Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Last Sanctuary From Self-Important Assholes Shrinks

Cell phone use now allowed on flights in European air space.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guten Tag, Herr Totenpunkt

Aparently, I'm it. I've been doppeltagged (and think we all know how painful that can be).

There are rules of some sort. I think. I'm pretty sure there was something about kittens without kibble, so you may want to check those links.

WP and Geraldine tagged me with the name game meme.

First, my favorite blogger from the state that's round on the ends and high in the middle:

Flan, Flan, bo-ban
Banana-fanna fo-fan

and because I know how much she enjoys getting tagged, my source for entertainment news and yours:

Becks, Becks, bo-ecks
Banana-fanna fo-fecks

Before I could respond to that,
Johnny tagged me
with the T-shirt meme.

Step the First: Describe two t-shirts I own.

It's black. Quelle surprise! It has the cover of the album Holiday In Cambodia on the front. (Spurious fact: My friend Joe nominated Holiday in Cambodia to be the theme of his Senior Prom. It didn't win.)

I was at the Alley in Chicago buying a new leather jacket to replace the one I'd worn to death, and I bought this to give to my nephew. He was in a band, and had been telling me bands that influenced their music (DK, Minor Threat, Ramones... lots of good punk). He'd been astonished that I knew them all. And, because I'm the cool uncle, I thought I'd give him a Dead Kennedys shirt.

And because I'm the bad uncle, I decided to keep it. (What? What? I went back and bought him a Ramones shirt instead.)

One day, while buying groceries, I'd paid for my mammoth cartload of groceries and was heading for the door, debating whether it was worth getting my iPod back out to drown out their horrible crap music just for the trip out of the store and across the parking lot. Suddenly,I was jolted out of my urban dad routine by a shout of "Kick ass shirt, man!". I glanced up and saw another old punk getting his groceries rung up, grinning his ass off and giving me the thumbs up.

I glanced down. Of course, Dead Kennedys. It really is a kick ass shirt, man.

2. It's black. I understand that they make t-shirts in other colors. I just don't understand why one would buy them. It's my Chicago Fire shirt from the season when they did the double (winning the league cup and the U.S. Open Cup in the same season). This one is too worn out to wear, but I have it stashed in a box, so it is still technically a shirt that I own.

This was from back when the Fire still played at Soldier Field. I'd placed an order from the shop in Soldier Field to buy some stuff (No, I don't remember. Probably my scarf that I wear for about 9 months out of the year and occasionally for summer games. I think there was some stuff for the kids. It's not important. This was not one of the items I ordered.)

The staff there put the wrong address on the package. And, as it turns out, UPS ignored the note that they were not supposed to leave it on the porch. In short, they gave my order away to some random stranger. When I asked them to replace the order, things got really stupid. The store blamed UPS for ignoring the note. UPS blamed the store for putting the wrong address on the package. Neither would budge.

Because I'm a geek, I posted a message online that if you wanted stuff, you should probably buy it at the game instead of ordering it because their customer service sucks. And then things got cool again. The General Manager of the Fire, Peter Wilt, ran across my message.

Peter Wilt, if you haven't heard of him, is the coolest guy in professional sports. He tailgated with the fans. He'd always leave the corporate box to go watch the game from the rowdiest section. He's awesome. I want to be him when I grow up. He emailed me, gave me the phone number for his direct line, and told me to give him a call. I called, he asked what happened, we chatted for a bit about the Fire, he said he'd see what he could do.

A couple of days later, a large box arrives containing all of the stuff I'd originally ordered, a note of apology from the store owner, and a bunch of extra stuff for my trouble, including this shirt. Peter had gone down to this store (which had no connection to the team) and had made them see reason when all else had failed.

Our family's brick at the new stadium thanks him for everything he did. He made the team what is. He got the right players to instill the values that shaped the team. Before he left, he got them their stadium and made sure that it was designed as the perfect place to watch soccer. It really is the best place in America to watch a game.

Oh yeah, and he got me a great t-shirt.

Step the Second: Design your own shirt.

It's dark charcoal gray. The front is printed with the number 13 in black, in a big, chunky 1930s art moderne font that reaches from shoulder to hem, covering the whole front of the shirt: more graphic than text.

Step the Third: Where would you wear it?

This is an odd question. Do most people have specific destinations in mind for their t-shirts? I don't get it. I am so not that organized.

Step the Fourth: Tag.

I don't think I have enough readers to tag two sets of people in one post. Meme if you want to. Or not. Just think of the poor shirtless kitties... or was it their kibble? I don't remember. Maybe I should have posted those rules after all.

Racist Friend

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Wait, did I miss the part where he said “unless the content of their character reveals them to be an intolerant homophobe, a bigot, or kind of a dick, in which case I would really prefer that the content of their character be excused because of the color of their skin”?

Barack says he can’t renounce his whitey-hatin’ minister because that would be like renouncing the whole black community. That makes perfect sense. So what you’re saying is that the next time I hear a white bigot talking shit, I should understand that I can’t renounce his views, because his people have a history of being backwards-ass ignorant crackers and that makes it all OK?

Or is it just African-American bigots that get a free pass from Obama? I thought I understood what he was saying, but now I’m confused. I just want to make sure that all of us wide-eyed liberals are all on the same page.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it wasn’t nice of Barack to say those remarks were inexcusable. I’m just saying I’d have been a little more convinced if he hadn’t followed it up with quite so many excuses.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Not a Monster...

Whore? Sure. Skank? That's fair. Just don't call her a monster.

Jeeze... It's not like she's Hillary.

Hey, Top Chef was on last night.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why Didn't You Just Say "In Rehab"?

Britney to appear on How I Met Your Mother.

"Madame Spears", Neil? Really?

Friday, March 7, 2008

"No Elvis, Beatles, or the Rolling Stones..."

Recently, Johnny reminded me how cranky boomers get when you disagree with their claim to have produced the best music in the history of the universe ever. See, Johnny has a dirty secret. He's one of them. He falls in the tail end of the Boomers, and I, well I am in the vanguard of the musically superior Generation X.

(I may have mentioned this before, but even the name Generation X is an indication of just how self-absorbed the Boomers are about their music. A pair of Boomers named my generation after a band made up of musicians from their generation. What tools.)

But I digress. Every once in a while, Johnny does something that reminds me that we are not just a few years apart, but a whole generation apart. One of them is when he rambles on and on about his appalling taste in music. Tired old Motown this... Crusty old folk singer that... But you have to forgive the guy. He's a product of a different generation, and that's just the way they are. You can't change them. Just nod and smile when they talk about the good ol' days. They like that. It comforts them.

With a few notable exceptions (elect me president and my first executive order will be to make the Jimi Hendrix version of the national anthem the only version you're allowed to play at sporting events) the 60s and 70s were a musical wasteland. Honestly, has there ever been a band more overrated than the Beatles? I think not. Fridays I'm In Love is so much better than Eight Days A Week that it's not even funny, and Fridays I'm In Love isn't even a particularly good song by the Cure.

Sure, the late 70s had some redeeming factors. Punk was starting up and some good alternative bands were starting their careers... but please, it was practically the 80s by then, and their music belongs to us, not to you.

Oh, and if Johnny offers you a Werther's, just thank him and fiddle with the wrapper until you can put it back in the candy dish without him noticing. It won't be hard. Just get him started about Bob Dylan...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gary Gygax Fumbles Last Saving Throw

This is why you should always have a Cleric in the party.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What's The Matter With Ralph?

History is the only laboratory we have in which to test the consequences of thought.
--Etienne Gilson

Good point, Etienne. So you tell me: What the hell is he thinking? I think we can all agree that Nader doesn't really expect to be elected. If he isn't running in hopes of being elected, why exactly is he running? Why is he going to expend all of that money and all of that effort in a doomed enterprise?

I have a few theories:

The Universal Theory: Ralph is a dumbass.
Whenever somebody does something astoundingly stupid, one must pause, at least briefly, to consider the possibility that they are astoundingly stupid. Sure. Wouldn't rule that out.

Pencil this one in unless we come up with something better.

Alzwhomer?: Ralph has forgotten what happened the last time he ran.

Another low-probability theory, but you know... Reagan. It could happen.

You Suck, Ralph: Similar to The Universal Theory, but subtly different.
Whenever somebody acts like an asshole, one must pause, at least briefly... I think you see where I'm going with this one.

One Ralph Left Behind: Ralph is not stupid, merely ignorant.
He's not dumb, he simply never learned how the electoral process works. Although Princeton and Harvard alumns must wail and gnash their teeth every time his curriculum vitae is cited, it is possible that he majored in speech comm, phys ed, or some other major that does not require one to take a basic American government class, and the guy is old. He probably doesn't remember his high school Constitution test.

While appealing in a cheesy sit-com kind of way, I don't think it's likely that either institution is currently drafting a letter to tell him that he has to come back and pass his final or they'll revoke his diploma. I'll rate this theory as highly unlikely.

The Charlie Daniels Option: Ralph has sold his soul to Satan.
He's running because he's eeeeeevil.

Because this is dependent upon the existence of a host of mythological beings, I'm going to say "Nuh-uh," even if it would explain a few things.

OK, now we're getting into the higher probability theories.

Sell Out: Ralph simply may have abandoned his principles.
The guy is old. He may no longer care about workers or the environment or fighting the man. He's running because he actually does want to help the Republicans.

This is a little bit Universal Theory, a little bit You Suck, Ralph, and a little bit Charlie Daniels Option, but more likely than any of them individually. It doesn't require a complete ignorance of the electoral process or amnesia. I wouldn't rule it out.

Buying His Own Bullshit: Ralph may have said it so often that he actually believes that there is no difference between the two parties.

He's old. He's crotchety. Old people believe lots of stupid shit. It's one of the reasons that so many of them vote Republican while they're living on catfood and going without healthcare.

This theory fails for a couple of reasons, but the big one is this: if he really doesn't care who wins, he can just watch the election. He doesn't actually have to run in it.

That said, I'm not ready to write this one off. When one gets far enough away from the visible portions of the political spectrum one finds oneself in the infrabatshit or ultrafundie wavelengths. Nader may be seeing the election so far into the infrabatshit (he's going to influence the debate and rescue the Democrats and the rest of the country from themselves) that he can no longer see what the rest of us see (he's going to be a spoiler candidate who benefits the people who are most opposed to the things he supports).

It's simple physics. Gotta trust the science.

Run Like An Egyptian: Ralph is in deep, deep denial.
I've saved the most likely theory for last. If you've ever seen Ralph interviewed, you quickly see that he just won't take responsibility for his own actions. I'm not sure I buy it. Nobody can maintain that kind of pathological delusion for this long without the occasional Britney moment.

Here's what I think: he's not really stupid enough to buy that "no difference" bullshit as anything other than a rhetorical device. He knows as well as I do that one boring old centrist party was led by the guy who wrote the Kyoto Protocol, the other was led by the guy who destroyed it. He knows that the neocons had been planning the war in Iraq well in advance of 9-11, but they only had the power to start it because he made it close enough for them to steal the election. He can look at economic data and see that the Republicans have destroyed the economy and sold out the poor and the middle class to benefit the wealthy. Again. He can see the continuation of corporate welfare and the erosion of workers' rights. He's seen the destruction of our civil liberties. And because he knows that the Republicans were running pro-Nader ads in swing states, he knows that everybody knew, well in advance, who his campaign would ultimately benefit.

In short, I think that deep down, he knows the last 8 years are his fault, I just think he's having a hard time accepting it.

So here's the theory I'm betting on: He desperately wants to run this election and lose big, and he desperately wants the Democrats to win anyway. If that happens, he can spend the rest of his life telling himself that his election campaign really was irrelevant, and that maybe it wasn't actually his fault after all.

Also, he'd probably like to go outside without people spitting on him.

Unfortunately for the rest of us:
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
-- Karl Marx