Tuesday, August 24, 2004

There is absolutely no time for bar-raising of any kind this week. Seriously, put that bar down.

Friday, August 20, 2004

What's the best bar in Uptown? My alter ego needs to know.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I feel like I have to kind of qualify my previous post, because I’ve reread it several times and still can’t come anywhere close to the point where the lightbulb re-illuminates and I realize what it was I’d set out to say when I started rambling and losing my thread and generally making an expository mess of the whole thing. So before I do that yet again, let me explain: I drove to work this morning (which to any of you in the Dallas area means that I drove like ten miles per hour for about thirty minutes through pouring rain while flanked by SUVs the size of prehistoric reptiles) arrived safely at work and set about trying to figure out what it was I wanted to write.

I wrote quickly and recklessly, because the great thing about writing in this medium is that I can toss aside extraneous considerations, such as the likelihood of being subjected to literary criticism or inspiring mass confusion. I began a thought I didn’t finish, which none of you could have possibly known was engendered in part by the fact that I was being continually distracted during the process and in part by the fact that I was hoping the idea would assume a complete shape of its own volition.

(To wit, during the course of typing this half-hearted apology, I’ve had to open and close my word-processing thrice so that a paid professional could calibrate my screen. And now I’ve pretty much decided to just give up and let it be.)

The thrust being, metaphorically speaking, that we can go for a fun drive without actually getting anywhere.

I know that a lot has already been made of the inadequate skills of drivers in every major metropolitan city in the lower forty-eight. I know this because I’ve seen the same clever e-mails (the ones that detail ten to fifteen particularly heinous, yet mysteriously hilarious, driverly sins) bearing the names of even lesser-populated cities, like, say, St. Louis and Wichita (pops. 348,000 and 344,000, respectively. Incidentally, both of which are those rare types of cities that are big enough to not require state designations in AP datelines, but not big enough to support three professional sports teams [St. Louis has baseball and football, but no basketball; Wichita hasn’t got shit, really, other than minor league hockey and baseball teams — one of each]), which fact leads me to believe that the e-mails are simply trickling down to second-tier cities because they’ve already had their proudest moments in places like, of course, New York City, Chicago, and Boston — places where traffic is, at times, more like a long, baffling riddle than a way to get from the suburban driveway to the downtown parking garage and vice versa.

So yes, I am well aware of the fact that bitching about local traffic is just one of those things that we humans have really gravitated toward. It provides a quick common ground for strangers, and a kind of head-nodding affirmation from friends that keeps long pauses from getting out of hand and becoming awkward.

And my position on the whole thing is that it’s largely innocuous. I mean, most people don’t sit in their cars in the morning trying to figure out how many boneheaded maneuvers they are going to pull for the next ten or so miles. If anything, a healthy awareness of one’s local traffic tendencies might take hold and actually keep one in a state of heightened awareness behind the wheel, such that one might anticipate boneheaded maneuvers from others based on little tip-offs like failure to use a blinker or weaving. This is a good thing, clearly.

But it does not really address the vehicular fatalism that’s at the root of the plant. It instead creates a community in which this kind of careless driving kind of transforms into a thing of its own, a thing that locals harbor some secret affinity for. Something to which they devote entire e-mails (that may or may not be entirely unique to a particular city; they may very well be borrowed from a clever person in a bigger city, and indeed probably are, as I explained in my opening ¶). Something about which they pound their chests and proclaim “We (city name) folk have to deal with this mighty obstacle every day.” Which may, regrettably, lead to further, more immediate proclamations, like “Here, let me show you how fucking crazy we are in (city name). Watch as I weave across four lanes of expressway traffic without pausing or signaling or checking my blind spot. This is how it’s done here in (city name).”

And anyone can see the problem with that.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Someone remind me to buy the August issue of Gourmet today after work because I keep forgetting to and I really want to read the DFW article that’s causing the minor hysteria before the magazine decides to pull it from the shelves and forget the whole thing ever happened.

(And no, I still haven't finished Oblivion.)

Monday, August 16, 2004

Friday night I realized that playing poker with people who do not know the first thing about playing poker can be quite disappointing. As easy as the game might be in your head, try explaining it to four people who not only don’t grasp the basics, but who have no burning desire to do so. The best thing that can be said — and indeed it will be said, by me — is that we struggled through the exercise whilst listening to the classic guitar stylings of the legendary Jango Reinhardt.

Saturday, we stopped at the soda shop for a soda, a cigarette and enough caffeine to make a grown man forget his own name and karate chop the elderly. That very afternoon, late in the afternoon, as day turned into dusk which, in turn, gave way to twilight and then, strangely, back to dusk, we ate cheese fries with aplomb ... and gourmet ranch dipping sauces, deep in the heart of Deep Ellum. We then headed west one block to the Brothers Grim Sideshow, which, in classic sideshow tradition, provided us with a completely genuine ripoff experience, just like the sideshows of yesteryear. Two karate chops later, we found ourselves on the patio at Xpo Lounge. In what will some day be remembered as a miracle of minor proportions, Alberto was not there.

So we closed the night out at Bar of Soap, which is about the scariest place you will ever want to be at 2 a.m. The cops were parked across the street. Act natural. We walked through the alley toward the car. Made it home by the hairs on our chinny chin chins.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I’ve been thinking seriously of writing an essay on Politics & Government as seen through the eyes of a third-grader. I began in earnest, because I’ve read in many books-on-tape that beginning in earnest is the best way to begin, especially if one is tackling a Big Issue, like Politics & Government or Something Else. I quickly realized, however, that third-graders are much more savvy today than I was when I was in that grade and at that age. These days, third-graders know all sorts of lingo and vernacular, they wear special pants with secret pockets and they understand the finer points of Aussie-rules football. They know all of these things because of the Internet.

I am decidedly at a disadvantage. I was introduced to my first computer, an Apple IIE, in seventh grade, and then only to play Oregon Trail, a game which our teachers insisted would show us the hardships of growing up and making a living in the old pioneering days, when struggling families were forced to capture and eat animated squirrels just to survive. (The computer revolution was great for teachers, because they could finally dump us in front of a magical plastic box that would command our undying love and affection while they sneaked out the classroom door to smoke cigarettes in the administration lounge.) And but so the Internet was still, at the time, something only a few guys at MIT and Cal-Tech knew about, something even they did not realize the potential of, as this early transcript illustrates:

Cal-Tech: Are there any female Trekkies in the greater New England area?

MIT: I was going to ask you the same thing about California.

Cal-Tech: Do you play Dungeons & Dragons?

And so all this was going on under our noses and we never knew a cotton-picking thing about it, because the cotton gin had come along and revolutionized the cotton-picking industry at the Turn of the Century. So as I grew up playing Oregon Trail and marvelling at the solar-powered calculator (“See? When you press the screen real hard with your fingernail the numbers get all inky!”), somewhere out there, some chick was walking around completely unaware of the fact that she would be impregnated in the year 1995, give birth early in 1996, and have a child in third grade by 2004, and that that child would grow-up using the Internet to learn all sorts of important facts.

So you can see my dilemma. Clearly, I can no more get into the head of a third-grader than I can grasp the intracacies of partical physics. It is a scientific fact.

I don't know what kind of celestial tomfoolery is afoot, but I can't stop myself from listening to "Fight Test" by the Flaming Lips. That single song has been looping in iTunes constantly, and it's making all my private parts public.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Last night I went grocery shopping. I worked out. I read. It was as if I had morphed into an actual, responsible adult for about three hours. I then morphed back into my regular self and watched an hour of televised poker. But this only after I watched bits and pieces of Gattaca, a movie I will never tire of, which happens to be a phrase I’m already tired of. If I am at a cocktail party slipping various powders and bugs into the punch bowl and I hear someone across the room say to someone else “Well old bean, I never tire of tweaking my wife’s nipples,” I will cross the room on a special mission to punch that person in the teeth. This also applies to the phrases “Now am I right, or am I right?” and “Suffice it to say ...” Tooth punching time.

This week has been a week unlike any other. Of course, the same can be said of any week in the history of the word week.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the latter-day hippies, aura manipulators, snake-oil dealers, and fashionable socialists who populate the great state of California are exacting an unhealthy psychological influence over the rest of the country.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

My review of Collateral.

In a meeting yesterday, a girl I work with made reference to Rohypnol. “You know — the date-rape drug.”

About six years ago, when I was still fresh out of college and my mind was mossy with idealism, I joined the anti-drug-war movement. By that I mean that I smoked some grass, read a couple books, and, you know, ended up sounding like an issue of High Times whenever someone talked about, thought about, looked at, or completely failed to mention anything having to do with drugs.

I don’t really give a shit about the Drug War these days, because we’re lucky to get a couple joints to an infirmary without the federal government deploying a rabid pod of Navy Seals to break the necks of anyone toting anything that looks like something someone might put drugs into (like, say, a purse or rectum) in preparation for smoking or ingesting or otherwise enjoying, and frankly it’s just not worth the effort and the worry and I’d much rather devote my time to my other hobbies — like collecting low-fat custard recipes and exposing myself at department stores.

So OK, I guess I still do give a shit about the War on Drugs, but it’s a much smaller shit than the shit I gave only a few years ago.

The problem with calling Rohypnol the date-rape drug is that Rohypnol has never actually been convicted of raping anyone. Heck, it’s lucky to get a date in the first place. Besides, naming a drug after the actions of some of the people who have misused it is tantamount to calling American Airlines the terrorism airline or calling a Ford F-150 the drunk-driving pickup.

And this is not to mention the fact that calling something a date-rape drug takes responsibility away from the perverts who use drugs to abet raping women. I’m just waiting for the day when some asshole defense attorney starts exploiting the government’s anti-drug lexicon:

“Yes, my client raped this woman — I mean, duh, his you-know-what was all over the curtains and the hallway and the back yard. But your honor, may it please the court, my client cannot be held responsible for his actions because on the night in question he was in possession of the date-rape drug. Which drug, your honor, lead him into wrongdoing ...”

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Think of George W. Bush as chicken dancing to a player piano and of John Kerry as a rabbit at the helm of a toy fire engine. Got it? Now then, go rent Stroszek, a movie about three German emigrants searching for the American dream in small-town Wisconsin; a movie I watched very late last night after my neighbors had fallen asleep and the drunks had fled the Cuckoo’s Nest rowdy and stumblebum; a movie that will take a place on some mental list of mine right between Five Easy Pieces and Withnail and I.

Rated R for adult situations, language, and being awesome.

(Will someone please tell me if I’m hypercorrecting when I change “immigrant” to “emigrant”? I read the AP Stylebook entry twice and I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I am experiencing light swelling on my right eyelid, which now looks like a purplish clove of garlic. I have recorded my symptoms using the latest in fiber optic technology. If the swelling goes down in the next few hours, everything should be fine. If it doesn’t, I’m screwed.