Saturday, June 30, 2007

television writers: causing english majors to have aneurysms since 1928

Why the hell do stupid people insist on using the word "ironically" to describe everything? I'm sitting here watching a show on Discovery Health and the narrator has used the word "ironic" three times in the past five minutes to describe things that were coicidental, unfortunate, counterintuitive, and other various adjectives that have nothing to fucking do with irony.

Also, who was the asshole who decided to start using "an" as an article before "historic"? And why have other people latched on to this? You only use "an" before a vowel or vowel sound. Do either one of those qualities apply to the word "historic"? Here's a hint: no. No, they do not. And if you just thought to yourself "But I pronounce it 'istoric because I think that makes me sound smart!" then you should probably go have yourself sterilized immediately. It's not "'istory," so it's not "'istoric." Also, you can look it up in the dictionary, where you will find that dropping the H is not an acceptable pronunciation.

And -- I'm looking at you, Discovery Channel -- stop referring to rape as "taking advantage of" a person. Taking advantage is when someone is maybe a little bit drunk or vulnerable and makes a bad decision. Knocking out a little girl, raping her, and then dismembering her is nowhere near the sphere of "taking advantage." And while we're on the subject, "brutal" does not need to be used to describe murder and "violent" does not need to describe rape. They're sufficiently vivid words as they are.

Also: "dead body" should be removed from the English vernacular. We call live bodies "people." So if there's a body found decomposing in the woods, I think we would all assume we're talking about a dead person. Perhaps someone who just said "take and" to me.

Friday, June 29, 2007

yet another story that i can't believe doesn't end in "and then she punched him in the face"

So today, my mother ran into some people we used to vaguely know a long time ago. They're the sons of one of our former neighbors, and they're quite revolting. Apparently they're even more disgusting than either of us remembered or ever could have imagined.

Her telling me about the brief encounter reminded us both of this little gem of a vignette.

One of these guys is named Tom. Quite a long time ago, maybe about 10 years, my mother was walking Madison, our dog, down the street like she did almost every day. Tom was in someone else's yard having a conversation with someone else when he abruptly called out, "Ellie! I can't believe it! Madison is on a leash!"

Madison would occasionally (and still does) wander around the neighbors' yards because they insist on putting out bread for the birds, knowing that Madison will of course be the one to eat it. Almost all the dogs in the neighborhood wandered around, especially the dogs belonging to the family around whom this story revolves.

So that pissed off my mother in a very specific way. She said back, "You're probably as surprised as I'd be if I looked out one day and said, 'Tom! You're on a date!'"

Of course, he had nothing to say. Who would?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

it is entirely possible that ann coulter is actually retarded

First of all, Ann, maybe if you ate a sandwich now and then, you could stop being such a nasty cunt all the time. You look like Skeletor in a blond wig. You make Paris Hilton look not only rational and balanced, but portly.

Second, do you find it that difficult to respond to the actual words that someone is saying to you? I mean, I've worked with people who were severely mentally retarded and they could respond to questions with answers that related to said questions. What the fuck excuse do you have?

Third, if you're going to try to be a ballsy bitch, then don't shrivel away as soon as someone calls you on your cuntdom. Don't deny shit. I had more balls than that when I was in the 7th grade. You're a fucking amateur when it comes to outside ovaries and you're giving women everywhere a bad name. If you can't step up, then step off.

today: things that sucked, things that did not suck

I'm going to break this day down into some lists.

Things That Did Not Suck

- Fried chicken
- Macaroni salad
- Walker, Texas Ranger
- Being told that my hair looked pretty.

Things That Sucked

- Screaming headache.
- Bizarre continuing bouts of nausea in the morning. (No, I'm not pregnant.)
- A royal fuckup at work that kept me there till almost 1:00 (which was basically my own fault, so I can't even be angry about it).
- Walking across the entire parking lot barefoot in a monsoon because I didn't want to ruin my nice new sandals.
- PennDOT.

Things I Cannot Categorize

- Not being struck by lightning on my barefoot walk to my car. I can't categorize this because on one hand, I don't want to die in a parking lot, but on the other hand, if I died, I probably wouldn't be pissy. I'd just be dead. And still in the parking lot till someone ran over my fried, soggy corpse around 7:00 AM. Yeah, I still can't make up my mind on that one. I'm just going to sit here and watch Chuck Norris deliver roundhouse kicks to various faces as I slowly pass out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

they say variety is the spice of life

And it's certainly the spice of mine. Well, that and cumin.

There was just a guest on The Colbert Report talking about correlations between certain physical traits and homosexuality. One that he mentioned was the length of index fingers as compared to ring fingers. This isn't new news, but it's not something I think about every day.

So I looked at my left hand, and the index finger is shorter than the ring finger. This apparently suggests that I am a lesbian. But then I looked at my right hand, and the index and ring finger are exactly the same length, which is the most often the case among straight women.

If anyone finds this surprising, please check the room you are in to be sure you have proper ventilation.

The only real conclusion I can draw from this is to say that I probably have two hands for a reason.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

things i've had enough of: a list

Stupid Fucking Lyrics

That stupid song "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield that is on every fucking tv show and has now invaded a shampoo commercial. I haven't heard lyrics this bad since Vanessa Carlton dropped acid and picked up a pen to write "1,000 Miles." These two should go fall into the sky together because after all, no one else can feel it for you. Just because something is nonsensical doesn't mean it's deep. Sometimes, it's just nonsensical. Like the fact that both of you apparently have careers that involve writing things. Also: Paul McCartney, please stop writing lyrics. I like your song, Paul, I do. But it would have been much better as an instrumental. Or perhaps with words that meant something. At least in Neil Young's "Dance, Dance, Dance," of which "Dance Tonight" seems a pale imitation about 30 years late, there are a few lines with something like meaning.

Cloying Bullshit

Here is but one example in a broad category -- the ad for "Little People, Big World" where one of the kids says something about how he wishes people would just understand that they can do the same things as everybody else, but just in a different way. You know what? Fuck you. I don't discriminate against anyone, and I think you fucking suck for assuming that I would. What the hell do I care that you're short? I wouldn't ask you to get something down off the top shelf, but I don't think you're mentally or physically handicapped and I wouldn't assume that you can't do things that you obviously can, like drive, work, and lead a normal life -- you know, just like the rest of us. But people who do harbor some juvenile fascination with and prejudices against little people (which is an idiotic phrase, by the way) are the reason there's a show about your family. And the people who feel guilty about their own prejudices are the reason there are ads like this one where we're all condescended to like naughty schoolchildren who were just picking on the different kid. Some of us were raised right, you know.

...More to come, I'm sure.

confessions of somebody who just watched five minutes of "confessions of a matchmaker"

In a rather twisted turn of events, I apparently am becoming a fan of the show "Intervention." It's reality tv that's actually reality and where people can either better their lives or die. Not surprisingly, I feel the most empathy for the people who have eating disorders and I get angry at the alcoholics. I know, I'm a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Anyway, I guess it airs on Fridays, so that's what was on when I turned on the tv before I went to go brush my teeth.

So by the time I got back to my bedroom, there was some other show on called "Confessions of a Matchmaker." Simple premise: appropriately acerbic matchmaker gives tough love to dateless wonders. I pretty much hate all of these people, and I knew that before I watched any of the show. But there was one line that made me just want to slap the crap out of this woman. Speaking to a painfully insecure 22-year-old who intentionally dates assholes (of the smack-you-in-the-face variety) the matchmaker said something like, "All these men have come into your life to teach you a lesson that you still haven't learned." Um, no. First of all, the universe is not conspiring to teach us lesson about our romantic life. If the universe isn't intervening in Darfur, it does not give a flying fuck if some tarted-up insecure little American girl gets her jaw cracked by her boyfriend.

Secondly, telling some insecure girl (who thinks so little of herself that she feels the need to do shots at the dinner table and who apparently applies her makeup with a spatula) that she will be taught a lesson by dating these assholes will make her date more assholes. And even though I kind of hate this girl, I don't want anyone getting smacked around. Except for, you know, the matchmaker.

I have no real conclusion to offer you other than the big revelation in this episode apparently is that this guy who's a 41-year-old virgin is actually gay and in denial. "41-year-old virgin" is enough to make most of us think "closeted!" But looking at this guy's man-choker and listening to him talk, it's intensely obvious that, as Margaret Cho's mother would say, he is "the gay." I've been saying "Um, yeah, you're gay," to the tv in response to everything this guy has said. He randomly mentioned ABBA. You're a homo, dude, and it's cool. Join us out here on the other side of the closet door. It's seriously a hell of a lot more fun. There are cute boys for you to make out with, and then later you and I can go shopping.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

i'm either well-rounded or a threat to myself and others

I have a new life goal: to drive in a demolition derby. I'd love to use my father's old Mercury Zephyr, but that's mostly because I want to destroy that car. Although I don't know what I could do to that thing that could damage it any more -- it has a family of raccoons living in it and a tree growing through it. I don't even know how that's possible, but apparently it is.

Not only do I think it would be quite suitable for me to take up a hobby that involves intentionally crashing cars, but people will probably start taking me more seriously when I threaten to run them over. And I would really like it if my obituary were carried by the AP and contained the phrases "radical feminist," "Nobel Prize," and "demolition derby." Also, I think it will make my students exactly the right mix of amused and slightly afraid of me.

I already know what I'm going to call my series of spraypainted, barely moving hunks of metal: Beowulf. All of them will have the same name. What name could possibly be more suitable for a hunk of screeching metal barely clinging to its own existence and yet charging off into battle? (Here's to no funeral pyre.)

I think I'll invite my students out to see me crash up some cars, and I'll give them extra credit if they can explain in a brief, amusing essay why exactly I chose that name.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

if there were a parrot that lived in my car, one of the first phrases it would learn would be "do i LOOK scared, asshole?!"

So tonight I had one of my encounters with the clinically insane on the highways of greater Pittsburgh. I think this is going to have to become one of my ongoing series, because honestly, what the hell. I must have some kind of pheromone that attracts them to me. It doesn't matter what car I'm driving, if I'm even the driver, or where I am. These people sniff the air, take a swig of Wild Turkey, and head out a-swervin'.

This week has been just pure suck from start to finish. Work has been really hectic, I haven't felt well, and PennDOT is continuing its efforts to make me finally go off my nut. Last night, I was up until about 4:00 (even though I got in bed at 2:00) with a washcloth on my forehead, willing myself to just die already rather than continue the sudden migraine I got almost as soon as I got in the door. So I don't know why I was hoping that tonight, when I knew I was going to have to take an absolutely ridiculous route home actually through downtown Pittsburgh, (which is one of the worst places I've ever had to drive) I hoped I could just listen to Patty Griffin and mellow out and forget about the week.

And here's where I need to interrupt for my story-within-the-story.

It was really foggy tonight, and fog always makes me think of a friend I had in college who grew up in New Orleans. One Halloween, he and I went to a club in Delaware (for those who don't know, I went to college on the eastern shore of Maryland, very close to Delaware) and wound up having a very, very spooky ride back to Chestertown in my Festiva. I'm not going to use his real name, as he and I are not friends anymore. So I'll call him FF for "former friend." We hit this sudden fog that for some reason just gave both of us the creeps. It was thick and hung in these layers that I'd never seen before and I've never seen since. And FF told me about what "the voodoo people" say about fog: that it's the souls of those in purgatory, chained together, fated to walk the earth forever. It's not foggy here very often, at least not at the hours when I'm usually on the road, and I always think of that conversation when I drive through fog.

So I thought maybe there could be some purgatorial element to how I will probably think of FF every time I drive through fog for the rest of my life, and how those thoughts, the ones we can't control, the ones that drift in and out of our lives so much like fog, might be a way in which souls can be linked forever. And I thought about how I felt to have my soul linked to thoughts of a person I find to be such an unkind human being.

As I was starting to think that maybe this idea could become a poem, I needed to merge from one highway onto another. It was after midnight, and there's usually just a handful of people on the road then. As I was about to merge onto the highway from the on-ramp lane, which ends, but not too abruptly, this guy in some late '80s land yacht decided that he hated me. He actually sped up so I couldn't merge. He had a completely empty lane right next to him, and anyone else who's ever driven a car would have just moved over, especially at the speed he was going, but he apparently had decided that I was not worthy of driving on the same road as him. So he boxed me in and I had to slam on my brakes and swoop behind him. That just pissed me off, especially since he'd broken my goddamn train of thought. Never do that. That's how people get their skulls cracked.

So I did what any extremely angry and possibly unbalanced person would have done with my limited resources. I blasted my horn and high-beamed him for about 10 seconds, which in my mind was an appropriate punishment. Then I got over it and passed him. He tried to high-beam me, but as I said, he was in an '80s land yacht, so his high beams were ineffective and laughable. It was like an attempted rape by the world's smallest-dicked man.

Side note: Even my low beams are blinding. Not long ago, I was following my brother home at night and the whole way, he thought I was trying to get his attention. When we got home, he got out of his car, stormed over to me in the driveway, and said "What the hell?! Why were you beaming me?!" to which I said, "Those aren't my high beams...these are." And then he screamed like a vampire in sunlight.

Back to Birdshit-For-Brains. I tried to outrun him, but his land yacht was surprisingly fast. I was doing 90 on Green Tree Hill, but then traffic picked up, so I just slowed down and boxed him in, which drove him even crazier and made me laugh. He was still trying to high-beam me, so I flipped him off. Then he rode up beside me and we got to take a nice look at one another. Unfortunately. I just gave him a huge smile as he screamed and gestured and jiggled all over the front seat. Dude had to weigh at least 400. The reason behind his choice of vehicle was instantly apparent. I mean, I don't make fun of people for being big, because I'm not one to talk, but seriously, dude. No wonder you hate life.

Then he started swerving, like he was going to intentionally hit my car. Now, I wasn't scared of him, but I was getting a bit sick of his antics. I knew that if he forced me off the road, I had nothing heavy enough to hit him with that would just take him down. So I started thinking of the areas I would punch if I had to. Never be without a battle plan. I had settled on an upward butt of the hand to the nose, a punch to the throat if I couldn't reach the nose, and possibly a knee to the groin if it were accessible. You never know what might be hidden under fat flaps, and I like to have options. I also knew that I had the power of built-up rage on my side and that no matter how big you are, you will lose a fight with a Ford sedan every time.

Then we were in the Ft. Pitt tunnel, and he started doing that riding-level shit again. I hate that. I am not scared of you, fucker. On the scale of scary shit I've experienced, you are way down on the list, right between accidentally setting off my smoke detector and oversleeping. So I grabbed my cell phone, flipped it open, and pretended to dial. I'd heard somewhere that whackos get freaked out if they know you have the ability to summon the police. I don't know if that's what did it, but that was the exact moment he chose to speed up and take some evasive maneuvers away from me. That brought me great joy. But nothing like what happened next.

PennDOT has completely shut down a heavily trafficked tunnel here called the Squirrel Hill tunnel, which was the reason for my aforementioned completely insane route home. Traffic there is notoriously awful to begin with, and there is no good detour for large volumes of trafic. You have to go through this tunnel to get just about anywhere. Of course, there are a bunch of side roads, but no other highway for people to detour onto. So people are being routed through residential areas. There was an article (front page, above the fold) in today's paper about the detour route and just how absolutely awful it was going to be. An assistant chief of police called it a "nightmare." So I thought about it ahead of time and decided to go the fuck around this mess.

Well, I might have guessed that reading and thinking ahead were not two of Birdshit's hobbies. Or general life skills. So he drove off towards his giant steaming pile of detour, and I cackled as I went off on my wildly circuitous tour of the city proper and outskirts. This was about two hours ago, and I am on my couch in pajama bottoms, sipping ice-cold Gatorade and watching TNT in an air-conditioned room while he is most likely still sitting in traffic somewhere, loathing his very existence. And that makes my toes curl with an orgasmic sense of rightness-with-the-world.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

a random assortment of things i think about when i'm not outraged

There should be more movies where the main characters have to pretend a dead guy is still alive. I've seen Bernie whang that buoy about 50 times, and I have fallen off the couch and wheezed till I thought my eyeballs would burst every damn time.

I think I have more mosquito bites than I have body parts. I don't know how the little fuckers pulled that off. Scratching mosquito bites while you're at work makes you look like you have either a mental illness or a serious and possibly contagious skin condition. Either way, no one will bother you. But it's possible that you will go insane.

Futurama was a really good show with a cult-like following and I cannot think of one good reason they could have had for canceling it except that Rupert Murdoch may be a demon of some sort.

Ted Kooser astounds me.

I went to dinner with my mom on Saturday and the family next to us had three children -- a little boy maybe about 5, a little girl about 2 or 3, and a tiny little baby who was maybe 3 weeks old. The little boy kept turning and waving at me, and after about the fifth time he did it, I started to talk to him. He introduced everyone at the table -- his mom, aunt, grandma, and his two sisters. When he got to the baby, he said, "And that's Ashley, and she just came out of my mama's coo-coo." Possibly the funniest thing I've ever heard aside from the phrase "Subterranean Tankosaurus," which is the name I gave some creature on a kids' show.

Going to the grocery store after going out to dinner is a good idea except if you get a little tipsy at dinner. That's how I found myself standing at the deli counter being presented with three turkey options and being genuinely confused by this vast array of choices. I was also wondering of Stephen King has ever wanted to use a deli-meat slicer thing in one of his stories.

One of my uncles has apparently been operating under two delusions for quite a few years, despite all kinds of evidence to the contrary: that I want to be a journalist and that my eyes are blue. I can't decide which delusion is weirder. Also, the mental image I get from the word "journalist" is April from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Seriously, I could watch guys running headfirst into buoys all day long.

i really should have more opinions

Once upon a time, I had a good deal of respect for John McCain. Of course, not anymore, for obvious reasons. I wouldn't spit on him, but I might tell him that he was someone who could have inspired a sense of bipartisanship in this country, and he threw that aside for his true desires -- power without leadership. I think Americans, particularly the young ones, who will be the ones living with the consequences of the clusterfuck that is this administration's policy on any- and everything, not only deserved better from him, but now deserve one hell of an apology. Two roads diverged in a wood, and McCain took the 8-lane highway that leads to Wal-Mart.

Once upon a time, I thought of Rudolph Giuliani as a Republican I kind of liked -- one I would even consider voting for, and not in some bizarro-world scenario where up is down and right is wrong, which is of course now the only way I could see myself voting for him. Once upon a time, I agreed with him. I thought he was a good-humored guy with some good ideas and a great sense of human rights. Not anymore. He, too, has fallen into step with the power-hungry bastards who have ruled this country right into a Dark Age.

A friend of mine told me to watch this. His choice of closing was particularly apt. And yet it's somewhat frightening that Murrow's words can bridge nearly 60 years of fearmongering, "us versus them" myopia, and an absolute lack of anything even resembling morality.

Last week I saw part of a George Carlin special that was at least as old and possibly slightly older than me. Reagan was in office, and Carlin remarked that the man who campaigned on the "keep big government out of our lives" platform wanted to make sure government remained firmly planted in every American uterus. He went on to say a lot of other things that were extremely applicable now but that I won't recount, as that's not my point.

I had the same feeling I got when watching "Murphy Brown" and Murphy said something about Bush wanting to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, and I jolted up. I was in elementary school then. Now I'm a graduate student. How long do I have to wait for things to change?

Maybe that's the problem. Are we waiting for change? Are we so wrapped up in insignificant bullshit that the real problems, ideas, tragedies, and joys that should make up our lives fall by the wayside? I'm willing to bet serious money that the number of people who could recount in detail the conditions of Paris Hilton's jail sentence is exponentially greater than the number of people who know the name of the current Poet Laureate. I wonder how many could pick Karl Rove out of a lineup. Or know that American women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years. I will be 38 the year the 19th Amendment turns 100. My mother will be 68. I hope my children will be old enough to remember it when they are adults.

I will teach my children that people died for us to have the right to vote -- not just women, but all of us -- and that we should exercise that power, the fundamental principle upon which democracy is founded. I will teach them that we are all equal. I will teach them to be curious, to think things through, to never accept anything on blind faith alone. I will teach my children how to be responsible citizens of the world.

I hope there will be enough of a world for them to live in. So I guess that means that it's time for us to wake ourselves from the gossamer nightmare that has become our reality.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

human: the other other other other other white meat (right after chipmunk)

I clap my hands in delight whenever some killer whale in a SeaWorld-type place eats part of some asshole tourist. It just seems like justice to me. Animals are not meant to be locked up like that and made to perform tricks; if I were a killer whale with my dorsal fin all flopped over because I've had the will to live drained out of me, and I had some jackass standing on my face because gee, what a cool picture that will be to show the guys at the office, I'd bat him around the tank for about 45 minutes before I ate his left foot.

So I was not sad at all when Timothy Treadwell got eaten by the bears he so loved. And by "loved," I mean "annoyed shitless." If I were a bear, I would have eaten him, too, and I don't think I'd have been able to put up with him for 13 years. I'd last a good week and a half. And if there were plenty of salmon, I'd just have killed him for the hell of it. Which brings me to my next point.

When wild animals attack people, why are we amazed? If you're sitting in an airport and a buffalo charges you, then you have the right to be astounded. But odds are that if you're currently being ripped apart by some animal, you were not supposed to be wherever you are. Sure, there are exceptions, but they're still animals. So are we. And yet people are so horrified when a cougar eats a person, as though we're something other than walking meat. Yeah, it's a terrible death, but I'm pretty sure those mountain goats don't enjoy being eaten while they're still kicking, either. We slaughter and eat all kinds of animals (or parts of them, anyway) but then we've got to go shoot down the "maneater" from a helicopter. It's a good thing cows don't have delusions of being at the top of the food chain.

Of course I'm on this rant because of what I captioned this evening. Some douchebag has taken it upon himself to go out and try to find a way to get himself mauled. If he feels the need to get himself torn into fleshy bleeding flaps, all he needs to do is show up on my front porch and remind me who he is. Of course, none of the animals care that he's there because he hasn't gone to poke them with sticks while they're half-starved, which seems to be a common denominator among animal attacks on humans. If a bear sees you while he has a mouthful of salmon and is standing next to a field full of berries, he won't care that you're there. I can't imagine that human would taste very good, especially because we live so long. (Usually.) We've got to be stringy and gross. I think salmon and berries sounds great. I will choose that over Random Hiker every time. One very big reason Treadwell was slurped up by Mr. Chocolate or whatever the fuck bear ate him is that there was no food. And when there's no food around, your definition of food becomes a bit broader. You know how you start sniffing at yogurt that expired last week and saying "Well, it smells all right..." We are the expired yogurt of the natural world. No one wants to eat it, but every now and again, someone has to.