September 30, 2005

Asshole in Motion: A Profile of That Fourth Person to Sneak Through After the Light Changes

The First Guy: "Rightful Claimant" - This guy is not "sneaking" through the light after it changes. It's his rightful turn. What he's doing is the only way anybody's EVER going to turn left at this major intersection - he's edged out there and is biding his time in No Man's Land until it's clear. It's tense work. We support him. We ARE him.

The Second Guy: "Rider to the Bill" - I think we all agree that the second guy should be let through. Especially if he managed to edge a bit out into No Man's Land. No Man's Land is a tough spot; people should be rewarded for occupying it. Plus, in the name of getting things going, only one person being able to turn left per light is just not very efficient.

But the thing is, the validity of Second Guy's claim to make the turn is dependent on forces beyond his control. If people keep coming through that light long into the yellow, even to the point of running the red, then his case gets weaker and weaker. Unless he can really occupy that No Man's Land then it all depends on the Oncoming Jerk Factor. Not fair, but true. Second Guy is the perennial victim of the left-hand turn. I AM the Second Guy.

The Third Guy: "Maybe They Won't Notice" - Oh, we notice. Even if he makes it through with time to spare, we'll roll our eyes a bit at the nerve.

Third guy's business case for getting across is tenuous at best. If Second Guy had a problem, then Third Guy has no business even attempting it. Unless a clear window is opened by a perfect storm of not very much oncoming traffic, very speedy First and Second Guys, and the next people up to the bat people being very slow, then it's just being greedy. No extra points given by trying to get into No Man's Land to stake a false "emergency" claim, either.

Really it depends on the road and conditions.

The Fourth Guy: "Asshole in Motion" - Make no mistake, this guy is not "sneaking through," he's actively breaking the law and putting people in jeopardy. The light is red, and he's running it. If Third Guy made you roll your eyes, Fourth Guy made your jaw drop. Like certain bicyclists, the only reason he's alive is because everyone else is watching out for him, delaying their turn. And taking turns is the very cornerstone of civilization.

I don't think it's brazenness that makes him do it, I think it's a sense of entitlement. Because it's not a parking violation, the likelihood that there will be consequences for him is extremely low.

Fourth Guy also makes appearances in the line of cars that comes to a stop in the middle of an intersection during heavy traffic. It would not occur to him to wait until the other cars cleared before he crossed. If the light changes while he's out there, and you miss your turn, then tough luck for you, fella. "Wait?" "Turn?" What is the meaning of these words? They are not featured in his vocabulary.

The rules of polite honking? Forget it. There is only one way to sound his car horn, and it's full on, sustained. We hate Fourth Guy; and it's not the psychological kind of hate we use for people who are mirroring some hidden part of ourselves we don't want to acknowledge. It's the kind reserved for people who have gone to extraordinary lengths to earn it, and who are on a complete different plane of assholery than we could ever hope to achieve.

Posted by Chris on 09/30/05

Montrose and Cicero & Montrose and Western, right here in Chicago. I know full well your gripe. I don't think I have ever gone past being the second guy. The fourth guy, when I see him, there is a fire burning deep within me. One of these days, there will be an explosion. God help the fourth guy on that day.

Posted by: klugula at September 30, 2005 12:34 PM

September 29, 2005

The Reese Rolls: A Late Tale for Jessica's Birthday

The door to the dungeon opened with a long creak, spilling light into the dusty chamber below. Startled, Delores quickly put her flour-covered hands over her eyes to keep from being blinded.

A hideous troll of a man stuck his head partway through the doorway, sniffing the air a few times. His hair stuck up frightfully in the back, like a wig placed there as an afterthought. His face was craggy and lined, his eyes dark and sunken. Truly, the eye held no love for the Keeper.

"Something smells yummy down there!" he said.

Opening the door all the way, the Keeper descended into the dungeon, humming a gay tune to himself. On his shoulders hung a long black cloak. When he got to the bottom, the Keeper executed a quick little turn; then he looked back to see if it had made his cloak billow appropriately.

Now that there was more than just the light of the cooking fire to see by, Delores saw just how covered with flour she was. The chain running from her ankle to the immense wood-burning stove was even covered with it. God, how long had she been down here?

She moved slightly away from the Keeper as he entered the dank kitchen, and went back to rolling out the dough on the immense wooden table before her. The Keeper looked into the over-sized metal sheet laid on top of the stove.

The metal sheet was covered with dozens of steaming, delicious-looking yeast rolls. Butter dripped from their browned tops onto the sheet. Each of the rolls was at least half a foot long, and they were all unmistakably baked into the shape of actress Reese Witherspoon.

"Oh, these look GREAT," said the Keeper. "See? SEE? It wasn't that hard!"

Delores managed a weak smile, and moved a little farther away from him.

The Keeper broke the feet off one of the Witherspoon rolls and popped them into his mouth. Delores tried not to hold her breath as he chewed. She kept rolling the dough. The Keeper closed his eyes.

"GOD! SO good. SO light. So buttery!" he said.

A shot of confidence went through Delores. "So," she said. "Perhaps I could just finish this batch and you can... let me return home?"

The Keeper didn't respond. He picked up another of the rolls and looked at it intently. Slowly his brows furrowed.

"Hmmm. Delores, dear, I thought I'd asked you to make these yeast rolls in the shape of Reese Witherspoon?"

Delores was incredulous. What was this?

"I... I did!" she said. "I DID! Look! Look at them, they look EXACTLY like her! Really, that's what Reese Witherspoon looks like!" Did the Keeper not know what she looked like? Did his insanity extend to even that?

The Keeper continued to frown for a moment at the roll. Then a realization dawned across his craggy features.

"OH OH OH! I get it! I see what the problem is," he said with something like relief. " YOU thought I meant Reese Witherspoon as she was in 'Sweet Home Alabama!'"

Delores was silent as he continued.

"Oh NO, no no no no no no no no no," he said, laughing. "I meant Reese Witherspoon in 'Cruel Intentions!' Oh no. NO! Not 'Sweet Home Alabama,' but 'Cruel INTENTIONS,' my dear! These will all have to be redone!"

Taking three or four of the rolls off the sheet and stuffing them into his pocket, the Keeper cast the rest into the flames of the stove.

Delores could barely believe it. She was so sure... she'd been so CLOSE to finally getting out.

"I... I just think those looked a LOT like Reese Witherspoon," she managed weakly. "Maybe if you'd told me which film you meant-"

"Oh, I see the problem," the Keeper interrupted. "Your fire is too low."

Delores tensed. The Keeper went to the pile of wood in the corner, and grabbing two logs, threw them into the stove. Then, as if still unhappy with the flames, he took a third piece of wood from the pile. But instead of throwing this one in the fire, he walked past the stove, and humming softly, smacked Delores with it full against her back.

Delores went flying through the air, then suddenly jerked to a stop when she reached the limit of her chain. She fell in a heap on the dank stones. A cloud of flour hung in the air.

"Maybe you'll remember THAT next time you make my yeast rolls in the shape of the wrong Reese Witherspoon," said the Keeper.

He turned quickly, his cloak twirling appropriately behind him, and stalked out of the dungeon. Delores noted through her pain that the hem of his cloak was covered with flour.

Delores struggled to her feet, and moved back to the dough. She should never have thought she could leave today. Like every other day when she'd made some effort towards escape, she had been walloped by a log, but good.

Posted by Chris on 09/29/05

September 28, 2005

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

A great movie about exorcism would be a priest having to take the stand in a modern-day criminal trial and make his case to a jury about why he thought someone was possessed by demons, and why he thought modern medicine could not have helped them.

What about a story that fully took on the ramifications of believing in the devil in the modern world? That dealt with faith vs. fact in our lives? Why should demonic possession be fantastic to a jury when resurrection, transubstantiation or Mother Mary in a Cheese Sandwich isn't? A movie like that could be the next "Inherit the Wind."

And practically speaking, is there anything left for cinema to depict when it comes to a young girl writhing in demonic torment, vomiting and uttering deep-voiced curses in ancient Aramaic? No. Better to go the pensive route.

"The Exorcism of Emily Rose" thought about being that movie, but gave up early. The hero of the film isn't the priest, but the lawyer. But unfortunately the most it can pull off is a C+ effort at having the conversation it seems to start. To its credit, it expertly walks the line between legal drama and supernatural thriller, shying away from full-fledged horror.

Watching lawyers at work is as familiar in the movies as watching cowboys shoot it out. A film has to work hard to make it fresh, but "Emily Rose" expends no effort here. Because they chose a more analytical approach, I wanted the legal scenes to be very intelligently written. Too bad.

I found myself asking procedural questions that I should not have been engaged in at all. Would a lawyer really be reading a book about exorcisms the night before a trial? Does any lawyer meet with a witness in a park? Is there no other way to introduce a lawyer as protagonist without setting up the standard assistant D.A. who says her career is riding on the outcome?

Amusingly, although the judge seems intent on keeping order in the court, there is basically nothing she won't allow to happen. She reminded me of the judge on the Simpsons who, though it goes against all jurisprudence and precedent, allows Lisa to stand up and address the jury, because she can never resist kids.

Although most of the supernatural elements are done well - which is to say, always with an eye towards plausable deniability - the actual exorcism is as clumsily handled as the legal scenes. There's nothing dramatic about Emily managing to elude the priest, the doctor, her boyfriend, and her father during the exorcism, and then running into a barn, where they manage to finish the ritual, much to the freak-out of all nearby livestock. It just comes off as dumb and sloppy. Not once, despite repeated warnings that she is prone to hurt herself, is Emily restrained in bed.

The movie needed to either be smarter or just go ahead and be a dumb horror film. By the end I felt that not only could I have tried the case better, I could have performed the exorcism myself as well.

Other questions:

  • Is "ritual exorcism" redundant?

  • Isn't claiming to be possessed by Belial AND Lucifer a bit much? Aren't those the big guys? Isn't that like a crazy person claiming to be Napolean?

  • Was there no other way to get the important witness out of the movie than having a car suddenly slam into him? It was almost as abrupt as the knight riding in and killing the historian with a sword in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Alternate punchline to this point: I felt like "The Omen" was making a sudden cameo appearance. Second alternate punchline to this point: Was this the Car from that pivotal seventies horror film, "The Car?" Back for revenge?

  • Why is the priest on trial and not the parents? But oy, don't get me started on faith-based medicine.

    Note: It turns out that in the real case this story is based on, which occurred in the seventies in Germany, the parents WERE charged. OK. Read the real story of Anneliese Michel, who was dealt the terrible hand of having Grand Mal Epilepsy AND hyper-religious parents AND an imaginative local priest here or here. It's more interesting than the dramatized version. I would have preferred a Bill Kurtis documentary of Anneliese Michel's case to "Emily Rose."

    Posted by Chris on 09/28/05

    Thanks for getting back to the blog - I missed it something awful!

    Posted by: Vickery at September 28, 2005 12:52 PM

    It's all for you, Damien! All for you!

    Sorry - my head is still in the "devil-movie" space.

    I'm so glad that you like the blog! It makes my day!

    Posted by: Chris at September 28, 2005 12:57 PM

    So, question then: Is the level of child endangerment in this movie more or less disturbing than the Exorcist Prequel? Discuss!

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at September 29, 2005 10:55 AM

    Young Emily Rose was of college age, and no children were depicted as affected by her wild ravings, so it lacked that element. However, I do think the actress who played her should have received hazard pay based on the wild contortions they required of her.

    Posted by: Chris at September 29, 2005 12:47 PM
  • September 27, 2005

    Got Horseplay? Get Kid-Fix!

    This last weekend we took a brief vacation in Rancho Santa Fe, (hence the brief hiatus on this page) and as I was returning a day later than Wife Ami, I took the train back alone.

    I have indicated before that rail travel is a great antidote to not just air travel, but stress in general. And I still believe that. I bought my ticket (cheap), sauntered down to the track, waited about 15 minutes for the train, then got onboard in an unhurried manner. I found an unreserved seat, reflexively reached for the herniating seatbelt, and found to my great pleasure that there was none. Sweet freedom.

    Soon the smooth, gliding journey up the coast began. My plan to write and look impressive doing so as I gazed pensively out at the ocean transmogrified into a scheme to nap until Anaheim. Far away I could hear a train passing through the countryside, and eventually I realized it was the one I was on.

    But I have discovered a problem with this lack of restriction on trains: it gives rise to horseplay amongst the youth. As I was waiting for the train a handful of 15-year old Ne'er-Do-Wells were loitering around the track, speaking loudly, slapping and pushing at one another, waving skateboards about dangerously, uttering profanities, harboring ridiculous opinions based on nonsense, and in general being oafish and disrespectful in thought, deed, and hairstyle. I knew it was too much to hope that they were just there to sell drugs to one another or sniff solvents. I cast an eye Heavenward, to Jesus.

    ME: You're going to seat those miscreants next to me, aren't you, O Lord? On a train of ten cars and hundreds of possible seats, they will be next to me, won't they? Just like in Orlando.

    JESUS: For if there be trolls, verily it is written that they shall gravitate unto you.

    And verily, they eventually all did find their way to my car. These were bad kids. I don't mean bad like no one's looking bad, I mean Lord of the Flies bad. I mean like five years away from Clockwork Orange bad. You think I'm some sort of kid-hating bastard but these were kids like in that movie "Kids." In a year one of them will discover that shooting dogs is fun; in two they'll learn how to set bums on fire to alleviate the oppressive boredom.

    I find myself at times like this wishing there was some sort of fixative that you could spray on kids out in public, to affix them in place and to shut them up. As it would need to render them not only immobile, but silent, it would have to be permeable to air but not sound. Ideally, it would also feature some sort of topical anesthetic to stun them. It would wear off in about six hours and they could resume their productive lives.

    I call this fantasy adhesive Kid-Fix, and it would be available in single cans (for one child) or in family packs (for a whole crowd). Any adult should legally be allowed to use it on a minor. It is also ideal for putting down mobs and unrest.

    But it wasn't as bad as it could have been. For some reason I managed to ignore them, even as they played Squeal n' Punch for a good thirty minutes. Eventually they left. A couple of times I saw other adults look back and glower at them, and I found myself, to my shame, beaming waves of suggestion at those adults: Get up and put that in order. Are you really going to let those little bastards scream that way? Go abuse one of those kids - no one will say anything.

    Posted by Chris on 09/27/05

    A mere 3 weeks ago, I would have killed someone for an ounce of your miracle spray. The details are too harsh to mention here. Let's just say that I have made an oath (how long will it stick?) to never return to a movie theatre for my viewing (dis)pleasure. All thanks to the loud mouthed, disrespectful behavior of several teenaged girls. Thanks girls, for you have cemented my belief that the human race is headed for certain doom. Where were you Chris, with your much needed product?

    Posted by: KLUGULA at September 27, 2005 7:00 PM

    There is no value in not sharing the details. They must be made known for me to properly judge these girls. Tell!

    Posted by: Chris at September 28, 2005 7:03 AM


    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at September 28, 2005 9:25 AM

    Or... the GIANT one.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at September 28, 2005 9:26 AM

    Well, I will tell as much as I can w/out people looking down upon me and mine. The youngsters talked through the previews, and once the feature (Emily Rose) began, I asked that they please be quiet now. Well, the attitude erupted from them, and they apparently called me a "cracker". It all went downhill from there, until we were asked to step outside by the management. We will not be returning to our favorite theatre. On top of that, the friend who attended w/ us, we will probably never socialize w/ again. He probably would not have it.

    Posted by: klugula at September 28, 2005 9:42 AM

    Verdict: Those girls are guilty. Your movie privileges are reinstated at that theatre. However, you must do two hours of community service by watching "Roll Bounce." I have spoken.

    Posted by: Chris at September 28, 2005 1:02 PM

    September 22, 2005

    Why the hell...

    ... would they send live video of a plane's dramatic emergency landing to the screens onboard the plane so that the passengers could see?

    From CNN:

    The airliner circled Southern California for hours, crippled by a faulty landing gear, while inside its cabin 140 passengers watched their own life-and-death drama unfolding on live television.

    While satellite TV sets aboard JetBlue Flight 292 were tuned to news broadcasts, some passengers cried. Others tried to telephone relatives and one woman sent a text message to her mother in Florida attempting to comfort her in the event she died.

    "It was very weird. It would've been so much calmer without" the televisions, Pia Varma of Los Angeles said after the plane skidded to a safe landing Wednesday evening in a stream of sparks and burning tires.

    We caught the landing on TV at a bar and we were clutching at each other in fear as that thing touched down - can you imagine if you had been watching it from on the plane?

    Why, why, why, WHY, would they show them that? I'm not even sure why they would tell them that the front wheel was stuck in the wrong position in the first place. Would you want to know? NOT ME! Nope, not at all!

    Listen, if there's a great chance I'm going to explode into a ball of flame in the next three hours, and there's nothing I can do about it, your job is to NOT LET ON.

    Obviously I'm going to question why we're circling LAX for three hours, so here's what you do: MAKE SOMETHING UP, JACKASS. The smoke detector was tampered with in the bathroom, we forgot to bring the Fresca, we can't get the cockpit door open, I forgot my chapstick, I lost the directions to LaGuardia, I think I left the iron on, SOMETHING, JUST MAKE UP SOME SHIT.

    Here comes airline complaint #627: why are they so completely inept at understanding what information the poor bastards back in the cabin actually need? I'm just dozing off - because precious sleep is the only thing that makes riding in that human packing container bearable - and suddenly the pilot comes over the intercom at TOP VOLUME to give the temperature outside the plane in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Why? Why? Why?

    There's really only three things I need to know as a passenger who has completely surrendered my fate to the pilot:

    1. When are we arriving.

    2. When is the drink cart coming through.

    3. When is it OK to get up and go to the bathroom.

    That's it! OK, look - if the Grand Canyon is visible out the window, YES, I wouldn't mind hearing that. But I do not need to know:

    1. Our airspeed.

    2. The temperature outside the plane.

    3. That you thank me for choosing this airline because you know I have a choice when I fly, because it's a lie - you don't care and I had no choice.

    4. Any slight changes to our heading, given in degrees.

    5. What cities we'll pass over.

    6. That something has gone wrong with the plane and now we're going to circle L.A.X. for three hours to burn off fuel so we lessen the size of the inevitable fireball when we land, oh and by the way here's a picture of what the plane looks like from the ground, see how you can clearly spot that the front wheel is stuck in the wrong position? That's crazy, we could NEVER land with that!

    Shut up and drive!

    Posted by Chris on 09/22/05

    I heard they had all of the televisions shut off, soon after they found out what was going on. But, I get my news from spirits of the beyond. I don't know how reliable they are.

    Posted by: klugula at September 22, 2005 10:22 AM

    September 20, 2005

    A new wedding tradition

    For all of you that may be planning your wedding, here's a little tidbit for you to consider. You have a lot on your mind and it's something I think you should just get ready for, and accept, and let it roll off of you.

    Ready? Here it is. There is no force in the Universe - not gravity, not entropy, not electromagnetism, neither the strong nor the weak nuclear force, not the Force, not force of habit, not even sheer force of personality - that can keep your friends and family together and on hand for pictures after the ceremony. They will all wander away.

    Do you understand? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS NO FORCE GREAT ENOUGH IN THE UNIVERSE TO HOLD THAT GROUP TOGETHER ONCE THE CEREMONY IS OVER? There is an open bar just feet away and that counteracts anything else that can possible compel them to be available! The minister saying "Man and Wife" was like the hammer falling on a shotgun shell, and your guests and wedding party are the grains of gun powder. They are SO GOING TO THE BAR.

    Do you remember that scene in "Color Purple" when Mr. _____ pulled Nettie and Celie apart and then brutally chased Nettie away? And told her never to come back? And it was heartbreaking and then when she was a distance away she turned around and said to him "Nothing but death can keep me from her!" Do you remember that? Your wedding pictures are like that! Except Nettie is your guests, and what she's talking about is the bar!


    That list you made of all the photo combinations you want of grandparents and aunts and bridesmaids? It's printed out carefully and in 14 point type and given to the photographer? FORGET IT. Better to print out a mugshot of everyone you want in pictures, because I guarantee you whoever you get to round these stray cats up has no idea what Aunt Dotty and Cousin Huey look like.

    I'm saying to you that Christ Himself could descend from Paradise on His Fiery Chariot pulled by a Terrible Swift Steed, and point His Flaming Bloody Sword of Christian Love right at Aunt Mabel, and say VERILY I SAY UNTO THEE AUNT MABEL, IT WOULD BE VERY NICE IF YOU COULD STICK AROUND BECAUSE WE'D LIKE TO GET SOME PICTURES WITH YOU AND THE BRIDE AND GROOM, and then you'll turn around and Aunt Mabel will be nowhere to be seen. Where is she? She's wandering around the reception with a champagne glass in her hand like an idiot, clueless that people are looking for her.

    So I'm saying to you, try your best but don't let it ruin your good time. And here's my real contribution: Why not make a game out of it? All those kids at the wedding? Send them out a-hunting for wandering family members, and give prizes for who can round up the greatest number first. I'm not kidding, I think this is the answer.

    Posted by Chris on 09/20/05

    Better yet, remember we are not interested in any "theme" your gifts on your own time so, we can have more time at the BAR!!!!

    Posted by: Barclay at September 22, 2005 8:19 AM

    I'm all for private gift-opening time. I am immensely thankful for any gifts I receive but don't make me put on a gift-opening performance in front of people! That's excruciating for everyone involved!

    Posted by: Chris at September 22, 2005 10:43 AM

    Music in my phone?

    Now I can buy a MotoROKR with iTunes, and I can listen to music on my phone? Well hot damn! The time of device convergence is nigh! Yay!

    Only I don't want music in my phone. I want a phone in my iPod.

    Note to Apple: I don't want a video iPod, I want a phone iPod.

    Further note to Apple: From a purely theatrical perspective, the spectacle of Steve Jobs coming onstage in a black turtleneck and jeans holding up some tiny, streamlined white device that is 45% smaller than the last one, is SOOOOO done. Find something else.

    Posted by Chris on 09/20/05

    September 19, 2005

    An observation about children and their parents at continental breakfasts

    I have observed that as a child at the continental breakfast, there is literally nothing you can do to not get into some sort of trouble with your parents.

    I have never seen a happy morning meal between Mom and Dad and Junior at a hotel. There is always something that the kid is doing wrong according to them, never moving fast enough, getting the wrong things like WAY too many Waffle Stix or Fruit Loops, not sitting down fast enough, or sitting in the wrong place, holding up the omelette station, whatever.

    Maybe there's something about the confluence of the buffet (with all its unauthorized sugary breakfast choices suddenly made available, getting the kid way too revved up), other hotel guests milling about (not watching for small hands, not allowing for small bodies suddenly underfoot), and a drowsy, usually private family moment turned public (and shoved into some small antechamber off the lobby) that makes parents especially testy and nervous.

    This may be how they do breakfast on the "continent," but give them breakfast in the proper colonial style any day.

    Posted by Chris on 09/19/05

    There is one exception to parental conflict at a breakfast bar....go with your grandparents. Then you can get 6 boiled eggs, 3 waffles, 2 pop tarts,
    18 cups of assorted juices, 4 boxes of cereal that you can eat from, and finish off with an apple to go. Gparents don't even care that most of the starving people in the world could survive for one day on what you put in the trash! Shalom.

    Posted by: Annie Mae at September 27, 2005 11:43 AM

    Oh, yeah - that.

    Oh yeah, I forgot - our election system is totally rigged. And I'm not talking about the College, either.

    Posted by Chris on 09/19/05

    September 14, 2005

    Finally I settle on a tattoo

    I've wondered for years what design or saying could be so special to me that I would have it etched indelibly in my flesh. Finally, I have it - this special message to the merchants of the world that I plan to have carved onto my forehead:


    What do you think? It will save so much time! And with a barbed-wire border, or some Chinese characters on the side, it will look so cool.

    Posted by Chris on 09/14/05

    What if they ask you for 2 cents?

    Posted by: klugula at September 15, 2005 5:08 AM

    Then I have to pull up my sleeve and show a SECOND tattoo on my shoulder, which says:


    Posted by: Chris at September 15, 2005 8:48 AM

    I Am a Man of Constant Bitching

    As an adult I reserve the right to complain bitterly and at length about matters of any size, regardless of what hardships are being experienced by less-fortunate people elsewhere in the world. I consider that one of the privileges of adulthood, like staying up late and having as many Pop Tarts as I damn well please.

    I'm not a fan of always keeping the worst possible scenario from history in your head to compare daily tiny tribulations against. I don't want to have to stifle a scream when I stub my toe because Stalin tortured people. Don't ask me to keep the refugees of Katrina in mind when I complain about the size of my closets. I'm aware that people suffered horribly under Pol Pot but the fact of the matter is the guy upstairs won't turn his music down.

    I can understand the need to provide a child with a little bit of global context when they won't finish a meal, but as an adult, I may leave a bite or two on my plate. My response now is the same as it's always been: the children of China are welcome to any bean, pea, squash, or okra that lands on my plate; I leave the logistics to you.

    Posted by Chris on 09/14/05

    Here, here!

    Posted by: klugula at September 15, 2005 5:07 AM

    One of my more favoreit quotes is "If you ain't bitchin' you ain't breathing" it is a motto I live by.

    Posted by: Vickery at September 15, 2005 10:30 AM

    September 13, 2005

    A Life Unfinished

    Here's what I need Morgan Freeman to do - take a role that reminds us of how dangerous he was in "Street Smart." I know he has been in some high-profile roles for for a few years and that has landed him some awards, but he's also been playing it safe.

    I don't want to see him in any movies with Ashley Judd for awhile, unless he's back-handing her, and nothing with Clint Eastwood or Robert Redford either, unless he is kicking their ass. Nothing against these other three actors, but Freeman has found a niche and I need him to get out of that and show us what we know he can do. I don't want him playing a gentle soul, dispensing bits of hard-earned wisdom. I don't want any more grandfathers, Gods, or chauffeurs (althought that was a great performance) for a few years.

    I'd like to see him take a role like Al Pacino's Lucifer in "Devil's Advocate," or better yet, Michael Douglas's Gecko in "Wall Street."

    Posted by Chris on 09/13/05

    I whole heartedly agree. I have heard nothing but good things about "Street Smart". Is it worth a look?

    Posted by: KLUGULA at September 13, 2005 3:55 PM

    Morgan Freeman Buys A Pop A Shot Machine

    Posted by: friend jessica at September 13, 2005 5:21 PM

    Absolutely - rent "Street Smart" not just for Freeman, but for Christopher Reeve and Mimi "Rapture" Rogers.

    Posted by: Chris at September 13, 2005 9:12 PM

    I loaned you that movie, didn't I? Did you ever watch it?

    Posted by: klugula at September 14, 2005 7:15 AM

    The Rapture I mean.

    Posted by: klugula at September 14, 2005 7:15 AM

    Yes! Remember, we discussed how it was interesting how creepy the movie was, having stuck so faithfully to the Left Behind ideas. We also discussed the naughty bits of the movie.

    If you've lost that tape, don't you be comin' round trying to tie that around MY neck. I remember bringing it back to you and you said how sad it was that we were to the point of returning borrowed things before moving. SO THERE.

    Posted by: Chris at September 14, 2005 4:56 PM

    No, that was not an accusatory comment. I did get it back. I just could not recall if it was you who had borrowed it. Cuz the other one you borrowed was Smooth Talk. Now I recall.

    Posted by: klugula at September 15, 2005 5:05 AM

    September 12, 2005

    Spontaneous Lenticular Photography Only, Please

    I am looking at the pictures we took at our recent, fabulous trip to Phoenix for Labor Day, and it is clear to me that in the future I can only allow a certain, very specific type of photo of myself to be taken.

    On quick scan, not only the Phoenix shots, but really all the pictures taken of me in the last, let's say twenty years, reveal that there remains only one thin angle from which it is advisable to observe me. I am like one of those lenticular pictures that can only be viewed when you hold the card in a certain way.

    I also require a very specific sort of lighting, otherwise I look wan and anemic. And I need the picture to be spontaneous, please - being asked to pose makes me appear to "swell up" for some reason, as if I'm trying to attract a mate from a group of local partridges.

    If I don't have these three things, I end up looking like some sort of inflated, pale worm - something over-fed and under-exercised, something for which the camera has no love.

    If this were a movie from the forties featuring a plot of intrigue and murder, I would be the guy that Bogart slaps around in the hotel lobby for info, the one that mops his brow a lot with a hanky, wears a bow tie, and then later turns up dead.

    Someone accidentally snapped an appropriate photo of me this summer from the correct angle and conditions, which I am putting into wide circulation even now.

    Posted by Chris on 09/12/05

    I have a frame on the ready just waiting for the perfect photo which I hope I am in with you! Please keep coming back until we capture all of us in that perfect light!

    Posted by: Vickery at September 13, 2005 9:55 AM

    September 9, 2005

    Leave the President Alone

    Just a quick political post so I don't explode, and then I'll try to go back to avoiding this kind of thing:

    Why don't all you people blaming President Bush about the government's response to Katrina just shut up? Nothing's going to come from all this whining and ultimately it's just a waste of Maalox.

    Unless you're talking impeachment, and you're not, then in my mind a better use of your time would be to start making sandbags. Because we have three more hurricane seasons to go through with this guy - and the current one's not really over.

    Take your whole big ball of complaints - four years talking about disaster preparedness and this is their response, that this exact thing was listed as one of the top three potential disaster scenarios years ago, that Halliburton of all companies has gotten a contract to do reconstruction in the Gulf, that federal money for levee repair was diverted to Iraq, not to mention National Guardsmen, that his FEMA director seems to have had no emergency response background, your complete shock that there is now basically a city's worth of refugees floating around now - and stuff it in a sack.

    Because in three weeks no one will be talking about this anymore. George Bush will appear somewhere, say "Jesus," and he'll again be the guy more than half of the country likes because, really, wouldn't you rather have a beer with him than John Kerry with that big ol' poofy hair?

    People: if you're not talking impeachment, then shut up and start filling sandbags.

    UPDATE: I see we've already had the "Jesus" moment. Excellent. At least for consistency's sake, it's good to know the President's approach to a national emergency is faith-based like everything else.

    And it's good to know that when things get tough in the polls, a politician can always retreat to that ol, rugged base.

    Posted by Chris on 09/ 9/05

    Just out of curiosity, what did you think of Kanye West's comments during the fund raiser a few nights ago? Since the whole country's talking about it, I assume you have thoughts on the matter...

    Posted by: S. William Foley at September 9, 2005 2:14 PM

    Can I get an Amen?!

    Posted by: Vickery at September 9, 2005 2:15 PM

    I try to avoid making a statement about what someone is actually thinking, because I'm not psychic. So I have no idea if Bush actually doesn't care about black people.

    But based on what I've seen of his actions for six years, six long, long, LONG years, I SUSPECT that it's not necessarily black people, but just poor people - people without influence - that Bush doesn't care about, of any race.

    And my further guess is that for him it's not so much about actively seeking poor people harm as it is about not really thinking about them at all; except in a very abstract way when he has to make comforting murmurs about them at press events. I don't think he doesn't care about poor people, I think that for him they just don't register at all.

    We've seen his lack of curiosity about things outside his immediate grasp in a MULTITUDE of other places; based on this and his actions, or more precisely, his INactions, I think it's reasonable to assume that a person below a certain economic level has no interest for him.

    To be fair this does not by itself make him an extraordinary example of a politician out of touch with his constituents. But he IS extraordinarily bad at even feigning concern.

    And regarding Kanye: I don't blame somebody for speaking out when they have the chance.

    Posted by: Chris at September 9, 2005 3:04 PM

    September 8, 2005

    Tech Support Knock-Knock Joke #2: Panicked Data Restores


    Who's there?


    The End.

    Previous Tech Support Knock-Knock Joke

    Posted by Chris on 09/ 8/05

    Well, I had to read through it twice, but yeah, it's funny. I get it. The key to the joke is "polpitations". Gets me every time.

    Posted by: Just Pete at September 9, 2005 6:40 AM

    September 7, 2005

    The Rule of Abandoned AC Adaptors

    When we moved to Santa Monica we lost about half our storage and living space, but I am lucky enough to work at a place that let me store some boxes of stuff.

    Yesterday I was going through one of those boxes, and I found a largish one filled with nothing but a wide miscellania, nay, a veritable cornucopia, of AC adaptors.

    There was other adaptaria in evidence - of the USB, MIDI, XLR, FIREWIRE (4-6 pin), US to UK VOLTAGE, and UNKNOWN variety - but, unlike the AC adaptors, those can be reused.

    The rule of AC adaptors is, if you find some packed away in a box, they are useless to you. Because you have no idea what piece of electronica they all went with, they all look the same, and you'll never get them untangled anyway.

    AC adaptors operate on a fairly fast-acting orphaning principle. Unlike, say, the beloved penguins of "March of the Penguins," the longer they are apart from their mate, the less chance that they will ever be united.

    If you ever make the dreaded mistake of separating an AC adaptor from its device, then what you have basically done is create the beginnings of a technology tumbleweed.

    The orphaned AC adaptor will call out to its orphan brothers, and they will begin to form one large mass of untangleable cords - useless to everyone for the rest of time, but for some reason impossible to discard.

    Posted by Chris on 09/ 7/05

    I think that may be the offspring of the massive tumbleweed-'o-adapters we had kicking around here on the 28th floor for a while... you recall that, don't you? After all, we found it UNDER YOUR OLD DESK WITH THE ADORABLE BABY DUCK SAILOR OUTFIT!!!

    Aren't inside jokes fun? Let's see if Relpek or FattyFattyFatFatFatFatFattyFatterFat pop up...

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at September 8, 2005 8:14 AM

    Now, that's different. I only hoarded laptop AC adaptors because of their intense street value in an IT situation.

    Posted by: Chris at September 8, 2005 10:47 AM

    Thanks Dekilon, I totally remember this obsession of his. He couldn't stop himself.
    Every time someone would come into our office and look at handeye's empty chair, I'd say "he's, you know, ORGANIZING THE AC ADAPTERS and everybody in the room would shudder, shake their heads and leave to wash their hands. I was hoping you would have gotten past this by now, Captain Queeg. AND WHO WILL PAY FOR THE STRAWBERRIES IN THE WARDROOM??

    Posted by: Fattyfat at September 8, 2005 1:44 PM

    September 6, 2005


    One word to my fellow man in India regarding the phone numbers:


    I'm not a computer. Let's break these long strings of numbers up into something the human eye can parse. I had to call someone yesterday in India and the number was given to me as something like


    Come on. I need these things broken up into country code, region, prefix, number. When I see a long line of numbers like that I feel like I should beep at the end.

    Because I have never been able to connect to someone on the first try when I am dialing India, I "reached out" to some of my coworkers there via IM - precious, instantaneous, text-based IM - and got varying responses.

    "Take out the + 91 before the number," I was told.

    "You've got the country code and region code transposed," someone else said.

    "Add + 91 before the number," went another piece of advice.

    But - what is the number? The BASE telephone number? Which part is that? If only there were some way we could set that part off from the rest - AH! But there is! And it's this: -

    The simple, number-breaking-up dash.

    The International Dialing Page I always go to was no help. Neither, I was shocked, shocked, SHOCKED to learn, was the company phone directory, which features plenty of dashes, but no apparent order on where they will go. I see work numbers that are three numbers followed by eight, also three followed by seven, then ten in a row, etc. Not everyone agrees that I am to add +91 before the numbers, but it's in the majority. Still, I insist that, as in music, the timing of that repeated measure is pretty important.

    Posted by Chris on 09/ 6/05

    I, too, am continuously baffled by intercontinental dialing. Why must this be so f-ing difficult.

    Let's set down one rule for every country, sure Revelations warns against it, but it would make life easier. You get a two digit code, then area code and phone number. FOR EVERYWHERE. That will ALWAYS BE THE CASE.

    And when reading me a number, read it to me AS IT SHOULD BE DIALED. Remove the superfluous numbers. We are not running a trivia contest, I am trying to contact someone.

    Posted by: friend jessica at September 7, 2005 11:29 AM

    Non Sequitor Theatre

    Here's the deal with the instant messaging. I love it. I'm a big fan of the IMs. It's instantaneous, it's written, and for me that's a good combo.

    Like someone that finds out they're really good at making sculptures out of old circuit boards, or maybe they learn they're a master at carving driftwood, or a true artist at doing paint-by-numbers pictures of sad clowns, I have found that of all things instant messaging really unlocks some improvisational creative spark for me. I don't know why. I don't understand it. But if there were a Second City for instant messaging, I'd be, and I don't think I'm exaggerating here, maybe the George Carlin of that genre.

    But I don't hang out on IM anymore, because talking with some people on AIM or Yahoo is like attending Non Sequitor Theatre. They suddenly ask a question, or make a comment, and I'll maybe ask for a little more info or just continue that line of thinking, and then... nothing. They're still online, but nothing. It was a drive-by commenting, and I'm left there alone, hurt, sad, confused, my clever comments unacknowledged and wasted.

    Then, several hours later, hey! They discover the little IM box they'd opened underneath some other programs, like a forgotten toy. And suddenly they remember - hey, I started a conversation. Then they'll respond, but meanwhile I've moved on to other business and I don't remember what the hell they're talking about.

    At any given moment I have three to four instant message boxes open on my screen, little dangling conversations just waiting to rotate back into someone's attention span.

    Look, I know everybody's at work, and I don't demand intense focus on a casual conversation. But some rules still apply. If you come onto IM and ask me a question, don't just fire and forget. And it's not just casual conversations, it's work-related ones as well. Afford me the additional 15 seconds I might need for a follow-up.

    Talking with some people on Instant Message is like connecting to their departed spirit via seance. Their link to the earthly plane goes in and out, and I'm lucky if I can glean any hard data.

    With others I feel like I'm typing away to Ed Harris in "Abyss" as he plummets deeper into the ocean. They're blacking out from the pressure and can barely muster lucidity, and meanwhile I'm just trying to be pleasant and maybe save the ship.

    Sometimes it's easier to just stay off the IM.

    Posted by Chris on 09/ 6/05

    We don't use IM @ work, cuz a guy got canned for overusage. So, I know very little about IM. But I do love your Abyss reference.

    Posted by: klugula at September 6, 2005 1:42 PM

    It's a magical tool, but like many things on The Internets, can be abused.

    Posted by: Chris at September 6, 2005 2:44 PM

    Jesus CHRIST, why not take out a billboard that says I HATE JESSICA?

    Posted by: friend jessica at September 7, 2005 7:43 AM

    Come on! You KNOW I'm not talking about you! You are one of only two human beings I know who can IM at this level! I had a line in there about how we were the Nichols and May of our own IM world, I just took it out because of the Carlin thing. My God, no one who co-created the long-running IM routine "I've Got Your Goat" could be considered a Non Sequitor IMer. No one who co-conceived the brilliant, universally admired "Eternal Dinner Party" IM series would be an Ed Harris Falling Down the Abyss IMer.

    Posted by: Chris at September 7, 2005 4:51 PM

    September 2, 2005

    Imagined dialogue between myself and the "Touch The Ceiling" rock-climbing route yesterday

    (I am about two-thirds of the way up on the “TOUCH THE CEILING” route, maybe fourteen feet off the ground. I can’t quite reach the next hold and it’s a really small one anyway. My arms are starting to shake and I don’t trust that foothold I’m on. It looks like I’m going to have to wave off – this one is a lot harder than I thought.)

    I just want you to know, “TOUCH THE CEILING” route, how sorry I am about this. When I started off, I had the best intentions-

    (Suddenly that foothold shifts just a bit. Not much, just enough to make me catch my breath.)

    Oh, I'm sorry. Did that break your concentration? I didn't mean to do that. Please, continue. I believe you were saying something about "best intentions."

    (I can't say a word.)

    Whatsamatter? Oh, you were through anyway. Well, let me retort! Would you describe for me what this route looks like?

    (I’m too shaken to speak. I weakly try to adjust my foot to a different place.)

    What country you from!


    "What" ain't no country I know! They speak English in "What?"


    English-motherfucker-can-you-speak- it?


    Then you understand what I'm sayin'?


    Now describe what this route looks like!

    I- what?

    (The foothold shifts again. I take my right foot off entirely, balanced now only by my left on a small foothold.)

    Say "What" again! C'mon, say "What" again! I dare ya, I double dare ya motherfucker, say "What" one more goddamn time!

    (I tug on the rope a little bit.)

    Now describe to me what this route looks like!

    Well, it’s… it’s got green handholds…

    Go on!

    ...and… and… there’s a part where it slopes outwards-

    Does it look like a bitch?!

    (Without thinking) What?

    (The other foothold shifts, and I slip off completely. The rope catches me a foot down, but not before banging me against the wall. I whimper like a beaten dog. There's a cute girl down there, too, and I'm sure she saw.)


    (In pain, embarrassed) No.

    Then why did you try to fuck it like a bitch?!

    I didn't.

    Yes ya did, Chris. Ya tried ta fuck 'it. You ever read the Bible, Chris?


    There's a passage I got memorized, seems appropriate for this situation: Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak-

    OK, I’m done.

    Wait, I'm not finished.

    (Bill lowers me to the ground. In an effort to regain some masculinity, I go over to the “LI’L K2” climb.)

    OK, this one looks easier.

    LI’L K2 CLIMB:
    You lookin’ at me? You lookin’ at me? I mean, there ain’t anybody else around here. So – you MUST be lookin’ at me. You lookin’ at ME?

    Forget it, I’m out of here.

    Posted by Chris on 09/ 2/05

    Hey, is my browser blocking your review of that obscene movie, "The Aristocrats?" Because I can't imagine that you haven't posted it yet since you saw it DAYS AGO.

    Posted by: Captain Fatty at September 2, 2005 12:28 PM

    September 1, 2005

    Four Travelers

    I've both given and received a lot of driving directions this month, and I think I have come up with a broad classification of people's preferences and tendencies when it comes to the art of getting there.

    I think there are four basic types of travelers:


    These are the people that require detailed door-to-door directions to make a journey. They need to know ahead of time which streets are one-ways and they need to know about traffic patterns and densities. You will be thoroughly quizzed by these people should you ever invite them over, and you will get the impression that they have only recently started to drive.

    Driving in a city causes a FLYIN' BLIND to go into preemptive fits of panic. They will avoid it if possible.

    Parking for these people will be an epic task. Not just the act, but the immense wind-up that it requires. Will they be able to find a spot? Will it be legal? Will they be towed if they park here? How will they be able to tell? At some point you will get a phone call and it will be them from the car asking for guidance to a safe spot. They'll then continue to circle your neighborhood for a good fifteen minutes, unable to sort it out on their own. The image I have at this point with the FLYIN' BLIND group is that the pilot has died and they have been pulled from coach to land the plane.

    There is a nervous nelliness to these folks that might just make it easier to meet at their place.

    The FLYIN' BLINDs use Mapquest, in particular the directions that describe what lane to be in for .2 miles in order to get to the onramp - in their own neighborhood.


    An extreme version of the FLYIN' BLIND group, HEAVY FOGs are those people that seem to suffer from night-blindness, color-blindness, motion-blindness, and travel-blindness. How they ever make it from point A to B is a mystery.

    HEAVY FOGS are the ones that will call you for directions when they are lost, and then be incapable of providing any useful data as to their position. They cannot provide info on what street they are on, what streets they are passing, or what direction they are traveling in, but they might be able to describe a mountain range in the distance.

    The help they need seems more existential than directional. But they lack the hysteria of the FLYIN' BLINDs.

    HEAVY FOGS use MapQuest but they forgot to print it out.


    These are the guys that like the thrill of exploration. You will offer directions but they will try to refuse them - just the address will do. If pressed, they may take it but still strike out on their own. They look forward to a time when we'll all just pass around GPS coordinates. They believe that parking is their own responsibility, as is leaving in enough time to deal with traffic.

    These people have an uncanny ability to give simple directions as well.

    The LEWIS N' CLARKS dislike MapQuest but LOVE Google maps.


    A slightly less competent version of the LEWIS N' CLARKS. They like to explore, but sometimes get a bit turned around and get a bit too wrapped up in the quest to find a shortcut.

    In this group are the people that can get there OK but are horrible at giving directions themselves. They don't know street names or distances. They make fun of those floating compasses some people have on their rear-view but secretly wish they had one. They'll stop and ask for directions, but not from you, and not at first, and they'll stop paying attention when they think they have the trail again, sometimes to their peril.

    CORONADOs like to think of themselves as LEWIS N' CLARKs but their fellow passengers know the truth.

    Posted by Chris on 09/ 1/05

    Which "traveler" do you fancy yourself?

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at September 2, 2005 6:36 AM

    Somewhere between Lewis n' Clark and Coronado. I give terrible directions.

    Posted by: Chris at September 2, 2005 7:33 AM

    The "Heavy Fog" people make me want to punch them. I have little patience for that.

    And have you ever tried to GET directions from a Heavy Fog? Oh boy. It's horrible.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at September 2, 2005 8:40 AM

    I hate to admit it but I am terrified to ride in the car! The worst kind of Flying Blind - wishing desperately to be cool.

    Posted by: Vickery at September 2, 2005 10:36 AM