Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Actual Things

Okay, here's the real list...

1. I was born 8 days early. This was the last time I was early for anything. Or on time even.

2. Around the age of 4, on a lovely suburban spring day, my mom told me to play outside (I think she just needed a little quiet time to herself). I refused. She shuffled me out the kitchen storm door. I opened it and came back in. She shuffled me out again and locked the storm door. I punched my fist through the window, cutting my soft little hand to ribbons. Blood and glass everywhere. What a stubborn little bastard.

3. My three most physically painful experiences so far: molar drilled with no novocaine, kidney stone, thumbnail ripped off. Of the three, I bet the one that made you wince was the thumbnail.

4. When I was a teenager, I never thought I'd live to see 30, partly because I expected Ronald Reagan, motivated solely by shits and giggles, to push The Button. But also because I assumed I'd do something really reckless at some point. These two things are of course related.

5. Even though I'm into health food and preserving nature all that good stuff, I have a secret perverse desire to create crassly commercial genetic abominations. E.g.: splice the gene that causes coffee beans to have caffeine in 'em, into cow DNA -- ladies and gentlemen, I give you... HyperBeef™!

6. Turning to sports... I peaked athletically at the age of 12. But back then (and I'm totally serious) I was pure poetry in motion. Okay, I'm still poetry in motion, only now the poet is Ogden Nash.

7. I am a perfectionist. I'm also a lazy slob. These sound completely incompatible, and they are. When I was young: torment. Now: meh.

8. In elementary school, my favorite subject was math. But in 7th grade, I decided words were more fun than numbers. Been paying the price ever since.

9. At 13, I was one of the first kids in my town to convince his parents to get a computer for the home. My dad, whose giant multinational pharmaceutical company had a Honeywell 6000 mainframe taking up half the corporate campus, wanted to know: why on god's green earth would we ever need a home computer? What the hell are you going to do with it?!? "I could do my school homework!" I said, by which I meant play games. The computer was an "Apple 2 plus" -- apple ][+ -- and it came with 48K RAM (expandable to 64K) at which my father was completely astonished. So much memory! How could you possibly ever NEED that much!? To put that in perspective, it might be enough memory to hold a second or two of an mp3.

10. I played the sousaphone in my high school marching band. Clearly, I thought I was this guy:

But everybody else probably thought I was this guy...

Really, I was probably closest to being this guy...

11. When I was at the height of my teen angst and confusion, I had a dream wherein all the mystical secrets of the Universe were revealed to me. I remember being so blissfully happy in the dream, to finally have the answers! It was all so simple. It made so much sense. I had understanding! It was genuinely wonderful. Then I woke up and was helpless to stop it from all slipping away, leaving me with an incredibly profound sense of loss. A cosmic tease of infinite bigness!

12. Whenever someone I grew up with finds me on the facebook and asks if I "remember when we did that thing by the place where we went that time? That was so much fun!/I was so mad at you!" I almost never know what they're talking about. So I ask, "Are you sure that was me?" and they're all like, "Totally sure! Don't you remember? That song by [80's pop group I swear I've never heard of] was playing on the radio and you said something funny about goats! Remember?" Um... I got nothing. This makes me feel slightly stupid. But in my defense, it was the 80's and I was in a state of fairly constant background-level existential itch, so for most of the time I just wasn't paying attention, even when it looked like I was. I usually joke that I've long since killed the brain cells that stored those memories. But I'm sure it's all in there somewhere.

13. Supposedly, my first word was "shit."

14. I never acquired ability to sight-read music because I memorized everything by ear long before figuring out what all the dots and squiggles were. Thus, I never became a musician. If I didn't believe in reincarnation, I'd probably regret this.

15. I occasionally talk to myself. For a while, this took the form of pretend conversations as a guest on Letterman. But not anymore. Now it's Jon Stewart. No offense Dave.
"None taken Jonnyboy. If you ever feel like paying us another visit, the door's always open."
"Thanks Dave, I'll try to pretend to make it back from time to time."

16. There are two babysitters from my childhood who stand out in my memory. One was Eddie, who could draw really cool-looking rocketships, and would let us build couch-cushion fortresses. The other was a girl whose name I've forgotten, but who we found incredibly entertaining because of this thing she could do with a ping-pong ball. (Haha, no. She could keep it bouncing on a paddle hundreds of times without missing. Impressive to a 6-year-old. Her record was over 700 hits I think. Come to think of it, that's impressive to me now! My brother and I were truly amazed but she must've been bored to tears. Yet, she indulged us, applying zen-like concentration to the super-repetitive, utterly pointless task.)

17. I was more of an adult 20 years ago than I am now.

18. I used to chop wood and carry water. Now, I chop wood and carry water. (In the future, I will use lasers!)

19. I can fall in love with a woman based solely on the sound of her voice/laugh. This has backfired on me.

20. Corollary to #19: If her voice doesn't do it for me, I could find a woman super-attractive in every other way and still not be able to -- ahem -- consummate. The attempt to ignore this has backfired on me.

21. When I was in the 5th grade, for Halloween, my elementary school had a "crazy hat contest." I figured all the other kids would come to school dressed as normal Halloween-ish things, with the addition of a hat with all sorts of wacky crap glued onto it. To counter this, and in an early manifestation of my love of efficiency, I decided to simply dress up as a hat for Halloween. I fashioned a crude giant wizard hat shape out of chicken-wire, and my mom helped me cover it in a dark fabric (all she had was purple) to which I hastily attached yellow stars and crescent moons an' shit. Even with the little eye holes we cut, it was difficult to see out of, and nearly impossible to climb stairs in. And even though it probably made me look more like a giant magical purple condom than anything else, I won the hat contest. (From this I concluded that 'concept' took precedence over 'execution', and that's why I've never achieved anything in life. Wah wah.)

22. I used to think that logic, reason and the scientific method would lead us to all knowable knowledge. I don't think that anymore.

23. As much as I consider myself a "word guy" linguistic precision doesn't really matter to me. And I'm not very good at scrabble™ -- I can't help wanting to make up my own words ('spaloney' should totally be a thing). I do take special notice whenever I, or someone else, utters a phrase or sentence which I can't imagine has ever been uttered before. One recent example: "Oh no, I spilled the oat-bran into the laundry basket full of garden hose."

24. Whenever I go for any length of time without a steady 9-to-5, I become completely nocturnal.

25. When I was 4 years old, I was in a pre-school class at our local synagogue. One day while the kids were all sitting on the floor listening to the teacher read us a story, a really tall girl named Sarah-Jane trapped me under her dress/skirt/thing. I struggled and crawled out only to have her trap me under it again. It was yellow, and allowed enough light in so I could see the floral pattern on her underwear. I remember being glad I didn't have flowers on my underwear. Anyway, as humiliated as I thought I should feel at being trapped by a girl, under her dress, I didn't want to do anything particularly drastic to change the situation. I didn't want to interrupt the teacher or the story-time, so I didn't yell. And I guess I figured it would be wrong to hit a girl, especially, you know, in the crotch. So, I just sat there, listening to the slightly muffled sound of Sarah-Jane trying to contain her giggles, and looking at her long, smooth legs. I sometimes wonder what happened to her. Probably a lawyer now.

Meme memed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Era of Honesty and Transparency

After I became an absurdly and unalterably happy guy about 12 years ago, I found myself bereft of the perverse joy of angry cynicism and mean-spirited dark humor that had nurtured me like a criminally insane mother's love for so many years. Despite the fact that this perverse pleasure was replaced by genuine joy, and thus has long been rendered utterly obsolete, I still crave it on occasion, and depending on how much caffeine I've ingested, am still capable of conjuring up some seriously cynical, though hopefully funny, shit.

And even though an honest man is finally -- finally -- sitting in the Oval Office; and even though that pilot did an amazing job landing that jet a few doors down from my apartment; and even though, thanks to the combination of corporate layoffs, a "warn notice" and a little thing called "severance" I get to be a man of relative leisure for a time; and even though the TED conference videos consistently reaffirm my faith in humanity... there are still at least a few things worth getting psychotically enraged over.

Like the fact that while I've been quietly expecting a major melt-down of the global economy for 14 years (ever since my first real corporate job inadvertently taught me that our entire economic "system" was built primarily on... absolutely fucking nothing) the "experts" were all caught with their pants down, shocked and awed. This is so infuriating it makes me feel like the Napoleon Dynamite guy at his most exasperated: "IDIOTS!" Why, only a few months before the market first crashed, I was telling a co-worker how I occasionally fantasized about one day owning an energy-independent off-grid home up in the woods somewhere, with a greenhouse to grow my own vegetables, allowing me to cut all conceivable ties to "the system." She asked why I would ever want to do something so extreme, and, among other things, I mentioned how it was so patently -- painfully -- obvious to me that our current practice of capitalism was inherently unsustainable and doomed to fail.

Ta da!

For my next trick, I'll guess the number of jelly beans in that giant jar: zero! (You can no longer afford jelly beans.)

During that conversation, my coworker didn't agree with me. She didn't see things the way I did. Nor did I expect her to. The patterns, the connections. But the fact that the professionals, the people who supposedly devoted their careers to studying every little detail of the corrupt, unregulated house of cards vapor and make-believe we call The Market, couldn't see what was so unavoidably clear to me, a nobody, was really rather frustrating. Or maybe they just refused to see/admit it. I mean, it does make a lot more sense that it would really be collective denial instead of collective idiocy.

But... it is now the dawn of a new era. The Obama era. The era of leaders who might actually do stuff that makes sense. The era of leaders who will base their decisions on "reality" and the good advice of people who know what the fuck they're talking about. The era of leaders who, when asked simple direct questions, will give simple honest answers. The era of leaders who might actually give a shit about the people who elected them. The era of leaders who can admit it when they make mistakes and accept responsibility for their actions/decisions like any normal adult. The era of leaders who don't have their heads up their asses. The era of leaders who aren't in it solely for the money (since there won't be any). The era of leaders we can actually respect.

Goodbye to the time of unbridled stupidity and greed! Hello to the time of unbridled... um... horniness!

Best of all, I've got my next project lined up, and I couldn't ask for a better one. It's in its embryonic stages right now, so I'm not going to say anything else about it. Just, you know, send me good productivity vibes. Yeah... just like that. Ooh... yeah, vibey.

Of course, there might someday come a time when I'll need to return to playing the role of drooling lackey to some corporate ogre, combing the help-wanted ads like everybody else. And I hope that if that day does come, this era of openness and honesty will be at its full flower. Imagine the types of job listings there could be...

Hyper-organized anal-retentive mouse-person with no life whatsoever wanted for extremely abusive department assistant position. Very long hours of high-stress low-paying drudgery peppered with occasional verbal/emotional torture. Those with friends, self-respect, need not apply.

Relentless amoral asshole wanted to SELL SELL SELL! Do you have what it takes to convince poor people to spend what little money they have on nonsensical garbage nobody would ever need in a thousand years? Can you ignore the fact that rapacious consumerism will bury civilization under its own flatulent bulk until it chokes itself completely to death? Do you often feel like a hungry shark in a tank of bleeding pudgy children who never got past the doggie-paddle? Do you like feeling that way? (Do you love it?) If you answered yes to these questions, we want to hire you, you magnificent piece of shit!

Hot girl wanted for position as executive assistant to Senior VP of Marketing for a successful alcoholic beverage company. Must be exceedingly hot. Must have tastefully office-appropriate, yet totally hot wardrobe. Knowledge of and enthusiasm for alcoholic beverages a big plus. Good phone manner a plus. Anything less than top-tier hot need not apply.

Extremely desperate individuals wanted for highly dangerous work with little chance of survival. On the job training. $1000 for every full week of service. Poor sense of smell a plus. Always plenty of positions to fill. Call any time and ask for Bob.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Something I'd Like to See

I just came back from the dentist. Routine cleaning/check-up. Everything's fine in there.

My dentist happens to be a really hot woman (married, alas) and all her hygienists are also really hot. Walking in there reminds me of the purple-roofed ethical suicide parlor from the Kurt Vonnegut short story, "Welcome to the Monkey House" except instead of the hot women in their white clinical outfits putting you to death, they simply inflict pain and discomfort on your tender teeth and gums for a while after which you emerge with cleaner, smoother choppers. That metal claw? The suction tube? The rotary grit-scrubber? That ultrasonic torture needle? The stuff of nightmares! Except, wielded by a pretty girl, so how bad could it all be?

Personally, I think that instead of white lab coats it would be more appropriate if they were dressed in full-on dominatrix gear. More appropriate and hotter.

That's all.