Random observation the first: Did I just use a really great headline for a post on the inevitable "I can't put together a full post's worth of material, so here are all the things that I've rejected or scribbled down on a napkin during the last couple months" post that seems to come in any blogger who starts to feel something of an obligation to his adoring fans?
Eh. Who cares? So, no real public service announcement, and no guitars either unless you read happyrobot with Faith No More, Bon Jovi or whatever it is you kids have cranked up on your tape player these days. Feel free to picture a Marshall Stack there on the left, right below the second blue test tube, if you so desire.
Random irritating pet peeve the second: People who won't let you buy them something, who insist on making a big deal out of you buying them a burger or a beer. Really, how irritating is this conversation?
"How much was it?" "Don't worry about it, I've got it." "No, how much was it?" "It doesn't matter." "..." "Okay, it was $5. But I've got you covered." "No, I insist." "No, it's okay." "Listen, take the money." "Seriously, it's fine." And etc.
The conversation should go like this: "How much do I owe you?" "Don't worry about it, I've got you covered." "You sure?" "Yep." "Thanks man. I'll get the next round."
These people should be hit in the face with the butt of a gun.
The Scottish and Irish had this down (buying rounds, not hitting people in the face with a gun. Only the Irish do that well). You go out with a group of friends. Someone buys the first round (this should be you, preferably. Sure, the most people will be there, but the most people will notice as well, and you can often get one or two extra drinks out of this), someone else buys the second round, a third person grabs the third. The only thing that's necessary is someone to help them carry the beers back to your table, and if you're not buying the first round, this person should be you; you get some of the reflected glory by dint of appearing to provide the beers, and people will remember that. But the point is, everyone buys a round--and you can probably count on having as many rounds as there are people at the table. This is great for parties of ten or more. And if you don't get an opportunity to buy a round that time out, your time will come, and no one will make a big deal of it. Try it; after the first or second time, it'll seem the only way to do anything.
The Scottish and Irish also have the most egalitarian, thoughtful, and low-key way of passing a joint; you look at the crowd or the circle, and then you just take what seems to be your share all at once. None of the frenetic passing around; it may seem like people will mis-calculate and others will be left out to dry, but there's always another joint coming around in that case, and despite what you may believe, no one even really considers bogarting the joint.
Random decision the third: I can't be the only person wracked with indecision on whether to search out translations of Sigur Ros lyrics, can I? I mean, their songs are eerily beautiful and often incredibly uplifting that they transport you somewhere even if you don't know what he's talking about, but who can avoid being curious about what he's angsting about on Starlfur or rejoicing about on Untitled #4? On the other hand, could you really deal with the realization that what you thought was unearthly beautiful is actually about going down to the shop to get a bag of chips and coming back to find out that your cat is hiding under the bed and your fridge needs to be cleaned? I'm not sure I even want to know what "Sigur Ros" means.
I do/don't want to know what the Carmina Burana is about, either.
Random observation the fourth: Greatest new phrase learned today: "bunny boiler." I suppose I probably should have learned this phrase over two years ago, when a friend of mine wrote it in an email to me, but I guess I wasn't the most observant person back at that point in my life, so I didn't discover it until I searched my email for things I'd written on Sigur Ros and found the original email from my friend recommending them to me.
And no, of course I didn't have gmail back in December 2002, but I forwarded all the email that was important to me from my original email addresses into my gmail account so I'd be able to search it comprehensively and easily--because I'm in love with the sound of my own voice. So, sorry for all those people who value their privacy, but if you've sent me an email in the last five years, then gmail is searching through it to see if they can sell us something (on the email in question, I'm being offered caviar and Alaskan smoked salmon, which should show you how high class and out of my league this friend happens to be).
Anyway, I digress. A "bunny boiler" is a phrase that apparently comes from "Fatal Attraction," specifically the Glenn Close character, and it means, well, someone who's a bit obsessive and will not take an impending break-up well at all. Someone who calls you a couple times a day at work, forbids you to hang out with anyone else who seems remotely attractive, and who, when you dump them, will write "I love you" in menstrual blood on your door, kill your bunny and leave it simmering on your stove.
It's good to feel loved.
Actually--and I don't know if I should feel depressed and left out by this or not--I've never been with a bunny boiler. I feel kind of like I've missed out on a rite of passage--much akin to my disappointment in going to a high school too small for me to offer AP classes for me to take. Even though I know I would have hated the process of taking AP Physics, I still feel sorry for having missed out on it.
Oh well, I'm still young (frightfully young, if Cootie Girl is to be believed. Also, according to her, I have a funny accent, you betcha), so there still may be a bunny boiler in my future somewhere.
Random wish the fifth: Why can't I be as funny and witty as James Wolcott? Is it a karmic thing? Is being funny a zero sum game, so that the funnier he gets, the more dour I get? Or is it like "Highlander," where if I decapitate him with a sword I will gain his wit?
Only one way to find out...
Random observation the sixth: How much do you think it costs to have someone killed in New York City? Competently, that is. I'm not talking about siccing a jonesing crack whore on my targets, I'm talking about a moderately competent ex-KGB guy who has to be careful when he's eating pieriogies so he doesn't dislodge the false molar with the cyanide in it.
It's probably pretty expensive, isn't it? Damn. I wonder if I can get a discount if I buy in bulk. I _do_ have a lot of people who I'm not too happy with, after all.
For my first week back at work after my illness, I've had to wrap my head around the shoddy state of my beloved A train, and contend with the idea that it might be crippled for months or even years. Along with that, I've been struggling with the related urge building into me to find and kill a hobo. Preferably the hobo responsible for the fire that gutted the nervous system of my train (hmmm, I suppose that counts as a mixed metaphor...I guess it's probably pretty difficult to "gut" a nervous system), but any hobo will do. I used to have a soft-spot in my heart for hobos ever since I saw "Sullivan's Travels" back in college, but the moderately warm feelings probably had more to do with second hand Coen Brothers mixed with a heady brew of Preston Sturges, more than it had with sympathy for Tom Joad and his ilk.
After all, I hate most of humanity; why should hobos get preferential treatment?
Minor victory the sixth: Douglas Feith is leaving his post as Undersecretary of Defense to "spend time with his family." Now, there's no overt reason for him to leave, but he's the third in line under Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz (who you last saw sucking on his comb so he could comb his hair in "Fahrenheit 9/11"), and he was described as the usually tactful General Tommy Franks as "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the planet" for his role in fucking up pretty much everything the Department of Defense set its focus on. So the Republicans control all three branches of government and are working on cementing their power for the next generation; at least Douglas Feith is out!
It's the minor victories that count. The Pyrrhic ones, if you will.
Random observations the seventh: As cold as it is (and it's fucking freezing), I bet it really hurts to self-immolate. So I have no temptation to do so.
However, part of my fear of heights is the temptation when I'm near such great heights to just get it over with and toss myself over the side. I thought this was horribly neurotic and pretty much a sign that I should be institutionalized for obscure suicidal thoughts, until I read that this is one of the most common responses to vertigo and fear of heights. What the fuck is up with that? Is there any other phobia at all that is filled with the fear that you might actually do the thing you're afraid of? "Oooh, dogs scare me, so please Mr. Doberman, please eat two of my fingers!" "Yes Mr. Clown, please laugh at me like that and steal my soul while you're at it, you psychotic bastard!" Grrr...people who have phobias about auto-erotic asphyxiation probably don't feel like putting bags around their heads while getting a Rusty Trombone, so why do...ummm, heights-phobic people (there has to be a word for that...probably acrophobic or something like that) feel like taking the plunge?
Sigh. So I don't go up on cliffs all that often anymore. However, my most prevalent phobia right now is the utter pain and discomfort that comes from watching someone humiliate themselves, especially on TV. It causes me something just short of physical pain to watch someone make an ass of themselves, whether they know it or not. I spend most of my time watching "The Office" looking near, but not directly at, the television screen. And I've just flat-out avoided "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for similar reasons. Damn empathy!
Random neurosis the eighth: A friend of mine called the other night; we don't talk all that often--mostly because she never responds to emails and I hate and fear phones--but it's almost always great when we actually do so. Anyway, we were chatting back and forth for awhile, and at one point, both of us tried to speak at once. She immediately said, "Oh, go ahead. You were going to say something funny?" It wasn't precisely complimentary--not, "Go ahead, your wit is so blinding that the idea that I would be left bereft of it for another moment causes me physical pain," and it wasn't knowingly mocking, the way it might have been from any number of my other friends--"Oh, go ahead, you were going to try to make a joke there, and it's so cute when you work up the nerve to attempt that!"
What it was: a simple unpremeditated statement. A resigned "Go ahead, you were about to make yet another joke, yet again demonstrating your obsession with being frivolous and always struggling to make a joke. Then we can go back to talking, at least until your next attempt at being a stand-up comedian." Which, I guess, is true. I'm far more interested in having a conversation about polar bears fighting tigers in zero gravity with jet packs than I am in having a conversation about the interaction between the id and the ego in post-modern life.
I guess what I'm saying is that I tend to lean more towards the Drunkard than the Post-Modern. I ain't no anti-intellectual. Some of my best friends are post-structuralists. Just as long as they keep in their place.
I just became convinced years ago, after a major that required me to spend pretty much every class period arguing with people and trying to convince them of the validity of my blindingly obvious position, that verbal interaction is the last place to actually go about convincing someone of something. What it is good for is expressing your position, but any conversation about anything remotely controversial inevitably turns into an "I Believe/You Believe." Which was fine for late night college bullshit sessions, but if any convincing is to be done, I think it almost inevitably has to be done in writing. Preferably with links right to the source and research material.
But then again, I'm pretty convinced that it's virtually impossible to change anyone's mind, even in writing with well-designed graphs. So why write or converse at all? Because you have to get those people who haven't made up their minds yet, and mold them into weapons you can use against people you disagree with.
It should be noted that the woman who inspired this has a long history of making me neurotic in ways that inspire me to whinge about it on happyrobot; she was the inspiration for my mix tape entry, after all. One of those people I keep hanging around because they turn me into an entertainingly gibbering idiot, I guess.
Tortured confession the ninth: Despite all my posturing and woohoo!ing, I must confess that I actually only truly even started listening to the Pixies after hearing "Where is My Mind?" attached to the trailer for "Fight Club." So, despite the posturing that may have lead you to believe that I'd say things like, "My god, I've been waiting for this day since they broke up back in the early 90s!" the truth is, I missed the Pixies because I was too busy listening to Billy Joel and New Kids on the Block until Kurt Cobain decided to try his hand at writing a Pixies song and blew my fucking mind away (hmmm, perhaps "blow my mind" is not the best euphemism to use in a sentence with Kurt Cobain in it).
Also, it's probably tacky to call this "tortured confession" while the Alberto Gonzalez confirmation hearings are on-going.
Wholesale lift of an articulate quote the tenth: "The minute we begin turning a blind eye to what we don't like in each other's writing, the minute we begin to back away from our own inner norms, to accommodate ourselves to each other, cut deals with each other over poetics, we will in fact set ourselves against each other...until one day we will disappear in a general fog of mutual admiration." -Vaclev Havel.
Which seems like a pretty articulate lead-in--one that almost blinds you to the fact that he's about to say something akin to "I hate everything you write, and I'm not only justified in hating it, but it's a morally good thing for me to hate it."
Scaring the shit out of one's self the eleventh: My favorite story about presidential inaugurations (really the only presidential inauguration story I know, since they're normally so staid and dull) is about William Henry Harrison, who decided he would walk to the inauguration rather than be driven there in the cold January weather. Unfortunately, Harrison's immune system wasn't quite up to snuff, so he got a chest cold that developed into pneumonia, and a scant month after his inauguration, William Henry Harrison entered the record books as the first president to die in office, and by far the shortest presidency in our nation's history.
However, if you happen to be neurotic and suffering from pneumonia, it is a good idea not to tell this story until you've recovered, as you will wind up scaring the shit out of yourself.
William Henry Harrison's ill-advised walk is still only my second favorite Presidential speech story. My favorite comes from Teddy Roosevelt, who was set to give a speech in Milwaukee for his presidential campaign for the Bull Moose party, when an assassin rushed up to him and shot him in the chest. The bullet was slowed down by the bulk of the papers of the 90 minute speech Roosevelt was to give, so even though the bullet pierced his lung, Roosevelt gave the entire speech to the crowd, flashing the bloody pages of the speech with a bullet hole, shouting, "It takes more than that to stop a Bull Moose. It was only afterwards that he collapsed from the wound and was rushed to the hospital.
Teddy Roosevelt was significantly more bad-ass than Franklin Roosevelt. FDR was practically spineless (which explains the wheelchair).
Plagiarism the twelfth: That last paragraph was lifted almost verbatim from a Doonesbury comic.