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!

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!