Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ah, Intoxication...

So I was reading the BBC News article about whether Obama would keep Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense when I caught this in the sidebar:

Man jailed for Spiderpig insults

Now how do you not read that? Check it out for yourself.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Interpretive Dance of Imbecility

We invented a drinking game on the trip to Austin. This was after Longhorn, while we watched football and put off packing the bikes. The game is pretty simple. All you need is a TV and some booze, and someone like me, who tends to say things like "That commercial makes me want to hurt people," or "That guy summons the killing rage." Whenever this person (me) says something like this during a commercial, you take a drink.

Sometimes, I think I'd like to play this game as I go through my day. Granted, some days I wouldn't even make it to work before I was swaying and barking in French about monkeys in the branches. (If you have to ask, it's best not to.)

The reason I mention this is because I had a strange sort of epiphany today, if you can call it that, and I'm not sure you can. Without going into specifics, I realized that there is a special category of people who are not worthy of respect or equal treatment. This is not a blanket statement. There are no generalities implied here. Members of this unhallowed pantheon of mediocrity work very hard to earn their places in it. You know who they are. You've got your own list. I may be on yours, I don't know.

It's interesting, though, the moment that you notice someone has moved into this category. Sometimes they slip quietly in, moving just outside your peripheral vision and sneaking by, hiding until you just as quietly forget about them. Sometimes, and this is when it's really special, sometimes, they put on a tutu, light up some sparklers, plie, tendu and skip like a nimble little forest sprite right across the line. It's something to see, let me tell you.

Right about the time they take a bow they light their dance tights on fire and you know they're never coming back. You'll never be able to talk to them like adults, or take them seriously again. Of course, they'll be happy to return the favor, just as soon as they find the source of that burning smell.

All I can say is that when the smoke clears, you want a drink, so I'll say it. That guy makes me want to hurt people.

Now say goodnight, Gracie.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What the hell? Seriously...what the hell?

Ran across this on the web today. I am speechless, but I have to share. This shouldn't be funny, except that it is. Does that make me a bad person?

Man's coffin kills wife on way to cemetery. Read it here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Swinging the Hammer

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, and this isn’t good. Left unattended, my mind does not turn to chivalry and dragon-slaying, to rescuing fair maidens or changing the world. I don’t dream up funny limericks to write on bathroom walls or pithy epithets that I can rattle off at parties. Frankly, my wandering mind is usually a pretty dark place.

This is why I try to stay occupied, to keep some kind of puzzle going in my head at all times. But sometimes I slip, and that’s when I start thinking.

I was reading Kurt Vonnegut’s “A Man Without A Country” today, and he wrote something that kind of encapsulated what’s been going through my head lately. He starts by saying that he’s been called a luddite, and that it’s not a bad thing. Then he tells the story of Ned Ludd, the namesake of the Luddites, who, according to Vonnegut and Wikipedia, destroyed a bunch of mechanical looms and other equipment in nineteenth century England in protest of being replaced by machines. He wraps up that story with this quote:

“Today we have contraptions like nuclear submarines armed with Poseidon missiles that have H-bombs in their warheads. And we have contraptions like computers that cheat you out of becoming. Bill Gates says, ‘Wait till you can see what your computer can become.’ But it’s you who should be doing the becoming, not the damn fool computer. What you can become is the miracle you were born to be through the work that you do.”

This is in my mind lately because I’ve been spending a lot of time around people in various contexts and I find that, depending on where I am and who I’m with and what I’m doing, there always seems to be a switch or two in my brain that I know I should flip in response to the situation, but when I do, the circuit that should be connected isn’t finished. The switch gets flipped but the light doesn’t come on. The car doesn’t start.

In the resulting intracranial awkward silence, I’m presented with the puzzle table on which my mind is laid out and I’m always stunned by just how many missing pieces there are. Those missing pieces, those gaps in the mural, are all the things that you can become, provided, I assume, that you don’t smash the machines that can help you get there.

The thing is, I’m pretty good with a hammer. It’s okay, though. If you smash enough machines, periodically you have to scavenge the parts to make new ones and when you do, you sometimes find that the new machine will make you another piece of your puzzle. That, of course, is what this is all about.

So if I’ve learned anything over the last couple of years I think it would be that it’s fine to pick up your hammer and pound away. At the cost of looking like a fool, or a bastard, of straining a friendship here and breaking a bone or two along the way, there’s almost always a reward when the dust settles and the wounds heal and you’ve got a slightly more complete picture of what you can become.

So thanks, KV, for putting a focus to the things that have been keeping me up the last few nights.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

You Tell Me...

I had the first couple of lines of this in my head as I went to sleep last night. Didn't know what else to do with it, so I stuck it here.

If I could take the tape from my eyelids
Blink them wet so I can see
Pull the bandage off my mouth
Part my teeth and breathe

I’d walk. I’d run.
I’d scream and howl
Until the air went cold
And the sun went down

I’d close my coat up tightly
Turn my shoulders to the wind
Take one step into the gale
And do it all again

I’d see lights on the horizon
The silhouette of home
I’d shuffle and stumble and grit my teeth
Until I reached the road