Saturday, December 06, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
So enjoy. I'll be back in 2012 with my third installment. Let's pray Sarah Palin isn't on it.
1. People who try way too hard to be interesting. Everybody wants to be liked. Most of us do it by cultivating a personality and learning how to interact with others. But some folks do it by inventing a dark and mysterious past, and then dropping what they imagine to be tantalizing hints about it at every possible opportunity. A song will come on the radio, and they'll say, "Ah, yes. This reminds me of that time I was doing heroin in the abandoned hospital and those skinheads tried to shoot me."
Eventually, you learn to quit taking the bait, which causes them some consternation. They'll look at you expectantly, waiting for you to ask them to elaborate. And when you don't, they'll press the issue. "Yeah, I did some dumb things when I was young. Can't believe I almost died that night!" If you ignore them long enough, they'll get desperate to share their imaginary backstory. "I know you probably can't relate to the stuff I've been through, but if you ever want to ask me about my past, please feel free. I don't mind talking about it."
If I don't pry into your sordid and gripping past, it isn't because I'm disturbed or scared or lack the proper frame of reference to relate to you. It's because I don't believe you.
2. Billy Mays. I'm a fat, bearded guy, and I'm capable of being just as shrill and offputting as Mr. Mays. If you have a product, service, or organization you want shilled, just let me know and I'll do it for half of what he charges! Plus, I have no shame whatsoever, so I'll endorse anything! Just check out these testimonials from pleased customers:
"Ever since Chris started singing our praises, membership has picked up by 400%! Thanks, Chris!"
-Reg Hatley, NAMBLA
"People throw around the word 'hero,' but I think Chris really fits the bill. He really saved our business!"
-Don Reddick, Reddick's Puppy Shredding Mills
"If only Chris had been willing to representationalize us, the Republican party would be in much better... oops, I crapped my pants again."
-George W. Bush, Lame Duck
3. "Obama is the antichrist!" I've got to hand it to the conservatives. Once they decide they're going to hate someone, they will work their asses off to make up a reason.
Here's an email I received from the wife of one of my more conservative friends, in all of its illiterate glory:
According to the Book of Revelations the anti-christ is: The anti-christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuassive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal.... the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destory everything. Is it OBAMA??I can't really comment on the contents of the Book of Revelations, since it doesn't exist. However, I know for a fact that the Book of Revelation (just one, dammit) makes no mention of an antichrist. That term was actually taken from the Epistles of John, and was used to refer to anybody who denied the divinity of Jesus (which I guess, technically, makes me an antichrist). What crops up in Revelation is the Beast, who is described as rising from the sea with seven heads and ten horns, upon which are written the names of blasphemy.
There's nothing about a man in his 40s, and there's absolutely nothing about Muslims. The Islam faith wasn't even founded until 610 AD, at least 500 years after Revelation was written. And even if John of Patmos did miraculously gaze into the future and prophesy the coming of Islam, OBAMA ISN'T A MUSLIM!!!
Seriously. If you're going to be a Christian, you might occasionally try READING that Bible you tote around...
4. Anyone who voted for Prop 8. Why the hell are these hateful fucktards so scared of same-sex marriage? Are they afraid the government might make it mandatory? Do they imagine a squadron of gay commandos is going to march into town and divorce them at gunpoint? Are they afraid gay weddings are going to somehow invalidate their marriages to their cousins? Or are they just using Jesus as an excuse to be bigoted assholes?
If you voted in favor of Prop 8, then you're a horrible human being and I hope you burn to death in a fire made of cancer while eating habanero peppers stuffed with poo. If you don't live in California but you thought Prop 8 was a good idea, then... well you know. Fire, cancer, habanero peppers, poo.
Bonus: Check out Prop 8 - The Musical on FunnyOrDie.com.
5. Trans fat. What the hell is trans fat, anyway? I've seen commericials for things like deep-fried bacon-wrapped chicken sandwiches that claim to have 0g of trans fat, and I have to ask myself, does it even exist? Has anyone ever actually seen it? Or is it just one of those things that we take on faith, like Intelligent Design and airport security? Personally, I think a bunch of food companies got together and invented the term "trans fat" just so they could claim their product didn't have it. But it's only a matter of time before we as a people rise up and put a stop to it. Like we did with that whole "net carb" fiasco...
6. People too lazy to express their own opinions. By national standards, I'm somewhat moderate in my politics. But here in Texas, I'm somewhere to the left of Lenin. A lot of my family and friends don't share my particular point of view, and they're constantly trying to change my mind by sending me emails that somebody else wrote. Because, hey! Why bother to have any thoughts of your own when you can just cut and paste? It's much easier to be opinionated when you let other people do all the work!
7. People who screw up common sayings. I used to work for a guy who, when signing his name, would always say, "Let me put my John Henry on that." After the third or fourth time, I finally snapped and shouted, "It's HANCOCK! John Hancock! Signer of the Delcaration of Independence! John Henry was a steel drivin' man, and probably didn't sign a whole lot of documents!"
Other mistakes that get up my ass with cleats on are "I could care less," "It's a mute point," and "President George W. Bush."
8. My upstairs neighbors. I've never met them, but based on the amount of noise they make every goddamn night, I've put together a little profile on them. I believe them to be a family of 10, weighing in excess of 400 pounds each. And every evening at 10:30 p.m., they like to put on their work boots, stomp into the bedroom, and knock their collection of bowling balls onto the floor.
I actually went upstairs to complain once, and the chicken shits wouldn't even answer the door. I could hear them inside, and I could see the peephole getting dark as they peered out at me, but they just sat inside and listened to me knock for 10 minutes. I finally gave up and went back downstairs, and they went back to doing jumping jacks.
9. Those preachy episodes of M*A*S*H. I used to love M*A*S*H, but I've been catching the repeats on TV Land, and I've noticed that every episode written by Alan Alda has the exact same speech in it.
General: Captain Pierce, I find your manner insubordinate.
Hawkeye: Oh yeah, General? Well somebody's bullets were insubordinate to this kid's body! I didn't ask to come here! I didn't ask to pull soldiers out of a meat grinder and sew them back together so maniacs like you can march them out again! I hate this place. I hate this war.
Colonel: Son, why don't you head over to the mess tent and get some supper?
Hawkeye: Oh yeah, Colonel? Well somebody's bullets sure made a mess of this kid's body! I didn't ask to come here! I didn't ask to pull soldiers out of a meat grinder and sew them back together so maniacs like you can march them out again! I hate this place. I hate this war.
Nurse: Hey, Hawkeye. Wanna go have sex in the supply tent?
Hawkeye: Oh yeah, Nurse? Well somebody's bullets sure had sex with... wait, that doesn't work. Um... supply... supplies... Hey, I bet this kid was totally suppliesed when he got all these bullets in his body! I didn't ask to... hey, where are you going?
10. People who refer to Sarah Palin as a MILF. Only if the "F" stands for "Force her head underwater until the bubbles stop coming up."
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Our nation suffered through eight years of the WORST PRESIDENT EVER! And this year, the American voters finally got their shit together and decided it was time for a change. Fortunately, this time the votes actually mattered. Obama was elected and, for the first time in nearly a decade, the results were above board and incontrovertible.
And holy shit, now the conservatives are whining like a bunch of little bitches with skinned knees! They keep going on and on about how Obama is a Marxist leftist Muslim terrorist antichrist who is going to take away their guns and march them into internment camps where they'll be forced to crap on Bibles and get abortions.
I'm pretty sure most of them don't REALLY believe that. They're just desperately trying to hang on to a shred of dignity, to justify voting an illiterate warmongering fuckwit into office TWICE. Lord knows if I bore any responsibility for putting Bush in the White House, I'd probably spew that same nonsense just to convince myself I was still a decent human being.
But there are some dumb fucking mouthbreathers out there who honestly DO buy into that crap, and that boggles my mind. They honestly believe we're living in a blissful Bush-constructed Utopia, and now Obama and his wicked minions are going to come along and destroy it with their wicked Commie ways. Even more surprising is the fact that so many of these people live in Texas! I thought Bush executed most of the retarded people back when he was governor.
So to any of you people who are afraid of Obama, let me first say thanks for taking the time to let your state-provided caretaker read this post to you. Now put down your finger paints and listen carefully, because this is very important. Okay?
It's over, you sore losers. You had your chance, and you fucked it up royally. So quit whining. Sit down, shut up, and let the grownups work.
And while we're on the subject, do you remember all that bullshit you hypocrites kept spouting about how anyone who disrespects the president is an unpatriotic supporter of terrorism? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Whew. Thanks for listening. You've been very therapeutic. I hereby relinquish the soapbox...
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
So this morning, I navigated to this page to see what lovely comments had been left by my threes of readers, and I got a popup warning from my virus scanner that two instances of the actns/swif.t virus had been detected and deleted.
Naturally, I crapped my pants. After that was cleaned up, I poked around looking for information on this virus. Unfortunately, it's a relatively new thing and there's not much out there. I suspect it was just added to the virus definition files on the last update.
The problem was a couple of videos that I had embedded from Youtube. The videos themselves weren't infected. It was just the HTML code that was being flagged and deleted every time the page was loaded.
I finally found this info on the actns/swif.t virus on AntivirusConnection.com:
The Actns/Swif.T has been a tricky one. It seems this virus has just recently spawned, causing computers to show a embedded shockwave/flashplayer file within IE/Firefox browser. Inside the embedded swf, it features a redirect to a phishing website that I advise everyone NOT to click on! So if you see this embedded vicious file pop up, Do Not Click It! It will install another virus called Antivirus 2009, which those of you who know this virus already, it’s a pest to get rid of.
Now, based on this, I'm suspecting my detections were false positives. Since the virus definitions were just added, I think my virus scanner saw the embedded videos in my browswer and just assumed they were placed there maliciously. The videos themselves don't appear to be infected, and I've never been redirected to the phishing site.
But I'm hardly an expert, and I don't want to take any chances until I know for certain. So I've deleted the embedded videos until I can get a little more information. If any of you out there are smarter about this kind of thing than me, I'd love to hear from you.
Update: After all the ballyhoo, it turns out it was just a false positive from CA Antivirus. Apparently they've fixed the problem and I'm off to download the updated files. I feel pretty goddamn smart for having figured it out myself FOURTEEN HOURS AGO!
Also, I had a LOT of hits on the blog today. I was apparently one of the first people to post anything about the virus online, so for a few hours my blog was showing up on Google near the top of the list for searches on "actns swif.t" or variations thereof. Ordinarily, I get 20 to 30 hits a day. Today, I got 600+.
Of course, Google's brilliant algorithm eventually kicked in and decided that link farms and sites devoted to 80s heavy metal were FAR more relevant than my blog, so now I've dropped down several pages. But that's okay. Fame would have only changed me.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Earlier this year, my nephew Campbell was diagnosed as mildly to moderately autistic. Since then, his twin brother Luke has been diagnosed as mildly autistic as well.
The thing about autism is that very few people know anything about it, yet everybody and their goddamn dog thinks that they're some kind of armchair expert. My sister has done her homework. She has truly done her due diligence. She probably has a better understanding of autism than anybody else I know. And she's constantly being badgered and corrected on her facts by well-meaning people who watched some fluff piece on Good Morning America.
You see, my sister believes that her sons' condition was exacerbated by the inoculations they started receiving just hours after they were born. She's not alone. Nearly 60% of the parents of autistic children believe that vaccines played a role in their child's condition. Their suspicions have been substantiated by medical professionals, and even a few insiders within the pharmaceutical companies.
But the pharmaceutical companies are the biggest problem. They've paid out billions of dollars to make sure that their interests are safeguarded in Washington D.C., so you get people like Dick Armey trying to sneak a rider onto the Homeland Security Bill granting autism liability protection to drug companies.
The drug companies have also spent an ungodly amount of money to discredit these concerned parents. They've managed to paint them as foil-hat-wearing loonies who want to abolish all drugs and unleash an epidemic of polio on the world, or as opportunistic money-grubbers who want to cash in on their children's disorder. After all the shit we went through with Big Tobacco, you'd think people would be too smart to fall for anything so transparent. But you'd be wrong.
The symptoms that many autistic children display are actually listed as possible side effects for a lot of these vaccines. But despite that, the drug companies clap their hands over their ears whenever concerned parents dare insinuate that these massive drug cocktails might have anything to do with their children's condition. They insist the problem is purely genetic. They are simply unbothered by the fact that autism has gone from being a rare diagnosis to affecting 1 in 150 children.
Perhaps most despicable of all is the way that the pharmaceutical companies have hijacked the once legitimate organization Autism Speaks and turned it into their own corporate shill. It was founded by the vice chairman of General Electric, Robert Wright, back in 2004 when his grandson Christian was diagnosed as autistic. But somewhere along the way, right about the time the drug companies started writing them huge checks, Autism Speaks began singing the praises of vaccines. Christian's mother Katie was so disgusted by this change in direction that she no longer has anything to do with the organization.
Firmly in the corner of the pharmaceutical companies are slimy folks like Dr. Paul Offit, a man who writes books like Autism's False Prophets to attack these concerned parents. Offit often appears as a talking head on news shows that are covering the controversy, and insists that there is no controversy and there is no link between autism and vaccines. Offit is also a major patent holder for RotaTeq, a rotavirus vaccine, so I can understand why he would be so desperate to portray the drug companies as blameless and holy.
Is there a link between vaccines and autism? I don't know. Honest to God, I don't know. Nobody knows. That's the point. All of these parents are scared to death that they've been unknowingly poisoning their children, and they want a definitive answer from someone who doesn't have a vested interest in the status quo. They're not asking for a ban on vaccines or massive government subsidies or anything unreasonable. All they want is an unbiased, third-party study to see if there is a link.
If the pharmaceutical companies honestly believe they shoulder none of the blame, then why work so hard to obscure the truth? Why only release the results of studies done by their own private research firms? Why spend so much money attacking the families of autistic children? Why subvert the issue when, if truth truly is on their side, they could easily vindicate themselves?
The drug companies definitely have money and public apathy on their side, but there is hope that the tide might be turning. Obama recently nominated Tom Daschle to head up the Department of Health and Human Services. Senator Daschle is most assuredly not anti-vaccine, but he has shown a willingness and a determination to question vaccine safety. Obama is also considering Robert Kennedy, Jr. to head up the EPA. Kennedy has long been a crusader against the irresponsible practices of the drug companies, and was one of the first to bring the potential link between vaccines and autism into the public light.
Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical companies are trying a new (some might say desperate) tactic of pretending like there is no controversy. "Asked and answered" has become their new talking point. Any time a news show purports to cover the story, they get pharmaceutical reps and folks like Dr. Offit talking about how there is absolutely no merit whatsoever to the claims. And then, in an effort to appear balanced, they get a bogus group like Autism Speaks to simply reiterate what the drug companies are saying.
They know they'll never convince the concerned families, and frankly, they're not even making an effort anymore. They're just trying to convince the general public to keep on not giving a shit.
And God knows, we're pretty good at that.
Denis Leary's book, Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy, and Stupid, contains a chapter entitled "Autism, Schmautism," which claims that the majority of people who claim to be autistic are faking, and the true fault lies with "inattentive mothers and competitive dads." Leary obviously shares the same misconception about autism that a lot of folks do; he believes anyone who is truly autistic will manifest some kind of savant ability. So basically, anyone who claims to be autistic but isn't good at math or painting is just faking.
The thing is, Leary's schtick is political incorrectness. This guy has joked about everything from cancer patients to crack babies, and when confronted by angry, indignant folks, his response is usually to just blow smoke in their faces and tell them to quit being a bunch of fucking crybabies.
But in the wake of the backlash from autistic families, Leary's reaction has been surprisingly contrite. He's racing to cover his ass, claiming he was misquoted and taken out of context, and the only people who are outraged are ones who haven't actually read his book. (I haven't, but I did read that chapter.) He claims to have great love and respect for people who are truly autistic, and says his intent was not to belittle them or claim autism doesn't exist, but rather to attack "grown men who are either self-diagnosing themselves with low-level offshoots of the disease or wishing they could as a way to explain their failed careers and troublesome progeny."
Personally, I think he's full of shit. I think he lashed out at what he thought would be an easy target, and was surprised by the vehemence of the backlash. I mean, let's face it; when Michael Savage agrees with you, you've made some horrible life decisions somewhere along the way.
So sorry, Denis. Not buying it. But I admire your prodigious attempt to backpedal, and I have no doubt you sincerely *wish* you'd written something more noble. Maybe next time...
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
by William S. Burroughs
For John Dillinger, in hope he is still alive.
Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1986
Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.
Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.
Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.
Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.
Thanks for the American dream, to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killin' lawmen feelin' their notches, for decent church-goin' women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.
Thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers.
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business.
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the memories -- all right let's see your arms!
You always were a headache and you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Ann Coulter broke her jaw. It's been wired shut. No idea who did it, but the list of suspects includes pretty much anybody who has a soul.
Yes, Ann Coulter's gaping anus of a mouth has been sealed, which is going to make it hard for her to reach out to the Klansmen and crazed loners who make up her reading audience. Plus, now she's going to need a straw to consume her daily serving of infant blood.
So when you gather with your families for Thanksgiving and reflect on all that is good in your life, be sure to give thanks to whichever invisible man or cosmic force you worship for silencing that sad, desperate woman. And maybe ask Him to do something about her goddamn Adam's apple.
Follow up #1: I posted the line about Klansmen and deranged loners in the comments section of the New York Post, but it got deleted. I can only assume some Klansman got pissed off that I was grouping him in with Ann Coulter's readers.
Follow up #2: When I told Stephanie about this post, she suggested that maybe Ann Coulter had broken her jaw when she unhinged it to devour a small child. Damn, I wish I'd thought of that...
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I'm not talking about harmless lies, such as, say, backdating a blog post just to keep your posting streak alive *cough*. I'm talking about real lies. Bearing false witness. Perpetuating untruths for personal gain.
Sometimes, if I stand to gain nothing from the lie, I can pull it off. Stephanie insists otherwise, but I once suggested to her that perhaps I'm so Machiavellian that I only *pretend* to be a bad liar so she won't realize how adept I truly am. She didn't buy that one either, so I guess she has a point.
One problem is that I tend to repeat myself. A lot! Seriously. I've got some kind of mental deficiency that prevents me from remembering what I've told people before. So if I'm going to regale them with the same goddamn stories over and over again, I don't want to get caught changing the details. "Eddie Van Halen? I thought you said President Clinton gave you that VCR!"
So, for the most part, I stick to the straight and narrow. I have no horrible skeletons lurking in my closet, and I don't have to worry about Stephanie discovering that I wasn't one of the original kids on ZOOM.
That said, I have lied successfully in the past. One of my most nefarious prevarications was related in this post. I've convinced people that I was Jewish or that my dad was black, just to put an end to their racist diatribes. When I was in college, I told one of my fraternity brothers that I had never tasted pudding because my father was in prison, just to see if he'd believe me (he did). And when I worked at Chemical Express, I had the ladies in Accounts Payable believing that my beloved family dog used to unwrap Christmas presents, and then rewrap them so he wouldn't get caught.
But by far, my most elaborate falsehood was at Brinker International. For my first three years there, everybody thought I could speak Spanish.
I don't remember how that particular notion got started, but it probably had something to do with my propensity for Fake Spanish. I think somebody heard me blathering about the devil being in the bathroom with my things, and just assumed I was fluent. At first, I just went along with it, expecting I'd be busted in no time. But as the days turned into weeks, everyone remained convinced that I was bilingual. And I was curious to see just how long I could get away with it.
The closest call I had was in 1995, when we opened a Chili's in Polanco (Mexico City). My friend Sara had flown down there to get their computer system up and running, but she was having some problems with the modem. I came back from lunch and saw a Post-It note on my monitor, telling me to call the store.
"Oh, God," I muttered as I picked up the phone. "I hope Sara answers."
"What's the big deal?" my officemate Luann asked. "You speak Spanish, right?"
I shrugged. "Yeah, I guess I speak enough to get by."
So the phone rang and rang and rang. No answer. Luann was looking at me kind of expectantly, so I perked up and pretended to have someone on the line. I'd say something, and then pause and nod as if having a conversation. I yammered on and on, stringing together random Spanish phrases and laughing jovially, as if sharing a joke with my imaginary international amigo. And the whole time, Luann was just staring at me in awe and wonder.
When I hung up, she started talking about how much she wished she could speak another language. She'd tried to take French in college, but it just hadn't stuck. By this point, it was starting to feel less like joking and more like lying, so I changed the subject.
I managed to keep the charade going until 1997. Luann left Brinker and I was assigned a new officemate, Brenda (whom you may remember as the woman who compared me favorably with the devil). Brenda, it turned out, had spent several years as an exchange student in South America and spoke fluent Spanish.
"Irb speaks Spanish too," said my friend Dave enthusiastically as he introduced us. "Don't you, Irb?"
So I smiled with as much confidence as I could muster, and I said, "La pregunta mas importante es, Quien es mas macho? Fernando Lamas o Ricardo Montalban?" ("The most important question is, Who is more manly? Fernando Lamas or Ricardo Montalban?")
Brenda just stared at me for about ten seconds, her head cocked to the side. Then she said, "Okay, in the first place, you didn't really say anything. And in the second place, your accent is terrible!"
And thus did my bilingual pretension come to an ignoble end. And even though I 'fessed up and admitted I'd been stringing everyone along for three years, it still took a while for the rumor to die down. As late as 1999, I had people coming to my office and asking me if I could speak Spanish.
"What? Oh, no. No. Not a lick of it."
"Really? Because I'd heard..."
"Yeah, I know. I have no idea how those rumors get started."
"Isn't it? It reminds me of something my black dad in prison once said when we caught our dog rewrapping the gifts..."
Saturday, November 22, 2008
But a group of enthusiastic Christians calling themselves the United States Reformation Prayer Network (or NAMBLA) has eschewed that foolishness and zeroed in on the TRUE cause of the Great Depression. Turns out, it was Satan.
Apparently, the Lord took time out of his busy schedule of appearing in tortillas in Guatemala to warn the group that Satan was planning on a repeat performance this year. To counter his nefarious scheme, they called for a Day of Prayer for the World's Economies.
"We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street," explained co-founder Cindy Jacobs, "to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the 'Lion's Market' or God's control over the economic systems."
On October 29, dozens of crazy Christians convened on the bull statue in a scene right out of The Ten Commandments.
The enormously-haired Ms. Jacobs felt the group's efforts were best summed up by this Bible verse:
For thus says the Lord of Hosts: "Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple [house] with glory," says the Lord of Hosts. "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine," says the Lord of Hosts.
However, I can't help but wonder if this verse wouldn't have been just a tad more appropriate:
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt."
Friday, November 21, 2008
I spent the last two years working as a contract SEO Copywriter for a large online directory service whose name I'm reluctant to mention. However, I would like to point out that since my contract with them has ended, their stock price has plummeted to 2 cents a share and the SEC has suspended trading. I'm not implying that it happened because they got rid of me, you understand. I'm just saying...
So for the past two months, I've been looking for another job. Actually, I didn't start *really* looking until this last week. I had some savings put away and I really wanted to devote some time to some other worthwhile pursuits, like playing Fallout 3 and... well, did I mention Fallout 3? I just finished it. I shot a lot of things in the head and made them explode. It was gratifying.
As you probably know, the job market currently... what's the word... oh, yeah... SUCKS! But I've got my resume posted on roughly 9,000,000 different job sites, and I've been applying like a madman. Eventually something's got to stick.
But what's really annoying me is the corporate recruiters. They call me or email out of the blue and tell me that my resume came across their desk and they have a position they think I'd be perfect for. And after some considerable hoop-hopping on my part, the job offer mysteriously vanishes. Either the company has decided to go in a different direction, or it turns out my resume isn't quite the perfect fit they originally thought it was, or they've decided to hire internally, or they've just this second instigated a hiring freeze. This has happened no less than five times over the last two weeks, and it's getting pretty goddamned disheartening. I'm getting tired of getting my hopes up just to have them arbitrarily dashed.
The most frustrating was Dave & Buster's. One of their recruiters emailed me about an Instructional Designer position. She said she'd seen my resume and she thought I'd be a great fit. At her request, I went online and went through the proper application channels. Then she set up a phone interview and asked me all about my previous writing experience with Brinker and Pizza Hut. After that interview, she said she'd like to set up a face-to-face with the other members of the team. She even went so far as to send me an email listing all the great benefits and perks I would receive if I accepted the job with them.
And the next day, she called to let me know that they had decided to put off filling that position until mid-2009. But she assured me that, if I was still available then, they'd still love to meet with me. So I've got *that* going for me.
Sigh. When did cockteasing become a valid HR strategy?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Anyway, here's a little compilation of his stuff, including some of my favorites (Radiohead's "Creep", Nine Inch Nails' "Closer", and a mambo version of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday", among others).
Note: The embedded video in this post was deleted due to suspicions of the actns/swif.t virus. This was likely a false positive, but I figured better safe than sorry.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
It was a dark and stormy... well, you know.
The rain poured down like a cow pissing on a flat rock. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed, illuminating the empty parking lot of the Kingston Truck Stop.
Ben and Eric sat in a booth, staring out the window at the apocalyptic weather. It was the end of Spring Break, and they had been on their way back to school when the storm had hit.
They were the only customers in the diner. An old woman sat behind the register, reading yesterday’s paper. Occasionally she’d waddle over to top off their coffee without a word.
“You sure you don’t want anything to eat?” Ben asked Eric. He took a huge bite out of his club sandwich and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “It’s pretty good.”
“Pass,” Eric said.
“You know what they say. Truckers eat at the best places.”
“Bullshit. Truckers eat where they can park.” Eric waved a hand at the window. “Besides, they don’t seem to be lining up to get in here, do they?”
They were both suddenly bathed in headlights as an 18-wheeler pulled into the parking lot. As it turned and parked, another flash of lightning illuminated the trailer. The words PETERSON PORK PRODUCTS were emblazoned across the side, across a trio of dancing pigs. And underneath was the proud motto, “You can’t BEAT our MEAT!”
The trucker bolted across the parking lot through the rain. The cowbell on the door jangled as he shoved it open and stepped into the diner. He was just over six foot tall, with a pot belly that hung over his enormous belt buckle. His blue jeans and American flag t-shirt were soaked through to his skin, and his cowboy boots squished with each step. His face was wide and tan, and stubble covered his cheeks and chin.
Eric muttered, “I says, Pigpen, this here’s the Rubber Duck, and I’m about to put the hammer down.” Ben gave him a dirty look to shush him.
The trucker glanced over at them, and grinned. He turned back to the woman behind the register.
“Hey, Edna. Looks like business is picking up, huh?”
“Go to hell, Duke,” the woman said, not even looking up from her paper. “You want a menu?”
“Nah. Gimme a diablo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper.” With a sigh, Edna got up and went back into the kitchen.
Duke ambled across the empty diner, trailing water behind on the dirty tile floor. He pulled off his John Deere gimme cap and ran his fingers through his damp, blonde hair.
“Evening, boys,” he said in a pleasant drawl. “Mind if’n I join you? I hate to eat alone.”
Eric rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath. But Ben, obviously the affable of the two, slid over to make room. Duke slipped into the booth next to him, his belly pressed against the edge of the table.
“Much obliged,” he said. “Where you boys headed on a night like tonight?”
“Lubbock,” Ben said. “On our way back to school.”
“You know what they say,” Duke said with a wink. “If you wanna find Lubbock, you just go west ‘til you smell it and north ‘til you step in it.”
“Is that what they say?” Eric said.
Duke chuckled. “Sounds like someone jerked a knot in your friend’s tail,” he said to Ben.
“He’s just in a pissy mood,” Ben said apologetically. “We’ve been here for about two hours now, waiting for the rain to let up.”
“No TV. No radio. Not even a jukebox in this place!” Eric shook his head. “What kind of truck stop doesn’t have a jukebox?”
“Well now,” Duke said, “as long as we’re stuck here, we might as well pass the time pleasant-like. You boys amenable to a story?”
“Sure,” Ben said.
“Why not,” Eric sighed.
“All righty then. Just sit back and listen up, ‘cause ol’ Duke’s got a tale to tell. There was this Scoutmaster who took his troop camping one night...”
* * *
The day’s hiking was done, and the scouts had pitched camp for the night. Now they were gathered around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and listening to Scoutmaster Bill tell his ghost stories.
“...and when she looked down,” Bill said dramatically, “hanging from the car door handle was... a hook!”
The kids stared at him blankly.
“A hook!” Bill repeated. “There was a hook hanging from the door handle!”
“I don’t get it,” said Sheldon. The others murmured in agreement.
“It was a hook! The serial killer’s hook! Remember? I told you the serial killer was missing a hand?”
“No you didn’t,” Clifton said. “You said he was missing a foot.”
“Oh.” Bill sighed. “Well, he was missing a hand, okay? And had a hook instead. And that’s what she saw hanging from the car door handle. Okay?”
“That story sucked,” Preston whined. Sheldon, Clifton, and the rest joined in. “Yeah, that wasn’t scary at all!”
Bill placed another marshmallow on the tip of his stick, and held it over the flame. “So, you boys wanna hear a really scary story?”
“Yeah!” The boys wriggled excitedly, scooting closer to the fire.
“All right, then. But just remember, you asked for it.” Ben looked at their eager faces and nodded. “This guy was out driving one snowy night, and he saw a hitchhiker by the side of the road...”
* * *
The hitchhiker stood ankle deep in the snow, dressed in a tattered green jacket with a stuffed duffle bag slung over his shoulder. His damp hair and beard were freckled with snowflakes, and his breath snaked from his nostrils in steamy tendrils.
Albert wondered how long the man had been standing out there, waiting for a sympathetic driver. Most people would have simply written the poor guy off as a hippie or an axe murderer and driven on by. But Albert had always made it a rule to stop for hitchhikers.
“Thanks, man,” the hitchhiker said as he climbed into the passenger seat of Albert’s Escalade. He tossed his bag into the back, then turned the heater vent directly on his face. He sniffled a couple of times, then finally sighed with relief.
“Where you headed?” Albert asked.
“Wherever you are, I guess,” the hitchhiker said. He placed his hands in front of the vent, rubbing feeling back into his numb fingers.
“You’re lucky I came by,” Albert said. “Not a lot of folks on the road tonight.”
“I don’t suppose you got nothing warm to drink?” the hitchhiker asked.
Albert pointed to the thermos in the floorboard. “Help yourself to some hot chocolate.”
The hitchhiker took a swig straight from the mouth of the thermos. He smacked his lips, then took another drink.
“I ain’t got no money,” the hitchhiker said. “I mean, I ain’t no freeloader or nothing. I’m just kinda tapped right now.”
“It’s okay,” Albert said. “Cocoa’s on me.”
“Nah, I feel like you oughta get something for your trouble.” The hitchhiker stared out the window for a few seconds, then turned back to Albert. “I know! How about I tell you a story?”
Albert shrugged. “Sure.”
“All right, man.” The hitchhiker leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “There was this crazy old lady, right? And she lived with her son...”
* * *
Harv knew he’d screwed up bad. Wednesday nights he was supposed to come straight home from work so he could eat dinner and watch Deal or No Deal with Momma. But last night, he’d decided to go out for drinks with that girl Nina who worked in the mail room. It had been after midnight when he got home, and Momma had gone to bed. So he had gone on up to his room figuring he’d settle things with her in the morning.
It was now mid-afternoon, and Harv was chained to a wall in the basement. Momma, in her worn pink bathrobe and slippers, had been ignoring his pleas all morning as she labored away.
She was building a brick wall.
“Momma, please! You don’t have to do this!”
She slathered another layer of mortar with her trowel, then laid another brick in place. A cigarette, mostly ash, hung from her lips.
“You’re a bad boy, Harv. And you know what happens to bad boys.” She plopped another brick down. “Next time Momma tells you not to mess around indecent with slutty women, maybe you’ll listen.”
“Okay, I’m sorry!” Harv’s voice was hoarse from crying and pleading. “I promise, it won’t ever happen again! Just let me out of here, and we can go back upstairs and watch General Hospital.”
Momma considered it for a second. She took the cigarette from her mouth and tapped off the ashes. Then she shrugged and put down another layer of mortar.
“Momma! Stop, okay? Just stop!”
She kept laying the bricks, oblivious to his begging. He could no longer feel his arms, which he supposed was a blessing. His wrists were raw and bleeding from the manacles.
Desperately, Harv cried out, “If you stop, I’ll tell you a story!”
Momma set the trowel down and took another drag on her cigarette. “I’m listening,” she said.
Elated, Harv launched into his tale. “Once upon a time, there was this dog who was notorious for mauling cats...”
* * *
His owners had once called him Cocoa, but amongst the Feline Nation he was known as the Butcher. He was a pit bull/dachshund mix with short, chocolate brown fur and a narrow scissor snout full of strong, sharp teeth.
He had vague memories of living in a backyard, but that had been so long ago. His owners had moved away, and he’d found himself prowling the streets and alleys, eating from dumpsters and avoiding the men in uniforms that sometimes tried to catch him.
And chasing cats. He loved to chase cats.
He couldn’t explain why, any more than he could explain his desire to sniff other dogs’ butts or pee on things he liked. But there was something about their smug, smartass cat faces that set his teeth on edge.
But he was still a good dog. Yes he was!
The word had been out for some time, and the cats had become quite masterful at avoiding him. Occasionally, he’d get their scent, but he never seemed to catch more than a fleeting glimpse as they scampered over a fence or up a tree.
So he was elated when he saw the fat mackerel tabby glaring at him from the mouth of an alley. Its tail was low and twitching, and its ears were flat. Not scared. Not threatened. Just aggressive.
He walked slowly towards the cat, hoping to close the distance before startling it. When he was near enough to see the yellow of its eyes, the cat turned and bolted into the dark alley. He let out a short, angry bark and leapt into the shadows after it. The alley came to an abrupt dead end. A stack of rotted wooden warehouse pallets lay at the end, towering above him. And resting atop the stack was the cat. It gave a yowl that made his fur itch. Several dozen yowls were offered up in response.
Nervously, he turned to see the cats filing into the alley. Most were scrawny and matted, some were missing eyes, ears, and tails. Black, brown, striped, spotted... he’d never seen so many cats in one place before. It had never occurred to him there were this many cats in the world.
They approached en masse, jumping down from fire escapes and leaping out from behind trash cans. They hissed and caterwauled as they came towards him, and he knew he was in trouble.
“Well, well, well,” said the fat tabby from up above him. “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to go hunting without your pack?”
He said nothing. He simply turned to face the cats as they advanced on him. He felt the hair on his back and neck bristle as he let loose with his most threatening growl.
“Enough!” the tabby yowled. It turned its gaze down to him and said, “You stand accused of heinous crimes against the Feline Nation. What say you, Butcher? Do you have anything to offer up in your defense before we pass judgment?”
He pondered for a moment. Then he told them a story about a man in Scotland who made a deal with the Devil...
* * *
A Scotsman had bargained with nefarious powers, offering up his soul in exchange for wealth and fame. True to his word, the Devil had granted respect and prosperity to the Scotsman. But he had then struck the poor man down with scarlet fever in the prime of his life.
So now he lay on his deathbed, wracked with scarlatina. His daughter, a handsome lass, sat by his bedside, keeping vigil and providing what comfort she could. She mopped his feverish brow, gave him cool water to drink, and read to him from his Bible.
“Be strong, Faither,” she told him, clutching his hand. “Be brave. And should the De’il come here tonight, I winna let him take ye without a fight.”
“Indeed?” A man stepped from the shadows, dark-dressed and soft-spoken. He smiled, showing plentiful white teeth. His was a face that was unearthly in its beauty, but oh, so cold and hateful his eyes!
The daughter leapt to her feet, still holding her Bible in her arms. She eyed the stranger warily, taking note of the silver cane he held in one hand, and of his oddly-shaped boots that might conceal cloven hooves. And she named him thus, “Auld Cloots!”
The pronouncement of his name was met by a tremendous crash of thunder, and the howling of hounds on the moors.
“At your service,” he said with a bow. “I’ve business with your father.
“Ye’ll nae take him,” said the daughter defiantly.
“Well, I beg to differ,” said the interloper. He held out his hand, and a yellowed document appeared with a puff of smoke. Her father’s name was signed in red in the lower corner.
“Signed, stamped, and notarized,” he said. “Twenty years ago this very night, your father did prick his thumb with a silver pin and sign his name. Upon his death, his soul will be remanded into my custody for eternity.”
The daughter leaned in to read the fine print, squinting as she ran a finger along the infernal clauses. “It says here that ye must collect my faither’s soul within twenty years of signing, or he goes free.”
“Yes,” sighed the stranger. “Your father proved to be more hale and hardy than I’d originally thought, which is why I had to smite him with the scarlet fever.” He pulled a silver watch from his pocket and consulted it. “Shouldn’t be long now.”
“I’ve a proposition for ye,” said the daughter. “A wager.”
The stranger placed the watch back in his pocket. “You don’t say.”
“I ken ye’re familiar with the Good Book,” she said, holding up the Bible.
“I’ve browsed through it,” he said. “Never read the whole thing. Those damned begats put me right to sleep.”
“I wager I can tell ye a story out of this Bible that ye’ve ne’er heard. If I win, ye tear up that contract and give my faither some peace.”
“And if you lose?”
The daughter regarded the stranger, meeting his evil gaze with an icy stare of her own. “If I lose, then ye can take me down to yer black pit as well.”
He considered her offer, then smiled his evil smile. “Done, and done,” spake he. “Whenever you’re ready.”
She gazed over at her ailing father, and hugged the Bible to her bosom for comfort. Then she took a deep breath and began her tale. “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that Jesus said unto his disciples, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake...”
* * *
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over unto the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out.
23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so the boat was being swamped and they were in great danger.
24 The disciples argued among themselves about the proper course of action. Peter spoke unto the others, saying, “A prudent fisherman would head for shore to escape the storm. But to do so might also be seen as a lack of faith.
25 “Verily, I say we should alter our course and head into the squall, thus demonstrating to our master that our belief is beyond reproach.”
26 But Philip rebuked him, saying, “Salvation will come about through our own actions, not through foolhardy gestures.
27 “For it is written that God helps those whom help themselves.”
28 “Actually, it isn’t,” said Jesus, shaking his head. “But that’s okay. Lots of people make that mistake.”
29 And the disciples rejoiced to see that their master had awakened and joined them, and they beseeched him for guidance, asking “What would Jesus do?”
30 And Jesus told them this parable: “There was once an emperor who had seven sons...”
* * *
The Jade Emperor called forth his seven sons, who knelt before him. “My time will soon be at an end,” he told them, “and I must decide which of you is most worthy to rule in my stead. As a good ruler must willingly provide for his people, so will you demonstrate your capacity for giving to me.
“Each of you will bestow upon me the greatest gift you can. And he that gives the finest gift of all shall inherit my empire.”
The first son, Sun Yi, presented his father with a large urn filled with flawless diamonds. The second, Sun Er, brought in dozens of royal robes, all crafted from the finest silk. His third son, Sun San, unveiled an exquisite, golden statue of a belly dancer, while the fourth, Sun Si, presented him with a cask of potent spirits. From his fifth son, Sun Wu, he received a massive tapestry depicting his many military victories. And from his sixth, Sun Liu, he received a dozen beautiful Ukrainian horses.
But the seventh son, Sun Qi, approached the throne empty handed, and the emperor was puzzled. “Where, then,” he said, “is your gift for me?”
“Material possessions are fleeting, Father,” said the seventh son. “I bring you a gift more enduring than any other. I bring you a story.”
His brothers laughed amongst themselves until the emperor silenced them with an upraised hand. “A story? Very well. Give me your story, my son.”
The seventh son bowed and took a seat on the steps, at the feet of his father. “There is a cave deep beneath the world...”
* * *
...and in this cave, the goddess Ramistoka sleeps and dreams the world into existence. There is a legend that a mortal can enter the cave, approach the goddess, and whisper his fondest wish into her ear. Upon hearing the wish, Ramistoka will dream it into being. Thus can a mortal achieve his heart’s desire.
Alamon is a miserable man who has led a passive life. Five years ago, his wife left him for a traveling merchant. Three years ago, his oxen perished of the blight. And last year, a fire destroyed his farm and home. And through it all, Alamon’s only response has been to shake his fists at the heavens and cry out, “Why me?”
But Alamon has decided he will be a plaything of the fates no more. Rather than sit back and wait for misfortune to fall upon him, he is going to take action and make things happen.
The road is hard and fraught with peril, but Alamon finally makes it to the Sacred Mountains. The climb is difficult, but he scales the cliffs and eventually reaches the narrow, winding path. He braves the snow and ice as he presses on, knowing true happiness lies at the end of the trail.
And then, at last, he finds himself in the massive cavern. Ramistoka, vast and beautiful, lies on her back atop an enormous stone dais. Her arms are crossed on her chest, and her gentle snores echo throughout the chamber.
Alamon approaches her reverently, wondering what he’ll wish for. He climbs to the top of the dais and walks the length of her body. Her skin is pale blue and flawless, and smells of jasmine.
His heart pounding, he approaches her head. He’s mulled it over, and he’s finally figured out his most fervent desire. He doesn’t care about his oxen, or his farm, or his home. He doesn’t even want his wife back.
There’s only one thing that can make him happy. He leans into Ramistoka’s ear, and he whispers, “Wake up.”
* * *
Sun Qi finished his story, and the throne room was silent.
“A bleak tale,” the Jade Emperor finally said, “but there is much wisdom in it. Your story is truly a worthy gift, my son.”
“I’m glad you are pleased, Father.”
“But I’ve decided that my successor shall be Sun San.”
There were some angry and surprised outcries from the others as the third son stepped up proudly to the throne.
“But why?” asked Sun Qi. “I thought you liked my story!”
The emperor shrugged. “It was okay. But I really liked this gold belly dancer statue your brother gave me. It has rubies where the nipples should be!”
* * *
39 And when Jesus completed his story, the disciples scratched their heads in puzzlement. None had understanding of the parable, but none wanted to admit to their ignorance.
40 It was Simon Peter who finally spoke, saying, “It was an interesting lesson, Master, but I think I prefer the one about the man leaving footprints on the beach.”
* * *
The daughter reached the end of her tale and regarded the stranger, who stared at her incredulously.
“Um, I don’t think that story is actually in the Bible,” he said.
“Yes, it is,” she insisted. “It’s, er, in Deuteronomy somewhere.”
The stranger sighed. “Fine. We’ll call it a draw. But I’m still taking your father’s soul.”
At this, the bedridden Scotsman suddenly sat up and proclaimed, “Ye’ll nae be taking no souls today, Auld Nick. For I am Sir Alexander Fleming, and I’ve recovered from the scarlet fever thanks to my recent invention of penicillin!”
The daughter clapped her hands with glee and ran over to hug her father. The stranger shook his head and muttered, “I knew I should have gone with a heart attack.” Then he vanished in a cloud of brimstone.
* * *
Harv wrapped up his story and smiled at Momma. “So, what did you think?”
“It’s the worst story I've ever heard,” said Momma. “I don’t even think Fleming had a daughter.”
Ignoring her son’s screams, Momma finished the wall. And when the last brick was in place, she went upstairs to watch her stories.
* * *
The hitchhiker pointed at a deserted house as they drove past it and said, “That was the house, man. Right there. And they say the ghost of that Harv dude wanders this very road, telling his tale to any who will listen.”
The hitchhiker drained the last of the hot cocoa from the thermos, then tossed it onto the floorboard.
“Was it you?” Albert asked.
“Were you the guy that got walled up in that basement? Are you his ghost?”
The hitchhiker snorted. “No way, man! But that would’ve been cool!” He held up his hands menacingly and let out a ghostly, “Oooooooooh!”
His goofy grin faded, and he suddenly clutched at his throat. “Cocoa...” he wheezed.
Albert nodded. “Yeah, it’s poisoned. You really shouldn’t hitchhike, you know? It’s dangerous.”
The hitchhiker was still gasping and thrashing weakly when Albert turned onto the dirt road and followed it into a snowy field. He got out of the car, grabbed the hitchhiker by his long hair, and dragged him into the snow. Then he took a shovel from his trunk and went to work, digging a new shallow grave next to the other sixteen...
* * *
“Because he was a serial killer,” Scoutmaster Bill finished up. “You see?”
The kids glared at him over the campfire, shaking their heads. “That’s so lame,” Preston said. “Your stories suck!”
“Yeah,” said Sheldon and Clifton and the others.
Bill felt himself getting flustered. “Well, that’s because I haven’t gotten to the scary part yet,” he said. “Um, because when Albert was burying the hitchhiker, he was suddenly attacked... by a VAMPIRE!”
There was no response from the kids. Bill looked over and saw they were all slumped over. Their hair was white and standing on end, and their eyes were wide with horror. His entire troop had died of fright.
“Well, I warned them it was scary,” Scoutmaster Bill murmured to himself. Nodding with approval, he roasted another marshmallow.
* * *
As Duke’s story came to a close, Eric glanced out the window and smiled for the first time that night.
“Dude,” he said, nudging Ben. “It stopped raining!”
As suddenly as it had come, the storm had blown over. A full moon lit the night sky and cast reflections in the puddles throughout the parking lot.
Duke polished off his sandwich and gulped down the rest of his Dr. Pepper. Then he slid his massive frame out of the booth and stood. He gave Ben and Eric a respectful salute and said, “Well boys, my work here is done. It’s time for me to be moving on.”
While he was paying for his meal, Ben timidly called his name. Duke turned, an enigmatic smile on his face.
“It... it was more than just a story,” Ben said. “Wasn’t it?”
“Maybe it was, boys. Maybe it was.” He gave them a wink, and walked outside. The cowbell on the door clanged behind him. Ben stared through the window, watching in awe as Duke climbed up into his cab and pulled his big rig onto the highway. He gave a tug on his horn, and then sped off into the night.
For several minutes, nobody said a word. There was no sound except for the rumble of distant thunder and the rustle of Edna’s newspaper. Ben couldn’t escape the feeling that something wondrous had happened here tonight. He wondered where Duke’s travels would take him next. And he wondered if he’d ever see the mysterious trucker again.
"Hey, wait a minute!" Eric shouted, slapping the tabletop. "What the hell happened to the dog?"
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
And having read it, I'm privy to a number of things that many Christians seem to have missed. For example, I know that Jesus commanded his disciples to hate their parents, wives, children, brothers, sisters, and themselves (Luke 14:26). I remember a particularly troubling story where a bunch of kids were making fun of Elisha's bald spot, and God retaliated by sending a couple of bears to slaughter them (2 Kings 2:24). And I recall God threatening to corrupt the seed of the Judah priests and smear shit on their faces (Malachi 2:3).
Since a lot of Christians haven't actually *read* the book on which they've based their entire lives, they have no idea this stuff is in there. They yammer on and on about how the Bible is the literal and unerring word of God "because it says so, right there in the Bible!" But when you bring up the miracle where Jesus pulled money out of a fish (Matthew 17:26) or that story of a prostitute who lusted after men with genitals like donkeys and emissions like horses (Ezekiel 23:20), they just look at you like you've lost your mind. And when you finally show it to them, they'll just claim that you're taking it out of context or that you somehow lack the ability to truly understand because you insist on thinking with your brain instead of your heart.
(And while we're on the subject, if one more Christian tries to tell me that the expression "God helps those who help themselves" comes from the Bible, I'm going to call Jesus collect and have Him revoke your salvation.)
One Bible story that used to bother me to no end comes from Exodus. Moses has just seen the burning bush, and is on his way back to Egypt with his wife Zipporah and infant son to confront Pharaoh. And then, this happens:
And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let them go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:24-26).I *eventually* figured out that Moses had forgotten to circumcise his son, which had apparently pissed God off. Even knowing that, it's still a creepy story. But I remember reading this passage when I was 12 years old, and thinking WHAT THE FUCK?
When I was working at Brinker back in 1997, I brought up this particular Bible verse to my friend Dave. Dave is a Mormon but, more importantly, he's smart and he has a sense of humor. I once tried to turn him from his sinning Mormon ways by giving him this Jack Chick tract, but Dave clung stubbornly to his faith. He's nothing if not devout.
Anyway, I mentioned this verse to Dave as an example of the weird, creepy stuff that people forget is in the Bible. And of course, Dave thought I was making it up. So we went to my computer, hopped on Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's Internet, and looked it up.
I'll never forget that moment. Dave just shook his head, laughing. "I've never read that before. I had no idea it was in there."
My officemate Brenda said, "You shouldn't ever argue religion with Irby. He really knows the Bible."
For some reason, this filled me with pride. I was actually beaming when I said, "Why, thank you."
Then Brenda added, "Of course, the Devil can quote scripture to suit his purposes."
Monday, November 17, 2008
But I'm going to try something different this time. I'm going to post every day for a week. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I learned long ago that it's important to set realistic and easily attenable goals if you want to succeed, which is why I got so many Cs in college.
So I'll try it for a week. And if I make it, I'll try it for another week. And so on and so on until I finally overcome my
addiction to Asian furry porn general sloth and malaise. Or until I inevitably spiral into failure.
Friday, November 14, 2008
But that kind of thinking leads to massive Kool Aid tragedies, and frankly, who needs that kind of headache? So I guess the nicest thing to do is to give a shout out to my Followers and try my best not to abuse this newfound messianic power.
(I've just noticed that "Follower" is one of those words that stops looking like a word when you type it too many times. Sort of like "obey" or "Palin 2012!")
So to Jana (30-Something With Cats) and Jenna P. (Random Musings), I greet thee from the heart of Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's Internet. Just let me know if you guys decide to get some t-shirts made up or something.
Peace unto you, my children!
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Well, it's official. Barack Obama is our president elect with 349 electoral votes and 52% of the popular vote. So apparently God decided to vote Democrat this year.
Obama delivered a truly inspirational speech upon winning the election, which made me realize how long it's been since we've had someone in the White House who can speak in public. Or, you know, read.
Obama's speech was far more unifying than anything I've heard from Democrats or Republicans in the last 30 years. Seriously, it was stirring and moving and eloquent. If you managed to sit through it without getting just a little choked up and hopeful for the future, then all I can say is thanks for reading my blog, Vice President Cheney.
So can Obama live up to the hype? Admittedly, that bar has been set pretty low over the past few decades. And the man is inheriting a massive shit sandwich, what with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention our limping economy. Despite altruistic aspirations of reaching across the aisle, many players on both sides remain too entrenched in partisan politics to give a damn about the welfare of our country.
There have been a lot of naysayers lately who have been sounding the death knell for the U.S. They claim we're circling the drain, that we're an empire in decline. Frankly, I'm a little more optimistic than that. I figure if this nation can survive a Civil War, a Great Depression, and two world wars, it can recover from eight years of Bush!
A lot of Republicans are blaming McCain for losing the election. And, admittedly, his campaign was disorganized and, at times, baffling. But the fault doesn't lie with McCain, but with Bush and his administration. The last time the Republicans suffered a disgraceful presidency was Nixon in the 1970s. Many thought the party would never recover, but Reagan successfully married the GOP to the conservative Christian right in the 1980s and reinvented the Republicans as the moral backbone of the U.S.
(An unfortunate side effect of this was that the words "Democrat", "liberal", and "evil" all became synonymous in the conservative lexicon. Because once you decide that your party is the embodiment of God's will on earth, it's only natural to view the other as a manifestation of Satan.)
But the point is, the American people wanted a change. Obama earmarked change as the keystone of his campaign early on, and successfully painted McCain and the Republicans as "more of the same." McCain and his team jumped on the change bandwagon as well, but it was too little too late. No matter how hard he and Palin tried to paint themselves as mavericks, the voters just didn't buy it. Obama's victory isn't an indictment of the Republicans, but of the political stagnation they represent.
Obama promised to change things for the better, and 52% of American voters believed him. Including me. I'm not used to feeling optimistic. It's kind of scary.
Make us proud again, Barack!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
My mom, God bless her, has been through three divorces. The first was from my dad, so I don't think we can hold that one against her. The second was from J.R., a rugged good ol' boy who made it his personal mission to save me from my own potential gayness. The third was from a guy named Frank, about whom the less said, the better.
So that's 11 divorces between the two of them, give or take. I used to joke that my first marriage was doomed to failure, and I should just marry someone I don't like and get it out of my system. Then I could concentrate on making the second one work.
So what's my point? I'm glad you asked, Charlene. My point is, I have a feeling that's what the Republicans are doing in 2008 by running John McCain. They know they're doomed to lose this election, so they're just running someone they don't like to get him out of the way. Then they'll concentrate on making the 2012 election count. McCain is basically a political palate cleanser.
So is this really the year for the Democrats to be hauling out the big guns? Sure, Obama would be a great president. But it almost seems wasteful to pit him against an also-ran like McCain. Maybe we should save him up for 2012 as well.
So who should the Democrats run instead? I'm glad you asked, Gretchen. I think the Democrats (or "Dems," as they're called by FOX News, because multisyllabic words are problematic for most of their viewers) need to send a message. And that message should be, "Hey! You Republicans aren't the only ones who can elect an insane, illiterate, borderline retard into office!"
In these crazy times, we need a president who is, not to put too fine a point on it, nuttier than a sack of assholes. We need Lee L. Mercer, Jr..
The first thing you may notice is that he bears an eerie resemblance to Michael Clarke Duncan. The next thing you'll probably notice is HOLY SHIT, THIS GUY IS OUT OF HIS GODDAMN MIND!!!!
From the first paragraph illuminating his Campaign Theme to the final clause of his Privacy and Legal Policies, you'll realize that Mr. Mercer composes a lot of sentences by randomly stringing together unrelated terms. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see huge chunks of his manifesto spelled out verbatim on his refrigerator with those little magnetic words. But keep digging down into this morass of haphazard sentences and Wanton Capitalization, and you'll eventually get to the meat of Mr. Mercer's madness.
You see, when Mr. Mercer was in the ROTC, he was tasked with developing the "Eye Spy Community-Military Intelligence (All Three)" network, to which he and all other U.S. citizens were connected by an "intelligence hotwire" that was installed and cannot be removed. Now this sort of thing may sound fantastic and beyond the realm of possibility, but that's only because you're not a "Road Scholar" with "millions of doctor's degrees" like Mr. Mercer. If you had the proper qualifications, you might be able to appreciate the accomplishments of this man who "invented computerized education and the applications to make computerized education learn."
This Eye Spy Community-Military Intelligence (All Three) surveillance network is the true power behind the United States, and actually serves as a secret government (known as the "United States Government's Technocracy"). Since Mr. Mercer is already president of that government, he's ready to go public and assume command of the other U.S. government. You know, the one that everybody knows about.
Once he's in charge, Mr. Mercer intends to use his super powers to fix all of our nation's problems. In addition to vindicating the U.S. in the Iran War (!) and bringing criminal organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the Communist Party to their knees, he insists that he'll be able to use his amazing computer brain to balance the budget. In fact, he claims that there will be enough money left over to pay each U.S. citizen $350,000 a year for almost 100 years. HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU NOT VOTE FOR THIS GUY???
Here are some other intriguing reasons for Mr. Mercer's candidacy, in the man's own words. Seriously.
- To prove I have developed a crime prevention program and a city warfare program in Business and Commerce Intelligence to solve the Crime War, Drug War, The Fifty Years War, the Iran War and any other war that might come about in the world in the future National and International.
- To prove I have solved every crime in the world as it happens from zero to start to finish for every crime done in Business and Commerce Intelligence National and International.
- To Prove I am a University of Texas at Austin ROTC to West Point Military Academy Road Scholar and Scholar of The World Academic Bid awarded doctor's degrees student graduate keep in student status in the U.S. Army Military Intellgience Academy Camp Bullis San Antonio, Texas, Houston, Texas a Texas Congress, Texas Senate and United States Congress Business and Commerce Intelligence Project/Program took over by the United States Federal Congress which I am the administer National and International.
- To Prove I will be the 2nd Negro President of the United States of America in 2008 in my Business Commerce Intelligence National and International.
- To Prove my Presidential Campaign Committee joined my me in my Presidential Campaign and Eye Spy Community-Military Intelligence Business and Commerce Intelligence, my board and staff and me saved the lives of every person alive at this future time.
- To Prove President George Walker Bush, Jr. and other Public Officials have been Impeached by the United States Congress in 2004 for torture of me and my family, capital murder in my family, Espionage and other crimes against the state and humanity.
- To Prove the government owes me Zillions of Dollars in money and is refraining to pay me and my business Eye Spy Community-Military Intelligence (All Three) Business and Commerce Intelligence National and International.
- To Prove government employees are operating organize crime rape gangs solved by Eye Spy Community-Military Intelligence Business and Commerce Intelligence Electronic Surveillance National and International.
- To Prove the definition Kill in the Random House Dictionary of the English Language College Edition Larence Urdang Editor in Chief Stuart Berg Flexner Managing Editor in All Displines across the board through Military Intelligence.
- To Proved I Lee L. Mercer, Jr. cleaned up the Law Books Of the United States Of America across the Board Notate, Schematic and Tracking National and International.
- To Prove the United States Government killed my sex life, my wife sex life, my daughter-in -laws sex life both may sons and other of my family members sex life with Espionage Experimentation and Espionage Exloitation sex killing.
- To Prove Jeb Bush is all in my house with disease.
- To Prove the Bush Family is a Death Order.
- To Prove My only Guardian Former Governor of Texas Ann Richards has just joined me MERCER FOR PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN and Lt. Col. Charles Wallace of The United States Army Military Intelligence Academy.
- To Prove America is America.
- To Prove these perpetrators are trying to stop me from running for President of The United States. They are Vice-President Dick Chenny, Former Vice-President Al Gore and their Assessors. They keep killing my mother and our family the evidence is on my mother's and our Criminal Intelligence Electronic Surveillance Health Recorder. I do not want these perpetrators to kill my Mother.
- RELIGION PROGRAM TO WORK AMERICA. The program has solved everything in the world such as 1. All the crime 2. The lack of world peace 3. All the poverty 4. All communications 5. All prejudice 6. All phenomenons guaranteed to be true by the United States Army. This is a U.S. Army FBI ROTC religion program. This made all of my Doctor's degrees.
Jeb Bush Is All In My House With Disease!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
God is great, God is good,(Some people go on to learn additional stanzas about "being fed" and "daily bread," but frankly, that's just overkill. It's like learning the second verse of the Star Spangled Banner, and who the hell needs that?)
Let us thank him for our food.
So like most normal kids who are indoctrinated at an early age, I learned to Bless the Food™ by rote. Any time I was called on to say the blessing, I would simply bow my head and recite the prayer I had been taught.
As I got older, the prayer went through several mutations...
Good bread, good meat,Or...
Good God, let's eat.
Rub-a-dub-dub,But by the time I became a teenager, praying by rote was no longer acceptable. Or rather, praying a prayer that someone else had written was no longer acceptable. My grandfather had been praying the same prayer for so many years that he had it down to a science, and every time he "asked the blessing," he would speed pray like an auctioneer.
Thanks for the grub.
Amen, dig in!
Accept this thanks our Father for this day we ask that you bless this food bless it to the nourishment of our bodies...About that time, my younger stepbrother J.J. began receiving the prayer duty. I, for one, was happy because it meant I wouldn't have to do it anymore. Also, J.J. hadn't managed to commit the entire prayer to memory, so his blessing would always be along the lines of "God is great. Amen."
One day, after visiting the First Baptist Church in Winnsboro, Texas, we all went back to my grandparents house for lunch. My grandmother had done her traditional pot roast, and we were all pretty hungry. So when the time came to say the blessing, my sister and I both chimed in, "Let J.J. say it!"
Unfortunately, J.J. had apparently received some schooling in proper praying since the last time, and he went to town.
God is great, God is good,...and so on, for about five minutes. My mom finally interrupted his heartfelt prayer by saying, "Hey! God knows who's in your family, okay? Just say Amen."
Let us thank him for our food.
By his hand, we are fed.
Thanks for this, our daily bread.
God bless Daddy and Momma and Meme and Daddy Pops and Mamaw and Papaw and Gran and Chris and Sunny and Uncle Mark and Aunt Pam and Rob and Amber and Zane and Heather and Teresa and Jan and Bubba and Lee Wayne and Leroy...
Anyway, once non-recited prayers became the norm, I became very uncomfortable and self-conscious any time I was asked to pray in front of people. I'd stumble through something about "thank you for the food and the weather and, you know, all that." I made a couple of ill-fated attempts to emulate my grandfather, but I lacked his mastery and got my tongue all tangled up over "AcceptthisthanksourFather..."
So imagine my joy some years later, when I was in college, and my mom married a Catholic guy. Suddenly, recited prayers were back in vogue! Any time I joined them for dinner, we would recite:
Bless us, oh Lord, for these gifts we're about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen.Simple. Elegant. To the point. I wasn't a Catholic. Hell, I wasn't even a Christian by that point. But to me, it was an out. It was a handy, socially-acceptable prayer that I could whip out any time someone put me on the spot. Even after mom divorced the guy, I kept the prayer.
So fast forward a few years later. It was Thanksgiving, and my sister and I were having dinner with my dad and grandmother. (This was before they died, otherwise this would be a truly creepy story.) We'd all just sat down, and Dad said, "Hey, Chrisco. Why don't you bless it?"
So we bowed our heads, and I said, "Bless us, oh Lord, for these gifts we're about to receive..."
When I was done, I looked up, and everyone was looking at me strangely. My grandmother asked, "Where did you hear that prayer?"
My sister said, "I think it's a Catholic prayer," in the same tone of voice that someone might say, "I think that's a turd in your coffee."
I shrugged. "It's the only prayer I know all the words to."
My sister was simply outraged. "You're not supposed to just recite something. You're supposed to pray what's in your heart."
"Whatever. Can we eat now?"
"We need to bless the food for real," my sister insisted.
"Fine," I sighed. I bowed my head again and this time prayed, "Dear Lord, we ask that you smite us not, miserable wretches that we are, but rather you spare us for another day in your service..."
That's as far as I got before I started laughing. Dad laughed, too. My grandmother and my sister, not so much. In fact, it was over an hour before my sister would even speak to me again.
But nobody's asked me to bless the food since then.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Once upon a time, on a farm in Virginia , there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered quite a few grains of wheat.---------------------------
She called all of her neighbors together and said, 'If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?'
'Not I,' said the cow.
'Not I,' said the duck.
'Not I,' said the pig.
'Not I,' said the goose.
'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen, and so she did. The wheat grew very tall and ripened into golden grain.
'Who will help me reap my wheat?' asked the little red hen.
'Not I,' said the duck.
'Out of my classification,' said the pig.
'I 'd lose my seniority,' said the cow.
'I'd lose my unemployment compensation,' said the goose.
'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen, and so she did.
At last it came time to bake the bread.
'Who will help me bake the bread?' asked the little red hen.
'That would be overtime for me,' said the cow.
'I'd lose my welfare benefits,' said the duck.
'I'm a dropout and never learned how,' said the pig.
'If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination,' said the goose.
'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen.
She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, 'No, I shall eat all five loaves.'
'Excess profits!' cried the cow.
'Capitalist leech!' screamed the duck.
'I demand equal rights!' yelled the goose.
The pig just grunted in disdain.
And they all painted 'Unfair!' picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.
Then the Farmer came. He said to the little red hen, 'You must not be so greedy.'
'But I earned the bread,' said the little red hen.
'Exactly,' said the farmer. 'That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle.'
And they all lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, 'I am grateful, for now I truly understand.'
But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the 'party' and got her bread free. And all the politicians smiled. 'Fairness' had been established.
Individual initiative had died, but nobody noticed; perhaps no one cared...so long as there was free bread that 'the rich' were paying for.
Bill Clinton is getting $12 million for his memoirs.
Hillary got $8 million for hers.
That's $20 million for the memories from two people, who for eight years, repeatedly testified, under oath, that they couldn't remember anything.
IS THIS A GREAT BARNYARD OR WHAT?
The person who sent it to me did it just to wind me up (she later admitted as much). And the fact is, it worked. I sat down to write a self-righteous, angry rebuttal about so-called Christian conservatives who excuse their lack of compassion and charity by telling themselves that all poor people are "lazy and idle." But about three paragraphs in, I realized I was accomplishing nothing. She'd probably read the opening sentence, hit delete, and then chide me for taking her joke too seriously.
So I abandoned my original rant and wrote this response instead:
Once upon a time, on a farm in Virginia, there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered quite a few grains of wheat.---------------------------
She called all of her neighbors together and said, "If we plant this wheat, I'll have far more bread than I'll ever need in my life. Who will help me plant it?"
"Will you give us any bread if we help?" asked the cow.
"I'll give you the absolute bare minimum required by law," said the hen. "And you're lucky to get that, with this job market!"
So the cow, duck, pig, and goose labored for eight hours a day and received barely enough bread to keep them alive. Meanwhile, the hen had so much that she couldn't possibly eat it all.
Eventually, the other animals went to the farmer and asked, "Can you give us some bread? We're starving."
"Sorry, I don't have any bread left," said the farmer. "I spent it all on liberating Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy."
"That's right," said the hen gleefully. "I made out like a bandit!"
"But we're starving," the animals cried. "And we don't have enough bread to feed our families."
"It's your own fault for being so lazy and idle," said the hen.
"Sorry," said the farmer. "I have to do what the hen tells me."
So the hen fired all the other animals and outsourced the breadmaking jobs to a contracting firm overseas. And as the farmer's popularity declined, he desperately tried to distract the angry animals by blaming all of the barnyard's problems on same-sex marriage and foreigners.
The poor, starving animals eventually died, but nobody noticed; perhaps nobody cared...so long as "the rich" still had their bread.
Ronald Reagan was paid $6 million for his memoirs, which is kind of remarkable since he repeatedly testified, under oath, that he couldn't remember whether or not he had illegally traded arms to Iran.
ISN'T IT FUNNY HOW SELECTIVE MEMORY CAN BE?
What can I say? Sometimes it's just better to fight passive-aggression with passive-aggression.
Monday, August 11, 2008
So, for any inquiring minds out there, I'll tell you the following:
1. Stephanie and I are still together and it's going great. We're in love, and nerd love is the purest and most wholesome kind of love there is.
2. The play that Sean and I wrote last year, Captain Phantasm vs. the Nefarious Dr. Noir: A Melodramatic Serial in Three Parts, will probably be in Pocket Sandwich Theatre's 2009 lineup. Wooohoooo!
3. I'm still contracting for an online directory service whose name I can't mention for fear that their corporate image would be irreparable damaged if they were affiliated with a blog of such low moral character. They recently laid off a buttload of people, but somehow I dodged that bullet. My contract runs until the end of September, and my boss is hoping to get it extended.
4. Speaking of blogs of low moral character, I just started a new site that focuses on Jack Chick and his hilarious fundamentalist Chick tracts. Check out Jack Chick's Funnybook Gospel (or How I Learned To Stop Thinking and Love the Lord).
And that's it! I missed you guys! And if you're reading this right now, then I missed *you* most of all. Just don't tell the others. They'll get jealous.
Aw, hell. Why not?
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Let's do the Vatican Rag...
First you get down on your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!
Do whatever steps you want, if
You have cleared them with the Pontiff.
Everybody say his own Kyrie eleison,
Doin' the Vatican Rag.
Get in line in that processional,
Step into that small confessional,
There, the guy who's got religion'll
Tell you if your sin's original.
If it is, try playin' it safer,
Drink the wine and chew the wafer,
Two, four, six, eight,
Time to transubstantiate!
So get down upon your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!
Make a cross on your abdomen,
When in Rome do like a Roman,
Ave Maria! Gee it's good to see ya!
Gettin' ecstatic an'
Sorta dramatic an'
Doin' the Vatican Rag!