Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Just to get up that hill

I'm working really hard today.


Update again! America's future, folks, wasting time rhashing '70s sitcom theme songs. If it's wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Do you know where my keys are?

How sad is it that, in the play my friends and I are currently working on, I am nowhere near finished memorizing my lines, despite the fact that I wrote the damn thing and have been reading and re-reading (and re-reading again) each and every line since last October? And the final nail in the coffin of my memorization skills? I can recite, from memory, each and every line from Back to the Future parts 1 - 3.

What the hell?


(interior of a garage. We see a collection of clocks which show the time as 8:10. A radio blares to life)

Radio Announcer: October is inventory time at Stafford Toyota, and ...

(the radio cuts out and the camera pans across a few more clocks and several complicated pieces of household machinery. We come to a television set, which turns on to a news show, starring the lady who played the mother in "Just the Ten of Us")

Lady: ..The Senate is expected to vote on this today. In other news, officials from the nuclear researchfacility have stated that a case of missing plutonium was, in fact, stolen from their vault two weeks ago. A Libyan terrorist group has clained responsibility for the alleged theft, however, officials now assume ...

(the camera pans across a coffee machine which turns on and begins brewing coffee, despite the fact that the pot is not there. The camera continues, crossing several more clocks and stops next to a leverl arm, which beings moving resolutely. The arm makes loud, mechanical noises as it swings left, grabs a can of Alpo dog food, and swings right to a can opener, which opens the can. The arm swings back to the middle, leaving the lid affixed to the can opener. The arm rotates 180 degrees, turning the can upside down, which empties its contents into a dog bowl labeled "Einstein," that is overflowing with what appears to be several day's worht of uneaten dog food. The arm rotates back to its original position, moves left, and drops the empty can into a trash bin. We pan left even furhter to the door, which opens. We see a pair of white tennis shoes holding a doormat aloft. A key drops to the concrete and the mat covers it. The feet enter the room and we hear our hero, MARTY MCFLY, speaks).

MARTY: Hello, Doc?


I am a loser, aren't I?

Friday, March 24, 2006


Have a great weekend. And remember. If you can see Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris can see you. But if you can't see Chuck Norris, you are mere seconds away from death.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Before and After

It’s cold outside today. It’s the second day of Spring after a long but relatively mild winter, and the wind that blows across the Oval cuts through my jacket to the interior no matter how closely I press my arms against my side. The sky is light blue and the sun is bright, but for some reason it feels grey. The songs on the radio play a kaleidoscope of dark hues as the clock tower beats a long, slow knell in the distance.

Potential bad news on the horizon for some friends. One of those moments that splits life into the period of time known as Before and that which comes Afterwards. If you’re reading this, and if you're the sort, spend a moment in prayer asking that everything would come out alright.

And if it doesn’t, ask that they would find comfort in the afterward.

Monday, March 20, 2006


So I'm sitting here in what is soon to be a classroom at the large state university in Ohio where I work, when I glanced to my left and happened upon a collection of bound Atlantic Monthly magazines from 1860 - 1890. This means that somewhere within the dusty pages at my left exists a first run printing of The Adventures of Mark Twain in its original, serial form.

Once again. Something you woulnd't find in a normal corporate office.

Happy Monday

Here it is 11:30am and I just now got back to my office after a morning of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I had a morning meeting with Team Cynical™, wherein the interim manager attempted to extol the virtues of MSI packet updates as opposed to having students manually install them (at every machine across campus). Naturally, Team Cynical™ was completely comfortable with the old method, which takes several weeks to do and is unpredictable in efficiency, and felt that that the new system, which is already in place in other labs across campus and which takes a total of maybe a half hour, would not work because “we haven’t done it before.”

It’s a wonder anything gets done.

After the meeting I got to sit down with somebody to learn how they do imaging for a particular workgroup. This is how it works: put disc in machine -> run program -> wait -> restart machine -> tada! New image! Seriously, it’s like they think I’m an idiot or something. But that’s Team Cynical™ for you.

After that, I procured some AV hardware for a professor who is planning a “graphics intensive” class next quarter and wanted my assistance testing everything out before the quarter starts. Basically, he plans to use PowerPoint presentations. That isn’t really “graphics intensive” in my book, but I don’t get upset over semantics. The guy needs help and I am more than willing to fill that role. Besides, it means I get to traipse across campus twice a week to set things up for him, and Spring Quarter is a damn fine month to be outside.

Later this afternoon, I plan to design some more blog layouts for faculty members at the main library of the large state university in Ohio where I work, and then I’ll probably write up that proposal for a new style of Library Catalog I outlined last week in my meeting with the assistant director of the large state university in Ohio where I work.

No work Mondays are a thing of the past. And you know what? I’m glad.


We had the grove this evening, and for all intents and purposes, things went well. Chad and I were lazy this week, choosing to go with the same format of the previous gatherings. We re-ran several old bumps, so I only had to write one this time around. I was starting to get scared, thinking that we might run out of material, when Chad happened upon a treasure trove of at least three bumps I had written back in February and never used. I added six more to these during the week, which means that all we have left to do for this entire series are a few small things. This should give me time to get some real work done on memorizing lines for the play, writing those three or four skits I’ve been planning to write, and maybe get started on The Book™. I figured since all the cool kids were writing books these days, I might as well join the fray. It’ll never get published (because it has to be written first, and that is likely to never happen), but it makes me feel intellectual and somewhat bohemian to perpetually be in the process of crafting the next great American novel.

After the grove, a large group of us (probably everybody that was there this evening), retired to a local pub and eatery to hang out, relax, and celebrate [enter couple here]’s good news (I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t heard). While we were there, I had the chance to sit down and talk with Bill, Katie, Nate, and Mike. Bill does the sound for the grove, Katie is in charge of all the kids, Nate doesn’t do anything (because he sucks!), and Mike is the young adult pastor at my church. That means he does a bunch of pastor-y things.

In the course of the conversation, I mentioned something about this blog ‘o mine (because my life is so exciting that I actually have to tell other people about it in order to fill the vast lapses of quietness that exist in my conversations), and Mike asked for the address of my site. I gave it to him of course (which means, if he’s really bored, he’s reading this … and thinking “I thought I was bored until I started reading this. Now I understand the depths of boredom. And, lo, I am depressed.”), and I followed this statement with the caveat, “you’ll have to watch out for all the swear words in there.”

One of the things that I have never understood is why so many people believe they have to handle Christians with kid gloves. Every once in a while, friends of mine will catch themselves swearing or making references to what they believe are unchristian things. They inevitably apologize, thinking I was horribly offended. For some, this apology is genuine, but for others it is thinly veiled condescension. I want to grab these people by the shoulders, shake the shit out of them and say, “I can recite ‘Pulp Fuction’ from memory and have done so, unprovoked, in large crowds for no good reason. I’m the guy who, in college, guzzeled five (or maybe 6 ..or 7?) beer bongs in a row and then attempted to chase down a team of midgets dressed as oompa loompas. And I would have succeeded, too, if my friends hadn’t tackled me in the middle of the street. So don’t pretend that your pathetic use of the word ‘bitch’ is going to offend my sensitive little Christian ears, alright!!”

It doesn’t make me mad. It just confuses me. It’s like people think Christians live in a bubble universe, plugging their eyes and ears to the world around them. Some do, but not all; and certainly not me (for the most part). They think we are so shocked by Reality™, that any encounter with such with either send us into a rage of self righteous indignation or cause us to spontaneously combust in a cloud of sawdust and holy water.

I strive to be as honest and authentically human with everyone I meet; not merely a collection of loosely-related morals that others define as Christian. And yet there I was this evening, pretending as though a few semi-creative uses of profanity might make Mike’s head explode. As if he’s never heard anybody say “fuck” before (that’s impossible. He’s met Chad). He’s a pastor, not an idiot, and he likely has to deal with a lot more Reality™ than I do on a daily basis. I’d like to believe I was being genuine, but the truth is probably different. The truth is that I exhibited my own bit of idiotic condescension. And that pisses me off.

No, I probably shouldn’t swear as much as I do. But I have not yet mastered the ability to correctly express the rage I experience when I accidentally hit myself in the face with a large shovel. And “fiddlesticks” just doesn’t make the grade in that scenario, mister.

I hope I don’t do that again. It really makes me mad when I do stuff like that. And if Mike or anybody else thinks less of me for this fault, that’s a good thing. They probably had too high an opinion of me to begin with.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Economics of Dummies

I realized something the other day. I drink way too damn much pop. I’d guess that I spend roughly eighty to one hundred dollars per month on soda alone, and that doesn’t include what I drink when I go out to dinner with friends (which I also do way too damn much). These numbers come directly from the Sasquatchinc Thin Air Statistical Generator™ by the way. So I had an idea. I am going to scale down the amount of pop that I drink by one half for two months, and then try again to cut it out completely after two months. During the scale down process, I plan to purchase only generic brands so as to further save money.

Here’s the kicker. Rather than spend that extra money on some other completely worthless endeavor (like movies or charity), I plan to invest it in international currencies. But rather than purchase Yen and Franks willy nilly, I plan to employ the Graham value added method of investing with my own relative GDP analysis thrown in on top for good measure (not from the Thin Air Generator, by the way). This way, I get to analyze things like political upheaval, social acceptance of capitalistic endeavors and other social things I don’t understand as opposed to balance sheets, cash statements, and other accounting tricks I never cared to learn.

It’s almost like a game! Except here there’s a chance I might actually make some money in the process. And even if I don’t, so what? It’s better than pouring it all down my throat in the form of the sweet, divine nectar of Diet Mountain Dew. And in the process, I finally get to put my other degree (International Strategic Management) to use.

Whether that use can be categorized as “good” remains to be seen. Given that the degree in question is from the prestigious University of Cincinnati school of business, it probably won’t be.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Are you as excited about the new week as I am?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Public Indecency

Good news everyone. The library system of the state university where I work has agreed to let me take part in their weekly read aloud event at the end of the month. Basically, they invite staff and faculty to read their favorite works to large (or sometimes not so large) crowds of people who have nothing better to do on a Thursday afternoon. This is part of an effort to get people interested in the library. You'd think a college library wouldn't have to do that. But you'd be wrong; terribly wrong.

I'll be reading "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne on March 30 from roughly 3:00 - 3:30pm. However long it takes to slaver through the thee's and thou's and t'weren't's. If you're interested in joining the tens of people who might walk by on their way to the computer labs, let me know and I'll give you the exact location of the main library of the large state university in Ohio where I work.

Come, watch as I assault the masses with my dulcet tones! Huzzah!

A womb in my coffee

“I’ll take a large house,” I said to the attractive young woman behind the coffee stand. I visit this stand a couple of times a week and each visit finds a new woman working the station; she is nearly always tired and is, without doubt, lost in the juxtaposition of education and American consumerism. Each of these women is attractive however - terribly attractive - and this is likely the primary reason the stand remains in business. Because it certainly isn't the quality of their product.

“Would you like a little womb in yo coffee?” she asked politely.

“Please?” I asked.

“Ok,” she said and proceed to the back. I had to stop her for two reasons. The first is that the phrase, “Please” uttered in the questioning fashion is a habit of those from the Cincinnati, Ohio area. The upturned phrase means “I don’t understand what you are saying,” not “I agree with your statement. Please proceed.” The other reason was, of course, that I in no way wished to have a womb placed lovingly in my morning coffee.

“I’m sorry miss,” I said. “I didn’t mean to say that I wanted a … well … what was it you said?”

“I asked you if you wanted womb,” she said, starting to get mad. The line piled up behind me and her homework, a play by Thornton Wilder, sat unread in the background next to the espresso machine.

“I hate to sound like an idiot,” I said, “but why would I want a womb in my coffee?” She blushed and lowered her head in the universal fashion of those who are unpracticed at being embarrassed in front of large groups of people.

“What is it?” I asked.

She squared her shoulders, closed her eyes, and fashioned her mouth in the shape of the letter R. Then she spoke.

“ROOM,” she said, blushing futher. “Would you like a little ... ROOM in yo coffee? Foh milk?”

We shared a couple seconds of laughter with each other and with the rest of the people in line. I apologized for my misinterpretation, and the blush left her face almost as quickly as it had come.

“Sowwy,” she said.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


In response to the recent announcement that George Bush signed an executive order allowing a Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in the Department of Homeland Security, Pam Spaulding of Pandagon had this to say:
"My question — how soon before some of the all-too-familiar black pastors step up to the trough with some proposals for Dear Leader so they can cash in on this tip?"
I don't like it either, Pam. But at least I'm not racist about it!

Friday, March 03, 2006


It's the weekend! Let's party like the cool kids!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Sometimes the comedy just writes itself:

"Colon family upset over exploding toilet."

Bad Fiction and Good Steak

We had play practice this evening, and every time I spoke I couldn’t help but think that my play feels like a glorified soap opera. Or worse. Just a regular soap opera. I get the impression that while the thing might not suck completely, there are large portions of it which indeed blow chunks. But I felt the same way about the last play during rehearsals and people ended up liking it. At least that’s what they told me. So who knows? Maybe I’m just hypercritical.

Afterwards, several of us retired to a local pub and eatery to consume mass quantities and discuss whatever happened across our minds. Abbie was there, along with Silas and Ben. The Poindexters (who did an amazing job performing a Sara Groves song at this past weekend’s Grove, by the way. You should check it out as soon as Chad gets off his lazy ass and posts the show).

We had a halfway decent discussion going this evening. For a while, we discussed postmodernism in literature as described by T.S. Elliot in his essays on literary criticism. I’d like to be smart and claim that it was I who brought this to everyone’s attention, but I can’t. Tim’s the smart guy of the group, and he deserves all the credit.

Shortly thereafter, Tim brought up a recent story about an Austrian man who was convicted of denying the holocaust and sentenced to three years in prison (I think). He asked us what we thought of this conviction, and each of us had our say. I think it is definitely a tough line to paint. One the one hand, you have people screaming about the necessity of free speech, regardless of how stupid that speech is. They say the government has no right to infringe upon people’s right to speak their minds. But on the other hand, you have those who claim that potentially damaging speech can and should be infringed. These are the people who would be quick to point out the “screaming fire in a movie theater” example of where free speech actually causes harm. If you go too far and limit speech the point where nothing offensive escapes, you become a politically correct totalitarian state. But if you go the other way and allow anything and everything in all circumstances, you inherently infringe upon a great deal of other rights, qhich brings in the question of how important free speech is relative to other rights such as equality, the pursuit of happiness, and the right to life. I said that when questioning how to limit speech, you have to look at a person’s intent. If somebody questions the holocaust, are they doing so to make an academic point in pursuit of truth or do they merely hate Jews? If it is the former, then I say allow it. The latter, however, should result in prosecution. Yes, intent is a difficult thing to prove, but I think that if we plan tot take error into account with this, I would rather err on the side of the individual since it’s a government that gets away with something can cause a lot more damage than an individual. Plus, I’m an anti-authoritarian hippie. Like I said, it’s a fine line and if there is a definitive way in which a statute of this ilk can work, I don’t see it. I think the points beyond which I have already described lie in what I like to call “lawyerly territory,” and by that I mean they rely heavily upon what is legal versus what is right or true. Most people, including me, don’t care about law to that extent. Tim, however, plans to go to law school. So this is probably why he asked the question.

Next, Ben brought up a movie he saw not too long ago in which the main characters invited different people over to their houses for a night of drink and discussion. If they disagreed with the person’s philosophy, they killed them. Abbie mentioned that it sounded a lot like Arsenic and Old Lace to her, and I had to agree. Ben continued, asking what was apparently one of the questions from the movie.

If you could go back in time and kill Hitler when he was still just a failed artist in Vienna, would you? Would you try to convince him to change his ways? Or would you merely leave him alone (and perhaps attempt to purchase an early Picasso painting for the return trip). This sparked the only real “debate” of the evening in which Abbie, Tim, Silas, Brit, and I all agreed that we would not kill Hitler and Ben said that he would.

Tim went off on the philosophy of history he discovered in War and Peace which states (more eloquently than me) that history is not a series of events and people driven by singular, important men but rather men driven by events and people. He said that the thrust of the novel (one of them, anyway) was that Napoleon was not actually a necessary character in the Napoleonic wars. He said that large events such as this, or World War II for example, would have taken place regardless of those who appear to have steered them. The reason, he said, was that man’s free will wasn’t as all-encompassing as many of us thought. It is hindered by our nature and our character, and our ability to change vents, much like the case with Napoleon, is limited as well. If not Napoleon, then somebody else (perhaps a descendant of Robespierre). If not Stalin, then perhaps Trotsky or Kamenev. If not Hitler, perhaps Goebbels. Or worse, perhaps the growing anti-Semitism in Germany spreads to all of Europe, the United States doesn’t pull itself out of depression and in 1960 we fall to a European Union that actually “succeeds” where Hitler failed.

The possibilities are endless. It reminded me of a movie I saw not too long ago, The Fog of War. In it, Robert Macnamara, the former Secretary of Defense under JFK and LBJ, spoke about those who question whether we were right to firebomb Dresden or drop the bomb on Hiroshima. He speaks about those who say we never should have been involved in Viet Nam. He argued that the motivations and actions the underlie war, and by extension all of history, are so muddled and confused that it makes little sense to claim that we were always in the right and They were always in the wrong. We were both right and we were both wrong. He wasn’t arguing for postmodernity either. He was saying that truth lies under a fog, and we have no way of knowing the reality of our own history due to personal opinions, political agendas, obfuscation, and large gaps in information and that questions of that sort are useless. He said all that really mattered was our intent, whether we acted in line with our core philosophy, whether we were prepared to accept the consequences of those actions no matter what they are, and whether we were humble enough to learn from our mistakes.

This thought reminded me of the line from that Rage Against the Machine song (which I have now forgotten) which states, “Who controls the past now controls the future. Who controls the present now controls the past.” The questions we should be asking are not whether we should or should not have done a particular thing. We cannot know what all went into making a particular decision or action. What we should ask is how we deal with the problems we currently face and are those decisions just.

So I said I would not have killed Hitler. Because my mind was blinded by the fog of time and of war and I had no way of knowing whether the outcome would have been better or worse. The outcome as it stands was good, even though millions had to suffer, and the world is a halfway decent place because of it. That is not to say that I agree with Hitler’s actions. It is to say that even clearsightedness in the past does not guarantee perfect vision for the future consequences. And what matters most is the morality of the present situation. To do otherwise would be to advocate relativistic postmodernism and I don’t want to do that.

Ironically enough, I am going to see Kurt Vonnegut, an alleged hero of postmodernism, speak tomorrow at the large state university of Ohio where I work. I say alleged, because I don’t believe he actually agrees with that interpretation of his thought. How anybody can read Mother Night or his essays in defense of socialism and believe that his approach to life is in any way relativistic is beyond me. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that, even though he is an avowed atheist and secular humanist, we will see him in heaven when all is said and done. If for no other reason than, after Carl Sagan's death, he stood in front of the American Humanist society and, in a deeply somber voice said, "Well ... Carl's in Heaven now."

But that is another discussion. And so on.