Thursday, August 31, 2006

And now for something completely unimportant

Is it just me, or does Gwen Stefani look sort of like Ruth Buzzi?

Monday, August 28, 2006

I Could Have Danced, Danced, Danced All Night

I'm back from my 20-year high school reunion, which was held Friday and Saturday. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by both the turnout (we had about half of our classmates show up--out of 57, that wasn't too bad), and the fact that a lot of my friends from junior/senior high still live in that area, so they're easy to find.

A few nice surprises were that friends Palmer and Todd showed up. Palmer was voted "class clown," and really lived up to it. He sat next to me in chorus and made smart-ass comments under his breath that kept me in stitches and trouble constantly. I learned most of what I know from Palmer and Bea Arthur. He couldn't make the 10-year reunion, but I was always hoping to run into him again sometime. He lives in Des Moines now, and his wife attended with him. She was very nice, but after all, didn't know any of us, and as the evening wore on, she got understandably bored, since she didn't have any shared history with any of us.

And we talked about the history. There were things I did back then that I was always embarrassed and ashamed about that I was finally able to talk and laugh about. And everyone else laughed, too. WITH me this time, not AT me. I think I finally realized that they were laughing with me all along, and I was probably too insecure to see it. Most of all, I got the chance to show everybody I was smart and down-to-earth now, and not the chubby blond dingbat I thought I'd been in high school.

The other really pleasant surprise for me was my old bandmate, Todd. We were in a band together in 8th grade, and we used to practice in his garage. Todd was athletic, and had a very "studly" persona, and the girls literally drooled over him. There's nothing more obvious than a starry-eyed 13-year-old at a church lock-in (where we usually played--it was a small town), and we saw plenty of them. I got along pretty well with Todd, but he was way cooler than me, and we both knew it. He was also a bit of a bully sometimes, but in a teasing kind of way.

When I walked in Saturday night (that's the night he and his wife were able to get a sitter), he grabbed my hand, shook it and said, "Man, it is SO GREAT to see you!" We had not seen each other in over 20 years--since graduation on June of 1986. So we had lots of catching up to do. After the dinner was over (I came in at the end, because I'd had dinner at my Dad's house beforehand), they took a few group photos and we headed to the beer tent at the town carnival, which is called Old Settlers. There was a kick-ass band playing (lots of CCR, .38 Special, etc.) and people were having a hell of a great time. I saw the very first girl I ever had a crush on (her brother was in my class, but wasn't at the reunion), but she did not see me (thank God!). We hung out until about 12:30, then it started to break up...most of my classmates left with spouses, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I rumbled my way back to my Mom's house in my battered blue '94 Cavalier (with the hole that's just starting in the muffler). I thought of how much fun it had been. And how I almost hadn't gone.

Well, I got my questions answered. Yes, the people who live in town are happy. But they haven't necessarily lived in town the whole time. Many have moved to other communities. But they all seem very content with what they've done. Maybe it's time I was too. And started from here to do some great new things. There are a lot of people I want to make proud now.

The other think that struck me was how little we had all changed. The girls--every last one of them--looked just like they looked in high school, or better. Todd was voted "most changed." Where he used to be clean-shaven and slightly cocky (although likably so), with a thick head of dark blonde hair and a body of death, he was now a laid-back, friendly, humorous guy with a shaved head, a goatee, a bit of a gut, not a trace of cockiness, and an earring. (At the 10-year, I was one of only two guys that had one!)

Sometimes you SHOULD go home again. It helps you re-charge. And God, how I needed it.

I promise to get back to my bitter self later on. But I don't think I'll need to quite so often anymore (I promise to be bitchy, though. :-)) I'll post pictures when I get them.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Will I Talk to the People I Didn't Talk to Then?

I'm so unmotivated today. I don't want to be here at all, even though not everyone is around, making it quieter than usual, without the usual stupid questions every 15 seconds. I'm tired, too, since I went out last night (even though I was home by 10:30).

I'm only working half day today, because I'm going downstate. This weekend is my 20-year high school reunion. I grew up (from 12 onwards) in a really small town, and our class had 57 kids. We pretty much knew each other, and mostly everyone got along (at least by the time we graduated). It was a small, boring town which even my mother left last year. (She moved back to our old town, which is only 10 miles north, and only slightly larger, but for some reason, less..."rednecky.")

I haven't seen most of these folks since the 10-year reunion, so I have no idea what to expect. I don't look as good as I'd like to, but I wonder how much it matters, since I probably won't see these folks again for another 10 years. I wonder, too, what we'll have to talk about? I can safely say that my life has not been anything like theirs (since, except for one other person, I was the only gay person in class), and I'm not sure how comfortable I am talking about it.

One of the girls here at work said that a lot of times, the people that you never talked to in high school end up being the most fun at the reunions. Frankly, there was nobody I DIDN'T talk to in high school (I was voted "Loudest Senior" after all). And I have a feeling that we're going to end up with about 20 people there, since they couldn't find everyone!

So here I sit, 20 years after high school, most of the dreams I had having come true, but not the way I'd imagined. I wonder if the folks back home are better off having settled in that boring, safe place? I wonder if living in this city (which is giving me nightmares right now) is all that wonderful when you're out on your own? When you have no family or "support network" to really back you up, you understand what "up against the wall" really means!

Maybe this is good. I know I need to do some serious introspection and decide if I want my life to continue on its present course, or if I want to change it entirely and "shake it up." I left my hometown because I didn't want to become boring and "safe." Wouldn't it be ironic if I stayed in my rut just because THAT'S "safe?"

These and other questions will hopefully be answered in the next installment. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More Ma-Ca-Ca

I wonder how Sen. George Allen can walk these days, what with both feet in his mouth, and all.

To give him his due, he did apologize to S.R. Sidarth, the American gentleman of Indian ancestry, for calling him "macaca" several times while he was videotaping an Allen speech two weeks ago. But before we go all "aw, shucks," consider for a minute that Allen is no political novice, so this was no "youthful indiscretion"--he's running for a second term as a Virginia Republicunt Senator. He's in Washington A LOT. He knows the ropes. And he knows you don't say things like this if you don't expect them to come back and bite you in the ass later. Especially to a man with a video camera. How much louder can Allen have been begging for trouble??

Sidarth was born in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. So, not only is Allen a racist, but he's geographically ignorant, too. What more can one expect from a man who looks like Tom DeLay's-slightly-taller-Siamese-twin-who-probably-got-the-smaller-penis?

And consider this little gem, taken from the AP writeup:

"(Allen Campaign Manager Dick) Wadhams on Saturday had sent a memo to Republican leaders decrying a media 'feeding frenzy' over the remark, saying it 'did not warrant coverage in the first place,' and accusing Democrats of trying to "play the race card.'"

Sorry, the "race card" argument is feebler than Gloria Swanson with a broken hip--especially when Allen was the one who dealt that particular race card in the first place. And it didn't warrant coverage?? Surely, you jest! The man was at a campaign event, for Christ's sake--where media are expected to show up! What, are they just pissed off because Sidarth happened to have his own home footage of the whole embarrassing incident, that the Allen camp can't control (since it's made its way onto YouTube)? Hmmmm...I think we have a winner, ladies and germs!

Here's more philosophizing from the corner table at Shoney's:

"'Senator Allen needs to make it clear that he made a mistake, that this was obviously something he should not have done,' said Mike Mahaffey, a former Iowa Republican Party chairman."

Well, duh, gee, ya think so? I think maybe Senator Allen needs to be clear on that himself first. And Washington Republicans aren't real good at figuring out what they should and shouldn't do. They've had six years of frat house freedom to atrophy their already-fragile sense of propriety. Now they're just arrogant enough to hang themselves with all the rope they've been given.

So let's kick away the stool.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Children of the Corn(y)

I became embroiled in an online drama that wasn't really mine this past week, simply because I can't stand not to have the last fucking word.

One of my favorite online bloggers, Lady Bunny, posted a comment that was highly critical of Madonna. This, of course, is a loaded topic, because Madonna is one of those people who only seem to inspire very strong feelings--you either worship her or despise her. The kids came out in full force against our Bun-Bun--you would have thought that she'd blown up an Abercrombie and Fitch or something!

Now, curiously, I'm one of those people who can actually take or leave Madonna, depending on the quality of the songs, but I have to say that I've leaned towards the negative the last few years, just because it all sounds like club noise rather than real music. She's had moments of brilliance, however, and I fully give her credit for that. But this messiah-like hero worship? C'mon, kids! This is a woman who saw an opportunity, took intelligent advantage of it, recognized her audience, and played to it for all she's worth. Of course she did. That's what ANY artist does.

She also used religious symbolism as a form of protest, such as Jesus on the cross in the "Like a Prayer" video, thereby incurring the wrath of the Catholic church, as led by the (even then doddering) Pope John Paul II.

Lady Bunny's point in her post was that Madonna is not breaking any new ground and that her recent use of a cross in a concert was a cynical rehash of old shock gimmicks and devoid of any real meaning. She also threw in a few digs, like any good drag queen does. Gotta get the people talking, dontcha know.

Christ, did they. Thousands of nameless, faceless, little hopped-up-on-Ecstasy club zygotes deluged her comments board, calling her all sorts of names, accusing her of being "jealous, fat, untalented," etc. Very few of them actually addressed her point about the use of the cross as an empty gesture, because they were so incensed at somebody criticizing THEIR icon, as if Bunny somehow came late to the party.

Apparently, these little bastards can't use calendars (as well as not being able to read and spell), or they'd realize that Bunny has been around working the New York clubs since the 80s--long before some of their sorry asses popped out of their mothers' whoreholes. She is a DJ and knows the club scene pretty well. A lot of her friends worked with Madonna as she was starting out, too, so she is well-informed.

I, of course, can't keep my pie-hole shut, and when people start attacking my peeps, I'm going to rip off their heads and shit down their throats. I left some pretty narly comments for these kids myself, and for my troubles, I was lambasted in a similar fashion. Their favorite insult was "fat-ass," since apparently that's the highest form of insult in the club kid culture. Hence their predilection for speed and other metabolism and nutrient-draining drugs. Hey! They may have no teeth, but at least they can fit into their size 28 jeans. (Just don't look at their faces.)

What they can't realize is that at my age, I've been called far worse by far better people than they.

I really despair for the future of our so-called "community" if we can't even tolerate differences of opinion on pop culture. I don't even hate Madonna--as I said, I can take or leave her, and I like some of her stuff. I was really only reacting to the nasty comments these kids made about Lady Bunny, whom I regard as brilliant in her own right. I identify with her in lots of ways (and she reminds me of my relatives, with her accent and style of story-telling), and it angered me to see her maligned by these little specks of flyshit. So they all branded me an "ass-kisser." Damned tootin', and proud of it! What are these kids doing besides kissing Madonna's ass, anyway? And do you think she'll appreciate it? Sure--have your people call her peoples' peoples' peoples' people. I'm sure an invitation to dinner is forthcoming. So long as you pay $300 and wait three hours for her to show up.

Curiously enough, none of these little eunuchs on the comment board bothered to sign their name. I include my name and my blog link on all my comments, so they know just who I am, and they can come and spread some of the hate on MY blog if they want. "Let's move the party to my house," so to speak. Also, I figure that if I'm going to take the responsibility of commenting on a topic, I should have enough balls to identify myself.

But it seems that today's gay youth wants to have it all ways: they want the pleasure of shit-talkin' other people (referred to in fag vernacular as "readin'") and still retain the comfort and relative safety of anonymity. They want the freedom of being an adult without the responsibility of treating others in a responsible manner. They tell the world to "talk to the hand." No thanks, punk--Christ only knows where you've had it. Try washing it first.

I'm only glad that they won't be reproducing genetically--this country has reached its Critical Moronic Mass.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Culture of Schadenfreude

What is it about our society that we love to watch other people suffer? Or at the very least, we're indifferent to it? Images of dead Iraqis do nothing to move us anymore...old news, we see it every day. (But boy, if even one animal gets it, PETA's all over it like the ugly that's all over them).

TV has its equivalent, too. It's euphemistically called "reality television" (apparently, the networks thought that "sick voyeurism" sounded too harsh and would turn off advertisers). So now, millions of Americans tune in weekly to watch "real" people (who just happen to be connected and go through a screening process that would make the Department of Homeland Security jealous) sing/design/whittle/whatever their little hearts out, so they can cheer them on. Right. Cheer them on.

But let's get real: aren't people really watching so they can see the rest of the contestants fail and fall on their asses? Whenever I hear people recounting the episodes from the night before (which is immediately when they arrive in the morning, since we apparently have nothing more pressing to worry about), I never hear them mention how well a particular person did; it's always about how poorly the others did. "And did you see her cry? That was the phoniest thing I ever saw!" (Apparently, these folks haven't glanced in a mirror lately--as their uncoiffed hair and six inches of roots would attest.)

The worst part isn't even that people sit glued to this electronic offal like drooling zombies, or those dead-eyed Gap kids from the singing commercials of a few years back. It's that we seem to enjoy other people's misfortune so goddamned much. Is it because misery loves company? Or because "thank God it wasn't me?" I have to wonder what it is about us that makes us enjoy watching other people so unhappy.

"But, Aaron," I hear you saying, "these people voluntarily participate in the show." Yeah, well, boxers voluntarily get into the ring, too, but does that make it any more appealing to watch them beat the snot out of each other?

"But, Aaron, you yourself just said that this 'reality TV' is just a big set-up." That's not the point. The point is, people enjoy the concept of real people being humiliated on network TV. It isn't just a gameshow anymore, either, where it's over after half an hour and they go home with or without their prizes. Now it's an entire season of "gut-wrenching, must-see TV" that still, in the end, manages to look completely contrived and predictable. And we go back season after season after season for more of this dreck, like a real-life soap opera. Only it's cheaper to produce.

(On a related note, why is it that the fashion "panelists" on these shows look like their own victims? For people who are supposed to be the arbiters and barometers of taste in world couture, these bitches all look like early Hollywood's depiction of lesbians in an opium den. Faces like mud fences and huge glasses that make them look like Miss Choksondick from "South Park.")

I have to admit, I don't watch this stuff very often unless I'm at someone's house who insists on tuning in. And since I tend to purposely avoid the type of people who feed off it, I've so far not fallen victim to this "SARS of the airwaves" that is reality TV. But it's impossible to avoid it second-hand, unfortunately, and people treat the non-watchers like there's something wrong with them. After all, who wouldn't rather watch Heidi Klum stand stalk-still like a 6-foot hogweed plant, while she tells somebody in her clipped Teutonic accent that their design looks like shit? Or watch Simon Cowbell sit there, trying desperately to butch it up while he tells some plump young girl from Chicago that she's too fat to be a pop singer? (He's apparently not heard Martha Wash.) After all, it beats tuning in to CNN and watching more miserable news about Iraq, Lebanon and the Bush Administration.

The trouble is, the more we tune out of our reality and refuse to participate in anything other than escapist entertainment, the more of our lives and true reality we actually forfeit. Maybe things wouldn't be so shitty if we all got involved and demanded change. It doesn't take that much energy, people. Just some attention.

"Get used to it, Aaron!" I hear you say. "The Heidi Klum/Simon Cowell juggernaut is unstoppable." Kind of like Michael Jackson in the 80s, and Elvis Presley before that.

And we all know how those turned out, don't we?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Wasted Time

One of the things I hate about my job right now is that I get dragged into a bunch of meetings that I really don't fucking need to be in. As an administrator, I basically do the running of shit. Since I do the running for three program areas, I'm usually the "doer" while everyone else gets to dream and brainstorm. That suits me fine. But let me get the fuck on with it, hmm?

Some of the new bright young things seem to labor under the misapprehension that just because life is shiny and new for them, the rest of us want to hear about their adventures. I don't. I hate having my time wasted. And if I have to sit through a meeting, I don't want to hear people start blathering on about unrelated shit. Their weekend, their puppy dog, their children who are growing like weeds. Now, I don't mean to sound like I don't care, but...well, I don't. I don't have kids, a fancy house, a rich, full family life that I can brag about to everyone (my family lives 200 miles away), and what I DO have is pretty much my business.

And speaking of business, that's what we're here for, so let's cut the chit-chat and get this show on the road, shall we? (Instead of verbalizing these hostile sentiments, I usually just look at my watch. They get the point.)


I remember years ago when I first came and had all kinds of energy and ambition. Before I turned into the dried-out, used-up, hopeless hunk of shit you see before you now...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fresh From the Oven!

So we played our second date at the Gallery last night (this poster is actually from our last date, but the one that Terry made isn't a format Blogger would support). TONS of people showed up.

My friend Devin (we used to date many years ago, but I broke it off because I was too old for him, so we stayed friends) brought a whole group of people, as did Courtney from work, which was a surprise. She brought 3 or 4 friends. Also, Fiona, a girl I met Friday when I was volunteering at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind Centennial event, came with her husband, Alistair. They're from Glasgow and have lived in Chicago for three months. Nice young couple. I was surprised that they actually showed up, but they like live music--Fiona was telling me that they were at Lollapalooza a few weeks ago. I had told her a little about our band on Friday, and she thought it sounded "very entertaining and unusual." The look on her face when I introduced her to our 6' transgender singer was priceless! But Tracy is very naturally charming and charismatic, and won them over completely (not that they were resistant to begin with--they're young and open-minded, the way the kids are these days, dont'cha know).

We tried two sort of shaky new songs last night--a version of Madonna's "Dress You Up" and Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like A Woman," probably the least appealing song ever written or recorded. But it shows our versatility, I suppose. We have some work to do on those two especially, but they're coming along. One of my originals, "Jet Plane," is almost ready. We'll have it out for the next club date, and it will be on the CD, whenever (if ever!) we record it...

Tracy had some cool ideas, like audience participation during "Dress You Up." She had already talked to Devin's boyfriend Jay ahead of time, and he agreed to be dressed up in the hat. I told him he was lucky I'd forgotten the feather boas!

The Blondie cover went down especially well last night, and "Venus" was particularly fun for me.

And finally, it was time to pack the car up and go home. As usual, some old drunk was trying to pick Tracy up at the end of the night. She said she was giving him a ride to the "L," and I asked her if her car has an ejector seat. I told her to be VERY wary. But she did give him a ride, so hopefully all is well.

I hung out for a bit and talked some more to Devin and friends, and to Fiona and Al, and finally at 3:00 AM, I squeezed into my car (I had parked in the nearest available spot for unloading, next to one of those parkway wooden planter boxes that blocked my door from opening all the way), and began the drive back to Rogers Park.

So when the music is over, I was just another chunky, nearly middle-aged man driving a beat-up Cavalier full of drums, praying he wouldn't get pulled over because the bass drum was blocking the rear-view mirror (I wasn't pulled over). Ahhhhh, it's nice to be back to normal! :-)

We have some rough demos on our Myspace site. "Jet Plane" samples are there, and despite the fact that Tracy overdid it with the vocal overdubbing a little, and the drums were recorded separately and were a little "off" in a few spots, I thought Lisa did a nice job of mixing it down...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ah, But You See, You Have To Consider the Source

I came across this little tidbit in the news today, when reading about the defeat of Joe Lieberman in Connecticut's Democratic primary:

"Not only did it create a curious political dynamic, it provided the GOP a new opportunity to caricature Democrats as weak on security and espousing what Cheney called 'a pre-9/11 mindset.'"

I'm sorry, WHO called it a pre-9/11 mindset? Dick Cheney? The guy who shot one of his best friends while hunting and then made HIM apologize? The guy who still rakes in millions from Halliburton, which--doggone it, wouldncha know--just HAPPENS to hold the contracts on all this "infrustructure building" we're doing in Iraq? And takes vacations in Wyoming every other week?

Oh yes, he's SO credible. He's REALLY in touch with the current thing. Please sign me up to receive all HIS pearls of wisdom. And what pearls they are! Slamming on them durn peaceniks! Reminding everyone that they're weak! Stuck in that thar pre-9/11 era!

But wait--didn't he say that LAST week? And the week BEFORE? And the week before THAT? You know, maybe he's not taking all these vacations on purpose. Maybe he merely forgot that he just came from there...

And as far as "weak," excuse me, but I don't think WE'RE the ones that have a battery of a dozen doctors following us around, waiting for our heart to stop.

Maybe he and President Moosh are in a race to see who can take the most vacations. You know, sorta like that race President Moosh had with his brother (Jug-Band Jeb) six years ago, to see who could execute the most people.

You think?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Stress Busting

We had a "stress management" seminar at work earlier today. It was presented by the lady from the Employee Assistance Program (which actually is a nice thing that we can take advantage of, in case people ever need counseling or something, they can call 24/7--I haven't yet, but then I'm not finished fashioning my noose).

The seminar went over all the common causes of stress, the ways in which we react (I was alarmed to learn that I'm entering the "body shutdown" phase, where you start to develop stress-related symptoms and have trouble focusing), and ways to cope.

One of the things that's always amused me is that whenever employers offer ways to relieve stress, these methods always place all of the onus on employees: i.e., "let's look at ways to 'empower' yourself, 'manage your time,' blah, blah, blah..." (What fucking time? Oh, but that's another blog entry for another occasion.)

One of the things I did find useful was a sheet of tips for specific circumstances. On one side was the circumstance, on the other was a suggestion for a hobby to relieve stress. So "if you work under direct supervision," maybe you need "an activity without judgement."

My hobbies are music and theatre. Yeah.

Shit. I'm SO fucked.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Early Thanksgiving

Since I've been remiss in the thankfulness department, I'm going to redress this error in today's post. So here's a short list of the people and things I'm thankful for today, August 8, 2006:

* To the CTA driver on the #147 bus last night: thanks SO much for continually slamming on the brakes unnecessarily during the entire drive down Michigan Avenue, then Lake Shore Drive. I'll be sure and name my new knee after you once it arrives.

* To my next-door neighbor in Unit N-1: thanks a mil for the really loud music--I never get tired of hearing Nirvana played at top volume as your testosterone swells and you assert your alpha male status. Be sure to thank your girlfriend for leaving her cheap pink shoes in the middle of the hallway for everyone to trip over. I promise to name my new hip after her once it arrives. Is it "Erma" with an "E" or "Irma" with an "I?" Oh, and thanks also for having loud sex in the middle of Sunday afternoon, so the entire corridor can lose their appetite (can't you play some Nirvana, for Christ's sakes?).

* To the folks at work: thanks for singing and humming to yourselves while I'm trying to get some work done. It's comforting to know that this whole "employment" thing doesn't cramp the never-ending college party that you've obviously determined to cling to eternally. We'd hate to be TOO professional, now wouldn't we? Oh, and please quote lines from "Office Space" MORE often. I just CAN'T get enough! There's nothing that screams "au courant" like dialogue from an eight-year-old movie which was marginally amusing when new, and now--well, isn't new. Thanks, too, for the artificially loud laughter while I'm trying to talk on the phone. Remind me to eat chili for lunch and come stand next to your desk as a special "backatcha."

* And finally, to the folks in the Bush Adminstration: thanks, as always, for your sterling stewardship of this great nation and its resources. Thanks for showing that pesky rest-of-the-world who's boss and not backing down and "compromising your principles." Speaking of principles, thanks for being so steadfast in your "Christianity," born-again though it may be. It's important to get right with the Lord, now that you're moving all of us so much closer to him. And thanks for allowing me to learn how to get by as best I can with less money as you stuff your hands in my pockets. What? You're not going to fondle my pecker, too? Gee, what a gyp. Seems the least you could do. But I suppose you have to dash off on your race to "get yours." And I hope you do--real soon.

That's all for now. I'll be sure to post more as the need arises, or as my gratitude becomes uncomfortably engorged and tingly.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Open Letters to the Houseowners of Rogers Park

Yes, yes, I get it. You're much better and more important than all of us, because you have an entire house, with a private yard and everything. Rock on. I only live in a building with a shared courtyard, which my unit doesn't even overlook. So I can't rock. Can I just say one thing, though?

I hate you.

Yes, you read correctly. I fucking hate you. Why, you ask? One word: sprinklers.

In the past few years, I've grown to hate all of you, because I can't even take a walk (you know, on the public sidewalk) without stepping into a shower of sprinkler water every 100 feet. I know that you think you're giving us a fighting chance by using those oscillating things that switch directions every few seconds, but let's get real. At best, they don't swing all the way to the other side, meaning the water is either streaming over us or raining directly down on us. And I'm goddamned tired of walking in the street to avoid them.

I realize how important it is to use a sprinkler with a firing range of half a mile to water your eight-square-foot urban garden. Probably makes you feel all "Lord of the Manor," doesn't it? I'll bet you even come outside in the mornings to survey your acreage, tapping that riding crop on the side of your leg, nodding with grim satisfaction at the lushness of those magnolias in the box along the sidewalk, as you prepare to mount your faithful steed (or in your case, your silver Mercedes SUV with the extra-wide mud flaps, just so you can slosh pedestrians on rainy days on the off-chance they haven't had to walk through your yard-geyser).

Or maybe you rise at dawn, when the blue light first peeks over the horizon, and come out of your house draped in silk, lace and tulle, a la Stevie Nicks, and do a little Welsh witch dance among the lushness of your peony bushes. Now THAT is something I'd definitely take an early walk to see (if only to tape it and send it to the folks at "America's Creepiest Home Videos").

But I would remind you that the sidewalk is public property, and that you don't have the right to interfere with others' use of it. And placing a sprinkler at the very edge of your yard so that it sprays eight feet in both directions, and never even stops spraying in our direction long enough to make a run for it without getting our ass wet--that, my friend, is interference.

Perhaps I'll just start bringing along my hunting knife with me on these excursions. Your hoses will never be the same.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Love Children--They Taste Just Like Chicken!

I just got back from the laundromat. Yes, I still wash my clothes at a laundromat. It's not easy living the glamorous life I do.

Laundromats are notorious for containing lots and lots of children. In general, I like children fine, but I was tired after my day at work, and this particular laundromat attracts the sort of preoccupied parents that let their kids run wild. And they were. Running all around, up and down the aisles, bumping into those baskets on wheels...screaming, too. Did I mention that? Yeah--music to my fucking ears.

Well, kids will be kids, and we DO live in a big city where kids don't exactly have big yards to play in (and in this neighborhood, I don't know if I'd want them outside that often, anyway). So I understand the need to release the pent-up energy. What I do NOT understand is why these parents do not intervene when their children start misbehaving. At one point, this little girl (she was probably about four years old) kept opening my dryer door, which of course makes the dryer stop. Which makes the clothes not dry. But which doesn't stop the timer from pissing your money away. Fortunately, I saw her do it and was able to shut it again right away. I made protesting noises, because I didn't want to tell a four-year-old to fuck off. I shut the door fairly hard, hoping the little heifer would get the message. (Bearing in mind, this is the same kid who's been running into carts, not watching where she's going, screaming and playing with things that don't belong to her the whole time.)

No, she started playing with the door again almost immediately. Finally I stood by the door until she got bored and ran off to cause trouble somewhere else with some other bratty kid, then went back to reading my Agatha Christie book ("The Sittaford Mystery," which isn't a mystery to me, since I already know who murdered Captain Trevelyan, but these things are fun to read over again occasionally for the details of when they were written).

But I digress. What WAS a mystery to me was where her parents were during all this. Apparently, they don't think it's their job to monitor their kids' behavior. And I happen to know that BOTH the parents were there, too, so it's not like one of them couldn't have kept an eye on little Rhoda while the other folded the underwear or something. But no, they don't see any need. They've listened too hard to Hillary Clinton tell them it "takes a village" to raise their kids.

Fine. Here's a little tip: if I'm helping raise 'em, I get spanking privileges. Period. I do remember being in the laundromat a few times with my mom when the washing machine broke down when I was little. If I so much as peeped, my mother told me the police were going to come get me. (I didn't even know who the police were back then--I was four myself). And as for running down the aisles, forget it. If I'd tried any such thing, I wouldn't have sat down for a month.

What kills me is that these same people with the ill-behaved children simply bridle if you so much as look sideways at the little bastards when they insist on running into you during their horseplay, knocking your things over. People SO resent having others even tacitly criticize their parenting skills. But, hey, if I'm part of "the village..."

Anyway, I'm LOTS easier to placate than Social Services will be. Shall I give them a call?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Smile on the Way to Armageddon

Sometimes, in the midst of all the shit that goes on in the world, a brief bit of sunshine pops out. It looks like there really is no honor amongst thieves. Or people who help rig elections.

Why Am I Such an Idiot?

I got this call from a chirpy woman on Thursday afternoon. She was from the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Apparently, somebody (she couldn't, or wouldn't, say who) referred me for the "Jail and Bail" thing this month. I wasn't really in the mood to do this, but I figured, what the hell, I don't mind raising a few donations.

I will kick myself until I shatter my tibia.

They sent me this packet of information with lots of cloying cuteness, photos of little kids, everything that most sets my teeth on edge. They have these forms you can fax or mail asking for donations. Right! As if I have the time to fax these things out all day. Instead, I chose the online option, so people can use their credit cards if they want to and not have to worry about checks or cash. Apparently, the goal is for each stuckee--er, volunteer--to raise $2,400 (highly unlikely), although they're happy with $600 (still unlikely, but more attainable). So, if you get a chance, visit my donation page and show Jerry's Kids that you care. Because I do. More than you'll ever know.

I don't know who volunteers me for these things. But I can't wait to meet and thank them.