Saturday, December 31, 2005

Turning A Corner

Today I turned 31. Or 31 and nine months if your politics or beliefs have you thinking a clump of cells the size of a pea is somehow viable. I like to think of myself as hardcore during my clumpy days. .

Checked the weather. 35 degrees. Perfect. I dragged T out with me for a four mile jog. Cool, damp morning air, which gave me steam-head (short hair, overheated body, cold damp air = steam-head). I was far more sedentary at 21. I am not sure I could have run one mile much less four. The 31 year-old Jospeh K is sleeker, faster and has better lines.

After the run, I toasted myself with an energy drink and a bran muffin. Sexy, that's how we do it in the K Household.

T rolled out to go on an errand and harrassed me for the umpteenth time to shred some of my old documents (stacks of the shit in my basement). She lacks a historian's sense for the value of all primary documents and evidence. Right now, a thoughtful, careful historian researching the life and times of Joseph K would no doubt find my Visa bill from February 1998 very valuable. When my biography is being written, it is obvious my $36 purchase at the GAP that month will be a crucial piece in understading the puzzle of my life.

To understand Joseph K, you need to know about his jeans.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Hooked

The best gift I got this season of excess...an IPOD. What an amazing little device. Aside from the device itself, the nice thing is to delve into the existing music collection to choose what to put on it. I have over 300 CDs, and that barely fills my little flat cube. Right now, I am downloading onto it, and am reliving some amazing experiences and songs.

Playing right now on ITunes: A live version of "Easy" by the Commodores. You are forced to relive some amaizng songs. "Easy" is probably one of the greatest songs of all time. "Why in the world would anyone put chains on me/I've paid my dues to make it/Everyone wants me to be what they want me to be/I'm not happy when I try to fake it/That's why I'm easy/ Easy like Sunday morning." Poetry.

Morcheeba, "Part of the Process." "It's all part of the process/we all love looking down/ All we want is some success/ But it's never around."

Curtis Mayfield, "Kung Fu." Greatest Mayfield song of all time despite the mundane title. "My momma brought me in a ghetto/ There was no mattress for my head/ She couldn't call me Jesus/ I wasn't white enough she said." Deep.

De La Soul, "Three Feet High And Rising." In particular, "Buddy." "Menemeneme/ Say what/Menenenememe/ Say what?/....Ms. Crabtree/ I hope that you're not mad at me/ 'Cause I told you it was your buddy/ That was makin' me ever so horny...." or "Jenifer's Taught Me" "Jenifer oh Jenny/Lost her favorite penny/ So I gave her a dolla/ She kissed me and I holla-ed."

Archie Bell & The Drells, "Tighten Up." "I'm Archie Bell with the Drells/ From Houston Texas/ We can not only sing but we can dance just the same/ This is a song we call Tighten Up/ Here is the sound we Tighten Up to/ First, the drums..." Incredible instrumental follows up.

Man, the sounds can be your friend...

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Big Three

Watched this weekend what are supposed to be the best movies of the season, if not the year. Pithy reviews follow:

1. "Brokeback Mountain" -- Moving, universal, but overwrought. About 15 minutes longer than it had to be. Ledger, I admit grudgingly, was incredible.

2. "Munich" -- Aesthetically pleasing, thoughtful, gripping. About 10 minutes too long. Eric Bana, I admit grudgingly, did a great job.

3. "King Kong" -- Develops slowly, some redeeming portions, overrated, unconvincing (what was all that blather I heard about the moving relationship between the Ape and Natalie Watts? It was contrived. That relationship was, however, more convincing than the relationship between Watts and Heath Ledger (see #1, above)). About 60 minutes too long. Can Jack Black play anyone other than Jack Black?

In sum, studios need to check these directors. These movies were too long in their own ways. That said, not a bad crop flicks. If I had to rank them in order of which movie you should definitely watch, it would be "Munich," "Brokeback Mountain," and then "Cheaper By The Dozen 2."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas At The K Household

Actual conversation from the Joseph K household:

"Should we get a tree?"

"Why should we get a tree?"

"It's nice. Keeping with the season and all."

"Why don't you give the money you are going to spend on a tree to OxFam or something instead?"

"Because knowing them, they won't spend it on a tree. They'll probably buy some medicine or shit like that with it."

"Seriously, I hope you got me one of those books on the list I sent you."

"I won't tell you what I got, but I will tell you I didn't get a goddamn thing off that list."

"Why?"

"Frankly, I think people can actually die of boredom. I don't want to come home one day, with you dead in the study, clutching a copy of some tome on biostatistics. I might as well give you a crack pipe. You'll have a better time killing yourself that way."

"I just want Christmas to be useful and not frivolous."

"What says 'I love Jesus' more than buying people shit they don't need?"

"How about good works? Why don't we spend Christmas morning at a soup kitchen or something?"

"Hell no."

"Why?"

"Because I am sick of dealing with homeless people. Every fucking day, there are these two cats who harrass me for money. I can't walk to the goddamn metro in peace. Not one day. It's like they are trying to shame me into giving. Silly fools don't know I am shameless when it comes to being miserly. No, screw them."

"Yeah, but see that is why we should help them. They need help."

"No, Christmas is about giving. All those dudes do is ask for shit. Until they get with the spirit of the season, I say screw them."

And thus ends this year's "A Very Joseph K Christmas." Happy Holidays, everyone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why I Don't Dance Anymore

A buddy and me were talking yesterday about getting harrassed by significant others about how neither of us want to go out to the club to dance.

Both my buddy and I used to frequent the clubs several years ago. And we did get our respective grooves on when there. And, I wasn't a bad dancer. I think I could get down pretty well. In close quarters anyway.

But, as I get older, I find myself wanting to listen to music. Maybe nod my head. I'll go out to the lounge and listen to some music while rapping about some nonsense. But, I don't feel the desire to move my whole body to some sounds. At least not on a dance floor.

Here's why: unless they are professional dancers, most guys dance to get laid. Before going to the club, the fellas and I didn't talk about how much fun it was going to be to dance that night. We talked about how it would be fresh to dance with some honeys. Take out the honeys, and the fellas and I would just as soon eat glass as go out dancing. Instead, we'd probably watch sports and make fun of each other.

It might seem like we're having fun when we're dancing. But, that smile on our faces is a reflection of our hope that this dancing shit leads to some screwing. I don't know why we smiled everytime, because the success rate was substantially less than 100%.

So when the old lady says, "why don't you feel like going out dancing?" It's because the mission has been accomplished. You'll probably not be shocked to learn that my rationale has been rejected in its entirety. The response I got most recently was, "Bush had more credibility when he declared the Iraq war 'mission accomplished.' Try again." So far, I have managed to avoid having to refight that war...for now.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Good Lord

I just read what I wrote last night, and what a bunch of semi-comprehensible tripe. Yuck. I thought I was being profound, but I came off as confused. My pre-posting consultation with a couple of pints of very strong German WinterBock undermined my effort.

It all started when I thought about what Jesus's birthday party would have been like. Where there was water, there would be wine. Lots of it. Would the disciples roast him? What do you get the divine man who has everything? Then, I analyzed what references there were to birthday parties in the Bible. Then, I peed, because I really, really had to.

The point is that I found nothing in Jesus' teachings that called for the commercial orgy that is modern day Christmas. Our current celebration of Christmas seems to benefit businesses and religious institutions.

At the end of the day, I wonder this: should we sweat Jesus as much as we do? Is Christianity about faith or about good works? Or put differently, is faith over-emphasized to the exclusion of focusing on the substance of Jesus' teachings? The celebration of Christmas these days is really a hybrid of faith-based worship and consumerism. That just does not seem right to me. I keep thinking JEsus would be left wondering what the hubub was all about?

"You love me so much, you went to Radio Shack on my birthday and bought your kid a remote control car? No, no, you've got it all wrong..."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The War On Christmas

I have been following the supposed "defense of Christmas" with some amusement. The attempt to politicize the meaning of Christmas has been both crass and disillusioning. And yet, illuminating.

I reviewed the Bible recently looking for evidence that what we celebrate at "Christmas" the right way. You know, the tree, stockings, gifts. Nothing. I see no evidence that Christ wanted us to develop this cult of personality, where we show our devotion by worshiping a tree and giving those that have, more. As far as I can tell, it is some pseudo-pagan North European nonsense. I cannot find one passage in the Bible -- even the New Testament, which many claim to be inaccurate in some ways -- where Jesus celebrated his birthday the way we do. No special wine on his birthday. Just another day trying to explain the truth.

Can you find some other stuff in there making the way we celebrate Christmas meaningful? Or to distinguish Christ's birthday from any other Judeo-Christian holidays? If Christ's righteousness and humility is itself a lesson, how have we done in understanding it? Where is there room for non-humanist, empty symbolism?

So is reducing the period of time when Jesus was born to a period of time to talk about Santa Claus and gifts to the maybe not-so-needy what it is about? If no, why should the sematics of "Happy Holidays" versus "Happy Christmas" matter?

Have we understood the point? Happy Holidays or Christmas as you figure that out.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Greatest

The greatest comedian of all time died today: Richard Pryor. I have listened to -- many, many times -- all of his concert albums. I was racking my mind to think up my favorite Pryor "joke." But, he wasn't a jokester as much as he was a master story-teller.

Comedians today mostly tell one-liners or do that mundance observational humor. Or nihilist, shock-shit. Like the nonsense in that new Sarah Silverman movie I refuse to watch; "Look I made fun of everyone and I'm cute...hee-hee." I happened to catch Chris Rock's latest HBO special last night, and it was basically an unnecessarily preachy sermon that you might hear at an African-American church on any given Sunday. If the minister said "fuck" alot, anyway.

Pryor was different in that he told absurd, painfully, honest, unbelievable stories, which rarely if ever had a punchline or a point, but had me rolling along the way. What I loved especially about his stories is how he personified everything. His dog, his dick, whatever, it all came alive to give the listen this tiered, fully-realized story. It is an art that is dying now. Think about it, how many of your friends can tell a good story? Or try and remember the last time you hung out, and the person just told a story about some shit. And didn't talk about their job, their wife, their family, their fucked-up shit.

Oh, here's one of favorite Richard Pryor "punch lines." It comes at the end of this long story about these two guys who are travelling cross-country. And both of them claim to have the biggest dick in the country. So, they stop at the Golden Gate Bridge and decide to take a piss. So, they whip them out.

One of the guys turns to the other and says, "Man, this water is cold."

"Yeah," the other guy says. "And it's deep, too."

Like all his stories in some way or another.

Rest-In-Peace, brother.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Point

T and I went to dinner tonight, as we do regularly. The discussion turned towards a common gripe we have.

At work, all of us are confronted with issues. They all have to be dealt with. But, there are many people who pontificate endlessly. You know these people. The folks who like to talk and explain everything in minute, excruciating detail. They explain things that don't need explaining, to show they understand everything.

Not so bad you say. Maybe, but if you work in a high volume, high pressure job, the extraneous blabbering amounts to one thing: it's nonsense. And, I am a non-nonsense kind of person. In my mind, there is a process of dealing with stuff. What is the issue? What are the ways with dealing with the issue? What makes the most sense? How do we implement the solution? Implement it.

The issue is how long it takes to get from point A to point E. Frankly, not as long as it usually does. While -- in the abstract -- I am a fan of decentralized decision-making, it can lead to obvious inefficiencies. Decentralized decision-making generally involves a flat pyramid structure way of dealing with issues. You empower everyone to alow them to contribute to problem-solving. The upside is that people are freed to offer suggestions that may otherwise have not been expressed. The downside is that it creates an environment for nonsense-proliferation. What is gained by some blowhard blathering on about an obvious -- or worse wrong -- point? Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

The issue is whether the tacit, normally-supressed knowledge is valuable enough to outwiegh the inefficiencies of such an approach. Does everyone have something to contribute?

I don't know. I just know that, at times, I find myself annoyed with having to "herd cats" while deflecting nonsense.

Makes for a lot slower trek to the point and beyond.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Evolution

I've done my bit of complaining about The Squirrel Menace, as they gather together every autumn to piss and shit into my morning coffee. And Joseph K recently provided a recipe for fried squirrels. I appreciate that recipe, because it requires dead squirrels for preparation. However, once dead, I'd be satisfied with that. No need to crown them with the additional title of "dinner." But this latest news out of Russia chilled me to the bone: Russian Squirrel Pack Kills Dog. Just as the title suggests, a group of squirrels decided they had endured enough of a stray dog's barking, jumped it and killed it, "taking pieces of their kill away with them."

I'm still shuddering.

A few days ago, I found a mouse swimming (breaststroke) around in a bag of trail mix in my kitchen. Disgusted, I immediately set out several traps. Now, the modern mouse slayer knows that you can't just put a piece of cheese on the trigger like you could in the old days. Mice have developed some known but as-yet unobserved method of removing the cheese without springing the trap. Everyone swears that peanut butter will do the trick. But how disconcerted was I to find the trigger licked clean of peanut butter 4 mornings in a row, trap unsprung? How did he do it? Determined, I jammed a peanut into a hole in the center of the trigger. No way would the mouse be able to take the peanut without springing the trap. Wrong again. An empty trap awaited me in the morning. When I picked it up, it snapped and almost took off my finger.

All of this leads me to conclude that the animals are evolving. Rapidly. Pretty soon, they'll be speaking French and using opposable thumbs to grab canapes off platters at cocktail parties. They'll dance the Tango, wear our socks, and eat our Wheaties with spoons. They'll gossip by water coolers and take our jobs. If squirrels are turning into murderous carnivores, and humans can't outsmart mice, it's only a matter of time. They must be stopped.