Thursday, April 24, 2008

Addenda and Further Evidence of Being Doomed

I think I might need to apologize for making light of the papacy.

God seems to have something he (or she) is trying to tell me.

I arrived home filled with the giddy joys of spring, walked Gojira, returned and found myself in dire need of a trip to the bathroom.

I went in, chipper and prepared to do the unmentionable, and was assaulted by the stippled, translucent plastic panel over the light in our lovely suspended ceiling in the bathroom (large, wobbly, and fragile) which decided to run free and tumble out of its moorings onto my head.  It may have been trying to commit suicide after the loss of its companion light transmitting panel several months before our arrival here in this land of milk and honey.  I can't speculate on the motives of inanimate objects.

After rescuing the wayward guardian of the cavity in our bathroom ceiling, I realized: there was no toilet paper.

I, resourceful man that I am, decided to grab a reusable grocery bag and run to the local store.  Arrived there, reached up to grab a few rolls (after an eagle-eyed analysis of price and square footage of paper per roll) and was greeted with a deluge.  The toilet paper is stocked in the case cartons on top of the produce cases, and the entire top box of Four-Mega-Roll packs of Cottonelle came tumbling down onto my head.

As I was gathering myself from the assault of two cartons of toilet paper rolls, I looked over, and an elderly woman who had been likewise pummeled from above, holding a gigantic radish, shrugged her shoulders and said:

"At least they were soft..."


No employee of the store seemed interested in my plight, so in a wonderful deluge of embarrassment I gathered up the four thousand rolls of toilet paper, gently stacked them back in their cartons and put them up on tiptoe back in their aeirie, where they could again survey the land of broccoli and lettuce.

I was the lucky recipient of a corrugated cardboard paper cut on my knuckle for the trouble.

Dashing home, I had some time with Tigger before yoga, in the span of which, our wonderful Gojira laid a trail of urine across the kitchen floor.  He does this while walking, and I dare say that if it had been a straight line, instead of his trademark swaying zigzag it would have been a good twenty-plus feet.

We discovered we were pretty much out of paper towels.

Have Gojira, Will Travel

It’s been a frustrating couple of days.

I lost my Moleskine* notebook yesterday, which is where I write down all the random thoughts that end up keeping me organized and giving me recall of the things which irritated me enough to want to whinge out my irrelevant disdain about them to whatever part of the internet feels like paying attention.  (Wow.  Heck of a run-on sentence there... but, precocious lad that I was, I wrote those at an advanced grade level when I was already quite young.)

I know.  It’s not really a problem, but it bothered me.

So I have nothing that strikes me as being particularly interesting to say anymore. That is based, naturally, on the pompous premise that I had anything interesting to say to start with. (Should that read “…with which to start”?  Possibly, but that’s just a little too awkward, so we’re finishin’ with the danglin' preposition on the end of the sentence, because I’m that much of a rebel, Dottie.)

Tigger and I, as well as Tigger’s parents, are going through the Adirondacks to look for places to make an honest woman out of her, and hopefully not get dragged bodily into the pit of jackals that is the American Wedding Juggernaut.  Apparently one needs to have welcome gifts and party favors.  I hold that if I’m a party to feeding people, and doing grievous damage to their livers, they don’t need a party favor, they just need alka seltzer and possibly some sunglasses, or a blood transfusion.  I am learning to accommodate in these matters.

However, that’s not how it’s done, and I am willing to work with that.

Gojira is coming as well, hopefully not to any kind of ill effect for him or us.  We’re having to bring his crate with us, which is a mammoth affair.

When you read this, or when you get home (oh wonderful hypothetical folkses) do me a favor:

Take out a tape measure and pace out a space somewhere in your house which measures 48 inches long, by 30 inches wide, by 32 inches high (if you aren’t able to pace vertically, just try and imagine it).  Here's what we have... just look for the BIGGEST one they have, and you’ll have an image of what contains all the lolloping, smelly love we are blessed with.

That’s what we have in our kitchen currently.   It makes our rolling, full-size dishwasher look like a twee little breadbox, and while Gojira has a divider to shrink off where he can giddily pee all over his bedding, he still takes up a gargantuan piece of real estate.  Oh, he does still enjoy a good old-fashioned crate-pissing sesh’, but his indulging of that hobby has become markedly less common.**

This wire behemoth is making its way to the Northwoods with us, and we are optimistic that we will have some room to put a toothbrush and perhaps a change of underwear for each of us somewhere in the car.  The other option is that we bung him into the thing for the trip with the seats folded down.  Not sure whether that that would even fit in the Subaru, but I’m seriously considering it.  Perhaps we could strap him, in the crate, to the roofrack?  Would that cause problems with the authorities?  I can only assume that having that much wind in one’s furry face would be the dog equivalent of freebase, nose-wise, but there are no doubt other stodgy folks who would consider it irresponsible.  Fine then.  Rob my dog of a spectacularly intense experience if you’re going to be that way.  Jerks.

We’re getting the wind in our noses, the three of us, and will “see” you all back here in a few days.

*“Moleskine – the only tiny little notebook pretentious enough to think that you need to read it’s history, which we put in every damn one we sell.”  They do, however, have a tremendously easy feel especially when writing with a fountain pen, so if I’m going to roll with pretentious, I… could… go… ALL. THE. WAY.

**Once recently I can’t blame him for, though it was pretty spectacular to come home to: the dog walker had her sister come “slightly later” to take him out (as she had National Guard Reserve training), and she must not have noticed that he had burst a seal in the crate (euphemism for: “peeing all over the plot”), and put him back in after a walk and feeding, to the joys of a soaking wet dog bed.  He responded by attempting to dig through the dog bed to find clean bedding (tearing the zipper and seam) and then nosing up through the top bars of the crate to grab the uncovered cushion for his larger, nicer dog bed, teasing it down to wrap around the foot of the crate, and then tearing off postage-stamp sized pieces of bed cover until there was a snowy wonderland all over him and the kitchen.  He may also have eaten a fair bit of stuffing.  That’s my boy!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Popin' (and Antipopin') Ain't Easy

So, I'm not really religious.

At all, really.

However, New York City has been All Pope All The Time for the past few days, given his Holiness's visit... but there's a newsflash!

I know it seems hard to believe, but Benedict XVI is not the real pope.

("No WAY!!" "WAY.")

I wanted you hypothetical readers to be the first to know, because I care that much. I should say by way of full disclosure that even if I were loyal to the religion of my family history, the Pope still isn't someone who is in close, tight touch with my particular brand of Jesus, but all the same, I felt you should "all" know about this.

The real pope lives in his parents' house in Kansas. I know this is totally for reals because he even has a blog! If there's anything we've learned from the internets (and the periodic pandering of the mainstream media) it's that having a blog is the real sign of being authentic!

He's even been written up in the local newspaper! We all know how being discussed in the local rag is the real sign of meaning in this world, so all hail Michael I!

It's not quite that simple, though.

This guy also says he's the pope, as do the guy in charge of these folks, and Mirko Krav Fabris (Krav I), and Amit Katwala (Errol I), and this guy who actually made an abusive cult out of the whole "I'm the Pope" thing, and someone else who might live next door to you for all I know. These are all super crazy versions of the Traditional Catholics (pre-Vatican II) who are exemplified by Mel Gibson's dad, who believe that current Catholicism is bankrupt.

If you read up a little further, though, you will find that there's a Special Land Beyond Weird called sedevancantism where not only is the current Catholic church heretical, but all the Popes since Pius XII are also heretics, and as such there are no living Cardinals to ordain a non-heretic Pope, and as such a conclave apparently can be called by (in the case of now His Holiness Michael I) six whole people who happen to be formerly Catholic who can name a new Pope.

By the way, I'm the Emperor of Brooklyn.

But totally seriously, you guys: Michael I not only is the Pope, but he's also a real estate agent! Just in case anyone was looking for ranch-land in Colorado, who's more trustworthy than God's representative on earth? He also is proximate to anyone living near his parents' house, where he lives.

I've always been interested in cult life experiences, and this kind of falls into that category to my mind... as such, as a reader of Richard Feynman, I was really excited to find some information on Cargo Cults, which Feynman talks about in some ways in his writings (in terms of "cargo cult science"). Reading about the Cargo Cults (and specifically the John Frum group in Vanuatu) was an interesting analog to my random perusal of crazy cracker popisms... there's a lesson there, though:

at the end of the article in the Smithsonian Magazine, Chief Isaac (the leader of the John Frum group) says when asked "John promised you much cargo more than 60 years ago, and none has come. So why do you keep faith with him? Why do you still believe in him?":

"You Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to return to earth,” he says, “and you haven’t given up hope."

With that, this borderline atheist (who studied Latin for a good bit of high school) says "Quo vadis" and good night.

(No offense intended to any Catholic hypothetical readers, this faithless author doesn't know what to believe and has all the respect for any beliefs you folks might have, but wanted to inject some awareness of how completely transcendently weird some things actually get in the realm of religious faith. It's why I just scratch my head, sleep in on Sundays, and don't know what to make of what any potential G_d wants me to do. Just sayin', really.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

This Post Has Been Slow Cooked in Hot Water in a Plastic Bag in a Vacuum for Tenderness and Pretension

So, here we are again. I’m going to talk about current television, which in the near future will make this post seem about as current and relevant as a briefcase sized cell phone in an ‘80’s movie, but there are things that have to be said. Or not, really, but you can always find something else to keep you entertained while you wait for the dryer to finish running so you can get dressed and go outside.

It would have seemed impossible to me that I would find Top Chef as compelling as I do, but I have to admit that it gets me right in the wheelhouse. Project Runway (I say with a bit more shame) is equally irresistible.

While I care a good deal less about clothes than I do about food, and in fact avoid buying and looking for things to wear as if it might kill me, there’s something almost redemptive about giving people the opportunity to win something based on actual talent. Anyone with half a brain (and it might actually be required that you have exactly that quantity) could manage performing a sack race on a beach, sexual acts on a has been celebrity (yes, I’m looking at Flavor Flav and Bret Michaels), or eating insects, all for a chance at a pile of cash or a giant novelty check.

Ask someone to make a ball-gown out of trash?

How about making hors d’oeuvres from what you find in a snack machine?

Prepare dishes for a lavish banquet with a budget of $200/$300/$500?

These are actually tasks requiring some thought, ability and talent.

While I never would have thought that watching people make and eat food and spout off about it would make for good visual entertainment, it actually does in a strange way, and we both sit here and have intense opinions about it. I would have thought it would have played out more like the experience of watching a slide show (the real kind without clip-art and without sound) of a symphonic concert, but strangely, it works.

I worry that it builds an appreciation for the aspects of food and eating which have little to do with the actual joy of food, and merely makes us respect foolishness involving complicated titles, and preposterous forms of “presentation”, but I am hooked absolutely.

The personal drama, the storylines of mutual loathing and irritability seem to be a fundamental part of Top Chef in a way which they are not on Runway. I don’t know exactly why this is, perhaps people who are all about the schmattes* have a greater sense that taste is always at least a little bit subjective, and if I don’t love what you do… eh, whatever. Competitive, but aggression is definitely of the passive, slightly (very) bitchy type.

In the midst of this ramble, coming to the actual point any minute now.

A lesson in life to take for yourselves is this: If you ever use the phrase “…the [my name] [positive characteristic]…” be assured that you lack that quality thoroughly. Witness Richard Blais on the most recent episode of Top Chef, who had been doing a veritable shuck-and-jibe soft shoe for Tom Colicchio, mentioning in his post-mortem interview that “…I guess the Richard Blais charm just wasn’t working on him…” Talented he may be (although hearing anyone squawk away with obsessive love or negativity about sous-vide’ing things gives me a little bit of a headache, and the thought of pretty much any kind of meat being cooked in a plastic bag in warm water just really doesn’t do the trick for me, in all honesty), but he’s never struck me as being charming in any particular way.

The final thought is this: Spike, how many goddamn stupid looking hats did you bring with you? What the heck is up with that misshapen woven rattan baseball cap? When you go by “Spike”, you’ve pretty much got your gimmick covered. You really don’t need to be The Guy Who Always Wears Ridiculous Haberdashery. I can’t imagine what it must be like to leave your house on a trip, and have to seriously contemplate exactly how many fedoras you need to bring with you to get through a week at the beach. I understand that someone can easily be nudged through their own insecurity to look for an identity in some outward physical manifestation: “I’m the guy who carries a basketball everywhere!” “I’m the guy who wears lots of rings!” “I’m yet another wildly unique emo kid dressed entirely in black!” “I’m the girl who always has her pet rat with her!”**

In this case it just happens to be "I'm the guy who's always wearing a wacky-ass hat!"

These are things we abandon when we grow past a certain age, okay? Even if you’re balding with an ursine ferocity***, it’s still all going to be fine. Put the hat down, and back away.

*Looking at Yiddish phrases, two things struck me as remarkable: first, the number of Yiddish words that have become OED accepted in English use (I never knew that “maven” came from Yiddish, for example), and secondly that “shlimazl” is the second most difficult word, out of the most difficult non-English words to translate. It’s one of those things that you understand, but can’t exactly express in a clean phrase. Oh, also that “schlong” came from Yiddish too… just wanted to keep it clean and classy in here.****

**This last, chilling option is from a real-life example that I can recall from my own tender high school years, and a particular person who was the most metal girl left, in a period where it was no longer such a big thing, and had a rat that rode around in her shirt, and drank out of her mouth when the opportunity presented itself. I thought she had the whole identity thing ankled even without the addition of a rat in the shirt, but to each their own. Wherever she is, I hope things are going well.

***Come to think of it, baldness up top would make the scraggly beard make more sense…

****So, how much would you hypothetical readers love it if I could figure out how to do HTML jumps back and forth to and from the asterisks? SO WOULD I!! I just haven't gotten that high tech yet. Me and my suitcase cellphone will have to place some calls to People In The Know.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Koans (Pretty Much) of a Spring Evening

How big can purses actually get?

Why do women, by wearing Uggs or pointy-toed shoes, seem to want to convince us all that their feet are a completely unnatural size and shape?

Why do cyclists of any sort adhere so slavishly to the exact aesthetic standards of their particular sub-sect?

Why do soccer fans show their devotion with scarves specifically?

How early in a company's existence is the decision made to buy very nice or very cheap pens?

And, now more a Taoist thought:

Describe the smell of concrete or asphalt under a warm rain without referring to memory.

While we're at it, do you remember the particular smell on your palms as a child after running up and squeaking down an old school metal playground slide what seemed like a million times?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Is There Concealed Carry in the Afterlife?

Charlton Heston has passed to the great ape rodeo beyond.

I guess we can take his guns away now.

Does his successor have to do the prying, I wonder?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Another Grab Bag of Assorted Fragments

I will refrain from any large scale reference to the industry of wedding hyping, but reserve the right to return to that subject if it becomes necessary. Fair warning has been given...

That being said, Tigger and I were on the train this morning, and she had some of the glossy bricks of bridal planning periodicals that are de rigeur for the process in which we have gotten ourselves involved. That being the endless logistical complexities of getting a bunch of people (with whom we're already acquainted, so that shouldn't be too hard for the team) to show up somewhere of our choosing, eat food that we provide (again, biological necessity takes care of the "why" they might be feeling), and drink themselves silly (see above), and watch us have a gorgeous, fun day of committing ourselves to a life together.

I know, it seems like it should be easy, right?

It may well just be, but dispatches are still coming from reporters in the field, so the specifics are somewhat hazy.


She's reading through the magazines, and looks over to me...

T: It's funny. All the women in the ads in here just look like they're in a very bad mood. That's like a ten thousand dollar wedding dress.

Me: God, you're right... maybe they really wanted the fifteen thousand dollar dress they tried on right before?

I wonder whether the subtext here is to inculcate the idea that nothing can actually satisfy the discriminating reader, or the waxed and preened bride sample presented. I don't have answers.

I was on the train today, F train to Brooklyn, and a real fixture on the subways came through the car. I remember him from years ago, seeling Street News (the homeless published weekly paper they had as an "opportunity" a while ago,) and later from selling batteries.

He walks through the car, selling real Duracells at a buck a pair. I was always happy to see him, as I was inevitably shelling out significantly more at convenience stores to keep the discman humming at the time. I would stock up, he would say thanks, and announce "I'm a businessman! Double-A, triple-A duracells ONE dollar-one-dollar!" Then he was gone, having announced the time before leaving the train car...

I have for a while now been using an iPod for my mindless distraction on the train, and since then haven't had to buy batteries anymore. I wonder whether the battery guy realizes the reasons behind a fall-off in business, and whether he has a burning hatred for Apple, iPods and rechargeable implements generally. I wouldn't hold it against him, it's a tough road to try and re-engineer a business model...

More to follow tomorrow, specifically about futurists... look for it in this space!

Finally, for anyone out there planning on getting a dog, let me share one vital tidbit:

We all want to believe that our dogs will do what we want because they dote on us, and because our praise is the next best thing to ambrosia of which their fuzzy little heads can conceive. Having now been working with a bare dog larder for a few days, and having fallen into that mistaken belief... AND having just resorted to chopping up a whole pound of cheddar into teeny little cubelets and tried some obedience exercises, let it be known that... a dog with no treats in play is quite a lot like traveling across third world countries without a sack of gifts and/or cash for bribes. You may get through, but you're just making things a lot harder on yourself.

You may think you are getting by on your charm and good looks, but they will run out eventually, and whether it's a guard post on a muddy jungle road in territory held by the Karen People's Army in Burma's back country, or a particularly interesting bird on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, you will eventually be humbled.

Take care of yourselves. You're beautiful. Don't go changing.