Monday, February 28, 2005

Life, take 2.

As a follow up on the previous "Life" post, I'd like to comment that in living your life as a movie, some genres are easier to replicate than others.

For example, comedy is relatively simple. Funny/odd stuff happens all the time. People are always laughing at outrageous events, and it's easy to cause them on your own. Really, it isn't hard to think up crazy things, like, say, giving a rat a Viking funeral. And executing those crazy things is normally no problem either. I just made a small boat from paperboard, put my dead rat in it, surrounded her with her treasured possessions (a chewing block and a piece from the remote-controlled car I modified for her)(holy crap, that's right, I just remembered that I modified a remote-controlled car so that I could drive her around in it. Those were good times - a rat zipping down the hall at top speeds of 4.2 mph.), set it on fire, and pushed it out onto the lake. I even printed fliers advertising the event for anyone who wanted to attend ("Putting the 'fun' back in 'funeral'!" they proclaimed).

Slightly more difficult than comedy is action. Comedy can just happen, and doesn't need a controlled environment. Creating action is sometimes a bit tougher - at least if you want to be safe. I wasn't going to drop my monitor four stories and allow it to hit someone, so I had to make sure the area was cleared. Sure, there would have been more action had I just thrown it off the balcony indiscriminately, but I wasn't willing to risk it. Action can also happen incidentally, but very rarely do you actually see Jean-Claude Van Damme hanging onto the side of the metro as you ride to the office. I for one have never seen it happen. Vin Diesel? Well, that's another story...

But hardest of all? That classification falls to the musicals. In real life, people very very seldom break into song and dance. Sometimes on their own, in the private of their rooms, they'll self-choreograph a dance to some show-tune or interrupt their homework to belt out a song by The Bangles, but even those events are relatively rare. Nowhere near the 9-songs-in-2-hours ratio you get in cinema. If people ever did break from real life to perform a song-and-dance it would be the most amazing experience imaginable. I can't even conceive of a place where it would work. Though, contrary to what you'd see in the musical Chicago, court is apparently not the place to spontaneously belt out a solo while dancing a little soft-shoe. But like I said, comedy and action are easier to replicate.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

You'll Never Use It [explicit content]

I should not have to be re-learning the quadratic-fucking-equation! I don't want to solve for x^2+5x-14 = 0. (x = -7 and 2). They told me I'd never have to use this stuff again. I was a philosophy major for crying out-loud! I hate math. Despise it. The stuff is absolute shit with no purpose in life.

Ok, I know that's not true, (and sometimes I even take a small amount of perverse pleasure in solving problems), but seriously, I shouldn't have to do this shit! Not only did I major in philosophy before, I'm now taking the GRE so I can do more of it! Fuck Pythagoras, I want to know about Aristotle. Neitzsche, not Newton. John Forbes Nash, Jr. (the guy from A Beautiful Mind) can suck it. I haven't taken a math class for more than 5 years, and I haven't paid attention in a math class for significantly longer than that. When I was in 8th grade I made a career choice to avoid math like the plague. So why do I need it now? And would someone help me lance this boil?

And why in the hell can't I use a calculator? I made my parents spend 90 bucks on a calculator - twice - just so that I wouldn't have to learn shit like the quadratic equation. Why do we have the GRE? What does it really measure? Why can't graduate departments just take or leave people based on worth-fucking-while information? I've got no problem taking an aptitude test like the LSAT, or an IQ test, or even a friggin' Rorchsach test. But whether or not I can remember that "X equals negative B plus or minus the square root of B squared minus four times A times C, all over two A" has nothing to do with my ability to write a treatise on the nature of goodness or critique advanced models of utilitarian calculation.

And I should point out that for any of those poor fools going into a grad school program which does require math, the stuff tested on the GRE is too damn simple! There are additional GRE sections for those folks, which test the math skills that they will actually use. In short, there is NO ONE for whom the math section is appropriate, much less necessary. And yet, my admission rests on the score I get.

Abso-fucking-lutely ri-cock-ulous.

In other news, I won't be getting that same-sex marriage post up nearly as soon as promised.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Life

I want to address comments made long ago, in response to "The Elevator Post" and another, less noticeable post. You see, I live a crazy and adventurous life. At least, compared to most people out there I live a crazy and adventurous life. This post is meant to do one thing: recommend it.

Now, before I say anything further, I need to acknowledge that, although most of my adventures are probably in some way caused directly by my own antics, a good amount of my experiences are quite random accidents of fortune. Getting stuck in an elevator, for example, had little to do with me - it was just a factor of being in the right place, at the right time (and bouncing up and down on my toes as the elevator climbed (for the record, I was lightly bouncing and I think that may have had something to do with it, but it was nowhere near the level of movement which should cause an elevator to stop suddenly - so basically, it wasn't my fault)). However, setting the cause of the events aside, the biggest part of my shaping my life as an adventure has nothing to do with the actual events. It has to do with my attitude and my approach to those events.

The best way to explain my approach, I think, is to say that I live my life as if it were a movie. Maybe others would claim they too could see their life as a movie, or that there is nothing so unique about my life that could be considered movie-quality. But even if others take a similar approach I feel that there is truly something unique about the way I come at the world. This may be a little hard to describe, but I'll give it a shot:

Certain things happen in movies that don't normally happen in real life. The protagonist meets his partner only a week before the dance-off and they execute perfectly, earning a standing ovation. The comedic relief swings a hammer into his own forehead. Two people in love dance in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. The bumbling kid manages to lose the only hotel key to the room where he and two young ladies are staying.

Now, none of those things really sounds so unique, but they do certainly all sound like movie-moments. Each one of them has been lived by me. And there are many more I could list. But the point isn't the catalog of movie-esque moments - the point is that at the moment each of those things happened I realized it was a movie moment. I jumped into the experience as if I were playing the perfectly scripted character. I savored every element of each. Even when I was kicking myself for losing a hotel key I knew I would be able to love that I had that experience. Even while I was dancing with Laura in Piccadilly Circus I knew we'd look back at it and be so happy that we had done that.

This idea of backwards reflection might be a bit misleading, because I was always living very much in the moment. I wasn't thinking "hey, I'll look back on this and laugh." I wasn’t really thinking anything, except whatever thoughts were going through my head at the moment. When I talk about this as backwards reflection I mean only that I removed myself from the temporal aspect of the experience. And in this way I think there is a unique "movie" aspect to my life. If you watch movies you'll probably find that there are often things which you look at and say "that would be an awesome experience." The point is to recognize those experiences as they happen; not to recognize that they are awesome experiences or even that they are the type of experience that could be in a movie, but rather to recognize that they are the awesome experiences which make up your movie. The type of reflection isn't one of backwards-looking, but rather of self-watching.

Perhaps this idea is still a little elusive, and so instead of continuing to talk about experiences I want to shift to the idea of opportunities. Often times these "movie moments" are a product of creation - the protagonist (you in your life, me in mine) has chosen a certain route which has brought about the experience. An example might help:

A little over a year ago I proposed to Laura. I wasn't sure how I wanted to go about it - I'd heard of some very cool ideas, and it seems lots of people have good set-ups. But going into the proposal I knew that this was precisely the type of thing which would make for a movie moment (think big romantic gesture from whatever chick-flick you want). I also was aware that I would only propose once in my life, so I wanted to make sure it was perfect; there was no way I was going to have a "nice, quiet, romantic" proposal. I wanted big. I wanted extravagant. I wanted Romantic with a capital "R". I wanted to know that I'd given it my all, that anyone would be hard-pressed to come up with a more perfect proposal (I'll grant that maybe it could be done, but it would require a huge step, like moving the whole event to Paris or something). In short, I wanted to know that I would have a proposal like you'd see in a movie. (When I put "I" into this context it all applies to Laura too - I wanted her to have the ideal proposal too. I'm madly in love with her and think she deserves all the best, and then, even after she has all the best, God should make some things which are even nicer than best and give them to her)(or give them to me so I can give them to her).

Anyways, I was faced with a choice: how to propose. I chose big. I chose to propose like a proposal in a movie would go. I cooked (with help) an elaborate dinner. I hired violinists. I had a trail of roses. I had a private "restaurant" set-up, complete with wait-staff. I managed to get Laura into fancy dress clothes without her knowing the event was coming. I informed most of her family and friends and still managed to keep it a complete secret for a month. I even got her an extension on the due date for a paper. I spared no detail.

The thing I'm trying to get at here is pretty simple: I basically said "hey, what the hell?" (not in a baffled sense but rather in a “why not?” sense), and went for it. I saw an opportunity to make life like a movie and I did my best to capture it. Unfortunately I know that many times, maybe even most, this isn't the case.

How many times have two people, who would have been perfect for each other, fallen short of getting together because of some reason or other? That wouldn't happen in the movies (other than Annie Hall perhaps). In the movies those two people would somehow know that it was supposed to work out, and they'd both figure out a way to get over whatever obstacle there was, and it would be happily ever after. But not in real life.

In the movies, after the couple finally gets together, at the end of the flick, they're always seen together in some famous place, dancing or embracing, or some other such romantic expression. Not in real life. The whole time I've been in D.C. I have never seen two people wrapped in a romantic embrace, or dancing, or what-have-you, in front of some scenic monument. Nor when I lived in Rome. Or Athens. In fact, the only people I know who have had a movie moment like that are Laura and me. That sort of thing just doesn't happen in real life.

And I think that's a problem. I think that real life needs to be like the movies. Whether you're seizing the opportunities or creating them yourself.

When two people are perfect for each other they should just simply decide to transcend whatever obstacle they have, and live happily ever after. When an opportunity faces people, they need to take it. Don't look around and wonder what people will think if you start dancing, with no music, in the middle of the square. Just do it. People should live big. They should relish every moment - whether they're cracking their heads open with a hammer or being stuck in an elevator or proposing.

This life is your movie. Live a Best Picture.

And Death

This past weekend Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide. I didn't know the man. I've never read any of his writing. I've only seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas one-and-a-half times, and I didn't really care for it all that much. But for some reason, this suicide is striking me with particular force - something is deeply troubling to me about this man's death.

Part of it, I'm sure, is a very basic stumbling block; I simply cannot comprehend that a person's quality of life would be so bad that non-existence would be preferable. But in this case there is something deeper haunting me. There is simply no way that Hunter S. Thompson's quality of life was what drove him to suicide. The man was a visionary. He created a new style of journalism ("gonzo-journalism" in which he weaved himself and his perceptions/experiences into the stories he was writing about others). He was incredibly perceptive and a master at skewering the faults he saw with American life. Given his success I have to imagine that he was financially well-off. He was famous - an American icon (for some bad, for some good, but an icon none-the-less) - but not so famous that he couldn't find quiet. Any piece of literary or journalistic drivel which flowed from his typewriter was snatched up and published. He was a regular columnist for ESPN. Surely a poor quality of life wasn't to blame.

Some have speculated that this was a long-planned suicide – that Thompson didn't want to live "old", that once he reached a certain point it was inevitable. Maybe I buy that, but maybe I don't.

Even if those are the facts, I am left staring blankly into his act, searching for a meaning, a reason, a cause, an answer. Was he bored? Here was a man who had lived his life fully (it was the basis for a critically acclaimed film!)(I'm confident that some critics acclaimed it. At very least those who wrote for High Times). By all accounts Thompson had amazing powers of observation. He could see what others could not. Did those powers fail him? Did he lose sight of his own life, of his own ability to make of it what he would? Or did he never really posses that ability? Was his wild array of experiences and success just that? Did he live his life without the realization and self-awareness that I wrote of in the "Life" post? Or did he live his life with that, and simply gave up on it? Did he think death would be a new and exciting experience? Did he simply decide it was time to end his "movie"?

I cannot know. I'm not sure that I want to know. Certainly though, only one person can answer the questions, and everyone has to answer them on their own. We don't know his reasons, we only know how he responded to them.

Hunter S. Thompson was a journalist who asked questions by placing himself into the stories of those around him.
Hunter S. Thompson was a man who obscured his answers by removing himself from his own story.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

An Observation About Not-Feeling

There is something really beautiful and comforting about feeling not-pained. Have you ever had a great amount of pain, when suddenly that pain is taken away? That's the idea I'm trying to get at here. I just had a very severe headache, and took some Tylenol(TM), and now I'm laying on my futon, relaxing, and just reveling in the pleasure that comes from not-having a headache. I can almost still feel the pressure on my noggin, but I don't feel the pain, and it feels good. Normally you can't notice not-feeling pain, just like when the weather is neither wonderful nor awful you don't notice that there is weather, but when you get a glimpse into not-feeling there is really something special to it. It's like you've crawled into the warm bed of the universe, pulled its large fluffy blankets up around you, grabbed your favorite book and are snuggling in to read just a page or two before you drift comfortably off to sleep.

If You Want My Opinion

Today I used the verb "pontificate" in a sentence and was commended for being honest, down-to-earth and non-pretentious. In all fairness I was admitting that I had no substantial information from which to draw a conclusion about the causal relationship between oral arguments and Supreme Court opinions, which I had just previously been pontificating upon. But still...

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Overt Simpsons Reference [explicit content]

Well, she's out. Patty is the gay Simpsons character. I predicted it as soon as I heard that a character would come out of the closet, but everyone predicted it, so there isn't anything too special about that. I wanted to just briefly address what I thought was a problem with the episode: it wasn't too liberal, it wasn't too conservative (fun was pointed at both fairly evenly), the problem was that it was only one or the other.

People seem to think that you are either for gay rights or against them, either for traditional marriage or against it. People seem to think that there is no middle ground. I reject exactly this view. I have established myself as somewhere between these extremes, a fan of both legal equality and preservation of the institution of marriage. I wrote a post a while ago about this issue (read it here).

I know I'm not alone in this view. Many people feel that marriage is something different than a civil right. Many people feel we can provide the essential "rights" (more accurately described as privileges - again, see my previous post) to homosexuals without resorting to an institutionalized form. There are a lot of people who see the validity in two arguments - that discrimination and homosexual marriage are both wrong - and who want to work to a solution that addresses both of these positions. Why is this middle so widely ignored? Why does the media insist on reducing the issue to two positions?

I don't know. Maybe it would be too difficult for The Simpsons to work this middle ground into a half hour show. Maybe the middle position just isn't as conducive to humor as the two extremes. Maybe by ridiculing both sides the middle ground is actually furthered (I doubt it, when the two extremes are played against each other, but maybe).

But I don't want to leave this at The Simpsons alone - the problem is much wider. People who only see two sides are the real problem. The people who think there are only democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives. It is the fools who dichotomize everyone that are precisely what is wrong with this country.

And for the most part the people who dichotomize are exactly the people who are one or the other. So the left can run around blaming the right and the right can run around blaming the left but anyone who willingly takes on either one of those classifications is the piece of shit type of person who causes the problems in the first place! Yeah, that's right, I'm saying it! Go to hell leftists! Go to hell rightists! You know I'm talking to you, and I'm not afraid to say it! YOU are what is wrong with this country. You think you got the answers but you don't even know the question! Try shutting your cake-hole for a minute and looking at the real issues. Right and left are both are blind and deaf, but they sure as hell ain't mute. Maybe its the fact that I'm in lawschool in D.C., but there is so much horseshit pretense and posturing, no one takes responsibility and both sides are more concerned with pointing fingers than figuring out solutions. I'm so damn sick of hearing from the liberals and conservatives - why can't we just hear from people for once?!? And it doesn't matter what the issue is either, because democrats think one way and republicans think another, and apparently there's no middle ground. You either hate babies or choice. You either hate the first Amendment or Jesus. You either hate marriage or liberty. Well screw that shit. I don't hate any of those things - I'm not a redneck or a communist! And I'm not a commie redneck either! But the whole proposition that there are only two views is ri-cock-ulous, and its about damn time the left and right open their eyes to the real world. Ri-fucking-cock-ulous. Bastards.


Whoa, sorry, what just happened there? I blacked out for a minute, and something about Simpsons and dichotomies and whoa, now I remember. Um, yeah, sorry. This wasn't going to start out as a true rant, just a mild observation. But something snapped. I guess I'm exposed to too much of that crap here. And it just makes me sick that sensible suggestions can't get any attention. But we'll leave it there for now. Sorry.

Accentuate the Positive

Today the Twins officially opened training camp. Lots of people have big questions for this season - we lost the entire left side of our infield, Joe Mays and Joe Mauer are trying to come back from injuries, can Luis Rivas pick up his production, etc. Personally, I think people need to move beyond the doubts, and really be excited for this season.

Last season we had the best pitching staff in the league. That staff has returned in almost complete form, and many of the pieces look to be improved. We don't have the questions about Joe Nathan or Juan Rincon. Santana will start the season healthy and happy with a big contract. Joe Mays should finally come back from his injury, and hopefully Kyle Lohse will avoid the one-inning-meltdowns he became known for last season.

But it isn't just our pitching that looks dominant - we also have a solid lineup that should keep runners crossing the plate. Stewart, Hunter, and Jones all have plenty of experience, and adding Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau - two incredibly strong bats - should only help. I recently got an e-mail from a reader suggesting that the Twins could still use a big stick to knock runs in. I have to disagree with the reader, because a healthy Morneau should easily hit 30 home runs, and might have potential for 40. Moreover, two of the bats we lost - Koskie and Guzman - didn't have terrific years last season, and so should be relatively replaceable. Factor in consistent at bats for Lew Ford and Michael Cuddyer, and the Twins have the ability to increase their scoring from years past.

The one question that seems worth asking is how our defense will play out. Can Cuddy at third and whomever at short give us the sort of defensive integrity we've become so accustomed to? Especially given that Dougie isn't over at first to scoop up any bad throws? The answer, I think, is yes. The Twins stress defense, and it doesn't matter who they bring in, the players will be expected to perform. They practice consistently and are always fixing their little problems. The defense might not be the all-golden-glove teams of the last 3 years, but it will still be a strength.

It should be a good season. Finally, we're the favorites in the Central. We've earned it. We've got a solid staff, good fielding, and offensive potential. This is, of course, all subject to everyone remaining healthy. But every team faces that caveat, and the Twins have a minor league system rivaled by few. If an injury sets them back the Twins have the depth to deal with it. I know it isn't in our nature as Minnesotans, but this spring we have reason to be optimistic.

Its a "Must-Read", sort of like War and Peace, but you'll actually read this.

My beautiful, talented, smart, sexy, funny, creative, tall, one-hell-of-a-kisser fiancee has a blog now. There's not much up yet, but before you go look at it you have to promise me you'll keep reading mine, at least from time to time. Ok, go enjoy: Laura's Blog.

Cheery? No.

Lately I've been reflecting a little on the nature of guilt and social conscience. It seems to me that something tends to tie the two together. I'm not willing to make the stronger claim that they are inherently interrelated, but simply that they tend to coincide - guilt often seems to inspire a social conscience, and an inability to fulfill the demands of a social conscience tends to create guilt. Anyways, to cut to the quick, I want to know why it is that people can feel guilty or at very least bad, for things they have no control over. My sisters Emily and Maria both recently wrote posts expressing bad-feeling over things completely out of their control. Reading both of their blogs I felt at first bad, like they did, and then that transitioned into guilt. First for not making the concerns they highlighted concerns of my own, and secondly for having a life free from those concerns in some way.

Does this seem strange to anyone else? Not strange in a this-doesn't-normally-happen sort of way, but more in a how-can-this-phenomena-be-explained sort of way. I'm sure that there is some deep explanation, and as I ruminate on the phenomena a little more it occurs to me that the phenomonologists might have a little something to say about it. But I don't remember my Heidegger like I should, and I've never read any of the others.

But I do want to say one small thing, particularly in response to Maria's post. I think that in many cases, especially when the events are not-related to any particular persons, there is a ready response: education. Maria suggests that she can't do anything but blog on the topic, but I think in some ways that is precisely the right response. Or part of the right response at very least. I'm convinced that education is the key to solving most of the world's problems - if people have the right ideas then they'll live better lives, personally, professionally, socially. They'll desire that problems be fixed, they'll see the right way to address things, they'll be open to new and creative ideas, etc. This is the essential reason I call myself a Democrat: I think education is the solution to the world's ills. Education of all sorts. So Maria, I think your blogging is a step in the right direction - you're calling attention to problems, and you're calling for solutions. Education is the right response.

Unfortunately in situations where cars break down and buses cause accidents and cystic fibrosis affects lungs and cell phones go through the wash (for more info see my Mom's blog) there is little education can directly do. And I think that's a problem, and why I can't just espouse education alone - there are too many direct problems, and education is only a partial, distant solution. So in these cases I'm left without an answer. There isn't much in the way of solutions to these problems, at least as far as I can see, and even if I knew what the cure was, I'm hundreds of miles away, embedded in my own chaotic life. It makes me feel bad, it makes me feel guilty. How dare I have my own life when others need so much help?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

From Maine to San Diego

The sweetest words in the English language? "I love you"? Hardly. "Can I bring you some more beer"? Getting closer. "Pitchers and catchers report"? Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding!

So it is with great pleasure that I announce, ladies and gentlemen, that, "Pitchers and catchers report!" It won't be long before Opening Day, and soon after that summer. The bleak winter months have been sent away with the single crack of a ball against leather, the therapeutic sounds of catch. Anticipation is in the air, setting the stage for a new drama to unfold, one more promising than the last. No matter which home team you root for, there's something to look forward to.

Today three teams - the Yankees, the Reds, and the very brand new Washington Nationals! - started their camps, and throughout the week more and more teams will report. Given that one of the teams was the Nationals, today was a particularly exciting time for me. Living in D.C., as I do, I've decided to adopt the Nationals as my own, and will follow them loyally.

This isn't to say that the Nationals are supplanting the Twins as my team. That will never happen. I grew up with the Twinkies - their players were my heroes, I know the organization and the history, I still cry when I see highlight reels from '87 or '91. The Twins are a team with more magic than most, and I consider myself blessed to be a follower. But I've never had a National League team to root for, someone on the other side who I wanted to see succeed, and now I've got that opportunity. I can go to the Nationals' games. I can pick up the local paper and read what's happening with the team. I can see where they're building the new stadium, bond with others in the community, and pay a premium price for merchandise that would be discounted in other markets.

So the long and the short of it, if you take anything from this post, is that baseball is back (And, as if that wasn't enough, I'm giving bonus points to anyone who knows how the title relates to this post). I'm sure to follow it all summer, and you'll see plenty of posts regarding both the Nats and the Twins, and probably the league as a whole. There'll be more opinion than reporting, but hopefully that'll just make it more enjoyable for all. And watch for a big post just before opening day, because I'll lay all my predictions on the line. Because I can guarantee you, this is gonna be the year!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cupid is Stupid

Once upon a time I wrote a regular column for the paper at St. John's and St. Ben's. It all started when I submitted a column about Valentine's Day. I now present that same column, slightly edited, here for you:

Let’s do a quick test:
Raise your hand if you like pink….

There? See that? Not a single guy raised his hand. You want to know why? Because we hate the color. It’s fake. I mean, it’s PINK for crying out loud! Not a real color like red or white, but more like the ugly stepchild of passion and purity. It’s the brawl between the two, embodied in the least sincere color we know. Fake. Sorta like the holiday it embodies. Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at here: Valentine’s Day. If we wanted to, we could repeat our test with Valentine’s Day as our subject, and we’d find the same results.

So, what do we guys have against Valentine’s Day? The same thing we have against the pigment; namely that it’s fake. Valentine’s pretends to be something it’s not. Valentine’s day thinks it’s about romance and love when it really has nothing to do with the subject. And that’s what guys hate about it - the absolute lack of romance.

“Gee, how wonderful, you got me flowers, chocolates and a stuffed bear that says ‘I [Heart] U.’”

Hmm, never would have seen that coming, eh ladies? Really, how romantic is that? “I [Heart] U”??? That’s sick. I mean, kindergartners use “I [Heart] U,” and most of them are tired of it after the second card. That’s OK though, because every kindergartner can tell you the one redeeming quality of Valentine’s Day: the candy. Of course, I can’t remember
the last time I got Valentine’s candy without buying it myself. I do especially like the little candy hearts, but let’s face it, most of it is just sub-par chocolate, and no normal human can fit a heart-shaped sucker into their mouth.

I mean, who planned this? Romance should be about spontaneity, not your ability to color inside the lines. I mean, pick your partner, pick your cliché, pick your restaurant, and pick your nose for all I care, because YAWN!

Any rube can put the last piece in the puzzle, and as guys, that’s what we’re doing on Valentine’s Day. If it can’t be romantic, than it isn’t worth it. It isn’t an act of love to be forced into romance. And that’s our basic gripe. Seriously, most guys have nothing against romance. They just hate faking it. Every guy knows that love is not fake pink emotion. Love isn’t a new teddy bear with L-U-V written across its t-shirt. And love isn’t heart-shaped chocolates (which you can find anywhere from gas stations to chocolatiers)(if you can buy it at a gas station odds are good it isn’t love).

Every guy knows that isn’t love. And, show it or not, every guy knows what love is: Love is writing your girlfriend a sweet letter, and mailing it. Love is knowing her favorite candy bar, and keeping her stocked. Love is waking up before her 8 a.m. class to cook breakfast. Love is roses, because it’s Thursday.

No, love is not Valentine’s Day.
Love is not needing Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Thoughtoids

For those of you who remember, I named one of my building's elevators in a previous post (See the December Archives). Apparently a friend and reader was inspired to name the other. Forevermore the elevators here shall be known as "Clarence" and "Terrance" - and if I'm spelling Terrance wrong, someone please correct me.

Now that Dayton has decided not to run for Senate in '06, who will the Democrats choose? If I were 30, I'd volunteer. Whoever they pick, they'll have an uphill battle against Mark Kennedy. Having been strictly avoided by Kennedy at a party last year, I don't think I can support him, even if he is a fellow Johnnie. Seriously though, if I were able to run, what kind of support could I garner? In the DFL? Assume for a minute I were able to win the nomination... could I win the state? Anyone have thoughts on this topic? Its kind of fun to think about, and after all, I am thinking about getting involved in politics someday.

Hypothetically, if you discovered that your ex-girlfriend, who dumped you because she had been cheating on you, ended up with the type of guy who calls himself "Playboy C. Sanders" and loses the under-card match during an evening of "Xtreme Kage Kombat", what would you do? Would you smile? Would you gloat? Would you run to your blog to point out to everyone that she has chosen to affiliate with an under-educated thug who gets paid by illiterates to take a beating? I know I shouldn't take pleasure in the misfortune of others, but something about the name "Playboy C. Sanders" screams "misogynist chicken-cook," and its just too hard to resist. I mean, the man thinks he's had a good night of work when he leaves with only one black eye. Ultimately though, I do have to wish them all the best of luck; maybe someday soon he'll be getting beat-up by the champ!

And finally, in other news, I recently wrote and deleted a post describing the adventure I had the evening after my sister's wedding. I just couldn't manage to make it sound as funny as it actually was, and it wouldn't be right to give this story any less than it's due. Suffice it to say what was originally going to be a quiet evening ended up involving moving my sister, making supper at 9:00 p.m., dirty diapers, children with the flu, on-command flatulence, a baby strapped into a car-seat dangling inches above the ground, diarrhea in the living room, diarrhea in the dining room, diarrhea in the bathroom, and a pair of false teeth falling out of an old woman's mouth. If you'd like more details, feel free to ask.

Poetry Just Sitting There

Many moons ago I wrote a somewhat decent poem. I've had poetry on my brain lately, for some reason or other, and so I thought I'd go find what I wrote. I still liked it (which is especially rare for me, when I go back and read my work, and especially especially rare when I go back and read my poems), so I figured I'd post it here, for others to enjoy/criticize mercilessly. (Just a note here - the spacing is supposed to be different, with the even numbered lines set off to the right significantly, but blogger won't let me do that for some reason. Which is too bad, because the visual differences helps the poem. You'll just have to imagine that its better than it actually is.)

Elements Against Me

I work my land.
The sun burns me.
I finally relax.
I am snowed under.
I lean on my friends.
The earth shakes my support.
I go it alone.
Rains drown me.
I scream frustration into the wind.
Even the breeze laughs.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Latin for Dummies (and Epileptics)

If carpe diem means "seize the day" does diem carpe mean "daily seizures"?

Driving Crazy (a re-post)

My Grandpa drives like a maniac. His vehicle of choice is an old pickup-truck, completely stripped of fluffy extras like shocks or seat-belts. Driving on gravel at near-80, a passenger feels like they've stepped into the front car of a wobbly descending rollercoaster. Which has come free of the tracks. For the prepared rider, a mouth-gaurd is a must. The preferred method for riding is in the "perma-brace" position, back square against the seat, legs forward, feet pressed hard against the dashboard, arms angled against the base of the seat - you know full well that in this position you'll shatter both of your legs, but by accepting the ride you've already waved your right to mobility.

The terror doesn't stop at the passengers - it extends to every driver in front of, behind, beside, or beneath him (yes, God help us, beneath). The truck is usually filled to the brim with roofing materials - sharp knives, boxes of nails, loose shingles, etc. - and the tailgate is rarely tied shut. This hazardous debris spills out of the truck like milk from a bottle, creating a highway-long spike-strip. The sight is akin to watching a skier slalom around irate boxers. And, for anyone who dares get too close, Grandpa has a special weapon: the plank. Several large planks jut out the back end of the pickup at anywhere between 6 and 10 feet. For anything which extends more than 4 feet you are required to post a large, 2' x 2', red flag, so that drivers are aware of the distance. There is no such flag on my Grandfather's planks. Instead, to warn his fellow drivers, on the end of each board he places a small piece of tape. Scotch tape.

While the driving is frightening, it is the "stops" which border on levels of satanic terror. I love my grandpa, but I don't think he'd slow down for a red, octagonal-shaped traffic cop, holding a stoplight. Whether he's at a crosswalk, a "T", a four-way, or Times freakin' Square, his approach is simple: Go. On occasion he will yield. Not so much to other traffic as to the cramp in his foot which forces him to ease off the gas. He never checks for other vehicles, certain that they will look out for him. I can recall only one time when he cleared an intersection, and to do it he used his rear-view mirror.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Thoughtoids

First, I didn't listen to the State of the Union speech, but I've read a summary and I just pray that Bush's agenda progresses slowly. And that most of the changes he makes are superficial. Yes, I voted for him, but I did so on the premise that all the harm he'd cause would be temporary (whereas I saw Kerry as dangerous in a more permanent way). Limiting medical malpractice, extending certain tax-cuts, and some of his environmental policies are just awful governing. I flat out disagree with all three. I'm also concerned about his approach to social security. I'm not nay-saying yet, but I'm very afraid. So let's just pray that anything he does can be quickly undone when a better candidate comes along.

Secondly, I might keep the title "Thoughtoids" around, and use it for every post that consists of several quick, somehow-incomplete, thoughts. I could develop some of these ideas better, and maybe I will someday, but sometimes just getting them out is the most important thing, and so I'll do that from time to time. It results in posts like this, and if you see the title, you'll know what to expect. So welcome to the inaugural "Thoughtoids."

Finally, I wanted to say congratulations to my friends Rick and Jessica on their engagement. Good to know they'll be together forever.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A Series of Unrelated Musings:

So my younger sister is getting married on Saturday (If you'd like to read more about specifics, we have a lovely matching set of "His" and "Hers")(just to be clear, the sister is Gina, the one closest in age to me). I'm pretty excited. I like the guy, even if he is a little nerdy (sorry Josh). They're a good couple, and should make a terrific family - I have every confidence that they will have a wonderful life together. It is a little surreal though, but I think that's because she's the first one to take the plunge. I've seen friends get married. I've seen cousins get married. I even saw Luis and Maria get married on Sesame Street. But never a sibling. So in some ways it feels a little different, a little bigger. It isn't anything bad, just new. I should probably get used to it though - I'll get to experience it 11 more times (13 - Gina - Me = 11)(unless of course one of them becomes a religious, in which case I'm sure the celebration will be even bigger).

Maybe one of the strangest things is that Gina is doing this before I am. I don't have a problem with this, but it, too, is new. Every major life change that I can think of (graduating from highschool, moving away to college, moving out of the state, etc.) I've gone first. Getting engaged and married are big steps and part of me feels like its my duty to go first, to clear the path or something. I'm not sure what that's all about, and it isn't a big deal, but I just thought I'd point it out. Because actually, it has been really nice having Gina do all the wedding planning stuff before me - she's been a terrific resource.

Switching gears now, if you'll notice, in the last paragraph the word "highschool" was condensed into one word (from the proper "high school"). I've decided that "highschool" should be one word. I feel very strongly about this, and if I keep doing it eventually dictionaries will have to recognize it as a legitimate spelling. Sort of like "grey" and "gray". (As an aside, I usually hyphenate "middle-school" and usually "lawschool" is one word too, though I don't feel quite as strongly about these). Everyone should feel free, nay, obligated, to join me in this cause. Let us raise such a ruckus that Webster himself crawls from the grave, quill in hand, to etch "highschool" into the fabric of acceptable spellings, before continuing with his undead quest to eat the brains of all the world's linguists.

Also, on Gina's blog (see the link above), there is a reference to safe driving. She recommends that those coming to her wedding should drive like a grandparent in order to keep safe. This gave birth to a series of comments regarding the horror of actually riding with our Grandfather, whom no one should ever drive with. I felt elaboration would be helpful:

My Grandpa drives like a maniac. His vehicle of choice is an old pickup-truck, completely stripped of fluffy extras like shocks or seat-belts. Driving on gravel at near-80, a passenger feels like they've stepped into the front car of a wobbly descending rollercoaster. Which has come free of the tracks. For the prepared rider, a mouth-gaurd is a must. The preferred method for riding is in the "perma-brace" position, back square against the seat, legs forward, feet pressed hard against the dashboard, arms angled against the base of the seat - you know full well that in this position you'll shatter both of your legs, but by accepting the ride you've already waved your right to mobility.

The terror doesn't stop at the passengers - it extends to every driver in front of, behind, beside, or beneath him (yes, God help us, beneath). The truck is usually filled to the brim with roofing materials - sharp knives, boxes of nails, loose shingles, etc. - and the tailgate is rarely tied shut. This hazardous debris spills out of the truck like milk from a bottle, creating a highway-long spike-strip. The sight is akin to watching a skier slalom around irate boxers. And, for anyone who dares get too close, Grandpa has a special weapon: the plank. Several large planks jut out the back end of the pickup at anywhere between 6 and 10 feet. For anything which extends more than 4 feet you are required to post a large, 2' x 2', red flag, so that drivers are aware of the distance. There is no such flag on my Grandfather's planks. Instead, to warn his fellow drivers, on the end of each board he places a small piece of tape. Scotch tape.

While the driving is frightening, it is the "stops" which border on levels of satanic terror. I love my grandpa, but I don't think he'd slow down for a red, octagonal-shaped traffic cop, holding a stoplight. Whether he's at a crosswalk, a "T", a four-way, or Times freakin' Square, his approach is simple: Go. On occasion he will yield. Not so much to other traffic as to the cramp in his foot which forces him to ease off the gas. He never checks for other vehicles, certain that they will look out for him. I can recall only one time when he cleared an intersection, and to do it he used his rear-view mirror.

Finally, I just wanted to let everyone know that I am probably going to be in D.C. at least one more year than originally planned. I am going to look into getting a joint degree, so that I will have both a J.D. and a Masters in Philosophy. I'm pretty pumped about this possibility, and so thought I'd share.

Well, I think that's enough for now. My weekend has officially started, and I'm looking forward to a great time this weekend - we've got reason to celebrate!

Check it Out:

Everyone should check out the Marvelous Patric website. Freaks N Squeeks, the wildly popular comic, will be reaching it's 300th strip on Saturday. The comic is highly enjoyable, and I'd hope that someday we'd all see it in our daily papers. I don't know that the author has any such aspirations, but the material is generally of the right caliber. I'd recommend flipping through the archive, you'll enjoy it. The link is also now permenantly on the sidebar.