Sunday, July 25, 2004

Focus

I was flipping through the channels on the old television - not an all together unusual activity - when I chanced upon something interesting on C-SPAN. (Yes, I am  aware that the words C-SPAN and interesting do not generally appear together in any context, but technically this was C-SPAN2.) They were airing a meeting of a focus group from somewhere in Ohio. (OK, I admit this still doesn't sound interesting, but bare with me.) So, there were about 9 people in a non-descript meeting room of some sort being quizzed by a weasily, condescending focusmeister. (Well, maybe this is only interesting to me, but I'm forging ahead anyway.)

This focusmeister - sorry about the overly technical jargon - was asking all sorts of questions about Bush and Kerry to this rag tag assembly of housewives, retirees, and guys with goatees. This was so fascinating to me because this was a window into the strange and arcane tools used by candidates to gain political office. No doubt, Bush, Kerry, and their people use focus groups such as this to tailor their platforms, speeches, and such. After viewing this focus group, I only have one thing to say about the state of the democratic process in our country: It is totally screwed up.

If Bush and Kerry are listening to people like this, God help us all. These people are complete idiots. They almost all complained that both candidates seem to avoid really confronting the issues, but what do you expect when they hear from focus groups like this is that Bush supporters like him for his 'strength and confidence' while Kerry supporters think he's 'careful and thoughtful'. Why would the candidates deal with the issues, when focus groups are telling them that they're more interested in their images?

Then, there were the questions coming from the focusmeister. There was, of course, the old ' who looks more presidential?' chestnut. The correct answer to this is: who cares? It doesn't matter who looks more presidential. Neither Bush nor Kerry does. One has a face that looks like it's melting. The other's face appears to be constantly sucked toward some midpoint, maybe around his nose. (Curiously enough, if you crossed Bush with Kerry, you'd get one normal looking person.) Plus, it doesn't really matter who looks more presidential. It doesn't even matter who acts more presidential. The only question that matters is who would make the better president. Plus, asking who's more presidential between two candidates is akin to asking which is more tree-like: a pine cone or a buckeye. Both have the capability to be a tree, and once a tree, it becomes de facto tree like. It can be nothing but tree like, since it is, after all, a tree. The candidate who becomes president becomes presidential simply by being president, since by definition he can not be otherwise.

The questions from the focusmeister just kept getting stranger and stranger. At one point he asked, "If John Edwards was a family member what family member would he be and why?" Almost everyone answered Uncle - one guy cryptically answered 'an uncle from the coast' with out giving any explanation. Again, no one gave the correct answer which would be to point out that the question is stupid and not worthy of a serious answer - although, if forced to answer I'd have to say Uncle Joey since Edwards, much like Uncle Joey, is just a little too eager to please.

At about this point my attention began to stray from the focus group on television. I began to wonder why the focusmeister didn't just go whole hog and continue asking more and more bizarre questions. It would make for better television and be just as useful to society to just screw with the people, just ask off the wall crap, dare someone to call you on the questions. As a matter of fact, I have a list of questions I would just love to ask a focus group. Here's just a few:

If Dick Cheney were a candy bar, what kind would he be and why? - Hopefully this question would lead to a Bush supporter saying something like: "M&M's because he may have a hard shell, but deep down I think he's a real sweety." To which a Kerry supporter would respond: "Technically M&M's aren't candy bars, nitwit." This would lead to loud shouting and maybe fisticuffs, which would make for really good television.

If you could ride one ride at the carnival with John Kerry, which would it be and why? - The correct answer is his jowls.

If John Edwards ran one attraction at this carnival, which would it be and why? - Hopefully someone would say: "None, he'd set up a lawyer booth to sue when one of the rides comes crashing down."

Which word better describes George Bush: lava or magma? - Even I'm mystified by this question and I came up with it.

Which Olsen Twin are you more attracted to? - Just to see if everyone's still awake.

If Dick Cheney could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be and why? - A good cardiologist for obvious reasons.

Is John Edwards more of a Dick York or a Dick Sergeant? - Either way, he's still second banana.

True or false: George Bush totally rules at pack man. - Who knows? He might.

You've been invited to John Kerry's birthday party, what do you bring as a gift? - I don't know. What do you get the man who married the woman who has everything?

See now wouldn't this be fun. I think that I may have found my calling. I should run focus groups. I'd be just as useful, but at least twice as entertaining as the guys they have running them now. All I'd really need to do is keep a straight face, and act like I know what I'm doing. That doesn't sound hard at all. How do you think I got through college?

Shalom

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Rave Against the Machine

I watch alot of day time television. I'm one to just sit down and click away, but I definitely have it on in the background, as my summer days grind away in the most boring fashion available to me. And there are one group of commercials that not only succeed in making me laugh every time, but also intrigue me far more than they should. These commercials are for entrepreneurial (a word SHU seems to love for some reason) credit machines that do all the work and give you all the cash. Not only are they perfect for the wanna-be millionare inside of us all, but they also require us to do nothing but suck in the sweet sweet cash!

You may have seen the commercials yourself. These wonder machines include ATM machines in fast food chains, internet access points, wireless hotspots, and movie rental machines. That's right, you can rent movies... from a vending machine. Apparently, these machines do nothing but rake in the dough. All you do is pick a location, set up the machine, and then stop by every once in a while to get your loot. It begs the question, "Why aren't we all doing this?! Why am I going to college? Why am I even working on graphic design, when all I have to do is get a key, walk down to my giant movie-renting-machine and get my loot?" This operation is literally the deus ex machina that will come and end my working career (which has been lazy as best thanks to my Trib job).

What's even better about all of this, is the lifestyle I will have once I get my machines. According to the commercials, I will become an old man with a full head of gray hair. I will get to wear Hawaiian shirts while sitting by a huge pool, and have an attractive girl in a bikini look over my shoulder as I monitor my money from an old Apple iBook! Holy shit! This is the life of a king, I tell you... a king! I know this is exactly how Bill Gates and Ted Turner live. I just know it. And soon, I shall be with them... well, not WITH them, but in the same class as them. Getting taxed less (hopefully) than the average man, but instead of giving out more jobs like most billionaires, I will make my billions from the machine. Perhaps I will hire someone to go around and pick up the money for me... a small Cuban boy. That way I won't look like an American jerk. I'm giving back to the community, and letting Pepe' get some exercise.

And of course, thanks to Global Link (the enigmatic company behind these marvelous machines) and my sex-slave Adonna, I will be the mysterious billionaire that I always strived to be. I will have no choice but to become a super villain, hiring thousands of nameless henchmen, and that guy with the question mark suit who is always being chased by the feds, and I will take over the world in my zeppelin. That's right... a zeppelin.

But there is just one loose end that needs tied up... and that is of this mysterious video rental machine. I just don't get it. Somehow the movie titles will be updated (I'm assuming by one of my drones) and somehow people are going to return these things? If they don't, Pepe' will have to break their legs. But really, is this more convenient than going to Hollywood Video or Blockbuster? No matter, money will come regardless!

If you too are interested in the exciting business of owning a machine that takes money from people, contact Global Link. They have a helpful website filled with confusing words and charts depicting nonsense! It's like the website says: "Global Link was launched in 1996 with a simple and yet challenging vision: to look at the world from the desktop of the buy-side and to create efficiencies through the intelligent application of technology to real-world business needs for information, liquidity access, and workflow improvements. In short, the mission is to deliver one 'window' through which the buy-side can access unique fact-based research and trade any asset class, anywhere, with anyone. In close collaboration with our clients, we are progressively delivering each stage of our vision."

Hell yes. Hell yes...

Monday, July 19, 2004

Problems Solved

By most accounts - some could even argue by all accounts - my life is far from successful. My problems are many and varied. I am with out gainful employment. My hairline is receding. I live with my parents. I have no luck with women - this, of course, could be a result of the rest of my problems. I am very clumsy, often annoying, and love bad hair bands of the 1980's - however, I can't stand good hair bands of the 1980's, although I can't say I've ever heard of any.
 
Now, I am aware that I do have some good qualities. Those with an incredible gift of perception may even be able to notice some of them. I am fairly well read, more or less intelligent and occasionally amusing. I'm a good listener, in many ways unselfconscious, and I make great omelets. Also, I love bad hair bands of the 1980's.
 
My major problem, I have decided, is that I lack a certain force of will, strength of commitment, courage, intestinal fortitude, balls, etc. I live too much of my life inside of my own head. I lack the strength, desire, or bravery to move ideas out of the intellectual realm and into the physical, everyday realm. I cannot realize my full potential, because - through either fear or apathy - I cannot make myself fully responsive to the world at large. I need to move beyond myself. Take the strength of my mind and apply it to the world. I need to develop my intellectual and social courage in much the same way I have developed my body from flabby to almost ok. I need to gain some strength. I need machismo. I need to jump out of my seat, run out into the street with the crazed look of a blind man who can suddenly see. I need to experience and I need to do. I need to grab life by the lapels, shake it around, and generally make it my woman. In short, I need a mustache.
 
Ah, yes, the mustache: the facial hair of the man of action. Mustaches practically breath decisiveness. Quick, think of the mustache. Who comes to mind? Clark Gable. Magnum PI. Rollie Fingers. Cowboys. Every hero of every 70's cop movie or television show. Barber shop quartets. Porn stars. Groucho Marx. Every state trouper. All men of action. Men who know who they are, know what they want, and get it. That is the power of the mustache.
 
So, is it any wonder that I, weak willed as I am, long for a mustache, would treasure a mustache, would comb it thrice daily, would wax the ends into intricate curly-Q's. I quake with desire for a mustache. I have started growing one. I picture it in my minds eye, thick and full, flowing down the corners of my mouth, covering my upper lip in a luxurious facial hair canopy of manhood. I see myself on job interviews, employers falling all over themselves to have me be a part of their company. "By George," they'll say, "just take a gander at that magnificent mustache. We must employ that man. Quick get the benefits package together." I can see myself at the bars and the clubs. I can see the women swooning over me. "By George," they'll say, "look at that mustache. He is clearly more man than the rest of these bare lipped fools. Quick, we must go lavish feminine attention upon him."
 
I am growing my mustache. It is currently little more than stubble at the moment. I am sure that I will have to withstand the horrible, 'I think a caterpillar died on your upper lip' stage of mustache growth, the stage which most men cannot progress past. I know that some people are going to sneer and mock my mustache. "By George," they'll say, "You look like a pervert (or a pedaphile, or a member of the village people, or Teddy Roosevelt)." I can handle this. I will simply laugh it off, because I know - deep down I just know - that mustaches are kick ass, and those losers are only jealous of the power and the majesty that is the mustache.
 
I also know that some people are skeptical. Not so much toward the power of the mustache - which is undeniable - but toward my ability to handle responsibly the greatness of the mustache. These people may argue that you must first have the mustache attitude then the mustache follows naturally. That to grow the mustache and then hope for the attitude is a fools errand. "By George," they are probably saying, "this chap's mustache will surely wither and die upon his lip. The attitude predicates the mustache, not vice verse." Now, this is a very interesting question. It has a number of philosophical facets dealing as it does with issues of causality, individuality, and personality. So, I must be careful in addressing this objection. However, I feel that I am up to the challenge. So, to these people I say: EAT IT!! I'm growing a mustache and that's all there is to it. The mustache is going to be kick ass and so am I. If you losers can't handle that, you better shut up and get out of my way. Because, by George, I'm growing a mustache and I'm coming through. There is no stopping me now. Nothing can stand in the way of the mustache. Nothing......Unless, of course, my mom doesn't like it.
 
Shalom

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Shortest War in History

My brother has been feeding me these ridiculous-but-true facts all day now (I am guessing he was literally saving them for a rainy day)... and there was one that really stuck out in my mind. That of the British-Zanzibar War, the shortest war in history. So I decided to google this so-called war to find out more about it. What I found was an intriguing journal entry written by the incredibly mysterious Sultan of Zanzibar. What follows is a series of fateful entries written on the day of the war.

August 22, 6am

Dearest Journal, today I have been appointed the SULTAN of ZANZIBAR! How sweet is that? Of course, given the circumstances of my appointment, I must take this job with merely a grin instead of a full-blown crescent moon smile. My father, the long-time Sultan Tad Storkensburg, died last night of irritable bowel syndrome. I think there was something in his Zanzibarian Burger that really disagreed with him. Alas, I mourn my father's gruesome and disgusting death, and I welcome my new title of Sultan! It's so much cooler than "Saltine."

My first act as Sultan is to stand up to those awful Brits. The Brits and the Germans have been fighting over my island for years now, and I'm damn sick and tired of it. The Brits keep wanting this island so they can move into Africa, the Germans want this island so they can put a Volkswagon factory on it. Zanzibar is my homeland, as obscure and ridiculous as that sounds, and I will not let it slip into the hands of the straightbacks from the north! So, after speaking with Germany, they've decided to back me up as I stand up to the Brits. My dad had good relations with those limey bastards for years, but now that he's out of the way I'm gonna kick some ass!

August 22, 1896 9am

Dearest journal, I just declared war on the Brits. I know what you're thinking... I'm in office for three hours and I already declared war on the biggest nation in the world. Maybe I was a little hasty, but I stand by my decision. I declared war about twenty minutes ago, and I'm ready for whatever they are going to throw at me! I have 2,500 Arab troops ready and willing to be slaughtered for the well-being of Zanzibar. I also have this really boss gold cannon from 1658. Back in the day, I hear, we used to use this cannon for everything... we even fought off the Egyptians or something. But ever since then it's been sitting in front of the Zanzibarian Court House just collecting dust. I also got this sweet old ship... it's like a wooden viking boat. Only it's not a viking boat because vikings didn't come down here... often.

August 22, 1896 9:05am

Dear J-Dog, The British are pretty much surrounding the island with their large-ass ships. Any normal Sultan would be thinking he had made a mistake, but I know I'm doing the right thing. I will be the Sultan to end all Sultans! Let it be known that Reggie Storkensburg, The Sultan of Zanzibar, was the most courageous leader ever. With the exception of Jesus. Anyways, right now we are sort of waiting... my troops are just sitting on the beaches playing card games and volleyball and the British keep cocking their rifles at us. I hope something happens pretty soon, I have a tennis date with the Czar of Uberbeckingstand at noon. Did I spell his country right? Oh well, no one's gonna read this anyways.

August 22, 1896 9:15am

Shit! Snap! Dag! Holy flaming crap! The Brits have decided to start shooting cannon balls at my island! One shot took out 500 of my troops, who were in the middle of a round robin volleyball tournament on the north shore! I have decided to bring out my golden cannon, which I have named "Fat Man." I have three cannon balls, which I have named "Little Boy." Those Brits are going to have some trouble coming there way as soon as Fat Man shoots the Little Boys!

August 22, 1896 9:25am

This isn't going at all like I had planned.

August 22, 1896 9:35am

Okay, okay, okay, all of my troops are dead. That's what I get for hiring all these Arabs to do the job... everyone knows Arabs can't swim! My viking ship has been totally destroyed, even worse they spray painted a giant space gun on the side of it before they set it on fire. Those British sure do know how to make you feel stupid. Although I must stay that they aren't nearly as polite as everyone thinks. Let's just hope my cannon holds out!

August 22, 1896 9:37am

Murphy's Law kicked in... my uber-boss cannon just burst into flames! It's made of gold, how did this happen?!

August 22, 1896 9:45am

Dear Journal, you are now looking at the former Sultan of Zanzibar... that's right. I gave up. I couldn't take it anymore! The Brits had me backed up against the wall here. And so after 45 minutes of being pummeled by these jerks, I gave up. I kinda forgot that my population consisted of just 2,500 Arabs, and since they were all dead now... I figured I might as well cut my losses and live to rule another day. Luckily, my sausage-welding friends from Middle Europe, let me stay at their consulate. Those Germans are alright, ya know? I mean, they really know what they are doing, and I wouldn't be surprised if they really make a difference in the world. I'd stake my Sultan reputation on it.

Anyways, goodbye my lovely journal... the Germans won't allow me to bring this into the consulate, so I must leave it on this board and float it out to sea. Maybe someday those Brits will find it and see all of the stuff I said about em. Won't they feel bad!

-33-

Wow. That Sultan was a cool dude.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Uncanny

Those of you who keep up with the news - I know you're out there somewhere - will most likely remember the big story about the Super Strong Mutant German Boy a few weeks back. For those of you who only get your news from 'Entertainment Tonight' - I know you're out there everywhere - allow me to enlighten you. It was recently revealed that a boy in Germany (I want to say he's currently 5 years old) was born with a genetic mutation - yes, I said genetic mutation - which has caused him to grow muscles at a prodigious, unnatural rate. He can already lift more weight than some full grown adults. He could probably lift two Mary-Kate Olsens straight over his head, but only one and a half Ashley Olsens. So, the Super Strong Mutant Boy - who I will from this point on refer to as SSMG boy, or better yet, as SSMuG Boy, or even better still, smug boy - being a true genetic freak, was paraded around the news for attention.

Now that a few weeks have gone by and most of the news has moved on to new stories, something about smug boy still bothers me. No, it's not that there's a five year old out there who can kick my ass. I've been getting my ass kicked by five year olds for years. It no longer bothers me. What bothers me is how the whole thing was covered. It was seen as a medical, scientific miracle. Something to be studied. Maybe this boy's DNA could unlock keys to healing those with debilitating diseases, or lead to a safer alternative to steroid therapy. While this is all good and wonderful, I can't help thinking the news media has missed the main story. This kid is a genetic mutant - a MUTANT. Doesn't anyone understand what this means? The age of the X-Men could very well be upon us. This kid could be a member of the first generation of genuine, real super heroes and super villains. Smug boy's a German so, obviously, he's destined to be a super villain.

This is huge, and the news media completely dropped the ball. We could be heading toward a war of humans vs. Mutants, or humans and good mutants vs. evil mutants, or good humans/mutants vs. evil humans/mutants, or, most frightening yet, everybody vs. evil shepherds. This could be the most dynamic time in human history as super powerful mutants with a proclivity toward spandex rise to power.

Still, I don't want to rush to any judgment. That's why I didn't write this post weeks ago when the story was fresh. I needed to take some time and see if I could confirm my suspicions. If the age of the X-men is truly upon us, then other mutants must be out there within a generation or two of smug boy. Surely, at least some of these people are already adults and have used their powers to move into a position of power and fame. All I need is to use my keen power of perception and my television remote to weed them out.

I want everyone to sit down. It is time for me to announce my findings. After days of study including extensive reading, monitoring of television broadcast, and three square meals a day, I have determined that the age of the mutant is indeed upon us. In fact, it is much more extensive than I first suspected.

My first tip was Ken Jennings. Ken Jennings, for those of you not in the know, is the man who has been Jeopardy champion for almost 30 days. I've been monitoring him with much interest. He is almost unbeatable. His trivial knowledge and thumb reflexes are clearly superior to the average man's. Clearly, Ken Jennings is a mutant who was born with an abnormally large Trivial Cortex - the part of your brain set aside for facts on the court of King Edward II and other such tid bits - as well as genetically advanced thumbflexes - sorry about the technical terminology; it's unavoidable. So, now the only remaining question is whether or not Ken Jennings is a super hero or a super villain. Let's look at the facts: ken Jennings is Super intelligent, kind of weasely looking, and Mormon. Clearly, he's a super villain.

Also, there's Saddam Hussein. He's been in the news a lot due to his trial in which he has exhibited mutant like abilities. In the face of a criminal court, with a possible death penalty in the mix, Saddam had the guts to defend his actions. He even claimed to still be the president of Iraq. Clearly, Saddam has been born with large - unnaturally, mutantly large - balls. Good thing we already have him in custody. Also, the whole genocidal mad man thing kind of indicates he just might be a super villain, not a super hero.

So, I found 3 mutants, then last night I hit the motherlode: VH1's 'I love the 90's'. I'm sure everyone's familiar with the the VH1 specials. You may think they're harmless or you may think they're annoying, but - after my discovery - everyone's going to find them terrifying. All the commentators on 'I love the 90's' are mutants. Every last one of them from the annoying guy from 'Talk Soup' to the annoying guy from 'Ed'. This is the first evidence I have found of a conglomerate of mutants. Not only are they all mutants, they're all mutants in the same way. They have all been born with the uncanny - that's right, uncanny - ability to maintain a career in entertainment with no discernible talent. Clearly, all these people were born with a genetically advanced Zsa Zsa gland - or what scientist often refer to today as the Keanu/Shore gland. This gland controls dumb luck and the ability to be on television with nothing to say. Most frightening of all, these celebrity mutants are all super villains. It's obvious. They don't have an airplane. All teams of super heroes have a tricked out plane. In absence of a plane, it becomes obvious that this mutant team is truly evil.

Finally, I feel the need to take a closer look at myself. What if I am a mutant? It's worth a look. Let's see. I'm not super strong. I have decent hearing, but not mutant hearing. I have bad eyesight. My sense of smell is average. I can't shoot any kind of laser from my eyes. When I touch other people the only thing that happens is I get slapped. After jumping off my garage I've confirmed that I can't fly. My bones do break. I'm balding. I'm unemployed. I live with my parents. I have no real drive to accomplish anything in my life... Oh, my god... I am a mutant. Can't you see? I've been born with a genetically superior apathymous. I have powers of apathy far beyond that of the average person. The best part, I'm not a super hero or a super villain. You actually have to care to be labeled either of those. I've been born with the only great power which does not come with great responsibility. I can live with that...I guess...whatever.

Shalom

19 Years and a Plate Full of Peas

Tomorrow I turn the ripe old age of 19... a year that just doesn't seem as special as the past three. Think back, have you ever heard anyone say, "I can't wait to turn 19!" It's the minor rift after the big waves caused by birthdays 16-18. These milestones, to which like all kids, have always held things that I have always looked forwards to. When you turn 16, you can drive; when you turn 17, you can see R-Rated movies; when you turn 18, you can do all sorts of things; but when you turn 19... well.

Turning 19 not only fails to unlock any new abilities (if you want to look at this like it's a videogame) but it also leaves you, at least in my family, poor and lonely. In my family, you have birthday parties until you are 12, and you get presents from your relatives until you are 18. After that you are considered an "adult" and subject to moneyless cards, a birthday dinner and a pat on the back. That isn't to say I'm some sort of ungrateful punk... but knowing that nothing special is happening makes my birthday, once a sacred event that balanced my year with Christmas, is now a holiday about as important as Arbor Day or Boxing Day in Canada.

They (society?) really should have spaced out everything you can do when you turn 18. Is it really necessary to make the age of 18 such a gateway to the world, when 19 and 20 have absolutely nothing special going on. Since turning 18, I've been able to drive after midnight , buy lottery tickets, get into strip clubs, buy pornography, purchase tobacco products, drink and gamble on international waters, drive out of state, and date people only older than 18 (which made for a few laughs when I was dating Aubrey). But aside from driving out of state and driving past 11PM, I haven't really taken advantage of my 18 year old status. So why not push the porn related abilities back to 20, and the lottery tickets and tobacco back until I'm 19. Then I have something to look forward to each year, although that 20th birthday would be sort of weird.

That, or they can just make other things off limits, and have them be available to me after I turn 19. Like purchasing computer parts. You don't really need to do dabble with the inner workings of your computer until you are out of high school. Ban eating peas until you are 19, so you are mature enough not to scatter them all over your plate and dining room floor. You also shouldn't be allowed to become a pop idol until you are 19, nor are you allowed to become a sex symbol until that time (I've decided on waiting until I'm 25 to do either of those things... personal rule.)

And so by now you should be feeling pretty bad for me and my pitiful age of 19... but don't! My birthday is actually going to be a good day, I assure you! I have decided to overcome adversity and ignore the fact that I can't do anything new during my 19th year on this earth. So instead I am getting fed all day.

Tomorrow I plan on waking up, pouring some water on the floor for my homies, and heading over to my beloved Aunt's apartment for french toast. Then it's off to lunch with a friend... and then coffee with another friend. No sooner will I arrive home will I be eating some more, this time it's my birthday dinner cooked by Mom. So if anything, maybe I will gain some weight the day I turn 19!

I'm very thankful for my 19 years, and I'm only sort of thankful for looking like I've only been around for 13 years. But hey, at least now I can buy lottery tickets and eat peas!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Bird Bathhouse

Today more than one bird flew into the screen that I have in my bedroom window. My room is not that interesting, nor does it look appealing to birds (no worms or bird porn). Now I realize I've blogged a lot, so that means I'm bored and need a real job, just like my mom keeps telling me.

If there is anyone out there who knows about birds, maybe they can tell me why birds seem to flock to the roof of my front porch. It's very strange. I live in the middle house of five row houses. But the birds hang out on the edge of the roof of my roof only. All the roofs are red. They all look the same. In fact, they are all beveled the same, so what makes my roof different?

I know my house is a party house. It's had a history of good parties, not least of which was our halloween party last year. So maybe there's a good bird vibe on the porch roof. The thing that kinda creeps me out is the fact that birds come from all over the neighborhood to do it on our roof. I'm serious! I just noticed something different about our roof. Since we're in the middle, we have a little wooden knob sticking up in the center. And I just remembered seeing birds hanging out there a lot. Maybe that piece of wood is like the bird throne. And whoever sits on it gets all the chicks...literally.

Now I'm no ornithilogical Dr. Ruth, but maybe there's something to that place on our roof. I don't watch the birds having sex, but on more than one occasion, I've been awakened to loud bird noises close to my head and I slowly open my eyes to witness hot heavy freaky bird lovin' right on my roof.

That's not as bad as the night my bed was right by the window and my head was right by the window. I heard a noise and turned over and I was looking a racoon square in the face. We both screamed and he took off.

I see birds come over and chirp and then other birds join it and the sex is on!

I wish there was a human equivilent to saying "Hey, I'm on the bird throne, come over here so I can do you." Life would be a lot simpler.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Communism is Horseshit!

Now, most of my blogs are indeed not funny, just sort of ranting. Well this one is no different. I have a friend that went back to school. He's a little older than me and last night at about 1 AM we had a discussion on the computer about politics. He went to an "We hate Bush" kind of rally in Oakland. He said I would have not liked it since I was "one of those..you know Rs." (republicans, which seems to now be the party of the people strangely enough from what the news says. They want to give the power to you instead of taking it and letting decisions be made by the government, cause apparently the democrats know what I need more than I do! But that’s another argument)

He then proceeded to say that the whole system needs to be changed. I was like "What? What? What?" a la Kyle's mom on South Park. He said democracy exploited people. And I laughed and asked what system does not? Democracy is the longest running and most successful political experiment in all of the world's history. He argued that monarchies were longer, so I had to point out that every time a new king or queen takes the throne, it's a whole different government. We've had the same government for centuries now. How awesome is that? It may not be perfect, but it's the best there is.

I asked him for alternatives. He said ... socialism. Which of course can't work in a country as large in land and population as the US. There are places like Norway that have socialistic tendencies and they work for the small freezing country of the hot, tall, and all super white.

He said you just have to have enough people to want it, that’s all. That’s all? That’s the hardest thing of all and that’s why it won’t work. Cuba has been trying for a long time to be a communist state. They have a small population and small amount of land to control, and THEY can’t even get their shit together. There are less minds to change there than anywhere else.

This is why communism is absolute horseshit.

Here’s an example: You’re at a store. The clerk says, “I’ll give whoever gets to the counter first all their stuff for free, or you can both get here at the same time and I’ll give you 50% off.” Now, some people would want to work together, but most people would be like “screw him” and try and get free stuff. We are ready to screw the other person for personal gain. There can be none of those people at all for communism or true socialism to work. Personally, I’m glad to be one of those greedy bastards. That’s what makes our economy run: the search for more for me.

I said that for any step towards a social society, you have to change the hearts of men and women, not the government. Government and indeed all sovereignty is granted by the people. So unless all the people want it, it doesn’t happen. You can’t change people’s heart with force. That will make them resent you and hate your happy, feel good government.

He said it takes time. I told him that’s impossible. For as many as you change to your mindset, there will be changing back, or switching to the other side for the first time. The only way to change it is all together with a Marxist revolution (to see a great example of what that is, watch the movie ANTZ). You get rid of the people that don’t agree. The workers rise and revolt. And the world becomes a time share, kibbutz style.

Communism is great on paper. Socialism seems even workable on paper. But there is one problem: people tend to be jerks. You go back to Marx and Rousseau and they think people are naturally good. But there is a whole other camp of people that think people are naturally bad. I’m in the latter simply because if we were meant to be good, it’d be a lot easier to be good than bad.

So while communism is a fun thing to talk about in college, and even a nice daydream. It’s never going to happen cause someone will always take advantage of the situation. Read Animal Farm by Orwell. All there needs to be in one person to screw it up. With democracy, if one person is screwing up, the people kick his or her ass to the curb. That’s why we need to vote. You do have the power, like He Man. People discount that power, but it’s tough, and right now, mostly old people use it.

So get out of your peace and love hippy haze, your happy land of suger plum trees and lollipop lakes and wake up and smell the crusty burnt 7-11 coffee at the bottom of the pot. Democracy is ever changing and slightly flawed but anything else just doesn’t make sense. So yes, communism is horse shit.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Ever have that not-so-white feeling?

Now I know some people see me as the epitome of whiteness. I'm clearly on the bottom rung of middle class. I'm tall, well liked, can go to the bank and find I have good credit, went to college, did fairly well.

But yet there's something else. I mean I severely attracted to women of color. My last two girlfriends were black and puerto rican. In my mind, this begs the question: Am I really as white as people think I am? I mean I can dance. I can understand and use correctly almost all hip-hop slang. I have a very Jewish sense of humor. I love soul food and tex mex. And I adore both Chinese food and little children (Let's face it, they are the cutest.)

Maybe this has happened because of my life experience. I mean I did work with a hugely diverse population when I was in Austria. And now I work almost exclusively with African American children and am often the only non-black person in the room. But I liked southern food well before that. Although, thank God for my discovering greens. If you have never had them.....mmmmmm. It's a vegetable that tastes like meat. Can it get better? No, I think not. Plus, you can't work in Shadyside with kids and parents and not have a little Jewishness rub off. After my second summer there, "Oy vey" became part of my regular conversation.

Of course, it might also be because I'm so German. We got fatty foods and mass genocide to look back on, and no one's smiling at that. I do enjoy a good polka or Weiner Shnitzel every now and again, and I was glad for the Austria experience to catch a little of my ancestry.

I think what's really going on is I'm part of a new melting pot in America that is strictly culteral. Our hearts are melting and we're sharing customs, foods, games, whole cultures. Plus, we have a new world culture that is based on the internet, video games, anime, and cell phones. It's a weird esperonto-like phenomenon that's working. the shorthand of instant messaging is becoming a new form of spelling. Kindegarteners are more computer literate than me.

We still label people by their skin color, but we're so different inside. It's like people that say their outside is male, but the inside is female. Maybe my outside is white and my inside is latino.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Rock Bottom?

I am writing to inform everyone that my life has officially bottomed out. Now, I'm not writing this for pity. I'm not writing this out of some sick,therapeutic need to purge every little detail from my soul - which, from my limited experience, seems to be all the rage amongst bloggers. No, I write this because it's really quite amusing. Amusing in a bitter-my-life-is-going-no-where sort of way, but amusing none the less.

You see, I was turned down for a job at Burger King. I don't mean to toot my own horn or anything, but I am pretty sure that I'm qualified. Heck, some may even call me over-qualified. After all, I am college educated. I graduated from a decent school - Grove City College - with decent grades - (ahem)magna cum laude (ahem). I'm sure no one else working at Burger King is capable of the following conversation: "Sir, your fries will be up in a second. In the meantime, why don't we discuss Bahktin's concept of dialogic?" True, that knowledge doesn't really come in handy at Burger King. As a matter of fact, as I've discovered, it really doesn't come in handy anywhere.

The really weird thing is I kinda wanted the job at Burger King. I am practically broke. The money, while far from ample, would be appreciated. The hours would've been alright. Plus, it's not like it's my long term career goal. My long term career goal is to drive the Oscar Mayer wiener mobile. Ahh, dreams.

And I have other problems too. My car - the '93 Lumina I affectionately call 'The Silver Bullet' - is in dire need of brake work. They squeak and squeal and grind. I only turn up the radio. What I can't hear, doesn't exist. My parents - instead of hounding me to move out - have become far too acceptive of my presence. They now make long term plans assuming I will be living at home. I'm not talking about a couple of months in advance. I'm talking about retirement plans. This is somehow much more depressing than having them hound me. I think even my parents have lost hope in me.

I do have some plans, secret untested ways to make some cash. I think I might befriend an eccentric billionaire, get in on his will and then the next thing you know the cops are over and I'm saying: "I dunno officer. He musta just fell down the stairs." If I can't shut my conscience up long enough to do that I've got back ups. For instance, I am currently selling advertising space on this blog. For a small, negotiable fee I will head each post with my current sponsor - I can just see it: 'Today's blog entry is brought to you by preparation H, preparation H, for all your hemorrhoid needs'. I could also slyly insert advertising subconsciously into the blog entries. Hold on while I take a long, slow sip of an ice cold Coke-a-cola. Mmmm, nothing satisfies like Coke on a hot day.

Now where was I? Oh yes, hair brained schemes for money. Now it's time for my favorite scheme. You know how people pay good money for those fancy psychiatrist and therapist with their fancy degrees in their field and all they do is listen to you and offer no advice? Well, I figure I could do that. I can listen to people complain about their lives and their parents. I can offer no solutions. And I could do it for a whole lot less money. So, I'm glad to announce that I'm now an official unlicensed therapist. For only $10 an hour I will listen to your problems. For $13 an hour, I'll pretend to care.

So, even though my life has hit rock bottom, do not despair for me. I've got my ideas and my creativity. I am sure that I'm going to make it after all, and someday, someday I am going to drive than wiener.

Shalom

Friday, July 02, 2004

Throwing My Hat into The Ring

As I'm sure all of you know - or at least I hope you do - we are in the midst of an election year. Come November we Americans - or at least the 30% of us who vote - will go out to the polls and cast our lot with either George W. Bush or John Kerry. This is a momentous decision, but if you are like an ever growing number of people I run into, you don't really care. This is especially painfully true of our young people. Yes, I know - as I posted on our previous, long forgotten blog - voting isn't cool. It never has been nor never will be. So, I think what young people need is a candidate they can really get behind.

With this said, I would like to take this moment to declare my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States of America. Yes, I know according to the so-called 'Constitution'I am too 'young' to run for president. To this charge I only have one reply: constitution shmonstitution. I have my right to seek gainful employment and I shouldn't be blocked. This rule is clearly biased against the young. This is the same reason high schoolers can play in the NBA. Now all I need to find is some judge to eviscerate the constitution. That shouldn't be hard. It's what they seem to do.

Now that that's out of the way, I know what your next question is: "But James why should we vote for you?" A very good question, deserving of a very good answer. So why should you vote for me. Because I'm super cool, that's why. But don't take my word for. My mom thinks I'm super cool too. She also thinks I'm very handsome and quite a catch. So, there naysayers. You don't hear Bush or Kerry's mothers saying that.

Still not convinced? Want to know where I stand on the issues, what my platform is? Fine. I now proudly unveil the platform which will carry me to victory come November. I, James Catullo, promise the following:

1) Mondays, according to my careful research of Garfield comics, are the worse day of the week. Therefore, once I am president, I shall declare that every Monday morning from 10:30 to 11 AM be dubbed 'Dance Party USA'. During this time, according to the law, all business shall cease and all Americans shall dance as they see fit.

2) The band Nickelback will stop recording and touring.

3) I will lower taxes.

4) All Americans will be able to declare 1 personal holiday a year. On their personal holidays people will be excused from work or school. This holiday can be any day and for any reason. If you wish to spend the day at home in observance of Scott Baio's birthday, so be it.

5) Women will want to go out with me. I'm adding it to the constitution. Either they go out with me or they go to prison.

6) I will build more prisons to house the expected millions of women who still won't go out without me.

7) I will cut the size of government.

and finally...

8) I will change the national anthem to 'The Hustle.' This way whenever an American Olympic athlete wins a gold medal, he or she will do a reverent and tearful rendition of 'The Hustle' on the winners podium. And that's funny.

So, come November remember you have another choice besides Bush or Kerry - and no, I don't mean Nader. When you vote, America, I want you to remember the only candidate who really knows what it means to be American. I want you to remember the only candidate who speaks to you in the language you understand, the language of old sitcoms. Most of all America, I want you to remember: DO THE HUSTLE!! (do do do do do do do)

Shalom

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Whatter yinz guys doin aht here?

Now, as little mike aforemantioned, there is a new theatre in beaver county. May I echo that it does indeed beat the pants off the old Carmike Theatre across the way. To start, it cost 7 dollars for a movie. Carmike, $7.50. Now not just the ticket prices, but everything has prices that small, significant ammount lower that you could say, YEA! it's better, And Cheaper.
Now i saw Spiderman 2 last night, and I'll say i didn't like it as well as the first. Yes, the CGI is a bit cleaner, and the build up was good, but the story was not as... well... "yea that kicks ass"-esque. A fight scene with Doc. Octopus cuold have gone longer and been better (a significant source of untapped territory), and the plot somewhat turns you against spidey, but a scene with a runaway train was done very well. But that is not why i Blog for you today! The eason is simple...Donnie Iris.
As i left work on wed. it was aobut 6:50 when i heard on the radio, DVE nonetheless, that Michelle Michaels was at the new Cinemark Theatre in Monaca, and she was antici...........pating the concert event of the week... Donnie Iris and B.E. Taylor would be performing an acoustic set at the opening of the new Theatre.
Holy King of Cool Batman! I had to get down there! So going as fast as the legal limit would allow me, I raced over the the Lowes Shopping center to catch the cool King, B.E., and some kick ass guitarist named Rick belting out 8 Days A Week, Rocky Racoon, I wanna Hold Your Hand, Love is like a Rock, Vitimin L, Ah Leia, and The Star Spangled Banner for an encore. It was so great. Plus i won a free T-shirt for an upcoming movie called "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" And an Allman Bros. CD.
All in all, a great compilation of events for a wednesday night.

Snap! Spotlights!

"Hey, a prisoner on death row escaped in his incredible flying machine! He's getting away, quick turn on the spotlights and try and find him!"

I can only hope that someday, that is a possibility, just so there can be more spotlights in the sky. I really don't think there are enough... at least not around here. I'm sure in Hollywood they have millions of spotlights (of course they are harder to see due to the intense smog and their even more intense governor.) Around Beaver County, however, these things are pure luxury that comes around ever few years. Let's see... I remember spotlights for the new Wal-Mart that opened (so they can let everyone know where to protest, of course), there were spotlights when Lowe's opened (I think Lowe's actually sells spotlights, actually...) and the Mall had spotlights years ago when they remodeled it. And of course we have a spotlight just dedicated to the Beaver County superhero: The Cruiser (he tends to concentrate his powers while sitting in front of his '72 mustang at the county's weekly car cruises...)

There were spotlights in the sky last night. In a weird twist, they were not only buzzing around to celebrate the opening of a Spider-Man 2, but also to celebrate the opening of a brand new Cinemark movie theater. Two great reasons to have spotlights in the sky.

My area of Beaver County, which houses the tri-shopping mecca of Wal-Mart plaza, Lowe's Plaza, and the Beaver Valley Mall, is now experiencing its consumer renaissance. The trend nowadays has moved beyond strip malls, outlets, and indoor malls and has moved to the "shopping village." It's a set of malls, warehouse stores, and strip outlets along with a movie theater and a ton of over-priced restaurants (the kind that have their walls covered with crazy crap). And that's when that area becomes known only for its stores. For example, Robinson Twp, Cranberry, Boardman. Three huge shopping meccas that I only know because I go there to shop and have a good time. I have heard rumors that people actually live in these places, going about their daily lives and ignoring the frightening things that are operating right down the street (kind of like the folks that live near the power plant). Is this the fate of my town and my county? And really... is that a bad thing?

Last night marked the grand opening of a new Cinemark movie theater in the area. 12 theaters, stadium seating, surround sound, and reasonably priced tickets. This, of course, beats the pants off of our former theater, which could be described as "malnourished," which had eight theaters, sticky and flat floors, ripped seats, and ticket prices that required you to take out a loan. Did I mention they only got the "big" movies? Hopefully our new neighbors at the Mark will be wise enough to get me some juicy independent movies... or at least the new Woody Allen movie coming out this fall.

Now I haven't been to this theater yet, although that will change when I go there tonight, but I hear its pretty nice. It sits in the newest of the shopping centers in Beaver County. There is a brand-new Shop n Save and the aforementioned Lowe's right next door. And they are in the process of building a Starbucks (yes!), a Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Home Depot, and Best Buy all within the next couple years. We are truly on our way... and I couldn't be happier about it! Sure this may bring a tad more traffic, but these things are far enough away from my house that I won't be bothered. And at the same time, I won't have to drive 30 minutes to get to the stores I love. Most of the people in Beaver County leave the county to go shopping, and now all of that money will stay here!

And so in conclusion, I welcome you new theater. I thank you for riding in on a horse that looks and sounds wonderful, for bringing Spider-Man 2 with you (a movie that I've not only been looking forward to, but will totally knock Michael Moore out of the box office), and for further murdering live theatre in Beaver County!