Sunday, January 30, 2011

Artistic Failures

It all started with the sequence packets. In second grade we had to do these exercises called "sequence packets". By doing these sequence packets, we were supposed to demonstrate that we understood cause and effect and how to sequence a series of events. The packets contained such questions as "Does spring come before or after winter?". My answer: both. Teacher's answer "You're wrong". This was one of the first times that "grown up" Dana emerged; defiant, arrogant and correct. I got in a fight with my teacher about this, and I found the whole event rather upsetting. So suffice it to say, I hated the sequence packets.

One day, during sequence packet time, we had to draw a picture in one of a series of boxes, illustrating "what happens next". I don't remember the sequence, but I do remember the anger I felt at being forced to do such a stupid assignment. I finished my drawing quickly and efficiently, illustrating a couple people. I lacked artistic skills, but my stick people, I felt did the job. It showed that I understood what happens next, which was, after all the point of the assignment.

The teacher saw it differently.

She looked at my drawing and told me I needed to go back and redraw it.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because you're not done. See, these people don't even have hands or feet!"

"They don't need hands or feed" I said, logically. "They're not real".

"You need to go back to your desk and finish your drawing."

I could see that she was beyond reasoning, so I went back to my desk, shaking with anger, and tried to draw hands and feet with crayons, which you know, went well. I still to this day don't understand how you can draw hands or feet with crayons. No matter what, they end up looking like blobs, and not like hands or feet at all. And if we're going for realism, it was probably better for me to leave them off, honestly.

This incident started a hatred of art in my angry little girl heart. I began to associate it with nitpicky, hateful witches who couldn't see the forest through the trees. Drawing was the realm of the detail oriented and excessively rule bound; the kind of people who missed the point entirely and got hung up on things that didn't matter.

This frame of mind was only enhanced by an art project I was forced to endure in 3rd grade. In November we were coerced into making "Thanksgiving turkeys" in the most tedious and horrifying way possible. We made outlines of a turkey on a piece of white paper. AND THEN WE HAD TO FILL IN THE ENTIRE THING WITH LITTLE TINY SCRAPS OF CREPE PAPER. We were given massive amounts of multi colored crepe paper squares, which we were to wrap around the end of a pencil, making a little cup shape, and then we had to glue each little square to the paper. The ending result was supposed to be some kind of monstrous multicolored squishy paper turkey. I saw the finished project and thought it was really tacky, and not like something I wanted in my house. Plus we had turkeys on the farm, and I saw nothing particularly interesting or beautiful about them. Why turkeys? I had a bad attitude about the project. So I half-assed it.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to make a turkey out of tiny cup shaped crepe paper squares? Months. That's how long. It is tedious mind numbing work and the teacher who forced us to do it should probably be punished. I'm not going to say it was sweatshop labor. That's for the suits in Washington to decide. I'm just saying you know. There were similarities. When I finally finished, I beheld the disgustingly ugly partial birth abortion that was my hideous turkey and I nearly cried. All that work. All that suffering. For this.

For this.

My hatred of art grew and grew. Until one day, in the sixth grade, I went to a yard sale with my friend and her dad. I found there a large package of magazines titled "Art and Antiques". I began flipping through them, just curious.

And it blew my mind.

THIS was art? What were they making me do in school?

My eyes devoured each page, looking at gleaming white sculptures, disturbingly dark paintings, architecture so light and airy it made me feel like crying with delight. I could see that someone paid over $200,000 for an armoire at Southeby's. What was an armoire? I had to know. I had to know more! I begged my friend's dad to buy me the magazines, which he did, for 25 cents.

When I got home I holed myself up in my room with my treasure, absorbing not just the art, but the LIFESTYLE associated with it. Looking at the people featured in them, I just knew they had never, ever got into a fight over a pizza crust as I had recently done. Their clothes were elegant, their homes beautiful and refined. They attended charity auctions. They discussed "pieces". They found precious antiques while shopping for vintage clothing in atelier shops in Paris. I looked around at my clothes. My house. My life. And suddenly I felt an utter self loathing. I hated my life, my self. I was trash.

After moping around for a few days I decided that rather than mope, I would simply have to remedy the situation. But how? I couldn't afford any of the art and antiques in the magazine, and even if I could, I didn't live anywhere where you could buy anything like that. So. I would have to make my own art.

I asked my dad for paints, which made him angry, since that was far, far beyond our means. So I got my sad little stack of notebook paper and found some red, blue and yellow paints from an old toy in the closet. The paints were crappy and old, but I figured I could mix them together to make all kinds of colors and shades. I'd seen Bob Ross mix paints, and I felt I pretty much understood the technique. I gathered my notebook paper and my red, blue and yellow paints and went down to the creek to try my hand at nature painting. After an hour and several truly heinous paintings I stalked back up to the house, in tears, hating myself even more than I had. I was a failure.

I got the magazines out again. I needed to study them, I decided. Which yielded some interesting results. I discovered that great art doesn't require great technique; it requires great IDEAS. And I, after all, was an idea person. And thus I decided, I didn't want to be a Monet; I hated landscapes anyway! I was going to be a modern artist. I found some old pairs of shoes with holes in them and nailed them to my walls, to look like a ghost was walking up my walls (at least I thought so). I found some paper cups and covered them in wrapping paper. I suspended these from the ceiling, using different lengths of yarn. I cut out all my favorite pictures from the magazines and made collages that covered my closet doors. I bent coat hangers into interesting shapes and taped them to things. ART. I was an artist.

But when I was finally done, I realized that my room didn't look elegant. It didn't look like the inside of a museum. It just looked like a crazy person lived there. I gave up.

But then, as a high school senior, I took my very first ever trip to an art museum. The Seattle Art Museum to be exact. And suddenly I was in sixth grade again, feeling like an inadequate hick, and wanting so desperately to be better and do better. I decided then and there to major in art history when I went to college, which I did. I knew I was no artist, but I wanted this. I wanted this to be my life. I wanted to be one of the elegant, refined women in Art and Antiques who "acquired pieces".

But what I hadn't bargained on was the fact that art history majors have to take art classes too. My drawing class was horrible. Surrounded by truly talented drawers, I felt like the worst kind of class dunce. I didn't belong there. I sucked. Plus I was too tense to even make much of an effort. Was I supposed to draw the model's back acne? Because that was all I could focus on. No one else was drawing the acne. Was I a horrible person? Will the male model get angry if I draw his penis as small as it appears? Should I "enhance" it to make him feel better? Or would that be too obvious?

However, my final art class was a sculpture class. This I enjoyed, though I sucked at it. Our first assignment was to make an "imaginary friend" out of cardboard. My imaginary friend was awesome. I make a winged swing. It was a regular swing, but the ropes were attached to a smiling set of wings. Because wouldn't that be the coolest friend ever? Almost as good as a magic carpet.

My final project was to make a sculture from plaster of Paris. We were supposed to juxtapose two objects together, which did not belong together. I made a coffee mug, but instead of a handle, it had an electrical outlet. It was dangerous. Those things should never be put together. I still have it actually. It's the only piece of art I've ever done that I liked.

Of course, when I graduated I couldn't get a job in the art world, and wound up in finance of all things, working in the least creative, least elegant, most bland environment you can imagine. It's funny how things work out.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Inevitable Stomach Blog

In early December, I noticed that my stomach hurt a lot after I ate. I ignored it at first, but eventually it got so bad that I had to leave work in the middle of the day. I went to the doctor, who said I had acid reflux. He gave me a list of forbidden foods and told me to take prevacid. The next morning I ate some oatmeal and herbal tea and promptly vomited it all up. This confused me. Oatmeal should be fine for acid reflux! I went home and ate some toast, and had excruciating pain for the rest of the day.

I mentioned the stomach situation to my rheumatologist, who said it was probably just the stomach flu.

It didn't go away for 2 weeks. I'm no doctor, but I know the flu doesn't last that long. I went to see a different doctor, Dr. Demoui. She ordered some tests. I waited a week and called for my test results. I couldn't reach her so I left a message with the nurse. I repeated this process every day for another week. At this point I was totally stressed because I did NOT want to travel north for Christmas with this horrifying problem. Which is exactly what I had to do, because Dr. Demoui couldn't be bothered to return my calls. I finally badgered the nurse into giving me my "results". The nurse said that Dr. Demoui wrote notes in my file saying I needed to "take vitamins". I asked if I could speak to the doctor directly, because I didn't feel this was a satisfactory diagnosis. I was told she was "on vacation".

At this point, filled with psychopathic rage, I made an appointment wiht a naturopathic doctor. He prescribed me a nasty powder to drink as well as "silica". He gave me instructions to avoid gluten, since, judging from my food journal, the culprit may be a gluten allergy. The nasty powder, though nasty, did actually calm my stomach. I felt pretty good as long as I was very careful what I ate and regularly drank my cup of nasty. However, I still had no explanation as to what is actually WRONG.

So I went to go see a gastroenterologist. He said it sounded like Celiac disease. He tested me for it, even though the he said test may not be as accurate since I had been abstaining from gluten for a couple of weeks. The test came back negative. Then he said it could be related to my autoimmune drama.

Rewind: A coup]e years ago I started having joint pain, and rashes. That's why I go to a rheumatologist. My ANA test came back positive, so now I have to go for testing every two months to "monitor" the situation to make sure I don't like, have kidney failure or whatever. It's never been a major problem. Sometimes my joints hurt and I get a rash, and then it goes away.

But the gastroenterologist pointed out that my last lab results had a MAJOR JUMP just prior to my stomach pain. The jump also coincided with the return of my joint pain and rash. So. It appears that it may be auto immune. The joint pain and rash are gone, but the stomach pain remains.

I am left with many questions.

1) Obviously, I need to know what is causing the stomach pain.
2) If it is auto-immune, why does it help when I avoid gluten.
3) If it is a gluten allergy, why does it hurt when I have an empty stomach sometimes? Can it just be leftover tenderness from prior gluten-induced damage?
4) Why does sour cream hurt my stomach, but not other kinds of dairy?
5) Why do antacids help only sometimes?
6) If it is autoimmune, will they be albe to determine that from the endoscopy?
7) What, exactly, can they determine from the endoscopy?

I am really not looking forward to having a creepy tube stuck down my throat.

Pray for me. Or if you aren't religious, send me good vibes or whatever.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Food For People Who Can't Eat

Due to my horrifying stomach drama, I'm no longer allowed to eat gluten. If you've ever tried to be vegetarian and gluten free at the same time, you know that it's easy enough at home, surrounded by your army of cookbooks, but when dining out it's pretty much Thai food, and that's about it. So I have a great idea. To open up a restaurant called "Food for People Who Can't Eat". It would be a place where people with dietary restrictions could eat to their hearts' content, relishing every tasty biteful. The restaurant would offer several separate menus, each with 5 or 6 entree options, several "sides" from which they could choose, three or four desserts, and of course beverages. "Food For People Who Can't Eat" would offer the following menus:

Gluten Free
"On a Diet"
low carb
raw foods
local, organic, whole foods
nut allergy
lactose intolerance
juice bar (for people on liquid diets and people with no teeth)
"gourmet" (only the highest quality, snob approved foods)

That's 16 menus. If each menu has 5 entrees that's 80 options, which is a lot. But I think restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory manage it, so we should be able to as well. And of course, there could be some overlap too, for instance lots of macrobiotic things could be on the vegan menu and so on.

The menu cover would say something like this: "Here at Food For People Who Can't Eat we want to offer a delicious dining experience for all of our guests. Are you tired of going to restaurants where all you can eat is a salad? We know. We know. This restaurant is for YOU. You, people who need wholesome, tasty food, but who can't get their needs met at traditional dining establishments. We aren't here to judge you or call you picky or roll our eyes when you question us about the ingredients in our dishes. We're here to serve you! So ask as many questions as you like. Our waitstaff are trained in all kinds of dietary restrictions and are intimately acquainted with the ingredients in all of our dishes. Here at Food for People Who Can't Eat, we love you! And we know you deserve to eat as much as your less discriminating fellows."

And people who have no dietary restrictions may enjoy it as well! After all, we would serve really, truly tasty food. And it might be fun for anyone who has ever wondered "What do they even eat?".

Too bad I hate business, or I'd get on this right away.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Places Where You Will Be Raped

There are three places where you will, absolutely, be raped. These places are: rape vans, sheds, and the Congo. This blog is about spreading awareness. Most people think of rape happening in alleys behind bars or frat parties. But these other places aren't given as much attention, and I feel that is a shame.

Where I used to live, there was a creepy rape van in the parking lot. I would like to first clarify that not all vans are rape vans. There are legitimate reasons for owning and operating a van; for instance you have a band and need to transport musical equipment in varied weather, or you are a large family and need lots of places for people to sit during travel. Rape vans differ from regular vans in that they have an air of unspeakable evil radiating from them. This particular van was huge and completely unmarked. It was painted a plain white and was conspicuously inconspicuous, as if to say "Don't look over here". But the creepiest part was that THE WINDOWS WERE COMPLETELY SPRAY PAINTED BLACK. Why? What is he hiding in his van? Whenever I had to walk past the van, I would rush, chanting to myself "He just likes to have CONSENSUAL sex with his ADULT partner. CONSENSUAL sex with ADULT partner", but I knew in my heart that that couldn't possibly be the reason.

If you remember my myspace blog, you know how I feel about sheds. Nothing good happens in a shed. If you have a garage, there is no reason to have a shed, except for raping, animal torture, or slave confinement. When Phil and I were looking for houses, I flat out refused to even consider a house that had both a shed and a garage on the property. I could bring in an exorcist and burn that thing to the ground, and I would never completely rid the property of the evil perpetrated upon it. I don't know that I believe in ghosts, but if there are such things, they would most assuredly haunt the area where they were raped, murdered, and possibly buried. One time we looked at a house that had a shed in the backyard and Phillip, trying to break me of my "irrational" fear, make me look inside it. Do you know what was in it? A mattress.

A mattress.

Phil said, "It's nothing scary. Someone was probably just sleeping out here."

My point exactly Phil. No one sleeps in a shed voluntarily, especially when there is a garage present.

If I were a writer for "The Onion", my first article would be titled "Congolese Man Has Consensual Sex With Wife". Because you have never, ever heard a story regarding the Congo that didn't involve rape. They rape everyone, for all kinds of reasons. You can be sure that if you run into a man in the Congo, he will rape you. They do this supposedly because they are at civil war, and this is how they crush their enemies blah blah blah. They have public rape ceremonies where they kidnap people from the opposing tribe and rape them in front of everyone. Now, I understand that war creates all kinds of horror, but the Congo has become a place where they do nothing but rape each other. There doesn't seem to be much point to them other than the raping.

So why am I bringing all this up, you may ask? Because I have an action plan. Here is my three-point-plan for eliminating insidious rape risks.

1) It should be illegal to spray paint your van windows. I'm generally not ok with the government making decisions about what people do with their private property, but in this case, I would make an exception. There is no wholesome reason for blacking out the windows of your van. You are a dangerous person.

2) People who own both sheds and garages should be subject to random inspections. (Please note that if you have a shed and NO garage, you are exempt. Because you could legitimately need the shed for storage or garden tools or whatever.) The inspection team would check for living people and animals of course, but also for "DNA", animal blood, bones of various kinds, or any evidence that missing persons may have been in the shed at any point. Additionally, there should be public service announcements telling children that they must never, ever enter a shed with an adult, even if he says he has a really neat "tool" to show you.

3) The Congo needs to be fixed. Those people clearly are not up to the task. So we should offer to govern their country for them. If they refuse, perhaps some other country could step in and run the country for them. Not Belgium, since there's too much bad blood, but maybe Australia or New Zealand. They haven't had their chance to take over a country forcibly yet; it would probably be fun for them. Or even South Africa or Egypt. Really anyone other than the Congolese themselves. If all else fails, the place needs to be nuked. I am a non-interventionist by nature. I don't like war or killing, but the Congo is just a place of unremitting evil. All they do is rape and kill and spread AIDS and they seem to have no interest in any other way of life. If they would just knock off the constant rape I would say "Let them do their thing. It's not our business". But I think they, as people, are too far gone at this point to recivilize themselves. They need outside assistance. Of course, the victims should be removed from the Congo before any violent action is taken against it, provided that the victims were not also rapists.

Of course, my blog is intended as humor, but just so you know, I'm not exaggerating about the situation in the Congo. Here is a link, if you're curious:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

TV Poll

I love TV. I operate on a very high level of stress, mostly due to my overactive imagination and inability to turn off my brain. My TV time is sacred time; it gives me an opportunity to relax, or at least what passes for relaxation for me. But what do you think? Do our tastes dovetail? Or do you think I'm a mindless zombie deadening her mind with drivel? Answer my poll! I'm curious about you.

1)I love the show "Hoarders". What do you think should be done with severe hoarders?
A) Exactly what they do do on the show. Listen to them, allow them to have control, while helping them in a nurturing, supportive environment.
b) Throw them all in prison. They are disgusting people who are creating health hazards and ruining the lives of the children and animals in their care.
c) Trick them into leaving the house with a phony "spa day" or something and burn the house down while they're gone. It's the only way to make the place clean again.
d) Tie them up in a chair and make them watch as you throw away all their garbage. Exposure therapy, you pig.

2) The show "Bones" is arguably one of the most boring, horrible shows currently running. How should the makers of the show be punished?
a) A slap on the wrist. After all, they're not hurting anyone.
b) Thugs should break into their houses and smash any word processing devices to send a message.
c) Do they give Razzies for TV shows? That seems appropriate...
d) They should all be forced to listen to "Bones" (they call her "Bones" because she studies bones for forensic evidence. Get it? Get it? It's really, really clever.) get all judgmental and wax trite for a full hour.

3) SVU is a show that gives lurid, graphic descriptions of child rape and torture for a full hour. It's horrifying. It's the worst thing in the world. Yet many people like the show. Why do you think that is?
a) They are truly creepy people who find child rape and torture to be a delightful source of entertainment.
b) They don't like it, they just pretend to because their friends do or whatever.
c) They have a crush on one of the actors?
d) They are crime writers, but they aren't disturbed enough psychologically to come up with this kind of material on their own, so they steal it from this show.
e) They feel that the horror of the first 55 minutes of the show is worth it if the bad guy gets caught in the end. They are willing to sit through for 55 minutes of unrelenting horror for the 5 minutes of satisfaction.

4)American Idol is a popular show. I don't watch it, but I have seen a few episodes. There is a judge on the show called Simon Cowell, and lots of chicks think he's hot, despite the fact that he is a grown man who has devoted his life to teeny-bopper crap music. Why?
a) The accent.
b) They have daddy issues and like a man who is stern and chastises.
c) He probably has lots of money.

5)Lots of shows right now depict New Jersey as a truly disgusting place filled with disgusting people doing disgusting things. Why?
a) New Jersey is actually like that.
b) We just need someone to pick on, and West Virginia was getting old.
c) One show got good ratings doing it, and a bunch of other shoes got on the bandwagon.

6) The contestants on "The Biggest Loser" are (almost)uniformly hyper-emotional and lacking in humor. When they are interviewing prospective contestants, how many times must the person burst into tears before they will consider them for the show?

7)Lots of times I'll be excited for a show and it will be interrupted by a sports broadcast, despite the presence of like, 30 ESPN channels which were designed expressly for this purpose. Why do you think that is?
a)They want to destroy me.
b)The folks in charge honestly, truly believe that sports fans are not sophisticated enough to operate the remote control and change the channel to ESPN.
c)There is some kind of conspiracy where sports teams are paying good channels huge quantities of money to air them running back and forth with a ball, rather than good quality programming.

8)Who is your favorite character on 30 Rock? (hard, I know)
a) Jack
b) Liz
c) Kenneth
d) Tracy
e) Jenna

9)Which show should be brought back immediately?
a) The Riches
b) Survivorman
c) American Inventor
d) Mark Kistler's Draw Squad

10) Which adventure would you most like to participate in with the cast of "It's Always Sunny"?
a) home renovation
b) night crawlers
c) intervention for Frank
d) kidnapping the Paddy's reviewer to get him to change his review
e) Charlie's play

11) Why do you think some people are against TV in principle? (Not people who just don't like watching TV. People who think watching TV is bad)
a) They watched a couple episodes of "America's Got Talent" and "The Bachelor" and decided that all TV is comparably terrible.
b) They do like TV, they just think it makes them seem intellectual to say they don't watch it. So they just sit in front of the computer for hours which is, you know, much better.
c) They are too poor to afford it, and they are just saying they are against TV to hide the shame of their poverty.
d) They are schizophrenics who believe that the government is using the television for mind control purposes.
e) They are hippies who believe "the corporations" are using the television for mind control purposes.
f) They have weak minds that WILL actually be ruined by television watching. Though if their minds are that weak to begin with, they wouldn't be losing much anyway...TV can't make you stupid unless you weren't that bright in the first place...

12) Why do you think "The Riches" was cancelled, despite it's brilliance?
a)The world is full of Philistines.
b)They wanted to air some kind of sports program in its time slot.
c)I can't think of any reason. It was perfect. And they left it on such a cliff hanger! Sometimes, even years later, I start worrying about the Riches. What will become of them? What's going to happen to Cael? And Dahlia? And Didi? I know Wayne will get them out of the scrape somehow, but how? HOW?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dana's Guidelines For A More Sanitary World

Here are some easy and overlooked ways of preventing the spread of germs and diseases. Everyone knows about hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough, but here are some things that no one seems to think about. Except me.

1) Do not lick your fingers while going through a stack of papers, leaving little slimy saliva spots on the paper. It's gross, and completely unnecessary. If you can't separate a piece of paper from a stack of papers, the problem is not a lack of saliva on your finger. The problem is a lack of finger coordination/manual dexterity. If you MUST have moisture, at least use lotion or hand sanitizer, or anything less gross than your body fluids.

2) Smash all coffee cups with thick rims. It is impossible to drink from them without dribbling down the side, which means your saliva and whatever you are drinking combine into a germ-slurry, eventually winding up under the mug or on the table or on your clothes, or some combination of the above. The next time you're given one of these mugs, I recommend "accidentally" dropping it on a hard-surfaced floor.

3)Don't blow out candles on birthday cakes. Many of you already know my feelings on this, but it's an important issue, and bears repeating. There is no reason to ruin a cake by coating it with saliva. I get that it's tradition, but just because something is traditional, doesn't make it OK. You know what else is traditional? Slavery. Just sayin.

4)Don't bob for apples. I don't know who started this, but it's the most disgusting game in the world. It's making a nasty soup of apples, water, snot, eye drops and face oil. A soup that you are ingesting. It's just shy of cannibalism and it's not even fun.

5) I have seen waitresses clear a table of dirty dishes, used napkins and other debris, and then deliver NEW food to a different table WITHOUT washing her hands in between. That's right. She was handling plates of nasty and the she used those same hands to to deliver you your clean food. Different people should be in charge of those jobs at all times.

6) Money needs to be cleanable. Look at a dollar bill. Think about it. How many strippers' panties has that dollar bill been in? How many nasty, filthy people have had their hands all over it, in their sweaty pockets and in their stinky shoes? Who decided that paper is a good choice for this? Of course, in the electronic age, cash is becoming obsolete anyway, but we're not there yet. So in the meantime, can't it be made from washable plastic? In fact, we could recycle garbage plastic to make it! A much better idea than herpes and antibiotic-resistant-tuberculosis ridden papers.

7) Don't drink communion wine directly from the cup. I know this is gonna be a controversial one. I'm not saying don't have communion wine. I'm just saying do it dipping style, where the priest dunks your communion wafer into the wine and gives it back to you. Sharing one cup was all well and good back in the day, before we knew about communicable diseases, but we know better now. You can still participate fully in the Eucharist without spreading your diseases all throughout the congregation. Making others sick is not very Christian of you. Fortunately, the church service I go to is full of like minded individuals. But every once in a while some new people come in and I always want to go up to them before the service and say " in this church? We don't drink directly from the cup...." But that would be rude, I think....

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Moon

So I'm watching "New Moon". Yeah, I know I'm thirteen. But I want to discuss the character Jessica. In the book she's supposed to be boring and lame, but in this movie I actually like her and want to hear more from her.

Outside the movie theater she's all "I know zombie movies are supposed to be a criticism on mass consumerism, but like, get off your high horse. Some of us like to shop". I agree Jessica! And then she says "My cousin had leprosy, and it's not funny". Wait, your cousin had leprosy? I want to hear more about that! What happened? Was she in a leper colony? Did you ever visit her in the leper colony? And it's understandable that she gets annoyed with Bella. Who mopes and goes crazy for months over a teen breakup? And her reaction to "Bella's return" is totally funny. "Yay! Movie night with Bella...." - particularly funny since during their previous movie night Bella ditched her on the corner to ride a motorcycle with a stranger.

There needs to be some kind of Jessica movie spin-off where people act sane and talk about interesting things.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Used To Be Fat

So I'm watching this show called "I Used to be Fat". It is featuring an 18 year old fat boy and his fat family. Over and over again, they keep saying it's because they're Italian. "Italians like to eat". "Italians show their love with food". "We're a big Italian family. With Italians it's all about the food" and so on etc. This seems like a flawed explanation though, and here's why:

1) You guys aren't Italian. Oh, I have no doubt that your ancestors were from Italy, but you were all born in America. I haven't heard an accent yet.

2) I've seen pictures of Italians. If this "Italian" excuse were valid, then everyone in Italy would be morbidly obese, since eating huge amounts of garbage would be an inherent, genetic trait. Italians are not all morbidly obese though. Somehow, many of them remain in the healthy weight range, and many are even fashionably thin. So how do you explain this, fat family? How could this be possible, if, as you suggest, All Italians spend all their time cramming their faces with food and not exercising?

3) The Italian food you're eating is a bastardization of actual Italian food. I saw what you were cooking. Traditional Italian food is high in fish, olive oil, tomatoes, vegetables and seasonings like basil and lemon juice. Pasta is eaten of course, but only in small amounts. They only use one handful of dry pasta per person, which equals maybe a cup of pasta tops. You're just eating plates of refined carbohydrates and cheese and fatty meat. In other words, you're eating like Americans.

I am IN NO WAY judging them for their eating or for their weight. If you know me, you know I am in no place to throw stones; I used to have the most horrifyingly unhealthy eating habits on the planet. I know the allure of mozzarella sticks and hot fudge sundaes. So I don't mean to talk bad about their habits; I've been there myself. I just think they should not try to make it about their ancestry. No matter where your grandparents came from, YOU live in the here and now. YOU are responsible for your health and nutrition, not your family tree. It would be like if I insisted on raising and slaughtering reindeer in my backyard because "I'm Norwegian. Norwegians eat reindeer. I come from a Norwegian family and we kill reindeer." Ancestry is not a rational basis for decision making.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bad Mother

Sometimes I like to watch those "nanny" shows. You know, where a nanny comes in and teaches parents how to fix their horrible children. It's not that I like the shows in and of themselves; it just makes me feel good to watch them because I can say to myself "I would be a better mother than that", mentally patting myself on the back for a job not done. But when I think about it, that's pretty awful. After all, is that the kind of mother I want to be? Just "better than parents so shitty that professionals had to step in to prevent the kids from becoming kitten torturing sociopaths?" As you may or may not know, my current plan is to go into a PhD program, but if I don't get in to a program, I'm going to have Phillip knock me up and become June Cleaver. But as I get closer to the admissions decision time, the more I worry about being a horrible mother. Being a mother is probably the most important job you can do, and I feel strongly that if you can't do it right, you shouldn't do it at all. Here are some of my concerns about mothering:

1) I am by nature a very protective person. Ask Phillip; he can tell you some horror stories. On the surface, this seems like a good thing. After all, a mother should protect her children. But you don't understand quite what I mean by "protective". I could easily see myself backstage at my child's school play, ripping some little bitch's costume to shreds because she called my kid a name. I worry that I would become "that mom", the one who goes psycho and embarrasses herself and her children. "That kid knocked my kid down!" I would scream as I race toward the frightened eight year old, tackling him to the ground.

2) I am not a soft person. I don't know how to sugar coat things or lie. With kids, you have to say things softly and kindly. If your kid has a horrible idea, you can't just say "that's a horrible idea", you have to say "good try!" or something equally ambiguous. Otherwise the kid becomes an angry psychology major who blames all her problems on you.

3) Apparently, I may have a gluten allergy. Can I really bring a child into the world, knowing that there is a chance she will never eat regular cake? Or donuts? Or Pizza Hut? Because gluten intolerance is genetic, so I COULD pass it down. On top of being a vegetarian our kid will be a little freak and no one will invite her to birthday parties.

4) I'm not sentimental. Recently my sister had to go to my nephew's school to watch a band play. MY NEPHEW WASN'T EVEN IN THE PLAY. She had to go to watch some band comprised of old people play. And everyone was telling her how wonderful it was, and how these moments are so precious blah blah, and I was like "Wait, but your kid wasn't even performing. He was just sitting there watching the musicians. Why did you even bother?" And then I started to panic. Is there something wrong with me? Are you supposed to go watch school assemblies, even if your kid is only a watcher, not a performer? IS that a precious moment? What if I have a kid and say, "yeah, let me know when you're actually doing something and I'll watch it. Because there's no qualitative difference between watching you watch a band and watching you watch TV at home. So yeah...I'll pass" and then the kid climbs up in a clock tower and starts offing everyone with homemade hand grenades? Should I find such events moving and precious? What is missing in my psyche, and more importantly, is there a way I can remedy it before I cause damage to my child?

5)I don't know the rules. I have no sense of what is actually appropriate for a child or teenager. I mean, I know basic things; no porn, no drugs, no theft. But, I have this problem where nothing is bad if it's funny. What if my kids did something really bad, but it was funny? How could I punish them? I honestly don't know if I could... I think I may overcompensate by being crazy strict "Take off that red shirt! Red is a harlot's color!". And in principle I think a parent should be somewhat strict (after all, you can always give in. But it's much harder to make rules after being lax for a long time) I don't want to be crazy about it, which creates whores just as effectively as being too lenient. I think I'll just leave all this to Phillip, actually. It's way too complicated.

6) I have an overindulgent streak. My kids may very well become 300 pounds, simply because I will want to give them food constantly, and will never be able to refuse them anything. Also, I want to give my kids all manner of lessons and toys and craft supplies and really nice clothes and vacations. Growing up poor, I often didn't have much. At all. It sometimes felt like everything I wanted was something I couldn't have, and eventually I just stopped wanting and asking and kind of went dead inside, decided to just get a job as a waitress and stopped planning for college or any kind of bright future. Of course, I snapped out of it after a few years, but I never want my kids to feel that way. Which means I'm going to raise spoiled brat monsters who will appreciate nothing and hate me.

7) Mothers need to be patient. I am impatient.

But there are some bright spots. With Phillip and I for parents, they have a great chance at actually being geniuses. Phillip is a genius, and I'm very bright (though not genius IQ), so I feel with effort and coaching we will have exceptionally gifted children.

Also our kids will have a healthy, stable family. Phil and I have the healthiest relationship in the world, which will create children who have good self esteem, make good decisions and feel nurtured and supported.

While I am far from perfect, I am also a kind person with no major psychological problems. I will, with certainty, be able to avoid all the major forms of child abuse. So will Phillip, but he is a shining paradigm of glowing emotional health, so no one would worry about that. He's like some kind of emotional health guru. He could probably start a religion if he wanted to.

We aren't poor. Our kids will always have enough, though they won't be rich. Unless this blog takes off ;)

I will, it seems, be able to stay at home and raise them. That way I can control the environment in which they are raised and make sure they're getting lots of attention and intellectual stimulation and nutritious food.

With 6 siblings, I have changed more diapers than most mothers. I know how to make a baby stop crying, mix formula, help fix teething pain and all that. So I have a head start!

I have the desire to do it right, which counts for something, I think. I can learn what I don't know already. I am a fast learner, after all.

And if not, there's always adoption agencies.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Awesome Ideas That Everybody Hates

I'm an idea person. I always have ideas for how to make things better or worse or at least funnier. Unfortunately, people don't agree with my ideas most of the time, so they don't get implemented. Because, while I have the ideas, I am strictly a "big picture" person. I hate details and suck at actually doing anything useful. Therefore I can't do anything myself. So here is a list of some of my ideas for improving the world. Do with them as you will.

1) Voting. I don't think just anyone should be allowed to vote. Most people are ill-informed, not bright and biased in irrational ways. So, I think in order to vote, you should first have to pass a test. The test should be free of course, and available to all citizens, equally, as long as they are over the age of 21. Yes 21. The test will ask you some basic questions about current events (nothing opinion oriented, obviously, strictly questions about well known facts, to make sure the person is living in our current reality). The test will also test your ability to determine cause and effect and reach logical conclusions based on sample evidence. These questions would be in no way political; they would be IQ test style questions - that would help prevent bias in the testing. The goal is just to make sure that voters are reasonable, moderately aware citizens.

2) Jury Duty. Again, I don't think jurors should be "just anybody". Anybody interested in serving on a jury would have to submit to a personality test. This test, like the voting test, would be free of charge andd available to all, equally. The personality test would make sure that you are capable of independent thought and objectivity. They should also be capable of standing up for what they believe in; they should not be "followers". Not all people are capable of these personality traits, which I believe are the most important traits a juror can possess. It is terrifying how many juries are comprised of irrational, emotionally driven, easily duped, weak minded people. Lives are ruined because of this and I find it profoundly disturbing.

3) Flight attendants. We don't need 'em. Fire them all. They can get jobs at Denny's; it will be fine. What is the point of them? Seriously. I would be happy to get my own food and beverages from a vending machine, or bring them on the plane myself. In exchange, there will be no roaming enforcers of arbitrary, superstitous rules, and no stupid speeches at the beginning of the flight to lure you into a false sense of security. Because here's some news for you. There is no safety plan if the plan crashes. That speech is bullshit. Nothing you do or don't do will save your life in the event of a plane crash. It's not in your control. It's up to God, luck, and possibly your ability to trample others to escape from the wreckage; in that order. Reduce my plane fare, leave me alone with my gadgets, and I will be happy to get my own drink.

4) Fruit trees in parks. It seems utterly wasteful and stupid to me that cities pay huge amounts of money to grow trees in parks that bear no fruit. Basically they just suck up water and that's it. If they planted fruit trees, we would still have shade and nature and whatnot, but the trees would give back fruit. Food! Anyone that wanted to could pick the fruit. Kids on the way home from school could pick a healthy snack. Homeless people could pick themselves a nice breakfast. The benefits are so great, that I can't believe no one has done this.

5) Meyers Briggs. Everyone should be forced to take this test. More importantly, everyone should read about my personality type (INTJ)so you can deal with me better. I honestly think there would be a lot less tension and fighting in the world if we all just took the time to understand each other better. I know I sound like a hippie, but shut up. I'm right.

6) Age of adulthood. This should be 21, not 18. Your brain isn't even done developing until you're 21. And honestly, not matter how high your IQ, before the age of 21 you are retarded. You just are. You can't help it.

7) Robot wars. I truly believe that wars should be fought with robots. Wars fought by killing people just seems so...primitive. This should have ended when we decided to let black people use our bathrooms. Humans have evolved past this nonsense. That's why soldiers get post traumatic stress syndrome now. You never heard of that 100 years ago. Because those people were different than we are. They locked children in closets for masturbating. They approved of wife beating. They had laws preventing ugly people from coming outside. Or at least Chicago did. My point is, these people, our great grandparents etc., were horrible, awful people. Truly heinous. Why should we follow in their footsteps? We shouldn't.

So, lets all agree that from now on, wars will be fought with robots. Countries could even charge admission so we could all go watch "war". That would raise money! Whoever wins the robot war is the victor and whatever the problem was will be settled by the results. Yes, the more technologically advanced societies would always win, but that's how it is now to be fair, and at least the robot way no one would get killed.

8) Mandatory organ donation. If you die, the world has a right to your organs, as long as they are healthy and free of communicable diseases. You don't need them anymore. You aren't alive. When you are alive, of course, you have a right to your own organs, because they are your property, and no one should be able to take them from you. You're using them. But if you are dead, you can't own property. This isn't ancient Egypt where you have to keep everything with you because apparently the afterlife won't have any stuff in it. If you deny some suffering, dying person your organs "just because" you're a dick. And as a dead person you have no property rights. Intervene, government. Organs must be donated if the person is dead.

9) Christmas in August. Let's face it, no one likes traveling in December. It's dark and it's cold and you know your flight will be cancelled or delayed due to the terrifying ice and snow. That kind of weather is really better suited to staying inside and drinking bourbon and reflecting on all that his horrible and dark inside you. It's not an occasion for celebration. It seems all wrong to pretend that things are jolly when all inside you is bleak and cold. Plus Jesus wasn't even born in December! We just celebrate it then because the church wanted to replace the pagan solstice holiday with a Christian one. It's an arbitrary date. So let's move it to August! There's no big holiday in August anyway, and jolliness and merrimenet come naturally in August because of the sunshine and warmth. It's a great time to travel, because the weather is great, and everyone is happy! The kids are already out of school! People would enjoy shopping much more too if they didn't have to wait outside Best Buy in the freezing cold for 7 hours. Move it to August and watch happiness multiply!

10) Arranged marriages. We all know a few people who are hopeless. They make nothing but bad relationship decisions. It doesn't matter what advice you give them. It doesn't matter how badly or frequently they get their hearts broken. They will always make the wrong choice, because they have deeply flawed decision making skills. Ideally, you could just follow these people around with a stick and hit them whenever you see them eyeing the obvious douche bag in the bar with lust, but that would be invasive and far too time consuming. So instead, there should be "Relationship Interventions". The friends and family of the romantic retard would gather together and confront the retard, just like they do to drunks. They would sit down and say "We're concerned about you. This is the fifth time you've dated a girl who wears way too much mascara, believes she was abducted by UFOs, and cheated on you with all your friends. You are not capable of making healthy relationship decisions, and we are worried about you. So, we have picked out a lovely girl for you to marry. Her name is Jane, and you're getting married next week. If you don't agree to the match, we are prepared to cut off contact with you indefinitely. We cannot stand by and watch you sabotage yourself. In addition, if the behavior continues, we are prepared to have you declared mentally incompetent and have you institutionalized. Now, we have Jane coming over for dinner tonight, but the ball is in your court. What do you say, buddy?"

11) There should be a law stating that no one can talk bad about Mr. Rogers.

12) Hoarders who hoard animals should be jailed, not helped. It's one thing if you want to live in filth by yourself, but if you drag helpless animals down with you, keeping them in cages so their legs atrophy and they get open sores from lying in their own feces, I don't feel sorry for you anymore. To jail you go.

13) There should be a vegetarian or vegan fast food chain. Because darn it, sometimes we want to eat on the go too. At the very least, the existing fast food chains should offer grilled cheese sandwiches. I can't believe they don't, actually. It's just bread and cheese. It would be so easy! Just get on board fast food chains!

14) If doctors don't have time to deal with their patients, they should take on fewer patients, rather than doing a half assed job with a large amount of patients. I could have started taking vitamins without your advice Dr. Demoui. I get that you are very busy and important, but you know what? So am I. I resent you lack of attentiveness and the fact that you didn't do your job and you're still going to get paid.

15) There should exist a non-profit that is a free 24 hour driving service for the elderly. They would pick up the old people and drive them wherever they want to go, within a 100 mile radius, whenever they want. That way no one has to feel guilty for taking away an elderly relative's drivers license, because they will be able to go anywhere they want, whenever they want, free of cost of course. The roads would be safer, and fewer old people would become home-bound.

16) They should stop making work desks, chairs, sofas and cars for giants. I'm aware that most people are taller than me, but for crying out loud. Sitting anywhere is just awful for me unless I can put my feet up, because otherwise they dangle and my knees start to hurt after a while. Just annoying.

Anyway, these are a few of my ideas. Your thoughts?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It Angers Me When Movies Bash Fathers Who are Employed

Today I was feeling sick this morning after an Ethiopian food incident, so I skipped church and stayed home and watched a movie called "Imagine That". It was a very cute movie, and I did enjoy it, but it reflects a sentiment with which I disagree - the idea that playing with children should ALWAYS come before work.

"Imagine That" is the story of a father who realizes that his daughter has the magical ability to predict stock market trends, which he uses to his advantage. It's heartwarming, and nice, but the overarching theme is that because Eddie Murphy works, this makes him an inattentive asshole father. EVERY time he does anything related to his career, we are treated to sad, puppy dog eyes from his adorable daughter, in an attempt to manipulate the audience into agreeing that yes, Eddie Murphy is an asshole who neglects his daughter. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:

Eddie Murphy is in an important meeting that could very well impact the entire future of his career. He gets a call stating that there is an emergency with his daughter at school, and he leaves immediately. Right here we see that he's not a total asshole workaholic (he just can't get enough workahol!) A true work addict would not have left, he would have been like "deal with it bitch". But when he shows up, there is no emergency! The teacher was complaining about the girl's blanket. Yes. That was the "emergency". And when Eddie Murphy acts annoyed, the teacher reacts as if he threatened to drown the girl for insubordination. He handles the situation in what I consider to be a sensitive and reasonable manner, only to be rewarded by his daughter screaming hysterically.

AND THEN! Any normal father would have been like "Shut up kid. Suck it up and get back to school. You're too old for this shit", Eddie Murphy TAKES HIS DAUGHTER TO WORK WITH HIM. That right there earns him some kind of father of the year award. While he is in a meeting, the child interrupts him through the window with wild hand gestures and shouting. When he gently chastises her "You can't interrupt daddy during meetings flailing your hands all about" or something equally mild, we are treated to more sad eyes from the poor abused little girl. How dare he? Bastard. And then he has the audacity to get angry because she painted and drew all over his presentation/information. ANYONE would be irritated by that.

And then, later in the movie, little girl is supposed to be in bed, while Eddie Murphy is making some late night, business related phone calls. Little girl comes down from her room and wants to play. Eddie Murphy, being a responsible grown male, continues to work, and tells little girl to get back to bed. She refuses. Eddie Murphy tells her she can stay, but she has to be quiet and go to sleep; it's bedtime. She won't be quiet and go to sleep. So Eddie Murphy yells at her to go to bed. Unfeeling douche bag! Little girl gives hime a look that should only be reserved for children who are being tied up in cages, causing Eddie Murphy to feel so guilty, he goes up and apologizes to her. Yes. He apologizes to his daughter for sending her to bed. The overall moral seems to be that Eddie Murphy should have quit working and played with his daughter when she requested it. But why? She was supposed to be in bed. It was late. He had work to do. I honestly don't see the problem.

But it's not just "Imagine That". Remember "Liar Liar"? Jim Carrey forgets to take his kid to some kind of event, and misses his birthday party or something like that, and the mom goes crazy and is like "I'm moving and taking Max with me because you're a shitty father". Like a total overreaction. I don't think my dad even knows when my birthday IS, but I never acted like some abused martyr about it. Because I was not raised to believe that I am the center of my dad's, or anyone else's, universe. It's not all about me, and it's not all about Max. Grownups have grown up things to do. Deal with it.

And remember Hook?! Great movie, but Robin Williams was so villainized! He was terrified of flying and he had the gall to snap at his son for making annoying ball bounces and plane crashing sounds. We get more tragic neglected child eyes from Jack, the son. Robin Williams is on his cell phone a lot, but he's a LAWYER. He has to keep in touch with clients. It's an important job. At the end of the movie Robin Williams, so changed by his trip to Neverland, throws his cell phone out the window into the snow, symbolizing what? Is he quitting his job? Is he going to be some kind of lawyer who works short hours, i.e. a shitty lawyer who loses all his cases? Either way, there will be damn few trips to England for the Pan family from now on, as they will have to subsist entirely on "bangorang" and imagination meals.

And Mary Poppins! Mr. Banks is a great dad! But the kids and everyone else act like he's a total crap father because he wants his children to be well trained, and for his house to be well ordered. That's not such a crime! He obviously cares about his family. He took the time to hire a nanny for them, didn't he? He worked hard to provide for them didn't he? It was England back in the day (1920s, I think?). I think parents usually just shipped their kids to sweatshop factories or boarding schools back then, didn't they? When the spoiled brats get him fired rather than open a bank account (I'm still not sure what they had against bank accounts. I mean the boss had a really awesome, convincing song and everything. Hell, that method would work on me now, as an adult.)he is somehow changed from an upstanding British citizen who works hard and takes care of his family to a devil-may-care bum who takes his family to the park to fly a kite. And this is, somehow, a happy ending. Well it's not a happy ending. They better get used to that park, because they're gonna be hanging out there with Bill the Chimney-Sweep dancing for nickels (pence?) and fashioning that kite into a sharp defensive tool for fighting off street urchins. But at least they'll get lots of quality time with their dad.

I'm not saying a job should always come first. Obviously, a parent, male or female, has to make time for their kids. I only object to the idea that the kids should ALWAYS come first. They shouldn't. Because the fact of the matter is, survival is not possible if no one works. To condemn a father because he doesn't drop everything anytime his kid wants the slightest bit of attention is silly and based on unrealistic expectations. Someone has to pay the bills. Most kids would rather have a moderately comfortable lifestyle and spend a little less time with their parents than have parents around who dote on them all day, but no food or shoes. It's about balance. I think the fathers portrayed in these movies WERE balanced. They had jobs, their children were reasonably well behaved and not at all neglected.

Plus, the concept that a parent's first priority should ALWAYS be the child is damaging to the children who absorb it. It fosters a sense of entitlement in them. "How could you go to work on the day of my Christmas sing-a-long at school? You're a horrible father and I hate you!". It's not all about you, kid. Sorry, but it's true. And if a parent does devote their every waking moment to their child's happiness it creates unrealistic expectations in the child. That child will grow up and expect all her relationships to be "me centered", wondering why their friends and boyfriends don't drop what they're doing anytime she wants some attention. In addition, a parent who puts all her time and effort into her child has a big shock coming. Because guess what? That kid's gonna move out. And then what? He or she will become one of those crazy cat ladies or one of those creepy people on "Hoarders" saying "Well after my kids moved out, I got so lonely. So I just started collecting stuff and it got out of hand..." You have to have balance.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Yes, I Do Have This Much Hubris. Let's Make Some Dinosaurs.

So I know the whole point of "Jurrasic Park" was "don't make a Jurassic Park or monsters will eat you" but I think this point of view is limited and depressingly pessimistic. (Yes I also know the movie/book are old at this point, and no one cares anymore, but I can't help myself. I think about Jurassic Park all the time. Like several times per week.) It reflects a sort of Luddite, anti-progress mentality that I just can't support. After all, however much it frightens people, we mess with nature all the time. Harnessing electricity, keeping dogs as pets, wearing shoes, eating Doritos and airplanes are all the results of humans messing with nature, and all of them have their dangers. But we are willing to accept those dangers because the benefits, relative to the risks, are greater. I think the same can be said about a true Jurrasic Park. Here's why.

All of the things that went wrong in the Jurrasic Park could easily be remedied.

1) Assuming that keeping all female dinosaurs would prevent reproduction when the dinosaurs were cloned using DNA from animals who switch genders. I don't think real scientists would make such an elementary mistake. Even I wouldn't have made that mistake, and I have no scientific training whatsoever, other than a few classes I took in school. If we were to make an actual Jurassic Park, we would have to operate under the assumption that the animals would reproduce unless their sex organs were removed. Alternately, they could simply let them breed and "thin their numbers" when necessary; though for obvious reasons I prefer the neutering method. More humane and such.

2) Far too much power was invested into the greedy fat man. So when he succumbed to his avaricous inclinations, causing a security breech and allowing the dangerous dinosaurs to run free, he messed things up for everyone. In reality, of course, people often screw up, and many are untrustworthy. THAT IS WHY YOU DON'T GIVE ALL THE CONTROL TO ONE GUY. Who does that? Were they totally retarded? I mean, he expressed himself as a lazy asshole pretty early on in the movie. Did they not think to hire another guy to maybe, I don't know, help with security? They probably wouldn't even have needed to hire someone. I would have happily volunteered my services.

3) But let's say they didn't take either of my two suggestions into account. Even so, we have weapons! Humans are really, really good at killing things. It's honestly what we do best. I'm not proud of that, but it's true. Is Michael Crighton honestly suggesting that we couldn't handle killing a bunch of overgrown lizards? We kill species every day without even trying. If we put our minds to it, we could kill those dinosaurs if we had to, for sure. Hell, just bring in a bunch of Harborites with only half of their hunting guns and the situation would be handled, right quick. They would probably pay for the opportunity.

Whether or not a Jurrasic Park is scientifically feasible is a question best left to scientists. But as to the logistics of it, (were it possible) I feel I am more than qualified to advise on this matter. I'm a very good contingency planner, and I know a bit about killing stuff and controlling stuff. And apparently I'm smarter than Michael Crighton and all the movie producers, since I thought of ways around these problems and they didn't. A Jurassic Park would be the coolest thing ever. I think about it all the time, hoping that someday, somehow, it comes to fruition.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm Really Bad at Small Talk

So if you know me, which you probably do if you're reading this, you know I suck at small talk. I don't like it, I don't understand it, and I feel unbelievably fake when I do it. The fact of the matter is, I don't find the weather that interesting, and I'm already aware of which day of the week it is; and so belaboring it irritates me.

That being said, I do engage in it from time to time. You should know that if I've ever discussed the weather, the day of the week, how close we are to Christmas, how you're tired in the morning, or anything in that vein, it's because I like you and want you to feel comfortable with me. Because for some reason that I quite honestly don't understand, that kind of talk puts people at ease and makes them think you're a nice person, whether you are or aren't.

The thing is though, I don't believe that these people are actually interested in the topics they discuss. I don't believe it's possible that they actually care that much. But, inexplicably, they insist on these conversations anyway. And if you don't start a conversation this way, people with think you're strange and will cease to talk to you at all.

So I submit a solution. No one could possibly like these conversation starters. So it's time to come up with some new ones. Here is a list of suggestions for "Conversation Starters for 2011". We should all agree that these statements are socially acceptable ice breakers from now on. Let's make this happen, and none of us will ever be bored again.

1) I have a secret.
2) You are the most stunningly beautiful creature I have ever seen.
3) So what do you want done with your body when you die?
4) What do you think life would be like today if the South won the Civil War?
5) If you could eliminate one animal off the face of the earth what would it be?
6) Shall we bust into a pig farm and set all the pigs free?
7) I own a hot air balloon.
8) Campaign finance reform - your thoughts?
9) Leibnitz or Sir Isaac Newton?
10) I believe (or don't believe) in UFOs, (or ghosts or the Loch Ness Monster or whatever)
11) We should go treasure hunting!
12) Do you know the difference between decapitated and disembodied? I do. It's an important distinction.
13) I have some extra bubbles in my purse. Let's blow bubbles!
14) I own a pomegranate tree.
15) Would you rather be blind or deaf?
16) Would you rather be a blithering idiot but incredibly happy, or a super genius suffering from major depression?
17) I've got a flask full of bourbon...
18) What is your favorite flower?
19) What is your favorite quote?
20) I like you.

If these don't catch on that's ok. Just please excuse me when I act awkward and socially retarded when you tell me you're really bummed that it's Monday.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's a Really Obscure Band...You Probably Haven't Heard of Them

The other day a friend of mine posted a video on Facebook. I commented something like "This band is great, I just started listening to them!" or something equally innocuous. Below my comment, some guy posted "I would just like to point out that I started listening to them years ago". I don't know the guy personally, and for all I know he might have been kidding, but still. It's a sentiment I hear often. I'll say something like "Oh yeah, I love such and such band" and the guy at the party goes "Oh yeah? What did you think of Album X?", Album X being some obscure record recorded in 1979 when the band was called something else entirely and was listened to by approximately 8 people. No, I haven't listened to it Dude.

I always want to say to these guys, "So what exactly is your point, sir? Are you under the impression that there is some kind of race to see who can find the cool bands first? Are you saying that because your love of the band predates mine, it is somehow superior?"

Or maybe these guys simply mean to point out that they are not just jumping on the bandwagon. Maybe they believe that liking a band before others do proves that their love of said band is pure, and untainted with commercialism and unsullied by "commonness". Perhaps they are implying that their taste is rarefied, special and eccentric. But logically speaking that does not follow.

It's stupid to scorn something, be it music or cars or whatever, simply because it is popular. Some things are popular for a good reason - they are appealing. There is no qualitative difference between me liking Song X after hearing it on a commercial and you liking Song X after hearing it in your cousin's basement when you were ten. Taste is taste. Either you have it or you don't, and your methods and timing of acquiring new passions have nothing to do with the quality of your taste, as long as those tastes are genuine.