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Category Archives: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

You don’t just have to listen to me. You MUST listen to me!

(loosely based on a true story)

Trigger warning: not caring about your opinion

Texts between friend and me:  “Oh no, Godzilla!”  That seems immediately relevant, you’ve definitely got my full attention.  “Fire! The theater we’re in is on fire!”  You had me at ‘fire’.  “Asteroid Apophis will impact Earth and end civilization as we know in six months!”  Yeah, that sounds like something I should hear you out on. Please continue.

Texts between friend and me #2:  “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”  This sounds vaguely entertaining, tell me more.  “Halley’s Comet will impact Earth and end civilization as we know in eighteen months!”  OK, that topic bears discussion, but let me finish binge-watching Friends first.Texts between friend and me #3:  “I’d like to talk to you about these fine Amway products.”  Um, no thanks.  “Can I interest you in a home in this new real estate development in Guyana called Jonestown?”  Not really, I’m happy with my current residence.  “My political beliefs are life-changing, life-affirming, and will move you to both tears and action! I’ve told you about them before, but I need you to set aside an uninterrupted hour to discuss them with me further vis a vis your failure to enthusiastically embrace them.”

Texts between friend and me #4:  Ha ha ha! Oh wait, you’re serious?  “Yes”  Oh. Well, I’ve actually already given that topic considerable thought, and I’m fine with where I’m at.  “No no no, you don’t understand. Anything less than full-throated approval is to be against us, to be on the side of INJUSTICE!”  Um, no it isn’t. Look, we’re both good people and generally aligned on most issues. Let’s just agree to disagree on this one.Texts between friend (?) and me #5:  “I’ve been personally injured by people rejecting this belief system. WE MUST DISCUSS!”  This alleged injury from me?  “No, not that one, but now finding it hurtful to me you won’t let me evangelize you on this topic. Not hearing me violates my boundaries which means YES now you have hurt me :(”  wtf?Texts between friend (?) and me #6:  Politely declining to talk to you about this has injured you and therefore compels me to listen to you? Well, if that’s your position, you’ve violated my boundaries by ignoring my refusal to discuss this with you. Check and mate.  “[rolls eyes]" "[shakes head sadly]" "[sends out thoughts and prays for your conversion]"Texts between friend (?) and me #7:  "[adds you to list of those to go up against the wall when the revolution comes if the thoughts and prayers don’t work]" "You have failed to grasp the severity of the situation. Your close-mindedness saddens (and angers) me. Once you learn the error of your ways, I’ll be here, waiting to forgive you and accept you with open arms into the One True Faith(TM).”Texts between former friend and me #8:  "[adds you to list of those to go up against the wall when the revolution comes if the thoughts and prayers don’t work]" "You have failed to grasp the severity of the situation. Your close-mindedness saddens (and angers) me. Once you learn the error of your ways, I’ll be here, waiting to forgive you and accept you with open arms into the One True Faith(TM).”  [Laughs bitterly, rolls eyes, shakes head sadly, realizes thoughts and prayers are pointless, then clicks ‘Block’.]

Anyone else who has been cornered by someone who insists on lecturing you find these sorts of ordeals … depleting?

No, just me?

Look, don’t misunderstand me. Everyone’s entitled to their (non-violent!) beliefs, regardless of the degree of sanity inherently present in said beliefs. Have at it, good on you. I think it’s super lovely that you’re engaged in whatever process you’re going on about. I might even agree with you on some points. And if I ask you to expound on them, you’re good to go. But.

But.

As controversial as this may be to some folks, I need to be absolutely clear:

* In no way, shape, or form is anyone obligated to listen to your beliefs

* A refusal to do so is not a crime against you

Or think of it this way: if a religious missionary shows up at your door, do you want the right to choose whether or not you close the door on them? Or should you be required to hear them out? And hear out the next person who comes to your door selling something? And the person after that? And after that?

Boundaries, people, boundaries.

I get it. We’re living in divisive times. People are angry.

Scared.

Outraged.

And people have opinions.

Oh yes, we have opinions. Strong ones, no less.

But good grief! The constant flinging of opinions at me is exhausting and everywhere these days!

(Remember, I’m an introvert at heart and just want to be left alone most of the time.)

But you know what? During times like this, does it really pay to drive a wedge between yourself and your friends? Because now instead of not convincing them of your opinion, you’ve not convinced them of your opinion and driven them out of your life.

It’s like losing twice.

Twice!

Sure, “agreeing to disagree” may not feel like a win, but at least you still have a friend. And that’s not a bad thing, right?

Oh no, I just realized that this whole post is me hoisting my opinion upon you! I retroactively apologize unreservedly for inflicting this intrusive burden upon you. Though…you did click on the link, which is tantamount to asking me…

Feel free to agree to disagree.

 
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Posted by on 14 January 2021 in Guilty Until Proven Innocent, Life

 

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The Marital Bed…Of Shame!

Every night, the Missus likes to spoon me and whisper sweet nothings in my ear as I drift off to sleep.

OK, maybe not every night, per se, but most nights.

Well, a lot of the time anyway.

Fine. Occasionally.

When she’s drunk.

The frequency isn’t really the point here, just know it’s more often than you get the same treatment.

From my Missus, anyway.

She’s always here with me.

That’s one of the benefits of the lock-down: I always know where she is and the lawyers can’t call it stalking.

Anymore.

But I digress.

The thing is, recently this whole “turn around so I can spoon you and quietly praise you” went from “Aw yeah, AWESOME” to “Oh crap, no!”

Why, you ask?

Three words:

Home brewed coffee.

I was never a huge coffee drinker before the lock-down. And to be perfectly honest, I’m still not a fan of the stuff. But lock-down, well, this may come as a shock to you, but it’s led to some problems.

The whole not having to drive into work, toil myself down to the bone, and then drive home from work an exhausted, broken, former shadow of a man thing kinda sorta disrupted my sleep schedule.

Oh sure, avoiding the daily commute and a demoralizing work day seems like a good thing, but

1) I still have to be demoralized, I just do it from home now with the added benefit of laggy internet, and

2) I somehow got the idea in my head that since I didn’t have to drive to work, I could stay up later and just roll out of bed right before the start of the workday.

Big mistake, that second one.

I end up staying up WAY too late, rolling out of bed just a hair too close to the start of my first meeting, struggling to make my way to the home office with eyes sealed shut by sleep crust, and desperately trying not to snore during said meeting.

(The Missus says I snore so loud I’m afraid my coworkers will hear even if I’m on mute.)

There was only one solution to this problem.

Coffee.

No, not going to bed earlier and setting a proper alarm.

Coffee.

And for awhile it was going great. The coffee boosted my awareness / consciousness, I got through the day without my soul completely sucked away, and, having stayed awake all day, I was able to go to bed at a reasonable(ish) hour where I would (occasionally) drift off to the dulcet tones of the Missus telling me how wonderful I am while ensconced in her warm, warm embrace.

Except not.

Because now when I crawl into bed, I deliberately face towards the Missus and secretly dread the singsong request to turn around and prepare to be, as the Tick might put it, “Spooned!”

(Spooooooned!)

“Who’s my yummy bummy sweeteekins,” she asks.

“Oh God, not tonight,” I scream (in my head, because I’m not so foolish as to diss the Missus right before entering the helpless sleep state…RIGHT NEXT TO HER FUMING SOUL).

“Who’s a wonder-thunder-dunderkin awesome-sauce tubby hubby,” she breathes into my ear.

“Can’t you just go to sleep and leave me alone, and also, I’m working on the gut!” I retort back (again, just in my head).

“Are you a special, amazing, wonderful human being who is perfect in every way I could possibly hope,” she gushes throatily.

“Not tonight, woman! But yes, yes I am,” I whine back in a pitch carefully calibrated to be inaudible to her ears.

What’s the problem, many of you are asking just about now. Especially those of you who’ve been married as long as the Missus and I have – this sort of fawning attention is UNHEARD OF this many years into marriage.

I’ve already told you the problem:

Home. Brewed. Coffee.

More specifically, home brewed coffee that causes stomach distress such that you desperately, feverishly need to but don’t want to let loose a barrage of avalanche-inducing farts while your beloved Missus is clamped to your back.

(Also, I’m convinced my coworkers will hear these bursts of gas even if I’m on mute and the meeting doesn’t start for hours. They. Are. That. Powerful.)

Think how far back THAT might set your matrimonial relationship!

So I am forced to mumble something about being SOOOO tired, throw in a few fake snores, and then “toss and turn” until the business end of my digestive system is pointed away from the ol’ Missus and then, finally, blissfully, happily, I can safely set the blankets a-flapping.

Unless, like that one time, the Missus is feeling romantic and has sprinkled rose petals all over the floor and bed and covered every non-cushy horizontal surface with lit candles.

Egads, woman! Don’t you know the bedroom is not the place for romance!?

Yeah, that was an interesting insurance claim.

Now, I know it’s been a rough year. I know people are looking for good news instead of bad. And given it’s nearly the end of 2020, I simply can’t go out on such a negative note, leaving you all worried about the status of my marriage and my sensitive digestive system.

That’s right, I actually have some good news, a sense of hope I can impart after this tale of (quite literally) nauseating woe!

J'accuse!

There’s a fish! In the percolator!

It turns out the coffee maker we used to make our home brewed coffee had mold in it.

Yes, if you have one of those single-serving coffee machines with a reusable brew basket and you leave the wet grinds in it, mold starts to grow!

I had no idea.

But once we took the mold out of the equation, the digestive system more active than the volcanoes on Io went into remission.

That’s right. I can now be safely spooned and nuzzled and sweet-nothing’ed every night.

OK, maybe not every night, per se, but most of the time.

Well, a lot of the time anyway.

Fine. Occasionally.

When the Missus is drunk.

Which reminds me. I need to restock the liquor cabinet.

 

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And So, As A Last Resort, We Threw A Farewell Dance Party

2020 has been, to put it mildly, a somewhat sub-optimal year.

A lot of bad things have happened this year, but the worst, as astute readers of my blog would have noticed in my last posting, is that rats have moved into the crawl spaces of my house.

Speaking of bad things – Trigger Warning: Flashing Lights ahead

I tried all the usual remedies:

  • Stomping on the floors, thumping on the ceilings
  • Calmly sitting outside one of the crawlspace vents, patiently and rationally explaining to the rats why they need to let go of their Rodentia Fragilitatem and inclinatum implicita habitant and just vacate the premises, please
  • Installing a high frequency noise generator
  • Yelling obscenities in the hopes of offending their sensibilities (it worked, but just on my kids)
  • Crawling under the house with a fistful of rubber bands and shooting at the little bastards (might have worked, but my aim needs improving (I blame the constrained space))
  • Drenching the crawlspaces with peppermint oil rodent repellent (this did result in a a frenzy of movement the first night, but mostly on the part of the Missus, kiddos, and dogs)

But no matter what I did, they either wouldn’t leave or kept coming back.

So I did what any rational, red-blooded Europhile would do:

The neighbors keep muttering under their breath about what sorcery is afoot at the Dudley abode and whining how it's causing all the nearby house values to depreciate.

The System. Is Down.

I threw a rave.

A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, silent rave.

I achieved this by installing strobe lights in my crawlspaces. And testing them before installation gave me, the Missus, and the kiddos immediate nausea and stabbing headaches.

The rats don’t stand a chance.

And I have to admit, the nightly noises the rats make now are markedly more frenetic and, dare I say it, irritated, than before. I can’t help but beam with glee (pun absolutely, utterly intended) and derive incalculable pleasure and satisfaction from the skittering sounds that I wholeheartedly choose to interpret as anguished.

It’s the only thing keeping me sane right now.

 

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Here’s Looking At Your Privilege, Kid

“Hey, you! Check your privilege!”

Occasionally clients would leave the club with a slab of beef instead of their privilege. It sometimes took a few days for them to notice.

“Don’t leave me!”

I was over the limit that allowed me to hold onto it, so I pulled my privilege from my shoulder holster and plopped it down on the sill of the check booth with a wet thwap. It eyed me reproachfully, a mottled blob of stumpy vestigial appendages shaking anxiously at the unexpected separation. Sure, it was punier than the other privilege already checked, but I still felt a pang of emptiness and sorrow at the parting.

The check person pulled down a meat hook on a tether, twisted it into the quivering mass, and let go with more flourish and relish than was strictly necessary, in my opinion. My privilege whip-snapped at the end of the tether and flew into the darkness of the check booth.

Even with my eyes down at the appropriate angle of obsequience, I could see the check person staring dourly at me presented as a strikingly attractive woman: youthful, flashing eyes, a nose you could only get from a skilled surgeon, and perfectly haphazard hair that telegraphed the impression it always looked this good, even when she had just gotten out of bed.

If I hadn’t been to the club on business, and if I was suicidally clueless, I would have tried to pick her up. Instead, I apologized. “Sorry, forgot I had that.”

“Of course you did,” she snorted, her thin, flawless nostrils flaring as she handed over my ticket. I took it from her and carefully secured it in a hip pocket. Privilege had a shockingly high tendency to wind up with a new and often less deserving owner at places like this. Mine was hardly a tempting target, but it paid to be cautious. When confronted, the clubs always claimed this was the legitimate transfer of debt, that gambling was the great equalizer. I had my doubts.

The good news, given I carried a couple kilos less privilege than the average patron at this particular club, was that checking it actually boosted my standing. Relatively speaking. While still technically part of the hard-working, unwashed masses, I was now entitled to the same treatment as everyone else here.

Which meant the staff still treated me like crap, but they did that to all the patrons.

It was currently quite the thing among the well-off and well-educated to be treated with disdain, but I gave the trend another six months before these clubs found their clientele had migrated elsewhere and demanded a government bail out. Even from the entrance, I could spot the occasional bored yawn from the murmuring crowd.

Of course, the guilty rich, looking to assuage their slightly less guilty consciences, weren’t the only high class people availing themselves of facilities like these. You also had individuals like the one I’d been hired to find, trying to lose themselves in the anonymity of the pseudo-privilegeless.

My mark was Lawrence Peabody, a New Roman Presbyterian on the lam with the not inconsiderable wealth that his church hierarchy had deemed to belong to his now ex-spouse. According to the Senior Bishop overseeing his divorce case, Peabody had seen the writing on the wall and liquidated his assets. Literally. By purchasing an extremely rare bottle of vintage schnapps that was worth just over one hundred percent of the (former) Peabody couple’s net worth and then pulling a runner, he got off smelling like peppermint while the ex-missus got left holding the residual debt.

Your standard booze bail scenario, and my bread and butter. You see, I’m not just a private eye. I’m also a board certified sommelier. Lapsed, but you know what they say: once a sommelier, always a sommelier. If there’s any alcohol within fifty meters, I can smell it. And identify the vintage. I have my parents to thank for that. Family money got me the education and certification, but after a couple of years sniffing and spitting fine wines and the like, I felt I wasn’t contributing to society enough. I switched to the far less lucrative but more guilt-assuaging sniffing out of mysteries.

I haven’t been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner since. Which is fine. The family has fallen on hard times, and the wine they serve is no longer up to snuff.

Now a 1897 (Big Fed calendar) Pimpernel Kuiper Peppermint Schnapps has a distinctive, minty odor that I could normally suss out faster than you can say, “Wager saugt Fledermausbälle!” But Peabody was no pea brain – he’d selected The Virtuous Signal, a club renowned for its cheap yet extremely, overpoweringly fragrant hangover-inducers. My nose didn’t so much recoil at the olfactory assault as go gibberingly insane.

Sammy’s sense of smell wasn’t going to help me today. Instead, I turned the peepers loose on the room, trying to spy anyone who wouldn’t be happy to see me and had a half liter bottle of vintage booze in their pocket.

With all of their privilege checked at the door, the crowd looked decidedly unimpressive. Their designer clothes had a manufactured shabbiness about them, their teeth looked just ever so slightly not quite straight, and their aristocratic accents lacked a sense of…authenticity. All arranged beforehand, no doubt, with the best tailors, dentists, and voice coaches money could buy. Not permanent, of course, just to blend in at the club. They wouldn’t have any work done that couldn’t be reversed with the flash of a Beryllium Card. But not until after they left, because these sorts of clubs only took cash, and only in small denominations and with lacerating looks of disapproval upon receipt.

The job should have been made easier by the fact that there weren’t a lot of people who qualified for this type of club’s services, so the crowd was fairly thin. But they all looked the same to me: mostly old and male, with the occasional glass-ceiling-busting female with, it seemed to me, surprisingly large hands.

The women were easy to dismiss, and not just because the big hands made me oddly uncomfortable. Per the ex, Peabody was and always had been male, so I could safely ignore the women. It was a habit I found came easy. But that still left a crowd of paunchy phallus-bearers to sift through, and I couldn’t be one hundred percent certain Peabody was even at this particular club.

My guess was Lawrence (no doubt ‘Larry’ inside these walls) would try and walk out with someone else’s privilege, hopefully a gob with enough to get him a berth out of town. Maybe to Happyville, Beet City, or if he was truly desperate, Trenton. Talk about checking your privilege: word on the street was that the denizens of Trenton couldn’t afford the vaccine for the latest pandemic! All this meant I needed to add to my search criteria: a down-on-his-luck on-the-lam bounder with half a liter of schnapps on him and trying to pickpocket people’s priv check tickets.

That made the task considerably simpler. With the new parameters, I spotted my mark in a jiffy.

Larry was making nice with a group of geriatrics at the craps table. Smart move, targeting the octagenarians. They, having lived longer, were more likely to have accumulated large amounts of privilege, assuming they hadn’t squandered it all on their offspring. Larry was playing the odds like a professional, and clearly was no dummy. They were having a spirited conversation about equality. It largely involved who could most magnanimously apologize for his success, but in such roundabout terms that it didn’t flag a reprimand from the staff.

I didn’t know which type was worse in these clubs, the sincere grovelers, the insincere grovelers, or the smug staff witnessing the display of self-flagellation. I found all three irritating and for the fleetest of moments, felt sympathy for Peabody, trapped in this no-win social circle. But then I remembered the cover charge to get in.

I put on my most determined (yet privilege-neutral) face and made my way to the craps table. I needed a drink, and it was going to be peppermint schnapps.

 

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You Want Me To Be Funny? Then Tell Me Where My ‘Effin Pajama Pants Are!

So I’ve been taking improv classes for the last several months. I’m in my third class now, and we’re doing a show in two weeks.

Three rounds of classes, and I still suck at it.

One of the things I’ve learned from the class is that it’s hard to be funny when you’re tired.

Another is it’s hard to be energetic when you can’t sleep.

Finally, I’ve figured out that it’s hard to sleep when you’re dealing with anxiety.

This anxiety thing is fairly new for me. I’ve touched on it here in recent posts, but touching on it hasn’t really done squat to help.

At first the anxiety was over finances. I used to think I was brilliant and lucky to be a homeowner rather than a renter, especially since my mortgage is less than half what it costs to rent small apartments here.

But then pipes started bursting. And toilets leaking. And of course, right after blowing the Xmas gift budget on the kiddos, the first installment on our crazy high property taxes came due.

Suddenly I had moments when I wished I was renting.

(They don’t last long – rents here are worse than the property tax bills.)

That was the start of the anxiety.

But then the dog got sick and triggered an expensive vet bill.

The car needed some repairs. Expensive repairs.

After the repairs, the car still needs repairs. Because apparently the first round of repairs weren’t expensive enough.

Oh, and the dryer sounds like someone has taken a power grinder to a bald eagle. Which is not only seriously unpatriotic, but means I need to buy a new one of those too.

(New dryer, that is, not a new bald eagle. One bald eagle is expensive enough to keep as a pet.)

The water and sewer lines to quite a few of the houses on my street, which were all built at the same time as my house, have over the last few months started failing in spectacular ways that require digging up lawns and jack-hammering sidewalks. And, no doubt, shelling out lots of dough.

To add to my potential cash flow problems, I’m now haunted by the fear that the changes to the tax code mean I will end up owing money I don’t have this April instead of getting a much-needed cash infusion in the form of a refund that will allow me to (partially) cover the second property tax installment that, of course, is also due in April.

But that’s just the worst stuff that’s keeping me up at night. The thing with anxiety is, you also start being kept up by stupid things.

Is that weird intermittent smell that I may or may not be imagining a gas leak?

Does the dog’s constant farting mean the latest batch of dog food is tainted and we somehow missed the recall notice?

Is my boss going to suddenly realize I have no idea what I’m doing and fire me, which would, of course, make it impossible to pay my income taxes, property taxes, and oh-so-many bills (insurance, car repairs, vet, plumber, etc., etc., etc. to name but a few!)

Once I lose the house after being unable to pay my mortgage, where will I live? It can’t be my car – the mechanic is still working on it. Will I lose custody of the kids? Will I get saddled with an impossible alimony payment when my wife decides I’m a loser who can’t provide for his family?

Yes, that’s right. Now I’m anxious my wife going to leave me. Is it a realistic fear? I don’t think so, but realism has nothing to do with anxiety.

In a similarly unrealistic vein, is that bump on my hand cancer? Are the tiles in my shower on the verge of popping off the wall, forcing me into a remodel I can’t afford? Will the screeching sound that dryer/bald eagle torture device is making cause a fire? Is the toilet seal I spent half my weekend installing actually leaking even though I don’t see any water on the floor and eventually going to soften the ground under the house so much the foundation settles and cracks, inevitably leading to a partial collapse of the house?

Speaking of collapses, what about those trees in the front and back yards? We’ve had some windy weather lately – is one or more on the verge of toppling over into the house?

And where the hell did my ‘effin pajama pants go? I can’t find them. Anywhere. I need them to sleep!

I mean, what am I going to do? Sleep in the nude? What would the Missus, who is, in all honesty, almost certainly contemplating divorce at this point, think about that? Would it push her over the edge and into the sweet, tender arms of a divorce lawyer?

And when that tree does fall into the house in the middle of the night and I run out front to see what happened, forgetting I’m naked, will the neighbors point and laugh? And post a video of the whole thing on YouTube?

But then again, the pattern on those pajama pants is pretty bright and wild. If I do find them and put them on, would they be so distracting they keep the Missus up at night, predisposing her more towards dumping me just so she can get some damn sleep???

Because right now I’d consider divorcing her if it meant I could fall asleep at a reasonable hour and stay asleep through the night.

Damn those pajama pants!

Any now you know why I’m struggling with the improv class. And life in general. I’m tired, I’m vacillating between the edge of and deep in the throes of panic, and just not focused or relaxed enough to be funny and entertaining.

The icing on that anxiety cake? I have a show in two freakin’ weeks!

Not that I’m stressing out about that or anything.

 

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The Controversial President Weight Loss Diet is going to be HUUGE! The Biggest, Most Beautiful Diet Ever!

So two weeks ago I announced my intention to see how fad weight loss diets worked on curing me of being an a-hole. The first diet covered was the Watermelon Diet, and it didn’t work out so well. I gained four pounds and was served with divorce papers. For more details on that diet, or the protocol I’m following for this study, see my first post here.

My examination of the next diet on my list ended up getting delayed because I unwittingly decided to try the Really Sick Diet (brought to you by Kiddos Who Don’t Cover Their Mouths When They Sneeze™). While the Really Sick Diet is great for weight loss, my informal canvassing of those within hearing range of my sickbed suggests it makes you more of a whiny jerk rather than less.

So not very comfortable or helpful on the asshole front.

Just as well, if you ask me. I’d rather be an asshole than sick like that again.

So now, a week late, I bring you, just in time for the midterms, the Controversial President Weight Loss Diet!

The way this diet is supposed to work: you listen to every piece of audio and watch every snippet of video of the President of the United States that you can lay your hands on. That includes any and all Access: Hollywood hot mic recordings out there.

Although it’s been around for decades, lately proponents of this diet have been swearing by it. In the last two years alone, adherents have seen the pounds just roll off. To the point of endangering their lives!

Some limitations of this diet:

  • Tends to only work in four, eight, or if the VP gets elected, twelve-year cycles. A sixteen-year cycle is theoretically possible, but far too depressing to consider. Occasionally, if you’re lucky, an impeachment might break this cycle.
  • If you like the current president, this diet indicates that you may suffer from a severe case of psychosis and weight loss is the least of your problems. You may also experience grossly inappropriate bliss that results in blackout eating.
  • If you don’t like the current president, you will lose your appetite, your will to live, and all sense of hope. You will gain a newfound sense of urgency and an overwhelming desire to vote in the next election. Also, in addition to weight loss and dark thoughts, blackout drinking is not uncommon.

Now those are the weight loss considerations of the Controversial President Weight Loss Diet. But my thesis is on the impact of said diet on making me a better human being and less of a shifty prick.

Here, I am sad to report, the benefits are less clear.

Week 2
Diet: The Controversial President Weight Loss Diet

Description: Basically, endure as close to a lethal dose of exposure to the sitting president as you can without causing permanent brain damage. On the other hand, you can eat and drink as much as you want, should you retain the urge to eat.

Purpose: Leave you so nauseous as to be incapable of feeding yourself.

Amount of president consumed in the last two years: Way, way, way too much.

A-Hole Index score: (Mine, not his!) 5.0. Respondents rated me either a 0 or a 10 on the A-Hole index, with nothing in-between. I had an even number of respondents, the 0s and 10s were evenly split, and so the average was 5.

Net result: Now this is where it gets interesting. About half the respondents, when interacting with me during this period, said I displayed newfound humanity, filled them with warmth and hope, and they looked forward to seeing me at our polling station Tuesday (whatever that means). The other half blocked me on Facebook, but not before telling me to (variously) “Eff off, snowflake!”, “Go back to your own country, snowflake!” and, most perplexing, “Maga, snowflake!”

I’m not sure what ‘maga’ means, but from context I’m guessing it’s pretty bad.

So a mixed result. Stay tuned for next week’s update, when I look at the All Peanut Diet. Hopefully my legume allergy won’t cause any problems with this one.

And no matter what party you belong to, VOTE!

 

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Captain Kirk is (will be?) a terrible captain

Recently, in an attempt to escape the real world, I started watching Star Trek: The Original Series again.

It’s the perfect form of escape, set not just in the far off future, but in distant, distant lands under the aegis of exploring for a utopian government. How much further from today’s reality could you possibly get?

A little further, it turns out.

I used to watch the show religiously on broadcast television when I was a kid, oddly enough for a similar reason I’m watching it now: to escape the terror of real life and the homework it entailed.

I still have homework, but as a husband and father, it is of a profoundly different nature than that assigned by my grade school teachers.

Oh, 20/20 hindsight, how I wish my life now could be as simple as it actually was back then, my contemporary prepubescent protestations to the contrary.

But I digress. As an adult, I found myself returning to the show every now and then, dialing up an old favorite and re-watching it just for nostalgia.

Tiny, single episode bites. Get the nostalgia hit but fail to see any overarching patterns.

But this is the first time I watched a sustained number of episodes in a small amount of time – about ten episodes in the last week.

And I discovered that Captain Kirk is a terrible captain.

I’m not talking about all the bad decisions he made that led to unnecessary loss of life, or even the sheer amount of loss of life that occurred under his command.

Those are real issues, but his incompetency is more basic than that.

Captain Kirk completely loses his head around women.

Episode after episode, he pursues one ill-advised romance after the next.

I mean, in one episode he even gets into a fight with another man over a sentient sex doll!

(Don’t believe me? Give Requiem for Methuselah another spin if you think you can handle the fully woke squick factor.)

And more often than not, he isn’t using his wily ways to save the ship. Requiem for Methuselah is a prime example of a recurring pattern of (bad) behavior: he meets a woman he finds attractive, becomes genuinely smitten (to the point that sometimes Spock has to use the Vulcan mind meld to erase the failed relationship from Kirk’s mind at the end of the episode), and chaos, heartbreak, and often a crew death or two ensues.

Pathetic.

This man is not just in command of not just an incredibly powerful military ship (yeah, yeah, I know, “ship of exploration” – how many ships and alien crews has he destroyed, how many planet surfaces has he severely damaged?). He is also responsible for the lives of his crew and, as a representative of the Federation, maintaining peace throughout the galaxy. But hey, that green-skinned, scantily clad lady over there is really hot, so the heck with duty.

That’s a commendable trait in a captain, right? A pretty face turning your head and causing everything else to go out the window is a vital skill in the enlightened future, yes?

Even worse, he flirts with his own crew members! You know, the women under his command? How is that not, well, to be perfectly blunt, rape-y?

(Not talking about Rand – watch the end of Mirror, Mirror and Kirk’s interaction with Lt. Marlena Moreau if you want to see just how creepy and unprofessional the “great” Captain Kirk is.)

This is your captain speaking. Commence to Phase I of creepiness: Manspreading

Due to heat transfer requiring air and space being mostly a vacuum, it’s harder for men to keep their junk cool, hence Manspreading…In…Spaaaace

Oh sure, I suppose you could argue that all the men on the Enterprise (and Starfleet in general?) have this problem, as McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and even Mr. Spock have their own unwise romantic escapades.

Or perhaps you’d claim that he’s a product of his time because the men on the show are constantly referring to women (including fellow officers!) as “girls”. Certainly don’t see any of them (male or female) routinely calling the men “boys”!

But isn’t the Captain supposed to be above that? *cough* *cough* Picard thank you very much *cough* *cough*

It makes you wonder why any woman would want to join Star Fleet to begin with.

Yes, I know, ST:TOS was ground-breaking at the time, had a diverse cast, a positive message about Humanity, blah blah blah. It’s true, I won’t argue it. But I’m not here to nitpick about that.

I’m just pointing out that Captain Kirk was a dude bro who always assumed that if the woman was beautiful, he automatically loved her, needed her, and was allowed to aggressively pursue her. To the point that he did, at best, inappropriate things, and at worst, endangered the ship, his crew, even the galaxy.

WTF, Jim? WTF?

Hark! What yonder noise is this? I believe a beautiful woman is approaching! I MUST HAVE HER!

“I feel pretty!”

Captain Kirk couldn’t keep it in his pants, and as an adult only now seeing this for what it is, the eight-year old fanboy (yes, I said “boy” – go ahead and call me on it) in me is having a hard time reconciling my childhood hero-worship with the reality I now see in these old episodes.

Remember that every time someone whines about how horrible things are today and can’t we just go back (forward?) to the “good ol’ days”.

Because the past’s vision of a future utopia reveals a lot about said good ol’ days. And sadly it’s often this:

They’ve fallen a little short.

 

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Strange Request in a Writing Prompt book

This past Xmas, the Missus got me a writing prompt book as a gift.

Given that we had agreed not to exchange Xmas gifts, this resulted in me

A) noticing an extra package for me under the tree and
B) making a mad dash to the store on Xmas Eve to pick up something for her.

This is how the Missus ruins my Xmas every year.

But as the end of February approaches, I have finally overcome the trauma of last-minute Xmas shopping on Xmas Eve and reached a point where I can start using the book. And I’ve decided, unless I have something better to blog here, I will start posting these entries rather than letting this space lie ‘fallow’ for months at a time.

You have been warned.

Since the first page of this book clearly states that no part of the book can be reproduced without permission (I’m paraphrasing here, not flat-out reproducing!), I’m a little reluctant to spell out the prompts. Instead, I will underline the words I’m supposed to use in my narrative…in my narrative. Without further ado, my first exercise!

I went to the carnival to have fun. Instead I sprained my wrist fending off a pickpocket wearing a mask. Hardly inconspicuous. The pickpocket or the sprain.

There were some uncomfortable moments at the first aid station as I flirted with the attractive nurse while my wife and kids looked on, becoming less and less sympathetic towards my predicament.

Things only got worse when the police showed up. The pickpocket was a juvenile, and I’d sprained my wrist while grabbing him, causing the twerp to twirl sideways, fall down against a bike rack, and break his arm.

Apparently this had stirred up a bit of a controversy: a forty-something man breaking a thirteen year old’s bones. The only reason I wasn’t immediately arrested is because the kid fled when the cops showed up. Still, the arrival of the police and the departure of my wife (and kids) left me a little shaken.

However, the nurse was both sympathetic to my plight and receptive to my overtures, so the day wasn’t a total loss. She gave me an apple and instructed me to return in an hour when her shift ended.

I found a bench, had a bite of the apple, and then watched the white flesh turn brown due to oxidation as I waited for the hour to pass. That long, endless hour.

The nurse and I spent a pleasant afternoon walking and talking in the shade of the sassafras trees that ringed the carnival site. But in the end, as I leaned in for a kiss, she pulled away and invited me to join her cult.

Awkward! So I found a piano bar and requested “Particle Man”.*

* I feel I need to address that last sentence, which is itself more than a little awkward. You see, I got so focused on making sure I used all of the prompt words that I forgot that the story was supposed to be about a strange request made at a piano bar. In fact, when I went back to make sure I’d used all the words and discovered this oversight, I wrote underneath the subject the comment “Tots forgot about this!” and then went back and added that last line. You see, I had no choice. I’d literally used every available line on the page, and having written using ink, I could not erase the work to try again.

Strangely enough, the out-of-focus pictures properly show the paper as white, but the in-focus ones cast them as a yellowish pallor.

You see? When I say I left myself a comment in a writing prompt book, I Do. Not. Lie.

We've reached the end, my friend...

And when I say that I ran out of room and had to mash in an awkward last sentence to tie the whole mess together, I Do. Not. Lie. Again.

If you’re interested in the book I’m using, it’s called WRITE THE STORY. I make no endorsement, as I’ve hardly scratched the surface. Though I must admit, the title on Amazon is Write The Story Art Teaching School Kids Adults Class Project Leaning, which is not only awkward but appears to have a typo in it. But the two exercises I’ve done thus far are…writer prompty and have been fun.

 
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Posted by on 27 February 2017 in Guilty Until Proven Innocent, Life, Story, Writing

 

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Natural selection: Survival of the rudest

Humans may be the most evil animals on Earth, but raccoons surely are a close second.

Certainly they are the most inconsiderate animals on Earth.

Right bastards, they are, raccoons.

Whoa, Ian, what’s with the raccoon hate? What, you ask, have these cute, cuddly-looking little bandits ever done to you?

Plenty. They’ve had it in for me from day one, and you’re a naive fool to see them as anything but the thieving, conniving bastards that they are. To wit:

  • As a small child, a raccoon mauled our beloved family pet, a soft, cuddly, and thoroughly un-maul-worthy bunny rabbit.
  • Frequently while camping, raccoons have raided my campsite, stealing the heavy food I packed in. And, surprisingly, all the beer. Though I haven’t ruled out my campmates on that.
  • On one camping trip, the raccoons broke into my car and stole all the Blake Shelton CDs that somehow found themselves, against all odds, in my car. They left all the classical music CDs untouched.
  • A few months ago, a domestic dispute between two raccoons unfolded on my roof. Loudly. At two in the morning.
  • Regularly while driving at twilight, I see raccoons skulking about the street corner storm drains, a shifty glint in their eyes. Clearly up to no good.

As I said, the most inconsiderate animals on Earth.

Which brings to me last weekend, when they went from inconsiderate to just f*cking with me.

About six months ago, my beloved kiddos, playing in the backyard, decided that throwing toys on the roof and then asking big, gullible ol’ Daddy to get them was the bestest, funnest game in the world.

Teenage Mutant Smug Turtle, more like

This crime fighter doesn’t inspire confidence.

It took me about three rounds of this sport to catch on, at which point I flatly refused to go back up and fetch their latest volley, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle doll, a plush stuffed animal that shouted TMNT catchphrases when flung against hard surfaces.

Such as the ground and roofs with slate shingles.

So up it stayed on the roof, through sun and rain and wind. My refusal to recover it instantly converted this into their favorite toy. The kiddos still cry themselves to sleep at night, mourning the loss of that toy and cursing not just my name, but the date of my birth.

Which I find ironic, given if their curses against my birth had any weight or power, there would be no them to curse me.

Time travel has its paradoxes, and so too, it turns out, does black magic.

I’ve attempted to explain to them the dangerous lack of logic in such a curse, in case it turns out they do have magical powers, but apparently six-year olds aren’t that good at understanding where babies come from or how their Daddy’s genetics contributed greatly to who they are.

And as they are still six, I have no enthusiasm for the birds and the bees conversation yet because I know, when I make the Missus give it to them, I will bear the brunt of her irritation at making her do it.

So the kiddos, not understanding, just wail anew and spit at me.

Numbskulls.

(I will say, the spitting is an improvement over their pre-potty training days, when they found less pleasant things close at hand to fling at me when expressing their disdain.)

But speaking of bastards, back to the raccoons.

Last Sunday, I retired to bed early. I’d recently been tasked to hire an engineer at work, and the lovely recruiter scheduled an 8am phone screen with the latest candidate.

I am not a morning person. I have never been a morning person. If the sun wasn’t essential for all life on Earth, I would have it snuffed out just to sleep in an extra five minutes. This is how I feel about getting up early, let alone being well-rested when I rise.

So I not only had to be at work at the normal start time, but I had to be sharp and pleasant and ready to talk to potential talent.

Where_in_the_world_is_Agent_Carter

Greatest (British) American hero

Hence the retiring early, despite the Missus’ entreaties to finish watching Agent Carter with her on the DVR. I’d sat through the first hour, quite enjoying the episode, but it was one of those ‘two hour events’ networks often put on to generate excitement about a program, and I simply could not stay up another hour.

I left my poor Missus, wailing and gnashing her teeth at my absence from her side as she watched the second hour without me, and went to bed.

Except shortly after closing my eyes, I heard something in the crawlspace above my bed.

Well, possibly in the crawlspace. Or possibly on the roof.

It’s surprisingly hard to tell, when lying half-asleep in the dark, whether the thump thumps you hear above you are on the roof, in the crawlspace, or maybe the result of some Lovecraftian beast walking upside down on the ceiling directly above you.

I am not a morning person because the night terrors that arise from my twisted, dark imagination keep me up at night.

I am a morning person out of necessity.

I struggled awake. I threw on the lights. I reached for the cricket bat next to my bed.

Nothing on the ceiling, thank the Old Ones.

Still some thump thumps, though.

I went outside, still clutching that cricket bat, and checked the roof as best I could in my PJs, bare feet, and with no ladder.

Nothing, which told me a truly shifty bastard was at work.

Naturally, my thoughts went immediately to raccoons.

I went back to bed, light left on, and tried to doze off. All was silent and right with the world.

At first.

But then the thump thump again. Only this time, something new:

The Thing On The Roof (henceforth known as TTOTR): Thump Thump “Cowabunga!” Thump thump
Me: WFT?
TTOTR: Thump thump “Totally awesome, dudes!” Thump thump
Me: OMFG! The neighborhood teenage hooligans are playing on my roof, and they brought a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle doll with them! I mean action figure, I added, knowing they’d correct me as such had they heard my thoughts. Such are the teenage hooligans in my neighborhood – smug.
TTOTR: Thump thump “Cowabunga” thump thump I taunt you with my spooky ambiguity thump thump

I abandoned raccoons for teenage hooligans because come on, what raccoon plays with toys on a stranger’s roof in the middle of the night? It defies all logic.

I rose again from bed, blearly-eyed and more than a little put out. This time I went to the backyard, where a ladder leans against one wall of the house, left over from that game, many months ago, of Daddy Fetch From the Roof.

I climbed the ladder, and because I was tired and I couldn’t find a proper flashlight, used my cell phone for illumination.

Let me just say, when attempting to see something in the dark from far enough away that you have time to successfully climb down a ladder and flee in case said thing decides to charge you, a cell phone light is not sufficient.

This thought is the very one that went through my head as I alighted that ladder. It was not a comforting thought.

Made all the moreso by the fact that I couldn’t climb the ladder, hold my cell phone, and hold a cricket bat at the same time.

I felt naked.

Yes, my PJs are slight and flimsy (and mostly see-through), but I’ve never felt naked in them before.

Of course, I had forgotten all about the kiddos’ little game and the toy left up there as I ascended that ladder. I just knew that something very wrong was happening on my roof, and while I really, really had no desire to see what exactly that wrong was, the only way to get some sleep was to investigate.

I don’t do my best thinking when I’m tired.

Fortunately, in moving the ladder into position, I’d made a lot of grunting, groaning, and “Ow!”ing sounds. This, apparently, alerted the bastard raccoon on the roof that I was coming.

I was back to raccoons at this point because once my head cleared the eave and saw no living creature there, I knew only a raccoon could have slipped off so stealthily.

Almost like a ninja.

Teenage hooligans tend to make a lot more noise disembarking my roof in a hurry.

I speak from experience on that count…

The only thing to greet me, as I tottered on the top rung of my ladder, surveying my roof, was the now silent and dismembered TMNT doll.

This battle goes to you, raccoon, but the war goes on.

As is natural in these situations, I paused for a moment in order to tweet about it. I then scraped the remains off the roof, carried them into the kiddos’ room, and with a scream fit to reanimate a thoroughly dead-due-to-mauling toy, woke them so they might see the logical conclusion of fun had at Daddy’s expense.

I explained, as my father once explained to me while I lay sick in bed one morning, that a raccoon had mauled their precious, beloved companion.

There was much crying and wailing after this. Mostly from the Missus, who was not happy that I had awakened the kiddos in the middle of the night and distressed them so.

But they were out of school for the whole week and didn’t need to get up early like I did.

Why should I be the only one to suffer?

I am living proof that humans are the most evil animals on the planet. At least when they’re really, really tired.

No doubt the kiddos will carry on that tradition when, years from now and despite my protests to the contrary, they decide it’s time to unplug Daddy from life support.

Holy Disemboweled Ninja Turtles, Batman, the shingles on this roof look, well, OK, actually!

In case you thought I made this whole horrifying story up…


Yes, I’ve been away from this blog for a long time. It hasn’t just been raccoons depriving me of sleep and leaving me too stressed out and exhausted to post.
I had pretty much given up on life, and by extension, this blog, but then the raccoons came, and their outrageous disregard for common decency fired me up again. Gave me the will to live. Endowed within me a newfound zest for life (or at least revenge…).

 

 

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Based on my example, they probably think we’re lazy too.

Not up for the usual blog entry today, so instead I give you this little gem:

The Swiss think we’re idiots. And by “we’re” I mean Americans.

It wasn't until I turned fourteen that I figured out the corkscrew was for wine bottles and not nose-picking. Explains all those looks I got on camping trips.

Then again, I saw this and was still stupid enough to buy the knife.

They’re wrong, of course. In reality, poor implementations of autocorrect are responsible for our lackluster image abroad.

Shame on you, Steve Jobs. Shame on you.

Idiot.

 

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