Monday, October 31, 2005

What the Samhain?!

Who would be upset by this?

So this is how I went to work.
White shirt.
Black slacks.
Neck wound.

What I said to those who gaped in disgust:

"Rough day at the office."

"Don't try to slice a bagel by holding it on your shoulder."

"Whatever you do, don't make a joke about the boss' costume."

The best thing about this... understated adornment: No one asked what I was. Come to think of it, no one seemed that interested in engaging me in prolonged conversation.

I could probably use this other times of year to get out of meetings...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Looking forward to the end of forwarding

All of us were at one time new to the wonders of email and the Internet. Some of you are still in that stage of your development. However, at some point, you really need to adopt the following attitude about it: It sucks just as much as everything else.

If you are not yet jaded about it, the rest of us have a simple request: Please hurry up and get so. The only reason we haven’t complained yet is we know you don’t mean to be this annoying, but that’s only going to get you so far. We already among the jaded can be annoying in our tone of superiority, as we insulate ourselves in the belief that halfway into the first decade of the 21st century that the novelty of this should have worn off, and that everyone should be well accustomed to email and the Internet, and that everyone should know better. Then we get an email forwarded from you and we must take that deep breath, refrain from lambasting you with an acrimonious reply, and remind ourselves that a long time ago we too were that naïve. However, we tend to just delete the message because we have grown weary of seeming like the asshole in the scenario.

It comes down to this: Everyone is full of shit. Me, you, everybody. That’s not a criticism; I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with that, just you really should have figured that much out by now. Nonetheless, we all need to believe something is true, so some of the bullshit we accept as fact because it doesn’t contrast with what makes us happy, or because we don’t feel like explaining why we don’t believe it so it’s easier to go along. However, that works best with things like gravity—we haven’t invested the time to disprove them, and it probably doesn’t work in our favor to disbelieve it, as we have nothing to gain by suddenly having no force keeping us grounded and being flung into the vacuum of space. Unless we have the corresponding belief that we can breathe in outer space just fine, or that outer space doesn’t exist either.

The trick is not so much going along with the common beliefs of science but taking the easy way out; it’s quite a task to construct a complete, integrated reality that is internally consistent.

Getting back to email and the Internet: Perhaps nowhere else these days is it more true that everyone is full of shit than on the Information Superhighway. The trouble is there’s no policing agent to stop someone from putting his or her bullshit on the Internet, but those people must at least find some website for that; there’s some modicum of effort involved. It’s not that difficult as it used to be, but it carries with it the implication of having had to take some time to get it out there. (Yes, I know some of you are thinking it an attempt at irony here on my part, which it would be except I already admitted several paragraphs back that I don’t consider this other than my bullshit, so while I have undoubtedly been ironic at times, this is not one of them.)

More important, accessing something on the ‘net requires the effort on the reader’s part to leave their email and bring up a browser window. (If my personal experience is any barometer, that’s more than many people are willing to do.) Email seems more personal because it came specifically to you; you feel some compulsion to read it on that basis. You’ll get over that.

The jaded know well the trouble with email is that it’s worse: not only is there similarly no guard, but you merely needs online access and to have somehow acquired the email addresses of others. It doesn’t even take much time and only the most liberal interpretation of the term “effort” to click the Forward button and add others from one’s address book. And because you’re still of the opinion that it’s keen to pass along these jokes or inspirational messages or virus warnings, you do so to everyone.

We the jaded are not lacking in sense of humor, nor are we are necessarily atheists, nor are we blithely unconcerned about viruses. We are, however, not all the same in what we find funny or inspirational, and we don’t find out about viruses through a method that is known for spreading them.

We realize you lack the sense of scope of things and you don’t realize that more than likely we have not only already seen it but that we have received it from many of you, on several occasions. (And it wasn’t particularly amusing the first time.) We have no choice but to concede that there’s no way you’ll verify the facts in whatever you’re forwarding before you click the Send button. We know you still lack some standard for discriminating what is not worth forwarding. We chuckle at how you thought the text with the most egregious spelling and grammatical errors was something others needed to see (the humor is sucked out when we know the difference between “there” and “they’re” and “their”—what we thinking by paying attention in junior high school?)

We have long since abandoned the hope that you might compose something yourself, or at least added some personal message to what you were forwarding; we know you’re worried we’ll think poorly of you if your writing skills aren’t up to whatever passes for snuff. Allow me to let you in on a secret: We kind of think poorly of you for having forwarded it in the first place (yes, kids, that is irony); if you wrote something along with it, that would only improve your standing, no matter how clichéd or unoriginal. It would prove that you put some modicum of thought into your actions, and that would mean you were capable of thought, and that would mean you were on your way to joining the ranks of the jaded.

Okay, this is the point where you get all up in arms about the suggestion that you weren’t thinking of us when you forwarded it. Go ahead. We understand you need to be upset about it. We don’t agree, but we understand how you think you were thinking of us. Yes, yes, we understand how you think you’re too busy (or, as it would be in the message you forwarded, “…how you think your to busy”) to write something about yourself, or that you don’t think it would be enough to simply create a new email and say “Just wanted to let you know I thought of you today.” Allow me to make it clear: You’re right, in that it wouldn’t be enough, but still it would be a dramatic improvement over what you’re doing.

We’re not expecting you to review any rules of email etiquette; even we didn’t do that. We learned these things the hard way, by making many of these same mistakes ourselves. However, the point there is that we learned them, and much like how no one is more bothered by someone smoking than an ex-smoker, we’re getting a little weary of how you seem to be lingering in your ignorance. We really don’t mean to seem hypocritical, but, come on. We’ve been patient. It may not seem like we have, but trust us: we have.

We don’t expect you to change overnight. We wouldn’t presume to be so arrogant as to tell you how to conduct yourself; the liability of freedom is also its strength. (Hey, notice how there’s no apostrophe in “its”? That’s because it’s possessive, not the contraction of “it is”—admit it, you thought I’d screwed up there for just a second, didn’t you? It’s okay. You’ve been exposed to too many erroneous emails.) You have the power to do whatever you want. All we ask is that, at some point, if it’s not too much trouble, you start contemplating whether blithely forwarding emails is what you want, whether it achieves what you really want to accomplish.

We know if we ask you to leave us out of your list of recipients you’ll interpret that as some indication that we don’t like you. It does not mean that we don’t like you; it means we don’t like what you’re doing. We may or may not have actually liked you before you started forwarding the emails, but that’s beside the point. If you have constructed your reality around the belief that we like you, that’s fine with us. It is merely in your best interest to wise up so that we don’t have to reply in a way that disrupts your reality.

At some point you’ll learn how to copy the url from the address line so if you find something you wish to share you can at least point your victims—err, recipients—to the original text. Which they can then choose to integrate into their beliefs or dismiss—unless they feel like going along with it out of laziness, which is, of course, their choice. And when we receive the email, having been bcc’ed, we will know you are on your way, Grasshopper.

In the interest of full disclosure, I fully admit that I don’t know whether there is a group of the jaded out there beyond myself, and that it was completely inappropriate of me to use “we” throughout this piece. Apologies to the jaded, if you exist, for purporting to represent you. That is merely me confirming how full of shit I am, but at least I stand by my bullshit. That’s the reality I built for myself, for better or for worse. A story for another time…

(I know I don’t have to ask you to refrain from copying this and pasting it into an email. This is way too long for that. And I’ve used the potentially offensive term “shit” several times. And really, who the heck would believe George Carlin wrote this?)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Thought of the day again

Does life have a point, and really, was it ever supposed to have one? Discuss. Or don't.

Oh, and for those who are extraordinarily desperate to fill their time, I've added a bit to the My Profile section where you can learn more about me. Go ahead, click on the link on the left. We'll wait while you do...

(And if you're inclined to leave a comment on the above or any of this nonsense and are wondering why you have to type some letters (CAPTCHA it's called), I've been forced to enable that check because some scum-sucking worthless crapbucket who thinks it's quaint to fill anything that isn't locked down with spam tried to use the comments section to promote something inane. I sincerely hope that every single person who uses some automated process to fill our inboxes and website areas with this shit gets a hideous and painful disease. I never claimed to be a nice person. I digress.)

Sunday, October 23, 2005


A couple shots I've taken recently:
Looking down the platform of the Willow station on the Blue Line, and the sun setting over Hidden Valley in the mountains above Palm Springs.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Extreme city makeover

Ni hau! The photos included here could certainly be mistaken for shots from my trip to China two years ago, but they are actually Flower Street in downtown L.A.

The shot to the right is the Westin Bonaventure hotel with, yes, Chinese flags flying where Old Glory used to be; below that is the rear driveway to the Bank of America building (we'll assume those characters represent BofA); below that is the walkway to the World Trade Center, where a banner is touting a better city while the Monrovia Bus Line speeds below; and the lowest shot is a somewhat out-of-focus shot of how they've transformed the street under the 4th St. bridges--notice the Chinese characters on the street itself.

I've heard these are props for "Mission Impossible 3", but what film studio would bother with replicating China in downtown Los Angeles when less than a mile away is... Chinatown? (Even with a Scientologist at the helm.) And as someone who has been to China, I can tell you: everything over there is ridiculously cheap. If it were me, I'd just move the production to China rather than make three blocks of a busy American city look like it. If nothing else, there's no way one could find enough bicycles in car-obsessed L.A. to replicate how many there are even in small towns in China, so you'd have to be over there to achieve that. And as smoggy as this town is, it has nothing on the air pollution in Beijing--trust me.

No, I suspect the Chinese have made so much money from making everything we buy that they're just going to purchase our country, a few blocks at a time. They've found the easiest way to get a "better city" is to just take over a little bit of ours, and by disguising it as the making of a future box office failure, we all blithely allow them to do so. And all this time I've been dismissing communism as a failure.

Thank goodness I already know how to use chop sticks.

Er, I mean, xie xie.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Thought of the day

Dogs are the only pets who give a shit about us when we are sad.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Buy me no peanuts nor Cracker Jack

Um, as regards my last post: I should have thrown in a disclaimer that indicated that my actively rooting for the Angels would definitely thwart them, but that did not mean that my not rooting for them ensured their victory. Apologies for not mentioning that sooner.

Apparently, if the umpires are determined to have the White Sox win, even the Doug inverse curse cannot overcome that.

It's entirely possible that I exert no influence over these events, and that the fate of the team from SoCal was due to their utter lack of offense. Or that my predictions hold true (as proved to be the case in the ALCS), so my next one:

Astros in six. In both the NLCS and the Series. (Have to pick the underdog to test how far I can take this revised ability, if I have it at all. Which it's doubtful I do. Please don't mention this to the fans in Houston.)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Take me out of the ball game

I will take this opportunity, in the wake of the Angels defeat of the Yankees in the division series, to say the following to the team from Anaheim and their fans:

You’re welcome.

Earlier today, when asked by a friend at work whether the Halos would win, I replied (without hesitation), “No.” And here’s the thing: I meant it.

Before I explain why I would be deserving of gratitude, allow me to explain why I would have such low expectations. I was raised an Angel fan.

My father’s side of the family was all Angel fans in my youth (the 70s and early 80s). For a few years in my adolescence we even had a share of season tickets. I remember the Big A (as the stadium used to be called) before it was enclosed, hiding the view of the 57 freeway in right center, to make room for the Rams. (No, I never rooted for them.) I saw many games per season, wearing the Angels cap to every one, cheering for the home team. They didn’t win all that much, but still, they were my team.

Then along came 1986. For the non-baseball fans out there, the Angels made it to the playoffs for just the third time in their history. They were up three games to one in the best-of-seven series against the Red Sox. I saw them win game 3 from the field level seats. Then I got tickets to game 5—sure, way up in the top level, down the right field line, but I was there. And in the top of the 9th, the Angels had two outs, and reliever Donnie Moore had two strikes on the Boston batter. The stadium was on its feet—well, the fans in the stadium… um, you know what I mean. The air was electric with anticipation; for the first time ever the Angels were one strike away from going to the World Series.

But rather than get that last out, Moore surrendered two runs, leaving the Angels behind by one going to the bottom of the 9th. The stadium was stunned, then bordered on despondent. However, the Halos rallied to tie it up and send it to extra innings. That allowed us, the fans, to get our hopes back up, and then be let down all the worse when eventually they blew it in, as I recall, the 12th. We filed out like we’d all been punched in the stomach.

That was the moment I stopped being an Angel fan. Oh sure, I rooted for them as the series went back to Boston—where they still needed to win only one of two games to make it, and watched as they let that slip away. (However, all in all, that was a much more important year for Red Sox fans, as it allowed them to continue their beliefs of being cursed, with the infamous Bill Buckner play. That belief was, of course, blown last year when the Sox won it all, but now is no doubt back in effect with them swept by the White Sox in the first round of the playoffs this year.) It was more than I could take.

Yes, I caught a few more games in the years that followed (up until Disney bought the team), but most of those they lost. Over time, the Angels became merely one of many teams in Major League Baseball, no longer mine.

How is it, then, that I deserve credit for their victory this evening by virtue of having no faith in them?

I did not believe they had a chance in 2002, in either of the playoff series against the Yankees or the Twins, or in the Series against the Giants. And you saw how that worked out for them, not only making it to the Series but winning it. Only 16 years after the point where it would mean anything to me.

I'm not saying I can explain this, but apparently, the less I think of their chances the better they do. So now, as they move on to face Chicago in the LCS, to compete to represent the American League in the World Series, I say this: White Sox in five games.

You can thank me some time next week, Angel fans. Be grateful I’m no longer one of you; the team never went anywhere when I was actually rooting for them.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Real-time commentary

I'm sitting in my comfy chair with my laptop on, well, my lap (rather obvious--I know), watching TV while I type. And now I'm going to comment on whatever comes on screen.

Michelle Wie, the teen golf phenom, gets to drive a golf cart without a permit.

The scores of the hockey games with the new rules (that encourage scoring) look more like baseball. Oh wait. Better than baseball, in some cases. Perhaps our national pasttime needs to ditch extra innings and go to some kind of 10th inning home run derby to break the tie.

Carlos Mencia is not apparently Mexican, and that's supposed to be a scandal, but I don't recall him claiming to be Mexican. Even if he did steal his routines from George Lopez, I wonder why Lopez tamed himself. I'd rather watch "The Mind of Mencia" than George's eponymous sitcom. It may not be right, but I just know what I find more entertaining.

I don't watch the news; I watch the Daily Show. I am simultaneously ashamed and delighted at how many stories I learn about at the same time they are being lampooned. The Daily Show is too important for me to type while trying to pay attention to the jokes.

Wow. That was a less-than-impressive showing. Sorry for wasting your time. In this case.

At least I was ripping some tracks to mp3 from CDs while I was doing this, so the time was not a complete loss.

Oh wait. Jon Stewart (not his given name but I don't care) is commenting on how Nicolas Cage named his child Kal-El, from Superman's given name on his home planet of Krypton. Sure, that will likely get the child teased in later life, but it's hardly surprising when you consider that Cage is not the actor's given name. While it is reasonably well-known that Nicolas is actually a Coppola and that he changed his last name to escape the shadow of his famous relative, it may not be quite as commonly known that he pulled "Cage" from a comic book character--Luke Cage (a.k.a., Power Man--for the uninformed, a really strong black guy).

Never let it be said that collecting comic books as a child held no benefit for me.

Anyway, it does seem to be a consistent behavior for Nick, in light of what he's done before. And at least this time he went with a superhero that more people have heard of, so when young Kal-El must explain his name, people won't give blank stares.

Yes, my name really is Doug. And any children I may have in the future will undoubtedly not be named for comic book characters, mostly because there's no way their mother would go for that.