Friday, October 31, 2014

Revised Saints prediction, part VI

10-6

(Last week: 8-8 or 9-7)

THEY DID IT ON THE ROAD!!!

What, win? Yeah, that too. But also, play their best game of the season so far. And they did it a scant five days after their other best game of the year.

These past two games are what every Saints fan expected coming into this year. Both sides of the ball, though not without their weaknesses, look very much alive. And in the NFL, momentum counts. I expect New Orleans to stay somewhat uneven, but with a three-week home stand ahead and the road monkey off their backs (and a favorable schedule in general), running away with the division and a playoff berth seem conceivable now. 

What a weird season. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Walking in a woman's shoes

A new video has rightfully lit up the Internet:

 

Many guys are asking what the big deal is that guys are telling her she's beautiful or to smile or whatever. I presume they consider harassment to be only what happens in the first few minutes of an episode of Law & Order: SVU

Allow me to clear it up for you bros, since this video apparently wasn't enough.

It's obvious that you're only talking to her because you think she's hot, and that she owes you something because of it. I don't recall this many people feeling chatty when I went to New York City. For the most part, I wasn't subject to pleas to talk or smile. No men blew past me saying, "Damn!" or, "You don't wanna talk?" Certainly, nobody flanked me for several disturbing minutes. 

No, this isn't about friendliness. This is desperate and unnerving. I'd call it having no game, but that implies that there's a game to be played, which is part of the problem with your thinking.

Successful communication is a function of time, place and circumstance. Most importantly, it requires two people who want to talk to each other. In this instance, it's prudent to think before you cat-call: "This woman is trying to get somewhere. To do so, she has to navigate a gauntlet of horny and potentially dangerous strangers, of which I am a part. So should I let her know how beautiful she is?" 

No. You should not. 

Women are subject to harassment and more subtle power plays on a daily basis from men. By and large, they are the ones more likely to be attacked. And worse, a pervasive cultural sentiment is that women deserve any predatory behavior forced upon them. So at least try to understand why they want guys to leave them alone when conducting their business. 

It's not about you; it's about the danger you represent. Opening your mouth only reinforces that notion in her mind. The best thing you can do to reassure her is to say nothing. Be polite. Be decent.

If you're still struggling, think about any time a complete stranger came up to you and went off on some tangent. Even if the person was friendly, wasn't it unsettling somehow? Didn't you question what would motivate them to do such a thing? Didn't you wonder what other impulses they might break out? 

That's just the tip of the iceberg for women, and you'll likely never fully understand the scope of that fear. But you can take steps to not add to that fear.

Empathy and decency are beautiful traits.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Not Right digital short: Remote

Vote. Don't not vote.

In these politically polarized times, we should all agree on one thing:

Voting matters.

I understand why some people think voting isn’t worth the effort. It requires either a trip to your polling place or going through the process of early or absentee balloting. The effect isn’t immediately apparent. You tend not to have the option of voting for a clone of yourself who will solve all of the problems in an ideological vacuum.

In other words, voting isn’t the sexiest mechanism. It won’t accomplish everything that people often project upon it as an ideal. But ultimately, it’s what matters most directly. You can stand on the sidewalk all day and scream your lungs out, and it might (might) attract substantial attention, but it won’t count at the ballot box. All the fervor in the world won’t put your candidate in office if enough people don’t contribute to the count.

Say what you want about the supposed influence of big money and big power on elections (and there is much to say about that), but ultimately all those millions are spent and all those favors are done for a single purpose — to attract votes. Because those votes are what allow leaders to assume, and maintain, power.

The fact is, there are people who want others to not vote. They know their own vote matters, and they want it to matter more by discouraging turnout among their ideological opponents. Don’t fall for it. Whatever you believe in, stand up and be counted.

It’s often said, “If you don’t vote, you don't have a right to complain.” The good news is, you can do both in America.

So, vote!

When PR goes poorly

Immediately following last night's Cowboys-Indigents game, Washington quarterback Colt McCoy gave a lighthearted interview that ended with head coach Jay Gruden giving his substitute star a hug at his brother Jon's joking request. McCoy then stopped by ESPN Deportes reporter John Sutcliffe, seemingly eager to give another quick interview. Suddenly, a guy in a suit yanked McCoy away, essentially shoved the surprised reporter out the way and barked, "No means no!" in his direction. (Sutcliffe did, in fact, eventually land an interview.)

Watching this live made me perhaps angrier than it should have. But I couldn't get it out of my mind. It's probably my twin biases of having been a reporter (including football) and having once been physically thrown against a fence by an overzealous volunteer marshal at a college track meet (I was videotaping an event, and apparently I sort of crossed an invisible line I didn't know about).

Like most of us, I learned soon after that the offender in question is Tony Wyllie, a public-relations official for the Washington franchise. In other words, a man whose job description is presenting his company in the best possible light at all times. (Though given how many gaffes the team named the Redskins for God's sake has rolled off the assembly line lately, maybe this lapse in judgment isn't all too shocking.)

I get that people in these situations need handlers, and that sometimes you have to be stern to get them where they need to be in time. But there are better ways to do it than to manhandle people. In 2002, I was covering a meeting at the Louisiana State Capitol for a reporting class. Afterward, I stood among a reporter scrum with then-Gov. Mike Foster. He continued to talk through two or three exhortations by his assistant to head over to his next meeting. She was increasingly firm to the point of grabbing his arm at the last moment, but was almost apologetic to us, because she realized we had a job to do too.

Maybe Wyllie is normally that way, I don't know. Maybe the fact that we saw it live overly amplified its effect. And I suppose the "No means no!" cry can divide people among cheerleaders, critics and/or those who found it hilarious. On its own, it's kind of silly. But after seeing Wyllie manhandle two people in excess of what the situation required, I wasn't in the mood to laugh. 

I've noticed from reading articles and tweets about this incident that almost nobody mentions his heavy-handed actions toward the reporter. I guess people raised on a steady diet of prime-time TV think that's an occupational hazard. In a way it is, but angry hands should never be applied where words will do. 

In any case, I can't imagine why anybody thinks Wyllie's actions were laudable. (Homerism, maybe?) At best, they were regrettable and of the moment and at worst, they were a power trip. Nothing to celebrate either way.

Still, I'm glad Washington won.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Trick-or-treat turf turbulence

Here's the best TLDR you'll read all day (thought it's all worth it):

Dear Prudence,

I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country ... Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday?

— Halloween for the 99 Percent

Dear 99,

... Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks. Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.

— Prudie

I love this SO much.

For me, Halloween is an era frozen in time. I grew up in a neighborhood that was scary enough every other night of the year, and where the number of houses offering candy sufficiently withered to where I never trick-or-treated there again after age 7. (That year, I landed two tiny bags of Red Hots and a fun-size Butterfinger from two houses. You remember that sort of thing at an age where you don't yet have real problems.) After that, the emphasis was on having trick-or-treaters visit my grandparents' house (and occasionally mine next door). My grandfather had rigged a PA system into a plastic pumpkin he'd hang from his front awning. The light inside the pumpkin would dim ominously when we spoke into the microphone. Kids loved it so much that they followed that glowing beacon every year in droves, even though we were the only house on that entire block offering candy (and we were halfway down that block). I grew to enjoy watching kids' reactions to our words from a discreet spot behind the blinds, or holding the microphone looking like a creepy TV host upon opening the door. These days, I would have filmed the delighted reactions on my smartphone.

I only went trick-or-treating twice after age 7: once at the mall when I was 9, and again at either 14 or 15 when we took my little sister, then 4 or 5, to another neighborhood across town — not a rich one, but one plentiful with candy.

For us, this wasn't a pitchfork thing; it was a way to introduce a little girl to the fun of Halloween, something she could not experience in her own neighborhood. No one fussed, and I like to think that it was because the residents were nice people. But it probably didn't hurt that it looked like we belonged there.

Rich suburbanites complaining about trick-or-treaters is remarkably petty and hilarious in a "can you believe human beings think like this?" way. Treats are not expensive (after all, we bought plenty of snacks in our pumpkin-PA days), and who cares whose kids you're giving it to? We didn't request photo IDs from our visitors, though that sounds exactly like something these people would get behind.

As the economic divide gets worse in America, the wealthier among us are retreating more and more to outlying and/or gated communities (full disclosure: I live in a gated apartment complex, because most of them are gated here, but the gate annoys me, and anyway I am riffraff). One of the consequences of this is that different income brackets are interacting less and less, engendering fear, anger and distrust on all sides. For those on the extremes, Halloween could serve as a sort of social equalizer, if only for a couple of hours. Families who travel to better neighborhoods to trick-or-treat are looking to provide a better experience for the children. Those who live in such neighborhoods would be wise not to turn it into a lesson in affluent arrogance.

To quote Hank Hill: "Trick. Or. Treat. Trick. Or. Treat."

Revised Saints prediction, part V

8-8 or even 9-7 

(Last week: 5-11)

I know, I'm hedging here and perhaps am reading too much into the Saints playing a stellar game at home in prime time, which is just a thing they do.

But it's hard to ignore that they beat the Packers, a team not without its issues but still one of the best in the league. The Saints were solid in all aspects, especially in the second half, and the boisterous home crowd can only claim credit for so much of that. Maybe.

The difference in this game from all others this season is that the Saints looked truly inspired. Even in their other home wins this year, they seemed to be just hanging on. But this was a capital-W Win, looking like it wandered in from 2009 or 2011. Those teams knew how to win on the road, so it offers a glimmer of hope that this bipolar team might figure it out too.

A scant three days from now, the Saints hit the road to play the Panthers, with the division lead (!!) at stake. I don't doubt New Orleans could top Carolina easily at home on Sunday or Monday, but a road win on so little sleep is something they'll have to show they are capable of doing. If they can, I see them running (limping?) away with the division at 9-7. If not, they're going to continue to be the local darlings and road worriers at 8-8 (which still might win the putrid garbage pile that is the NFC South).

Either way, yesterday's game marks an apparent improvement in mojo that has me thinking the home stands could continue after all. The rest remains to be seen.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

When writers discourage writing

So I've decided to give National Novel Writing Month another shot this year. I did it in 2012, had a lot of fun, made many friends and did, in fact, hit the 50,000-word mark (though the story was far from finished, to say nothing of its quality).

I'm not sure yet if I'll continue with If That's What You Want or start something new. The manuscript might decide that for me. I wont bore you with that process, opting instead to bore you with what results from it.

Calling yourself a writer opens you up to all sorts of Brian Griffin jokes. George Carlin claimed running wasn't a sport because "My mother can run! You don't see her on the cover of Sports Illustrated!" Writing is very much like running — most people can do it, and it's healthy, but few work up to a professional skill level and even fewer can claim it as a legitimate meal ticket.

And like running, many people will groan if you're giving constant writing updates to everybody. Indeed, the very first article that comes up in a search of NaNoWriMo (after its official site) is titled, "Attention, #NaNoWriMo Fans: No One Cares How Your F***ing Novel Is Going." The premise of this article seems to be, "Keep your tedious novel updates of the Internet because no one cares, and there are cats to be seen." But I tend to err on the side of, "Let people ignore you." The logic about groaning over updates can apply to literally anything anyone shares. In that respect, people accomplishing a goal, like writing or running, tend to be ahead of the pack. I'm certainly more interested in that than in inside jokes or what someone's drinking at the moment. But those people can keep on posting too, because freedom of expression isn't governed by what I'm into.

That's a lesson that Laura Miller should heed. In her article "Better yet, DON’T write that novel: Why National Novel Writing Month is a waste of time and energy," she makes a multitude of claims that not only rub me the wrong way, but could permanently discourage promising writers:

"I am not the first person to point out that 'writing a lot of crap' doesn’t sound like a particularly fruitful way to spend an entire month, even if it is November."

Well, to quote Dave Grohl, "Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old f****** drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. And then they’ll f******* start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. Because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana. Just a bunch of guys that had some s***** old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy-a** s***, and they became the biggest band in the world. That can happen again!"

"Writing a lot of crap" is exactly how good stuff gets written. Even if the manuscript itself can't be saved, the practice is equity. I have piles and piles of awful writing in a closet allocated specifically for that purpose and on numerous thumb drives (and here) dating all the way back to childhood that ensured that some of what I write now is readable. Every creative process — hell, pretty much every process — requires this. Why on Earth would anyone discourage that?

"Why does giving yourself permission to write a lot of crap so often seem to segue into the insistence that other people read it? Nothing about NaNoWriMo suggests that it’s likely to produce more novels I’d want to read."

Ah, she's apparently inundated with manuscripts. Everybody can stop writing now.

"NaNoWriMo is an event geared entirely toward writers, which means it’s largely unnecessary. ... Writers are, in fact, hellishly persistent; they will go on writing despite overwhelming evidence of public indifference and (in many cases) of their own lack of ability or anything especially interesting to say."

I'm as self-motivated and hellishly persistent as any writer, but those 50,000 words I wrote in November 2012 would not have existed had I not jumped into the NaNoWriMo fray, where I got to meet fellow writers, received feedback and was motivated to try something different. Isolation fosters composing, but it isn't a virtue in and of itself. Indeed, some feedback during the process can help steer a story into readability before it has a chance to careen off the rails.

"Why not direct more attention, more pep talks, more nonprofit booster groups, more benefit galas and more huzzahs to readers? Why not celebrate them more heartily?"

Interesting logic that writers are supposedly narcissistic for seeking motivation but readers benefit from it. I have no problem with reading groups (which exist in droves), but let's be consistent here. Both writers and readers can function with a support group and both without. Everyone's different, and sometimes people are different within themselves. Why slam on people for doing what they want?

"After all, there’s not much glory in finally writing that novel if it turns out there’s no one left to read it."

Any good art is done with the intention of expression. Anything that comes after that is gravy. 

I've been writing long enough to have confidence in my processes — and to know which advice to heed and which to ignore. But I worry that someone else — a first-timer, perhaps — will read these anti-NaNoWriMo screeds and be discouraged from even trying. They'll think that writing is something they have to get perfect every time, and that interacting with peers is narcissism. They'll believe that they'll get lost in the fray and readers don't even want to have time for them. They'll take the words of an overworked literary critic at face value and snuff out their fire before they have a chance to strike the match.

Those are all the wrong reasons to quit.

I'd rather endure a million bad novels than kill one good one. Not everything can sell, but creativity is an infinite resource. If you have that drive, in any endeavor, try it! Even if no glory ever comes of it, you've added some color to the world — something to enjoy, dissect, talk about. Even if you or no one else ever sees it again, it's served a purpose. 

Just do it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

When feet and arms don't cost an arm and leg

Two years ago, when I was living in Baton Rouge, one of the feet on my laptop broke off. When I took it to the Apple Store, they told me the only way to fix it would be to replace the entire bottom panel. They were adamant that the feet weren't a standalone item. That prompted me to make this graphic:


Not long after, a second nub broke off. Being uninterested in dropping $87 for the privilege of fixing it (and having since acquired a ventilation support stand), I left it half-footed for the next two years. 

Fast-forward to last month. I brought my laptop to the Reno Apple Store to get a long-overdue new battery. The Genius Bar guy asked me if I wanted two new rubber feet while I was at it. He could just pop them on after putting in the battery, though they'd cost $10 extra. 

How I managed to say yes with my jaw dropped, I don't recall.

I don't know if enough people complained to Apple, or if the previous technician didn't know his stuff and/or assumed I didn't know mine, but I was glad that something I considered a lost cause had worked in my favor.

I was reminded of this yesterday as I set out to replace my rear windshield wiper. It's a custom item on my car that, for years, you had to buy as a complete piece from the dealership for $78. I got around this too-frequent expense by buying a wiper refill, cutting it to its nonstandard size and slipping it into the supposedly unrefillable arm. Apparently enough people did the same, so now you can buy the perfectly sized rubber refill from the dealership for $11 (and probably much cheaper elsewhere). I fixed it in minutes.

Both of these minor annoyances were once major expenses, and now they aren't. I like to think that these companies reached the limit of what customers would tolerate, and acted accordingly. Or that in being thrifty, I avoided a grift until it was a grift no longer.

Either way, it's the small victories that often get me through the day.

Dear mom who drives badly

Hi, I'm Ian. You cut me off twice within seconds in traffic yesterday — first when you sped up behind me on the on-ramp, giving me little space to merge where the second lane ended, and again when you jarred left and flew past me, preventing me from merging left (and nearly forcing me to make an unwanted exit).

When I turned to glower at you as you passed by, I noticed that not once did you swivel your head, in my or any other direction. That didn't surprise me, as many people who cause problems for others on the road tend not to be aware of their environment, like those baffling people who don't look toward oncoming traffic when making turns or walking across the street. What's up with that? I'm asking the wrong person, aren't I?

Anyway, as you screamed by me in your red minivan, I noticed that you had stickers representing your many children on the back. I'll bet you're a loving and devoted mother. You raise your children right, aim to keep them happy and healthy and would no doubt do anything to protect them from harm. You probably pack the latest in car-seat technology in that minivan of yours to ensure that end as far as transportation is concerned.

But apparently, no one else's children matter to you. Yes, I'm a grown man, but my own loving mother texted me throughout the day to send pictures and make sure I was doing all right. Because I'm her kid. 

I have no children of my own, but I try to treat everyone on the road fairly, not just out of common courtesy and decency, but because everyone matters to somebody. It's not just about "me and mine" on the road; it's about all of us being safe and reasonable. I get that. It's time you did as well.

If that means you have to think of me as a child, well, so be it. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Revised Saints prediction, part IV

5-11

(Last prediction: 6-10)

When the Saints were up 23-10 over the Lions in the fourth quarter, I was ready to adjust this to 9-7. I figured the Saints would win every home game and perhaps that one road game against the Lions. But after that gut-wrenching meltdown, I'm pretty sure they blew the best opportunity they'll have all year to take a road win. Seriously, they had zero excuses to lose that game. A lot had to go wrong, and it did. (To say nothing of how well-rested they were. That makes it that much worse.)

So now, I have no confidence they'll win any road games this year. And given what a loss like this does to a team's psyche, I expect it to seep into at least a few home stands as well.

The Saints are showing signs of life, but their inability to close only seems to be getting worse.

What a bummer time to be a Saints fan.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fear in the time of Ebola

Yesterday, Shepard Smith dropped the mic on the Ebola hysteria.

I expect that many people will accuse Smith of lowballing the threat of the deadly virus. They’ll accuse him of wishful thinking, delusions or even conspiracy. But that says more about us than about him.

To be sure, no one wants to catch Ebola. It’s a brutal virus with little recourse. An epidemic would be disastrous.

But after a week or so of hearing south Louisiana friends fret over how close Ebola is to them (“It’s one state away!”) while my Dallas friends and family have been mostly mum on the matter, I think there is another epidemic that is a far more immediate problem in the United States — lack of perspective.

Ebola is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids and needles. It is contagious only when a carrier shows symptoms. The amount of people who have tested positive for the virus in America can be counted on two hands. All of them had close contact either with the man who died in Dallas, or with another patient in a country embroiled in an epidemic. Apparent chaos and sloppy handling procedures at the Dallas hospital likely played a part in the viral spread there.

In other words, there is a very obvious logic to the spread. And with awareness bringing investigation and tighter medical protocols, it’s even less likely now to spontaneously pop up in every American.

Of course, that’s exactly what they want you to think, right? Smith wants you to calm down precisely because they’re hiding The Truth!

This mindset speaks to something wider I've had on my mind for awhile.

We're believing too much in what we want to be true, as opposed to what actually is.

Everyone has a primal desire to know something no one else knows; to be prepared for the the possibility of the deadliest threat; and to feel superior to someone who dropped the ball. They are sugar, salt and fat to the human mind. Mix them in the perfect ratio, as restaurants and snack makers do, and it’s hard to put down the fork. (It’s no surprise that such a diet breeds junkies — when it comes to conspiracy theories, no one can eat just one.)

The Ebola scare is a particularly potent recipe: “What is Shepard Smith hiding? I don’t want to die! Close the borders so this doesn’t happen again!”

Calm reassurance and appeals to logic face an uphill battle once that sweet spot’s been hit. Anyone convinced that teetering on the precipice of fear at all times is the only way to steer clear of violent death is not going to be talked down easily.

Many people say you can’t be too safe. But if an obsession over safety is crippling your ability to function or to think critically, you’re doing it wrong. Arming yourself with the facts and a healthy sense of perspective is the best recipe for genuine vigilance — not to mention health. 

Side effects include thinking like Shepard Smith.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Field of complaints

Blogger has a button at the bottom right of its composing screen labeled, "complain."

And all this time, I've been using this space...

#HipHopBooks

The Rapper's Delight Before Christmas
The Poky Little Pump It Up
It Was a Goodnight Moon
Fifty Shades of Golddigger
The Cat In My Adidas
Ice Ice Brain Droppings
The Hitchhiker's Guide to Digable Planets
2 Live Crew of Dunces
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Gat
Lord of the Flow
The Furious Five People You Meet in Heaven
The Unbearable Lightness of B.I.G.
Green Eggs and Hammertime
Because I Got Wuthering Heights
The Onyxssey
Young Emma C
The Count of Monte Kris Kross
A Christmas Calvin Broadus
Fear of a Brave New Planet

#RuinADessert

Cupcrack
Specialopsicle
Shell-O
Pie a la commode
Chocolate chips on your shoulder
Chocolate Sudaffle
CakeKK
Bayer cake
Bananas Fester
Bananas flambada
Custard with mustard
Pastetry
Tepid Whip
Diseasecake
Gingerbread Spam
Ice Creed Cone
Fruit Rolaids
Fun Q-Tip
Petit foreheads
Actual lady fingers
Fruitcake somehow made worse
Beignets and Bengay
Peanut butter cutlet
Pork Peppermint Patty
10-W-fondue

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lafayette's getaway grandeur


OK, I can get behind this one. Lafayette, like south Louisiana in general, is a blast as a weekend trip. I always have fun when I visit. A lot of times, I don't even go as far as doing the things that earned the city its ranking. When I do, though, it's all the more memorable.

So I'll avoid my usual snark unlike most of the times Lafayette has been named best whatever in America. This ranking speaks to exactly what I love about Lafayette — the festivals, the instant friendships, the genuine cultural touchstones and the getaway factor. 

Unlike with many other college towns, you don't have to be rooted in Lafayette events to enjoy Lafayette events.* Indeed, they often make instant converts out of visitors. You don't have to be from the area, or root for a certain team, or even know a whole lot about the event beforehand to have the best time of your life. The only real adjustment is how uninhibited some of it is compared to similar events in other places. ("Where's the beer garden? Oh, it's everywhere?")

I'm told people really enjoy the food and the hospitality, too.

Good show, Lafayette!

*-This observation could be biased by my upbringing in Lafayette, but I never fully fit in there, so that should count for something.

Every Matt Walsh blog

I don’t mean to come off as a terrible person, but I’m totally going to.

There is a Bad Thing happening. This Bad Thing involves granting equality to a segment of society or otherwise treating them like human beings, and it’s a travesty.

Why? Because I don’t like it. It goes against absolute truth, defined as what I, Matt Walsh, believe in. You do too, because my specific set of beliefs are the only set in existence. There is no valid difference of opinion.

So why would anyone fight for the Bad Thing? Because they want to disrupt the traditional social order. They hate God. They hate their beliefs, which are mine, and thus rebel like the petulant children that they are.

They might claim that their push for the Bad Thing is based on a desire to right injustices in the world, but when has there ever been injustice? I’ve never been the victim of institutional racism or of misogynist attacks from men, so how is it possible that anyone else has?

Nothing that hasn’t happened to me has ever happened to anyone else.

Believing in the Bad Thing is like an inappropriate and painfully unfunny simile.

Progressives are calling for the Bad Thing because they like texting and pop culture. We can keep up with the Kardashians, but we can’t keep up with texting to all of our friends that the Bad Thing is bad? Come on now.

Let me put it in terms that will make you feel talked down to:

So you think that your “perfectly sensible position” has any relevance? Allow me to dispel those notions with the absolutest truth you’ve ever strained to wrap your stupid brain around.

If A is true, then what of B, which is an exception to A? That would mean C, which would directly prove Q, which is the opposite of A and is the truth.

As for your legal concerns, allow me to cite several Bible passages.

Case closed.

Too many people today live their lives according to what makes them happy rather than what I expect of them. This is what fosters such seditious thought as the Bad Thing. In generations past, people often made major life decisions based on rigid custom rather than what they actually wanted. We need to bring back those good old days. America will become a harmonious nation only when we conform to the absolute truth.

That means everyone needs to get on board with what it means to be a responsible American. Marriage. Children. McMansion. Working 9 to 5 at a socially acceptable job. Avoiding the elitist ivory towers of college. Going to church every Sunday morning at 11 (at my church, preferably, but one exactly like it will do in a pinch). Voting straight tea party. Thinking only pure thoughts at all times and harboring no prejudice in your heart unless it’s somewhat justified. This is the only correct way to live. No exceptions.

Government is eroding our freedom.

People who disagree with me know they’re wrong. And, in fact, that’s what powers their fervor — the desire to defy that which is correct, i.e., my absolute truth. Sure, they speak of “fairness” and “equality” and “empathy” and “everyone deserving a living wage” and “letting people feel comfortable in their own skin” and “not being bullied or killed just for being who they are,” but it’s all a sham. They want to confuse people by leading them astray from the absolute truth. To force everyone to think a certain way.

I will not stand for that coming from them.

You know what to believe. I just told you.

Don’t like it? Tough.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Columbus Day blog

I discovered Lake Tahoe today! I hereby name it Lake Ian.

Please set aside May 8 for my day.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Saturday morning cartravesty


Of all the things we keep around due to tradition and inertia — blue laws, not labeling the 13th floor, the Dallas Cowboys being "America's Team" — did we really have to 86 Saturday morning cartoons?

I get that on-demand entertainment and educational requirements had a hand in dispersing what was once a unique and concentrated block of toy commercials. Oh, and that the best shows were mainly toy commercials.

And it's not as if I kept up my viewership. I was an ardent disciple of Saturday morning cartoons (usually the CBS slate) until Christmas of 1988, when our acquisition of a Nintendo brought my loyalty to an abrupt halt. I briefly fell back in during fall 1989, but only because NBC premiered a cartoon about Nintendo.

So should I mourn something that hasn't been on my radar for much of the past 25 years?

You bet. WAAAAHHHH!!!

Saturday morning cartoons (and their live-action counterparts in the same vein) were more than the sum of their parts. They were the introduction to the weekend for kids. We'd spent the previous five days in the kiddie grind, and these shows woke us up to the idea that not only were we free to relax, but we could enjoy these fun, colorful shows. (Yes, there were weekday cartoons, but those were staggered and usually required a sickness/fake sickness to stay home and watch. Saturday morning toons were plentiful and guilt-free.)  Best of all, they were over by noon, which gave us plenty of time to play outside afterward. (Even after I learned how to record on the VCR, playtime was playtime.)

Another thing I dug about Saturday morning was that it was the only time of the week the TV was just for us kids. Adults went off and let us watch, and the networks seemed at those times like they were run by fellow children. For the first time, I felt like the TV wanted to talk to me (and wanted me to want things, which I then did).

On second thought, maybe it's best that the unfettered advertising juggernaut that hooked entire generations on sugary glop and expensive baubles is passing into history. What I will miss, though, is the aesthetics of my Saturday morning memories. It was colorful and fun, a mood-setter for whatever fun activities we planned to do that weekend (or not, which was fun too). My two baby nieces will not have the same experience. Though they're probably too immersed in on-demand educational cartoons to notice.

So, you ask, what was my all-time favorite Saturday morning cartoon? The limits of my OCD prevent me from listing them all. But it was Muppet Babies.

Of course it was.
I have no idea when or why I got so much into Muppet Babies, but it was (and is) what I think of when I think of Saturday morning cartoons. I wanted to be Kermit when I grew up. It was the very first show I ever taped on VHS (I lovingly labeled the videocassette a week ahead of time). I saw the live stage show when it came to town. I had a Fozzie Bear puzzle that I think had 12 pieces to it. One of the first newspapers I ever drew, when I was 8, was titled "The Daily Animal." I drew a picture of Animal reporting on Hurricane Gilbert. Are you shocked? Sure you aren't.

That's one to grow on. Here's another.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Revised Saints prediction, part III

6-10

(Last week: 5-11)

Even if the Bucs game at home was much uglier than it should have been (i.e., not 41-0), there were signs of life on that safety and that final OT drive. So it's only fair to add a win.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Sordid spaghetti edition

I don't care about food. At all.

Of course I eat, and there are foods that I truly enjoy and even look forward to eating. But plunk me in a conversation about cuisine and I'll wither. Show me the meal you chronicled on Instagram today and I'll shrug. It's not that I don't like food — in fact, I plan to eat some today — but my interest in the subject is limited mostly to its nutrition content, taste and when I can cram mealtime into my schedule.

Maybe this is because much of the joy of eating is the communal aspect, and I rarely eat with other people (when I do, I typically enjoy it more). But I felt the same way as a child surrounded by relatives, so there's more to it than that. It could be that because I'm such a picky eater and have gotten so much grief over it, that the subject causes me more discomfort than joy. Or perhaps it's just another subject, such as music, where I feel like my tastes are too common to be interesting. 

"Yeah, I like pizza and '80s music. Bask in the profundity of that, why don't you?"

However, I do have a dirty secret. On a freezing January evening many years ago, I took a picture of my dinner before eating it. 

We all did dubious things in the sixties. That refers to 1996, right?
Chalk it up to a brand-new camera and wanting to take more pictures than there being pictures to take. Or to being really hungry and my parents having cooked one of the few dishes of theirs that I devoured. Whatever it was, I fired off this snapshot for what I assume were all the right reasons, whereas habitual meal-snappers do it just to look cool and hipster and whatnot.

I share this photograph as a public service, because one day I'm going to run for office noting how I never took pictures of food, and someone (most likely a girlfriend or close relative) will dredge up this Kodak moment and scream, "LIAR!" And that would torpedo my campaign. So I'm getting it out in the open now.

And also so you know what helped fuel my sordid, sordid past. Spaghetti's got carbs and lycopenes, which are particularly suited to engaging in sordid pasts.