Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ask not what your citizens can do for you

I meant to write about this Saturday. The State Department is having trouble filling all its staff positions at its embassy in Baghdad. This strikes a particular chord in my heart because it was around this time last year that I thought of applying to the State Department, until it quickly became clear there was a good chance employment would be contingent on working in Iraq…and I think my mother in particular would rather I mooched off my parents the rest of my life than went to Baghdad. I like how the State Department has “sweetened the deal” with monetary incentives. I understand the logic behind it, but don’t kid yourself, foreign service employees: the State Department just put a price on your life. I’m not particularly happy with my life right now; there are times when I feel like I could take it or leave it; but it’s certainly worth more to me than 80k a year.

At first I felt a little guilty about that attitude. I thought about all the American soldiers who were over there doing precisely what I refuse to do, and I felt pretty unpatriotic. And then I thought, What the fuck? Why should I be patriotic? Maybe I’d feel a little more patriotic and willing to serve my country if my country had expressed a little more (or any) interest in getting my input before we invaded Iraq. I’m not even saying it had to follow the exact course I personally subscribed to (although that would help). But I remember at the time, and the more I read about the build-up to Iraq the more it becomes clear, that the warhawks generally and this administration specifically was clearly uninterested in hearing from anybody who disagreed with them. It was certainly one approach to take. But JFK was wrong—governments should ultimately exist to serve their people, not the other way round.

For real, where are all the people who supported the war? Where is this intransigent 33% that will not be swayed from their belief that President Bush is doing a great job in Iraq? Why aren’t they showing up to help? I’m not saying you always have to put your money where your political mouth is (although Toby Zeiglar says: it’s easy to be principled when nothing’s at stake). After all, I support some form of military intervention in Darfur but probably won’t be getting on an airplane to the Sudan.

But I have to endure all these pro-Bushies with their extremist political language, demanding of me whether I want another 9/11. They’re coming for us now. We’re spreading freedom. Etc. Okay. If you really think this is about preventing another 9/11, why don’t you go over there and help stop it? Do YOU want another 9/11? ‘Cause you’re not doing much to support the strategy you think will prevent it. And if you really believe we’re spreading freedom, why don’t you help? Do you hate freedom so much that you don’t want to be a part of its spreading? See, I don’t show up to help, because I don’t believe any of that. And I refuse to be reduced to an enabler for a failed policy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2000-Fun: A Space Orgy

This will be a short post. My dad recently bought a remastered copy of 2001 on DVD, so we watched it together. For those of you who don’t know, my parents have a movie theater-sized screen in their entertainment room (which, yes, clearly makes me better than you), so the picture was the largest at least that I have ever seen it. Thus it was that after x years of watching this movie, this was the first time I noticed that in the opening scenes the costume designer had actually taken the time to install tiny penises hanging between the hairy legs of Primitive Man. I don’t mean to be juvenile, but I couldn’t decide whether that was a credit to their commitment to accuracy, or just plain hilarious. Either way, at least it proves my mother wrong and serves as irrefutable evidence that it was in fact Man, and not Woman, who invented the first tools. Thus was the long-standing intellectual superiority of the male brain quickly established.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

WWHD - What Would Hiro Do?

Have you ever gone to a party where you just immediately get bad vibes? That happened to me last night, at one of my friend’s Halloween parties. I went as Hiro Nakamura, remember. And I’ll admit my costume was lame. It was. Hey, it cost me $4. Well, actually, it cost me a lot more than that, but 95% of it I already owned. Shirt, pants, shoes, etc. And now I don't even know what I'm going to do with this stupid plastic sword.

Anyway, so I walk in the front door. Most of the party-goers are in the back playing beer pong or some other such game, but there are a couple of people in the living room watching the Bosox game on TV. And I kid you not, but I hadn’t even closed the door behind me before this guy in an orange prison jumpsuit started criticizing my costume. In his defense, he was clearly drunk. But that’s not really in his defense, because I believe that a person’s true self comes out when he’s drunk…and it became immediately clear to me that this kid was kind of an asshole, which is sort of the point of this post.

Anyway, here’s the court reporter’s transcript of the conversation:

Dude: So you think you wear a sword over your regular clothes and that suddenly makes it a costume?
Me: I don’t know if you watch television, the show Heroes?
Random girl: Oh my god! You’re Hiro!
Me: Yep. Good call.
Dude: Oh, well, I don’t own a TV.

And there was a moment when I seriously stood there debating whether to just tear into him. Not a lot. Just a little. Just to whet my NFL-sized appetite. “Well, you should probably think about getting a television, because they’re really not that expensive. In fact, and you’re probably not going to believe this, but some people have more than one, because we don’t actually live in the 1950s anymore. You also could have watched the show on the Internet, or do you not have that, either? Do you suffer from some chronic aversion to the basic technological amenities of the 21st century?”

But I didn’t say any of that. I was 50-50 on it. I’m not really sure why, but I guess it’s a sign of some sort of blossoming maturity that I kept my mouth shut. Oh, let it slide. He’s just drunk. Don’t bring down the party vibes. You’re probably just overreacting. He's a friend of Becca's. You should be nicer to people, anyway.

It wasn’t that he offended me. If anything, I found it bizarre. What? I'm sorry, did you just insult me? Did you just put me down?

No, it was the principle. Why would I tolerate this? Why would I tolerate someone who immediately criticizes people he’s never met before? That would be silly. His comment was the kind of thing I'd say to my friends and immediately think, "Wow, so that was pointlessly negative." But to make it the first thing he said to someone he didn't know was just inappropriate.

I know some people think tearing unto others isn’t worth the effort, so why bother? I don’t grant their premise. They must never have torn into someone, because it’s totally worth it. And it really isn’t any bother, either, because it really wouldn’t have required any effort on my part, intellectual or otherwise, to do it. Someone mouths off to me about my costume, and I immediately think, “I know it’s not as good as just going to a costume shop and buying an orange jumpsuit for $20. That’s a level of creativity that just never would have occurred to me.” The thought just pops into my head, beseeching me to utter it. Please say me. PLEASE. SAY. ME. No, Mr. Smart-Ass Rebuttal. Not this time.

I think my real motivation was, in fact, ultimately altruistic. I felt I owed it to my kin and kind. I’m clearly a nerd, and my huge glasses and terrible acne in high school will both testify to that effect. But I’ve never really been picked on the way other nerds are. I’m not really sure why; I think some people are intimidated by me, but it doesn’t really matter. The point is, something about this dude, his attitude, the situation, etc…it all felt to me like he was the kind of kid who picked on those whom he thought were in any form weaker than him in middle school. And I felt I owed it to the past victims of his alpha-male jockeying to demonstrate that there are nerds who don’t actually endure other people’s bullshit.

In the end it didn’t really matter, because I ended up leaving after about 15 minutes, anyway. I said hello to my friend and got myself a drink, but I didn’t really know anyone there and didn’t particularly feel like schmoozing with a bunch of random people. Which I suppose is the point of parties, which in turn is probably why I don’t by-and-large enjoy them. I’d rather be at home learning about the distinction between just and unjust wars.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

With all your faults, I love you still

I’ve been thinking the past couple days about Kelsey’s comment concerning infatuation versus love, which I thought was actually (or do I mean “surprisingly? " jk!) meritorious. At this point I’ve come up with at least two ways to explain how I make the distinction. The first way essentially involves where the pertinent emotion is generally located in my body, coupled with visual representations to express the quality and strength of aforementioned emotion itself. But I’d have to do that explanation in person, and obviously that’s not possible here. I thought for a second about making a video explaining it, but…no. So let’s move on to the second way.

The second way in which I would distinguish love versus infatuation essentially involves the role of the other person's personal faults. Everyone has them. Except me. But since I can’t marry myself, I unfortunately must learn to endure the faults of others. The way I see it, when you’re infatuated, you basically fail to see the faults of the other person—possibly if not largely because you either don’t know them that well and/or you’ve constructed a false mental image of them in your head.*

* Which I guess is sort of redundant, since where else would you construct a mental image other than in your head? I suppose if you were Matt Parkman's father you could construct one in other people's heads.

In love, however, you recognize their faults. I often hear people say, “I love her despite her faults.” But I don’t really like that phrase, and I feel it’s inaccurate. It implies you essentially tolerate the other person’s shortcomings. But if you truly love the person, I think you can do better than mere tolerance.

The next level would be loving someone FOR their faults, to which I used to subscribe. The example I most frequently used was my dog, whose most irritating quality (his complete and utter refusal to follow any semblance of a basic command) I also found the most endearing. It was what made Boomer Boomer. For a long time I felt this applied to the person I loved as well. However, I’ve since moved away from it.

The point I’m at now is where I recognize her faults, I’m quite aware of them, I could catalogue them with overdone specificity…but in the end I really don’t give a Sherpa. They’re largely irrelevant. You need an example? Sort of like how the world is round. It’s a fact, I believe it, I recognize it as such, if only because my name isn’t Sherri Shepherd. But somehow I don't really care; it's totally irrelevant to my life, despite the fact that at the same time it’s a rather critical aspect of the world upon which I walk. Oh, right, the world is round. Whatever. Oh, right, she's passive-aggressive. Whatever. What was the question again?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Live long and prosper

I really like this Target commercial:

I know, right? It’s so happy. It makes me believe Target is something other than the mediocre shopping experience it invariably ends up being (Shoppers' Special this week at my local Target: Ghoulish Goodies!). I discovered the song is called “La Ti Da” by The Icicles. What an excellent song. I’m not gonna buy it, though. I’ve heard the whole thing online and it’s pretty repetitive.

I see this commercial all the time, now that I watch television on the Internet. Apparently it’s basically the only commercial NBC’s got lined up in their online advertisement queue, so I have to sit through it every commercial break. But that’s okay. I just sing La…Ti Da…Ti Daaaa. I’m not really sure what that means, but apparently it serves as some form of vocal expression for a positive mood.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Everyone hail to the Pumpkin Song

Anyway. This weekend is Halloween. Everybody scream! I’ve already talked about how Halloween parties are basically the most awesome of all themed parties. So instead I want to talk about how difficult it is to find a kick-ass Halloween costume when you wear glasses. I bet you normal people never think about that. But it’s true. First of all, any masked costume is out of the question. Batman? I don’t think so. Ninja Turtle? Try again. The other problem is, you really can’t wear a period costume. Pirates didn’t have glasses. Neither did Roman soldiers. I suppose I could go as Ben Franklin or something, but now let’s turn to point number 3:

I believe Halloween costumes should be cheap. Sure, I can afford a nice one, especially now that I’m totally loaded (…?) but I feel sort of ridiculous spending more than $20 on something I’m going to wear once in my life. So some ingenuity is required, because you're a girl on a budget. And I’ve seen the innovation that results and/or is necessitated by cheap costumes. Example: one of my friends covered herself in black paint, grabbed her iPod, and went as one of the iPod commercial dancers. I think that’s pretty clever. But hands down the best Halloween costume I’ve ever seen was last year. One of my friend’s boyfriend got a bunch of plastic beer cups and taped them to himself in the appropriate pattern, and went as a beer pong table. I think that’s the greatest costume ever. Brilliant and cheap. She’s a lucky woman to date a man so fundamentally clever and yet also so frugal.

So anyway, this year I’m going as Hiro Nakamura, from Heroes. I bought a samurai sword and am gonna rock my huge sexy specs from high school. Hopefully people will get it. It would probably work better if I was Asian. Or if people actually watched Heroes. But I’m sort of in a corner here. There aren’t many cheap, bespeckled costumes available. It was between Hiro or buying a pirate hook for my hand and going as Buster Bluth. And Hiro is much cooler. He bends time AND space! There’s always next year to be Buster, when it will no doubt be even less topical.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Because that's the way mothers are

I’m just gonna say one last thing on this whole love thing. Let me explain where I’m coming from. The paragon, the epitome, the quintessential example from my life of someone who has truly LOVED is my mother. Sure, everyone’s mother loves them, unless you’re Sean Preston or that other kid (Jayden something?). But the older I get the more I understand the full extent to which my mother really loves me and what she gave up, what she sacrificed, as a result of it. First and foremost, both my parents—both before and after they got married—moved and took a shitty job (or jobs) they hated when the other person got a really great professional opportunity in a new city.

But my mom didn’t just take a crap job so my pa could make more dough. The older I get and the better I understand both the kind of person my mother was before she got married and the kind of person she’s become at 40, 50, 60, etc. the more I appreciate just how much my mother gave up for my father and me. She didn’t just give up her job. She gave up her identity and her principles. She essentially gave up her dream. The details don’t matter, but my mom in her 20s and 30s had a vision of what she wanted to be and become, and she actually gave up a lot at the time to realize that vision. She turned her back on what a lot of people would consider the perfect lifestyle so she could live her vision. But in the end, she chose to give up the vision, too…for my father, and eventually for me. Because she loved us. And it wasn’t compromise. It was sacrifice.*

* Although I would argue compromise is really just a lesser form of sacrifice.

Applying this to our current discussion…You are actually reminding me a little bit of The Office when Dawn has to explain why her relationship with Lee basically isn’t any good. I think she actually says, “Love doesn’t pay the bills.” I’m not equating your LDRs with that demo of a train-wrecked relationship of momentum. When I said people in LDRs don’t love each other, I didn’t mean they didn’t love each other; I believe you care about each other, etc, just as I did with my girlfriend. But I don’t think people in LDRs TRULY love one another. I hate to sound like the atheist I am, but when people talk about how much they love each other, I need proof. And I only see some of it. That’s great that you’ve chosen not to sleep with people who live closer to you because of your emotional connection to this other person. But personally, I think you’re only halfway there.

Both of you seem to be saying you aren’t willing to give up your dreams for your lovers. Is that really love? Kelsey, I obviously don’t really know you that well, so all I have to go on is your comments on your blog. And maybe I’m recollecting incorrectly or misunderstood at the time, but it seemed to me like your decision to get a Master’s wasn’t so much a lifelong dream you had as the fact that you didn’t really know what else you wanted to do with your life. As for Director Muthuswami, I understand why you have this dream and I respect you for trying to live it. But – and this judgment will probably bother you – let’s call a spade a spade here. You say, “I need to get the experience out here so I can take my expertise to any city I want to in order to be with a far away LDR.” That’s only partly the case. It’s only the case if you put your dream before your LDR. You’re basically saying you’re not willing to give up your dream for this girl right now. Which is fine. But if you were willing to walk away from it for her, I would think, “Wow. That’s true love. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for her. This guy, he gave up the most important thing in the world to him because SHE was actually the most important thing in the world to him.”

That’s all I’m gonna say about it. If you want to comment and tell me why I’m wrong and full of shit and will never truly be loved with such a hair-brained conception of the emotion, feel free.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Love, factually

A friend and I were debating whether the phrase “Since the seconds I laid eyes on you I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you” is a good one to use when you propose. My friend’s an idiot, because of course it isn’t. It doesn’t even make sense. Let’s accept the premise. Let’s say the moment you saw Girl A you knew you wanted to spend the rest of your life with her. This means the only reason you didn’t ask her to marry you AT THAT MOMENT was because you were afraid she’d say no. Was that the real reason though? Of course not. It was because you barely knew her. Who marries someone they barely know? People who use mail-order brides, that’s who. And Indian people. Look at how life’s turned out for them. They’ve got hundreds of gods. They’re not efficient like we Western religions are.

It’s like “love at first sight.” Obviously there’s no such thing. I believe in "infatuation at first sight, which turns into love." But real, ACTUAL love? I do not think so. You obviously can’t actually love someone the first time you see them. If you met your “true love” on the street and she informed you, “Nice to meet you, but tomorrow I’m moving to Los Angeles!” would you get on a plane and move there, too? Of course you wouldn’t. You’d be crazy if you did. Because you don’t love her. You just met the girl. If you’re really head-over-heels you might send her a nicely-worded email. Isn’t that sweet? Get a little long-distance thing going.

Of course, that’s another myth. The long-distance relationship. I salute people in long-distance relationships. I salute their efforts to stay true to each other over long distances and wide spaces. It’s to your credit. It’s a feather in your cap. But nobody in a long-distance relationship really LOVES their S.O. You could wake up every morning next to the person who completes you…but instead you move to Omaha because you got a better job there? GOB Bluth says: come on! If you truly loved them, you’d rearrange your life to be with them. You’d put your money where your sweet nothings whispered in each other’s ears were.* You’d make a sacrifice. That’s what love is. St. Therese de Lisieux says: “True love grows by sacrifice”…although I imagine she said it in French.

* Which I guess means you’d put your money in your ear.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Indecent proposals

Continuing our conversation from yesterday on romance and the hopelessness thereof, I saw this clip online of some dude proposing to his girlfriend on the Ellen Degeneres Show. Before I explain exactly how this relates to romance, some preliminary points: I’m afraid this girl is in for what can only be described as a long-term disappointment, because her bf is definitely setting off a ping on my gaydar. And as someone who has been (wrongly) accused of being gay I know a little something about false positives on the ‘dar, and this one doesn’t feel like it.

Next point: One thing that really bothers me about this proposal is that I know about it; which is to say, that it’s in public. Here are just some quick reasons I’ve jotted down as to why I dislike public proposals:

1. Asking someone to spend the rest of her life with you is a pretty personal moment that random strangers shouldn’t be privy to. And it certainly shouldn’t be brought to me by Nabisco.

2. It feels like the dude is trying to earn brownie points with all the women in the audience. “Oh my god, that guy is SO SWEET!” Not really. More precisely, he’s gay, and you’re an idiot.

3. A public proposal is pretty selfish. It just makes it that much more difficult for the girl to say no if she doesn’t want to. Which is probably the point. But, of course, not really.

4. Lines like “From the second I laid eyes on you…” don’t really work, but they especially don’t work when you’re neither the sayer nor the sayee, but just a dude rolling your eyes at how cliché it all is.

Third point: You look at some of the comments on YouTube, and some people seem to think this proposal is really good: that it’s ruined it for the rest of us dudes, that it will be hard to top, etc. Maybe you weren’t paying attention. It’s just a regular proposal. He loved her so much he didn't even bother to write an original speech. The only “hook” is that it’s on national television, which really isn’t much of a hook. It didn’t require any real effort. He just called up the show’s producers and said, “Hey, I want to propose on your show.”

A better proposal was one I saw in the early 90s on America’s Funniest Home Videos. The girl went to pick up her bf at the airport at his airplane’s terminal gate (this was in the 90s when you could still do that), and he had brought 50 roses with him and got each person on the plane to hand her one as they disembarked. Then he showed up with the last one and did the whole bended knee routine. Even though this proposal violates my “proposal in public” rule, it reflected some innovation and original thinking.

Another example is actually one I came up with, but then those nancies from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy stole it from me. The guy cooked his girlfriend dinner and they ate it in their secluded garden, and then for desert he had made her a chocolate box with the ring inside. I thought up something similar for my proposal, but now I can never use it, because it’s already been on Queer Eye. She’ll just throw the ring at me and scream, “You asshole! You just got this idea from television!” No I didn’t! I came up with it in, like, 1995! I swear! Damn you, Jay Rodriguez!

This ties into the long-awaited main point, which is this: there seems to come a point for a lot of people in engagements and romance generally when it becomes less about expressing your love and more about competition. It’s about one-upping either other dudes or yourself. “He gave her two dozen roses so I have to give her three (dozen)!” And it shouldn't be like it. This, again is why dogs are the ideal love-relationship a person can have. A dog just cares that you did something nice for it. It doesn’t care whether you did the exact same thing last year on its birthday or if the neighbor gave HIS dog a bigger bone because he REALLY knows how to appreciate HIS pets.

That’s it. That’s the main point. I think there were way too many preliminary points to get there. But I’m not going to delete them now.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Aragorn says: "There is always hope!"

Here are some more phrases I don't understand. Yipee!

Hopeless Romantic: I don’t think people understand what the phrase “hopeless romantic” should mean. Urban Dictionary, the secondary font of all knowledge (after [begin genuflection here] Wikipedia), defines a hopeless romantic as:

This person is in love with love. They believe in fairy tales and love. They're not to be confused as stalkers or creepy because that's not what a hopeless romantic is. All hopeless romantics are idealists, the sentimental dreamers, the imaginative and the fanciful when you get to know them. They often live with rose colored glasses on. They make love look like an art form with all the romantic things they do for their special someone.

Hmm. That doesn’t sound very hopeless to me. When I think of a stereotypically hopeless romantic I think of Charlotte York, when the etymological fact is I should really be thinking of Young Werther. A hopeless romantic should be, by definition, one without hope. He should be depressed, despondent, distraught. Bitter. He should be angry. Feel the anger. Channel it. It can make you powerful!

I guess a better phrase might be "hopelessly romantic," as in, there is no hope that she will ever not be a romantic (hooray for double negatives, I shoulda been an English major).* But why would you hope for that? Romance is good. Meg Ryan taught me that.

* Particularly when I rock the run-on sentence, too.

The Old College Try: Let me tell you something. I went to college, and college kids are lazy as fuck. They’re really neither particularly hardworking nor experimental. Unless it’s a new drug or sex position, they probably won’t even try it. So why would I give something the old college try? Answer: I wouldn’t. Because then I wouldn’t be trying. Or maybe I already am...not.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thanks for making my bread your home

Whole Foods has the worst bread. My mom is big on Whole Foods and eating healthy, so she insists that I try to get most of my groceries from there. She's almost like a Jesus Freak about it, trying to convert all whom she meets to the Whole Foods Way of Life. And some of their food IS superior. Their chicken tastes better. Their apples. Milk. Pickles, too. But their bread is terrible. Every time I buy a loaf from Whole Foods it starts growing mold within a few days. I understand that preservatives are bad for me. But they DO serve a purpose. I understand that preservatives are bad for me. But you know what's even worse? Mold.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Some men just wanna watch the world burn!

I want to talk about the new Batman movie. Why, when it doesn't even come out for another year? Because the trailer gets me so pumped!

It's an important achievement that the trailer gets me pumped, because the first movie (Batman Begins) was so terrible. Yeah, yeah, some people think it was great, some people think it was the best one so far. The first time I saw it, I agreed with them. But I rewatched it recently with my dad. And he said, "Wow, this movie is pretty stupid" and I thought, "You know, he's right." The dialogue is just so bad. How many times must I hear the phrase "the good people of Gotham?" Ditto on "psychogenic hallucinogen." And not only was the dialogue bad to begin with, but apparently the writers were so terrible at their job they had to repeat a lot of it. Examples include "You never did learn to mind your surroundings!" and my personal favorite, "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me." Wow. That's heavy. That's like some Zen shit right there, that's what that is.

The other problem I have is Heath Ledger as the Joker. Jack Nicholson owned - nay, pwned - that role in the 89 movie. He was the Joker. This scene alone was worth the price of admission (especially when you're eight and your parents are paying):

But okay, I'm willing to accept someone else into my heart. But Heath Ledger? "Omg, like, what are you talking about, he was amazing in Brokeback Mountain!" I'm not gonna go into all the reasons (again) that Brokeback Sucktain was a crappy movie, but suffice it to say that Heath played a dude with no personality who mumbles all his dialogue and shows no facial expression, and that's not the kind of resume I look for when casting the Joker.

To be fair, I think part of the reason I'm down on Heath is because his earlier movies were kinda crappy, and I'm imputing their crappiness onto his acting ability. Let's look at some examples:

1. 10 Things I Hate About You: I actually really like this movie. But for the Alex Mack/3rd Rock From The Sun Guy love story. That's the plotline I care about, the one I can relate to. I could really care less about how Julia Styles is a Bitch But the Bad Boy with a Heart of Gold Sees Through her Rough Facade to the Inner Vulnerability That Lurks Within.

2. The Patriot: Only good scene in this movie is when Mel Gibson goes apeshit on the British after they kill his son. But Heath's character is annoying, his storyline is annoying, and I spent the whole movie wondering what kind of God wouldn't make HIM the son to die first.

3. A Knight's Tale: Good concept; crappy, crappy execution. A naked Paul Bethany might have interested me if he'd been his wife instead.

But Heath does a really, REALLY good job with his two lines of dialogue in this trailer, so there's hope. We'll see.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Be Cool

I realized recently that I don't know what "cool" is anymore. Remember when you were in middle school/high school, how concerns about "being cool" took up a disproportionately large share of your mental energy? Now I don't even care about being cool, if only because I don't know what it is anymore. I have no benchmark to shoot for. No northern star to guide me. My thoughts on the current "being cool" situation can best be summed up in two points:

1. Everyone who I think is cool is to some extent (or at least once was) a dork.
2. Everyone else is boring.

Let's look at some real-world examples. Justin Timberlake is probably the coolest guy I can think of. If I could be one other man, it would be Justin Timberlake. But Justin is clearly a dork. If anything, he sings and dances for a living.

Will Smith is another person I think is cool...but he makes way too many sci fi movies to not be a dork. And his rapping? My god, his rapping!

Vince Vaughn could be cool, except he's not particularly attractive. You must be attractive to be cool. Also, he was clearly a slacker. Carefree, relaxed attitude = cool. "I don't give a shit that I'm a loser" = not cool.

Johnny Depp is actually one of my favorite examples. Everyone thinks he's so sexy and mysterious now, but if you'd met him in high school you definitely would have thought he was a weirdo. He's one of those kids the teachers would have kept their eye on after Columbine.

Rock stars are dorks. So are comedians. So let's look at the flip side. YM tells me Chad Michael Murray is cool, but he's clearly a fucking douche. Ditto on Cameron Diaz...and she's not even close to being hot enough to get away with it. Basically the only people who have even a shot at being cool are pro athletes, and athletes aren't cool. They're idiots. Even the smart ones. Take Tom Brady. Very successful QB, my female friends tell me he's attractive (or at least my ex-girlfriend does, which is always a nice conversation). But listen to Tom Brady talk. He's dull. He's boring. I wouldn't want to hang out with him.

In the end, George Clooney is probably the only truly cool person I can think of. He's handsome, he's successful, and he's also clearly intelligent. Matt Damon too, possibly. But that's it. Two guys in the entire world. What's the point of trying to be cool if those are the kind of odds you face?

And now for...An Anecdote from High School: I think part of the problem is that being cool is ultimately relative. In high school it works because you're in a small pond with delineated boundaries and a determinable hierarchy. But in the real world it's too much, it's a free-for-all.

Example: I remember in high school going to this party being held by what was in my opinion the coolest girl in the school and (at the time) pretty much ever. But as I was walking up to her door there were these three dudes from another high school in front of me who were essentially crashing the party. They were also sneering amongst themselves that her party was "so middle school." I actually had some interesting mental responses to this comment:

Nerdy Part of Me: "Are you serious? Do you even know who's house this is? This is the coolest girl in the school!"
Mature Part of Me: "If you think it's so lame, why don't you leave? It's not like anybody wants you here."
Rage-Filled (aka my Default) Part of Me: This part didn't so much have an actual comment as a desire to punch them one-by-one in the throat. Okay, that would have been an overreaction.

Anyway, the point is, here was in my opinion the girl who symbolized the epitome of cool, and these kids thought she was lame. But they were, at the least, also lame. Cool kids don't crash parties they think are lame. Obi-wan Kenobi inquires: "Who's more foolish - the fool or the fool who follows him?"

The fact that I can recite that quote makes me cool.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I'd rather be playing with Jello-o-o!

Today Bill Cosby was on Meet the Press, talking about his new book. I'm pretty neutral on Bill Cosby, but he really shouldn't have been on Meet the Press. I found his intellectual discourse both slow and meandering, which are the two factors I most frequently use to judge one's level of intellectual discourse. At the least he could have rocked one of those fabulous sweaters.

At several points he talked about the significant punishment discrepancies between cocaine users and crack cocaine users. For real, hasn't somebody solved this problem yet? This was a recognized issue back when I was in high school. Yet here we are seven years later. How hard can it be? Is there really some profound rationale behind the distinction that I just haven't been introduced to yet? Or is Bill right when he says people have just become apathetic to this kinds of problems? I also don't understand why black people don't just use the powder instead...but then, I don't really know much about cocaine (except it's a rockin' song by EC. Can you dig it?).

On an unrelated note, could Elisabeth Hasselbeck look more unattractive than she does in this picture? Maybe if she started talking.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Serves you right for liking Hannah Montana

The Man is sticking it to Hannah Montana fans. Tickets to her concert tour sold out in minutes...only to be resold at exorbitant prices by the evil brokers who originally bought at $63 a pop. Apparently Minneapolis was hit particularly hard - at least, it's mentioned in this article and there was a little blurb about it on the MN news last night. Is this the part where I say that's the free market for you, or does it come later?

Hannah's dad is on board with me: "There is a law of supply and demand, and ... quite frankly, it's beyond our control. We put together a concert tour, and I was really excited about Miley going out and playing for the fans," he said. "That's what her tour is about. It's for the kids and all the families that are watching Hannah Montana." Yeah, I can tell it's all about the kids. That's why you've taken such a laissez-faire attitude while all the kids learn what it's like to get screwed with their pants (skirts?) on.

"It's beyond our control." For real, does this guy not have lawyers? The legal solution to this problem is so simple. Whenever you buy a ticket, you're essentially forming a contract, and whether you're aware of it or not, that contract is limited by terms of use. For example, I doubt movie theaters let you carry a firearm into their movies. Same with a concert ticket. So all you have to do is insert a clause in the terms of use whenever someone buys a concert ticket that reads something like, "You agree not to resell this ticket at a cost greater than 10% of its original value." Problem solved. They should pay me for this shit. Oh wait, they do.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

If it walks like a duck, if it engages in the deliberate, systematic destruction of an ethnic or religious group like a duck...

This Armenian bill actually presents an interesting problem. I'll admit, I'm enjoying Congress basically saying "fuck you" to the President, especially after all the times he basically said "fuck you" to Congress (You want to withdraw troops? I say we send more!).

My initial inclination, of course, was to think Bush was an asshole. Congress shouldn't recognize Ottoman genocide of Armenians 90 years ago because it might hinder your global warmongering? Wow, that's some moral high ground you're standing on there, GW. But of course the President actually has a meritorious point. There's a political reality that needs to be admitted here. We can't call Turkey an asshole and then ask for their help. You're supposed to do it the other way. Get their help and then call them an asshole. Here's looking at you, Iran.

It's unfortunate, really. If it's genocide, it's genocide. We should admit it. As Toby says on The West Wing, "It's fanaticism whether we call it that or not, so were going to call it that." And it's a pretty terrible thing. But Turkey is what passes for a key "ally" in any Middle Eastern strategy the United States is likely to embark on, and pissing them off isn't a winning tactic. It's principle versus reality.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hol(e)y rusty metal, Batman!

Here’s a follow-up on my trip to the DMV. They gave me my license plates. Notice I use the plural, as those of you who don’t live in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia should understand why: in Minnesota you have to put a plate on the back AND front of your car. Funny thing is, there’s no place to hang a license plate on the front of my car. The bumper’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom. So I get to bust out my drill, some self-tapping screws, my testosterone, and do a chop-shop job…which is good, because the reason I went to law school was so I could drill holes in cars.

I emailed my dad to fill him in on the situation, get his input. Here’s what he said:

This would seem to me to be good practice for that day in your future when you become a homeowner and have maintenance to do. These tasks are not difficult and if you think it through it should go smoothly. You might even feel a certain pride in the job when it's done. To this I would add that my father never taught me any of the things of this sort that I do (much less now than years ago) and I just figured them out on my own. Eventually you will have to do the same so why not start now?

…Which, for a smart man, was kind of a silly thing to say. Particularly since a week ago he asked me for help with YouTube (if/how he could download a particular video) and I didn’t say to him, “You know, I had to figure this out on my own. You’re going to find as you get older and Web 2.0 becomes more prevalent that you’re going to have to learn how this stuff works.” No I didn’t. Instead I sent him the exact link from which he could download the video and explained how I found it. But my mom says he woke up at 4 this morning to catch a plane to somewhere important. So I guess I should cut him some slack.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I'd rather take the LSAT at the DMV

Today I went to the DMV. When I was studying for the LSAT they had this joke that five out of six lawyers say they'd rather stand in line at the DMV than take the LSAT again.* Now I've taken the LSAT, and it's no fun, but that statement posses a degree of exaggeration that is just plain unreasonable. I'd much rather take the LSAT again (so long as my score didn't count). At least with the LSAT you at least have the illusion that you've some control over your misery. At the DMV you can only stand there and take it. It didn't help that I apparently was assigned to The New Guy. You know you're in trouble when you hand the guy your form and he spends five minutes reading it. Over and over. And over.

* Wouldn't a real lawyer be motivated enough to get at the DMV early enough to avoid the line? This one was.

Plus, when you're done with the LSAT, you're feelin' good. Leaving the LSAT with my roommate in his Audi, driving to the liquor store and listening to Steely Dan...there are so many good things about that memory. Not so the DMV. The whole time I felt like I was being berated for not filling out my form correctly.

On the positive side, there was a restaurant outside the DMV called "Hamdi's Restaurant."** Any relation? I don't know. But America is the Land of Possibilities.

** "You can get whatever you want, at Hamdi's Restaurant!"

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sportz Newz

I don’t like sports news. So what, right? By itself, who cares? I feel like I’m missing out on something. All my friends (or at least, the ones cool enough to like sports) seem to take sports news very seriously. In law school I would constantly see people checking ESPN or Sports Illustrated on their laptops for the latest tidbit from the sports world. And at my parents’ house on the kitchen computer only two links are ever clicked on the New York Times website: Opinions, and Sports (I presume my parents get their real news from a more reputable source?).

I find this very confusing, because I like sports, and I like news. Ipso facto, I should like sports news. Two is better than one. But not in this case.

This post had no point, so I gave up on it halfway through.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sometimes you eat the bar...

I'm not used to being wrong, but it does happen. Turns out I passed the bar. So now you should all be bery bery afwaid, because now I can sue you (so long as you reside in Minnesota or else have "continuous and systematic" contacts with the state).

However, I don't feel like talking about that. I feel like talking about this. I didn't do a deserved rant on Mahmoud's visit to New York last week because...I don't really know. I think all the Ivies are overrated (Harvard = seven letter word for "overrated") but it does often feel like Columbia in particular is on a personal quest to make me not respect it. Inviting a guy to our country so we could call him an asshole. Such high-minded debate! Such mature conduct! Pseudo-intellectuals unite!

Anyway, the SNL video is funny. If you read the video description you'll learn that the video is NOT, in fact, recommended by, so if that kind of thing is important to you, you should probably avoid it. What is you're probably wondering. No naturally, I had to go visit that site. Not disappointed. Here's what Parrish has to say about himself (herself? I don't know what gender that name is):

First and foremost, I am a strong Conservative. I have implicit faith in the Capitalist system. I am a registered Republican, but my personal beliefs are even more conservative than those generally held by Republicans. My slogan, “Always Right,” is a play on words because it has two meanings: Always Right, as in not wrong, and Always Right, as in not Left, or Liberal.

Wow. "Always Right." Some points...

1. Never heard that joke before.
2. Really needed it explained to me. Thanks!

And to think, some liberals consider conservatives to be stupid!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Alice's Adventures Through the Blog Window

One of the interesting things about blogs is finding out that some people you barely know are actually pretty funny. Although, yes, eyes are rather stunning, it is blogs that are the true windows to the soul. I haven't noticed this so much with the blogs of people I went to college with. They've been pretty dull. But several people from high school have blogs that I find fairly amusing and make me wish I'd gotten to know them better. I'm not really surprised I find this girl's blog amusing, since I was on Forensics with her and knew her to be pretty zany. Besides, if you did high school forensics, you're DESTINED to be cool.

I don't think I said two words to this girl in high school. But, and forgiving the fact that she eventually trolled my old blog until I figured out who she was, she really does write one of the best blogs I've ever read. It's a near-always near-perfect blend of intellect and humor, even when I'm not particularly interested in her little theater festival thingie. It's too bad she thinks I'm a gay racist (sort of a doppelganger for Tim Hardaway the Black Homophobe, I guess*) because I bet she's a fun person to hang out with.

* The Gay Racist and the Black Homophobe = great idea for a sitcom.

The real person who inspired me to write this post, however, is this guy. The Brown guy.** I ran Track with this guy (in fact, he was the anchor on my first 4x400 relay!). But the only thing I really remember him saying was something that involved mocking people with backne...and as somebody who was unfortunate enough to grow up with a pretty hideous case of acne, I recall finding it more hurtful than amusing. But. He started a blog recently and I find it to be pretty funny stuff, like his post concerning the virtues of Cocoa Butter (which for real, none of my black friends will shut up about). Makes me wish I'd known him better . But I didn't. Instead I spent the first half of high school staying at home and reading crappy fantasy novels when I wasn't picking at my acne. It'll take some effort, but I urge you NOT to be jealous.

** Michael Scott: Why don't we just defer to
Black Dude: Mr. Brown.
Michael Scott: Ah. Ooooooh! Alright, okay. First test! I will not call you that.
Black Dude: Well, it's my name, it's not a test, okay?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I'll have my racism on the side, please

I just had a slightly disturbing experience. I came home and was doing a little light reading in my living room when someone started blasting rap music through the wall next door. That wasn’t the disturbing part. Although apparently it disturbed one of the kid’s roommates, because I heard him instruct Minneapolis’ Most Wanted to “turn that fucking nigger shit down.” Hmm. Now I don’t much care for rap music either, and I do think society has become a little too PC, particularly in regards to what white people can and can’t say concerning various racial demographics, BUT. I think we can all agree that “Turn that fucking nigger shit down” has no place in a 2007 vocabulary. I’ll be honest, I find myself increasingly surprised by the number of people who still say “nigger” for fear it might one day go out of style. Check the fashion mags, sweetheart. It already has.

It really is a pretty terrible word. Nigger. Just thinking it makes me feel sort of disgusting inside. A lot of that has to do with the history and connotations associated with it, obviously, but I think a lot of it also has to do with the word itself. It’s just not a pleasant-sounding word. Some racial slurs are fun. Gook. Macaca. Mulatto. I like Mulatto. It’s a fun word. Reminds me of “Mojito.” But nigger, that’s not a fun word.

What made all this sort of ironic was that at that moment the book I was reading was, as it happens, A Matter of Law, the memoir of Robert Carter, who was Thurgood Marshall’s chief lieutenant in the NAACP, a major architect behind the Brown litigation, etc etc. Very good book, by the way. It wouldn’t have hurt Bobby C. to compose his sentences a little more fluidly (yeah, yeah, people in glass houses…), but he nevertheless gives an objective while still honest appraisal of the various racial hurdles he encountered in his lifetime. I intend to give it ***** in my Facebook Books application…and people who know me know I don’t mess around when it comes to my Facebook Books application. Nigga please.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pardon me while I introduce this brick wall to my head

President Bush vetoed a bill that would have extended kid's health insurance to provide insurance to, you know, children who need it. Whatever. I'm on board. I say, if you wanted to have health insurance, maybe you shouldn't have been born into a family too poor to afford it. Wait, let me rephrase that. If you wanted to have health insurance, maybe you shouldn't have been born into a family too poor to afford it but too wealthy to fall under Medicaid. Isn't the POINT of Medicaid to extend health insurance to families that can't otherwise afford it? This is all very confusing for me. I'm gonna go read about Britney Spears' custody battle instead.

Remember a couple years ago when Bush did something with stem cells that required him to stand in front of the Presidential Podium with 30 stem-cell babies around him? Gosh that was moving! I was certainly moved. It was his first veto, but dammit it was worth it, because The Children = Our Future. We couldn't possibly use their discarded primordial ooze to cure Marty McFly of Alzheimer's or whatever it is he contracted, no doubt from some unprotected Hollywood sex orgy. But I must have been following the Britney Spears' custody battle too closely, because apparently something has changed since then. I guess The Children are no longer Our Future. Not the poor ones, anyway.

However, I didn't start this post to bitch about Prezzie B. I really wanted to bitch about this:

"Children had delivered petitions urging Bush not to veto the bill."

Did they now? Are we seeing here the political activist equivalent of the Showbiz Mom? Or do you think these kids are actually delivering petitions they wrote themselves, of their own volition? No, you're right, I'm sure it's the latter too, because I bet eight-year-old Tammy here (or is that a dude?) is not only well-versed in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (the SCHIP to her), but is also SO PASSIONATE about it's expansion (she dismisses concerns of socialized medicine as essentially a weak excuse for moral apathy, you see) that she begged her mother to let her miss school so she could personally deliver her petition to the White House gates. In a red wagon, no less! Thankfully she already owned one for her New York Times paper route. Look, I don't like when kids are reduced to a prop to promote a conservative agenda, and I don't like when they're used to promote a liberal one, either.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Worst Week Ever?

This is probably the Week From Hell for me. The Minnesota Board of Law Examiners mails us our bar results on Friday (I guess they want to avoid a case of the Mondays?), so this week will be spent largely trying not to agonize about that. I think I probably failed. No, yeah, I probably did. I know everyone says that. The kids who were on Law Review and graduated with 4.0s say that. But I seriously think I failed. If I passed, it’ll be by just barely.* That doesn’t really upset me. My professional future (for now, at least) doesn’t depend on me passing the bar. It’s the prospect of being a failure. Because we were running out of things for me to fail at, so I’m really glad we’ve managed to stumble upon something new. And the shame. My God, the shame!

The good part of taking the bar was that it sort of reinforced my decision to avoid legal practice. Everyone’s been telling me they think I’d make a good lawyer. The law school has you take a personality test, and even IT said I’d make a good lawyer. My career services guy was like, “Well, I know you said you don’t want to be a lawyer, but I’m looking at your test results here, and they’re saying you should be one.” I don’t know anything about that, dude. But I do know I’ve struggled with every hoop I’ve had to jump through thus far. LSAT, law school, bar exam. Seems to me that should be telling me something. You’ll read some essays that say those three hoops in particular have no bearing with the practice of law. I guess that’s supposed to make me feel better. But it really makes me feel worse. It makes me angry. You have to wonder what kind of a bonehead profession would use a litmus test that isn’t related to its practice. That’s taking a pretty laissez-faire attitude towards your own stupidity.

* TOBY: What was the final margin?
KAREN: 127 votes.
TOBY: A hundred and twenty-seven.
KAREN: That's about 12 lawn signs.
TOBY: Wasn't your last election also...?
KAREN: Eighty-two votes.
TOBY: The President says all you need is one, the rest are for ego.
KAREN: Uh-huh, and how many did the President win by?
TOBY: About three-and-a-half million.
KAREN: Yeah.
TOBY: He's got a pretty healthy ego, though.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The boys are back in town

So I'm back in Minneapolis. That's nice. I came home to a bunch of dead cockroaches, which wasn't quite so nice. Little corpses scattered all over my kitchen countertop? Yes, please! I guess it's better than the alternative. The only good cockroach is a dead cockroach.

The best part of being home was when my mother cleaned out my parents' liquor cabinet and gave me half their supply of hard liquor. They never drink hard liquor, you see. All's the more for me. I got a little offended when my mom turned to me and said, "I just realized I'm giving you all this liquor. You ARE going to drink responsibly, right?" What the hell kind of question is that? No, Mom. I'm going to drink ALL THIS [waves arms for emphasis] in one night by myself and then drive around the Minneapolis interstates with my head sticking out the window. Please. I am a connoisseur of fine liquors. Which is why I will be mixing pretty much all of them with Coke Zero. Five...Four...Three...Two...One. Zero.

I had an interesting idea while driving home. I thought it might be interesting to try to bribe a toll booth attendant. "Oh really, Miss? Are you sure I have to pay the toll? What about my friend BEN FRANKLIN here?" This is what I think about when I'm forced to spend 10 hours by myself.