Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Vanity Monologues

Decorate your plate the Louisiana way!

Inspired by the production of the currently Hello-halted license-plate graphic soon to be on my sidebar (as well as the recent spate of personalized-plate complaints on The Smoking Gun), I discovered a cool reference tool on the Louisiana DMV website. This search engine allows you to type in any combo of letters and numbers, telling you whether or not you can get it as a valid Louisiana license plate. Your inquiry can fall within one of three categories: available, not available and not acceptable. After a considerable amount of tinkering, I have come up with a list for those of you looking to obtain a Louisiana license plate.

Not acceptable:


Not available (meaning people actually have these):




And why aren't these taken?


Move over, Google--I've got a new favorite reference tool! What's on your state's plate list?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Passion of the Low Price

A religious story for Good Friday

On a Saturday morning one fortnight ago, I found myself shopping at virtually the only place one can shop in Lafayette, LA at 5 a.m.: the Wal-Mart Stupidcenter. After grabbing the supplies I would need for the events of the day (a newspaper, granola bars and a pack of videotapes...use your imagination), I stood in the only available line. In front of me were four or five very pretty young women, all in a bunch. They were all engaged in a conversation with the cashier, a fact that allowed me ample opportunity to fret at the short time I had to get out of there (and to ogle).

The conversation among the girls (and clerk) was spotty and filled with apparent insider references; I suspect the cashier knew at least one of them beforehand. From the snippets of conversation I collected, I ascertained the following things:

1) These girls were really into cigarettes
2) Some or all of them were just getting off work
3) The cashier definitely did not approve of whatever they did

I'm guessing that the girls were strippers. They were cute and modestly dressed (i.e., not in clubbing gear, though their faces were overly made up), suggesting an incognito ride home. They also reminded me somehow of a couple of strippers I have known over time, girls who found themselves in a rough patch while going through college or raising a kid. On the other hand, they make a ton of money too. I didn't know how to feel about that, or about assuming that they were strippers in the first place.

With mere minutes to spare, the ladies left and I got up to the counter. The clerk lady smiled at me, nodded her head toward the departing girls and said to me, "Those girls need Jesus. They lack direction!" All the while I thought to myself, "I'd like some their place." I also reflected on how ironic it was that the clerk was more concerned about guys seeing their naughty bits than she was about them smoking. I didn't say those thoughts out loud, of course; I don't need my issues projected onto the next customer. Instead, I smiled and handed over my debit card, affecting the good-little-short-haired-non-rebellious-young-man look I've worked so many years at perfecting.

Out in the parking lot, I saw all of the girls backing out in their car. Not one of them even glanced back at me. Not one. I'm guessing they were just coming down from the many hours of drunken, horny leering made to them by men holding sticky dollar bills (being that they need Jesus and all), so I didn't take it too personally.

As someone who has worked the night shift at numerous jobs, I have to recommend stepping out to these places in the thick of the night. It's great entertainment! See, once and for all, why they call them "ungodly" hours.

Have a good, uh, Good Friday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Did Texas sneeze?

While driving this afternoon, I saw a license plate that almost made me crash:

And get this: the plate was from Illinois!

It's already starting...buckle up.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Noshing with online pals

Yesterday afternoon, I had lunch with Flamingo Jones. She's not the first person I've met personally through blogging (that honor goes jointly to Murph and his mom jetbanana), but she probably represents the single most surreal first encounter I've ever had. Imagine a blind date where you've seen the picture and already know the person through extensive conversation, if such a thing can be imagined. Or picture seeing a toy on TV for years and then finally having it in your hand. Anyway, Flamingo was spending the week with sociable_solipsist in Baton Rouge and decided to brave the short 50-mile jaunt to see me for an afternoon. At least that's what she tells me...

We met at a coffeehouse near my place and then went to lunch. She rode in my truck! Cool! (I'm like Wayne when Aerosmith played on that episode of Wayne's World, except that Aerosmith is famous.) Both of us being laid-back and indecisive liberals, selecting a place to eat was really a pain in the ass. But we did (eventually) and we had a pretty good time, once I figured out her Wisconsin accent. It took a while, but I finally figured out what she meant by such Midwest colloquialisms as "drinking pop" and "Louisiana air stinks."

For her part, she said I struck her as the kind of guy who would drive a black Honda Civic coupe. Except that I'm too much of a rebel to drive a car of such a common color. I said she struck me as the kind of girl who would drive a neon-green new Beetle (which, of course, she does, a fact that really helped me on guessing that one).

Flamingo raved about our daytime rendezvous, calling her time with me "better than sitting around bored in my friend's apartment all day." High praise from a true individual!

While I certainly need no help from Blogger in making new friends, I think that it can only help like-minded individuals meet. Whether the objective is love or radical political revolution (or something in that wide gulf in between), getting to know someone through a blog--psychotics aside--can be a cool thing indeed.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Is there any single scarier indicator of the future direction of our society?

Target advertising at its most frightening Posted by Hello

From my sister's July 2003 Seventeen magazine comes this gem. Like, ohmigod!

If ever you've wanted to blow obscene amounts of money for the privilege to wear colorful shirts, slobber over boys in colorful shirts and play annoying drunken games with your paid-for sister (or, like, at least sound like you do!!!!), then this book is for you!

Along with the $20.90 charge for the book, you will also have to pay additional fees for the cover, a dust jacket, a bookmark and for the stylish typeface of every individual page. You will also pay for a shelf to keep it on, even if you have your own place to store the book.

Perhaps you're concerned about whether you should purchase "The Official Sorority Handbook." But don't worry about stereotypes: all kinds of people buy this book! Those who read it include varsity athletes, cheerleaders, honors students, ROTC cadets, student-government leaders and those from just about any other club. There is no model sorority-girl wannabe!

So as you've seen, "The Official Sorority Handbook" is a great way to meet people (even if it's only to be asked, "Why in the hell would you buy this book?") But don't get an Internet to get it, girls...the site no longer exists. But if you have the right connections, you can get, like, anything you want! And ultimately, that's what Greek life is all about.

Friday, March 11, 2005

New column: Putting the ‘Greed’ in ‘Degree’

This UL-centric column will be out the day after Student Government Association (SGA) elections. SGA has nearly doubled tuition in the last three or four years (with the occasional something to show for it). I think anyone who has been to college can identify with its point that education dollars often go toward questionable choices.

This is the first of my columns to carry a true disclaimer at the end. I hate doing that. Judging from recent feedback, however, people apparently need to be told when something's true and when it isn't. Blah.

With all of the events going on in national politics, the Personal Ian McGibboney Press has unfortunately neglected the political scene here at the University of Louisiana. So here is the latest word on campus politics:

LAFAYETTE (PIMP)--A proposal by the UL Student Government Association passed easily Tuesday, with students overwhelmingly voting to pointlessly jack up tuition.

By a vote of 1121-575, students approved Referendum 2, which asked full-time students to "assess themselves an extra $78 per semester, for no reason other than to make their tuition bills really huge."

SGA officials greeted the referendum's passage with extreme pride, calling it "a victory for the UL community." SGA president Katie Ortego said that the tuition increase will give the students a feeling of attending a more expensive school.

“LSU, UCLA, Duke, Harvard and Yale…what do all of these schools have in common?” she asked. “High academic rankings, national prominence and astronomically high tuition, that’s what. Your SGA simply put two and two together.”

Ortego contributed the success of the tuition hike to the student body's acceptance of previous tuition increases.

"The UL student population has, time and again, shown its enthusiasm for tuition increases. At first, we figured we had a tough sell. In Spring of 1999, for example, tuition for a full-time, in-state commuter student was about $928. But through years of promising such marvelous improvements as a five-story parking garage and a new student union, we were able to win hearts and minds."

One anonymous official added that even SGA began to wonder just how many more times they could get away with increasing tuition before students would begin to object. "But when we realized people would never consider the drawbacks of our proposals, such as the unrealistic idea of a parking tower on a back road or the new union taking several years to refurbish, we knew we could be bolder. So we decided to drop the pretense this time around and just ask for the money."

Despite the significant margin of victory in an election that garnered the highest-ever voter turnout, some students voiced skepticism over the pointless tuition jack-up.

"I can't believe that SGA was able to pull the wool over the school's eyes yet again," said an English graduate student who asked not to be identified. "Are students here really so near-sighted as to approve a useless increase in tuition? Such reckless and unaccounted spending threatens the university’s status as one of the best values in the region.”

Still, the student said, “At least they were honest. Such integrity is rare in any form of government these days.”

SGA officials declined to comment on where the new funds would be diverted, other than to make reference to a campus-beautification project.

"We find that the campus is at its most colorful during campaign week, with all of the candidates wearing their party shirts. We also find that SGA is at its most lucrative during campaign week,” said the unnamed official. “So to kill two birds with one stone, we have decided to hold new SGA elections every month. The newly raised funds will be used, in part, to purchase thousands of colorful campaign shirts, so that their presence may be felt on campus every day of the year."

The Big Three is already planning for its next election in April, in which students will be asked to consider two proposals: a $20 tuition increase to provide free issues of “TV Guide” on campus and a $45 increase for constructing new parking spaces in the Quad.

Note: The preceding column was satire. Don't you know me by now? Everything in it is fake, except for the Spring 1999 tuition figure.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Scraping the barrel bottom, part 3

The final installment of the old dreck

This last specimen of three columns from my old binder, circa 1998, is too futile to explain. Suffice to say, I guess I was influenced by one too many lousy and pointless high-school editorials. I recall that I wrote this at my grandmother's bedside while spending the night with her in the hospital. I did that a lot that year.

Untitled masturbation with no actual point

As I write this, I should be sleeping. SHOULD be--not that I ever actually do sleep at this time anyway. But a deadline's a deadline, and I do mean dead. Assuming I finish this at the earliest possible time, I could get maybe--hmmm--six hours of sleep before getting up, dressing, eating, and biking over here. Okay, maybe three hours. Yawn.

It's times like these I meander over to my fall schedule newspaper and look up class times. Abnormal Psychology at 8:00 a.m.?!! Never too early for such heavy analysis! "Gee, doc, I think I'm abnormal--I get up too damn early!"

Myself, my earliest class on MWF is noon (righteous!) and the other days is 9:30 a.m. None of this pre-dawn skip-breakfast-and-think stuff. No, I left that behind in high school. 2200 Lafayette High students are currently enjoying my gift.

All the same, I don't go for late-afternoon classes either. Nope. Got track practice. But even when I don't, I still don't. That aspect of high school I kept with me. Those 2200 aforementioned students can have some of that too. Too bad they have curfews.

The point of all of this is, despite all of the effort I expended to make my academic matters as daytime as possible, here I am at midnight still writing. Some things just come out whenever they feel like. Until we come up with a way to mutiny the system without being condemned, we'll just have to accept it for what it is. [WHOA!!!]

Good night!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Scraping the barrel bottom, part 2

More from the dusty binder of mediocrity

The second of three never-before-seen columns comes from the same time frame as the first one (indeed, it was probably written back-to-back with it, sometime in late 1998). This one reminds me of my original intent: I wanted to be a columnist for The Verm in any way that I could. I suppose that, in this early stage, I was trying to develop and demonstrate my versatility just so that I could have options. Sometime in 2000 and/or 2001, after failing twice to obtain the liberal-columnist position, I tried out for both food critic and Internet columnist. Zero for four. Lucky thing for me that The Verm didn't have any applicants for the liberal column in 2002 (I was asked to do it at a party I attended on impulse); I mean, you try to earn a competitive position with stuff like this!

Untitled naive, myopic, self-indulgent driving column

Riddle: Where can you get a driver's license without knowing how to drive?

Answer: Louisiana! [Crossed out] Um, figure it out or "Where Can't You?"

First, let me say that I am a lifelong resident of Louisiana, I love everything about it, and never intend to leave for more than a week at a time. [Whoa!!!] That said, the traffic sucks. Bad.

People love to trash Lafayette for its awful accident record. But you can't blame (at least totally) the drivers, the people in charge, or the lack of complete public transportation.

Blame the roads. Yes, the roads! Look at a map of Lafayette. There is, maybe, one straight street. I think the architects (or insults to the profession) who designed the pattern of Lafayette streets were looking at a busted screen door (or my busted screen door).

Lafayette, however, is only the tip of the one-way street. Go East, young one, to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and you shall meet a unique breed, kamikaze drivers! And on top of all that, the powers that be raised the state speed limit to 70. Ooh! They've always done 70! Now the average kamikaze will be doing 90. With any luck, that particular motor mercenary will wreak his havoc on I-10 rather than Hebrard Boulevard. A flickering hope, yes, but hope all the same.

Movin' on up to Shreveport, the situation is a little bit better, but with all the gang activity up there you might not exactly still have your car to even compete on the road. As for Monroe? I've never been there. Sorry. I have been to Alexandria, but not since I've been able to drive.

That's a big reason I love USL. It's got a quality communications program, kickbutt sports--and frankly, I don't have to drive to walk here!

(For a much, ahem, different column on driving, see Adventures in Acceleration)

Tomorrow: something that absolutely defies rational explanation.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel

Presenting the first in a three-part series of really ancient stuff

My printer sucked then as much as Hello and Blogger do now Posted by Hello

Back in December 1998, I had my first opportunity to apply for the coveted post of liberal columnist for The Vermilion. The column I turned in was handwritten (and thus lost forever to history), though I do remember that it was a dialogue between two college students. The big issue at the time was the "truth-in-advertising" law, a legislative pile of shit passed in Lafayette as a direct reaction to the "Family Values Tour," which featured such non-family-friendly artists as Limp Bizkit, Rammstein, Ice-T and Orgy. The law stipulated that any future concert tour would have to be honest in its choice of name. If there was any joke that could possibly be mined from the sheer moronitude of that law, then the local media made it. It remains on the books to this day, though I don't think it's ever been enforced. Not that laws exist here to be enforced.

But anyway...

The column/dialogue I wrote centered that law. Was it any good? Well, I'll put it this way: a couple of nights later I got a phone call from the managing editor:

Editor: "You know how you applied for the liberal column?"
Me: "Yeah."
Editor: "Well, you didn't get it."
Me: "Um, thanks?"

Instead, the column went to a guy whose scope gradually narrowed until all he could write about was how much he desperately wanted to have a girlfriend. He plays guitar in a band now, so I guess that isn't an issue anymore.

But anyway... on to the real point of this post, which is (excepting an 8th-grade column on that kid that who got caned in Singapore) quite possibly the first column I ever wrote. You know that bad column I just talked about? Well, these are even worse. I wrote this sometime between June and November 1998, when I still knew where my high-school ring was. I found this column in my 12th-grade binder, along with some floppies that would probably disintegrate into dust in any modern computer. Looking at the paper, I noticed that even my handwriting has changed since then. For the better. Now that's progress!

"Subpoena, subpoena, subpoena..."

I am mad.

Why am I mad? Because of the White House scandal, that's why. I am seriously concerned of the profound effect that presidential erections will have on my checking account. This valid fear should scare everyone, because hey, it's your fanny on the line! Actually, it's Bill's fanny, but who's counting?

Actually, Kenneth Starr is counting. As Salt-N-Pepa probably wouldn't say, "whattaman!" [Groooan.] Apparently, he's never done anything bad. Doesn't have time, what with issuing subpoenas to everyone Bill Clinton has shaken hands with since 1989 (I shook his hand in 1992, but haven't yet been called to testify. I'm offended and pissed.) I'll avoid an obvious hand-joke, but if you say "subpoena" several times in succession you'll get to the target of the independent counsel.

Oddly enough, the Bill Clinton-Paula Jones encounter allegedly took place on May 8, 1991. That was my eleventh birthday. Unlike those confused jurors who wisely threw out that crap case, I KNOW what happened on that day, at least to me, and I've got the pictures to prove it. Maybe if both of them had just sat down to a plate of chicken and talked about baseball cards like I did on that day, things would have turned out differently. But then I wouldn't have a column.

Or maybe I would. Here's where I bring up Magic Monica! Remember that stock footage where Clinton is apparently giving Monica a passionate hug? Now they're saying he's reaching over her to greet well-wishers. I agree. Kenneth Starr was there (?), and the president was simply reaching over for his subpoena! What he really wanted to tell Starr was "screw you!", but he didn't want Starr bringing up another sexual allegation, which surely would have resulted. After all, if you believe the Conspiracy, President Clinton says "screw you" quite often. He could have also said "Who cares?" but we all know Starr has also heard that enough. From all of us.

Tomorrow: I riff on--get this--bad drivers!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

That's some delicious bait I'm taking

Not available in stores! Posted by Hello

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) is holding its annual column contest. Yummy bait...yummy bait...BITE!

The contest is open to anyone who wrote a regular column in a daily, weekly or monthly newspaper (or its online equivalent) in the United States in 2004. If that describes any of you out there, I encourage you to enter (it's $20 per entry for members or $40 for non-members). The complete rules can be found at the NSNC site linked above. The deadline is March 15.

Each $20 entry allows for the submission of three columns. I just looked in my wallet, and its contents look to bring my submission total to...three columns. Further helping me narrow down my choices is the NSNC's expansive category listing:

A) General Interest
B) Humor

I decided I'm going to go out on a limb and go with "humor." My editor told me that I was funny once, but I think he was just trying to humor me (rimshot!). With that in mind, I've chosen to submit the following three columns for their consideration:

The entry form says that winners will be notified by May 15. If I win the big $300 prize (or the $200 or $100 runner-up purses), then you will know firsthand just how far the profession has fallen. Winning also greatly increases my odds that I will be able to afford the trip to the NSNC convention in Grapevine, Texas, to receive the honor. Whoo-hoo! Oh yeah, and there's also the chance for top columnist connections and whatnot. A great idea if you're into that sort of thing.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Rules for Not Right About Anything

Thank you for stopping by my humble blog, Not Right About Anything. I hope you will find your time here worthwhile and thought-provoking. You are encouraged to leave your two cents (or two dollars, if you like) in the comments section, and to browse past posts and/or check out the various links. I ask no more of you than to enjoy yourself and observe the following tenets of my philosophy:

--This is my blog. I make the rules. If you don't like the rules, then leave. This is the main rule: there are no rules.

--(updated 1/2/06) I post original material. That includes, but is not limited to, writing, graphics and voice recordings. I will occasionally publish a photograph or article that is not my own; you will know it when you see it, because I have yet to snap a picture of George W. Bush at his Crawford ranch. Also, outside text is cited with italics and colored based on how I feel about it. I offer outside text and images only to comment on them or to otherwise add something to the discussion. I vow that you will never see a post here that is entirely (or even mostly) someone else's work. Few things are as sad as reading an excellent column or list on someone's blog, only to see that it's about three generations removed from its author. That's unfair to the original writer and it makes for a boring blog. Also, I've had it happen to me, unattributed, and that's definitely NOT cool. So when you read something here, rest assured you probably haven't seen it anywhere else. Probably for good reason, too!

--(updated 7/7/05) Not Right is NOT a clique blog. Nothing irritates me quite like a blog where only a few people can comment or even read entries. Look, kids, if something is so special that only your close circle of friends should know about it, then why the hell are you posting it online? Seriously! Why not keep it to yourself? Or better yet, tell your friends some other way. You are not going to find anything on this blog alluding to my private life unless it somehow fits the theme of this site (or is a cheap laugh). If you feel hesitant to post, consider that (at minimum) 98 percent of the people commenting on Not Right are just like you, bloggers who are sitting at home in some corner of the world with the same hobby as you. I've met only five or six in person so far, but I'm always looking to talk to the world's finest. If you comment here, you're one of the club as far as I'm concerned. So don't be shy.

--(updated 1/14/06) While I am a blogger living in Louisiana, I am not, strictly speaking, a Louisiana blogger. I write on whatever captures my fancy on a particular date and time, regardless of scope. So if I don't keep a running tally on the levee scandal, day 125, don't get indignant; chances are, 50 other bloggers are chronicling that far better than I ever could. It doesn't mean I don't care about it, because I do; but like with anything else, I'll blog it only if I have something meaningful and useful to add. Keep in mind that I live 115 miles from New Orleans. It may be the best place in Louisiana by a long shot, but it isn't my local beat.

--I do not censor for profanity, opposing ideas, evasion of topic or for virtually any other reason. If you want to sound stupid, then that's your prerogative; your name is on it! Comments are deleted only for the following reasons: 1) Double-posting; 2) Spamming (unless the spamming in question is really entertaining); 3) If I post a comment anonymously by accident, in which case I will repost the same comment under my name; 4) Any other accidents on my part; 5) Posts that have no value in discussion (such as with one guy who continuously posted the same Bush quote about 50 times as a comment, then posted it three times). Everything else goes.

--I never ban anyone from my site. Part of the reason I started this blog is because I found myself disgusted by some of the rules set forth by Democratic Underground. As much as I enjoy the site, and as much as I understand their desire to keep useless traffic to a minimum, I object to several of their rules regarding content of posts. I see some merit in the common conservative complaint that DU bans anyone who shows conservative tendencies. This sounds too much like the ideology behind many conservative blogs, a fact I find discomforting no matter who is enforcing them. I welcome all viewpoints, not because I agree with them but because that's how life is. Like I said before, if people want to look stupid then that's their business. I know better than to believe I live in a world where everyone agrees with me. In fact, I find it entertaining to see some conservatives realize that for the first time. In any case, the main objective here is to open up dialogue, not suppress it. I also reserve the right, as I have done in the past, to de-link anyone who erases dissenting comments or otherwise does not allow for the free flow of information.

--If you respond with an allegation and/or a link, rest assured that I will check it out. Until I got this blog moving, I never realized just how bold some people are in presenting bald-faced lies as facts. Whether or not that's intentional on the poster's part, I will check it out myself; with my journalistic skills and graduate-research studies, I know how to verify things. I've done this many times and have been proven right and proven wrong at different points. My credo is this: the beliefs that people refuse to question are the very ones that need to be questioned the most. Because of this, I allow for open discussion from all sides. I'm not saying I'll agree or disagree with it, or that anyone else will either; but it never hurts to get the words out there.

Now buckle up, and please hold on to the bar.

Boy, am I pissed!

He said it right over the phone Posted by Hello

Picking up today's issue of The Vermilion, I was particularly proud of today's column. But some hard realities are starting to hit me: 1) no one cares nearly as much as I do (everyone I've told about this thinks I'm overreacting; even on this site, the column got no feedback) and 2) the editors of the paper are Bushesque in their insistence that they don't need to verify anything that they "correct."

What am I talking about? Look above. When I submitted this column, I had spelled Mark McGwire's name correctly. Yet, somewhere along the line, one of the editors decided that not only was my spelling wrong, but that it needed to be changed without verification. All they had to do was a simple Google search if they weren't sure, but noooooo!

I understand that life goes on and that something like this is relatively minor. But I send these columns out whenever I send out a resume, and this is one of my favorites. But now I cannot send this one out because of its error. I've already had enough good columns of mine ruined by editors' incompetence and it makes me want to scream. It hasn't happened much with this editorship, but when it does, hoo boy!

As much as I hate to be condescending...calm down, Ian, these guys are your friends...I cannot deny the fact that I have had the journalism degree for two years that these people are still earning, and that they are ADDING errors to my columns...errors that would have taken two seconds to fix...errors that make me look bad to potential employers...and makes them look even worse...grrr!

I e-mailed my immediate editor (without automatically blaming him for the mistake) and asked him to ponder this point: with a name like Ian McGibboney, don't you think I would be sensitive to checking the spelling of names?

Okay, end of rant...I feel better now.