first place. There was certainly no need for me to make the logic of un-enforceability clear to this hatchling officer of the law. Even one more day on the force would surely show him the folly of our actual conversation. What's he gonna do when he finds himself working a day shift, faced with bike-messengers swarming all over the place? Stop and ticket every single one of them?

The reason why I don't feel bad running red lights is because on a bike, you have perfect visibility 360 degrees, and you don't have several feet of vehicle sticking out in front of you. You're more like a jaywalker, only faster.

The only rule of the road I DO feel like a total asshole for breaking sometimes, is riding the wrong way on a one-way street. And not for my own safety. I never feel unsafe. It is only for the pedestrians. Since almost all streets in all of NYC are one-way, pedestrians never look both ways when crossing. They shouldn't be expected to. And there have been a few times when a pedestrian has stepped out from between two parked cars unexpectedly, while only looking in the direction of car-traffic, and I've had to slam on my brakes. I've never actually HIT anybody, but I've scared a couple of people shitless. Myself included. And even when I don't even come close to hitting a pedestrian, the fact that you can't hear a bicycle approach above the ambient traffic noise any given moment anywhere in Manhattan, means that to the unwary pedestrian (all of them) it seems as if you come completely out of nowhere. I don't want to give some old lady a heart attack just by, you know, suddenly popping into existence next to her. She could be somebody's granny!


Friday, June 20, 2008

I'd Happily Serve a Matriarchy

I used to think men were competitive with each other, until I met women.

Oh my.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a little friendly playful competition now and again, and I enjoy it when, say, a long-standing world record for some achievement or other is finally broken. It's like, "Hey... humans have reached a new height. Good for humans."

But these womens today. Oy! Judging and one-upping each other's shoes and outfits and breasts and hair and hairstyles and husbands and boyfriends and diets and sexual activities and pets and psychic abilities and did I mention the shoes?

If women took 1/1,000th of the energy used up by that sort of thing, and channeled it into, say, taking over the world, I'd be a willing slave to whichever mistress would have me.

I'm sayin'.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Brothers in Arms

Okay, so we're at war.

What else is new.

And if by "we" you mean all of humanity, then the war has been going on for uncountable generations, without a break, even for a single day, like, ever.

But unless you take the view that war is a necessary check on population growth (making you both an extremely cold motherfucker, and an idiot who has never heard of condoms) then this perpetual war of all of ours is just too big and too sickening to wrap our heads around. So we usually only focus on those chunks of war which hit closest to home. Okay... so... Iraq.

At this point, there ain't a lot of popular support anywhere in the world (including here in America) for American involvement in Iraq. At first, there were plenty of Americans who thought it was a good idea, or at least, allowed themselves to be convinced (by lie after lie after Goebbels-level lie).

But now, more than five years later, far fewer Americans are still into it.

Of course, there are those who still believe. How this is possible is quite mysterious and I suspect mental retardation might play a role. Or the consumption of special CIA-developed Kool-Aid. Or both. Regardless. The situation is what it is. We have volunteer soldiers (all lower-class kids) and professional mercenaries (all getting rich) over in an oil-rich country, killing people we've labeled "insurgents" and "terrorists" many of whom are backed by Iran apparently.

My parents are of both the Jewish persuasion and of that generation who were impressionable children during The Holocaust-- just old enough to be highly aware and deeply frightened by it (an experience that has left them forever uneasy regarding all Germans and many other non-Jews, notably Arabs and anyone practicing Islam). Like many people, my folks view the Iraq situation as part of a larger, ongoing conflict with Islamic fanatic terrorists. They also view everything that happens in that whole region of the world, through the "how will it affect Israel?" lens. They would never live in Israel, nor would they even want me ever to visit Israel, but on some level they consider it their country. They will vote for a President of the United States based solely on who they think will help defend Israel the most, even if that means voting for McCain, who, if elected, could lead to the end of civilization (which -- Mom and Dad -- includes Israel.)

I think my folks are saddened by loss of life generally, but I also think that when push comes to shove, they'd say "better them than us." After all, no matter what you can say about us, at least we don't train our children to be suicide bombers, killing innocent civilians in public places for no reason. Therefore, we are morally superior to them and our culture is worthy of being preserved while theirs is not.

But are we really so different from them?

Peter Ustinov famously pointed out that terrorism is war waged by the poor, and war is terrorism committed by the wealthy. Obviously, right. Poor people, with barely any food to eat, or clean drinking water, lack the means to raise a uniformed fighting force. But that doesn't stop them from wanting to defend their land, their homes, etc. And if there happens to be a fuckload of oil underneath their land, and if they could just manage to get rid of the foreign meddlers, then they might not have to be so poor anymore. But in the meantime, their only warlike options are pretty meager and to get the most bang for their dinar, they've got to take an approach which might seem downright cowardly and underhanded to us. After all, what can an innocent civilian possibly do against a teenager suddenly exploding at the next table?

Our methods are far more civilized. We arrange for bombs to fall out of the sky. We usually hit strategic targets. Every time we kill innocent civilians, it is unintentional. Of course, it couldn't possibly seem unintentional to the people on the ground. Just because the explosion comes from above instead of the side, does way more damage and isn't delivered in person, doesn't mean it's more morally acceptable. I'm sure we've killed many more innocent people just in the last 5 years than the whole of "terrorism" has killed from 1950 to now. And that includes the 9/11 death toll.

Still, it's gotta be a truly sick culture that would actually train their children to go off to certain death just to strike at a few coffee drinkers or bus riders. Let's do a little head to head comparison...

Average suicide bombing terrorists...
- probably take their religion very seriously
- are probably from the lower economic classes
- have volunteered for service but are being exploited by more powerful higher-ups
- have been taught to believe they are acting for the greater good
- are willing to die for their cause, which they believe is just
- face certain death
- target anyone including civilians
- are taught to believe that in death, they will be honored by their people and rewarded in the afterlife

Average American soldiers...
- probably take their religion seriously
- are usually from the lower economic classes
- have volunteered for service but are being exploited by more powerful higher-ups
- have been taught to believe they are acting for the greater good
- are willing to die for their cause, which they believe is just
- face varying likelihood of death and severe injury
- target combatants intentionally and hit civilians unavoidably
- aren't officially taught to believe anything specific about what happens after death (to my knowledge)

So the main difference is that they are both more prepared for, and much more likely to experience, their own death.

As far as I'm concerned, our guys are just as misled and exploited as theirs, if not more so. We're just so much better equipped that even when we try not to be, we're still way more lethal to innocent bystanders than they are, including those times when they only target civilians.

Most other differences are just stylistic. Our leaders use religion and honor and lies about the greater good just like their leaders do. And our young people from lower-class communities who don't see many options for their futures, can be convinced to go do the bidding of some truly wicked people. Just like theirs. Most of ours (who don't get continually "stop-lossed") come back. Most of theirs don't.

Is it possible that people are actually the same everywhere? Holy shit who knew.

That means that the real enemy of humanity might not be the other misled poor people around the world, but rather the uppermost elite who call the shots both at home and abroad. They're the ones who tell all the lies. They're the ones who foment the hostilities. They're the ones who continually fan the flames and, at least here in America, they also happen to be getting richer and richer off of all of it. It's not a clash of cultures after all. Turns out, the only real war is the class war, and the rich folks are kicking all our asses! Our hard-earned money is being sucked up by the BILLIONS as taxes, and instead of providing for our general well-being, that crazy Iraq-machine funnels it directly into the laps of a few rich guys running companies like Halliburton. And the well-meaning poor kids keep dying and getting their limbs blown off. Woo hoo!

But the terrorists must be stopped because they hate us for our freedoms cha cha cha.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Former President Bill Clinton

A co-worker had an extra ticket to see Bill Clinton speak at Radio City Music Hall last night, so I went along. It was kinda fun. I mean, on the political spectrum I fall somewhere to the left of Karl Marx, so I find mainstream politics a bit uninspired most of the time. And Bill is obviously totally mainstream. But given the 8-year slide we've been on, Clinton comes off as a lot more radical by comparison to the current order of things. He's not actually radical in the absolute, but in our world it's all relative. Anyway, I went into the evening with low expectations to prevent myself from being disappointed. Everything Clinton said was pretty obvious, but it was definitely nice to be reminded that the President of the United States used to be someone you could count on to have a brain in his head, and speak with eloquence and expertise on a wide range of topics. And I gotta say, on balance, Clinton was a good president who managed to get a lot of decent things done even working within a system as broken as ours (though it's obviously a bit worse now). So, thanks for that, Bill.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Alter Egos

Okay, so if this isn't the universe I belong in, what is? And who am I in that universe? Well... I don't really know. But I have it narrowed down to a few possibilities. (With apologies to Mr. Tom Weiser, whose "Alternate Ithaca Tom" Moth story did not actually serve as inspiration for this post, but which this post cannot help but slightly resemble...)

Alter Ego #1: Absent-minded college professor.
I teach a very popular freshman-level course in interpreting the spiritual messages in the classics of the sci-fi canon. I teach a much less popular upper-level course in interpreting the science fiction messages hidden in the Bible. I'm so focused on my work that I often forget where my office is located, and almost never cut my hair, lending me a disheveled boyish charm that undergraduates find especially endearing and as a result I have a difficult time resisting the temptation to sleep with my female students. I occasionally give in to it, but with only minor consequences (marriage).

Alter Ego #2: Addle-minded rock star.
I started smoking pot at a very early age and quickly discovered the joy of making music while high. Commercial success came surprisingly early, and I ended up dropping out of high school to tour. I almost never cut my hair, lending me a disheveled boyish charm that groupies find especially endearing. After a seriously wild ride and many near-death experiences (whether drug-, motorcycle-, or psychotic-fan-related) I eventually hit an emotional rock-bottom which allowed me to launch a new phase of my career, both artistically and spiritually. I devote myself to the cause of preserving the culture of the Kogi tribe living in northern Colombia and settle into a simpler more fulfilling life on my own floating eco-village in the Caribbean. I can't remember the names of most of my illegitimate children, but I let them all visit me whenever they want.

Alter Ego #3: Rodeo Clown.

Alter Ego #4: Angry-guy stand-up comic.
On a dare, I get up on stage at a comedy open-mic, shortly after dropping out of high school. I get a couple of chuckles, and one big laugh, after which I have the presence of mind to flee the stage, leaving the audience wanting more. I have no more. But I'm bitten by the comedy bug. SO, I devote all my time and energy to writing a routine. Success! Then drugs and comedy groupies! Then rock bottom! Then re-birth, as a Bill-Hicks-esque performer who rants about social issues at great length with occasional dick-jokes thrown in to keep drunken audiences happy. Despite my success, the fact that society keeps sliding into ever greater corruption and decay pisses me off, fueling my bitter angry-guy comedy which only makes me more of a hit. I am tortured by the fact that I'm essentially getting rich off the sorry state of things, but know of no other way to make a difference using my limited talents. I eventually give all my money to eco-charities and go live with the Kogi people of northern Colombia.

Alter Ego #5: Film-score composer.
This is my happiest and most boring alter ego. I live in a sleek Ray Kappe-designed house in the Hollywood hills. My wife is a yoga instructor. We occasionally swing.

Alter Ego #6: Highly successful psychotherapist.
Sick of merely serving as a therapeutic "good listener" to my friends, I decide to get the proper credentials to do the exact same thing for strangers for money. Lots and lots of money. My wife is a yoga instructor. We occasionally swing.

Alter Ego #7: Conceptual/installation artist.
I create a large Dr. Seuss-inspired metal sculpture designed to be played as a percussion instrument by up to a dozen people at a time. It proves very popular, and various cities and towns commission similar works for outdoor plazas and public parks, especially using them to help revitalize blighted inner-city areas. At first I am upset when some kids inevitably tag one of my works and consider experimenting with paint-resistant nano-materials, but decide instead to merely build especially tag-able areas into the pieces, making them intentionally interactive both sonically and visually. Eventually, serious percussive works are written for the different site-specific sculptures, weekly drum and dance circles spontaneously arise wherever they are located, and a culture of competitive musical performance groups develops, soon acquiring highly sophisticated and regimented sets of judge-able criteria.

Alter Ego #8: Dread pirate Roberts.

Alter Ego #9: Mad scientist.
Everyone laughed at me back at the academy when I presented my theories regarding the beautification of zombies. But I'll show them!

Alter Ego #10: Wacky musical instrument maker.
I specialize in constructing musical instruments from junk, found, and common household objects. I toil in obscurity until Radiohead decides to record an entire album using nothing but my creations. That's how fucking cool Radiohead is. After that, I become enough of a cult-figure that I can maintain a modest, but comfortable lifestyle in a small eco-trailer up in the Catskills, generating my own electricity and growing my own vegetables in a greenhouse of my own construction. I get stoned on homegrown every single day. I didn't marry the yoga instructor, but I did have a threesome with her and her hot friend over the course of an entire labor-day weekend.

Alter Ego #11: Buddhist Monk.

Alter Ego #12: Architect.
After winning a design award in college for "solar-powered blimp homes" that are tethered to the ground or existing buildings by cables to increase available real estate in dense urban areas without requiring more energy, I become the poster boy for "clever innovations that nobody will ever actually build." (The blimps were totally cool too. They'd remain aloft by retaining heat radiated by the sun, and generate electricity with photo-voltaic panels and wind-turbines. They'd collect rain-water and convert all waste into compost which would be used to grow plants. Non-compostable waste would have to be brought down to the surface world for recycling, etc. And how great would it be to live up in the sky, floating in a blimp!) I am occasionally approached for more down-to-earth (literally and figuratively) projects of an eco-conscious sort, and become the go-to guy for retro-fitting old buildings with green roofs. Eventually, I design and build the world's first vertical urban indoor farm in a gigantic transparent skyscraper. Proponents of the local and organic food movements hail it as a triumph. Architecture critics dig it too, with its characteristic "green glow" from within (especially striking when back-lit by the rising or setting sun). It single-handedly provides fresh produce for 15% of the population of NYC, is a huge economic success and becomes a tourist attraction as well, boasting three gourmet vegan restaurants which get all their produce from within the building. I especially enjoy the Seinfeld episodes wherein George Costanza pretends to be an architect to impress people. Oh George, you lovable ne'er-do-well...

* * *

Well, those are all the Alternate Universe versions of myself of which I am aware. Not sure which is my favorite. I kinda like 'em all. (Vote for the one you think I should've become in the comments!) But here's the thing about them... they don't spend time wondering what my life is like. I doubt they're all that aware of me or any other counterparts. I, in this universe, who don't actually DO any of those cool things, am clearly the one with the time to imagine them all. So... I guess I'm the writer in the bunch. And that's okay, right? Maybe I can find a way to fit into this universe after all. (And I guess I gotta start taking a yoga class.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

What Universe Is This?

I don't think this is the one I signed up for.

Somewhere along the line, I think I accidentally bounced from the track I was on, to this one. And nothing feels quite right. Most things are just a little off. Some are obviously way off.

Or maybe I'm just tired. I got absolutely no sleep last night. None at all.

Today... ... I'm... ... a... ... bit... ... ... um... ... ... .. ... than usual.

I can't focus on this anymore.

Here, watch this instead. It will make you happier.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

This is a test of mobile blogging via email from my celphone.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Blame Leary - Part 1

Sometimes, I look at the overall state of things in America, and I can hardly believe it. Things really do suck out there. What gives? I mean, people aren't inherently bad. Most Americans are reasonably smart, reasonably kind and reasonably, um, reasonable. We all tend to want the exact same things out of life. So why is the country so divided?

We didn't dwell on it so much, but we were pretty divided long before George Dubya ever came along. And obviously, the Bush Administration did everything in its power to divide the nation further. The first clue that they'd attempt to do this was in 2000 when Bush ran for president claiming he'd be a uniter, not a divider. Like most everything the Bush puppet says, the truth turns out to be the exact opposite. So, we ended up with the artificial, consciously and carefully manufactured red/blue divide... a very concise shorthand, cementing the metaphorical divide into a concrete wedge.

Of course, the for-profit mainstream news outlets need sensationalism in order to thrive, and making it seem like everything is a heated, down-to-the-wire competition is just good for business, even if it ain't so true. A divided nation certainly keeps people tuning in more than a happy contented unified nation. Unfortunately, when TV keeps spewing the same thing over and over again, enough people do eventually start to believe it, and the next thing you know... it actually becomes true in the real world.

But at this point, the Bush administration has screwed up so many things so heinously that you'd think everybody would've come around by now. Even some former die-hard right-wingers have lost their illusions about the fact that the side they were playing for turned out to be, well, evil (or at least, misguided). Yet Bush still has millions of supporters. How can that be? By rights, his approval rating should've hit 0% a long time ago.

With all the evidence and information currently available to us, how could huge numbers of people actually have voted for George Dubya Bush TWICE? (Even without counting Diebold voting-machine fraud.) Are people really that eager to bring civilization crashing down?

Largely to blame was Karl Rove's master plan to teach Dubya how to act like an Evangelical Christian, solely to gain support of that unbelievably large chunk of the U.S. population. Of course, in truth, George W. Bush is about as close to being a real Evangelical Christian as I am. But there are so many people out there whose faith is so passionate that they couldn't help but want to believe him. And that unfortunate fact has been screwing us ALL over, Evangelicals included, for the last 8 years.

What the--?

What is up with the bloody Evangelical Christians? Why is the United States home to the only significant number of people in the entire developed world (and possibly in the whole world) who don't want their children to learn about science and Darwin, instead insisting that every word in the Bible is literally true and the Earth is only 6000 years old?

How is it possible that 2000 years after Jesus, people who claim to follow the guy can still be so easily manipulated into doing things that would surely make Jesus puke His Holy Guts out?

Well, as we all know, a long time ago the wealthy elites discovered they could use religion to manipulate the masses. Those wacky elites have remained in control by perverting/distorting/obscuring the messages of religious figures, leaders and institutions, keeping the masses down, ever since.

By definition, there are so many more of the masses than there are of the elites that if the common people ever saw their inherent commonality and banded together, nothing could stop them from rising up and squashing the tiny minority of elites. Not that they would ever necessarily do so, as most people just wanna be left alone to live in peace. Still, if you happen to have vast wealth, and happen to be surrounded by huge numbers of people who have next to nothing (perhaps in some measure due to your own efforts) you probably can't help living in constant fear of an uprising.

So, for a long time, the elites have been doing everything possible to prevent the commoners from getting a clue. This has included things like distracting the commoners with all sorts of fanciful but meaningless diversions (e.g.: gladiatorial combat/sports, fashion trends) and instilling fear of enemies from far off lands so that some commoners will be only too glad to sign up to join the armed forces (which the elites pay for). Mostly though, the wealthy elites have had to destroy all true religions and create only false ones, for true religions encourage tolerance for all, love and unity, leading people toward a simple, joyful meaningful life, rich with deep spiritual understanding. False religions pretend to do similar things, but in reality they cut people off from spiritual fulfillment and each other, foster suspicion of those who are different, and create a culture of fear. All mainstream Western religions have been perverted in this manner at one time or another. Maybe all other large religions too. (Not Buddhism though, I don't think -- I digress.)

This problem isn't inherent to "Religion" per se. Though, as with any socio-cultural grouping of imperfect humans, Religion is easily corrupted, especially by greed. For example, in ancient Rome, if the Emperor wanted to drum up support for a war which he hoped would bring him and the rest of the nobility a great deal of wealth (primarily as fertile farmland and new slaves), all he had to do was pay off the priests to rig an augury predicting great success in the battle. "This campaign is favored by the gods!" Well then, I guess we'd be stupid NOT to march off to war!

But then this Jesus character comes along saying how we're all children of the same heavenly father and we should love everybody no matter what, and should turn the other cheek in the face of violence. No good hippie freak! Well, it ain't like anybody's paying attention to him.

WEALTHY ANCIENT ROMAN #1: Um, actually, he's picked up a little band of disciples.
WEALTHY ANCIENT ROMAN #2: Really? What the fuck?!
W.A.R. #1: Is it such a big deal?
W.A.R. #2: Look... if that jewboy's hippie crap catches on, think of the economic slowdown that'll happen when the soldiers suddenly don't feel like going off to kill the Gauls or the Britons or whoever the fuck! [in a whiny voice now] "We don't wanna kill people anymore because Jesus says everybody is a part of the One True God and we're full of love now so we just wanna be nice to people--"
W.A.R. #1: Enough already, you're makin' me sick. Okay, so you're right. Without the conquest and oppression of neighboring peoples and the opportunity to extract the wealth of their lands, our whole way of life is threatened. I promised my wife I'd build her some new vacation homes, and without a constant supply of fresh slaves, I'd have to curtail many of my...
W.A.R. #2: I know about your perversions.
W.A.R. #1: I was going to say, "appetites". Regardless. What do you want to do about the situation?
W.A.R. #2: Well, clearly, we've got to eliminate this Jesus bastard before he makes a lasting impression. Has he written anything down or does he just preach?
WAR#1: So far... just preaches.
WAR#2: Okay good. Let's have him declared a criminal, arrested and executed.
WAR#1: Consider it done.

a few weeks later...

WAR#1: Okay, we've got a problem.
WAR#2: What now?
WAR#1: Remember how we crucified that hippie jew bastard?
WAR#2: Sure, what of it?
WAR#1: Well, some dude said he saw him rise from the dead, and now word is spreading that Jesus really was, like, I dunno, a god or something.
WAR#2: Are you fucking kidding me?!
WAR#1: Nope. His students are goin' around spreading his love messages all the more now, claiming that if you also practice universal unconditional love, you will have life everlasting, just like Jesus.
WAR#2: And people are buying it!? Dude. This sucks.
WAR#1: Tell me about it. Maybe we shouldn't have crucified him after all!
WAR#2: Wait... I think I know a way we can turn this around.
WAR#1: How?!
WAR#2: Well, obviously the common people out there are pretty desperate to believe in something supernatural. So much so, that they're willing to believe some seriously crazy shit. So all we've got to do is fight fire... with fire.
WAR#1: When in Rome, as they say... What do you propose?
WAR#2: Well, Jesus didn't write anything, and not that many people were his direct students, right? So all the masses know is what they've heard. All we have to do is spread some rumors of our own.
WAR#1: Right! So, like, we get people to say "Jesus was a total jerk to me once -- his universal love crap is a sham!" and so forth?
WAR#2: No... I'm thinking we take advantage of the momentum these crazy Jesus stories already have. We gotta get people to forget about his message, right? We don't want anybody actually following his teachings and trying to be all loving and peaceful. So, instead of the message, let's get them to focus all their spiritual longing on the messenger instead. They're already thinking of him as godlike, aren't they?
WAR#1: Riiiiiight! I see where you're going with this now. We get people to reinforce the rumors about how supernatural Jesus was, so obviously the only proper course of action is to worship him. Because no matter what you do, you'll never be able to be like him yourself.
WAR#2: Totally! He was... um... the Son of God Himself! Perfect in every way!
WAR#1: Born of a blessed Virgin!
WAR#2: That's good, but let's not go overboard, I mean, people have to believe this shit, right?
WAR#1: Aww... I like the Blessed Virgin thing.
WAR#2: Well, okay... we'll see. What else? Um... you have to FEAR Jesus because he's so powerful, and if you don't believe in Jesus--
WAR#1: --and ONLY in Jesus--
WAR#2: then you'll burn in hell forever!
WAR#1: YES! So... instead of convincing people to kill the neighboring tribes for us by cutting open a goat and "reading" the guts, or releasing a flock of pigeons and "interpreting" their flight patterns, we'll just tell the teeming masses that Jesus wants them to go out and smite the unbelievers! For their own good!!
WAR#2: HAHA! That's awesome! HAHA!
WAR#2: HAHA... Okay... okay... I gotta catch my breath. Whew! Now... I don't expect all this to happen overnight. It could take a little while before our Jesus cult totally takes off.
WAR#1: Fine with me. I'm just glad we've got a plan.
WAR#2: Right. But in the meantime, we should watch his former students closely and see how things progress. People might start writing stuff down, so we should be prepared to confiscate their texts and scrolls and suppress them. We'll obviously have to supplant them with our own "more accurate" writings, and eventually, people will just accept our version as gospel.
WAR#1: Excellent.

to be continued...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tee Veeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Everybody loves TV, and I work in TV, so it's my responsibility to make TV better every day (the bestest job in the world!)! Yay! So here are some ideas for new TV shows I wanna pitch to y'all...

1. America's Homeless Got Talent!
We round up homeless people from all over the country and pit them against each other to see who has the most entertaining way of begging for change. The winner gets a handful of change.

2. Celebrity Fisting
Ryan Seacrest hosts as audience members vote on which famous celebrity they'd rather see get a fist up the ass. The chosen celeb is brought into the studio, stripped and bent over a table. A bucket of a white viscous lubricant rises up through the stage on a pedestal. Seacrest coats his fist and you know the rest! (Sponsored by Crisco.)

NOTE: It has come to my attention, that celebrity fisting has already been done. So, keeping in the celebrity vein, I'll propose a new show:

2a. Dick Cheney's Hollywood Round-Up!
Dick Cheney and his band of Merry Mercenaries kidnap some of your favorite celebrities, and bring them to Cheney's secret island compound. Upon arrival, their black hoods are removed to reveal that they're seated at a table in large Medieval-looking banquet hall. Cheney enters and explains the rules of the game to his guests over an opulent meal of rare meats (both in the sense of lightly cooked and endangered). After a good night's rest, the celebrities are released into the wilds of the island, given a 1-hour headstart, after which Cheney sets out in pursuit, hunting and killing them one by one. (Alternate title: "Dick Cheney's Blood Island")

3. Whose Blood Is It?
Contestants are brought to Iraq, shown a patch of dried blood somewhere, and are given points if they can guess if it came from a dead American or a dead Iraqi. If Iraqi, extra points awarded if they can guess other distinctions, like Sunni or Shiite, civilian or insurgent, man or woman, adult or child, etc.

4. Politician or Convicted Rapist?
Contestants are given a set of facts about a person and have to decide whether they describe a sitting Politician or a Convicted Rapist.

5. Where in the World Should We Send Troops?

6. Beer X-Games
Remember the scene from "Revenge of the Nerds" where they had to ride a tricycle around a track drinking a beer after every lap? Just like that only with motocross jumping.

7. Who Wants to Marry the Cult Leader?

8. Donald Trump Ate My Baby!
Each week, a different celebrity chef prepares two dinners and places them in front of Donald Trump. One is made from typical ingredients, but the other is made from a dead human baby. Contestants wager on which dish Trump will like more/finish first.

9. Drinking with the Stars

10. Hillbilly Dance-off!

11. Hillbilly Dance-off: Extreme!!
Just like Hillbilly Dance-off, only more-so.

12. Firing Squad!
Various people are placed in front of a firing squad.

13. Bitch, Bitch, Bitch
We place a chronic complainer in a small windowless room with a steroid freak, a psycho-cop, a club owner deprived of his cigarettes, and a female drill-sergeant on her period. Contestants bet on who will snap first.

14. Battle of the Major Religions

15. Pave it Over!
Two different small towns are chosen to compete against each other, justifying their right to continue to exist. At the end of the hour, the audience votes and the winning town gets its own new Wal*Mart superstore. The losing town is leveled and turned into a landfill site for the garbage of the winning town. The displaced residents of the losing town, must live and work in the winning town's Wal*Mart. (Sponsored by Wal*Mart.)

16. Name Those Tits
Audience members are shown pairs of breasts and have to determine which celebrity they belong to.

17. Drunken Firing Squad!
Just like "Firing Squad" except with dangerously intoxicated riflemen.

18. Torture the Retard
Everybody's favorite school-yard pastime gets a slick network make-over for prime-time! Self-explanatory.

19. Torture the Retard: Extreme!!
Just like "Torture the Retard" except led by high-level officials in the Bush Administration.

(We fully expect these last two shows to be so popular that they'll launch two entire sub-genres of TV: Torture shows, and Retard shows.)

19a. Torture the Emo boy

19b. Dancing with the Retards

19c. The Magic Retard!
Tom Hanks in the title role -- a retard who saves lives and somehow manages to be at every major world event.

20. Drunken Firing Squad: Extreme!!

21. Hillbilly Dance-off: Extreme!! Special "Dang-it" Edition

22. I Dare You to Lick It
Blindfolded contestants compete by licking increasingly challenging unknown (to them) substances, surfaces, etc. The last one not to vomit wins a prize.

23. You and What Army?
Two average joes are each given command of a small contingent of soldiers from a different one of the world's armed forces. Both groups enter the Australian Outback. One group emerges victorious.

24. Binge 'N' Purge!
Two contestants eat, and then vomit, as much food as possible within 24 hours. At the end of the 24 hours, the vomit is weighed and a winner is declared.

25. Hiding Things In Anus Game (originally from Japan)

26. Trickle-down!
Contestants each pick an impoverished region of the third world and compete to see who can raise its overall standard of living the most by giving large sums of money to whichever one person already has the most money in the region.

28. Name That Turd
Contestants attempt to identify various types of animal feces, using one, two, or even all five of their senses!

29. Celebrity Name That Turd

29. Shoot the Freak
Inspired by the popular Coney Island boardwalk attraction. With real bullets.

30. Paternity Test!

and lastly...

31. Drink! The! KOOL-AID!
How good are you? If you're good, you might get to Drink... the... Kool-aid! If you're bad, you might have to Drink... the... Kool-aid! (Sponsored by Kool-aid.)


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Now that I've been back in the corporate world for the better part of a year, some of my old grievances are returning to the fore.

Today's grievance: Inefficiency Masquerading as Efficiency!

How many times do I have to tell these corporate types that "Brave New World" was a cautionary tale and not a style-guide? Answer: probably quite a few more times.

My company is currently in the process of changing a system. I'm not going to bore you with the particulars of said system, but know that the system is integral to all workflows in all business units, and implementation of the transition from the old platform of this system to the new platform for the system will certainly hamper said workflows. What the fuck did I just say!?

Now while the old platform of the system certainly deserves to be scrapped, being that it is a horrid ugly byzantine inadequate piece of cobbled-together broken-down shit... when compared to the new platform, it looks like clean elegant crystal.

"But the new platform allows you to track 500,000 more parameters of every asset!"

Can I track the 8 critical parameters quickly and easily on a single screen like I used to?

"Well, no, but if you click through to 55 unintuitive sub-windows and sub-pages and sub-fields using our nonsensically inconsistent interface, then, yes, you should have no trouble tracking what you actually need to track, assuming you can find it amidst the 500,000 new things you can track, but will never ever need to."

Can I set certain fields to default to my most common settings so that I don't have to manually re-enter the same data over and over again every single time I want to do anything?

"Well, no... but you can manually re-enter it every time. Eh? Eh?"

And adopting this new "better" system is costing the company how much?

"Well, we're paying the vendor company $100,000,000 for the system, plus another $50,000,000 for the customization, plus another $10,000,000 for necessary enhancements as they become, er, necessary, er, and available. Oh, plus the cost of training you people."

Which is what?

"Only about $150,000."

Oh, that's negligible. What about the cost of the slowdown in productivity?

"There's no way to calculate that, but a loose estimate stands at about 4,000,000 man-hours, company-wide."

That seems rather high, no?

"It's actually a conservative estimate. Have you seen the new system?"

So, that number of man-hours translates to what kind of dollar figure?

"Figure a cost of about $150,000,000."

Bringing us to a grand total of...?

"Three-hundred and ten million, one-hundred fifty thousand bucks."

But the company can afford that with no problem... right? I mean, just because I'm using an 8-yr-old computer and there aren't enough video decks to go around doesn't mean we shouldn't be spending 300 million-

"310 million."

Right... spending 310 million dollars to hamper productivity with an ill-conceived system change. Of COURSE the company can afford that.

"Well, it can't really. But we're hoping that the ability to track so much more information will make some people's routine tasks easier."

How many people's tasks will become easier?

"Possibly as many as... four."

And how many people's jobs will instantly become much more difficult, cumbersome and time-consuming?


So clearly, the day we agreed to adopt the new system platform, the guy whose job it is to say "Holy shit this sucks goat balls" must've been out sick, yes?

"On vacation, actually."

Lucky bastard.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New-York-itis part 2

As promised, here's a continuation of what I started ranting a little while ago...

Right, so, the paralysis of too many choices hits me hardest in my sex life -- kicks me right in the nuts.

NYC just isn't a normal environment. As David Cross puts it, when you're a guy living in NYC, you have a very difficult decision to make every 20 minutes or so, which is this: "Should I stare at the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life, or should I stare at the most insane-looking man I've ever seen in my life." Every 20 minutes you encounter both a new pinnacle of female hotness and a new low of scary male freakishness. Fear and Desire. Fear and Desire. Every 20 minutes. Most days, it feels more like every 20 seconds. On the desire front, anyway.

The super-powerful vortex of human energy that is NYC obviously attracts/creates people at all sorts of extremes. Bell-curves do exist here, but they're all way off the charts of the bell-curves for the same traits in the general populace. Not being a snob. It's just a fuckin' fact. And nowhere is this more apparent then watching the pretty, stylish women walking around in their summer clothes, flaunting everything flauntable.

Now, as much as I am a sucker for a pretty face/hot body, I'm not SO stupid and shallow that I am only swayed by looks. New York women are cool and brainy and interesting and witty too. So demanding those traits doesn't narrow the choices down enough.

The trait that always used to narrow the female talent pool down to manageable proportions for me elsewhere, was simply "would they go for me". I've often found myself in settings where there might only be one woman who'd ever consider touching me with a ten-foot pole, so therefore she was automatically the right one. But even if only one in a thousand single New York women between the ages of 18 and 50 find me even remotely acceptable, that's still, like, ten-million women!

Okay, maybe my math/demographics is off, but that's what it feels like. Walking around town or going to parties or standing on line at the bank... I just feel overwhelmed all the time. So much beauty... I can't take it! (Paraphrased movie reference is worth 5 points.)

And to make matters worse, contrary to what seems to be the common pattern as we age, I've actually become LESS discriminating in my taste in fellow humans as I've gotten older. This is entirely due to the "massive turning-point experience" I've alluded to before. Happened a little over 12 years ago. Still haven't fully gotten used to the new reality it opened up to me (and don't really expect to ever fully get used to it).

One of the major lasting effects of that experience was that it altered my perception of, and relationship to all other people. In a single canon-shot moment, I went from more-or-less fearing/loathing everybody, regarding them as insufferably crass morons who deserved to die... to loving everybody as beautiful perfect expressions of divinity, whose flaws only made them more beautiful and worthy of love.


How the fuck do you deal with that!?


Before that amazingly wonderful experience ruined my life, I was motivated solely by my testicles. There was no reason to bother with any higher aspirations, because human beings simply weren't worth the effort. So, driven by lust, I happily, hungrily pursued whichever women seemed open to it, and got whatever action I could. If the physical connection proved good enough for both parties, and there turned out to be personality compatibility as well, then perhaps a relationship of some significance could blossom.

BUT NOW... now I already love everybody I meet, and respect them for their humanity and basic human dignity and that just AIN'T sexy. But the problem isn't that I don't still feel the raw animal lust. Obviously I do. No, the problem is that raw lust is no longer the driving force. When it was, it was fairly easy to narrow down the field based on whoever simply turned me on the most or whoever seemed most likely to let me into her pants. On the rare occasions when both those conditions were met by the same woman, so much the better!

But now, with all this lovey-dovey touchy-feely rainbow and unicorn shit clouding my judgment, and everybody being all equally divine and so forth, the diner-menu effect could not possibly be more annoying. Wherever I go, no matter who I meet or how hot she is, or even--on occasion--how hot for me she might be, I usually find myself just kind of smiling and nodding a lot. Apparently, I don't have any desire to play the small-talk, flirtation, "the hotter you think I am the more you will lie to me"-game that so many people seem to expect of you in this town. Or maybe I just don't know how anymore. Fortunately, I don't really care. I mean, despite my typical solitude, I'm happy. Genuinely happy (which I'm also still not used to after 12 years, not that I'm complaining).

Now I generally try to take note when I encounter women who know what all that universal love stuff feels like, on a deep level. And there actually are plenty.

So far, they're all taken.


Next time: more dispatches from the front lines in the war on common sense! Woo hoo!

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm on it...

It has come to my attention that regular readers of this blog are dissatisfied with the frequency of new posts. This is amazingly fantastic on two levels... First: there are regular readers of this blog! Second: they want more blog to read!

Therefore, I solemnly vow to update this craziness once a day for the next month, even if it means waking up an extra hour early and typing barely coherent ramblings about the dream I just woke up from.

Or maybe I'll just make shit up.

Like this: Did you know that 84% of American heterosexual males have stuck it into a vacuum cleaner hose at one time or another? See? I just made that up. The real figure is probably higher.

Today, I'm going to be in a pro-tools session all day, putting an English-language voice-over soundtrack onto a Japanese-produced documentary about the last indigenous tribe of seafaring nomads left in the world (so if you call you'll have to leave a message). They call themselves the "Moken" which means "divers" and they have super-human eyesight under water. Like, we consider 20/20 vision to be "perfect" and bad vision would be like 20/100 (you can see at 20 feet what a normal person can see at 100 feet). But visual acuity among the Moken has been recorded as high as 180/20 (they can see at 180 feet what we consider a normal healthy person to be able to see clearly at 20 feet). So... clearly, we don't know shit about what's "healthy" or "normal".

And they swim better than we do.

Okay, more tomorrow. And every day from here on out!

(Maybe, by the end of the month of updating this every single day, the habit will be so ingrained that I'll keep right on going!)

(Or maybe, by then I'll have typed every word I know and no new experiences will have happened to me because of all the time I spend inside writing to you people and I'll have to put myself into some totally insane situation just to drum up more fodder for your insatiable reading appetites damn you!! Fortunately, by then, Burning Man will be rolling around.)