Archive for June, 2005


30 June 2005

Yeah, it’s been a while.

Went to the Eastern Seaboard (Yeah, a healthy chunk of the whole thing) last week. Ate sushi. Survived. Rather anti-climactic, actually. Entered an EA, had festive board at which entirely too much bourbon was drunk.

This weekend: Catalina for the 4th of July. Wheee! Being on a desert island for my inner pyromaniac’s favorite holiday is something of a downer though. Guess I’ll just have to buy a bunch and have my own private 4th of July next week. Too bad we haven’t any more bears to send to Hell (Meeemory…).

Next weekend: Vegas for a wedding. Gladiator-style, at Caesar’s. Will be looking for something to do other than follow my family around. Suggestions?

Have to make it to Wisconsin to see Dad at some point. Also to DC to ensure Jen jumps off no bridges.

More later, when my syntax is rebooted.


New Prescriptive Grammar + BSB

15 June 2005

Hereafter, those previously known as the “Religious Right” shall be known as the “Religious Wrong.” Hey, somebody’s gotta say it.

Well, I swore I was beyond it. I swore I wouldn’t be such a sucker ever again. But I broke down. I failed miserably. Blah. For the third album in a row, I’ve bought the new Backstreet Boys album on the day it was released. Bah.

The verdict? It’s pretty good so far. Their music has matured. To be sure, it’s no Radiohead or Janis Joplin, being everything that is right in a world deeply committed to wrong. But it’s good stuff. So far “Incomplete” and “Lose It All” are standouts, but that’ll probably change in the coming days as I listen to it more and more. There are still heavy-handed attempts at metaphor, like “My heart did time in Siberia….when the one you want doesn’t want you….”, but one can’t expect pop culture to be Thoreau, just decently entertaining. I’ll be ignoring lines like that.

The sickeness started in high school. Of course, I didn’t buy the original BSB album when it was released cause, well, nobody did. Then they got airtime and got noticed, and won the hearts of screaming mimis everywhere, mine included. So when Millenium was released, the girls and I took our lunch break and drove to Best Buy to get the CD before schools let out and every pre-pubescent in the country screamed for their mother to drive them to the store on the way home. Cause our worship was different, dammit. We at least weren’t jailbait (in most states) for the Boys (well okay, I was, in the boys’ home states, until Lawrence v. Texas). My freshman year at Georgetown, the BSB released Black & Blue, and I was the only college-age male in fye buying it and rushing home to snap it into my Discman. Good stuff. I think Black & Blue is my favorite of their albums so far, but I’ll wait to pass judgement until I’ve heard all of this new one (whose title is Never Gone, by the way, as long as we’re talking about ham-fisted metaphors). At least this time it was via iTunes and therefore quite a bit cheaper than the last few go-rounds.

So, at the risk of losing whatever shreds of dignity I’ve managed to accrue, Backstreet Boys Forever!

As long as I’m taking potshots…

14 June 2005

So Michael Jackson was found innocent on all charges. Hmm.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know whether he manhandled the little boys or not. So if he’s innocent, hey, more power to him for getting off. If he’s guilty, it goes to show how the American judicial system, founded on the idea of eliminating the British system under which the titled and well-connected could easily escape punishment, has become a system under which the rich can do exactly the same thing. Personally I’d rather have the titled and well-connected get off than the rich. But that’s just the pinko commie in me talking.

I do know, however, that MJ is batshit insane. I mean wow. That’s one nutty middle-aged guy. Regardless of whether he fondled the kids, it’s clear he’s not quite in touch with reality in any way, shape or form. The depths of his insanity defy elucidation.

Hopefully, he won’t treat this trial as vindication of his psychoses, and abandon all pretense of doing good and instead start baldly seducing kids, perhaps building a tunnel from Neverland to one of the schools that sit just outside….here, take a look. The building at lower right is a school, the buildings at top (and just above the top edge of that link…scroll up) is Neverland. Hmmm. Late night burger runs my ass.

I almost forgot…

14 June 2005

So Ann Coulter’s latest psychosis is that Deep Throat doesn’t exist. My God. The things you have to believe to be a Republican. And when something doesn’t fit in with your worldview, just dismiss it. Even if it’s pure unassailable fact, repeat your lie often enough, and presto, it becomes the truth. Forgive my bluntness, but since Ms. Coulter uses similar disinformation tactics to Nazi Germany, it is my fervent hope that she meets her end the same way Hitler did: alone, about to be captured and executed in a spectacular public event, and with a gun in the mouth. Yeah, that’s sorta harsh. But so is blaming the deaths in Georgia’s court shooting on the fact that females are “allowed” to be police officers. So I don’t feel bad advocating her violent death. Hell, she says as much about liberals all the time. It blows me away that people are so blindly willing to accept unsubstantiated ravings that are, in fact, plainly false. While Ms. Coulter is not the only fish swimming in this pond, she is certainly among the biggest and most brazen fish in this largely Republican pond.

Yes, how dare we imply Mark Felt was patriotic or doing good by leading the WaPo on the trail to Nixon’s rotting and amoral corridors of powerful. We should listen to Pat Buchanan’s denunciation of Felt, depsite the fact that Buchanan was one of those people commiting treason against the US by working in the Nixon White House as it worked to subvert the electoral system. Despite the fact that Buchanan worked for some of the most crooked members of that administration (you’re right! To be a real patriotic Republican, you just have to do it without getting caught and with the veneer of the Help America Vote (Republican) Act). Felt should have reported his suspicions to his supervisor, who just happened to be a Nixon crony. Yeah, I bet that would have gone far.


Every day that passes in which America doesn’t see the Right for the bloodsucking machinery of evil that it has become makes me lose more and more faith in America. Far from being the shining city on the hill, our once-great values and education and policy apparatus has decayed into a society where a majority of high school seniors think curbing the freedoms of the First Amendment would be just fine.

Notes and Addenda

13 June 2005

1. To you people who wear polo shirts with the collar up. Stop. There are two possible reasons why you would do such a thing:
• You think you look good and/or cool
• You think you look rebellious

To address bullet 1: you don’t look good or cool. You look like a douchebag that can’t dress himself.
To address bullet 2: it’s impossible to look rebellious in a $90 shirt of the Establishment that your parents bought you.

Thank you for your attention,
The Fashion Police

In other news, some friends and I spent Saturday night at the cabin, the first time anyone has spent the night there in over five years. I had to mop and clean up the larger piles of rat turds, but it was great fun. We made a fire and burnt some of the cords and cords of wood that we have up there from all the trees that have fallen down. We tried unsuccessfully to clean and fill the kerosene lamps, but made do with burning the other candles. The plumbing even worked, although the hot water heater did not. It sort of interferes with your enjoyment of the coolest shower in the world when the water’s fresh from having run off the snowpack. But it is the coolest shower in the world. Unique and lovely tiles that form a large, deep tub, redwood panelling surrounding the shower (and the whole bathroom), and mom’s stained glass window in the rear of the shower allowing light in that refracts the colors of the trees around you. Boo-ti-ful.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a thing for showers. Not sexual (although that is a lovely element of the shower experience…). Well-designed showers and bathrooms can made my day or even an entire vacation. The one at the cabin is probably my favorite, what with the sentimentality of having been built by my family. Other notable showers include the one at Vanessa’s beach house in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. We stayed there on our way to Key West on our spring break (see below). The shower was a thing of beauty to behold. No doors (always a plus), just a longish hallway that turns a left-hand corner into a spacious, beige marble-tiled area with a huge (frosted) window to the outdoors on one side and one of those enormous rain-making showerheads about 10 feet up. The natural light, as well as the intense rain-like flow, coupled with the large space make it feel like you’re showering in a waterfall. Very natural and sensual.

At the opposite end from nature-echoing is the shower on the 3rd floor of Mike’s former NYC townhouse. As a result of his family purchasing the various apartments in the building picemeal and slowly combining them into a single townhouse, you find bathrooms and kitchens in unexpected places. This particular bathroom is right off the main sitting room with the projection TV. It’s green marble, also spacious, with glass doors that don’t visually separate you from the rest of the room. You can see straight through to the mirror (which is oddly pleasing in a vain way), and it also has one of those rain-maker showerheads. This one must have had the water-saver thingie removed, cause it had enough force to fill the shower with spray and instantly turn the room into a vaguely sauna-esque experience. Quite lovely. I walked down from the fifth floor where my room was for two days in a row just to experience this shower.

Someday when I’m rich and full of vanity (as opposed to just being full of vanity), I want to design my own house, probably a weekend or summer home, with all sorts of wonderful features that may or not make sense to other people. Most obviously related to the above will be that it will have awesome bathrooms. I hate houses with bathrooms that are clearly an afterthought and placed willy-nilly about the house. Second, the house will have three porticos. One in the east, one in the west, and one in the south. The one in the east will have Ionic columns, the one in the west will have Doric, and the one in the south will have Corinthian. There’s gotta be a secret passage or two as well. Ma grew up in a house with a secret passageway, and I think it’d be the coolest thing in the world to have your own little private passageways, maybe even a secret room or something for hiding the wine or the porn. Some other little repeated details would be nice, such as roses or triangles scattered about like Hidden Mickeys at Disneyland, providing a pastime for people to hunt them down.

Ah, it’s nice to fantasize about what I’d do with money, since I’ll likely never make any working as a teacher or for non-profits my whole life. Curse this conscience. I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t have though, and that’s a dead guy in a barely concealed crypt beneath the floor. That’s just fuckin’ creepy.

Why people think I’m crazy, part I of ∞

5 June 2005

My family has a lot of sayings. Growing up, I didn’t realize that they were family specific. So when I say “turn up your hearing aid, woop woop woop woop” or “gettin’ up Ruthie”, I didn’t always realize that people thought me crazy for saying such things. I mean, I utter a lot of incoherent things, but some of these are doozies.

Story behind the “Ruthie” line above, which has to be one of the most common sayings in the family:

My family has the best recipe for pork ribs in the world. I don’t wanna hear it from the Southerners or anyone else about how good theirs are. These get me to eat pork, which I never, ever do otherwise. They’ve been known to induce orgasms; they’re that good.

Whenever we make said ribs, it becomes an event for which people come from far and wide to partake in dead pig. To accomodate everyone, we set up portable tables, benches, stools, et cetera. On one of these porkly occasions, several people were seated on a bench at a wooden table, one of those redwood ones that resemble sawhorses. Ruthie was on the edge, accompanied by Carl, Big Shirley, several others. Without planning, everyone but Ruthie got up from the bench, which took away the counterbalance for Ruthie’s seat (she was on the overhang). Quick as lightning, Ruthie ends up on her back on the ground under the overturned bench, ribs catapulting through the air and one of those “holy shitballs” expressions on her face. Carl surveys the scene quixotially for a moment, then remarks, “Gettin’ up, Ruthie.”

So anytime someone falls off a chair or falls on their own or otherwise has harm betide them, there’s an instant chorus of “Gettin’ up, Ruthie.” It’s reflexive, which leads to my saying it in mixed company and then having to explain the story, which totally defuses any humor the situation might have had. So start spreading the saying. “Gettin’ up, Ruthie” needs to become as much a part of the national lexicon as “incompetent chief executive” or “Weapons of Mass Destruction, my ass.”

And the downside of working for the State

4 June 2005

There are some tremendous upsides to working for the State of California. Like the time I was a dimwit and lifted a table (a plastic outdoor table! Not heavy! But heavy enough!) and strained my back at the bookstore. I was insistently directed to the local hospital (while still on the hourly clock!) and given all sorts of care and followup care and drugs and all these wonderful things. Or there’s the fact that you don’t pay social security tax (I know, in theory this isn’t good because I’m not contributing to my future pension, but does anyone out there really believe there’s gonna be social security when I hit 75 or whatever the retirement age will be then?). And you have mean unions representing you making your work life sort of tolerable.

But then something slips and you find yourself slithering through the Rube Goldberg device that is a state bureaucracy. Graduate Assholesistants like me get paid monthly. For some reason the largest, richest state government in the world can’t arrange for non-full time employees to have their checks directly deposited either, so on the first of the month, I’ve gotta pick my money up from the department. Usually, they’re there on the first of the month, so I went yesterday (2 June) to pick up my check, but the department was closed (at 3 PM! Sign me up for an academic job!). Nary a linguist in sight either, so I couldn’t steal borrow their key to get the thing. Today I went back again, but the department was closed yet again (at 1 PM this time! Christ on a bike I want to be an academic!). This time, however, the professor I work for was in her office, so I took her key and went blazing in myself. And everyone’s check was in everyone’s mail box……wait for it…..wait for it…..except mine! Oh frabjous day! What better way to spend a Friday afternoon than hunting for my money.

As further background, the department chair is abroad for a conference or some other damn thing. And, you know, cause it makes sense, apparently the department secretary takes her vacations whenever the department chair takes his vacations. And the student assistant is back in Korea for the summer. Fucking wonderful. So I get on the horn to the university payroll office. They tell me, hmm, maybe it’s at the cashier’s office. So I roll over to the cashier’s office. Nope, no check. The lady behind the counter took pity and called the payroll department, who found a new nugget of information, that all the checks had been signed for by the department secretary. How exactly this happened, since she’s on vacation, is beyond me, but you know, whatever. So I re-borrow my professor’s key and go on a mad excavation of the department office. Through everyone else’s mailbox to make sure an errant delivery hadn’t resulted in my syntax professor getting my paycheck or something. Through the department secretary’s desk (illegal/unethical? Maybe, but so is denying a starving student his monthly paycheck. They want to make an issue of it, they can bite me where the sun don’t shine). Through the student assistant’s desk. Through every file in the cabinet (wow! my professors make bank!). Still nothing. So I roll back to payroll. “You owe me a check, something happened and it’s lost.”

“You’ll have to wait and talk to your department.”

“Department’s closed till the end of the month. I can’t wait that long. I don’t work for the sheer joy of dealing with pompous academic authors, I work to have money cause sleeping in the park gets cold and eating A4 paper gives me the runs.”

“There’s nothing I can do.”

“I’m coming back Monday. If my check isn’t in my hand by the time I leave that day I will file a complaint with the state and with the union, charge you 5,000% interest componded continuously on the money you’re illegally witholding from me, and do whatever else I can dream up to make your life hell, since I get to go through the weekend with $114 to my name and a $67 parking permit I have to buy today.”


“Have a nice weekend. See you Monday.”

Can you tell I have rage issues? And I went to Georgetown, I live for making incompetent boobs cry. God forbid they should suffer for making me suffer.

**Edited to add: they mailed the check to me. Thanks for letting me know that, kids! So disappointed I won’t be able to make any feeble minds cry tomorrow.