Friday, June 29, 2007

My room's now officially off-limits for sleep, or work, or pretty much anything ever since we changed the light fixtures. I bought a new ceiling fan to help deal with my bedroom mold issues, and I really like its look. I was going for something industrial and plain, but it's really tough shopping for a ceiling fan that doesn't look like it belongs either in a homemaker's kitchen or in a ball bearing factory. Mine's kind of 50's diner chrome retro, and it doesn't a hundred percent fit with my style, but it's not bad.The only problem is that when you take a look at the fan down at Home Depot, you don't really get a good idea of the quality of light it puts out. So imagine my surprise when I got home late at night yesterday and found that my room is now deep, deep blue.Those are four tungsten-halogen lights burning at over 4500 °F, and I didn't manipulate that picture at all. My room is really that dark now, and that sapphire.

I have the high-def now, the subwoofer and speakers, the whole color light look... I can bring my aquarium up from the basement. All I need is a bubble machine and I can turn my bedroom into Ice, the hottest nightclub in Fanwood.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

There are people in the world — dangerous people — who are drunk with power (cough, cough, Cheney) but most of them are harmless little weenies whose sole purpose is to drive you nuts with their arbitrary rules, plus the obvious ones now chiseled in stone, so they'll have something to point at when they catch you. I, for one, won't be returning to my latest coffeshop review, Rohr's, not because the decor wasn't my taste and the wireless wasn't free, but because of their Ten Commandments, helpfully posted on the wall. You're basically walking into a nanny state: "Feet off the sofa! We are not a maid service: clean up after yourselves! No cursing!"

Even better, there's a separate list of bathroom rules taped to the toilet, and if the standard Rohr's code of laws isn't patronizing enough, check out Rules and Regulations... I'm sorry, I mean General Bathroom Tips #3 and 4.

Gee, thanks for the "tips," but I'm fully toilet trained and confident in my ability to use a bathroom without any retarded rhyming advice. I would've taken a picture of the non-bathroom related rules, but it turns out "no photography" is on the list.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Here's why your taxes are so high:

It's an escalator in the Herald Square subway station, and in case you were wondering, it's an up escalator. You know how I can tell? There's a little up arrow next to the escalator... and also, I was standing there when I took the picture, so I could see the damn escalator going up. But that arrow's helpful, too... if one day, Earth happens to morph into an M. C. Escher world.

It's not that I have a problem with the arrow itself, because I can imagine some dingus hopping on the escalator and then being like, "Why do I appear to be moving in a skyward direction? Oh, I see, the arrow's pointing up." I get especially confused when I use one of the planet's millions of escalators that doesn't have an up or down arrow right next to it. "Where does it go? Up? Down? Sideways? Mommy, hold me!" It's that the subway people bought this high-tech electronic scrolling light sign, as if just spraypainting a damn arrow next to the escalator wouldn't be informative enough. We need to see the arrow physically move up, just in case someone, somewhere is confused about the whole concept of "up."

I'm dying to know where one purchases a scrolling up-arrow sign on a fancy metal post, and how much they go for. It has to be at least a hundred bucks, right? Probably more if you want one that can be switched from up to down, in case you ever change the direction of the escalators. Which I really hope they do, just to confuse the people relying on the sign.

I'm embarrassed for my fellow fat-ass man after stumbling across a qualifying heat on the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship Circuit this afternoon. It's bad enough that we – who are no longer under the influence of our college fraternities – made a contest out of who could stuff the most hot dogs in their fat face, and it's even worse that "competative eaters" call it a sport, instead of one of the deadly sins. But I despair because of the spectators gathered around. There had to be at least a hundred people standing around, all of whom couldn't find anything better to do in the whole wide world than watch guys eat.

I didn't stick for the eat-off because – and this surprised me – there's a lot of tedious pre-game show that goes into an eating contest. You'd think everybody could just walk up to the table, and “On your mark, get set, go!” but no. We need to be introduced to the competitors, like we give a shit. The only competitive eater who was even mildly interesting was Kobayashi, and only because he was so much smaller but so much "better" than everyone else competing. So even he doesn't need an introduction, just a leaderboard.

But anyway, we're introduced to these total drains on our healthcare system – I mean, it's your Medicare dollars that are gonna be paying for the inevitable massive cardiac failure you get from eating three dozen nitrate-filled fake-beef sausages in ten minutes – and even that's disappointing. You're probably aware that the hot dog eating world championships, or whatever, are held on the Fourth of July down at Coney Island, where the original Nathan's stand is. What you probably don't know, unless you make trips to South Brooklyn for some reason, is that, thanks to complicated socio-economic factors, modern Coney Island is a faded relic of its old glory. Before we as a society were inundated with television-on-demand and special-effects crammed blockbuster movies, Coney Island functioned as this sort of half-beach, half traveling-carnival production. The people working the Coney Island booths were showmen, and when a carney told you that the law said he has to charge five dollars for you to see the two-headed man, but just for you, he'll charge three, you'd suspend your disbelief. That was the point. Now, it's just some dippy high school kid looking for extra money, too jaded to put on a show, and the whole experience is just perfunctory. With that in mind, three words: Worst. Announcer. Ever.

He thought he was the announcer for a boxing match or something, but he came off more like a guy trying to sell Dr. Murray's Zinc Sulfate Cure-All Miracle Solution. Fine, he knew how dopey this whole thing was, made tragically worse by the fact that each of the competitors had a ridiculous back story, bur really, dude, you're standing up on your dais, reading from your index card, and all you gotta do is sound a little excited. Our first eater was some woman, and what I got from her backstory was that she's a woman, and she stuffs food down her gullet, and she's a woman. Frankly, I'm relieved to know that being a total pig isn't gender specific.

Contestant number two was an old guy, and there was this whole spiel about how he always ate a lot, but he never heard of competitive eating, then his wife told him about it and that he had to compete, so he trained and eventually won in the seniors' divison or something and here he is... except since he's old, he can't hear his name when it's called, so we're all literally waiting like five minutes before one of the other competitors taps him on the shoulder and tells him to go out. And yet this is still more exciting than baseball.

Oh, did I mention that all the competitors stand at this long table, but all the hot dogs are on a different table, and they have to be carried from one table to the other one competitor at a time, while everyone's watching. Because this isn't drawn out long enough.

The third contestant was some guy with a sad story. Here's what the announcer had to say, and I swear I'm not making this up: “Competitor number three had a tragic upbringing...” Aww, what could've possibly happened to him? Did he grow up somewhere there was no food, yet he managed to overcome the limitations of not having any food and made it to the top ranks of competitive eaters? Not quite. “...yet today, he has triumphed over adversity. He was born without tonsils.” What?! He was born without a vestigal organ! This is when I left, because honestly, I couldn't deal with this dude's childhood suffering, all those times with his tonsils not getting infected and needing to be removed.

Now, if he climbed the ranks of competitive eating despite being born without a mouth, that would be something worth watching.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Good News For Once!

I can't believe we have two happy news stories today!

First, Bill O'Reilly gets owned! Twice!

Moral guardian O'Reilly was following up on a story from ages back, throwing a hissy over a left-wing Hollywood extremist high school assembly in Boulder, Colorado. BOR was outraged; the assembly was supposed to warn the kids, honestly, about the risks of drugs and sex, but there was no closet-pervert fearmongering priest among the assembly panel. Without God's guidance, the assembly turned into a meth-fueled orgy, according to reports that BOR completely made up. It's bad enough, but then the school principal, cowed, had the gall to apologize for the assembly. BOR lost his shit, again; his basic argument was "How could this gay-marrying, hybrid-driving, cut-and-run principal think that a mere apology could reverse the irreparable damage done to America's moral fiber?" Some sophomore dink from the school was booked on the Factor to validate BOR's indigance.

But then, enter American hero Jesse Lange, sixteen-year-old Boulder High student, who puts the loudmouthed bully in his place. Lange is basically the debate team Zen master in this clip, calmly correcting BOR's fantasy recollection of the assembly's transcript, then later pointing out BOR's hypocrisy by quoting The O'Reilly Factor For Kids. BOR responds by turning into a first-grader and calling Lange "a pinhead." Just enjoy the clip below. You half expect BOR to retort, "I know you are but what am I?"

But wait! There's more! The judge handed down a verdict in the case of our favorite fashion conscious abuser of the legal system, and I'm just a little less cynical today. You'll recall that Roy Pearson, human hole of suck, sued his dry cleaners for $54 million dollars after they temporarily misplaced his pants. We all knew he wasn't going to win a penny from them, and he didn't. But the story gets better: according to the L.A. Times reports that bringing his frivolous lawsuit actually costed Pearson a thousand dollars. Which he could have used to buy at least four pairs of new pants.

And normally, that would be the end of the story, but it's Opposite Day or something because the judge in the case is now considering a motion to force Pearson to pay all of the legal fees of the people he sued. And Pearson's job — remember, he's an administrative law judge in Washington, D.C. — is in peril! I am giddy over this!

This almost makes up for Paris Hilton getting out of jail today. Although I'm sure she'll be back before too long.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

"You could be a part-time model/but you'd probably still have to keep your normal job."

I'd just die to see the mean, median, and standard deviation on one eHarmony question in particular, "How satisfied are you with your physical appearance?" My answer was two out of seven, but now that I've had a few days to live with my hasty choice, I'm afraid I've fallen victim to confirmation bias. Something sounds right when I say I'm 28.6% satisfied with my appearance, but way off when I deduce that means I'm 71.4% unsatisfied with my appearance. Most of the time, I'm indifferent to my physical appearance, and I'd like to tweak the numbers a bit: 25% satisfied, 30% unsatisfied, and 45% neither — and if you do some math with that, eHarmony-dot-com, computer-matching me on twenty-nine freaking vectors of love, the results seem to correlate with my true opinion of my looks, bias and chronic self-deprecation and just objective comparisons between my appearance and the physical appearance of the cast on the CW network included. I really wish I told eHarmony three or (gasp!) even four for that question.

The stats on those descriptive rankings — well-groomed, handsome, athletic, overweight, fit, and sexy — would also be illuminating, especially with the data on how people feel about their appearance. How many self-confessed overweight people are also satisfied with their looks, for example? (What if they used "big-boned" instead? Or if they asked people to rank how thin they are?) The thing that most fascinates me is how people rationalize their vanity. I mean, most people aren't all that hot in the first place. We're not kittens or pugs or panda bears, where you're automatically cute as a member of the species. To my eye, maybe one in twenty people could realistically rank themselves a seven out of seven in the "sexy" category, and one in ten men could do the same in for "handsome." Hollywood aside, and even then sometimes, the scale goes from unkempt to plain to trying too hard, with only a sliver of space for the mutants with perfect skin, zero body fat, and a thousand-dollar smile.

Let's not call it the myth of beauty, since there's plenty of good-looking people at the unkempt and plain ends of the scale. Instead, it's the myth of stunning, eye-catching, head-turning beauty, sucking people in for botox and plastic surgeries — half-man, half-gelatin — and screwing up the pretty curve for the rest of us.

The other question eHarmony asks is, "How important is it that your partner be physically attractive?" And in light of all this, I can honestly be happy with my answer of two out of seven. I was really going to put one out of seven, but I was sort of afraid then they'd hook me up with someone who spent the past twenty years living next to Chernobyl, growing an extra face or something.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I Rationally Deconstruct eHarmony's Relationship Profile

People change,, and it wouldn't kill you to let users update their personality profile. Maybe I've matured since eHarmony did it's algorithm-match thing for me, and I'd like to find out. I'm still answering honestly — I think that's really the only way to find the woman of my dreams... or the woman who can tolerate me — but there's always the chance that eHarmony will find deep inside me reservoirs of affability I never knew I had. I got a new email address, so a brand new Relationship Questionnaire will follow, and let's see where it takes me.

The first page of the eHarmony profile is just basic personal info, plus (I think) your soulmate's height and age, so onto the profound stuff, right?

Page Two. Oh... I remember why I stopped this. "What is your personal income?" Less than $20,000 — although I like how $0 is an option, too. This seems superfluous; first, last time I was in math class, zero is less than twenty-thousand, and second, how many homeless people are actually posting profiles on eHarmony in the first place? And then there's another problem question, which is "How important is your match's income to you?" The short answer is, like everything else in this stupid survey, I don't know. There are so many ways of interpreting this question — are they asking if I wouldn't be happy unless I married rich? I think most people's gut response, certainly mine, to the idea of marrying into wealth is that it would be great. No sitting in traffic commuting, or ordering a small coffee to save money, and you can make a hobby out of getting ineffective plastic surgeries. (I can't believe those trophy wives haven't filed lawsuits yet.)

But Western society also has a complicated, several-millenia old history of gender relations, and frankly I already have an inferiority complex without a pre-nup and yet another, quantitative, measure of my worth. Maybe they're asking how important it is that my "match" have a similar income to me? Or is it a negative question, would I reject my "match," my soul mate that God, in His infinite wisdom, has chosen for me, because she's poor? How much of a golddigger am I — what if I loved her in every other way, would the money still matter to me? Would I even give us a chance to find out? Plus, there's political correctness to take into account: I think this is a good question to be wishy-washy over, on a scale of one to seven, I'm choosing a three.

My ethnicity: that's easy.

What ethnicities would you be willing to accept as matches? Mother-fucker! Maybe I'm reading too much into this, because you look around the room and.... Maybe it's just me, since I've never really asked anyone about this, but everybody I know who's married is married within their race. I see people walking down the street holding hands, and they're usually the same race. You look around the room and you first focus on people of certain races. You have to pick someone to talk to, to get to know, and it's not like you've got a ton of information about them. I guess I can check off all the ethnicities here without feeling like a liberal guilt jackass this time; presumably eHarmony takes care of the awkward compatibility testing, and then I've noticed that no matter what their appearance is, people look a lot more attractive once you get to know them. I guess "How important is your match's ethnicity?" Not very.

Now I get to describe my appearance, via vague characteristics and this coarse seven-point scale. (FYI: Seven means the given characteristic describes you perfectly.) Rank the degree to which I'm: well-groomed, handsome, athletic, overweight, fit, and sexy. Well, Mom says I'm handsome... Here goes, in order: 4, 4, 2, 2, 3, 2, but that last one's really for women and himbos, right? I want to explore this a bit further...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I put this application called an "Honesty Box" on my Absolutely Indispensable Facebook Profile, which never really seemed like a super idea. The idea is that people can leave little notes anonymously; officially, "Honesty Box lets users send each other anonymous messages, removing any inhibitions and letting people be completely honest with you." Honesty Box basically presents you with a decision: do you want to know what people honestly think of you? There seems like not only a good potential for abuse — it's restricted to your friends (or "friends") thankfully — but also a great way to shatter your blissful ignorant belief that people actually like you. I was conflicted over the concept, but I eventually decided that, first of all, my friends/"friends" are completely indifferent to me. (Check out my Facebook wall. It grows at a rate of about one post a year.) There are days when I feel like I could grow to fifty feet tall, start breathing fire, and walk around stomping on Tokyo and the people who know me would still be completely oblivious. Well, things are busy at work, and I'm totally stressed, and it's my other friend's birthday next week or whatever.

My other thought is that if my friends do hold an opinion about me, which they don't (see caveat below), their opinions can't possibly be any worse than the opinion I have about myself. This is what we call a "win-win" situation, right? But then, here are the first four reviews for the Honesty Box application:

[anonymous person] (Putnam City North High School) wrote
at 12:52pm
Whitney Porter (LA Tech) wrote
at 12:41pm
I want to delete replies
Lyndsey Shea (Hingham High School) wrote
at 12:27pm
i want to delete my reply threads too. how do i do it ?
Alicia Colón (Howard) wrote
at 12:05pm
What if I want to delete a reply thread? I don't see where I can do that. Is there not an option to do that?

I think that speaks to the quality of some people's friends.

Much to my surprise — I was really expecting "Jay, you are an ass." — somebody wrote something nice to me. I quote, out of sheer joy, "Hey Jay. I think you're a very cool person I knew from a very long time ago. I always pictured you working at NASA or something just because you're so smart. Anyways, I really do hope you're doing well and having a happy life." Thank you, Anonymous Person. That really made my day; I'm even going to resist the temptation to cynically pick it apart because I'd like it to keep making my day. (This does not come easily to me.) Did you hear that? Somebody thinks I'm a very cool person! Smiley emoticon, please! I see a meet-cute romantic comedy in the making here: like Anonymous Person turns out to be my most despised rival at work, but it turns out that from behind the Internet, we're great friends.

I can't say anything because I'm about to cowardly compliment my friends through Honesty Box — my original plan was to cravenly tell people off via Honesty Box instead — but what the hell? Call me crazy, but I think being nice should be, uh, a nice thing... free of subtext, ulterior motives, and face-to-face. I'd like to extend a little invitation to them: Contact me! Leave messages! Constructive criticism appreciated! (Euphoric praise appreciated even more!) I don't bite — okay, I do, but not the amiable — and I won't read into your comments or develop expectations (really, when have I ever had expectations?) or anything. Just want to share the love.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Completely Impartial Review of an Expensive Toy I'll Probably Be Bored With in Less Than A Month

Just last weekend, I got around to plugging my Nintendo Wii into a television and fooling around with it. I have mixed opinions towards Wii: On one hand, it is a hell of a lot of fun, dancing around with that remote in your hand. (Note: Me dancing and me pantomiming playing tennis look more or less the same.) But at the same time, playing Wii sort of feels like exercise, and you walk away from the TV tired, sweaty, and just dying to sit your ass down on the couch and play some video games. It's an insidious little monster, that one.

My home, growing up, was a sad Nintendo-free zone. It was tragic. Instead of running home after school to immerse myself in the choose-your-own-adventures of a cartoon plumber, I was expected to do my homework and read. Books. Not interactive at all. I was totally deprived. My parents figured that video games would turn me into a spaced-out zombie, playing until my fingers fell off and my retinas burned out, trying to reach a high score and forsaking my dying social life. So now I work with computers and don't talk to people. Another successful parenting job. Let's say that I have a lot of repressed shoot-em-up energy looking for an outlet — I seriously do plan on going to a shooting range sometime before I die — but until then, twenty-first century Duck Hunt will do fine. Give it a couple of months and the whole thing will be out of my system, and I'll be onto a sports car obsession or something instead.

Maybe not, though. The Wii is a toy that can be packed with shareware and keeps on giving — at least until the remote slips out of your sweaty hand and into your TV — and I've spent enough quarters in arcades, fiddling with joysticks and slamming my fist into random buttons to be really impressed by the clever team of Japanese fun-gineers stepping out of the mold with their videogame interfaces. I can't wait for the next generation, when they actually implant the video game in your head, which would return video games to their rightful place as a boredom cure for couch potatoes when there's nothing on TV.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Breaking News: Kim Jong Il Praised!

This is why the North Korean state press fascinates me: they have headlines like "Kim Jong Il Enjoys Art Performance," "Kim Jong Il's Party Leadership Praised," and of course, "U.S. Attempt to Perpetuate Its Military Presence in Iraq under Fire." It's basically all the propaganda of FOX News, plus the quality, sophistication, and spell checking of my town paper. My personal favorite headline just reads "Kim Jong Il Praised." (North Korea needs to dump their bootleg Microsoft Word and replace it with the real one, which green-squiggle underlines the passive voice.)

Pyongyang, June 16 (KCNA) -- Niculae Pavelescu, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Left United Party of Romania, made public a statement on June 11 on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of Kim Jong Il's start of work at the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.

He said in his statement that the WPK has grown stronger to be the party of President Kim Il Sung from A to Z since Kim Jong Il started the work at the Party Central Committee.

Under the Songun revolutionary leadership of Kim Jong Il the WPK has become a revolutionary party invariably holding high the socialist banner and an invincible party firmly defending the sovereignty and dignity of the Korean people, he noted, adding that the undying feats Kim Jong Il has performed for the cause of the party building serve as an example to be followed by the world progressive parties and a precious wealth for them.

It probably makes more sense if you've been brainwashed by the Juche government. Well, at least they're not Scientologists.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I bought a new TV for myself yesterday, and it's awesome. It's a flat-screen high-definition LCD digital miracle of modern technology and I plugged it in, turned it on, and got no picture for about two hours. But once I got it up and running for real: wow, am I impressed! It gets around two-hundred channels I didn't even know existed. It gets three NBC's, and three of those TV Guide channels, and channels that aren't even listed in the TV Guide. There's way more channels than they know what to do with — we have about five channels that are two rows or pictures-in-picture, showing you what's on other channels. It takes half an hour just to cycle through all my channels.

Now if there was only anything good to watch...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Just when you thought Pants Lawsuit Guy couldn't possibly be a more infinitly huge jackass abusing the legal system, Reuters reports that Pants Lawsuit Guy has become an even huger jackass. In case you've been busy following seriously less disturbing courtroom news, here's the story in a nutshell. This guy, Roy Pearson, took a suit to this Korean dry cleaners for alterations. The dry cleaner lost his pants. Then they found his pants, only Roy says those aren't his pants. Now Roy is suing the dry cleaner for $54 million, because they had a sign in their window that said "Satisfaction Guaranteed," and he wasn't satisfied. Some of that money — $15,000 a day — is for covering the expense of renting a car to drive to another dry cleaners. Oh, did I forget to mention that someone appointed Roy as an administrative law judge in the District of Columbia? Yeah, they did. I guess it's not too surprising in a city that elected a crackhead mayor.

Even the wire services aren't hiding their contempt for Pants Lawsuit Guy, as the Reuters report reads, "Pearson's lawsuit has drawn international ridicule. It also drew plenty of chuckles from spectators who crowded into the stuffy municipal courtroom. Even Bartnoff [the judge] had a hard time keeping a straight face as Pearson, wearing a gray pinstripe suit and a stained lavender tie, wielded a 6-inch-thick (15-cm-thick) binder of laws and court decisions that he said bolstered his case." You've got to admire this jerkwad's dedication, if nothing else (and seriously, there's absolutely nothing else about PLG that's worth admiring). He uses his esoteric legal knowledge to exploit some immigrants who don't really speak English, then everybody in the world calls him on it, and what does he do? He shows off his esoteric legal knowledge! Brilliant defense! He's his own counsel, by the way, and he really illustrates the adage about the lawyer representing himself having a fool for a client.

Pants Lawsuit Guy managed to catapult himself into unseen levels of jackassery when he announced that, although he's suing for $54 million, he only needs $2.5 million to cover the emotional distress he suffered by having his pants switched on him. Yeah, that ought to just about cover it. PLG is planning on donating the other $51.5 million dollars he'll never, ever see to a fund for other victims of mild inconvenience who feel the need to abuse our justice system for comically hyperbolic revenge. PLG said his winnings would be used "as an incentive for other attorneys in private practice to take on these kinds of cases."

The plus side is that Pants Lawsuit Guy is gonna feel soooooo stupid when those pants mysteriously turn up in the back of his closet.

Good Samaritan

There was these pigeons — I know, rats with wings — over in Penn Station while I was waiting for the train. Anyone who's lived in a city for more than, say, a week has to be totally over the birds — even old men on park benches don't bother feeding them — and just perplexed by the attraction they seem to hold for others. In the suburbs, there's no way you can sneak up on a robin or a crow before they'll fly off; pigeons are so used to people that they won't even move if you're about to step on them. But what was special about these birds is that there were three of them, and one was sort of lopsided. I'm no veterinarian, but I think it had a broken wing, kind of slouched over and wobbling. I'm gonna name him George, after one of my pet damselfish, a gimpy, depressed fish who spent his short time in my aquarium nitrifying the environment and getting his food stolen by the other fish.

Avian George had his own tormenter, a white speckled pigeon, tall and upright — I'll call him Butch — who kept jumping on his back and pecking at him, because Butch is a total douche. The third pigeon, Calvin, more or less watched the fight from a distance. Kind of like the crowd of humans around. I was torn — I think most of the people there were torn — part of me wanted to break up the pigeon fight; part of me was eight years old, wanted to take George home in a little shoebox and nurse his wing back to health; part of me wasn't really sure what to do. Not that it's not my fight, but what do I know about avian morality: they're not sentient in the same way that I am, and what right do I have to impose my morals on them? Not to mention, what right do I have to side with George over Butch — maybe in pigeon-land, Butch has ethics on his side here. The good news, if you can call it that, about my moral waffling is that no one else had a strong urge to help out George, or maybe just turn the train platform slightly less violent, either. A few people sort of walked up to the fighting birds, but being a city pigeon, Butch hardly noticed. No one actually swatted at Butch with their Daily News (which might be illegal, anyway) or ran at the birds or threatened them. I waited for the train to come, figuring that either the locomotive would scare Butch off, or the throng of passengers disembarking would. But no. As far as I know, Butch is still there, wailing on George.

I love how it's so freaking easy to make huge moral pronouncements about stuff like, say, Israel and Palestine or ideological demagoguery, but when it comes to actually having to step up and take some action, I just watch and write about it later. No one steps in for right and justice. And it's a couple of birds: like, what are they going to do to me? Flap around? I certainly hope I never have to... none of us bird watchers ever have to help another human in trouble, because they're screwed.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Loneliness is haunting me, following me around from one desolate happy hour to another, leaving my Facebook feeds unchanged for a week, and taunting me with commercials for Age of Love. I have some time, just me and my computer, and I thought I might try expanding my social network... but I don't want to go outside my bedroom. I don't feel like putting a shirt on. I gave online matchmaking a shot two years ago, only to have that snooty bitch reject me. I answered eHarmony's personality profile honestly and the computer dating monkeys at eHarmony headquarters were unable to match me "at this time." Should've lied, I guess.

Anyway, I logged into eHarmony again — still going to answer honestly, but I figured that maybe I've grown a bit since eHarmony unceremoniously snubbed me. Or maybe eHarmony's grown, not so much superficial, self-absorbed, and marginalizing... diverse... profiles. Nope. I love this little blurb from the home page: "Meet and communicate with quality women today" — and that emphasis is theirs. "Quality" women? This is exactly why personal relationships are bullshit: I've never used an adjective to describe both women and snow tires, but somehow that doesn't factor into the love equation.

I'm re-reading my eHarmony personality profile, now outdated, and I'm thinking this is a good place to put some links explaining the Forer effect.

Fine. Fuck eHarmony anyway. I'm moving on to, which is endorsed by Dr. Phil, so it'll probably berate me into dating, right? I was signing up for, but then I stopped and thought it might be fun to take you, my adoring public, on my journey through the world of online dating. I can make fun of it, be self-deprecating, so it won't matter and it'll sting less when I fail. Ingenious.... But you know what would be even better is filling out a fake form, pretending to be an Asian-American hog farmer from Montana or something, then when rejects me I can just be like, "Ha, joke's on you, Dr. Phil!"

The only questions asks before matching you up with, by my count, sixteen random eligible singles are your location and the age range beyond which you absolutely will not touch. Today, I'm 25, so I figure there are three ways to answer this question:

  • The open-minded, full of shit way: "I'm looking to meet someone between the ages of 18 and 114."
  • The honest way: "I'm looking to meet someone between the ages of 25 and 25."
  • And the perverted, I know the age of consent in all fifty states way: "I'm looking to meet someone between the ages of 16 and 18."

(By the way, I had to look up the age of consent in New Jersey, just in case you were wondering.) I mention this because the next page on has this pull-down menu where you give them your birthdate, and it goes all the way back to 1919. I really want to know just how many octogenarians are actually on, how many are looking to meet someone in their twenties, and whether Grandma will let me put up a profile for her.

Okay, now I'm onto the search part of our evening. I didn't set up a profile on, so I sort of feel like this is the electronic version of peeping through a hole in the girls' locker room... but somehow when you're hiding behind a computer this all becomes appropriate. Don't ask. Here's the search criteria I'm offered:

  • Height: Anywhere from 3'1" to 8'11". Three foot, I can understand, cause there's a population that's three feet tall. But eight feet, eleven inches?! There's one guy in history who's that tall, and if he's your soulmate, then you're S.O.L. cause he's dead. I don't know, maybe just put that in there to satiate the pituitary disorder fetishists out there.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No idea what keeps me going to these alumni happy hours, but they bore the hell out of me. I sit. I stand. I look around, maybe someone I know will show up. It's unlikely, because I only know... let's see: one, two, three, four other alumni. I do get to observe the social dynamics of young strangers on alcohol, and I think it's amazing how quickly happy hour conversation motives go from, "I'm talking with you because..."

  • "I want to sleep with you," to
  • "you look like a fun person," to
  • "you're standing next to me," to
  • "you're alone and it's pathetic."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I hate rain. Well, I like rain - what I hate is New Yorkers in the rain, cause they're the hugest weather pussies ever. God spits a few droplets on us and suddenly every single awning and doorway has a clot of people huddled underneath, like the rapture's upon us and a vinyl sheet is all that's standing between them and a hail of fire. It's only water, people - not like it's sulfuric acid falling from the sky. At least not yet.

My first year in New York was filled with a parallel fear: that some some stranger would try to sneak under my umbrella to keep dry. Really. The treatment was a succession of smaller and smaller umbrellas, but thankfully I cured myself of this phobia or I'd be sloshing around the city in a poncho trying to keep midgets - well, kids I guess - from scampering under the plastic. This is why I can no longer go to Disney World and deal with the daily 2 pm monsoon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

People assert themselves in strange ways, and I have to ask, "Why bother?" You're walking past the Whole Foods market and there's some dude in a hemp Greenpeace shirt asking you to sign a petition. I'm a big supporter of our planet not turning into a boiling desert wasteland, but seriously, what's one signature, or ten, or ten-thousand signatures really going to accomplish — and I don't want to be the guy who has to tell these innocuous kids that no amount of petitions will keep the German riot police from beating up protesters armed with paper mache puppets. The Bush administration is going to do whatever it's going to do — there's three-hundred million people in America, minus the Twenty-Eight Percent, deluded fundies who are happily following Dubya into hell, leaves two-hundred sixteen million... even if the liberal idealists, bless their hearts, on the sidewalk with the clipboards and everything, collect two-hundred sixteen million signatures for whatever: anti=globalization, anti-strip mining, chocolate sauce reclassified as a food group, these college kids won't be changing anything. They ask for my signature, and I smile and say, "Sorry, no," because I don't want to encourage them.

That leads to this morning's news: angry Sopranos fans crashed the HBO website complaining about the series' deliriously unsatisfying ending. Why???!!! It's not like the bosses at HBO are going, "Hmm, turns out America didn't appreciate that little joke. How about we all take a mulligan and re-shoot the ending, just to please our neanderthal customers." Seriously, you're so pissed: go ahead and cancel your HBO. I dare you to go on Entourage withdrawl. You're angry now, but give it a week till that comfortable numbness sets in and everything will be okay.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

You might have heard about the German man who tried to hitch a ride on the popemobile yesterday. The New York Times reports, "The 80-year-old pope did not seem to notice as his security guards quickly subdued the man, a 27-year-old German who appeared to hold briefly onto the rear of the white vehicle. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the pope’s spokesman, said the man, wearing shorts, sunglasses and a baseball cap, was not armed." I'm not a theologist, and I'm not even a good Christian — but I try to be a moral person and, even though I'm skeptical of His divinity, I think Jesus Christ is a pretty damn good role model. So when something like this happens, it seems like a good idea to reflect and ask, "What would Jesus do?" And also, "Would Jesus have armed guards, and a spokesman?"

I know that the New Testament was written in a pre-9/11 mindset, but I don't recall the chapter and verse where one of the faithful tries to touch Jesus's robes and he goes all Akon on their leper ass. My recollection of the Bible is a little fuzzy here: The blind and crippled and just general assholes who wanted to trick up Jesus needed to go through Ticketmaster to get an audience with him, right? And Jesus lived in a giant house covered in gold stolen off Roman ruins, and he totally kept women out of his ministry. You know what else Jesus was really big on? Adhering to ridiculous centuries-old traditions that distanced people from their faith.

When you use the brain that God gave you, rather than ideological dogma, Jesus and Benedict seem more and more mutually exclusive — the latter's single-minded focus on the dissolution of his spiritual authority in the information age, and the former encouraging spiritual growth between individuals, society, and God. It doesn't surprise me when a certain Texan born-again demagogue doesn't get Jesus's message, but isn't Ratzinger a professor of theology? (According to Wikipedia, he was also a leftist in his younger, wilder, more Christ-like days.) Again, my Revelations is rusty, but I'm pretty sure one sign of the apocalypse is when I'm a closer adherent to Jesus than the pope is.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pimp My Kitten

Of course your cat is special — to you. The way she jumps on your head while you're asleep, or how she's scratched her name into your leather sofa, or how you weaned her from the litterbox and now she hogs the toilet. But when it comes to showing off your cat, impressing the neighbors, shutting up your friends who insist that having a cat instead of a dog makes you totally gay... then your cat's not worth so much. She's insolent and apathetic, and if you die alone in your home, with no one around to open up her Whiskas, she'll only wait about twenty-four to forty-eight hours before eating your corpse. This only one of many reasons that dogs, who'll go hungry for about a week before postmortem predation, are superior to cats. Another reason is, of course, after a week, since the cat's already devoured you, the dog will eat the cat. Your whole apartment-slash-death chamber turns into a Looney Tunes cartoon, and it sucks that you're too dead to enjoy it.

But what if there were some way to prove to everybody, quantitatively, that your cat is awesome? Enter niche breeding outfit Lifestyle Pets, tapping into the market of crazy, but rich, old cat ladies out there. While there are plenty of adorable cats out there in dire need of adoption, you can buy an Ashera, a feline genetic freak and — it's a hypoallergenically-bred cat — abomination of God with a tiny twenty-two thousand dollar price tag. You might want to keep that price tag on the cat so everyone who meets it knows that it's worth more than their car.

According to the press release, "Lifestyle Pets, Inc. developed the Ashera by way of the proprietary blend of the exotic bloodlines of the African Serval and the Asian Leopard Cat," like it's a cup of coffee, "subsequently bred with a domestic cat." I know that's what breeders do, make new, better animals while evaporating the gene pool by inbreeding: "Ashera cats are highly intelligent, very affectionate and have great temperments," and to be honest, I don't trust any animal that would make a better boyfriend than I would, "...and unusually for cats, the Ashera takes well to being walked on a leash." So if you're into S&M, and you can't find a boyfriend, well have we got the substitute for you.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Obscenity Is Now Allowed On The Public Airwaves: Fuck, Yeah!

Good news for fans of artistic freedom and foul language: a federal appeals court struck down the F.C.C.'s prudish indecency rules, calling them "capricious and arbitrary." You'll recall that back in 2003, when a shattered America was still recovering from seeing Janet Jackson's bare breast for a fraction of a second, Bono used the f-word during the Golden Globes, on live television, calling U2's win "fucking brilliant." Alarms immediately went off blaring at the Family Research Center, where they alerted the president, the vice president, the Department of Defense, and Homeland Security, who finally contacted the F.C.C. to save us all from Bono's Irish potty mouth. "Fleeting expletives," is what they're called, although that's kind of a euphemism, like "improvised explosive devices," the main difference being that the government won't bother keeping people safe from the latter. (In case you're worried, our government really is working to keep our soldiers in Iraq safe from the f-word, thank God.)

The best part of the ruling, of course, is that it's brought out the expletives in everybody. Moral guardian Kevin Martin, the F.C.C. chair, put forth an ironically unbroadcastable statement — containing the unmentionable words at least ten times — reading, "I find it hard to believe that the [elitist gay-marrying tree-huggers in the] New York court would tell American families that 'shit' and 'fuck' are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children [who those liberal New York activist judges are obviously trying to turn promiscuous and gay] are most likely to be in the audience." The argument the government makes is that there are certain words so vile that they're unacceptable in any context, but...

...and I have to say we never had irony this delicious when Clinton was fucking Monica in the Oval Office...

...the court pointed out that the seven dirty words can't be all that obscene if our president says them on a live television feed, or if the vice president says them on the floor of the Senate on the very same freaking day the Senate passed the law that raised the indecency fines on broadcasters. Ha!

It took six years, and in the pantheon of ways Bush has screwed this country and its constitution, broadcast obscenity is relatively minor, but it just feels gooooood to have these guys' behavior finally come back to haunt them. We all knew it would happen sooner or later, but it was a distant future kind of thing: the sort of long-term that escapes the administration's peripheral vision. Twenty years from now, desertification will kill the Crawford ranch. Ten years from now, it'll be suicide bombers — Christian suicide bombers. America's economy falls behind when tech jobs are lost to students from other countries, whose children haven't been left behind. And of course, the Rapture, where Michael Moore and Al Gore will be playing polo in Heaven, and laughing at the loyal twenty-eight percent way, way down below.