RelationHints! How to Engineer the Perfect Bath of Hell-Blazing Fire

September 27, 2007

All relationships are built on a foundation. At least part of that foundation is trust, and trust is what converts mediocre relationships into great relationships. This foundation also has several key ingredients, most of which are related to love and happiness Well, unless you knocked her up on the third date. Then it’s mostly about money and not catting around.

There is an effective way of measuring this trust. To do this, partners in a relationship can engage in childish and petty tests that outside of the realm of emotional infatuation would have been considered creepy and ineffective, but when romance is involved is practically an establish branch of the scientific community.

There are, in fact, several ways to test a relationship:

The Always-Hilarious I’m Late Speech
Nothing says “I want to take this relationship to a higher level” than faking a pregnancy. By forcing a life-changing decision into your boyfriend’s existence, you can open up their soul and find out their true intentions by painting a fake white stick blue on one of the ends and crying for like six hours. Granted, if there ever turns out to be a real pregnancy, things may get slightly awkward. Note: This is quite difficult to pull off if you are male.

The Gradually Increasing Annoying Personal Habit Gambit

If you really want to know how your partner feels about you, take one ingratiatingly small personal peccadillo—leaving the cap off the toothpaste, leaving dirty dishes on the bed, sending money to Obama for America—and continue to do it even after all pretense of sanity has been drained from its original purpose. If your mate puts up with it, they probably think you’re worth it. Or else they’re going to use it to justify their own, worse habits, which is actually a pretty decent idea.

The Sudden Change In Eating Habits Test
Nothing throws your significant other off more than changing your daily routine, and nothing is easier to change than your dietary habits. By suddenly forcing a lifestyle change into one of the few normally recurring activities that are necessary to sustain life, besides breathing, sleeping, and checking your fantasy football scores every fifteen minutes, you can witness how much your soul mate can take. Become a vegan and watch him or her wither in a sweaty pool of awkwardness when they order an Egg McMuffin. Starting pouring Red Bull on your mashed potatoes for “added flavor” and watch the concern grow on their face. Continue this until the unfortunate effects of an all-broccoli diet manifests itself into having them not want to ride in the car with you anymore.

The Take An Extraordinarily Small Detail And Blow It Way Out Of Proportion Maneuver
This one has the advantage of being easily implemented, since small things are pretty much found throughout normal conversation, such as how much you dislike the current state of the weather, the recent state of the local professional sports teams, or how you slept with his brother. They key is to latch on to one reasonably insignificant detail and blow it up into a crime worse than the Son of Sam, and then call your mate on it in the most inconvenient time, such as riding in the passenger side of the car when they can’t escape, or a bris.

The Introducing A New Friend Into The Circle Strategy
You have your friends that she hates, and she have their friends that you hate, and there are a lucky few of those friends who overlap, and those are the people who you will drive absolutely insane by arguing in their presence all the time. Of course, no one wants to upset the status quo, because everyone is used to it. Invite a new hot young lady into your friends, or some dude with a six figure salary, and watch the dynamics change like the Havana once the checks from the First Bank of Moscow stopped showing up in the mail.

The Sudden Death Strategy
This test is often best executed at the tail end of a large-scale grade-A class-1 argument. (In fact you may want to use the Take An Extraordinarily Small Detail And Blow It Way Out Of Proportion Maneuver to reach this end.) Declare that your relationship is over and you will have no more talk of marriage, family, or the redemption of tontines. The resultant screaming, pleading, and preparing of packages of the other’s belongings to be dropped off at the doorstep in the dead of night will show your potential spouse’s true colors.

The Move Out Of The City, Get A New Job, Change Your Name and Phone Number Ploy
To truly find out how the person you love feels about you, moving away and changing all of your contact information is an excellent and efficient way to gather this information. If you truly want to know what is in the deep recesses of their soul, you should meet someone new in your latest home city, forge and develop a relationship with that person, marry and raise a family with them, and die holding their hand. That’ll show them!

There Goes Another Candidate: There You Go Again, Again Edition

September 23, 2007

The Republicans this year are not a particularly united bunch. They differ on many key issues, such as immigration, Iraq, and to what degree to denounce abortion. But they are united in one solitary fact, and that is this: Ronald Reagan was the single greatest human being on the face of the planet for ever and ever Amen.

As such, many of the GOP candidates will be digging up and resurrecting the memory of Ronald Reagan to try and win the votes of those who still clasp longingly for another Morning in America. There are several paths to true Reagan enlightenment, and only that candidate that masters them all will be the nominee.

Sound Like the Gipper: Ronald Reagan was called the “Great Communicator,” and not without reason. Reagan was a master orator who could turn any event, no matter its objective insignificance, into an appeal for how great America was and the margin of victory in kicking every one else’s ass. He would wake up and have a bowl of Frankenberry for breakfast, and he’s turn to his wife and say, “Nancy, this bowl of Frankenberry represents all that is good with America. Its patriotic taste reminds me of the American Dream, and nothing, not sour milk, not soggy grain, not even the communists, can ever take that away. God bless America.” And Nancy, like clockwork, would be so moved she would immediately volunteer for the army, and Ron would laugh and laugh, ‘cause they don’t let ladies in the military!

Govern Like the Gipper: Candidates seeking the presidency tend to run campaigns much like they govern. In this case, looking at Reagan’s governing style may be an effective way to run a campaign operation. Reagan had a rather hands-off governing style. As in, he spent his time governing not doing much of anything at all. He’s walk into a room full of advisors and say “We need to end communism. I’ll be back after lunch. Let me know how it goes.” And sure enough when he got back from Hardee’s after he’d finish reading that article in Boy’s Life about thistles his advisors would present him with a plan to end communism. That’s the kind of leadership style Reagan had—forceful, to the point, and, apparently, incredibly lazy. Granted, the plans that were hatched were pretty much always some variation of “throw a tactical nuke in Brezhnev’s colonoscopy bag,” but at least something was getting done. Or, rather, the appearance of something was getting done, which in politics is just as important.

Look Like the Gipper: Let’s face it, guys and gals: Reagan looked good. He was pretty smokin’ for an octogenarian politician. Most politicians look like a cross between Bosnia and a plate of Chinese dog food. Reagan’s background as an actor certainly helped in this; Hollywood studios are reluctant to hire double baggers unless you have some sort of compensating factor, such as being the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola. And let’s just take a look at the previous occupants; time had not been kind to Nixon’s widow’s peak or LBJ’s anythings. Aging well may not be genetically possible for many, but certain nominees in the past election certainly found salvation in Botox injections. Current candidates should certainly consult “image specialists.” Either that or inject dioxins into Mitt Romney’s face when he’s sleeping.

Act Like the Gipper: In politics, it always pays to emulate those you admire. Some, of course, take it a little bit further; it isn’t particularly effective if you are, say, Joseph Biden and the year is 1988, and you are plagiarizing a reasonably important political figure in Great Britain, and the amount of effort used to find out this fact and have it be publicized by a rival for the nomination is less than it would have been to write your own damn speech. But many are more adept at co-opting not only the positions and doctrines of their heroes, but their style and personality as well. Reagan’s original career was an actor, of course, so he spent his early years pretending to be someone else. Which was, essentially, himself. God bless Ron, but it doesn’t take much effort to play a straight-arrow World War II veteran with a pretty fiancé in all your movies when you are, in reality, a straight-arrow World War II veteran with a pretty fiancé. (I am assuming, of course, that Ron didn’t keep a chimpanzee around at his house answering the telephone.) Some even take it to more extremes than that. Fred Thompson, the actor known primarily for his role as the District Attorney on Law & Order, oh, and he might have been a real-life senator at one point as well, is in the front running for the presidency. If he receives the job, we’ll have an actor acting like an actor acting like a president. Too cute by half, indeed, which means he should fit right in.

Forget Like the Gipper: You know, late in his presidency, many jokes were crafted detailing Ron’s inability to remember various facts, such as whether he authorized the sale of arms to the Contras for the release of Iranian hostages or where he left his glasses. It was funny to gently prod the elderly statesman, and, hey, he’s only human and we all forget sometimes, eh? Then it turns out he had Alzheimer’s, and then we weren’t allowed to laugh anymore. Fair enough. Still, it may be a useful craft to conveniently “forget” certain facts about your history and your present. For instance, Rudy Guiliani can conveniently “forget” was his position on abortion is, at least until, oh, I don’t know, say, Septmber 5th, 2008. Mitt Romney can “forget” his religious affiliation when campaigning in West Virginia, California, and…well, hell, any state outside of Utah and southern Idaho. Tom Tancredo can “forget” that he has no chance of winning—oh, wait, that’s already happened.

Get Elected Like the Gipper: This one remains to be seen, though at least Reagan had an incredibly anti-talented co-lead in both 1980 and 1984. Hillary fans, as always, take note.

The Sound of Violence

September 20, 2007

Is it just me, or have people become increasingly hostile?

First off, some stupid kid got himself tasered at a John Kerry event. Say what you will about it, but there’s only one way to get electrified listening to John Kerry is if someone shoots a couple hundred volts through your body. The stupid kid was upset when Kerry wouldn’t answer his question in a short enough time period. Not willing to shut the hell up, guards told him to come peacefully and, when he refused, was tasered.

His tasering has become a lightning rod (ha!) for protest, as many are decrying the fact that someone exercising their right to free speech was punished with physical force, and other are decrying that the security guards didn’t make him swallow his teeth.

This one is a tough call. To be fair, the guy wasn’t trying to hurt anybody, and many people believe that tasering the fellow was an overreaction. On the other hand, the guy was a complete douchebag, and the officers repeatedly advised him to shut his yap or risk getting a metal rod tapping your scrotum. He chose to keep on blathering, and then was shocked (ha!) when he was forcibly subdued.

There are few immutable truths in the world. One, of course, being that Lions for Lambs is going to be a complete load of horseshit. The other is that, if you are an individual, and you happen to come into the possession of a taser, you immediately have two options:

1) You will use the taser to electrocute someone.
2) You will not use the taser to electrocute someone.

Research indicates that every single person on the face of the earth since the very beginning of time, up to and including Quakers, kindergarten teachers, and Buddhist monks, will choose option number two. So the fact that this assgoblin got tasered really shouldn’t exactly be the most surprising thing on the face of the earth.

Speaking of people who need tasered, O.J. Simpson declared himself to be back in the news. And it’s not because he had someone ghost write a quasi-confession or he backed over a newborn or anything. It’s because he was connected with an armed robbery to recover sports memorabilia, which all in all is a pretty pussyish way to get back in the news for an accused murderer.

One can only imagine the dialogue that occurred before this heist:

Simpson: I think we need to break into that place and steal some stuff.
Accomplice #1: That’s a rotten idea.
Accomplice #2: (whispering) Hey, if we don’t do this, he will kill us.
Accomplice #1: Sounds like a plan.

Simpson initially claimed that he was simply recovering the items that had been stolen from him in the first place, which seems kind of silly since as soon as he admitted this, he would have to double-time it over to the Goldmans’s house and pony it up. It soon became apparent that this robbery, which apparently included no less than six dozen completely normal people, all of whom promised to not say a single word to anyone about the B&E being spearheaded by a famous football superstar turned double murderer.

It seems kind of odd, since robbery doesn’t really seem like Simpson’s M.O.—the murder he committed –cough, cough, I mean accused of committing—was famously a prime example of rage-fueled spontaneity. Still, Simpson wanted to take a stab at it (ha!) and see if he could recover the goods.

Still, it’s kind of disappointing that the Juice may be going away for armed robbery and attempted kidnapping. It’s like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. Everyone is hoping that he gets the chair for garroting a Subway sandwich artist or cracking open the skull of a theater usher with a sack of nickels in a fit of roid rage, but instead it’s because he’s trying to lift an autographed copy of the Criterion Collection edition of The Naked Gun 2 ½.

While Simpson is running around stealing trinkets, something a bit more in the way of large-scale destruction was happening halfway around the world. Vladimir Putin, Pending Emperor of the Russian Empire, detonated what is now classified as history’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb. It’s being hailed as a “vacuum” bomb, which seems a remarkably domesticated adjective for something that could easily decimate several former Soviet breakaway republics in a few seconds. You know, in theory.

One can only imagine the dialogue that occurred before this detonation:

Putin: I think we need to create the world’s most destructive weapon.
Cabinet Member #1: That’s a rotten idea.
Cabinet Member #2: (whispering) Hey, if we don’t do this, he will kill us.
Cabinet Member #1: Sounds like a plan.

This has raised some alarm in diplomatic circles. Putin has become increasingly despotic in his actions and words, and this is seen as a rather blatant power play to showcase his otherwise doldrumatic army, which is quickly descending into three parts listless hooligan and five parts mafia bagmen.

Still, while it may be a touch of overkill, Putin may have the most elegant solution of all. There won’t be any trials with which to pretend to not be able to fit into a glove, and there won’t be any signs of protest when a rent-a-cop shoves a cattle prod inside you. There will just be a lot of dust and a little bit less of the godless Siberia.

The Very Best of Television, 2007

September 16, 2007

The Emmys are on this night, a place where television executives, administrators, and critics vote to award those programs they feel are most deserving, selecting among those series that most outstanding, entertaining, and creative, with the only stipulations being that they were cancelled after about four episodes or so.

This year’s ceremony is hosted by American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest, ensuring that the show will be mostly milquetoast placeholder commentary punctuated by occasional impassioned pleas that he is straight.

Here are a few highlights of tonight’s contested categories:

Outstanding Drama to Most Efficiently Fulfill The Social Obligation To Have A Show About Homosexuality, the Environment, and How Rotten Priests Are: This one is tough. Boston Legal is almost a sitcom; any show with William Shatner as a lawyer has to be a comedy. I just still haven’t forgiven them for firing the best parts of Marla Sokoloft. Gray’s Anatomy just isn’t my thing. If I wanted to hear a dozen attractive young people flirt, show unnecessary cleavage, create drama, and throw out anti-gay slurs I’d just go to a viewing of High School Musical in Atlanta. I never got the appeal of Heroes; “Save the cheerleader, save the world” is a motto I came up with during the years of my sophomore through senior years in high school, only my definition of “saving the world” was pretty much confined to the back seat of my car. The Sopranos kind of oversaturated the entertainment coverage this year and has pretty much shot itself in the back of the head by a guy wearing a Members Only jacket. House would normally be a shoo-in, but any votes made for an angry, misogynistic, morally suspect egotist will be best reserved in the GOP primaries next year.

Outstanding Collection of Jokes About Erections and Hoo-Has Strung Together To Last About A Half Hour
: This collection is a little brighter. The Office and 30 Rock are both quality programs. Ugly Betty is a critics’ darling, no doubt because most television critics used to be 14-year-old girls who are so insecure with their self-identification that they grew up to be televisions critics. Entourage is too clever by half, by which I mean it’s not funny and is incredibly boring and you still have to pay good money to see it. And…Two and a Half Men? Are you serious? Did every other single sitcom on the face of the planet somehow manage to make itself ineligible to be nominated?

Outstanding Scripted Programming That Is Advertised As Reality Programming Even Though The Concept of Reality in Hollywood Means Their Plastic Surgeon Drives a Domestic Car: I don’t really watch that much reality television, mostly because despite the clumsy flirting I engaged in with that cute brunette who wore that tight shirt at the lottery kiosk last week I have at least a small modicum of dignity. Project Runway seems like it takes the dreams and aspirations of young teenage girls and destroys their souls, converting them into lifeless husks full of diet pills and heroin and slathers them with painted chemicals and duct tape so they can sell clothing that is pretty much only going to be worn by individuals attending the Primetime Emmy Awards. American Idol and its lesser-known, Munster-like cousin, Dancing with the Stars, bring nothing particularly new this year except one less leg and one more trip to detox. The Amazing Race is a quality program, which is of course by no one watches it. Top Chef is a highly rated program for its genre, and its demographics skew largely to the female audience. I could be a chauvinistic prick and state this is because it’s a show about cooking meals, but instead I’ll be an incredibly chauvinistic prick and state this is because it’s a show that has a collection of reasonably attractive male judges.

A few other highlights from the nominees:

Broken Trail: I’m surprised this one was eligible for Outstanding Miniseries, considering that it aired in the summer of last year and as far as I know is still going on.

Forest Whitaker
: He is nominated for his role as a cranky patient on ER. This is an unprecedented move on the ceremony’s part, since as far as I know ER hasn’t been on the air for about five years or so.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: This low-rated and disappointingly bland show was nomination for approximately 15,000 Emmys, all of which it will win since the show was created by, written, produced, directed, starred by, key gripped, and copulated with by Aaron Sorkin, who in his lifetime has somehow managed to be the single greatest powerful force in Hollywood despite the fact that his track record for hit programming hovers around the Dabney Coleman success level. Sorkin either is a gifted talent capable of creating quality programming on a consistent basis, or else he is providing massive amounts of cocaine to all of the voters. Longtime viewers of the Emmys already know which one this is.

Due To The Events of September Eleventh

September 11, 2007

It’s been six long years since September 11th, 2001. In that time, Americans—and the world—hopefully have learned several important lessons.

All you need is duct tape and Saran Wrap. I know fighting terror is a hard thing to do. The guys at the top are fighting an enemy that is invisible, has no nationality or easily identifiable markings, and motivations ranging from religious cleansing to negotiating an export deal to crack the energy drink market in Riyadh.

And I also know that there was a time in our nation’s history in which it was possible to convince an entire population of schoolchildren that, in the event of a nuclear attack—not a conventional attack, with Russkies wielding Kalishnikovs around like sparklers on the Fourth of July—but a atmosphere-changing, create-a-hinterland, grade-A class one mushroom cloud explosion, the best course of action would be to hide under your freaking desk.

K. I understand all that. But, seriously, duct tape and plastic? Seriously. Why not just tell us to wrap ourselves in burlap and macramé and get in the fetal position every time a camel drops a nut? I hope we’re not paying these people in real money.

The check is in the mail? Nevermore! The legacy of 9/11 became the greatest scapegoat ever conceived for those unabashed enough to exploit it. Second quarter figures not up to par? “Due to the events of September 11th, the numbers just weren’t there.” Every fourth car on the assembly line has a major irreversible error? “Due to the events of September 11th, quality control has not been a priority.” Mortgage payment late? Don’t want to fly to Denver for your wife’s sister’s wedding? Want to invade a Middle Eastern nation with almost comically flimsy evidence? “Due to the events of September 11th…”

People believe some completely ridiculous things. Granted, this predates the terrorist attacks, but it certainly made a lot of conspiracy theories bubble to the surface. It’s not just about poet laureates inventing tales of wily Jews calling off work or incendiary bombs being stashed in ductwork to make the explosions bigger, it’s stuff people make up because they have no other explanation outside of what they hear from political pundits, talk radio, and Pierre Salinger. And everyone has an opinion, regardless of whether you are Senior Expert on Arab-Israeli Affairs at the University of Virginia, or a country western singer whose geopolitical public policy experience apex was reached when they sold out an arena in Burlington, Vermont. Expert metallurgist Rosie O’Donnell, of course, rightfully called it that steel doesn’t melt under any circumstances, regardless of the ferocity and copious amounts of airliner fuel involved, and professional gaydarist Jerry Falwell personally knew the sexual orientation of the pilots.

The terrorists took a community college course in web design while we were all sitting around thinking up new ways to blaspheme Islam. The terrorists—whether they’re looking for journalists to behead, contractors to torture, or make elaborately veiled threats from an unmarked cave somewhere in the mountains of (hey CIA—you paying attention?) western Pakistan, they’re pretty web savvy. Sure, it’s not slick and classy like Amazon or, but they do have just as much experience as the person who posted that video clip of the dog riding a skateboard, and that’s a pretty high threshold to beat.

The worst idea in the world is to make 9/11 a holiday. After 9/11, there was a small and rather vocal movement to have 9/11 declared a national holiday. Technically, it is a holiday, known as Patriot Day, in what I can only assume is a blatant slap in the face to the Dolphins, Jets, and Bills of the world. As long as it stays similar in scope as the normally subdued Pearl Harbor Day, I don’t think there will be a problem. But if gains the level of importance now placed on such holidays as Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Patriot Day will simply become yet another holiday used to convert important parts of our history into another opportunity to buy shoes off at half price. Anyone who believes that in forty years you won’t see garish posters tastelessly claiming “The towers came down, and so will our prices!” hasn’t been paying attention for the past few centuries or so.

People have differing opinions. About everything. While the tragedy of 9/11 brought us all together, it wasn’t long until we learned that we differ violently in how we should be brought together. The battle lines are drawn pretty simply, actually. Either you think anyone with a foreign accent or making your change for the Hustler and lime slush you just bought walks home after work to find new and creative methods of desecrating the United States flag and developing ways to infringe your God-given rights to discharge a gun, drive a pickup truck, or smoke; or, you think George Bush and Dick Cheney drink barrels of crude oil for breakfast and the US Armed Forces unnecessarily broke up the world’s biggest tea and crumpet party held in the candy cane fields of greater Arabia. One this is agreed by both of these factions, though: anyone who doesn’t fall into these categories is a terrorist.

The Lonely Nevada Sky

September 9, 2007

Steve Fossett is one of the modern day adventurers of our time. Like adventurers of the past, he has broken countless records, pushed engineering to its limit, and, one can extrapolate, encountered new and creative ways to pour money down a rathole to increase his name recognition for anyone who feels like reading a decade-old copy of a Old Bored Rich Guy World Record Almanac.

Making his name as a commodities broker, he made his money early in life and then chose to spend the difference trying to break various records. Some of Fossett’s accomplishments are admittedly pretty impressive. He swam the English Channel, a glorious achievement many people have failed, least of not the Luftwaffe, and certainly more than I could ever accomplish—the only record I’ve ever set was spending the longest time watching Irish soap operas while simultaneously not looking for a job. Fossett has climbed the highest peak of six of the seven continents, and has records in areas relating to nonstop aircraft flights, gliders, cross country, ballooning, speed sailing, and the aptly named Ironman Triathlon, which I can only hope involves a contest of eating massive quantities of raw flesh, watching consecutive hours of rugby on a black-and-white television without a bowel movement, and going the longest amount of time without telling his wife that he loves her.

In one notorious example of his early glimpses into adventurousness, as a college student at Stanford in the mid-60’s he once swam to Alcatraz, which was at the time closed to the public, and installed a banner proclaiming the highly important political statement of “Beat Cal.” Afterwards he, along with Sean Connery, overpowered a group of domestic terrorists threatening San Francisco with biological weapons in an elaborately planned maneuver that seemed to take what seems like upwards of 1,600 hours of completely ridiculous dialogue and draggin’-ass action along with $8 of my money to resolve.

One can hardly begrudge someone from living what is no doubt a dream of many; if you’ve earned the money, why not spend it on something you enjoy and will mean something after you’re dead? Granted, you probably don’t want to become dead in pursuit of that goal, but then again if there’s no chance you’re going to die, then why not just stay home and play Yahoo! Sheepshead with some housewife in Malaysia?

Fossett has propelled many feats of engineering and endurance with help of another idle millionaire interested in pissing money away, Richard Branson. Branson is head of the Virgin empire, known for such successful and diverse offerings as an airline, mobile phone carrier, and trying to be a second-rate second-rate Donald Trump, which in the grand scheme of things is kind of a sad aspiration for a billionaire.

Fossett probably came to prominence in most people’s minds when he was in the news for repeatedly failing to complete his quest to circumnavigate the globe in his hot air balloon. I would suspect that most people couldn’t come up with a whole lot of reasons that such a voyage could not be completed. I mean, there isn’t much to a hot air balloon besides some nylon, a big ol’ fire, some sack of sands, and a desperate and child-like hope that if the winds change direction one degree differently than you expect your ludicrous choice of transportation to fly around the world with nothing more than a few cubic sheets of fabric and the sheer amount of determination which is roughly equal to, and the quality of, what the hell it was that decided to make you do this in the first place will come to an abrupt and unfortunate end. The timing of the media stories was poor from Fossett’s perspective, since they ignored all his previous successful attempts and focused on his inability to complete the quest, a move that some people felt was an elaborate marketing ploy for Cialis.

Rich people finding new and creative methods to use their money in inefficient ways to further aggrandize themselves are hardly new. Self-serving charitable organizations, egotistically named institutions, and grandly conceived plans with more emphasis on establishing a name for the annals of cultural history than any of the financial, productive, or practical considerations they relied on to become rich idle billionaires in the first place.

There are several examples of this throughout history. Howard Hughes is a perfect parallel of what happens when rich people are allowed to waste their money in a manner of their own choosing. Hughes was an extraordinary visionary and expanded his business into a diverse conglomerate of interests that included aviation, engineering, motion pictures, hotels, tax evasion, and Jane Russell’s mountainous breasts. His once excellent financial acumen soon descended into Elvis-like hedonism, such as buying up massive quantities of Banana Nut ice cream from Baskin Robbins mere moments before declaring he was sick of it and purchasing television stations so he would have something to watch in the early morning hours. (In his defense, at least he didn’t attempt to manage the construction of the Denver Airport or tried to merge AOL and Time Warner.) He eventually died of a multitude of disgusting reasons, no doubt partly because of his indulgences that fell well outside of his abilities, but mostly because he was completely batshit crazy.

Alas, Fossett has become a victim of his own success. While scouting out areas in Nevada to beat the land speed record, his aircraft disappeared. At this point his plane has been missing for quite a few days, and search parties have come up with nothing but sand and damaged flying saucers, which, according to regular reports from Coast to Coast, occur at a frequency of once every government denial of Area 51.

Regardless of his eventual fate, Fossett has proven to us one thing: that no matter what, regardless of how incredibly pointless it is, as long as you have the drive, determination, and an endless supply of wealth to piss away, you can accomplish anything.

30 Is The New 30

September 3, 2007

Today, I’m thirty.

At the risk of clinging desperately onto any modicum of self-worth, I’ll rightly declare that actual act of turning thirty has had no conceivable effect on me. Health-wise, I’m fine, at least for anything age-related. (I am assuming that my inability to sleep for any period longer than forty-five minutes is directly attributed to the fact that I absorb close to the GNP of China in caffeine on a daily basis.) Certainly, there’s a nagging thought in the back of my mind that I’ve kind of hit the halfway mark of my life, and the trajectory of my life at this moment points towards a singularly dreadful and soulless future based on self-loathing and trying to eke out moments of solitary pleasure from the casual and irregular highs from cough suppressants and expired percocet. But, I mean, besides that, it’s all cool.

While I can’t say that I’ve learned any particularly unique lessons in thirty years, I think I’ve earned a little indulgence into a few reflections. (I deserve this, of course, since I am the first person on the face of the earth to ever turn thirty.) Sure, sure, sure, I’ve learned the exact same things that everyone else on the face of the planet have learned, but there are a few things that particularly stick out. So here are a few aggrandizing sweeping oversimplifications of dubious merit to think about.

Music Gets Degeneratively Worse. Every generation claims that the previous generation’s music sucks donkey crank. This has been scientifically proven in laboratories across the globe, but it bears repeating. For instance, I think the music of the Greatest Generation pretty much blows. Now, I’m talking about the sappy 1950’s-early 60’s drag racin’ surf’s up prom night car-crash cookie-cutter novelty doo-wop love songs. I mean, sure, one or two stand out as exemplary examples of a genre, well-orchestrated and cleverly written. But as far as I’m concerned every single piece of music released to the public during that era included the exact same score with only a few words and shifting of emphasis enough so that the lawyers would not be able to claim plagiarism, such as changing “Alice died on the railroad track on her way to the snowball dance as I waited at the park with her engagement ring” to “Betty died on the railroad track on the way to the snowball dance as I waited at the park with her engagement ring.” And there weren’t enough songs about defeating the communists for my taste.

Not to worry, of course, because as far as I’m concerned the music of my generation is just as bad. Well, not quite; the music of my early school years were the tail end of the overly synthesized glam rock poser period of quote-unquote rock and roll, when MTV made sexy outfits and sweat-leather jumpsuits more important than crafting a song that doesn’t sound like someone dropped Roget’s Rhyming Dictionary into a boiling vat of the stuff they put in glo-bands and stamped with the portentous word “Casio.” There is a brief, shining window while I was in college of what I estimate to be approximately six to eight weeks where music released by the major recording studios didn’t suck, in addition to Steve Earle and Bob Seger.

High School Never Stops. Certainly, you eventually stop showing up to class and you don’t have to worry about the cosine anymore (although I would like to point out you still pay property taxes), but all the squawking gossipers will remain with you for the rest of your life, standing idly by ten feet out of earshot where they could just be as easily talking about the last episode of Lost as they are about what you do with your tongue and how much you charge for it. Whether it be church, work, college, the local DAR chapter, or the blonde clerk at Wal Mart with her cute redheaded friend, someone, somewhere, is irritated that there’s something they don’t know about you and will either try to find out what that is or else make something up, and then tell someone. This is, in my estimation, the single greatest driving force behind all social activity since the beginning of time with the possible exception of FHM magazine spreads and bingo night at the fire hall.

The Important Things Never Change. The ranking of Important Things in Life for men has always pretty much been Sex, Money, and Food. I’m pretty sure as men get older the standards for food go up and the standards for sex go down, but otherwise rarely change. And, of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong about that. Me, I prefer my food smoking hot with revealing dressing and my women enhanced with a seasoned dry rub. OK, that didn’t sound nearly as nondisturbing as I thought it would.

Women Don’t Really Ever Change, Either. Far be it for me to make grand overgeneralizations about an entire species for once, but women never really change. Neither as individuals nor as an entire gender. I can only assume that this statement will be greeted with an indecisive conclusion based off of irrational emotion using otherwise forgotten events that transpired ten years ago as a force multiplier. I’m just sayin’.

All Jobs Suck In Their Own Particular Way. You know full well that someone, somewhere, is saying, “You know, I may be making $10,000 an hour, but filling out this expense report is a pain in my ass.” These people should probably die. I’m just sayin’.

Final Tap

September 2, 2007

One of the more terrifying aspects of modern society is the feeling of helplessness, of a loss of control. Sure, in decades past it may have been a Russian nuclear warhead pointed directly at the White House, or perhaps a seemingly random attack by a Muslim fundamentalist or Patty Hearst. But absolutely nothing—nothing—compares to the unheeded peril of walking into an airport restroom while in the presence of a senator.

The most tragic thing about the Larry Craig scandal—I mean, besides his family being forever embarrassed, the loss of prestige of the normally staid Senate, and the misdirection of attention to other more compelling public policy issues, such as the subprime mortgage collapse and Lindsay Lohan being barely dressed on the cover of Maxim magazine—is that I am now officially scared of using the men’s room.

Now, granted, there’s always been a little bit of trepidation in going into any public restroom. There’s no surprise that many citizens avoid them at all costs, including but not limited to taking a leak in the empty Dairy Queen cup you found on the floor of the back seat while driving down the interstate instead of setting foot one into the Quick-N-Go john. Public restrooms, much like the refrigerators at work and the city park after Saturday night, are all the proof that anyone will ever need that communism is a failed ideology. There are so many variables that can affect your bathroom experience, and a large portion of those variables are inherently disgusting.

I’m going to pause right now and advise all my readers that the scenarios I am describing are largely male-specific. Thankfully, I have very little experience in going into the women’s restroom. Now some of you may have risen their eyebrows at the phrase “little experience,” no doubt prompting the thought “that pervert should have no experience with female toiletries.” I regret to say that this is false. For a summer I worked at a rather large retail department store known for their blue décor and lackadaisical attitude towards health care and Chinese quality control procedures, and part of my job description was to “maintain” the restrooms. Now, thankfully, “maintaining” and “cleaning” are two different things; all I had to do was make sure there were enough soap and towels, and reports any gushing streams of rancid water to the proper authorities, which was the 22-year-old community college communications major they installed as the night manager. But I had to maintain both genders’ worth of restrooms, and let me simply state that I would rather watch Faces of Death repeatedly for the remainder of my life than ever take a job that requires me to witness the horrifying things I’ve seen in the better half’s bathroom ever again.

Anyway, Senator Larry Craig of Idaho has introduced a scary element into an already scary activity. There is, apparently, a remarkably elaborate and menacingly simple set of nonverbal cues that has evolved by those who are interested in engaging in non-digestive-related activities in the restroom. Toe tapping, hand waving, and strategically placed luggage all seem to indicate to otherwise casual observers that you want more than a handful of Charmin and last week’s Saturday Evening Post to pass the time while you do your business.

And that’s why I’m concerned. Who knows what happens when I go in there? What if I sneeze at the wrong time? What if I hear “Afternoon Delight” over the muzak speaker and accidentally tap my shoes to the beat one too many times? I would normally dismiss it and state that this is something one wouldn’t have to worry about unless you were at a historically seedy location such as a bus terminal or a check-cashing establishment, but I always assumed that the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport would have met and exceeded that particular threshold.

This isn’t Craig’s first accusation of impropriety. Way back in the early 80’s, he was involved in the congressional having-sex-with-pages scandal, otherwise known as “Lucky Bastardgate.” And congressional Republicans have had to fend of a series of embarrassing scandals, from Mark Foley’s clumsy propositioning of male pages to Ted Stevens’s apparent lack of ability in participating in any form of public policy debate without handing a sackful of cash to oil company executives, an action of dubious constitutionality if not for the fact that petroleum extraction is one of the three branches of the Alaskan government.

Craig has since resigned, apparently in response to him losing the chairmanship of the Creepy Bathroom Sex Solicitor Caucus. His political future is in doubt, as elective office now seems out of place and a career as the more glam half of a mid-80’s pop duo is unlikely. My personal suspicion is that he will appear as one of those “security consultants” on daytime talk shows about how to prevent your children from triggering some hidden bathroom sex code every time they have to go pee at the Decatur IHOP.