Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Circle Of Life

There is a large locust tree next to my house that produces succulent pods of bean-like fruit, which hang in graceful, green, spiral clumps from every branch. When those pods fall, as they do at this time of year, they just may turn brown and crunch under your feet in a satisfying way, and then release their seeds into the world to grow and live and prosper. Or eventually die under mounds of snow, trampled into oblivion by sturdy boots from September to March. From a botanological point of view, watching the pods sprout, grow, shed weaker specimens, and ripen over the summer is an interesting diversion, especially when one is too hungover to concentrate on anything else. And the tree is a gorgeous sight, towering over my neighborhood, spreading shade and dappled light over an urban area that would otherwise bake and only reflect harsh summer glare against concrete and asphalt in this citified desert.

If squirrels weren't eating the beans to store in their godforsaken cheeks and rancid hideaways for the coming winter, and shitting and pissing all over my yard in the process, I would really love that locust tree.

Right now, however, I am cursing that tree, and the squirrels, and their droppings, and thinking about buying a gun. No matter that using a gun in my cramped urban neighborhood might just raise a few eyebrows and summon the police. I am definitely thinking about it. I hate squirrels. I think about buying a gun, but won't necessarily do it, because I don't really want to kill anything. And I am forced to clean up -- endless raking and sweeping -- after not only the tree, but the shitting and pissing squirrels, not to mention the flies and stinking nastiness they bring.

I am unhappy.

The squirrels laugh at me. And then they shrug and proceed to eat and eat and shit and eat.

Which got me thinking today about the circle of life. I told my mother about my problem -- the gorgeous tree and the gangrenous squirrels. She listened attentively, and then chided me for hating small furry rodents. My mom's a Buddhist. She thinks that it is fortuitous that my backyard has been graced by animals who come to feed and breed and live. A wonderful sign of the circle of life. "In the spring," she says, "they will have many babies. How cute!" "It's not cute, mom," I say, "if there are more of them." She ignored me.

Other people in my neighborhood also think squirrels and their offspring are cute, and they feed the dastardly critters, so that they will keep coming back, begging for more. I think my neighbors feel they need to be needed by these rabid vermin. I don't really understand that.

Doesn't part of the circle of life involve getting killed by predators? Developing cancer? Dying just because you were meant to die eventually? In an urban environment, shouldn't pollution, cars, psycho dogs pent up in apartments all day long, and night-roaming cats help to lessen the impact of rodents considered cute only because of their long bushy tails and stupid buck-toothed grins? What human gets that kind of consideration? And what if those factors don't do what they should? Shouldn't I help the circle of life continue -- since the Humane Society won't help -- by adopting a mountain lion, or fox, or sabre-toothed tiger to keep those rodents in check? And why would people think I was the asshole for keeping a mountain lion in my yard to kill squirrels? Why should squirrels be allowed to circumvent the circle of life, because people think they're cute, feed them, and ignore people like me who have to actually deal with having one poop in my coffee cup when I go to survey their damage in the morning?

Why is the circle of life only philosophized about when we worry about keeping life alive? Why shouldn't death be considered a necessary part of that?

And most importantly: Why can't I have a mountain lion?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sweet Gluttony

You may know about my obsession with megaburgers (and the women who eat them). So you can only imagine how my attention was piqued when I saw an ad for a new Burger King breakfast sandwich called the "Meat'Normous." It features a lengthy bun, sausage, ham, bacon, an egg omelet and two slices of cheese. I don't eat any of the meats featured in this sandwich, making its name more dee-lish than the sandwich itself.

The Meat'Normous (by the way, I giggle every time I write that name) is the latest in a serious of enormous burgers being marketed by mainstream junk food restaurants. Earlier this year, Hardees introduced the Monster Thickburger, a 1420 calorie behemoth that featured 2/3s of a pound of meat, four slices of bacon, a bunch of cheese, mayonnaise, and a quicker death. By comparison, the Big Mac is a punk-ass bitch, containing a paltry 600 calories.

The megaburgers seem to reflect a reactionary movement led by cynical junk food restaurant executives and Americans sick of an excessive focus on healthy living. Junk food chains have tried for years to make junk food that has less fatty and more healthy. They've tried substituting lard with oils, etc. Unfortunately, lard tastes infinitely better, and those efforts invariably failed. Remember the McLean hamburger from McDonald's? Barely? Sucked, right? Not, perhaps, if you enjoy chewing on sawdust. Now, they have abandoned the lean burger or fries in favor of crappy salads no one buys.

In the last year or so, these junk food chains have shifted gears sensing a reaction building to the healthy living movement and a need to get back to what they do best. On an even grander scale. Maybe they -- like me -- recognized these people who want to live for 95 years for what they are: a bunch of selfish narcissists who want to bankrupt the health care system (especially Medicare) by forcing society to pay for their extra 10 years of chronic illnesses. Stop running, put down the wheatgrass and die already.

More importantly, they probably realized that the majority of people in this country enjoy gluttony. Relish in it, shamelessly. To these people, you're not really alive until you've survived your first heart attack. Megaburgers appeal to those who seem almost proud the higher their cholestrol number is. The people who like to talk about how fucked up their shit is. The subset of those folks who aren't vegetarians anyway.

A few months ago, a buddy and me drove two hours to have what is possibly the best burger within 200 miles of D.C., at Big Jim's in Charlottesville, Va. The burger was big, about 1/2 a pound, perched on a comically small bun. The burger was in turn on a comically big plate filled with fries. Throw in a pitcher of Red Hook, it cost us only $7.00 each. When I got the bill, I almost kissed the shriveled -- yet probably 30 year old -- waitress, but refrained for fear of burning lips on the cigarette dangling out of her mouth.

We didn't talk much. We just ate. And, as my friend and I were licking the grease off our fingers, my friend said, "This was worth it. I mean, we haven't done shit today except drive 150 miles to eat a great burger. I'm not knocking vegetarians, but, frankly, can you imagine a vegetarian driving 150 miles to eat some tofu or shit?"

No.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Heard and Seen on the Trip to Zion

Heard....

1. Tara Reid sitting near T and me, drunkenly babbling into her cell phone at an upscale, nuevo Mexican restaurant at the Venetian hotel in LV. She is even more of a mess in person than already seems on TV. T and I began planning an intervention where we'd kidnap her and take her to rehab, but then our tacos arrived.

2. "Is there any place where I can get a beer?" The guy who said this was asking the clerk at the newsstand at the airport. She shrugged her shoulders. Oh, and he was asking this at 4:30AM in the morning. No, he wasn't me.

Seen...












On the road to nowhere...other photos, but they can't be shared as I endeavor to maintain my anonymity (and T's as well). What a stunningly beautiful place. Definitely worth blowing off mowing the lawn yesterday (it's dead anyway with the drought here in DC and all). Unfortunately, it was just a day. Back to the grind.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Weekend Trip

So, I am off tomorrow for what is, in essence, a 4000 mile day trip to hike in Zion National Park in Utah (ok, with a little gambling in Vegas thrown in tomorrow night). I'll do anything to avoid mowing the lawn. I really hope that Hurricane Rita weakens and changes direction, because I'll be really pissed if she fucks up my connection in Dallas.

I was talking to a friend of mine about mountain lions in the park. Apparently, there are a fair number of them. If a mountain lion confronts my travel companion and I, my other friend suggested that I throw rocks and wave my arms. "You should be ok if you do that," he explained. No, I should be ok because I am a faster runner than my friend.

Outed

I was reading an article in the New York Times the other day, called A Sex Stop On The Way Home. It's about covert meeting places among both openly and closeted gay men, in parking lots and parks around New York. Not a new concept at all. In fact, in the past two places I've lived, I've been right around the corner from such pick-up scenes. Where I live now, pretty boys pretend to be waiting for buses, lounging sexily on benches, all around the perimeter of a nearby park. Those are the prostitutes. Or you'll see -- just as is mentioned in the article -- quite a number of men waiting around for other men in their cars, checking each other out, eagerly hoping for that afternoon hook-up. To me, it's sort of an interesting social situation to observe, but ultimately I don't really care what people do in private. (Although, I do admit I will openly cry "ewwwww" when I accidentally step on a used condom while walking in the park.)

Now, while the subject matter of the article wasn't earthshaking, I found it pretty insensitive that the New York Times, without identifying anyone by name, nevertheless gave the precise addresses where these hook-up spots could be found. Spots that the article itself mentioned were only known to the gay community. You can imagine what's going to happen.

First, there'll be gawkers who'll travel to those spots just to satiate their curiosity and see it for themselves. I'll admit that when I read an article about the "heroin hotspots" of my town, what did I do? Yes. I went for a stroll through one -- a very quick stroll -- but I couldn't help myself. My curiosity was piqued. How embarrassing for these guys to have to endure an audience.

But worse, what happens when anti-homosexual religious freaks get a hold of the article? Does anyone doubt that they'll draw up some offensive placards, place themselves all around the hook-up spots, and launch ugly protests or patronizing candelight vigils? I don't care how Blue of a state New York is, you know they're in there somewhere. And while I understand that the New York Times would not have liked to print an article that entirely failed to mention any names or places (leaving them with only the what, why and how), I'm troubled by the storm that may follow. I wonder if anyone will end up reporting on that...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Soundtrack To Our Lives

I don't know about you (or you), but my head is filled with songs I've heard. And, often, the song will start playing in my head when triggered by an event. Anything from a profound moment to a mundane moment. I remember when one of my girlfriends broke it off with me. The minute I realized she was with some new dude, the MP# player in my brain cued Sweetbacks "Hope She'll Be Happier With Him." (She wasn't. Ha, ha.)

I see a fair number of homeless people on my way to and from the metro. Everytime I see them, Rick James "Ghetto Life" pops into my head. In particular, the lines "when I was a young boy/tenements, slums and corner bums/playing tag with winos/only way to have some fun." Man, that must have really been fun. Remember when homeless people used to be wise winos, drunk on ripple, but filled with insights? And always up for a game of tag? Crack screwed up a lot of shit.

I vaguely remember the first time I saw a homeless dude. I think I was like eight or so. It was this guy who I thought was so ballsy, because he just stuck out his hand and asked my old man for some bread. My dad was one cheap dude; even I wouldn't think to do that. My dad started talking to him about how he ended up where he was. The guy was clearly trying to avoid talking about that. As we left, he said, "Be free." I was convinced for a brief period afterwords that homeless folk were members of a cool, free-spirited secret society. Kind of like the Masons. I was an idiot.

These days, there is one absolutely terrible song that runs through my head three or four times a day. Its killing me. Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off." I haven't have internal peace after a piss in weeks.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Of Green Jettas And Britney Spears

The man in the green Jetta ahead of me is feverishly tapping his hand on the dashboard, bobbing his head.

He spot checks himself in the rear view mirror and smooths back his hair. Or the absence therof. He cranes his head out of the window, looks up, looks ahead, pops his head back inside the car, changes lanes, and then suddenly swerves back into my lane for no apparent reason. He flips me the single gun salute for "letting" him back in and starts tapping his left hand on the dashboard again in tune with music I can't hear. He sticks his arm out the window to make waves in the wind with his hand, hits his right turn signal, turns it off, bobs his head, hikes his sunglasses on top of his head, then lowers them to his eyes again.

The man in the green Jetta is alone in the car. He's not on a cell phone. I thought he was on a cell phone because he was driving as if he'd recently undergone a frontal lobotomy. But I was wrong about that. Then I thought he was getting a blow job (i.e., road head). Nope. No one else in there. At least that would have been amusing. And understandable.

He's just driving, making sure everyone knows he's there, that he's enjoying his music and his Jetta and himself. As I switch lanes to stop beside him at the next light, I think I hear Britney Spears singing of sex and virginity and all the spaces in between. He looks over at me and smiles, bobbing his head, of course. I cringe and grudgingly smile back. Then, when the light changes, he zips ahead, swerves into my lane, and keeps tapping that infernal hand on the dashboard. He stops at the next light. The next light changes. He flips me another single gun salute as he speeds off. I decide that I hate him.

I begin to question his motives.

Could he be flirting? No, because even the most inadequate flirt knows that you don't piss a girl off by trying to crash into her with a Jetta. That would be wrong.

Is he worshipping at the altar of celebrity in a green German automobile? Perhaps there is no world outside his fantasy of himself and Ms. Spears, bumping, grinding, sweatily sliding all over each other amongst a plethora of backup dancers in tattered, revealing clothes. Perhaps he's trying to impress Her, as if She, so bloated, so puffy of ankle, so close to labor now, is looking through a crystal ball right at that moment, seeing the man who really loves Her, who is paying homage to Her by intensely irritating all neighboring drivers.

Is he so insecure, that he's making up for the fact that he's alone by showing everyone that he, in fact, is very happy -- ecstatic, even -- about being alone? Just him and Britney and his green Jetta, savoring the sunlight and the not-so-open road, making enemies with the irate female in the beat up car with the cracked windshield behind him?

Or is he just an asshole?

Infected

Friday night, my computer got infected. It was struck by a Trojan Horse virus. Like most lazy, cheap Americans, I've blown off updating my Norton Utilities to get the latest virus protection, and a new virus slipped through my antiquated security system.

I was on Blog Explosion's web page, signing up to get on that service and boost readership here, when my computer got infected. So, first off, let me say a big boo to Blog Explosion if it was in any way connected to the catatrophe that befell my poor computer.

It was a relatively mild virus in that it didn't so any major structural damage. The virus infected my computer by (1) blocking me from controling my computer, (2) setting up a dummy windows page which kept telling me over and over that my computer was infected, and (3) constantly trying to direct my computer to a sketchy web site to "fix it" (I was able to disconnect the computer almost immediately thwarting that part of the scheme). The one time I tried to get on the web to go on Norton Utilities web site for a fix, it started spamming hard core teen and shemale porn (hopefuly NOT using my name). As far as I can tell, Norton blocked a lot of it, and I immediately unhooked the internet.

So what to do. I went to a couple of places which tried to get me to pay anywhere from $150 and $200 to fix it. Everyone was pushy, trying to freak me out ("the virus could be slowly eating away you computer. You gotta get it to us now"). When did this country become a country of hustlers? I must look like a complete mark. Or sound like one. "What's wrong with your computer?" "It's fucked." Maybe if I'd been more descriptive or used computer terms, they'd have been less opportunistic.

While comparison shopping, this one good kid at a Best Buy near my house asked me, "Are you ok if everything is erased that you've put on since you bought the computer?" Yes, either I've back stuff up elsewhere or it wasn't important. He continued,"Look, I can charge you $150, or you can do it yourself for free. Just do this and this." My computer has a built in recovery system for just these situations. I went home, did what the kid suggested, and thirty minutes later my computer was back to the way it was when I first bought it a year ago. It was healed.

To the sicko who unleashed the virus or worm or whatever it was that briefly disabled my computer, I only hope that he or she develops some sort of real bacterial or viral flesh rot to match their moral rot. I am still coming to grips with human depravity; it still doesn't make sense to me.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The One That Got Away

I woke up today feeling terrible, like someone had thrown me repeatedly against a wall before I went to bed. All the result of too many glasses of red wine last night at a local dive and far too many cigarettes. I swore to myself this morning, as I do every morning, that I really should quit smoking. It's an ugly habit. Uglier still, because of the things I do to hide it.

I work with people who are good. Much more upstanding specimens of humanity than I. They go to bed early, don't drink on weekdays, rarely swear, watch Jay Leno before drifting off in snow white sheets, wear cozy, tasteful sweaters. They exercise regularly and go to church. They are morning people. They're very nice people. And though I want to hate them for their goodness, I really can't. It's extremely frustrating.

These people I work with also despise smoking and are quite vocal about it. Sometimes I feel like there's a conspiracy of disgust afoot, as all the warning labels in the world do not discourage one from smoking as much as the collective disgust of your fellow man and woman. Smokers like me deserve it, I suppose. Anyway, it's not like I have any cogent arguments for smoking. "It makes you look cool" doesn't cut it anymore when you're in your mid-30s.

My exceedingly good coworkers and I work in a high rise building, in an office 50 stories off the ground. The smoking area is on the bottom floor, surrounded by tall glass windows where everyone in the lobby can see you as they walk by. It's almost like a display case of Those Who Will Soon Develop Lung Cancer And Die. A smokers' zoo. I've managed to find the one corner of the smoking area that's not entirely visible from the windows, though it's an uncomfortable spot between a plant and a sign. I'm the shy chimp in the glass cage, hoping that I'm only visible enough for a coworker to mistake me for someone else. I'm not sure if I'm fooling anyone.

It's getting out of the office that's the hard part. If you take your purse, I figure, you look like you're going to have a cigarette (too obvious), or you give the impression that you're leaving for the day. And in that hardworking environment, you don't want to look like you're on your way home at 11 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 4 pm. It's confusing for people. Now, any smoker knows you can't stash a cigarette in your pocket, or it'll break before you reach your destination. And my hands are too small to conceal a cigarette. So, I do what any sensible woman must: I tuck the cigarette in my cleavage.

To state it simply: I am small of frame and large of breast. I tend to slouch forward from all the weight. Hiding a cigarette in one's cleavage is tricky. You can't smash it between your breasts, because you look like a porn star as you head toward the elevators. You also have to maintain an awkwardly straight and (for me) difficult posture, to keep the cigarette from breaking in the space you've wedged it between your bra and your sternum. I've broken many cigarettes by slouching as I normally do. Which usually happens in the elevator, so I essentially have to travel 50 stories down, only to turn around and go right back up to my office, say hi to the receptionist, restash a fresh cigarette, back to the elevators, say hi to the receptionist, and down to the ground. It's very inconvenient and time-consuming. Precious hours of productive work have been wasted in such mishaps.

Having learned the posture lesson, I learned another lesson today. Crew neck t-shirts that are tucked in to your pants can create monstrous problems when the cigarette in your cleavage escapes. I didn't realize it had set itself free until I was almost to my plant-sign smoking spot in the zoo. To the amusement of all smokers present -- and I think I was visible to those looking through the windows -- I was up to my elbow fishing around through the neck of my shirt, trying to find that darned cigarette. Which had traveled to a spot in the middle of my back by this time. Which I didn't want to break, because this embarassing scrabbling around in my shirt fiasco would only have been worse if I had to start all over again at 50 stories above the ground.

I suppose I could've bummed a cigarette from someone, but I was too filled with shame at this point to talk to anyone. I really should quit smoking.

Bustin' Pops's Chops

A bunch of guys have been playing a weekly Saturday morning touch football game for 20 or so years. I've been playing off and on with them for the last couple of years.

I was running a simple Z route, going for the first down. A Z route for you nonfootball people is when you run diagonally towards the center of the field, then cut back to the outside. The pattern when drawn on paper looks like the top two-thirds of the letter Z.

I was being covered by a guy name Cord. He was in remarkable physical condition. For a 70 year old. That's right, he just turned 70 last week. But, at 6'2" and 180, he was fit and trim for his age. He kind of looks like Lyndon Johnson.

He bit on the inside move, and I got a step breaking back to the outside. The pass came too slow. Cord made up the lost ground and hit me in the mouth at the same time the pass hit my hands. I held on, but I'd bitten out a chunk of flesh inside my lower lip.

I spit out a few mouthfuls of blood and saliva, and the pain subsided. During the next drive, I was running a flag route to the back right corner of the end zone. Cord was on me again, and I had outrun him. Another weak pass. I don't remember exactly what happened next. From what I can piece together, the old man clubbed me in the head knocking me down. A few more cuts, this time on my left leg.

So old man, I thought to myself, this is how its going to be. On the next play, he lined up to jam me at the line. I took a few steps back. When the ball was hiked, I ran right at him and threw -- ok, swung -- a forearm in his old boney chest, and cut outside. He kind of staggered and lost me. I caught the pass and ran it down the sideline for a big gain.

When his team got on offense, I stepped it up. The old man ran a button hook. Basically, he ran 8 yards up and turn back around to the quarterback, waiting on the pass. Just as the pass got there, I "tagged" him. Actually, it was more of a full on shove. He went flying face first into the ground.

"He shoved me," he groused in a whiny, old man tone.

"Sorry, dude," I said walking away.

A few plays later, he ran a corner route in the end zone. The ball was high, and Cord went up for it. I shoved him at the same time the ball got there. Since he was up in the air, the force of my shove sent his legs flying to the side. He came down awkwardly, and fell on his side.

"He --"

"Sorry, man. Didn't expect you to jump up like that."

"I think I'll sit the next few plays out," he said limping off the field.

He came back into the game. I shoved him onto the ground again on a crossing route. It was perhaps an even more gratuitous shove than the other ones, because it happened a few seconds before the ball actually got there. I probably should have helped him up.

Too bad our team lost, though. My lip is fine now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Next Phase

I was going to put this as a comment on SS's post below, but I wanted it out on the front page: it is really with great sadness that Banality Fair loses one of its founders, Spiral Stairs. His posts were incredibly well written, and always very funny and interesting. They had soul, unlike my more detached musings. And, he is almost single-handedly responsible for publicizing this blog and getting us the readers we have today.

Lucky for me, I won't have to try and keep this ship afloat on my own. I'll be getting a new partner at Banality Fair. And, in keeping with tradition, they are (1) a much better and more interesting writer than me and (2) far less annoying. They don't have the fetching beard I am growing, but don't you dare hold that against them. The new partner will be debuting this week, so hopefully some of you will continue to come back.

So Long and Thanks For All the Hits

After a year or so of starts and stops, I've decided to tender my resignation from Banality Fair. Why? Because Joseph K is a huge, raging asshole. I kid, I kid. Joseph K has been the best blogmate a man could have, and he will continue to carry the Banality Fair flag, alone but with the wit of many.

As the archives demonstrate, I have lately had great difficulty generating and executing ideas for posts to Banality Fair. Some of it is personal distraction; some of it is my genetic predisposition to inaction; some is unexplained. It is not fair, however, to insist that my name ride along with Joseph K's as Banality Fair continues steamrolling ahead on its inexorable path to internet domination, albeit with no contribution from me. It has also become a source of guilt, as so many days pass without a word from me.

I have an idea or two in mind for future blogging. I hope to encounter the right confluence of motivation and inspiration in the near future, and make one of those ideas happen. If I do, the first people to know will be Banality Fair's readers. In the meantime, I'll continue to comment and lurk here and on your blogs. I also may twist Joseph K's arm into letting me pen a guest piece or two some time.

See you all around.

SS

Tagged

I've been tagged by Sharfa, my first tagging ever. Here goes:

Ten Years Ago: A few weeks into law school in New York, and already I was developing a healthy cynicism. I think I set the record among my friends for having the most books in their original plastic wrapping. I spent most of my time trying to figure out all the world has to offer when buzzed. Losts. And a lot more peeing.

Five Years Ago: I was stuck in a law firm gig that was remakably uninteresting to me. I was something of a sedentary lump and gained about 35 pounds (5'10" and 210 pounds, not very sexy). I was so bored that during the fall of 2000, I went out and bought my house because I had nothing better to do one weekend. I was in my pre-blogging days then, sending silly email dispatches to a group of friends. Mostly about the 2000 election. A lot of the dispatches were about how gross Al Gore's makeout session with Tipper at the Democratic National Convention was. It still grosses me out. Yuck, I have to go wash up.

One Year Ago: New job, doing the people's work. Work life, more tolerable. I spent a week around this time playing Ernest Hemingway. I was in Key West writing nonsense, deep sea fishing, and snorkeling. One day I saw this huge barracuda when I was snorkeling. Then, I am pretty sure I caught him later on when a fishing outing. I don't think he appreciated it. Also, I sweated a lot during that trip. Yes, right around this time ago I was sweating profusely.

Yesterday: It was Monday. During fantasy football season, it becomes an extension of the weekend. I spent on hour on the phone with a friend of mine who high level employee at a major corporation, consulting about some trading opportunities. I put off returning calls until today (luckily my job gives me control over stuff like that). Then, I can home, worked out for an hour (between 2000 and now, I've dropped 40 pounds and at 170). And I played with my beard, which is less itchy these days, and becoming quite fetching.

Five Songs I Know All The Words To: Michael Jackson: "Beat It," Bobby Womack: "What Is This," Rolling Stones: "Sympathy for the Devil," Michael McDonald/Patti LaBelle: "On My Own," Red Hot Chilli Peppers, "Knock Me Down."

Five Snacks: grapes, trail mix, beef jerky, terra bliss blue potato chips, energy bars

Five Things I'd Do With $100 Million: buy the country of Mali (people included), donate $50 million to build a museum to study all things Joseph K, clone myself, invest in a company to design my own men's fragrance, pay someone to tell me every day that the supermodel women I'd be dating are really into me

Five Places I'd Run Away To: Port Antonio (Jamaica), South Africa (I understand why Chapelle went on his retreat there), Tulum (Mexico), Langano (Ethiopia), Paris

Five Things I'd Never Wear: white pants, anything pink, a thong, penny loafers, a fanny pack

Five Favorite TV Shows: X Files, Simpsons, Sopranos, Rome (know its early, but damn its a good show), Power Puff Girls

Five Greatest Joys: This is taking me a while. I am one fucking selfish dude, because everything involves me. I suck. But, not too bad. That's one great joy? Family. Friends. The other joys are not appropriate for this PG-13 rated blog.

Five Favorite Toys: The new car, the treadmill, the computer, the golf clubs, the really realistic sex doll

Five People To Tag: There are six folks, actually. I'd love to see how Tequilita, Henry, Stefanie (although I think she's said she's not a huge tagging fan), Jenn, Earl C and Chemical Billy would respond, but no pressure.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Vacation Stories: Fight Night

When my friend A suggested that we go see the K-1 kickboxing tournament when we were in Vegas, I have to admit I wasn't fired up for it at first. Boxing, I undersand and dig. Kickboxing seems, on its face, weak to me. When I was a kid, I got into my share of scraps. I won as much as I lost, until I came to my senses and starting fighting younger kids exclusively.

Anyway, you fought with your fists. Once the fight was basically over and you'd won, you might bitchslap an opponent. But that was where it ended. Kicking was sissy shit. Right up there with biting and pinching. If I was watching a fight between two other kids and saw one kid kicking, I might jump in to help beat up the kicker, just on principle.

I got more excited as we talked to the ticket agent at the Mirage.

"You probably want seats here. You'll be thirteen rows from the ring. Last time, the blood and sweat only splattered out about eight or so rows, so you should be fine." Right on.

K-1 bouts only last three rounds. There is no strategy or endurance. The fighters are basically trying to kill each other as fast as possible. It is the crack cocaine of fighting.

We arrived early, just as the first undercard fight got underway. The bell rung ending the first round of that fight as we settled in. Second round started, and the bigger guy caught his smaller opponent dead on the face. He fell lifelessly to the ground. "Good timing, huh?" I said to A. "Yeah."

The next fights were all bouts involving women. The first fight featured a successful female kickboxer named Gina, who was fighting a beefy woman named, well, "Beef." Gina was hot. For three rounds, a sweat-glistened, toned and sweet-on-the-inside seeming Gina tenderized Beef, but never knocked her out. My proposal to Gina was lost in the cheering and loud music that filled the arena after she was announced the winner. I loved her, but it was time to move on.

The next fight featured a 127 pound white stripper in cornrows named LaTasha Manzolla, who came into the arena with backup dancers (possibly colleagues from her day job) doing an elaborate act set to NERD's "Lap Dance." It was, well, something. The fight was sloppy, with poor combinations by LaTasha and her 125 pound Fillipina opponent, Jan something or other. It went the three round distance, with the fight going to LaTasha on points (probably more for style due to her intro than the fight itself).

As for the men's fights, they were less memorable. One of the bouts was between this Japanese kickboxer named Tomohiro who was tussling with this guy named Scott Lighty, who had a bunch of fans in the audience, a lot of female fans in tight tops and short skirts who didn't pay attention to the fight and spoke on their cell phones must of the time. They were lovely.

That said, I thought Lighty was going to be destroyed. One minute and twenty-three seconds into the fight, Lighty round house kicks Tomohiro in the jaw. Tomohiro is out before he hits the canvas. In fact, he's not getting up. I was pretty sure he might be dead. I turned to A, "Man, I think dude is dead." A didn't hear me at first; he was too busy high-fiving other spectators, "That was the shit!" After a few minutes, Tomohiro was helped up and was assisted out of the arena.

There was a tournament and a winner, but do you really care? The last fight I'll mention was not part of the tounament, but an exhibition bout between this 275 pound former boxer (?) named "Mighty Mo" who was tussling with 268 pound South African Francois Botha, aka the "White Buffalo," who is known for his odd grunting and for having been one of the last people to lose to Mike Tyson. Botha smiled and waved to a hostile crowd. He beamed as the boos got louder. The fight started, and Mighty Mo knocked Botha down three times in 60 seconds. TKO in a minute. That never happens. They showed some replays. Some phantom punches knocked Botha down the first two times. I last punch barely grazed him.

The boos were absurdly loud. Botha just smiled and waved the crowd away. He'd gotten a payday. After he climbed out of the ring, I joined everyone else in the arena in a prayer that Botha got hit by a meteor as he walked out of the ring. He got out fine. Nietzsche's famous quote crossed my mind, maybe God is dead. Unlike Neitzche, I wasn't trying to be funny so as to pick up a gnostic hooker when the thought crossed my mind.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I Love Mussels

I really do. Maybe because they are the only shellfish I can eat without choking to death (allergic to basically every other shellfish). But, summer is over. So, thus, is mussels/shellfish season.

They are a tasty treat in a not-so-tasty outer shell. I learned about the shell the hardway when I was an impetuous 10 year old. I remember this one this one Far Side cartoon that explains it all. There are these two polar bears, and one is chewing sitting next to this igloo with a huge bite taken out of the top. The one chewing says to the other, "You know what I love about these, Sid. They're crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle." You know what I'm saying?

I am fine when I look into one and there is just meat, no pearl or anything. If there were, I'd eat it too, because I am always looking for ways to boost my self-worth.

But, should you believe me? I was in a negotiation today (part of my work involves lots of negotiations), and the guy on the other side said, "I think you're being insincere."

I was mad. For a second. Then, I said, "That is the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a negotiation in, like forever. Give me a hug."

Or did I? And if I did, did I mean it? More importantly, I really do like mussels.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Crumbling Apart

I was going to blog about a kickboxing tournament I went to in Vegas, but that is for another day. I am in a minor funk. It began with the New Orleans shit. Then, I had a six course meal at a Moroccan restaurant Saturday where every course was terrible. Even the "mint tea" course. How do you fuck up mint tea? You put some mint in the tea. They found a way.

I am growing a beard. After a clean-shaven, aerodynamic summer, I am ready for some fur. Its at that itchy, patchy stage where people either run from me or throw me change. Against my will, I am now wont to philosophize about inane topics and start sentences with, "Hey, man..." E.g., "Hey, man, if we are here, what is here?" It's annoying. The beard is itchy now. Goddammit.

Things shitty in a utterly superficial, narcissistic way. Still tolerable. Then, Gilligan dies! He was a hero to knuckleheads -- like me -- around the world. If my current life is an island, I keep finding bone-headed ways to stay stuck on it too.

Sigh.

Monday, September 05, 2005

To The Visitor From IP Address 212.77.192

Yes, I am outing you. You know who you are. The person who came to our site after doing the search "beautiful girls between 10 and 16 in qatar." I hope you die a painful, gruesome death you sick ephebophile. (I am trying to ignore how or why that search got him to our site).

Back to vacation-related programming later today or tomorrow.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Left Behind

New Orleans is a city that is 67 percent black. It is also a very poor city. The slow, meandering, inept and deadly reaction of the state and federal governments to the unfolding crisis speaks eloquently about this country's relationship with its poor, its black.

It was like watching pictures from Mogadishu, Ethiopia, Niger, Sudan. Black people begging for food. Black kids with distended bellies and eyes bulging from dehydration. Black people living in squalid refugee camps with inadequate sanitation, food, water. I've seen it before. 5,000 miles away. How utterly shameful.

FEMA lied, dissembled, spun what they didn't do. The conservatives didn't say shit about the inept administration response to the disaster, resulting in dying kids and elderly. Again, mostly black ones. When that one brain dead white woman was going to be taken off life support, they almost rewrote the fucking constitution to stop it. All Dennis Hastert could bring himself to do was to say no one should bother rebuilding New Orleans. Oh, and let's repeal the estate tax. The liberals aren't doing shit either really, but they weren't the ones claiming a direct line to God and righteousness for the last decade.

Our president will go down in history as a world class mediocrity. What he lacks any gravitas and leadership ability, he replaces with a clumsy and misguided sense of entitlement. As New Orleans drowned and died, I saw him eating cake. He was supposed to let us eat the goddam cake. Clinton would have been there immediately, comforting with grace and sympathy. Five days after the disaster, W showed up in Biloxi and New Orleans as if he was doing the survivors a favor, saving them. Apparently that involved spewing non sequiturs and kissing or pawing victims excessively. The following exchange from daily kos says it all:

Bush to women: "There's a Salvation Army center that I want to, that I'll tell you where it is, and they'll get you some help. I'm sorry.... They'll help you....."
Woman 1: "I came here looking for clothes..."
Bush: "They'll get you some clothes, at the Salvation Army center..."
Woman 1: "We don't have anything..."
Bush: "I understand.... Do you know where the center is, that I'm talking to you about?"
Guy with shades: "There's no center there, sir, it's a truck."
Bush: "There's trucks?"
Guy: "There's a school, a school about two miles away....."
Bush: "But isn't there a Salvation center down there?"
Guy: "No that's wiped out...."
Bush: "A temporary center? "
Guy: "No sir they've got a truck there, for food."
Bush: "That's what I'm saying, for food and water."
Bush turns to the sister who's been saying how she needs clothes.
Bush to sister: "You need food and water."

You gotta be fucking kidding me.