Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Epidemic

In this alarmist age, we have a bunch of Chicken Littles running around decrying various epidemics. Take obesity for instance. People are freaking out that there a bunch of really fat people who might end up dying because they are really fat. Frankly, I don't see the problem. Their obesity is a reflection of this country's prosperity (believe me, there are about a million refugees who would like to have too much food be a problem). Moreover, it is their choice if they want to eat a bunch of stuff; eaters are well-informed and they have assumed the risk of their behavior. If you want people to stop eating so much, create disincentives for the behavior, e.g., making overweight people pay higher premiums on a sliding scale than people at a normal, healthy weight. Frankly, I get annoyed that my insurance premiums are as high as they are because of (1) avoidable problems caused by fellow insureds (smoking, obesity) and (2) elective procedures covered by the insurance company that should not be covered (accupuncture, fertility treatments -- the couple should bear the full cost, not all of us).

No, there are bigger, more-pressing societal concerns. Such as slow walkers. I hate them. You know who you are. The people who aimlessly wander down the street at a leisurely place. Unable to walk in a straight line, preternaturally finding ways to block the path of us normal/fast walkers.

Moreover, slow-walkers tend to attract each other. Often, they'll walk anywhere from two to four across on narrow sidewalks, yakking about nonsense with each other. Of course, it would be considerate of them to break up into smaller groups, maybe walk two-by-two. Or better yet in a single file line. But, no such forethought from these amblers. They are fucking sociopaths.

Ok, I admit, I walk fast. It's for two reasons. First, I have somewhere to go, and there is absolutely no reason for me to hobble there. I don't care if these slow walkers have no rush to get where they need to get. Why does it have to become my problem. Second, I consider even my short jaunts part of my overall exercise regimen. If you have to walk somewhere, make it meaningful.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dubya: "OG" or It Takes One To Know One

Recently, hip hop artist and celebrated McLaughlin Group contributor 50 Cent offered his political two cents on George Bush, declaring him a "gangsta." Mr. Cent indicated that if it wasn't for his felony criminal record, he would have voted for Bush. Moreover, "I wanna meet George Bush, just shake his hand and tell him how much of me I see in him." Too true. The mush-mouthed rapper and W share a love of choice booty, slanging pharmaceuticals and robbing niggas.

For those of you questioning my claim that Mr. Cent was a McLaughlin Group contributor, I direct your attention to the March 23, 2005 episode. About 18 minutes and 30 seconds into the episode, he said to Eleanor Clift, "Bitch, shut the fuck up" when she was speaking some nonsense about the latest iteration of the House energy bill. Or was that Fred Barnes?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Turkey Day Blogging, Pt. 3

Finally, it's over. Round 2 at my parents' was incredible. No turkey in a Thanksgiving Day twist. Instead, mom made her award-winning lasagna (secret ingredient: cinnamon. It works). I had an enormous chunk of it, with a side of cheesy mashed potatoes, stuffing and salad.

I washed it all down with a few glasses of Goat Du Roam, a good, cheapy South African dry red wine. I am not sure what kind of grape it comes from. Not really a pinot. Maybe a grenache? Look, I sound like I know what I am talking about. Maybe I do. I was once a meber of the wine tasting society at law school. I remember getting drunk at a tasting hosted by Justice Scalia. He seemed really cool. Then again, this girl I woke up with after that same tasting seemed really hot as the wine flowed. And, errr....

Anyway, my stomach wasn't happy with all the hard work today. So, we (read the men, although it was a matter of taste than gendered selectivity) took a pull of Courvoisier. Stomach is happy. And strangley so am I. I love you, man.

I am fatter. I am non the wiser. I ate more probably than some kid in Bangladesh will in a whole week, calorie-wise. Sucks for him. I am going to call it an early night.

Turkey Day Blogging, Pt. 2

Round one was as delicious and filling as I expected. I ate, among other things: turkey, stuffing, potatoes au gratin, baked apple, baked carrots, creamed cauliflower, succotash (not suffering at all), salad and three chocolate-drizzled macaroons. The plate was filled twice. Washed down with a couple of glasses of Tres Ojos, a reasonably-priced Spanish table wine that had been my contribution (and there I was one of only two people drinking it. Suckers, the wine was fine.)

I came home worried. I have to put in a good showing at my parents' house, or else feelings will be hurt. I hit the treadmill again. Three miles uphill, around 600 calories burned. Screwed around with the free weights. A quart of water to cleanse the system.

After the shower, I looked at myself in the mirror. The man looked back at me had aged a lot in the past four hours. I almost didn't recognize him. Who had I become. I had to gut it out.

My stomach gurgled. I can do this.

Turkey Day Blogging, Pt. 1

As I mentioned in a comment on a fellow blogger's site, Thanksgiving is a day of physical abuse for me. Banality Fair is not really a blog about my personal life, but I guess I have to delve into it a bit to explain. The K household has two sets of family here in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. So, Joseph K has to go to two Thanksgiving meals. It is a level of gluttony that, thankfully, most people do not have to endure.

I will be subjecting my body to two types of abuse. To prepare, the benign, healthy kind. Eating two full Thanksgiving meals requires a lot of conditioning and preparation.

My last meal was at 7PM last night. That was it. The last thing consumed with any calories in it was the glass of wine I had last night with my sister who is in town.

This morning, I drank about a quart of water to clear the system and stretch the stomach. Then, on an empty stomach, I got on the treadmill, set it at a 10% incline and started jogging. A little over an hour later, much sweat lost and a 1000 calories burned, I hop off.

A little gurgling in the stomach, which I satiate with another quart of water. I hit the shower, pop out, put on a towel and lie on the bed and meditate for a while. Then, I slip a CD into the bedside cd player. Curtis Mayfield singing "Future Song (Love a Good Woman, Love a Good Man)".

Ok, I am ready now.

First up, Thanksgiving lunch at T's family's house. More later.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Thanksgiving Alternative To Turkey

A holiday treat idea from the Washington Post:

Fried Squirrel

1. Dress squirrel (preferred designers? male squirrels: SeanJohn; female squirrels: bebe)

2. Wash thoroughly.

3. Cut in pieces for servings (Joseph K helpful hint: cut into cubes if you are thinking about serving kebobs)

4. Cover with salt water.

5. Let stand overnight. (or sit, whatever)

6. Drain.

7. If squirrel is not tender, consider sensitivity training. Otherwise, parboil for 10 minutes.

8. Drain.

9. Roll in flour.

10. Fry in vegetable oil until tender. (Damn, how hard is it to get a squirrel to open up and become tender? Isn't there a Sally Fields film or something that might help?)

11. If the squirrel is young, parboiling is unnecessary. The younger squirrels have not yet become hardened and cynical.

12. Make a brown sauce. (Joseph K: yuck! Brown sauce tastes like shoe.)

13. Serve squirrel garnished with lemon slices and parsley.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Another *!%$ing Excuse

Because "it" will cause cancer. I give up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

G-Unit Books

I saw this article on Yahoo today about 50 Cent starting a publishing company, G-Unit Books. Which is great, because hopefully he'll introduce the literary world to some fresh new voices. Frankly, I don't think there are enough authors out there who have been shot, at least those shot more than once. Personally, I'm looking forward to Young Buck's offering; I understand it is a coming of age story about a sensitive, neglected young boy and his pit bull, Choo-choo.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Identity Crisis

So, I had the radio on in the background Friday morning as I was reading the paper when I had a kind of "out-of-body, but not really" experience. I heard myself talking on the radio.

About a book that I had written about vampires. Only I hadn't written a book about vampires. I haven't written a book since I spent a lonely summer in my 12th year writing a noir tale about the most sociopathic spy you'd ever known. I wasn't talking about that though.

And man, was I boring. I was droning on about the vampires who could go out during the day because they were black and their melanin protected them from the sun. An interesting concept, but "I" was managing to sap the interest out of it with my monotonous delivery, peppered with too many "ums."

Speaking of black, apparently, I am a black science female fiction writer named Octavia Butler.

Or at least, s/he sounded just like me. That may be unremarkable if I had a high-pitched, girlish voice. But, I don't. I have a relatively deep voice. And so did Octavia.

I did a Google images search, and two things occured to me. One, Ms. Butler and I -- while we might sound alike -- do not look anything like each other. Second, I spent some time pouring over images, and it is not entirely clear to me whether Ms. Butler is a woman or not. There was considerable debate about the issue in the K household, but no consensus on her actual gender.

In the past few days or so, I have been feeling less and less that I may be Octavia Butler, and more than I might be me. Which may or may not be a good thing.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Dinner Dates

I was reading an essay by Maureen Dowd the other day, What's a Modern Girl to Do?, that described how modern women have taken a disheartening slide toward the 50's-ish version of what a woman is supposed to be (e.g., docile, dumb, dead inside). Though the thesis was compelling, a certain section of it brought back memories. She said that today's dating woman -- no matter what her salary -- will reject a man who doesn't pay for dinner.

For me, paying for dinner, like opening a car door, is such a small issue. Consider this shit:

Your date drones on about the poor quality of the wine list, picks the cheapest one, and pretends to savor it, because he knows something everyone else doesn't. At this point, you think about what it would be like to stick your fork in his eye. He snaps his fingers to call the wait person over, complains about his food, and sends it back three times. Now, you're sure, the kitchen staff has defiled his steak -- and maybe your own for no other reason than that you're associated with him -- in unspeakable, excretory ways. He chews his defiled steak with his mouth open, while talking, and pieces of it end up on your shirt and left cheek. At the end of this delightful meal, he complains about the bill and service, and stiffs the wait person.

This guy is toast. He could be a millionaire, and you'd still dump him. Of course, you could marry him and then kill him and take his money, but you'd have to endure many many dinners like this before you get there, and so it may not be worth it. You'd probably kill yourself in the interim.

Or, perhaps you're at a posh Japanese restaurant, when your date suddenly decides that chopsticks are an Entrance to the Land of Make-Believe. He inserts the chopsticks between his cheeks and gums, and then pretends they are...yes...teeth. He growls at you. He says he is "God-zirra" in a patronizing semblance of a Japanese accent. You slump down in your seat and hope no one is looking. He proceeds to drink a lot of sake. While telling a story -- at loud volume -- about how he mooned someone once, he decides to act out the story. Oh joy. He stands up, turns around and pulls his pants down to just "about there." You shush him and tell him to sit down. He laughs at you and your silly, prissy ways. Then, he excuses himself...to run outside and puke sushi all over the entrance of the restaurant, because he couldn't make it to the curb. You not only pay the bill, you peel him off the sidewalk and drive him home.

Do you sleep with him later?

Please.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Office Scatology

What does an office bathroom say about us as a society?

Absent a sense of ownership over a space, we just piss all over the damn place. I never cease to be amazed at the puddle of piss underneath mens' urinals. I am, frankly, chagrinned. The men's urinal does not require precision peeing. It is a relatively large target. To put it in perspective, imagine the William Tell story involving a pumpkin instead of an apple.

Yet, for some reason, people miss the mark all the time. I don't get it, are they marking the tiles to scare off coyotes or something? People like me are left getting into twister poses to avoid standing in puddles of piss. I hope its just an office thing. I hope there aren't inches thick lakes of urine in mens' home bathrooms across the country.

And apparently there is a chronic pubic hair shedding problem. Maybe its a lack of iron or something, but its like I am walking in a pine forest. Except for pine needles covering the ground, its pubic hair.

Fear strikes when I am hit with an unavoidable need to do "number two" at work. And I live in fear of someone else coming into the bathroom and getting into the stall next to me. Call me crazy, but I find it hard to take a shit when someone is sitting a foot or two away from me, just beyond a metal barrier that is open on the top and bottom.

But, when I shit in a room with other folks there (that is really what it is). I try and be, well, discrete. I try and be courteous to my fellow shitter. Give him the impression that he's alone. If I could hire a string band to make it even more pleasant, I would.

But, other people are not so courteous. For some people, their shit is a cry for attention. They are a bunch of defacating prima donnas. Grunts, groans. It is in public bathrooms that I first learned shitting could be an ordeal. One guy actually pounded the side of the stall the other day, perhaps hoping the shit fairy would push it out. I fled. And later prayed for him.

And if you think it's just men's bathrooms, I heard some stories from my female colleagues that have kept me up a couple of nights.

So what does an office bathroom say about out society? We're full of shit, it's a struggle to deal with it, sometimes we're pissed and don't know how to handle it.

Friday, November 04, 2005

DC Folks On The Royals

Las week there was a great "man on the street" piece in the Washington Post about how some Washingtonians in Southeast D.C. (poor, black) viewed a visit by Prince Charles and Camilla to a charter school. Here are some of the more choice, honest and on point quotes:

  • "Aaron Smith, 38, and his girlfriend, Kelly Dinkins, 21, breezed past the crowd on their way to catch the bus to his Southeast apartment. 'It ain't like he's throwing a big bag of money in the air,' said Smith, a maintenance worker at the World Bank. 'What's so special?'"
  • "Some were pleased just to be in the same Zip code as the royals, if briefly. Others took a measure of the limousines and fancy dinners and pricey couture and said it all added up to a big ho-hum. As Norman Winters, 57, put it when told that the royals would arrive a block from the house he was painting in Southeast: 'I'm going home to take a bath.'"
  • "A fellow worker, Tyrone Burns, 42, his dark shirt spattered with white paint, nodded in agreement and brushed aside any notion that the royal life was something to envy: 'I wouldn't want to be leader of a country. It's hard enough being leader of my house.'"
  • "Michael Blue, 55, a bicycle messenger on his way to deliver a package to the Commerce Department, put on his brakes. 'Camilla, is that her name?' he asked, acknowledging that he preferred wife number one. 'Diana was cool. She had a certain je ne sais quoi , if you will. She was prettier than this one, that's for sure, but I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.'"
  • "George Lewis, 66, who lives on C Street SE, said, 'They don't know me from Adam, and I don't know them.' He then disappeared inside his modest brick house. But curiosity got the best of him. A few minutes later, he came outside, a $3 cigar in his teeth and an instant camera in his hand."
  • "'It gives you a chill to be part of something,' Brent said as the entourage drove past. Chambers shrugged. 'It gives you a chill standing out in this cold air,' she said, folding her arms before heading home."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Bucket

Banality Fair alum Cotton Mather and I decided to go for an afterwork beer. We ended up at this German brew pub place. A chain place, but still, it is a good place to drink beer and rap.

So they had this promotion where they had brewed this seasonal lager. Weiss, veiss, heiss...some sort of " --eiss" beer.

The waitress asked us "So, do you want a half liter or liter?"

Being cheap, we recognized that a larger beer was probably cheaper. "A couple of liters, please."

So she brought the beers. They were in these enormous glasses. Reality set in. A liter of beer is, well, a lot of beer. Somewhere north of a quart. It came in these enormous glass mugs. Large glass mugs, filled with a liter of fluid. They were heavy. Two hands heavy. Glass buckets of beer.

I mean they were big. It was warm at the joint, and I seriously contemplated doffing my suit and going for a dip in my beer. It was cool and refreshing. Inviting. I wondered if there was a difference between swimming in beer and swimming in a pool. What is the consistency of swiming in beer versus swimming in the ocean. I didn't know, but really wanted to find out. And the opportunity presented itself, however awkwardly. Instead of swimming in it, I drank it. It was good.

Something about drinking a bucket full of beer makes you just free to talk about some shit. Not that Cotton and I wouldn't be open to talking about anything. We're buddies. But, the bucket of beer liberated us. I felt free.

We found truth in a bucket of beer. Then, we hopped a subway train home.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

An Affront to the United States of America...

Democrats initiated a closed session of Congress to force an investigation into the truth behind the Iraq War. Apparently this search for the truth is borderline treason; Senator Bill Frist called this quest for answers "an affront to the United States of America...it's wrong."

It is an affront to us. We really don't want to know, do we? Many of us thought it was cool. It wasn't? Shit, it wasn't me. I knew that shit would be fucked up, you know what I'm saying. Knowledge, naw man screw than.

And, what's this, a commission appointed by the president just suggested getting rid of some of my tax deductions? For home mortgage interest? George Bush doesn't care about white people.

Don't blame Banality Fair, we almost endorsed for Michael A. Peroutka. I think God was down with him or something. But, even God couldn't beat Bush. Republicans really had shit on lock down in 2004. Here's hoping for changes in 2006 (pulling for the Dems. Sorry God.).