Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't be who we thought you'd be

Last night, after a resounding 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson went off on Arizona Republic sports writer Kent Somers, who asked him what he and teammate Deuce Lutui were laughing about on the sidelines near the end of the game. The tirade is likely to join those of Jim Mora, ex-Cards coach Dennis Green and Ryan Leaf in the pantheon of NFL infamy. You can see it here.

Going through the comments for this video, I noticed two primary responses:

1) Derek Anderson is an untalented D-bag of a quarterback and a petulant child to boot.

2) Who cares what he was laughing about? Can’t a guy have a break? The media is just out to provoke.

Both are right and both are wrong.

Stripped of any context, the question comes off as a bit vapid and unnecessarily provocative. After all, it’s ultimately immaterial what two football players are laughing/smiling about between themselves on the sidelines. It might make decent material for the next “NFL’s Funniest Players” compilation, but that’s about it. It has little to do with the thrashing the Cardinals got.

Oh, but it might. Because they were losing badly at that late point in the game. Maybe they should take a cue from more successful teams who keep their faces in the game.

But fair enough. Like anyone else having a bad day at work, a moment of levity couldn’t possibly hurt, right? It’s not like you have to be a stone-cold stoic to get things done. On that point, I agree. Two players sharing a light moment in the face of a rout isn’t that big a deal. It might be frustrating to see if you’re a fan of that team, but these guys aren’t robots.

And, yes, the media as a whole asks tons of utterly ridiculous questions that never have anything to do with anything. It seems to be getting worse as the paparazzi grows in popularity and investigative reporting falls out of favor.

On the other hand, if the joking around is a constant, lingering issue that seems to be related to Arizona’s woes, then maybe reporters SHOULD ask about it. In fact, maybe that’s the most appropriate issue to address. If Cardinals fans and the football community in general think Anderson’s too quick to laugh off his team’s struggles on a weekly basis, then he deserves to be taken to task for it.

On Derek’s end, he missed an opportunity to own the moment and perhaps define his career in a positive sense. If he felt, like many did, that the question was inappropriate or irrelevant, he could have deflected it. He could have been a good PR machine with an answer like this:

“Well, that’s between us, but sometimes when you’re on the sidelines and things get bad, you have to take a moment to realize it’s just a game. Don’t get me wrong; when we’re on the field, we’re all business. If you see me laughing at the line when we’re that far behind, you know, grill me all you want. But it isn’t one moment like that on the bench that’s going to ruin our team’s chances — it’s the way we’ve been playing all season. And we just gotta focus on that more than anything.”

Or he could have done a mea culpa:

“Yeah, I see how that comes off in light of the way we played. That’s my fault. I’ll work on it.”

Or, if he thought the question was stupid, he could have at least tried to be clever with it:

“What were we laughing about? My endorsement potential after this game.”

Something like that. After all, a self-deprecating laugh isn’t so bad after the game.

As it stands, Anderson has some major damage control to deal with this week. He took a situation (player vs. media) in which most football fans favor the player, and handled it in all of the wrongest ways (denial, anger, defensiveness, tirade, persecution complex, storming off). It’s a textbook lesson for public figures in how not to deal with the press.

Ryan Leaf should worry, because Derek Anderson’s a few interceptions away from taking away Leaf’s one claim to NFL infamy. Memo to Derek: don’t read your apology from a piece of paper and then toss it in your locker. Your mistakes aren’t the only ones from which you can learn.

Monday, November 29, 2010

More football fun

We certainly keep "tm" in Christmas

Every holiday season brings with it an onslaught of calls to celebrate properly. You’ve heard the sentiments: “Jesus is the reason for the season!” “Keep Christ in Christmas!” Et cetera.

By that logic, devout Christians should celebrate pagan-style, because humankind has always had celebrations during solstices and equinoxes (solstii and equinoxexx?). And there’s pretty much a consensus among scholars that Jesus wasn’t literally born on Dec. 25.

But I’d never suggest that anyone observe the holidays in a manner other than how they choose. That’s what makes holidays so wonderful: they mean something different to everyone. Different beliefs. Different traditions. Different memories. Real things for real people. If that includes shout-outs to Jesus, terrific. If not, that’s terrific too.

I used to marvel at how cool it was that all of our holidays were spread so perfectly throughout the calendar. Kind of like highway rest stops right when you need them. Even at the height of my spiritual phase (probably ages 10-15), I figured that Jesus probably didn’t enter the world and die for our sins at such convenient times for school breaks. And many of the other holidays came not from God, but from America’s twin loves of honoring people and not having to go to work.

For many years, I felt at least a twinge of guilt over celebrating the holidays my way. And this was largely because I listened to the judgmental voices of those who insisted holidays have to be done a certain way to be correct. Such thinking is hardly limited to certain times of year, really. Pick any random day on the calendar and you’ll find someone high on the nitrous oxide of their self-righteousness who thinks they know better than you do about how you should live your life. And, conveniently enough, it’s their way. Better to go through the motions of what’s deemed as correct than to have a genuinely good time while failing in their strict eyes, huh?

Forutnately, I got better.

Holidays with my family and friends are some of the happiest memories of my life. And just as I respect anyone’s chosen mode of celebration (or lack thereof), I will ask those who insist that there’s a right way to celebrate to respect mine.

The differences between us are what make us interesting. And human.

There is one exception, though. “Peace on Earth, good will toward men.” I don’t think anyone should bend on that. But come to think of it, who should need religion — or even a holiday — to embrace that?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Random political thought

So most people who vote Republican are not in the tax brackets that the party benefits the most (namely, the top few percent). In recent decades, the GOP has gutted the middle class and the poor by scaling back on social programs, destabilizing the economy through regressive tax cuts, letting basic infrastructure rot, etc. Despite this, poor and middle-class Republicans continue to aggressively vote against their best interests. Why? As I've said before, it comes down to the perception of the American Dream as something these voters want preserved when they reach the pinnacle of wealth. Not if. When.

I've heard many of these same people decry the lottery, calling it "a tax on the poor" or otherwise holding it up as an example of poor people (usually minorities) wasting their money. Why do they spend their money on something so fruitless that's obviously a pipe dream, when they could using it in a responsible way to lift themselves up?

Maybe that's a question they should ask themselves. Especially since, unlike the lottery-ticket buyer, their decisions hurt all of us.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why is Ian mad?

Take your best shot.

Thank you, come again

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. This was an earth-shaking revelation for me when I realized it, because you don’t get any presents for Thanksgiving. And I was always what you’d call a present kid.

But in my formative years, Thanksgiving was the big deal, because that’s when most of my extended family got together. Most of the many, many members of my mom’s extended family would get together at my grandparents’ house for an amazing spread and lots of football. And because I lived next door to my grandparents, I often woke up to sunshine and the murmur of the bustling house right right on the other side of my bedroom window. I’d get up, dress and pop into the house, where the door was always open and the TV blared the Macy’s parade as atmosphere.

My relatives were a fun crowd, and just perfect, because the adults were fun and most had kids my age. The party would start early in the morning and continue well into the evening — many years, my family would visit my dad’s mom in Baton Rouge, then drive back and have several more hours of revelry.

I come from a family of restaurateurs, and Cajun ones at that, so my diet was never heartier than in those days (even if I was seen as the picky one, the family tradition being to point this out with every bite I took).

And all of that was and is a gift unto itself.

It’s been four years since I celebrated a holiday with my family, so for now the good times are a memory. But even though my grandparents and many of relatives are gone now, I eagerly await many more happy holiday times in the future.

One thing that’s always been a little harder for me than most is to express the things for which I’m thankful. It’s not that I’m a negative person (though sometimes it seems that way), but because there are only so many ways you can make “my family, my friends, my health, etc.” interesting. On the other hand, I am thankful for those things and so much more. So here’s my list of things I’m thankful for in 2010:

• I’m thankful that that the reason I ran a 5K in 55 minutes this morning is because of a glitch in the timing software, not because it actually took 55 minutes.

• I’m thankful that I never settled for life’s easy options.

• I’m thankful that I have an ability to express myself in a way that others enjoy as well.

• I’m thankful that I have been able to bring together so many great people in friendship.

• I’m thankful for the healing power of the New Orleans Saints, through thick and thin.

• I’m thankful for my independence. I never take it for granted.

• I’m thankful for the ever-progressing nature of society, even in the face of much opposition.

• I’m thankful that I have so many options in my life every single day.

• I’m thankful for you.

• I’m thankful that I can finish this entry whenever I want to go live life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh fiddle-de-de, Hattie

Today’s blog addresses a concern of mine that often leads even my most liberal Southern friends to demand my birth certificate.

Can anyone explain to me why it’s so disrespectful to wear a hat indoors?

In my tween years, I wore a baseball cap constantly. At home, the atmosphere was live-and-let-live and no one ever said a thing about it. But when I’d go to school, or to someone else’s house, they made a massive deal about it. I’ll never forget the first time my teacher raged at me to take my cap off in the classroom. I mean, she didn’t just ask — she demanded it as if I was openly rebelling against her. Which I wasn’t, because I literally had no idea that’s what I supposed to do. And once I knew, I was equally testy about the treatment and the fact that I had to do it.

Eventually I’d learn that taking off your hat indoors was a sign of decorum and respect. But no one ever explained why. And even as a child, I liked to understand the logic behind doing something. Especially something that robbed me of a feeling of personal comfort and security. And, more often than not, led to either me misplacing my cap or having it swiped by a classmate. And confusing one for the other.

Later still, I’d learn that former Saints coach Bum Phillips, known for his ubiquitous cowboy hat, never wore it in the Superdome because he always took his hat off indoors. I just thought that was silly.

To this day, I still don’t get many mannerisms. I mean, yeah, I’ll call an old man or a stranger sir, for example, and genuinely mean it. But even when I take my hat off indoors in certain situations without prompting, that’s more about defusing the residual Big Daddy Gawd voice in my head that seems to prompt those sorts of things.

Respect is something I always struggled with in the South. At least, that’s what I was told. I always felt like I was polite, welcoming and respectful of others, but I often heard from authority figures that I was anything but. I didn’t say “sir” or “ma’am” enough. I often forgot to take my hat off inside. I didn’t call everyone older than me “Mr.” or “Miss.” I sometimes had the audacity to innocently question something I was told to do. (Maybe I should have tried being a complete heel in my heart, as long as I smiled at the right time and said all the right words — that seemed to work for a lot of people.) And, perhaps worst of all, I did not insist on holding others to the same standard.

To wit: I don’t like being called “mister” or “sir,” because I don’t like being deferred to any more than I like being condescended to. I’d just rather have everyone call me Ian. Or McGibboney. That’s my name. I respond to it and not much else. And while I’m happy to call anyone whatever name or title they prefer, I only wish that other people would accord me the same respect.

More than once, a friend of mine has ordered their child to call me “Mr. Ian,” even after I told the child they could just call me Ian. The parents would object, saying that their child is going to learn manners. And in those situations I always think, well, how respectful is it to address someone by something that they know makes that person uncomfortable?

And that question gets to the core of why many traditional Southern mannerisms gnaw at me so badly — because in many cases, they’re simply facades.

Even that wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t all that counted. Again, I consider myself a good guy who always has a smile for people. But when the (often-unspoken) rules override actual person-to-person respect, things just get ridiculous.

It’s my hope that society in general begins to favor genuine respect over stilted respect, meshing the best of Southern mannerisms with good hearts and a real love for all people. If we forget a word or custom here or there, we’ll be decent enough to let it slide. Because we will be decent people.

If we can accomplish that, my hat’s off to us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Conservative humor = restive HUAC moron (V)

In my ongoing quest to find some biting conservative humor, I stumbled upon what is clearly among the top sources for such: the aptly named Conservative Humor. And I have to say, it's a doozy! Here are some experts on a diverse array of hot topics:

On gay marriage:
Wedding celebration these days have more extravagant and the dream of having a fairytale wedding still exists in many people’s mind. Besides that, many wedding suppliers have also emerged along with various contemporary and traditional ideas. Whether colorful or simple, sophisticated or traditional there are many types of weddings and an irresistible variety of wedding stationery items to suit every style and budget. 

On illegal immigration:
Are you visiting Miami soon? Make sure you choose a Miami rental cars company so that your vacation is smooth and comfortable. Miami is often seen swarmed with visitors, as there are many places of attractions such as Miami metro zoo, Miami’s children museum, Jungle Island and plenty of beaches. If you want to relish this magical city to the extreme then consider renting a car in Miami.

On those mollycoddled, overpaid athletes:
What are free sports picks and how can they help you? There are many websites where you can get free sports picks and the predictions for the upcoming matches. Handicappers can advise you, guide you and prevent you from making a wrong choice. Sport handicappers do a thorough research on an everyday basis for NFL, NBA, baseball, college football and basketball. Finding sports picks is not an easy task therefore it is always suggested to start with free sports picks. 

On the decimated real estate market:
If you live in Orange County California, think of consulting any good Orange County property management service company to make your rental maintenance stress-free. It’s such a relief to know your rent payments are on time and you don’t have to deal with that!Orange County Property Management Service Providers Take the Stress Out of Your Investment

On the need for gated communities (and illegal immigration, again):
Smart homes make people happy! Spic and span homes speak a lot about the individuals residing in them.

And perhaps funniest of all:
This Domain is for Sale... Here are some articles to keep the site indexed.


Monday, November 22, 2010

More odd facts about your blogger friend

1) I have a master’s degree, but I’ve never taken the SAT.

2) I didn’t set foot outside of the southern United States until I was 19.

3) Until the set I got this year, every license plate I’ve ever used had 2 as the first number. A vast majority of my family’s plates also started with 2. All of my plates have expired in February, even if I didn’t buy the car then.

4) My ideal career, based on the things I like most, is truck driver. That doesn’t mean, however, that I want to be a truck driver.

5) Throughout my entire childhood, there was never a doubt in my mind that I would become a professional athlete. I didn’t even dream about it; I just took it as a given.

6) People in Missouri generally assume I’m local, whereas people in my hometown ask me where I’m from.

7) I’ve worn a tie twice in the last four years. I prefer it that way.

8) A decade apart, my mom and I both did the old KLFY-TV 10 news bumper, “Stay tuned for more news with Jim/Chuck and Maria.”

9) I had a chance to meet/possibly appear in a WWF skit with The Rock 12 years ago, and I declined it. I am stupid.

10) Almost every woman I’ve dated was a brunette. It just worked out that way for some reason.

11) When I was 5, I decided I looked stupid smiling in pictures, so I came up with a new expression. And so there are many pictures of me floating around from that time where it looks like my jaw is broken.

12) I went vegetarian for about two months in 2004, and it was the most weight I ever gained. It was the only time people ever came up to me and went, “What happened to YOU?”

13) I take that back. It happened again when I whittled myself down to a skeletal 144 pounds during a long period of unemployment, warehouse work and bike-riding.

14) Almost every really good friend I have today was the outcast at their high school. Ironic, considering I was pretty popular then (which is itself ironic).

15) I love chronology. Whenever I read about an important event, I like to imagine where I was at that exact moment, and I often can remember. I find it fascinating to watch footage of Super Bowl XII while knowing that, 100 miles away, my mom was about to give birth to her first child. Stuff like that.

16) Some of my fondest memories are things I did completely alone and never told anyone about. Like spending a day walking around Kansas City.

17) A handful of my memories are things I can't remember if I did them or if I just dreamed about doing them.

18) I sometimes call people the name of who I think they look like. This is always an
accident, and it's almost always a compliment. Still, I constantly worry about doing this on a date. Because sometimes they look like someone else I dated.

19) I often think 10 moves/associations ahead, so sometimes I'm hard to follow. But if you asked me to backtrack from one topic to another, it'll make perfect sense.

20) I can run into people I haven't seen in 20 years and they will recognize me immediately. Which is weird, because my face, clothing choices and the shape and even color of my hair have changed since then.

21) It's very hard for me to watch the beginning of some of my favorite movies. Because it feels like the bus could have stayed under 50, you know?

22) On my 6th birthday, I went on a present-opening frenzy. After the first several unwraps, my grandmother fussed at me to stop. “Those are your brother’s presents!” Huh?!! Story of my life. (Though, to be fair, I had myself gotten a present on his 6th birthday two years before. But still. STILL.)

23) I have a strong memory, but it doesn’t always serve me well. For example, I have a scar on my lip from when I was 3 years old. Officially, it happened when I was chasing my brother around our house and I slipped and slammed against the corner of a room. I remember it happening at McDonald’s after I shoved a kid off a playland stool and took his place, and he apparently shoved back. In any event, I remember sitting next a bathroom mirror while my mom and some other woman freaked out over my bloody, screaming mouth. I also remember thinking, that blood is spelling out numbers on my lip. Who knows what that’s all about?

24) I once got disciplined in my preschool class for refusing to eat a banana with a giant bruise on it. I was told that I was being wasteful and essentially was not keeping an open mind about food. Well, that last part was and is true, but I love bananas. Just not with bruises.

25) I’m determined to make some positive change in the world.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A thought I had today while being destroyed in basketball

"Make it take it" is a very Republican game. It rewards the people who already have all the advantages, and leaves the other side struggling to defend the entire time.

Though I did notch four points in four games. And no one can take that away. Hah!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The World is a Rainbow...sorry, bigots

My class sang and performed a dance to this song in second grade, back in 1987-88. I hadn't heard it again until recently. It brings back happy memories and I think it's a sweet, solid song in general.

The song, by Greg & Steve, celebrates diversity: "It takes all kinds of people / To make the world go round... So you be you, and I'll be me / That's the way we were meant to be... The world is a mixing cup / Just look what happens when you stir it up."

Looking back, I'm pretty surprised it flew in my south Louisiana school. Granted, we were very diverse and I remember my teacher, Mrs. Chiquelin, teaching me a lot about the world. Still, I'm pretty sure I could have written these lyrics as a column in college and been castigated for being a self-hating white person, like I was that one time.

But like the song says, it takes all kinds of people. You be you. And I'll be me. 

Thank you, Mrs. Chiquelin.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Question about the new airport security

If you develop a lump in your scrotum from all the radiation, will that count as a suspicious package?

A basic rule of parenting, revised

"Never let anyone touch you in the bathing-suit area. Not a stranger. Not even a family member. If they do so, don't be afraid to tell us, a teacher, a police officer or someone else you trust. Touching people in their sensitive areas is a crime and you must never accept it!

"Except when the unsmiling people with blue suits on do it in front of everyone in a crowded airport line. That's called security.

"Either way, it's not your fault."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Haley to the Chief

To a doctor! Scat!

As rude as this society is, I also think we’re too polite.

Case in point: last week, I came down with conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye. I’m still not sure exactly where it came from, but I suspected I had contracted it while playing flag football with 13 other people. Before yesterday’s pair of games (both of which my team won handily), I asked the crew if any of them had suffered from it last week. All of them said no. And then a couple of them began laughing.

To backtrack for a minute: all week long, people I told about my infection had one or both of the following reactions: 1) calls to get the holy hell away from me and/or 2) barely concealed snickering. The first I understood completely. The second? Not so much.

I’ve had pinkeye only once before, about four years ago. Back then, it came from touching something (probably my bathroom sink) that someone infected had touched. No shock there for anyone.

This time, though, people began insinuating things. “You know where pinkeye comes from, right?”

Actually, no I didn’t. I began scouring medical websites and went to a nearby walk-in clinic to have it treated. The information they gave me about the condition spoke in vague, family-friendly terms.

And so the wink-wink jokes continued, unabated. And I was as clueless as ever. I didn’t get the giggly implications. Weren't they thinking of mono?

Finally, a friend of mine not known for her filter said out loud, “YOU GET IT FROM SHIT IN YOUR EYE!”

Another friend chimed in on Facebook: “Did someone fart bare-assed on your pillow?” Apparently, this is a reference to Knocked Up, which gives me one more reason to hate that movie.

So there you have it. My clean-freak and non-freak nature somehow still bit me in the...eye. I still have no idea how I got pinkeye, and I’m not really clamoring to find out. I’m just laundering everything I own and counting the seconds until I can put my contacts back in (172,800...172,799...172,798...).

Back to yesterday’s football game: beforehand, I mentioned to a teammate how naive I felt not knowing that pinkeye is a fecal-based infection. He said, “I didn’t know that either. It could be caused by something else, couldn’t it?” Still, he couldn’t resist yelling across the field, “YOU SHIT IN YOUR EYE?”

Another teammate later asked, “Did you fart on your pillow or something?” Thanks again, Judd Apatow!

The whole thing got me to thinking about our collective urge to sanitize things (metaphorically speaking). For example, look at any commercial for hemorrhoid cremes or pads, Metamucil or Summer’s Eve, and you won’t know from watching the commercials what they’re for. As a kid, I used to think Tucks pads were for snuffing out matches.

And don’t even get me started on Metamucil. “You too can be regular for the rest of your life.” But my teacher said I was special!

I think it’s our quest to be as coy about gross stuff as possible that kept me from knowing what really caused pinkeye and allowed the snickering to continue unabated for so many days. Most of what I read explained the condition without alluding to any actual cause. Kind of how a child’s earliest lessons in reproduction leave out sex altogether.

The same could be said of walking a dog. I was a teenager before I knew that “walk” was a euphemism for “poo.”

So, yeah, I think we’re too eager to clean up the dirty truth about our lives. And that makes me look like I don’t know shit. And that just makes me red. Or pink. You get the idea.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When I was a child, I believed this

Chickens have meat on their bones because they eat meat. And so when we cook them, we eat the meat that they ate.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Things that suck about having pinkeye

• Having an eyeball that looks like John Cusack's after he was exposed to nuclear radiation in "Fat Man and Little Boy," and probably feels the same way.

• The interesting phenomenon whereas a slightly swollen eye can make your sinuses, ears and entire body feel like it's been given a black eye. Literally.

• Four-year-old magic glasses with Headache-O-Vision that not only are too weak of a prescription, but are also lopsided since I stepped on them yesterday afternoon.

• The way I look in glasses.

• Increased sensitivity to the sun (not that seeing the sun has been much of an issue).

• Having your friends and co-workers tell you to stay the hell away from them. But with an excuse this time.

• Dry workplace air.

• The way I have to remember to sanitize my hands every time I subconsciously touch my face.

• Slathering my eyeballs with antibiotic drops that contain, among other ingredients, sulfuric acid.

• One word: discharge.

• How everyone assumes that you got it in some illicit, embarrassing way. And how saying you probably got it from playing flag football or from your sister's boyfriend actually digs your hole deeper.

• How the bacteria seems to know it's about to lose its contagious properties, and thus is tempting me harder than ever to rub my eye and reach out and touch someone.

• Everything, really.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Seein' a bright future ahead

By Earl “Clem” Bob
Tea party contributor

Hi! Hope y’all like my new picture! Clem ain’t one of the beautiful people, but what I am is a hard-workin’, salt-of-the-Earth taxpayer. And like all proud Americans, I hate the fact that I’m workin’ hard to pay taxes.

You’ll notice that I’m wearin’ eyeglasses now. I’ve actually needed them for a while, but I lost my benefits back in 2006 when my employer had to cut costs in anticipation of the midterm Democrat apocalypse. Good thing he did it, too, ’cause who knows if I’d still have a job today! We all have to make sacrifices, and keep making them until they tell you to stop. At this rate, I imagine I’ve racked up lots of good fortune for somebody. And the fact that I did my part to curb the damage of the Pelosi criminal SIN-DICK-ate (copyright Clem) is far better medicine than affordable health care.

So you’re probably wonderin’ how I got my snazzy new frames. Well, this group called Bright Vision visited my neighborhood, set up a medical tent and accepted all comers, no questions asked. Everyone in the trailer park was there! It was like a big block party, but with dentists and optometrists and whatnot. They fitted me with a pair of donated glasses, and I’ll tell ya, I’ve never seen sharper in my life. Hell, I didn’t even know Jim Cramer had facial hair! Not to mention, my headaches are finally going away. It’s downright amazing how much better I feel. After a long enough time in discomfort, you forget how wonderful comfort is.

Don’t get me wrong, though — nothin’ bends my pitchfork like people trying to get somethin’ for nothin’. It makes me sick to see these bleedin’-heart liberals always trying to help those who don’t deserve it. Hey Democrats, stop coddling lazy people!

But it’s great to see people get help when they really deserve it, like me and my neighbors. We’re just a bunch of folks doing what we can and goin’ through hard times. I’ve always said that if someone would only listen to our stories, they’d understand how hard it is out there. I’m grateful that Bright Vision listened, and didn’t waste their time on the riff-raff. Let the free market take care of those freeloaders.

Speakin’ of midterms and freeloaders:

WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!! We sure Got-R-Did, didn’t we? I haven’t seen that many Democrats fall at one time since the Annual Run With Your Shoes Tied Together Race for Democrats.

OK, so I don’t do so good with jokes. Ol’ Clem’s better with the truth.

Like anyone with half a brain, I could see the bloodbath coming. And so I hosted a party for all my friends. I went all out, too — I bought some bunting and balloons, and cleaned up my backyard. That meant selling my beloved 1979 F-100 for scrap, but that just gave me money to buy beer. And anyway, I’ve still got the ’82 F-100 on blocks in the shed.

I set up my barbecue grill and cooked up some franks and hamburgers. The wife baked an angel food cake and wanted to decorate it with a flag, but she only had red frosting, so we made it into a bloodbath cake. That’s more appropriate for the evening anyway, we figured.

We also had a variation of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but it involved Democrats and pinning the doorknob on the ass on their way out. Maybe you had to be there.

And of course, I made damn sure I had my TV out in the backyard with Fox News on to track the returns. It goes without sayin’ that Fox is my favorite network, because it’s a refreshing conservative alternative to the the liberally biased mainstream media. Also, it’s fair and balanced.

My TV ain’t one of those flatscreens, but that just goes to show you that I’m no looter.

The party was an absolute riot, but one crazy thing happened. Turns out my neighbor Sharon’s friend is dating that guy I’m always talkin’ about who drives that Toyota Penis hybrid. And all three came by. You could feel the energy deflate the moment he walked in. See, he’s known around town for bein’ really weird. First off, he’s a public-school teacher, so we already don’t trust him. Second, he doesn’t even eat meat or dairy products. What’s that called? Vigo? Vegan? Vagina? I don’t know. Third, he has a way of looking at things that irritates all of us. And I don’t mean because he’s a proud liberal, though that’s part of it.

It’s hard to explain, but here’s how it went down:

For most of the night, we gave the Penis driver all sorts of heck, like flipping the plate of cake he was holding, asking how it feels to live off taxpayer money and snarling, “How that’s hopey-changey thing workin’ out, commie?” Just good-natured ribbing. You’d think all that, combined with news of the throttling on Fox, would have had him flippin’ his lid. I think all of us were secretly hopin’ for it. After all, what’s a good party without a clown?

But instead, he remained quiet and polite, and walked outside. After a while, I went lookin’ for him. I didn’t really care about him, but a few people said they were concerned that he might have gone home, thus deprivin’ us of entertainment. I found him on the porch, not moving or saying a word. He was lookin’ up at the night sky, which gets pretty starry out in these parts. Sometimes I go outside on nights like these and gaze at the stars, which gets me to wonderin’ if aliens know Jesus. Anyway, Penis guy was just settin’ there, and I could see a single tear glistening on his face, like that Indian from that old commercial who was in Ernest Goes to Camp.

“You all right, Penis guy?” I asked him. “I hope we haven’t made you too upset. We’s just playin’.”

“No, it’s OK,” he replied. “I walked right into this situation. My name’s Wes, by the way.”

“Nice too meet you, Wuss,” I said.

“Wes. No, I’m just sad. Sad that our elections have all the pomp and deep division of a World Cup match, and that people value winning above what’s best for the country. And that such an electoral tide surges on reactionary feelings and deliberate ignorance, fed by a media that would rather tell people what they want to hear than what they need to hear.”

“People are fed up with the excesses of both parties, especially the Democrats,” I told him. “That’s why they’re so mad. And if saving this country from utter ruin makes them feel good, then why shouldn’t they celebrate that?”

“Two reasons,” he blabbered. “One, the Republican candidates, tea party or not, campaigned largely on the idea that government and career politicians were the problem. Now that they’re in office, they’re going to have to work within the system, and with many of the politicians that they despise so much. And who knows what they’re going to accomplish, because their platforms were little more than, end, stop, obstruct.”

“Well, I see nothin’ wrong with that,” I said. “Obama and his insidious agenda deserve to be stopped. He’s gonna look like a bad president come 2012 because we’re gonna make sure he gets nothin’ done. And that’s when we’re gonna make our ultimate statement by electin’ someone to the White House who’ll care less about the parties and more about the Constitution. Someone like Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney.”

And that’s where Wuss gets my goat every time.

“But that’s exactly what won’t happen, will it? That’s my second point. The more obstructive the Republicans are, the more Americans will realize that they aren’t doing anything to make their plight better. And if short-memory voters and tea partiers carry any consistency at all in their views, they’ll want the GOP out in 2012 as surely as they wanted the Democrats out this time around. Otherwise, it will just expose the tea partiers as closet Republicans who simply despise the Democrats and the Obama administration in particular, who pretend their new movement is about issues that have been around for years. And their continued support of incompetent, far-right incumbents will make all their bluster seem hypocritical.”

“I’m fed up with both parties —”

“I know. Especially the Democrats, right?”


“I’ll bet you’re happy to see so many longtime Democrats thrown out this cycle.”

“Ya betcha!”

“Well, consider this: most of the Democrats who lost big races came from moderate-right districts, and were Blue-Dog Democrats. By and large, they were the ones who actually kept a lot of big-ticket progressive reforms from happening. So in those cases, having a Republican in those seats makes little difference, except that there’s now the off chance that the new officeholder might not be as rigid, ideologically speaking.

“In any event, the pressure is now on your guys to deliver everything they said they would, such as jobs, an alternative health care plan and streamlined government spending. And it’s only fair to expect it all within two years, because that’s exactly the window you gave your opposition. I sincerely hope they can deliver. If they can, I’ll even consider voting for them the next time around.”

Before I could think of a retort, he thanked me for everything and went home. I guess he felt awkward standing there for several minutes waiting for me to say something. But Ol’ Clem just couldn’t quite get the words out. That’s what happens whenever I have so much to say that I don’t know where to begin.

And that’s what irritates me about Wuss the Penis guy: even in defeat, he won’t blow his top. Instead, he just rationalizes. I can only wish I had an ability to live in such deep, deep denial.

I also wish I knew what the hell the World Cup was. Now that I can see, I should look it up. Maybe after Glenn Beck.

This thought came up in a phone conversation

In the past few days, I've heard and read lots of conservative anger over President Obama's trip to India, namely how much it costs. How he shouldn't spend that much on a trip when Americans are hurting.

Because if there's one thing conservatives are known for, it's being worried that money is being spent on all the wrong things, like excessive overseas excursions, instead of using that money here at home to help those who the economy wrung dry. 


Friday, November 05, 2010

Stuff I found in my e-mail, part 1

As I've mentioned before, I'm on a quest to find out who my first-ever friend was on Facebook. To that end, I scoured my earliest Gmail pages for any leads. I found a confirmation e-mail from "thefacebook.com" dated June 5, 2005 (aha!), but no friend-adding e-mails follow for quite some time. I remember in those days that you wouldn't get a notification for a new message, so they must not have had them for friend-adding either at that point. The quest continues.

On a better note, having a Gmail account and being a pack-rat are good ways to uncover some hidden treasures from the past. I first set up my current e-mail address on Aug. 31, 2004. That was back when Gmail was in its beta phase, a curiosity that required an invite to join. I didn't use it much in the beginning, being that I had a Hotmail address that everyone had known for years. At the time, the Gmail draw was the nearly unlimited space you had for attachments. And as I got more intensely into writing and graphics, I found myself using the service more and more. And being that this was before Facebook and MySpace really caught on, I was on the e-mail horn with my friends constantly. (And given that 2004-2005 was a dense period of dating for me, lots of love and drama ensued online as well.)

So now, I share with you the first installment of stuff I found in my e-mail. This edition encompasses only the first two pages, from August 2004 to July 2005.

Sometime around late 2004, several of my friends and I hatched a serious plan to start an alternative magazine at the University of Louisiana. Most of us worked for the newspaper there, but others were artists and other friends who wanted to make their impact as well. We held meetings every Sunday afternoon for more than a semester, and at one point nearly secured financial backing. It didn't work out, though some of us still talk about our "air magazine" to this day, The Undermind.

I didn't design our logo, but I played with it a ton, integrating it into all manner of stoopid graphics. The one above, which probably took me two minutes to make, uses the photo from my first-ever blog banner (a flipped version of a photo my mom took of me in our hallway around 2002 — apparently I once considered this a good shot).

One week, everyone designed or conceived a dummy cover. This one, dated Dec. 31, 2004, was mine:

Ronja was the woman I was dating at the time, though she wasn't involved with the project. I used a photo I'd recently taken of her at an upscale ice-cream shop (and a cringeworthy Maxim-inspired pun) to make this mock-up. It mostly went over well, though half of our group objected to all the words on the cover. Turns out people alternatively envisioned The Undermind as a magazine, a literary journal and a comic book. Despite the rift, I held fast.

One of my friends, a fellow writer who shared my defiant streak, wanted to start a feature titled, "Where Not To Go." It would chronicle places with bad products and services. That would surely have cut down on our advertising, but I had a plan for that. Fake ads and PSAs such as this one:

Oh, and everyone insisted that our first feature involve me posing nude for a figure-drawing class. I was going to call it "Comic Strip."

In the back of my mind, I still think this (meaning the magazine, not that story pitch) is a great idea in some form. Who knows what the future will hold?

That's surely what was on my mind when either my parents or my sister took this picture of me at Joe's Crab Shack on our way to see a Saints game in 2002. I was thinking playoffs, and also that I had a major final the next day. The Saints would win against the Bucs on ESPN, but defy astronomical odds to miss the playoffs. At least I made an A on my exam.

I had sent that pic to a girl I'd met through my blog as an "old" picture; she called it "adorable."

These two blog banners are representative of a time when I'd change them for special occasions. They were part of an elaborate April Fool's joke that I will explain in further detail with the soon-to-be-released Not Right Best of 2005 collection. Long story short, the top banner is meant to resemble a fading, graffiti-strewn billboard layered with real banners I'd used up to that point (the idea being I'd abandoned the site), and the bottom banner is the one that signaled the new direction of the blog under my fictitious conservative cousin Jacob.

Who knows what I'll dig up next?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Health care: Do not take when sick

I'm reading a lot of articles (mainly from the AP) suggesting that the midterm election results were a referendum on the fact that Obama overreached with his reforms. In other words, that people felt our economy was too fragile to enact health care reform, etc.

I call shenanigans on this. I have no doubt that those opposed to health care reform do so on principle, and would have objected to it if we still economically partied like it was 1999. 

When George W. Bush first proposed his tax cuts in 2000, he said that it was because we had a surplus and the taxpayers deserved to have it back. When the economy tanked in epic proportions, he said we needed the same kind of tax cuts to bring us out of it. No matter what the problem (or non-problem) was, regressive tax cuts were always the answer.

And that's how it is with Obama's reforms. We're told we can't afford them in a bad economy, and we'll most likely be told in better times that such a measure would be too costly. In between, there are all the stupid charges of Marxism and socialism.

How convenient that nothing Obama proposes ever has an appropriate time or place. But tax kickbacks for the big boys? Always in style.

Comment sense

OK, I’ve got to put my foot down.

As long as I’ve been writing, I’ve had my critics. Any writer who’s worth a damn does. I’m sure at least one person told Dr. Seuss that “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” was a juvenile, nonsensical work. Not that I’m Dr. Seuss, of course. He wasn’t a blogger. And I’d never write a book where the moral high ground lies in eating moldy eggs and ham.

When I was a college columnist, I received a letter titled, “I’m calling you out, Ian.” It came from a blogger who was an early sparring partner of mine, but who gave up the blog ghost many years ago. In fact, most of the bloggers against which I sharpened my razor in the early days have long since vanished. Most got bored, I presume, though at least one changed his name and started a new blog about his supposed three-ways with his neighbors. When I told him that blog was far better than his old one, he pretended not to know who I was. Uh-huh.

Some critics, however, have gone the distance. Naturally, these aren’t the people who value civilized dissent, but single-minded purveyors of Why Ian Sucks. It’s a real fish-in-a-barrel type argument, which is why it apparently takes five years to make. If you’ve ever read a comment thread here, you know who they are:

Mr. All Day: “Ian McGibboney is a hypocrite! He calls tea partiers crybabies when he himself cried on the morning of June 14, 1983. I found a killer picture of it while trolling his mom’s Facebook profile for several hours. And he has the nerve to say the Republicans should work with Obama! Has he ever worked with Obama? Hypocrite. In Ian’s own words, ‘9/11 happened.’ Nutter.”

Galt Bladder, Ph.D.: “Ian McGibboney is an ipso facto elitist. He engages in reductio ad absurdum arguments whenever he suggests that the U.S. should have a government. Society is a myth. True utopian freedom lies in the people’s ability to purchase things on the free market and let businesses decide whether or not it’s good business to inject lead into their customers. If they don’t like it, they can shop elsewhere. When people shop for the lead they want, it’s the lead they get that solves the self-correcting burden of regulation. BAM. Problem solved, without such coercive measures as taxes or the tyranny of voting. And if you don’t agree, it’s because you are unable to grasp a fork to feed yourself, much less exhibit any sign of sentient thinking. Igpay atlinlay.”

The Joke Off: “Ian McGibboney is a LIBERAL! I owned him so long ago that now I just come on several times a day posting pointless links and snide remarks that I mistake for humor. Because I’m a clown. It’s right there in my name. I like when people have facts to back up what they say, which is why I never actually say anything. Well, I gotta get back to work. I have a job :)”

So it goes, day after day after day. And you know, it kind of sucks. I love connecting with like-minded friends and debating differently minded friends, but the kind of crap slightly caricatured above serves no real purpose. And frankly, I’m tired of dealing with it. I don’t blog on a regular basis only to have it bombarded by the same one-note trick ponies like so many cold sores. And I don’t really need hourly reminders that people like these are who keep us from having things like affordable health care. I thought I was past this juvenile bully blowhard phase (after all, I’m not 13), but it seems more alive than ever.

So I’m going to do my part to elevate the level of discourse by being more discretionary in the kind of comments I allow posted, and the level of conversation I allow myself to get sucked into. In other words, the guys above are right out. If you don’t like it, fuss on your own blog. Or e-mail me if you’re really desperate to get into the same circular-jerky arguments. I won’t guarantee I’ll play along, but I will save your messages for my amusement (and possibly a hilarious compilation mix later).

This won’t be an echo chamber, but neither will it be a vomitorium. And I hope that my new standards will make Not Right About Anything a more classy and smart place to be.

Just like the good old days.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tonight explained in four sentences

People fed up with the mess left by the previous administration and past Congresses got so mad at the politicians who are trying to fix the situation that they decided to throw the bums out and elect people to government who hate government and who will serve incompetently to prove government is the problem. 

After two years of gridlock, they'll campaign on the notion that Obama is an ineffective president, and thus the solution is even more Republicans and more "common folk" to fix what they broke in the first place. 

That strategy will probably succeed because the flaws in this logic are given legitimacy by the media because the people spewing them are loud and insistent, and brilliant at exploiting the legitimate fears of Americans that they mostly caused in the first place.



So...have the Republicans thought this far ahead?

Heard on the radio just now

"So, there's the midterm election tonight, and there's also another election, on Dancing With the Stars!"

Sweet Jesus.

My hopes for today

I hope that a fierce sense of civic duty drives you to vote, regardless of what your volume level has been during this alleged “enthusiasm gap.”

I hope that you’re swayed by independent research and a healthy dose of skepticism, and not by the amount of fancy fliers and trinkets thrown your way.

I hope that you aren’t swayed by a national media that amplifies voter discontent instead of finding out if said discontent has any basis in fact.

I hope that you don’t listen to the demagogues whose job it is to toe their party’s line to ludicrous (and laughable) extremes.

I hope that you’ve pulled yourself away from the choir long enough to hear what the other side is preaching.

I hope conservatives vote their true values and feelings instead of the reactionary hate and spite that has come to define their ideology.

I hope liberals realize that change is not easy or immediate — but even with that in mind, much has been done and much remains to fight for.

I hope that you vote for, not against.

I hope you can’t explain your choices in a few words. In fact, take all day. Critical thinking doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker.

I hope that abstract, manufactured disgust over “career politicians” and “government spending” and the notion that “both parties are exactly alike” don’t replace common sense and merit on your electoral barometer.

I hope you celebrate if your people and party win — because you care about your country, not just because you want to win or because you derive joy from seeing your opposition squirm.

I hope you treat your vote not as the end, but as the beginning.

Most of all, I hope no one assumes that this election has been decided until the last polling station closes its doors. Because your ballot is the voice that reverberates the loudest.

So get out and vote. Now.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Fall guy

I can't believe it's already November. Just wanted to register that while preparing Election Day material.