Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Amelie's Chocolate Diary About Singles Actually

On Friday's post I mentioned that I'd be going to see the film The Aristocrats. Most people, having never heard of the film, mistakenly thought I was going to see the Walt Disney film of a similar title and far fewer expletives. No, no - you're thinking CATS, people.... The AristoCATS. Completely different film... and probably a more enjoyable one. Why? Because The AristocRats was simply woeful. The idea certainly had promise - a documentary in which all of today's most prominent stand up comedians ponder, prod, philosophize, reinvent and tell what is widely considered to be the most vulgar joke ever told - which it is. It also happens to suck, which completely ruins the film. I won't go into details (not because I don't want to give anything away, but because it really isn't worth writing about) but at the end of it my friend Andrew and I, both somewhat drained, looked at each other and said, "Oh my God", and not in a good way. There really wasn't much more to be said. So, if it was on your list of films to see, don't bother. It will use up 86 minutes of your life that you won't get back.

I mention all of this only as a public service really, and because it also provides a nice segue to my next thought which has to do with romantic comedies. How do I make the leap between the two? Elementary, my dear reader. Just climb into my warped little mind.

The following Sunday after seeing the film, I was hanging out with Andrew (again), and another friend Wynne who, upon hearing that Andrew and I had seen The Aristocrats, attempted to hand us both a guilt trip for not inviting her along. Apologetic but relatively unfazed, we continued talking about films for a little bit and she asked us if we knew of any good "bad romantic comedies" to recommend for an upcoming movie night she was going to have with a friend of hers. Andrew was able to rattle off a few good ones, but when the focus turned to me, I had a tough time thinking of any - despite the fact that I had just watched a romantic comedy only a week before. The first legitimate one I suggested was Love Actually, which I also mentioned I thought was terrible (Andrew and Wynne, in unison, stomped their feet and said, "Oh I LOVE that movie!") But after that, I kept hemming and hawing and coming up with films that didn't fall under the genre (such as Waking Ned Devine...... I mean, really.) After a bit, Wynne exclaimed, "I would be SHOCKED if there were any out there that you liked."

Well m'am, all I can say is prepare to be shocked. Although I couldn't give her an answer at the time, I knew there were at least some romantic comedies that I enjoyed... just... not.. enough to... um.. remember the titles. Still, it bothered me enough that the following day I looked at my Netflix rental history and weeded out all the romantic comedies and my ratings for them. No - it's not my favorite genre certainly, but I was surprised to see how many of them I actually enjoyed. Here's a list of some of them, provided with a small synopsis for those unfamiliar, and my personal rating (1 to 5 stars.)

Chocolat - The film I mentioned seeing a week ago and forgot about. Juliette Binoche plays some gypsy blooded chocolate maker who happens upon a lovely but stifling conservative French town and slowly turns it lovey-dovey through chocolate, chili peppers, and just a touch of magic. Johnny Depp shows up about halfway through playing an innocent, yet oh so misunderstood river rat who slowly but surely learns to shed his cynicism and allows himself to get caught up in the chocolate love. Uh-huh-hummmm...... I actually really liked this film. Some strong performances by both the lead and supporting casts, and a decent storyline. 4 stars.

Love Actually - I told my friends, too hastily, that I thought this film was terrible. Actually, I was wrong. I just didn't remember much about it other than Hugh Grant was a lead role, and he's annoying. There are about seven different stories going on here, all of them intertwined, and none of which I can remember well enough to repeat. Still, once my memory was refreshed I remember thinking it was pretty OK, as they say. Funny British accents all around, too. 3 stars.

High Fidelity - I actually mentioned this on Sunday and was told it wasn't really a romantic comedy. Huh? John Cusack going through his past relationships and trying to get back together with his most recent girlfriend, while running a record store and living a life revolved around music. Jack Black plays a stellar supporting role, as does that other guy who's neurotic and likes the band Belle & Sebastian. I normally don't relate at all to the characters in romantic comedies, but I felt a certain kinship with Cusack's character. I don't own a record store. I've never been engaged. Hell, I don't even collect vinyl. But, the film captured some of my previous relationships to a T. Laughs abound. Extra credit for hooking up with Denise from The Cosby Show. 4 stars

Emma - Gwyneth Paltrow plays some Victorian era chick who likes to hook all her friends up with various horny Victorian era guys, but remains oblivious to all the Victorian era guys who want to hook up with her because she's the catch of the county. A little pretentious (originally a Jane Austen novel, so that's to be expected) and Paltrow is cute, but overdoes it a little bit. Still - fairly entertaining. 3 stars.

Singles - I'm not even sure this is a romantic comedy, but man was this THE film when I was in high school. Kickass soundtrack. A cast full of grunge wanna-be degenerates just living life and we get to watch. Not much of a plot as I remember, but the music elevated it to "great flick" status and made up for any deficiencies, such as Matt Dillon. 4 stars

Amelie - I'm not sure why I liked this film so much. It was French, for one, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I remember this film as being pretentiously so. Anyway, it is the story of this ridiculously naive woman with a childish, carefree approach to life who is hopelessly in love with a man who doesn't know it. Somehow she manages to make it all work. Very slick editing and effects, and the story, while sappy, is both funny and endearing. 4 stars

Psycho - Not a comedy, but the dynamic between Norman and his mother is unlike any other mother/son relationship captured on film before or since. Heartfelt, touching, and full of laughter and love. A must see.... really. 5 stars.

Miss Congeniality - I love Sandra Bullock. I mean, what's not to like? She's hot. She's down to Earth. She's genuine. She has great on-screen presence. But this film sucked out loud. Bullock plays an ugly, unkempt FBI agent trying to track down a killer by going undercover and infiltrating... a beauty pageant. HA!!! The possibilities for comedy are endless, right? Wrong. Avoid it. Bullock is the only redeeming quality. 2 stars. (**They recently made a sequel to this film, which I'll never understand, and I heard it was even worse than the first. Sandra, right your career! Please!**)

Bridget Jones's Diary
- I don't know a single woman who disliked this film. Seriously. They all adore it. When asked why, they usually refer to Rene Zellweger (portraying Jones) as everywoman, she nails what it's like to be single in a major city, she's imperfect yet lovable, blah blah, blah. In my opinion, she's also boring. Does anyone remember the plot? Could you help me out? In it's defense, I remember laughing out loud quite a few times, but I can't remember why. Oh, and funny British accents once again. 3 stars.

I've been a Netflix subscriber since 2001, so there were definitely a few more films in the list but this is a decent sampling. Now, are any of these "good bad romantic comedies?" I'm afraid I can't really answer that. I'm not familiar enough with the genre to give a qualified response. I guess I'll just have to rent a few more to achieve connoisseur status. I've got Groundhog Day coming somewhere down the line - right after Raging Bull and before Dolemite. So yeah, I'll stay open minded. And who knows? I might even make mention a few of them in this space. Just bear with me as I try to grasp an appreciation for the finer points of the genre.... and don't ask me about musicals. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Caffeine Please

Good Friday, everyone! Actually that sounds really bad....

It's a beautiful day here in Boston and it looks as if this glorious weather will continue throughout the weekend - a weekend which could not have come at a better time. It's been a particularly harrowing week here at Papa Yoshihiro's School of Engrish. A new batch of cherubs flew in on Tuesday, all looking rather tired and shell-shocked.. but not so much that they're leaving me alone. Ah yes, the familiar refrain beckons across the campus once again.

"Ah.. excusa meeeeeee. I wanto help witha my computa. Can you fix?"

Why of course, m'lady. Just leave your Windows 95 Hello Kitty Edition PC with me, and I'll make sure to clean out all the nasty bugs and viruses.

"Ah... thanka yooooou." *bows about five times*

Honestly, four months without students and I've forgotten what it's like to have them around. Now, I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off now that they're finally here. It's all about the preparation (which I didn't do) and the pile of extra work that gets dumped on you when other people aren't around (which of course happened.)

So the plans for this weekend? Take it easy and enjoy the weather.... Tonight, I'm off to see The Aristocrats. Tomorrow, I'll probably stroll down Newbury St. and hit some record shops. Sunday... God knows. I'll read or something... Anything that doesn't require a whole lot of exertion on my part... starting with this post. It's late on Friday afternoon, and most of my coworkers have left. I, however, feel it necessary to connect with all of you - so I've got this halfhearted written post AND.... a couple of links to keep you occupied over the weekend. Without further ado....

Spiders On Drugs - Think excess caffeine isn't bad for you? Think again. Alright - admittedly, this proves nothing. We aren't spiders after all. But it's interesting nonetheless... Oh, and look at that mescaline web!! I might have to take up a new addiction.

Flying Spaghetti Monster - There's all this uproar about the state of Kansas teaching creationism along with/as opposed to evolution in their schools. I don't have an opinion one way or another (actually I do, but I ain't sharing - see this post for more details.) I do like the idea that our universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti monster though and this is one man's attempt to make sure that theory is not left behind.

I have no idea what this is, but it looks pretty interesting. All I know is that it involves Beloit College and it has something to do with the freshman class mindset. A friend of mine (the same guy who gave me an IQ test) sent it to me when I was really busy at work. I took a quick glance and tried to remind myself to look at it when I was less busy. I didn't succeed, but there's always the weekend. Apparently it makes one feel old, too. Clicker beware.

The Casino - A neat little point and click game with bad music.

Now THIS is cool. A collection of virtually every Bazooka Joe comic ever published. Remember when you could collect them and send away for binoculars and other cool items that always broke? Yeah, me too. Spent all my savings on those damn things (well... those and Garbage Pail Kids.) Come along and reminisce, won't you? I can't believe I just wrote that.....

Scroller - Your mouse controls the dot. Don't touch the walls or the edges. Jazzy soundtrack. I'm having a tough time with level 3.

Mythbusters Quiz - For those of you who like to debunk old wives tales and outrageous claims from stupid people. Test your knowledge.

Alright - I'm off. Have a great weekend folks. If I can find a working computer and it's not too much trouble for me to lift a finger, maybe I'll check in at some point. In the meantime, I'll catch you on the uh.... the uh.... whatever.... the next day I post. Toodles.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hi Ho The Derry-O

The eyes have cleared. The drops have done their thing and gone away (I hope.) Yeah, that's right - I'm back AND in full effect. Just like Kris Kross. Jump! Jump! Daddy Mac will make ya....

Oh, who am I kidding? Kris Kross is not back and in full effect, and neither am I. Three quarters effect would be more like it. My computer is acting up to the point where I (a guy who fixes computers for a living) can do nothing about it. It's nothing huge, but it is annoying. Among the symptoms are random shut off's, inexplicable error messages, and an inability to correctly render certain web pages involving complex flash. Basically, it's old as hell (This thing was made when Christ wore knickers!) and therefore suh-lowwwwwwwwww.. It really isn't good for much other than surfing and the occasional Word document - and even that's pressing it.

Lately it's gotten even worse, and I've been doing all my blogging (or lack thereof), MP3 ripping & burning, writing, etc.. on my work machine. This poses a few problems. It's highly irritating to have to stay late to do all this stuff (because I would NEVER perform extracurricular duties during work hours, nosiree.) It is also pretty unprofessional to have more .mp3 files than Excel spreadsheets on your work computers hard drive. WAY more. I shudder to think what would happen if the higher ups found out.... er, actually, I don't shudder - at all - but the fact remains.. certain activities should be done outside the workplace.

So for the past couple of days I've been doing some online shopping in addition to whatever else I try to do to skirt work. I should mention that I am SUPERB at wasting money, but the purchasing of big ticket items has always made my hair stand on end. The thought of spending a whole chunk of money at once is just... I don't know... the words 'scary as shit' come to mind. I would much rather waste my money in small amounts over time. Why make a lunch when you can go out and buy one? One more CD to the collection? Whatever - it's only $12 bucks. I mean yeah, you could say "This stuff all adds up", but only if you're willing and smart enough to do the math. I'm not - which is one reason why I'm reading Personal Finance for Dummies. I haven't finished it yet though, so the bad habit remains. In fact, my last two big ticket purchases (my beloved Flo - that's the name of my car, not a mail order bride, people - and my as yet unnamed high definition television set) were all made when the sellers in question were offering "0% financing for the life of the loan" deals. So, I could spend small(er) amounts over time, pay no interest, and still end up with the goods. Yay me.

As luck would have it, Dell Computer is offering one such deal through their website. If you're a well qualified customer, you can get 0% financing until January of 2007 on purchases made through their online store. Perfect. That solves my problem. Dell makes a very good machine and I can make the purchase secure in the knowledge that I'll be buying something reliable and that will hopefully last me a long time. It will also get my annoying Mac using friends off my back (Seriously, have you ever known anyone as overzealous as a hard core Apple computer user? They're downright scary at times. OK - the machines are better. Now leave me alone.)

I spent the better part of two days researching machines, comparing prices, and determining what I'll need. After all was said and done I had customized a machine that came to about $1,700 dollars. Yikes. But soft! With zero percent financing that's only about $114 a month, right? That's doable...... maybe. Before I could make the purchase, I had to apply for the financing. I filled out the online application, answered four or five questions so they could verify my identity and got............ a mixed response. It seems Dell Computer is only too happy to give me a nice hefty line of credit, but they won't qualify me for the 0% financing promotion. What? You don't like the fact that I pay off my bills by the required time thereby depriving you of ridiculous finance fees? Does your definition of "well-qualified customer" mean someone stupid enough to pay interest charges? Fine, then consider this a well-qualified snub.

So, I balked. What did I tell you about big ticket items? Freakshow. $1,700 all at once? I'll keep studying up on finance, thanks. I'll get the computer eventually, but I won't be using Dell's line of credit. Nope, I'm going to have to do this the old fashioned way and save up. *sigh* How very mundane. This, my friends, could very well require a paper route. In the meantime, I'll burn the midnight oil here at work, make them think I'm actually doing some unpaid overtime and, who knows, maybe get a raise.

Oh, wait. We don't get raises here at work. Well - paper route it is.

P.S. Is nothing immune to spam anymore? Check out the comment posted in the post below this. Just ridiculous. Spammers suck. Especially that one. I'd like to take a hedge clipper and turn him into half the man Lance Armstrong is.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I gotta War Shades

You remember whenb I wrote a couple weeks back about making an appointment with an eye docotr due to some small vision problem? Well - today was yhe day., The good news us my vision is avtually not all that bad. Due to astigmatism, I have 20/40 vision in one yey anf 20/30 vision in the other. I'm alsi 20/25 when reading. The doctor gave me a prescription for glasses and told me I could get them if I want, but that I shouldnt feel as if Ineed to. I then asked her about contacts and she said I wasn't even a good candidtare for them. She told me to gert the glassres first andf then see how much I wore them, if at all - then worry about contct lenses. So hurrah for less than perfect, but still decent vision.

The bad news is they flooded my eyes with about four of five different types of drops... My pupls are nopw the size of quarters and evetyhing is blurry as hell. I'm sitting in my living room, with the shades drawn and the lights and wearing sunglasses. In short, I'm blind as a bat,,,, so unfortunatre4ly, there will be no lengty post today. I cant see what I'm typing, and I don't trust myself to throw s adecent linki up. Perhaps tomorrow, once the drops wear off I'll be nore eloquent. In the meantime however, I'm odd to to my best Corey HArt impersonation. Have a good weeked everyonie.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Slackin' Jack

This is what happens when you do a Google search for the words "Sorry for the lack of posts." See that? About 13,400 responses. I figure I'll let Google do the talking for me on this one. So... what, you are probably wondering, is the deal?

Honestly, I don't know. I'm slammin' busy at work which has a lot to do with it. When you work as much as I have been lately, you tend to focus only on the things you have to do... which are hardly blog worthy discussions, I assure you - unless you like to talk about the intricacies of mail server backups and antiquated antivirus software. I for one don't, which makes my choice of profession all the more surprising. Maybe I could change careers so I'd have more stuff to write about? Anyone know of a place that wants to hire a tech savvy music freak that knows how to breakdance? Didn't think so......... Oh wait, I know! I could be the guy who comes up with the questions for Trivial Pursuit! Think there's any money in that? Can you imagine what this blog would be like? Each new post would consist of only a question. The first person to answer correctly would win a free game, as well as remain forever in my good graces.

Q: What is the product of the ten thousandths digit of pi multiplied by the number of times Ty Cobb won the American League batting title?


Nah, wouldn't work. I think the money in such an occupation would be just enough to buy a bed at a shelter. Alas, I'm stuck with my current incarnation as computer support guru. There IS all sorts of gossip going on at work that I could write about.... but dammit, my coworkers are probably reading this post at this very moment. It would suck if I pissed off the wrong person. Screw you, slackers. Get back to work. Chop Chop! You folks are the reason I'm overworked and need to find new employment. Oh, you disagree, do you? How many other companies do you know of where the IT guy covers the reception desk at lunch while fielding such questions as, "Can you help me fix my typewriter?" 'Nuff said.

But I'm not bitter or anything. No, you know what? A steady job is a steady job. I know what it's like not to have one, and so I'm grateful.... even if it does leave me without anything to write about and resentful of my coworkers. And when it comes down to it, do you know of any IT guys who aren't pissed off and curmudgeonly? Of course you don't. See? I'm only playing an understated yet vital role in our nations sociological identity (and economy.... because I get paid so little, you see.)

So gripe not, loyal readers, that there have been fewer posts to read in recent weeks. Gripe not further that the posts that are available usually offer some sort of apology for there being a lack of posts. For you see, I am merely fulfilling my duty to the scratchy wool fabric of American society..... and my muse has seen fit to vacation. Keep hope alive, brothers and sisters. I'll be back with interesting reads and tidbits as soon as the inspiration strikes. Who knows? After this post, it might happen once I get fired. Later.

P.S. The answer to the trivia question is 60. And they say ny depth of knowledge is too obscure.... The hell do they know?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Analogize This

Good evening, los guapos.

It's five minutes 'til 6:00 on Friday, and I am still working like a water buffalo. Over the past two days I've had two computers die completely (one of them belonging to the president of the school) and a third start to make screeching noises indicating that it is not to be outdone. If I weren't such a "cool under fire" kind of...... wait a minute. Did I just write "working like a water buffalo?" I did, didn't I? Good Lord - what a terrible analogy, BUT wouldn't you know it gave me a grrr-EAT idea. Here's the deal. I don't want to stay here much longer, but I also don't want to leave you without a Friday post and I won't be able to write one later tonight. So instead, I'm going to copy and paste one of the funnier emails I've received in the last two years and let that serve in place of whatever creative wisdom I'm currently lacking. And of course, it's a list of terribly written analogies. Apologies if you've seen this before, but it's always good for a chuckle. Have a great weekend folks. I'll talk to you a little bit later on.

The sun rose over the horizon like a great big radioactive baby's head with a bad sunburn, but then again it might just have been that Lisa was always cranky this early in the morning.

Jane was toast, and not the light buttery kind, nay, she was the kind that's been charred and blackened in the bottom of the toaster and has to be thrown a away because no matter how much of the burnt part you scrape off with a knife, there's always more blackened toast beneath, the kind that not even starving birds in winter will eat, that kind of toast.

Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

As Fiona slowly drew the heavy velvet curtain aside, her eyes smoldered black, deep, and dark as inside the lungs of a coal miner, although it would be black in anyone's lungs if you could get in there because there wouldn't be any light, even in the pink ones of people who don't smoke.

Having O.J. try on the bloody glove was a stroke of genius unseen since the debut of Goober on "Mayberry R.F.D".

Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it.

A branch fell from the tree like a trunk falling off an elephant.

He was as bald as one of the Three Stooges, either Curly or Larry, you know, the one who goes "woo woo woo".

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and "Jeopardy" comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30.

Her pants fit her like a glove, well, maybe more like a mitten, actually.

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.

Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

Just like (or as) a bicycle rider lifts his butt from the seat when he sees a bump coming, so Bob pulled back, emotionally, when Alice got angry.

She danced with the grace and elegance of a pregnant cow.

The painting was very Escher-like, as if Escher had painted an exact copy of an Escher painting.

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

After sending in my entries for the Style Invitational, I feel relieved and apprehensive, like a little boy who has just wet his bed.

Her date was pleasant enough, but she knew that if her life was a movie this guy would be buried in the credits as something like "Second Tall Man."

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

The moon looked like a discarded toenail clipping submersed in a puddle of saliva on a black formica countertop.

She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.

The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can.

We are all like those little pink and blue plastic people in the game of Life.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

He felt like he was being hunted down like a dog, in a place that hunts dogs, I suppose.

The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.

She was sending me more mixed signals than a dyslexic third-base coach.

She felt used and unwanted, like the two chocolate halves of an Oreo cookie after someone has already licked the cream out of them.

My underwear stuck to my backside like an All-Pro cornerback to a rookie wide receiver as I browsed through the seed catalog that had mistakenly found its way into my mailbox.

Chicken: it's like a cow, but different.

The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object.

His fountain pen was so expensive it looked as if someone had grabbed the pope, turned him upside down and started writing with the tip of his big pointy hat.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Apolitical Blues

You might not know it, but occasionally I have difficulty coming up with things to post in this space. Yes, I get writers block like everyone else. I'm also very easily distracted. These sentences are a perfect example, actually. I'm guessing they took you, oh... ten seconds to read, tops. Unfortunately for me, they took almost ten minutes to write. No joke. Since I started writing this post I've gone downstairs to switch my clothes from the washer to the dryer; I've been distracted by both the BBC World News and the Red Sox Pregame report; I've gone outside to shake my fist at the Miguel Frosty ice cream truck which does nothing but repeatedly play the My First Sony version of 'It's A Small World' - complete with 'boing', 'screech', and 'toot toot' accompaniment; I've gone over to the freezer to open it up and contemplate what frozen delicacy I'm going to heat up and have for dinner (Trader Joe's Chicken Chow Mein stir fry, by the way); and lastly, I threw the kettle on to make some tea - to increase my metabolism, of course.

During all of this I tried, rather halfheartedly, to think of something to post. I didn't really succeed, although I did remember to answer one question. I was asked by a friend why there are no politically oriented posts on this site. I mean, like, everyone else is doing it (The vast majority of blogs out there are political. I forget the actual statistic but it's something ridiculous like 65%, I think. Of course, I could be completely wrong.) Short answer? Politics bore me. Long answer? Well it's a bit more complicated.

My politics are nobody else's business, and I mean that two ways. First, I choose not to express my political beliefs because I think too many of us (myself included) unfairly judge others because of them. We all have certain characteristics we apply to the words "liberal", "conservative", "Democrat", and "Republican" If I simply identify as one of those without saying anything else about myself, I've already been judged by half of the people reading this. I try pretty hard not to praise or fault people because of their political leanings. Ideally, I'd like people to do the same with me. Unfortunately, the only surefire way I know to accomplish that is to keep my mouth shut. Which leads to my second point.

I DESPISE sales pitches.. of any sort. Ugh... I just loathe them. It's really a character flaw more than anything, I suppose. I'm cynical enough where I think most sales people have their own best interests at heart, and the only reason they're speaking to me at all is to bilk me for the sales commission. Alright - maybe that's a bit harsh. I should probably take some of it back as it was a poor generalization. Besides, my brother is in sales and I don't want him to kick my ass. Anyway, right or wrong, I view political discourse as someone simply making a sales pitch - the product being a particular political belief, and the commission being boosted pride and the satisfaction of knowing you've converted someone to your way of thought. Trouble is, it never works that way. When was the last time you saw two people with opposing political viewpoints get into a debate where there was a clear victor? It's rare. Politics are a point of pride for most people and as such, they hold on to their beliefs VERY tightly. When engaged in a debate and faced with an irrefutable argument, most people fall back on the old standby's, "Well, I still think....", or better yet, "Just because..." Hardly ever does anyone actually concede defeat. To do so would be to suffer too much humiliation and loss of face - assuming of course your opponent was good enough at debate. I'm not, but even if I were I wouldn't be convincing anyone of anything by posting my political viewpoints here. At most, I'd get applause from the people who agreed with me, nasty comments from those opposed, and yawns from the rest.

And besides, what purpose would it serve? To affect social change? I prefer to vote, thanks, and maybe write a letter to my congressman if I'm feeling really fervent. To inform an otherwise ignorant public? Sorry, I'm not objective enough. True, the idea of pure objectivity in any sort of journalistic endeavor (and despite the warm and fuzzy trend this blog, at least, is NOT nouveau journalism) is ludicrous, but there are some outlets that do it better than others. This isn't one of them. If anyone decided to get their information from me, they'd be doing themselves a disservice. In fact, they wouldn't be getting information at all, they'd be getting a biased opinion. Call me naive, but I'd like to think those that care enough would know how to go about keeping themselves well informed, and then base their political views on that information.

There are other points, but I'm hungry and I still need to cook the Chicken Chow Mein. It has also just occurred to me that in explaining why I don't publish political posts, I've probably just published a political post. Grrrrrr... curse the irony. I am, however, proud of myself for accomplishing at least one thing. I was able to come up with a blog post where previously there was none. Will anyone even read it? I don't know... I might have to make a sales pitch.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Doctor's Orders

Went to the doctor last Friday. Not a big deal - just a routine physical......

Alright, so maybe it actually was a big deal. Friday marked the first time I'd been to see a doctor in two years. Before that, it had been at least ten (with the exception of an emergency room visit when I severely sprained my ankle whilst jumping over an airborne vacuum cleaner cord at work... long story.) Two visits in twelve years.... so yeah, I suppose each visit becomes a little more important when you look at it that way.

This lack of checkups might make one think I'm afraid to pay a visit to the local shaman. Far from it, actually. So, why the hesitancy? Well, I'm a healthy lad. I was always told yearly physicals were unnecessary for healthy people in their teens and twenties. But really, I'm spoiled... and I already know what the doctor's going to say anyway.

Including myself, my immediate family totals six. Of those, there are two nurses and a doctor. So you might say I've hit paydirt when it comes to free medical advice. Slight twinge in the back? Ask my sister. Chest pains? Talk to the other sister. Violently ill and unable to keep food down? Emergency room. You certainly aren't going to convince my mother anything is wrong. (Note: This is my own fault. Throughout childhood, I tried everything to stay home from school - ipecac, finger down throat, thermometer to lightbulb (which gives a reading of 172 degrees, by the way), whatever... she was on to all of it. I even had to go to school a few times while legitimately sick because I had cried wolf so often in the past. To make matters worse, she's creatively frugal. So, instead of getting canned fruit and juice in the usual thermos and tupperware for lunch, our daily grub was lovingly packaged in sterile (and thankfully unused) urine specimen cups stolen from the workplace. Let me assure you, what was saved in money was lost in her beloved children's self-esteem.)

But yes, with such a murderers row of medical knowledge at my disposal, I (foolishly) didn't feel it particularly necessary to go see a doctor in my late teens and twenties. Plus, I smoked... a lot, and I'd be damned if I was going to have the following exchange with some quack:

Doctor: Do you smoke?

Me: Yes.

Doctor: How much?

Me: Between half a pack to a pack a day.

Doctor: You need to quit.

Me: Really, doctor? Thanks.

Nah - I wasn't having it back then. Nowadays though, it's a different story. I stopped smoking 3 1/2 years ago (the first Christmas present I opened that year was a box of nicotine patches. It was addressed, "To: Eric From: Surgeon General") and am more health conscious. I've recently hit 30, and as such am getting on in years. So, I figured it was high time to go back and see what the good doctor had to say.

I arrived right on time and was greeted by a surly nurse.

"On the scale...... OK - get off..... Put this over your left eye...... Read line 6....... Now line 7....... Right eye...... Six...... Seven....... Follow me....... Change into this and wait for the doctor....." Door closes - bursts open again as I'm taking off my pants, "Oh I forgot.... go into the bathroom and pee into this."

Jesus Christ, Nurse Bitch. Are your shoes too tight?

OK - I didn't actually say that, but this is my blog so we can make pretend. In truth, I was very cordial and chalked the 'tude up to her possible lack of morning coffee.

Thankfully though, the doctor was much more pleasant. I had already seen him once before (marking the first of the whopping 'two in twelve') at my sisters recommendation so I kind of knew what to expect - or so I thought. Once you hit 30, the physicians attitude changes quite a bit. He went through the usual rigamarole (I'll spare you the detailed explanations.... but yes, the words 'Cough please..... aaand again' were heard.) Midway through the examination he said, "So... you having some trouble with your eyes?" I swallowed (instinctively) and told him yes. Going in, I had planned to ask him about making an appointment with an opthamologist. Several years of staring at a computer screen does funky things to the baby blues. For the most part I'm OK, but every once in awhile my left eye gets blurry. No biggie. The doctor didn't seem to think so either, as he chicken scratched a note for me to bring to the opthamology department.. No - he saved the bullets for the next round.

"What type of exercise regime do you have?"

"I don't"


"THAT'S your next project," he said somewhat demeaningly. "Do anything. Walk, run, join a gym, but make sure you get the exercise. Trust me, you'll pay the price later if you don't."

"Yes, doctor."

"Really, I can't stress it enough."

"Yes, doctor."

"I see it time and time again......"

"YES, doctor."

Then later, as he was testing the sturdiness of the padded table I was lying on by pushing on it through my stomach he said,

"Here, you see? Most men start to gain weight right in their belly. I can see it starting to happen with you."

A this point I just nodded and kept saying "Uh Huh." Hard to do much else when your diaphragm is being wrung out like a sponge. For the record though, I'm skinny. I only weigh 148 lbs, for God's sake. Hell, I eat organic produce from Whole Foods. In short, Fatty Arbuckle I am not. Still, there wasn't much point in arguing. He was right. I don't exercise. I need to, and that's that. It was a tough pill to swallow, though. Between my gut and my eyes, it was the first doctors appointment I can remember (not that there've been a lot) where something was "wrong."

But, I'm determined to remedy this. I've already started looking into gym and YMCA memberships, and resumed my morning walks. Next time I go back, I'll have a pair of contacts and a stomach of steel. The good doctor will have to eat his words and say, "Well.... I'm sorry.... I, uh..... I guess... I guess I was wrong", and I'll laugh heartily and say, "Too wrong indeed, doctor. You may apologize now," and he'll feel ashamed and give me my money back, and Miss Surly Nurse will be cowering in the corner at my awesome strength, and the entire office will be in awe and start to bow in unison, and this sentence will go on and on and on and on and on....

Ah yes. The next time I go back....

As I was walking out the door the doctor said, "Oh yes, and we'll need to start seeing you once a year from now on."

Two in twelve, huh? Why mess with a bad thing....

Friday, August 05, 2005

La Di Da Ho Hum

So here's the deal with the lack of posts. Things have been quite eventful in Eric-land, in both a work and extracurricular sense. Lots of stuff going on - none of it interesting enough to write about.

"Oh, c'mon. Try us", you say.

"No", say I.

I'm sorry but things really aren't all that interesting -- and yes I know I said in a previous post that I'd write about the mundane (and still will) but that's operating under the assumption that whatever I'm writing about is still more interesting than.... oh, I don't know... describing the color "gray." At the very least I need to be able to make funny ha ha out of it. Is all this a convoluted way of saying I don't have anything to write about? Curb your tongue, knave. Not at all. There are a few events of note that I'll probably post about later, but currently I'm still trying to find time to sleep and eat, much less write.

Right now is no exception, either. I'm on my way out the door to meet a few friends. Maybe I'll find more inspiration there, but in the meantime keep checking back and I promise I'll have some more political/socioeconomic/environmental/psychological/dumb dumb commentary for you soon.

Until then, play
FlipOut. Toodles.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Pick Your Poison

At my desk. You know, actually doing some work... and I get this message from my friend Korte,

"Hey... what are you, some kind of blog variety crack dealer? You give 'em a taste and then shut off the supply? I need my Murky Words, you bastard."

Sorry to disappoint, K. The ever changing MP3 on the sidebar not enough? The 1,110 word posts every other day proving too little? The links to other blogs on the right not giving you enough to read? The Friday posts of unusual and quaint web sites not interesting enough for you to surf? Meh. Stick it, son. I'm busy.

Still, it's nice to be loved. I hope all crack dealers feel as warm and fuzzy inside as I do right now because clearly, theirs is a profession that is truly thankless. Think about it. Police officers on your case; addicts who can't pay up begging for a free rock; local competition trying to cut into your business using price undercuts and a Glock... Tough life, man. Tough life.

I've never tried crack - although some of my best friends are crack addicts, and they say the stuff is good. But no, it simply isn't for me. Drugs in general just aren't my thing. I DO know plenty about addiction though. Yep - I'm addicted to lots of stuff. In fact, here's a sample:

  • Toscanini's Grape Nut Raisin Ice Cream - Toscanini's is my new favorite ice cream. They have a few parlors around the Boston area which I actually haven't been to in a day and an age (but like crack, its really good.) No, lately I've been buying their packaged goods at the supermarket. They've only released a few varieties so far, but the Grape Nut Raisin is surprisingly my favorite. Try some yourself and see what you like, but one word of caution - avoid the Burnt Caramel AT ALL COSTS. Looks like unhealthy dog poop, tastes like charcoal.
  • Trainspotting - Watching a movie about drugs over 30 times is not the same as taking the drug. Still, sometimes you just like to live vicariously through the characters and pretend to be an addict yourself by being addicted to their tale of addiction (and if I ever use the phrase 'live vicariously through' again, shoot me in the head.) This has been my favorite film since I was a trendy college hipster back in 1996, when it was released. Listing this as my favorite film almost ten years later is kind of embarrassing as it shows my utter lack of coolness. Still, I'm going to stick to my needles. Phenomenal soundtrack, ridiculously funny, and terribly disturbing. Watch it.
  • The Boston Red Sox - No surprises here. Just a boyhood love affair with America's team - who are also the World Champions, by the way. (Honorable mention to the World Champion New England Patriots as well.)
  • Harry Potter - Literary crack. Not at all good for you. Not a very challenging read. Some would even argue it's not even a very well written read. Still - I can't.... put..... th.. th.. them... DOWN! I haven't even started the new one yet, either. You can expect significantly fewer posts when I do. Just saying.......
  • Samuel Adams Boston Lager - Noticing a geographical bias here? Sorry.. can't help it. Anyway, this is a damn good beer. I was actually going to list Harpoon IPA here, but my sister-in-law would have had my head (Boston Beer Company employee. Yep - they make Sam Adams, and as a faithful servant she gets two free cases of beer a month. I am, like, sooooo jealous.) In either case, both are fine locally produced brews..... although I haven't had either one in quite some time......
  • Replay Music - I'm hesitant to write anything about this, largely because I'm afraid too many people will catch on and they'll make it illegal. But, for a one time fee you can download this program which captures streaming audio and converts it to MP3 files. Further, if you subscribe to a music service, like Yahoo or Rhapsody, which allow unlimited streaming of complete albums, it will split the tracks and tag them for you. So essentially you can download as many albums as you like for around $40 plus the cost of a subscription music service. A steal by all accounts. I've had the thing a week and I've already downloaded more albums than I'd normally purchase in a year (which is way over $40, by the way) Keep this quiet, though. Don't, like, post it on your friggin' blog or anything.
So there - it ain't crack but it's close enough. These things make me happy and significantly change my life - which, really, is what any good drug should do. But if I ever need the real thing I know where to go. Pepe and Manuel hold court outside the bodega up the street, greeting all passersby with kind smiles and sparkles in their eyes.... and if THAT'S too much effort.. well, that's why we have the Internet (speaking of addictions.) Happy fix!