Thursday, December 01, 2005

Crap that bothers me (2005 edition)

--The holiday season bothers me in any year, but this year even that is not immune to the latest dumbass attack by the religious right: "Leftists want to get rid of 'Merry Christmas!'" Yep, they've even managed to demonize "Happy Holidays." That's too bad, because I really like the expression. Virtually every religion throughout history has had a celebration to mark the Winter Solstice; that's an ass-load of holidays to acknowledge, and not even the oh-so-clever "Chrismukkah" from The OC covers it all (how am I not writing a major network show?).

Tell me, Jerry, in what way does "Happy Holidays" in any way make people hate Jesus? But of course, I expect such shortsightedness from the religious right. They've spent decades decrying "Xmas," which they claim is an attempt to cross out "Christ" from Christmas, when in reality "X" is a Greek abbreviation for the name Christ, and was chosen for its resemblance to the holy cross. So Happy Holidays, and pray/hope that the fake-religion types who currently run things finally get brains for Christmas. I would also wish for Dick Cheney to get coal in his stocking, but he probably likes that sort of thing.

--I think too literally for my own good. Popular usage is a peculiar thing. Among my numerous hobbies are cycling, running, swimming and just being outside. Yet, strictly speaking, I am not an outdoorsman. An outdoorsman hunts, fishes and gathers.

Me: I love the outdoors!
Someone else: I didn't know you like to hunt and fish.
Me: I don't. I just like being outside.
Someone else: Ah, but you aren't outdoorsy.
Me: I like to ride my bike and go swimming.
Someone else: But those aren't outdoor activities.
Me: Of course they are.
Someone else: No, that's just being outside. Not outdoors.

Louisiana is touted as the "sportsman's paradise," yet one would be hard-pressed to find a viable bike-trail here. Or places to take bona fide hikes. Or enough sports teams beyond the scholastic level. It's also too hot and humid most of the time for any sustained outdoor activity. Basically, the state motto boils down to the region's plethora of opportunities to extract dead animals from our wild areas.

But back to thinking literally. Several years ago I ate at a restaurant in the French Quarter, where I ordered a hamburger po-boy. The exchange with my waiter went something like this:

Me: I would like a hamburger po-boy, no mayo.
Waiter: Of course. Which bun would you like?
Me: White's good.
Waiter: And how would you like that cooked?
Me: Uh, lightly toasted.
Waiter: No, I mean the beef patty.
Me: Oh. Um, well-done.
My family [for the next seven years]: Lightly toasted, Ian? Ahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

Another example: I was recently accused of burning out the A/C on my parents' vehicle because I ran it on the warmest setting. "You're not supposed to run the air conditioner on hot!" But the way I see it, can't "air conditioning" also mean you're conditioning the air to be warm? Apparently I'm the only person I know who has ever had this thought cross their mind.

Same thing with Congress. Isn't Congress a bicameral body, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives? Why, then, do we refer only to House members as Congresspeople? "He's a Congressman, not a Senator." I probably could have passed many more governmental quizzes in school if that actually made sense. But then again, that wouldn't be government, would it?

I suppose this language is called "popular usage" for the same reason that we call it "popular music": it appeals to the lowest common denominator. Well, I never was good at math.

--Louisiana is a strange place anyway, at least in my experience. By most Louisianians' logic, I am both too odd for the area and unfit for anywhere else:

Me: I was born and raised in Lafayette.
Louisianian: You're kidding! Really?
Me: I know, it's strange.
Louisianian: Are you of Cajun heritage?
Me: Not really.
Louisianian: Are you Catholic?
Me: Nope.
Louisianian: Can you make a roux?
Me: Not at all.
Louisianian: You're a freak, you know that?
Me: Yes, I do. I'm thinking of moving elsewhere, perhaps Chicago.
Louisianian: Oh, no! You'd never fit in there. You belong here, among your own people.

--One thing that's disappearing rapidly is (are you listening?) attention spans. For example, I have a friend who will change the subject of conversation in the middle of a sentence--her own sentence:

Her: Our skank friend had to go to the clinic again.
Me: Really? That's disturbing.
Her: Yeah, apparently he spread it around too. My cat is so cute!
Me: Um, yeah. How'd their visit to the clinic go?
Her: I need to do my homework. For some reason, I can't seem to concentrate.

I'd say more, but that cat over there is too adorable! I think I left the oven on.

--Why aren't cheerleaders considered athletes? It seems to me that potentially dangerous flips, choreographed dancing and sustained vocal accompaniment require a pretty good exercise regimen. If we're going to consider race-car drivers, golfers, bowlers, fishermen, professional wrestlers and (these days) poker players athletes, then the least we can do is bump up cheerleading. At the very least, most cheerleaders I've seen have firmer bodies than many "real" athletes.

--Is anyone else bothered by the increasing presence of computers in newer cars? I barely trust my computer with text documents, let alone my brakes! Then again, I was once nearly killed at a crowded intersection because of a computer-relay problem (undiagnosed by six mechanics) that caused our engine to die at bad times, often in full-speed highway traffic. So perhaps I'm biased. I'm also biased because I'm cheap. My attitude is, if you can't unscrew it, it shouldn't be in an automobile engine. This is why I like bicycles, at least until some jerk at Huffy decides that hand brakes should be programmed with Shimano XP. "Sorry, incorrect password!"

And how about this GPS technology? I'm sure it's great if you're lost. But what if you just want to get away for a while, say, from the police? Will Mr. T tell you to "turn right, foo', the A-Team's gonna get you?" Actually, I'd drive a getaway car just to hear him say that.

Also, new cars these days are ugly. With every passing year, they really are looking more and more like those pod-cars that we always envisioned in the future. Come to think of it, pretty much any 20th-century conception of the future is frightening. Do we really want flying cars? I sure don't! We have yet to master the road-based ones. And last I checked, a lot of cars leak oil and A/C condensation. Do we really want a shower of that forever dripping on us? I mean, even more than we have now? I don't even want to think about how this would affect low-riders.

--Politics. But you already knew that.

--Newspapers with dumbass typos. But you knew that too.

--Days when the writing just doesn't come out quite right ((cough))

--Blogs (or, more specifically, blog fans). I am really not impressed by most famous blogs. Most add nothing to the links they cite, and are popular by sheer virtue of their longevity and the fact that every post is followed by 500 comments of "Ha ha!" and "Me too!" In my experience, a great blog is like an unusual magazine that you find at someone's house: something new and compelling, without beginning or end, read with the feeling that you have made a new friend. That's something that 25 links per post and 500 cat pictures will never net you. Unless you're into cats. Which I'm not.


PusBoy said...

I managed to make it all the way through you're filibuster, Mr. McGib. Some thoughts:

From near the top: the reason the fundagelicals hate "Happy Holidays" is because they are all about exclusion, not inclusion. Exclusion from country clubs. Exclusion from neighborhoods. Exclusion from America, heaven, jobs, restaurants, marriages, etc.

"You had better acknowledge MY RELIGION is the ONLY RELIGION or you're attacking it."

Near the bottom:

Blog envy. I have it, too. I write and write and write, and then I'm lucky if I get six comments. Atrios posts something like "Murtha: click here" and he gets 1,600 comments and trackbacks. Asshole.

Anyway, Happy Solstice, you goddamned non-cajun lightly toasted pagan.

Murph said...

Yeah, fuck cats, man!

Ian McGibboney said...

Pus, I'm of the view that the Democrats should read Not Right About Anything when filibustering. Or perhaps Atrios, if they really want the GOP to feel the full effect of the tedious process.

What I feel isn't so much envy as it is bemusement toward the big bloggers. Glenn Reynolds netted a feature in Time Magazine because of his ability to add an link every half hour and add "indeed" as commentary. Stephen Colbert mentioned Atrios by name on the Jon Stewart show for similar reasons. No wonder Garry Trudeau makes fun of bloggers.

I have 50 blog links on my sidebar, and I'd vouch for virtually any of them before I did most top-10 blogs.

On that note, Happy End-of-Year Celebrations back atcha, Pus'y! And a merry 2006 CE.

And yes, Murph, cats do suck. Cats bite more than dogs and love you less.

Flamingo Jones said...

I was actually going to ask you how you managed to keep it so short! If I did a post of things that bothered ME, I wouldn't finish the first volume til at least May.

Michael said...

We've got all kinds in Chicago, Ian. You'd fit right in. And you'd feel right at home in the summers here, though I suspect the winters would be a little harsher than you're used to.

ccgirl said...


I'd like to see you post about things that you actually like, or things that make you happy.

Neil Shakespeare said...

I'm looking forward to the flying cars. Boy, are the birds gonna freak out!

Ian McGibboney said...

CCgirl, I'm a born problem-solver who has benefited from having lots of problems to solve in life. Writing is cathartic for me in trying to right the wrongs of the world while having a little edgy fun at the same time. Tackling happy things doesn't fill that need for me. Sharing my happy news would be tedious and would probably render this blog too personal for anyone's comfort. Anyway, my Thanksgiving Day entry is somewhat positive, which was disappointing for me considering I'm generally the rear-end of the battery when it comes to celebrations :)

As for Chicago winters: I know I'll be in for a shock if I move there, because generally anything under 60 makes coordinated movement difficult for me. But I suspect that the good things about the place will balance everything out. I already know that having a pleasant May and October are not worth everything else I've had to deal with here.