Thursday, June 30, 2005

Getting To Know You

I am shamelessly (well, okay, maybe I do feel a little bad) ripped this off from Not Safe for Children and I'm posting it here just to see if I actually get any responses off of it. So, like, uh, please go ahead and respond. In the comments, yo.

1. Who are you?
2. Are we friends?
3. When and how did we meet?
4. Do you have a crush on me?
5. Would you kiss me?
6. Give me a nickname and explain why you picked it.
7. Describe me in one word.
8. What was your first impression?
9. Do you still think that way about me now?
10. What reminds you of me?
11. If you could give me anything what would it be?
12. How well do you know me?
13. When's the last time you saw me?
14. Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn't?
15. Are you going to put this on your blog and see what I say about you?

Thing is, these questions work much better for people who, oh, KNOW EACH OTHER. Like, in real life. But I think it would be fascinating to see how people answer this kind of stuff for bloggers who don't know the questioner from Adam.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Midweek Quote

Someone posted this to a chat yesterday and I just had to share it. Particularly appropriate given last night's speech:

"I believe that the community is already in process of dissolution where each man begins to eye his neighbor as a possible enemy, where non-conformity with the accepted creed, political as well as religious, is a mark of disaffection; where denunciation, without specification or backing, takes the place of evidence, where orthodoxy chokes freedom of dissent; where faith in the eventual supremacy of reason has become so timid that we dare not enter our convictions in the open lists, to win or lose."

-- Judge Learned Hand, 1872-1961

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gel-Filled Goodness

I purchased a few books from Kramerbooks recently.

(Yes, I know I just posted about how wonderful the local library is, but these books were gifts.)

The clerk handed me my credit card receipt and I reached for the pen sitting on the counter. As I signed the receipt, I couldn't help noticing the fluidity with which the ink flowed out of the pen, and the smoothness with which the pen moved across the paper. It was an effortless motion to affix my signature to the receipt.

"Wow," I said out loud. "That is one kick-ass pen."

(I have since identified it as one of the gel-ink dealies. A little more expensive than ordinary ball-points, but so cool.

The clerk smiled at me weakly. "Well, they're cool," he told me. "But only if you're not writing too much. After a while with it, you notice some inconsistently with ink delivery, and you hit periods of ink spotting followed by periods of no ink output at all."

My response: "Gee, burst my bubble."

It truly takes two big-time geeks to get into details regarding the merits of a pen.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Under a Week!

I leave for Vegas in under a week! (I've recently rediscovered my ability to count.)

The excitement mounts. (Though the hotel room is a bit more than I'm used to spending. Well, not really, but it's still a bit hefty.)

I need to do laundry. Or I could just pack up whatever clean clothes I have left, including those that never made it out of the luggage from the last time I went home, to see my grandmother, in April. This is how bad I am about unpacking my stuff.

Any suggestions besides gambling and shopping on the strip for stuff to see/do in Vegas? Anything I need to take with me just in case?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Return of the Book

"What are you doing?" my boss asks, peering into my door from the hallway. I'm holding a book, The Secret Life of Bees, at the time.

"Just checking," I tell him. "I was afraid that this was due soon, so I wanted to be sure it wasn't late."

A quizzical look passes my boss's face.

"You see, it's a library book," I explain.

"Ah," he says. "That's so..."

We both consider it for a moment, and I finally say: "I think the word we're thinking of is quaint."

"Yes, that's a good word for it," my boss says, and walks along.

We're all so used to plopping down a few bucks at Borders or Barnes & Noble for books (which we'll only read once anyway) that few of us think to utilize our public library system. I've been trying to personally remedy that, at least when it comes to my own life.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

To All You Downtown D.C. Drivers

An Open Letter to Downtown D.C. Drivers, particularly those of you who traverse 14th Street in downtown at some point during your morning and/or afternoon commutes:


There, I feel kinda better.

You, my friend, are a stupid driver.

You honked incessantly as if it would make the traffic move faster.

You tried to be a badass and make your oh-so-goddamn-important left turn ahead of oncoming traffic in the same instant your light turns green, so that those pesky pedestrians in the crosswalk ended up making you block up to three lanes of traffic. Because you were so goddamn important that your turn had to come first.

You never seemed capable of judging whether or not your car would be able to clear the opposing crosswalk, such that you would always block the box instead of just waiting one additional light cycle before going on into the intersection. Because you were so goddamn important that waiting for one extra light cycle would have killed you.

Well, now you've gone and done it. Other drivers -- marginally better ones, I suppose -- appear to have complained about your antics enough so that someone in power actually heard.

There are now traffic guards at various intersections on 14th Street downtown during peak traffic hours. They come complete with bright yellow vests and shiny shrill whistles. Crossing guards who will decide for you whether or not your car will make it through the intersection before the light turns red. Crossing guards who will tell you when it's okay to make that left turn. Crossing guards who actually understand the proper meaning of red, yellow, and green lights.

Yes, because you couldn't learn to fucking drive safely and politely on your own, you now have nanny crossing guards making all those big, hard decisions for you. I'm taken back to when I was in elementary school and we stationed Junior Police Officers at all the relevant crosswalks to make sure the kids made it across the street all right. But we were kids who probably actually did need some help crossing the street. You guys are fucking adults behind the wheels of cars. You should have been over your damn selves enough to be able to drive courteously on your own.

Now all we need is for someone to shell out public money to make sure you learn to fucking aim correctly in public bathrooms too, since you obviously can't figure that shit out for yourselves.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Because They've Solved All the World's Problems

The U.S. Congress has the time on its hands to debate and pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning the desecration of American flags.

"We are Americans, dammit! We represent the epitome of freedom! And we will punish anyone who dares to try to exercise that freedom in a way offensive to mine eyes!"

Congress seems quite concerned about "protecting" the flag -- a symbol of the freedom that this country represents. And yet it thought nothing of whittling away the actual rights this country stands for when it first passed the civil liberties death knell known as the PATRIOT Act. (Thank goodness they've since revisited and reconsidered at least some of its provisions.)

PS: Tiny bit of irony: What does one do with a flag that's worn and tattered and needs to be disposed of? Answer: It "should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning" (emphasis mine). Apparently there's an entire chapter of the U.S. Code devoted to the flag (who knew?) and the relevant portion is found at 4 U.S.C. § 8(k). I daresay, I'm a little flabbergasted.

O Halcyon Days of Youth

I've been tagged by Stephanie:

(This one is a little complicated....)

The Meme: What Five Things do you miss about your childhood?

But first the rules to this meme:

Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place; add your blog's name in the #5 spot; link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross pollination effect.

1. Marti
2. Ivy Tied Up
3. This is Ali
4. It's the End Of The World As We Know It
5. More Than My Luggage

Next: select new friends to add to the pollen count. (No one is obligated to participate).

(1) Modigli
(2) Jon
(3) Eric
(4) Peter
(5) Vince

Your turn:

I miss:

(1) My family as it existed when I was a kid. I seem to have a good number of fond memories of my parents and my brother and me. There are pictures of us sitting together, maybe at the beach, smiling and having a good time. Those scenes seem more and more rare now. My folks are more crotchety (to use a nice word), which makes get-togethers annoying.

(2) My high school life. Yes, I was a nerd. Yes, I put myself under more stress than a teenager should have. Yes, my friends and I created all kinds of interpersonal drama over stupid, petty shit that wasn't worth the effort (who didn't?). Yes, I thought I was a freak for having weird thoughts about boys when I knew I should have been thinking about girls.

But I wouldn't trade any of it for any other experience.

(3) Being hot shit. Okay, I know it doesn't seem compatible to consider myself hot shit while calling myself a nerd, but high school was the one time in my life that I felt I was really good at the stuff I put my effort into. I did well in all my classes, I did decently on the debate team, and I had a decent social life. I graduated pretty high up in my class and I was truly proud of my accomplishments. Then I went to an Ivy League institution and from then on, I realized I was swimming in a vastly different pond, one where I was no longer among the best, but ridiculously average -- on a good day. Going to law school and graduating outside the top half of my class didn't help either. The decline continues to this day.

(4) My childhood naivete. Remember when I blogged about my colleague's son Jonathan? Yeah, that's the kind of obliviousness I miss. Young, sweet, innocent. I really was like that at one point in my life, you know. Now I'm old, bitter, and jaded. Hell, this even applies to those televisions shows I used to watch as a kid which I thought were the bomb but which I watch now and realize were completely moronic.

(5) The proximity to the beach. I grew up in Hawai'i. I'm not used to having to drive 1.5 hours (if you're lucky enough not to hit traffic) to reach the blissful, calming ocean waters. I'm also still not used to having to shell out for a hotel room to get near the water. Or having to crash at a friend's place in the alternative.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Just a Little Lost

James F. would have been proud. Or, maybe not, 'cause he's kind of a hater, but in a charming, funny way, but still, I thought of him this past weekend.

I was on the corner of 16th and P Streets, NW, walking east on P Street, heading home. There was a couple behind me, and try as I might to ignore the conversation that the woman was having on her cell phone, I couldn't.

"We're at 16th Street now," she said. "Okay, so it's a right turn? Church Street? Okay. 15xx Church. Okay, we'll be there shortly."

No biggie, right? Except about midway down P Street, I heard them again: They were still behind me. Which means they were heading in the wrong direction.

I tried -- I really tried -- to let this couple find their way on their own, since I didn't want to appear as though I was totally eavesdropping on their conversation. But I lost my resolve when I heard the female say:

"Hmm, now we're at 15th. Still no Church Street...."

At which point James F.'s voice (which I have never heard, but give me some leeway here) boomed in my head: "Be friendly and help these poor people!" -- even if it also meant an admission that I had heard every word of her end of the phone conversation.

"Uh," I said, "Church Street is about a block north" -- I pointed -- "so, that way."

"Oh," she said. "I guess we're basically walking parallel to it...."

"Yeah," I said. "And 15xx Church Street" -- I gave her the exact number of her destination -- "is between 15th and 16th, so you've kinda just walked an extra block, and now you're going to want to turn left instead of right when you hit Church."

"Oh, so you heard the entire conversation?" she laughed.

"Uh... well, yeah."

So, James F., count this encounter as one of times when a D.C. resident stopped and helped poor lost out-of-towners (or at least new-to-Logan-Circlers) along their merry way.

Funny thing is, as of right now, I couldn't tell you what the girl I had this entire conversation with looked like, because when I turned to help them out, I ended up looking straight at her boyfriend, who had the most gorgeous eyes such that I just locked on to them. Wow. (Think Drew Fuller, aka Whitelighter Chris from "Charmed," but with even better-looking eyes.) He was a cute one.

(Hey, if you're the boy who got lost on the way to 15xx Church Street and got directions from a random Asian guy carrying his groceries home, and if that's not your girlfriend and in fact you play for my team, drop me an email or a comment. Thanks.)

(I figure that last paragraph has at least much chance of success as a Craigslist "Missed Connections" posting, but hey, it's my blog, dammit.)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Party Time

Party on Saturday night at B&S's place. "Shut Up" Chick was there, since B&S are our mutual friends. I managed to avoid her -- and her Mean Girl Crony -- all night, though I felt like a child doing so. But the fact was I simply didn't feel like talking to her. I didn't feel like being friendly given our last words. And I knew that when she and Mean Girl Crony get together, the bitchiness quickly soars to intolerable levels. (It means something when the first visual image conjured up by Mean Girl Crony's name is one of her holding up her hand while spouting a dismissive "Whatever.").

On the plus side, lots of good beer and lots of great food. And two cute guys to flirt with. One was clearly straight (he was there with his ex-girlfriend for Pete's sake) and quite intoxicated, and yet seemed strangely flirty despite the girlfriend thing. (I knew that one wasn't going to go anywhere.) The second guy was older and, while slightly ambiguous in terms of his sexuality, definitely took better to the flirting. However, he left without our exchanging digits. So I'm having B&S play mensch for me.

Friday, June 17, 2005

It's Confirmed

The Washington Post has a great editorial today. Coupled with E.J. Dionne's column, today's Post pretty much vindicates what I've thought for a while: Republicans who were involved in the Terri Schiavo case were full of shit.

I feel an urge to write to all the state medical boards which have granted Dr. Frist his medical license for the purpose of urging them to reconsider or revoke his license based upon his utterly irresponsible act of taking the most public platform in the country after watching "one hour or so" of videotape and effectively offering a second diagnosis for a woman he's never met. (Frist, of course, denies having acted inappropriately.)

The actual autopsy report is here.

I'm glad the fiasco that was the Schiavo legal battle is over. Unfortunately, those who fought so hard to "save" her against her own wishes and the best advice of the doctors who actually diagnosed and tended to her are still going about their lives.

And now I feel kinda bad for Terri's parents, who apparently still can't or won't accept the autopsy's findings, clinging to their fervent belief that, despite the medical evidence, she was able to see and respond to stimuli. I know it's tough to lose a loved one, ever, but after what point do you just let go and move on with your life instead of dwelling on her death?

It's Difficult to Do a Countdown When You Have No Sense of Time

I'm in countdown mode. The Fourth of July weekend is rapidly approaching, and with it, my hop skip and jump over to Las Vegas for a long weekend of gambling and, if I'm lucky (which I usually am not, but then we are talking about Vegas here), debauchery.

Normally countdowns for vacations start way earlier than this: Thanksgiving trips become the focal point for looking forward at the start of October, for example. But time seems to be escaping me recently; I'm starting to lose track of any particular day in relation to the next. It was only recently that I realized how close the Fourth of July weekend is already.

Recently, a co-worker announced her intention to take her family and move back to St. Louis. The announcement came about a month ago, i.e., mid-May. When I asked whether she had a particular time frame on this decision (so I could figure out when I'd be assuming a substantial chunk of her workload), she responded that those decisions would pretty much be dictated by the school year. "Oh," I thought. "Then we have some time." Of course, by May, most school years are done, so we didn't have nearly as much time as I thought, and she and her family may be packed up and gone within another month (so the kids can start school in StL.).

Anyway, Vegas. It's in just over two weeks now. I'm pumped. If for nothing else than some really good food. And hopefully some fun gambling. And maybe some cute boys, but then that might just be asking too much. (Oh, if anyone happens to be in Vegas over that weekend and wants to split my hotel room with me, let me know....)

Oh, and have I mentioned that I'll be turning older that weekend too? I'll be re-embarking on my 28th year. Uh, yay.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

News Tidbits

First: I hate this faux-celebrity culture we live in nowadays. First, Runaway Bride gets obsessive missing white girl coverage... as if Lori Hacking, Laci Peterson and Chandra Levy weren't missing-white-girl overload before. Now, after Runaway Bride has pleaded guilty to federal crimes (including making up a rape story involving them dirty Hispanics you find in the South near the border), but now we're told that her fucked-up life story is worth half a mil? That's just wrong. Hell, that's probably paid off her criminal fine right there. Guess crime does pay.

Somewhat related: Deep Throat's life story, it seems to me, would be worth half a mil, just because it has real historical importance. Unlike Chickenshit White Girl, Deep Throat's actions had national importance and freaking brought down a presidency. Chickenshit White Girl just set off a multijurisdictional manhunt which, in better times, would have just been forgotten as quickly as it was started. Of course, Deep Throat's family appears to be receiving an advance of no more than $75,000. Man, something's wrong in this world if White Girl ends up making more than Deep Throat.

Second: Ex-Klansman Edgar Ray Killen is on trial for a race-based murder he is alleged to have committed back in 1964. He's now 80 years old. No substantive comment about the trial and all, but this paragraph struck me: "Killen came to court in a wheelchair and has been attended by a nurse because of his health. He broke both his legs in a wood cutting accident several months ago and has other ailments." If he committed a cold-blooded murder, he's an abhorrent individual -- but I have to say I'm pretty impressed than an 80-year-old man was out chopping wood. Though I guess I would have been even more impressed if he had managed to do it without breaking both of his legs.

Third: The Washington snipers, having already been convicted in Virginia, were indicted in Maryland. Let me clarify: one received a life sentence, the other the death penalty, in Virginia for the sniper attacks that took place in Virginia. Now I know we all want to extract our little pound of flesh here, but doesn't it seem like overkill to try these guys again in another jurisdiction? They're not guilty enough in Virginia; let's get them here too! They're rotting in jail anyway; is it really necessary to expend Maryland taxpayer funds to ensure that there's a public proclamation that they're guilty up there too? "Oooh, we get to point our fingers too." Pffft. Whatev.

One Ringy Dingy

Just to give you an idea of how strange I am (though longer-term readers already have a pretty good sense):

Some guy at my neighborhood Cingular store -- where I stopped by when I had issues with my phone -- turned me on to a cool web site which would, for FREE, take an MP3 you have on your computer and turn it into a ringtone for you. It's kinda cool... you can even pick the time-stamp where the ring tone should start, and tell it how long the ring tone should go for.

Normally I balk at downloading ring tones, but that's usually just because I don't want to be paying Cingular, or anyone else, for them. But then I figure since it's free (it just costs a text message and some web-surfing time), I'd pick some songs that would make great ring tones and store them on my phone.

So I picked excerpts from the following songs to serve as ring tones, subject to changing based upon my mood:

. Abba: Dancing Queen
. The Wonder Woman theme song
. Radiohead: Creep
. Eminem: Lose Yourself

How screwy is that?


On a related note (is that a pun?), the other day I was waiting for a friend of mine to meet me in my lobby. As I sat there (near the air conditioning grate), I heard the faint sound of music. I started walking along the air conditioning grate to track down its source. I was this close to asking the woman at the front desk whether they've embedded music speakers in the A/C structures here, when I finally realized my phone was ringing in my pocket -- using one of my new ringtones as the ring.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Tabs Are Our Friends

Can someone tell me why everyone in my office appears to be afraid of using the tab key? It's starting to annoy me greatly.

Every time I find myself editing a document that someone else created first, I notice a marked lack of the TAB key in favor of a slew of spaces. When using proportional fonts, this means that the text after these spaces can start at different places depending on what comes before or after the spaces. It makes documents look uneven, especially if you have a bunch of numbered paragraphs. Tabs, on the other hand, make things look more uniform by snapping the text to space on the page defined by its distance from the margin. Seriously now, is it so hard to avoid using six spaces as opposed to one TAB?

The person who keeps doing this is probably the same one who, for some reason, keeps resetting erasing the tab settings on the typewriter in the office so that whenever I have it set (e.g., so that I can get to the middle of an envelope using just one key instead of leaning on the space bar and watching where it stops), the tab setting (one measly tab setting!) is gone the next time I have to type out an envelope a few hours later. Oh, the joys of working in a small office where you have to do a bunch of the secretarial work on your own.

I'm a dork. And a hater. That's probably not a good combination.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Not the Boss o' Me

I've been in a mood lately. And my friends aren't helping.

I refuse to be friends with people who don't respect me. Is it too much to ask that your friends show you just a bit of respect? Not to get into too many details, but I'll go on record now as saying I don't particularly take well to being told to "shut up" in a rude manner by anyone, let alone by people who are supposed to be my friends.

Compouding my problem, of course, is that I'm a passive-aggressive motherfucker (I hate that about myself), so instead of just telling this person to fuck off and shove something up her ass preferably without the benefit of lubrication (not that she'd need it) (OOOH, snap!), I just wandered away and deliberately separated myself from her in the crowd. Problem solved, bitch. I have now shut up and you will not hear my voice again for a long, long time.

Then I get an email from a different friend today, basically telling me to send an email to a friend of ours. I know emails are subject to misinterpretation because there's no vocal inflections or anything conveyed in the written word, but woman, is your email account broken? Well, obviously not, since you sent ME an email. What's keeping you from sending an email to our friend on your own? I'm not your little bitch, you know.

Okay, deep breaths. I'm done now. I think.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Am I the only person on the planet who doesn't give a rat's ass about this?

And Your Point Is?

Confidential to the gentleman walking up 17th Street (the gay strip) at about 6.30 p.m. yesterday evening: Was there actually a purpose to be served by wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words "Young & Black"? Because, personally, I think just looking at you, we can all pick up on the fact that you're black. As for young? Yeah, you look well under 40, which in my book means you certainly don't look old. What, have you been mistaken for Wilford Brimley in the recent past?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Happy Pride?

This weekend is Gay Pride Weekend in DC.

Thing is, I'm trying to get all excited about it. But for some reason, I can't.

I came out in or around 1996. Back then, it was new for me. It was exciting. I bought all kinds of pride t-shirts and baseball caps (none of which I ever dared to wear then and which are certainly too passe to wear now). I attended pride every year, and even went to NYC's Pride. (I tried to check out Honolulu's pride festivities one year -- I just happened to be visiting during the celebration week -- only to find that it appeared rather woefully pathetic, so I just went to the beach instead.)

Now, nine years after my first tentative steps from the closet, I don't find Pride festivals as relevant anymore. The street festival just tends to be overpriced food vendors hawking $8 plates of mediocre chow mein; the same tired organizations show up year after year, and I just find myself bored.

Don't get me wrong, I still manage to go, if for no other reason than to be counted. I used to hoard the cute little tchotchkes (I'm impressed I spelled that correctly on the first try), but now I'd just as soon decline yet another free pen or frisbee. But more often than not, I'll see old friends of mine with whom I've lost contact, which is a good thing (I suppose).

But in Washington, DC, does Pride even really matter? There's a lot of gay people here, and we function pretty darn well in society. Is there really so much of a need for us to reaffirm our existence in a city that doesn't seem all that terribly hostile to us?

(Okay, I know life isn't a cakewalk for gay people and I certainly don't mean to imply that there are no hate crimes or anti-gay discrimination in the city. All I'm saying is it could be a lot worse -- and it IS a lot worse in other parts of the country.)

And -- excuse me while I don my bitter hat -- Pride Parades lately seem much more about see-and-be-seen than an actual expression of individual or group pride. Sometimes I think it's really just a huge cruise-fest, where generally attractive men remove their shirts in their bids for attention while less "attractive" men are all too happy to lavish such attention on them. (I use "attractive" in a community standards sense of the word, which is horrible, because gay community standards are ridiculous.) Sure, gay men are proud of being gay men... but many still secretly wish the less attractive of us would either remain in the closet or go straight.

To me, the best contingent of the Parade has always been PFLAG. That's because those involved with PFLAG tend to be about nothing more than the love and support for their family members despite the social stigma of being gay. But that's pretty much the only contingent that has, as its core theme, love, support and affirmation. Compare PFLAG's message with what comes across from the Results float: shirtless, muscled men. What exactly are those men proud of? Are they proud to be gay, or are they just totally stoked about how their hot bods can get them laid on demand?

True, there are more events than just the parade and festival which comprise gay pride. All week long, events have been taking place. But I think I'll pass on the JR's bachelor auction, though -- the guys who "sell" themselves usually are the ones who least need still more people clamoring for their attention. The HRC open house tends to bring out the angry radicals on both sides, who feel HRC is either doing too little or too much. Then there's always the contingent that hates HRC in general yet crashes their parties anyway.

This year I'll probably check out the parade and wander through just a bit of the festival. I'd like to recapture the sense of what it was like when I first came out... the mystery, the wonder, the excitement. I'll probably go to Apex with my friend Amy and dance part of the night away, hoping she'll score a date.

Once upon a time, I went to Pride because I wanted to be among people who didn't make me feel like a freak, an outsider, a pariah. I no longer feel like an outcast every day, so I don't need a Pride Festival or Parade to remind me that I'm worthy of everyday decency and respect. Sometimes, though, one comes to miss the affirmation -- the kind that comes only to the insecure -- when one has truly become comfortable with the skin he's in.

Account Numbers

Know what else I realize I hate? (Lately I've been kinda hatin' a lot.)

My new pet peeve: when you call up a customer service line -- like, say, that 800 number on the back of your credit card -- and you get an automated response that says, "Please enter your account number now." So you type in your 16-digit account number, even though you know you want to speak to a representative and your issue won't be resolved purely through an automated voice. Then you keep hitting "0" to get through to a live person, and when you do, the first thing you're hit with is "Hi, thank you for calling. Can I have your account number please?" Hello! Why do you make me type in the whole damn thing if I'm just going to repeat it to you anyway?

Thursday, June 09, 2005


I've commented on this subject on Modigli's blog recently, but I thought there was enough there to make it my own little entry here in my world.

Recently, having found myself with way too much time on my hands, I managed to catch a rerun of the Washington, DC spelling bee on television. I'm a geek and I like to watch these things. Although I'm a decent speller, from time to time particularly tricky words will screw me up. (In the eighth grade, I was eliminated from my class spelling bee by the word "chauffeur." Although I knew that there was that annoying extra "u" in there, I apparently placed it in the wrong place.)

After watching the bee for a little bit (they cut parts of it in the rerun, obviously, because a cute little Asian boy that I was watching was there during one round and suddenly vanished after the commercial break, even though I never saw him misspell a word), I came to realize that the "pronouncer" (a clever pun on "announcer," get it? GET IT? HA!) was a moron.

Given that her title was "pronouncer," it would have behooved her to actually learn to pronounce words correctly. This was particularly grating when her mispronunciations could very well cause a competitor to misspell a word, or to inappropriately suggest to a competitor the proper spelling of the word.

It happened several times while I was watching, but I only remember two now, both times with only two competitors left standing. Heck, I remember there were times when the kids would repeat the word, and in doing so, pronounce it better than this woman!

One competitor was given the word "nicoise," a word of French origin and most recognizable as a type of salad. Although this woman recognized the words French origin and (thankfully) didn't make the word rhyme with "noise," she still screwed up the poor kid by pronouncing it "nicois." "Nicoise" is pronounced "nee-SWAHZ"; she kept saying "nee-SWAH." That "e" on the end makes a big difference in the pronunciation! The poor kid, though, didn't really know his French anyway, apparently, he screwed up the word big time. So in the end it didn't make a difference 'cause the kid screwed it up anyway ("N-E-E-S-W-A-S"), but it still irked me that this woman -- whose JOB it was to accurately speak these words -- messed it up.

By the way, this woman also apparently had a hard time admitting when she screwed up, which also irritated me. Although she did correct herself on "nicoise" before the kid started spelling, she never said, "Oh, sorry, I pronounced it wrong the first time. Let me say it again." Instead, the interplay between the kid and the pronouncer went something like this:

PRONOUNCER: Your word is nee-SWAH.
KID: Uhhh... Could I have the word origin?
PRONOUNCER: The word is French. nee-SWAH.
KID: Uhhh...
PRONOUNCER: Did you hear me? The word is nee-SWAHZ.

Hello? Yeah, we all heard you the first time, and you MISPRONOUNCED THE WORD. You can't just go back and cover it up with a "Did you hear me?". Own up to your mistake, biatch.

The last girl was given the word "forgetive." (Yeah, I know, I would never use that word either.) The word means "capable of imagining or inventing" (according to and is pronounced "FORJ-e-tiv". To my mind, it clearly is related to the word "forge," to create. Note that the word has a hard "j" sound in it. But not for this "pronouncer" lady, who clearly hadn't practiced the words she was called upon to pronounce, because she pronounced the word like "forget" with "-ive" at the end. "Forget" has a hard "g" sound in it. Can you see how this would be pretty unfair?

PRONOUNCER: The word is for-GET-iv.
KID: Uhhhh...
PRONOUNCER: Did you hear me? The word is FORJ-e-tiv.

So this kid spelled this word correctly to beat out the guy who couldn't spell "nicoise" to win the bee. But clearly this little girl got a HUGE hint in that the pronouncer told her that the word looked a helluva lot like "forget."

Okay, so I know in my world this doesn't make a lick of difference. But I still feel bad for that "nicoise" kid who got screwed over twice by the lame pronouncer.


Obligatory "Spellbound" story:

If you haven't seen the movie, it's a documentary that follows a few kids in the high-pressure world of the National Spelling Bee. No, seriously. It's a really good watch, because you see the hopes and dreams of these kids and how this is a big deal to them, how to them making it to the National Spelling Bee -- and then perhaps taking home the big prize -- means something.

One kid, Neil, is of Asian Indian descent. I felt sooooo bad for him through the entire movie because his dad was a hyper-type-A personality who simply could not let his kid relax and have some fun. I wanted to whack his father upside the head to remind him that it's just a competition, not some life-or-death brain surgery or something. By the time it was over Neil probably thought that his father's love hinged upon his winning the Spelling Bee. Major therapy time. ("You never loved me! You just wanted a walking dictionary in the house! *sob*")

Anyway, in one scene -- almost fleeting, beacuse it's part of a fade-out to the next scene -- Neil's dad is speed-drilling him on some words out of the official spellers' book or whatever. (Why speed drills have any purpose I don't know, since the kids pretty much get to stand there forever if they want before they spell a word.) At one point, the dad gets to the word "epitome."

He pronounces it "EP-i-tohm."

I remember thinking, "Man, not only are you pressuring your kid to death, but you're a fucking moron on top of it...."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


From the Washington Post: Liberals Rethinking Filibuster Deal

Are liberals serious when they say they didn't realize how stupid this "compromise" was when they entered into it? "We'll let these horrible judges go to vote, and we'll promise not filibuster others unless we really, really have to." What the hell did that actually do?

Okay, it "saved" the filibuster as a procedural mechanism. Whoop de twang. Even conservatives were against the nuclear option to begin with, so it's somewhat unclear whether that would have passed anyway.

But what did Democrats get in return? Three godawful judges will now get to sit for lifetime appointments on three different courts of appeals. Someone commented on another blog I read (I forget who -- sorry!) that having Democrats voluntarily retreat from using the filibuster on these judges was in some worse than having the option taken away from them: At least in the latter instance the Dems would have gone down fighting.

And let's not forget that when Republicans controlled the Senate during part Clinton's presidency, a shocking number of judicial nominees were withheld from "up-or-down" votes because their names simply weren't released from the committee! Republicans currently clamoring about unfair it is that Democrats dare hold up Bush appointees are ignoring their own sad contribution to the deteriorated state of judicial nominations.

Aargh, this stuff just makes my blood boil.


Meanwhile, the Post also had this great editorial yesterday highlighting the Republican hypocrisy of demanding "up-or-down" votes on judicial nominees while one lone Republican senator has successfully prevented a vote on the confirmation of W.'s nomination of Julie Finley as ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.


Okay, this wasn't a terribly well-thought out or drafted post. But aren't you glad it pushes the other one from today just that much further down?

Ring of Fire

The post I alluded to yesterday. This post is not for the faint of spirit. And yet it is all. Too. True.

I've been out of sorts for the past few days. I don't know the source of my problems, though I do have a sense of where it all began. On Sunday night, I swear I had a fever or something. I had the chills something awful. You know those sparks of bitter icy cold which seem to start from nowhere and just overtake your body with involuntary convulsions? Yeah, that was me on Sunday night. I climbed under the covers, but then it got too hot. So I'd climb out from under the covers, which is when, like a German blitzkrieg maneuver, the chill would attack anew. Under cover, sweat; above blanket, chill. There was no middle ground to this. (Of course, I was still too lazy to actually get up out of bed to get my thermometer to figure out whether I actually did, in fact, have a fever.)

I popped some acetominophen, hoping that would help. The "fever" never actually broke, but by the next day, I was feeling better. By "better," all I mean is that I no longer experienced the chills.

By 8:00 on Monday night, I would have given my left arm to get the chills again.

Because they would have been infinitely preferable to what I actually did experience,

Which was severe gastrointestinal distress:

Yes, folks, I was suffering from explosive diarrhea.

I don't think I've ever experienced a case of diarrhea as bad as this was. It started with a huge series of farts, but quickly escalated beyond that. Farts standing alone seem innocuous enough, but woah Nelly! Eventually my body ambushed me with a shart (terribly embarrassing to begin with, even though thankfully I was alone at the time), and before I knew it I commenced the first of what would become a ridiculously large number of trips to the bathroom.

I was riding the Hershey Highway all night long. (This is not an exaggeration. I mean the sun was on its way up and I was still in distress.) It took no effort whatsoever to get things started; I went though my entire evening in a perpetual state of butt-clench to prevent any accidental leakage. There were times on the throne when I swear the level of discharge exceeded what my shower produces, even though I wasn't pushing. This is the kind of stuff olestra is supposed to cause, but dammit, I haven't had fat free Doritos in ages.

Sleep evaded my every attempt at capture, mostly because it's impossible to keep your butt clenched as you drift off to sleep. You know things are going in the wrong direction when, after trying to get to sleep for four hours, you’ve already changed your sheets once and taken three showers, each time starting with your underwear on. Seriously, changing my sheets at 3:30 in the morning is not what I wanted to be doing on a Monday night. Having to strategically plan for how to lay out the new sheets so that any new leakage would cause minimal problem was simply bizarre. (Eventually I decided not to use the flat sheet as I normally would, instead folding it to create a thicker layer beneath my ass.)

The second sign things aren't going well for the evening: When you drift off to sleep, (involuntarily) unclench your cheeks, then actually lie there and debate with yourself the comparative merits of lying there in your own excrement just to get some frigging SLEEP versus getting up to clean yourself off YET AGAIN. (I eventually chose the latter, which resulted in my getting a grand total of about 2 hours of sleep all night long.)

I bought some Immodium; I hope it works. If it doesn't, I may decide to take a day off from work in the event that this is more than just some bizarre stomach poisoning that doesn't just pass (no pun intended) with some over-the-counter medicine. The dosage instructions are weird; it says to take two tablets when you have your first attack, followed by another one after the next attack, but not to exceed 4 pills in 24 hours. So really, there's no timed system for taking the pills, you take one after each trip to the bathroom. What if you're shitting every 10 minutes or something? Hm.

** POSTSCRIPT: Although I only took 2 Immodium pills, I seem to be feeling better today. Either they worked or whatever I ate finally passed out of my system. Of course, my feeling better may also be attributed to the fact that I actually slept decently last night (with the flat sheet folded up under me, just in case). I don't ever want to experience that again. Tonight, I'm cleaning out my refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Plug It Up! Plug It Up! Plug It Up!

Okay, this is my last post on television commercials for a while, I promise. (I'm working on a new post for tomorrow that's, shall we say, explosive. It won't be for the weak of stomach.)

Today's Commercial of Interest is for Tampax Pearl tampons. You know, the one where a heterosexual couple are sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake which has apparently sprung a leak -- a leak which can be conveniently plugged with a Tampax Pearl tampon. (Just typing that sentence kinda made me all skeevy, but really, there didn't seem to be other words for the actual act of filling the hole of a leaking boat.) (That parenthetical sentence just kinda grossed me out too. Let's face it, there's no way to talk about the whole concept of comparing a leak in a boat to a woman's menstrual period without sounding gross.)

Ladies, I'm curious: Do you really carry around ENTIRE BOXES of tampons with you when you climb into a boat with your man of romantic interest? "Wow, this is so romantic... nature, the lake... let me make sure I bring with me EIGHTEEN TAMPONS."

For that matter, do you really carry around ENTIRE BOXES of tampons ANYWHERE other than on your return trip from the drugstore?

Not that I know much about the subject of feminine hygiene, but it seems to me that if you feel the need to carry around EIGHTEEN TAMPONS, perhaps you should be looking into more "heavy flow" products.

And man, that must suck. Your honey takes you away for a romantic weekend (or week, or whatever) at the lake, and it happens to be the week of your cycle. I know some guys are "cool with" doing The Nasty while their women are, uh, camped out in The Red Tent, but most of the women I know aren't all that keen on the idea, so ew. Ew ew ew.

This is along the same lines as women who like to take sunset walks on the beach with their mother to ask them if they douche. The mother, of course, happens to be carrying a bottle of douche with her at the time.

You ladies and the things you carry around. You crack me up. Or gross me out. Right now I can't tell which.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Citi Backstory

Have you seen those latest Citicards commercials about how you can get rewards faster for using your Citicards? In one of them, a white-collar kinda guy sits at his desk, surrounded by pictures of his lovely bride and his two kids, when suddenly, the bride's picture speaks to him: "Are you going to be much longer? I think the kids are getting tired." Sure enough, we see that the kids' pictures, as well as the bride's picture, are actually empty frames surrounding the guy's actual family sitting on the other side of his desk.

I suppose the commercial is intended to be funny, but it kind of weirds me out. I mean, what kind of guy manages to successfully ask his wife and kids -- and his elderly parents, as we see at the end of the commercial -- to sit there while this guy goes about his day? And clearly, he calls the shots: It's up to him to decide when it's time to go home, wifey's demure little suggestion notwithstanding. The kids didn't even think to complain, even though they were the ones who were tired.

Am I the only one who thinks that this guy comes across as an abusive husband and father (and son)? I can just see him at home: "I am the breadwinner in this family and you will do what I tell you to do, even if it means you sit behind my desk surrounded by goofy frames all day long! And if you don't like it, I got a fireplace andiron with your name on it!"

On a more pressing note, why the heck am I so obsessed with television commercials lately?

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Money-Man Equivalence

"The pay-as-you-go tax system sucks."


"The pay-as-you-go tax system. It rapes the common worker. Typically, the government takes too much from each individual taxpayer, holds on to it for up to a year without interest, then returns it to you in April, without interest."


"It makes more sense for me to hold on to my damn money all year, invest it for a decent return, then pay the government what I owe them."

"That's great in theory. But it only works if you know you'd actually earn money on your investments. If the past is any indication, if I were permitted to try to invest any money that should be earmarked for taxes, I'd instead end up losing money."


"Let's go out for a drink."

"I think I'll pass. I have beer at home. It's cheaper for me to stay home with my own brewskies. Why should I pay $5 for a beer when for $7 I can get a great microbrew SIX-pack?"

"You don't meet people if you don't go out for drinks."

"That's great in theory. But it only works if you know that you'd actually meet people in the bars. If the past is any indication, I could spend $40 at the bar tonight and still not say a word to anyone but you."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

How Can They Tell?

The point of spam is it's supposed to be so cheap that one hit in a million or so will still be profitable. E-mail is cheap. Personal telephone calls are not.

The other day the phone rang in my office at around 6:30 p.m. I made the mistake of answering.

"Is this Dennis!?" the voice asked.

"Yes," I responded warily. I didn't really want to talk to anyone who actually knew who I was. It could mean more work.

"Well, Dennis!, we have your prescription for penis-enlargement drugs...."

Without thinking, I hung up on him. I should have fucked with him more, but I was so annoyed it was all I could do.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Put a Smile on Your Face....

I stopped into a McDonald's this weekend for a quick bite. Apparently a customer before me had some sort of problem with her McDonald's experience, because at some point I literally heard her say to the manager: "I can't believe I'm getting this kind of customer service at McDonald's!"

Uh, it's a McDonald's. You don't go there for "customer service." It's fast food. It's not high tea at the Rainbow Room (where it is more likely that you will be waited on hand and foot). This woman apparently has never read Fast Food Nation, eh? The place is designed so that idiots can do the job and be easily replaced (with monkeys, if need be) if they fall out of line. "Customer service" at McDonald's? Methinks I smell an oxymoron.