11. Children in the neighborhood are hoping they don’t cancel school.
10. My neighbors have begun to resemble White Walkers.
9. 35 is the new 70.
8. The snowmen are picketing for overtime pay.
7. I’ve been reduced to using margarita salt on my driveway.
6. No TV and no beer make Bob something something.
5. My dog has started writing his name in the snow.
4. I’m running out of room for hoarding toilet paper and bottled water.
2. Global warming has started to look like an attractive option.
1. Because fuck snow, that’s why.
I’ve been surprised lately by some of the vitriol being directed at Jan Brewer following her veto of SB 1062 (that would be the “anti-gay” bill that got through the Arizona Senate, or “screamingly offensive and blatantly homophobic bill” if you want to aim for accuracy). The reason I’ve been surprised by the vitriol has been from the source: it’s come from people I know who are liberals. That’s right, some liberals are angry that Jan Brewer didn’t sign this prejudicial garbage.
The argument, as best as I understand it, is that the politicians who run Arizona now are evil to the core, and having passed this bill would have simply reaffirmed that fact for all the world to see, and (hopefully) would have created a popular uprising (I’m not sure if this would have been at the polls or in the streets) that would depose those same politicians and bring in some sort of proper, upstanding government that would have respect for human rights, common decency, and all right-minded folk. (Such a government would be a historical anomaly, but I digress.)
“Evil” is a strong word. Disagree with someone all you want, but evil puts them in a camp where there is no compromise, there is no common ground, and there is no understanding. That’s the same sort of language used by the people who would have seen this law succeed, and not just the politicians. I’m not trying to suggest that these are wonderful people, or that I would ever want to join them for tea, but unless a bloody armed rebellion IS the goal, heated rhetoric like this serves no purpose except to ensure determined and continued opposition.
Regarding Ms. Brewer specifically, I have heard is said that she came to the right outcome for the wrong reasons, those being politically rather than ideologically motivated ones. I for one believe we should applaud her all the more if that is the case; in today’s charged ideological climate, going “against the grain” of your own (or your party’s) convictions because that’s what the people who elected you want seems to be a virtue in short supply. Actions speak so much louder than words, and reasons don’t matter when outcomes are faulty; they should be equally relevant when the outcome is correct. If she got to the right place, regardless of her reasons, she should be praised, so that she will (hopefully) learn that there can be positive outcomes to taking good actions, just as there are negative outcomes for bad actions. We train politicians in the same way we train animals, even if the animals are smarter and less likely to bite the hand that feeds.
The simple fact is I believe all politicians are guilty until proven innocent, and I have yet to see that proof for any of them. If you plan to sit down to eat with them, bring your longest spoon. But when one of them finally manages to do something right, even by accident, at least reward them a little. They might recognize the “why” that goes with the “what”. It’s even possible others will learn by example.
There are a lot of great comedies out there, well-known and deservedly so. Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles, Airplane!, even Ghostbusters are all famous for making people laugh for decades. In the wake of the passing of comedy legend Harold Ramis, I’d like to take the opportunity to spotlight a few of my favorite comedies that aren’t so widely known, but deserve to be praised just the same.
Dr. Detroit (1983) – It only seems right to start with this 80’s gem that stars Ghostbusters co-star Dan Aykroyd as a college literature professor who gets suckered into “managing” four beautiful prostitutes in Chicago. (Once again, I am not making this up.) This movie is 80’s screwball comedy at its finest, with Dan Aykroyd turning in a stellar Jekyll-and-Hyde-esque performance, only in this case it’s all an act until the final reveal. Fans of 80’s beauties will be pleased to see Donna Dixon at her finest, and a young Fran Drescher takes a turn at the risqué long before her debut on The Nanny.
The Big Hit (1998) – Coming out in the same year as The Big Lewbowski, it seemed among my friends you could only love one of the “Bigs”, and personally I have never understood how anyone can even sit through The Big Lebowski. But I digress. The Big Hit is a throwback to that 80’s screwball style, with class, gender, and role-reversals abounding throughout the film. In particular the concept of the sympathetic, pushover hitman is innovative and fun, and played with remarkable skill by Mark Wahlberg, while Lou Diamond Phillips turns in a surprisingly funny yet loathsome villain. Fans of One Crazy Summer or Better Off Dead will find a lot to like here (especially the “Trace Buster Buster”).
PCU (1994) – I know I said this was all because of Harold Ramis, and truly it was inspired by Harold Ramis, but the world is not about Harold Ramis. I only say this because I do not now nor have I ever been able to grasp the obsession some people seem to have with Animal House. There are a few good lines, but that’s it. The movie does nothing for me. Sorry, but that’s just how I feel. Maybe it’s a generational thing. As far as I’m concerned, you can keep Animal House. This is my offensive college movie of choice. Jeremy Piven as Droz represents the modern character of the “big man on campus”, slightly rumpled, disheveled, and a few years past the prime of what a college student should be. The exaggeration of the oppressive PC culture on display is (sadly) even closer to the mark today than it was when the film was first released (although nobody is spared the barb, even the protagonists). Unabashedly rude, shamelessly corrupting, and magnificently over the top, I recommend this film to anyone who can laugh at themselves.
I was having lunch with a friend the other day, and we were discussing the best analogy for difficult supervisors. No particular reason, of course… Anyway, we finally hit on the idea of road trip companions. This struck me as a particularly apt analogy, as pretty much anyone can relate to this experience. Even if you have never been on a road trip with one of the following types of people, you almost certainly have been on a road trip with someone, and it is no great stretch of the imagination to discern what these experiences would be like:
Supervisor as Four Year Old: Gives incoherent directions when he bothers to give directions at all. Constantly pesters you with “is it done yet?” Eager for the final result until he gets it, then vaguely disappointed when he has it, but can’t say why.
Supervisor as Three Year Old: Screams a lot. Throws temper tantrums. Makes impossible demands (“I wanna go to the moon!”) Eager for the final result until she gets it, then acutely disappointed when she has it, and loudly lists off all the reasons why.
Supervisor as Passive-Aggressive Roommate: Has a clear picture of where he wants to be, but won’t give you directions of how to get there. Insists you know what you should be doing “if you would just focus”. Sighs a lot.
Supervisor as Hung-over Roommate: Has no good advice to offer. Insists that you take the wheel. Still wants to have a say in every decision. Groans a lot.
Supervisor as Backseat Driver: Insists that you take the wheel but second-guesses every decision you make. Constantly harps on your ability and distracts you at critical moments. Blames your “inattentiveness” for any problems caused by his interference.
Supervisor as Best Friend: Cool to hang out with, but makes it impossible to focus. Constantly distracting you with stories, jokes, and inappropriate comments. Makes you late for everything and miss important deadlines.
Supervisor as Crash Test Dummy: The perfect road trip companion. Stays quiet but still helps you get into the fast lane. Doesn’t mind being thrown under the bus in case of emergency.
You’re not going to believe this, but Setsu of Katana Pen nominated me for a Liebster Award. Which only goes to show there’s no accounting for taste. But I am honored, even if I don’t deserve it.
1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them. (Done)
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator. (See below)
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers. (Would that I could, but I don’t really follow that many bloggers, and most of the ones I follow have a lot of followers already. But I have nominated some that I consider excellent and worth your time, and I would nominate Setsu as well if I thought tag backs were in the spirit of the thing. So instead I will at least tell you why I think each of these notables is worth your time. See below.)
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer. (down further below)
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them. (Message delivered)
Up first: The Questions I have Been Tasked To Answer!
1. What’s the harshest piece of criticism you’ve grown from?
It wasn’t criticism per se, but that’s only because it was couched in terms of loving advice. I was in my late teens and being a typical dumbass teenage boy, when my Uncle Ray gave me the best advice I’ve ever heard: “you don’t bet the farm on a pair of twos.” Basically I was going all-in all the time, regardless of whether there was any chance I would win or even if I was right, and I was risking my relationships with my family, my friends, and everyone around me as a part of that. It took me a while to fully grasp the enormity of what he meant by it, but I’ve tried to remember ever since then that while you may not win big if you don’t risk big, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you will always win big just because you risked big, or that you even stand a chance to.
2. If you had to be without one of your five senses, which would it be and why?
I’d give up my sense of smell, mostly because I treasure the others far more. I love to read, to watch movies, to see everything, which is slightly ironic since I need to wear glasses. I love to listen to music, to hear My Not So Humble Wife’s voice, to talk with friends. I love the feel of soft skin, hard marble, warm stoves and cold ice cream. I love the taste of food, even if I am a picky eater. I would miss smelling so many things, but I would miss the rest more.
3. What material is hard for you to write, and how do you tackle it (emotional rawness, erotica, gore, etc)?
I find it difficult to write emotionally honest characters. I don’t ever do erotica, but that’s part and parcel of emotional honesty for me. If you can’t be emotionally honest in that moment, it falls flat and becomes hollow; it rings horribly false. The same is true with love scenes, or speeches of eternal hatred, or any other truly emotional moment. The rest is easy; it’s just dialogue and description.
4. What did you have in mind when you started blogging, and how did your blog deviate from your original idea?
I really only intended to write about whatever interested me, to have fun and keep it going. It deviated in that for a while it took over my life and became a grind; I stopped doing it because I loved it and started doing it because I had deadlines to hit, and my writing started to suffer for it. I also didn’t have time for anything else in my life. I don’t blog as often (or very much at all) now, but when I do it’s meaningful for me.
5. What’s the strangest compliment you’ve ever received?
This might be a bit TMI, but that’s why I’m giving fair warning. Feel free to skip to the next question. Mom and other relations, THIS MEANS YOU. Many years ago (long before I met My Not So Humble Wife) I dated a girl and we had a bad breakup. On a scale of 1-10 it was “nuclear warfare”. Needless to say she had nothing but bad things to say about me from what I heard second hand (we didn’t speak to each other for at least six months, but then I wasn’t exactly a prize back then either, so I’m not pointing fingers; just bear with me). Anyway, at the end of one particular description of the entire litany of my flaws (which in retrospect was fairly accurate) she finished by saying “he wasn’t half-bad in bed.”
I’m still not sure if that was a compliment or an insult, but given the circumstances I choose to take it as a compliment.
6. What question do you wish people would ask you, and how would you answer?
Question: “How can I get one of those sweet Bobapalooza shirts?”
Answer: “I’m so glad you asked! There’s actually an entire store full of Bobapalooza merch, including t-shirts, coffee mugs, water bottles, and more!”
I’m such a whore.
7. How do you deal with an unhealthy obsession (if you don’t have obsessions, I suspect you’re fibbing — but go ahead and give advice for ‘your friend’ who does)?
Usually I ignore them. When someone points them out to me, I attempt to justify them. “Eat right, exercise daily, quit smoking, die anyway.” Or else I joke about them to deflect: “Cigarettes: chock full of Vitamin R!” Eventually I may find the willpower to give them up, like smoking. Yes, I’m fixated. I only quit (again) a couple months ago. Give me time.
8. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do, and what would be the first step toward accomplishing that goal?
I’ve always wanted to publish a book. The next step would be to finish polishing up the file and getting it on the Kindle store. Given that it’s taken me six months to get to this point, don’t expect it anytime soon.
9. What makes you a great friend?
Loyalty. There’s three kinds of friends in this world: the kind that ask why you have a body in your trunk, the kind that ask why you need help burying the body in your trunk, and the kind who don’t ask stupid questions until after they helped you bury the body in your trunk. I’m the third kind.
10. What does your personal paradise look, sound, and smell like?
Warm, salty breezes. The sun shines most days, but there’s just enough rain to remind you how good you have it. There’s miles of white, powdery sand. The waves crash on the shore at high and low tide, and it can get pretty high and fierce, but you can swim out a little further and the water is calm once you get past about six or seven feet deep. At night you can hear the steel drum bands playing up the way, and you can always find a bar open somewhere to serve you a cold beer or a hot steak. Parents keep their kids down to one end of the beach, and surfers stay down at the other end. There’s plenty of fun activities to be had up and down the strip, from mini golf to theme parks, and lots of clubs for the young folks. There’s even an old-fashioned boardwalk to stroll on if you get in the mood.
Just a couple miles inland it’s a bit quieter, but still lovely. As the land slopes up from the beach pastures start to take over from the sand, and eventually gentle rolling hills come in. There’s horseback riding to be had out this way, as well as petting zoos and other farm activities. There’s a few golf courses tucked away here and there, and a spa or two for folks who want to get away from it all. It’s only a short drive from the beach, but it feels like a completely different world.
And now… my nominees!
First, Gabriel Garbow. Gabriel is an artist who shares his work online for the rest of us to enjoy. You know that old saying, “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it”? well screw that. I do know that it’s art, and I do like it. Gabriel’s work moves me in a way that few art pieces do; I can’t say exactly why, except that maybe there’s an honesty and a vulnerability in all of his work that draws me in.
Next up we have The Frazzled Slacker. What I love most about her is that I can’t define her. She writes great DIY posts that, despite the fact I have no interest whatsoever in crafty-type things, make me feel like I’m having a fun conversation over coffee with that cool lady down the street. She also has the occasional rant were she lights the world on fire with a take-no-prisoners attitude (and even took me to task once). Then there’s the posts where she just has something cool or awesome or just fun to share. Oh, and she’s my cousin, which just adds 10% to her coolness factor.
For a change of pace check out Vanessa Katsoolis at One Thousand Single Days. If you’re not sure what her blog is about, read the title again, it’s all right there on the wrapper. Vanessa’s story is inspiring, challenging, and beautiful. She presents the world in a way that I would never consider looking at it, and she has a reservoir of optimism and strength that is absolutely wonderful to behold. There is no simple naiveté here; she clearly has seen life, she has simply chosen to do and be better.
And now for something completely different… Erik over at A Very Strange Place is a special sort. When I say “special”, I mean like “early Robin Williams” special. As in “when Robin Williams was on cocaine” special. Throw in some Eddie Murphy from “Raw” levels of offensiveness and you’re getting close. What I’m trying to say is he’s not just NSFW, he’s NSFAAA (Not Safe For Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere), but if you have the stomach for raunchy humor, he’s your go-to guy, and he writes with the prolificness of a squirrel on speed.
And changing gears once more, we have Rian at Truth and Cake. Rian is another blogger that I love to read for her inspirational approach to life. She is caring, warm, and open, encouraging without ever delving into the sort of Pollyanna attitude that can come so easily when you try to remain positive in the face of everything the world can throw at you. When I read her blog I feel as if she represents a standard to live up to without ever expecting me to live up to any standard other than “be yourself”.
Flowing from the message “be yourself”, I bring you Aussa Lorens of Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy. Aussa’s blog embodies the phrase “sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction”. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you read just a little you’ll want to read it all. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve wanted to punch someone (and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way), and in the end I’ve wanted to reach out and shake her hand for just being resoundingly triumphant.
For something a little more down to earth (and in the sky), I highly recommend visiting Keri and Jeanne over at Heels First. The truth is I’m about as interested in travel as a turtle is interested in being soup, but these ladies understand the value of a good story. They make things fun, engaging, and personal. Reading their posts is like sitting down with a good friend to hear all about the great things they’ve been doing lately. Which is good for me, because they are good friends of mine.
And finally, I have to recommend Setsu of KatanaPen. Yes, I know, I said it was probably against the rules, but I’m already breaking the rules so screw it. Sestu’s blog is incredibly inspiring to me as an author and a martial artist (yes, I have done Liechtenauer style fencing, although it’s been a couple years). She is constantly giving me reasons to push myself further in my work as well as the belief that I can succeed in doing so. And she never said no tag backs.
Oh, and no tag backs.
AND NOW… THE QUESTIONS FOR THE NOMINEES!
- What would you consider to be your core value?
- Under what circumstances would you violate that core value? (If you say “none” that’s fine, I just won’t believe you. Everyone has their price.)
- What is your ultimate indulgence, whether you can afford it or not?
- Who do you miss the most?
- What sensation reminds you of them? (A song, a scent, a food, etc.)
- If you could live a boring life without having made any mistakes or live an exciting life with plenty of regrets, which would you choose?
- If you had to live in any decade of the 20th century, which would you choose and why?
- What is the stupidest joke you’ve ever laughed at?
- Could you kill someone in self-defense?
- What would your perfect date be like?