Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bad Taste in Movies

Dredging the movie bin at Wal-Mart for cheap movies is a nasty vice of mine. This is mostly because I have distinctly bad (but discriminating) taste. I love movies that most people think are utterly horrible, and this is just the kind of fair that one finds in the crap bin.

So, yesterday I ended up walking away with these delights:

  • Grandma's Boy -- juvenile, wacky stoner comedy featuring the guys who've played minor characters in most of Adam Sandler's movies; almost every other line is quotable: "Who wants to hear about my STD from the silent film era?"
  • American Psycho -- a very disturbing piece of literature turned into a dark comedy (at least, I think it's funny) about a psycho serial killer
  • Tango & Cash -- the epitome of 80's buddy/cop action flicks: after blowing up a forty-acre drug/weapon smuggling compound, killing Jack Palance, and rescuing Teri Hatcher; Kurt Russell and Sly Stalone exchange witty banter and end the movie with a high five
  • Double Feature: Road Warrior & Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome -- pre-Jew-hating, psycho-Christian Mel Gibson battling post-apocalyptic road rage ... plus Tina Turner

You can keep your Oscar-winning blockbusters. I'll stick with cheap entertainment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Diversity -- Just Another Word for Racism

A long quote from a short piece, "Racial Balance" Programs: The New Racism, by Debi Ghate:

They insist on branding a student by his skin color and dictating what school he will attend. They insist on enforcing quotas and counting students like barnyard stock. They insist on creating a new kind of injustice--a new kind of racism--in the name of eliminating the old.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just Asking

The following is an email chain that went out to everyone in my department last month. Supervisor was in charge of collecting money for some Adopt-A-Family charity that some people in the office wanted to give to. Employee is one of the donors.

From: [Supervisor}
Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 11:47 AM
To: [All Records Staff]
Subject: Adopt -A-Family

I want to thank everyone who contributed 
to the Adopt-A-Family program. We collected 
$164.00 dollars. Thanks for such a 
fantastic effort!!!

From: [Supervisor]
Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 11:50 AM
To: [All Records Staff]
Subject: FW: Adopt -A-Family

Correction . $170.00. - [Supervisor]

From: [Employee]
Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 1:12 PM
To: [Supervisor]
Cc: [All Records Staff]
Subject: RE: Adopt -A-Family

Will everyone that gave be recognized some 
way?  Just asking.

Is it just me, or is this bitch a huge douche-lick?

Perhaps this is sort of a "you had to be there" or "you have to know the bitch" situation, but I think if you carefully examine some of the subtler points of Employee's response, you'll be able to see just how douchey she really is:

  1. In a supreme act of humility and genuine charity, Employee asks if she will be rewarded (beyond her bloated self-righteousness, that is) for her philanthropy.
  2. Not only does Employee reply to Supervisor to ask for recognition, but she copies all of her co-workers. In the case that she won't be recognized for selflessly giving to the less fortunate, she'll be recognized for recognizing those that did.
  3. Employee "just asks" if the donors will be recognized, and does not at all imply that they should or deserve to be heralded and praised for their generous contributions.
  4. In the true spirit of giving, Employee asks for something in return ... for "everyone who gave," of course. She's looking out for everyone else's best interests.

Moral of the story: Give because you feel like giving, not because you want to get a pat on the head.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thinking Versus Doing

Hard work and determination never got anyone farther than the end of the day. Innovation and ingenuity will get you to the end of the day by noon and the end of the week by sunset.

Some people revel in martyring themselves in the name of a dirty job. And other people believe that a long, hard day's work is always good work. I imagine that these people also think that anyone who says something to the contrary is just looking for the easy way out or is just plain lazy.

But, in my opinion, lazy is not taking the time to find the simple way around a difficult chore. The hardest part about hard work is thinking, planning.

And that's what it all comes down to: thinking versus doing. The hard worker prides himself in doing, and scoffs at thinking as an idle, wasteful endeavor. But the thinkers -- inventors, entrepaneurs, scholars, leaders -- pride themselves in thinking, and hire the hard workers to do the bitch work for low wages.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Golden Dumbass

Apparently, there's some hullaballoo about the movie The Golden Compass within the Christian community. (I'm not sure where the complaints were when the book was published.) The claim against is that it is anti-Christian because the book was written by an athiest.

My advice to all Christians up in arms about this: Don't believe everything you read and don't read everything you believe. Don't believe the crazies that say a children's fantasy novel is going to corrupt the children and cause the downfall of your religion. And don't read only the novels that say everything you already believe. Your faith won't grow stronger by petting it. Stretch it, scare it, flip it on its head; your faith will grow stronger by challenging it.

And most of all, don't take offense at every novel and short story that comes along. You've got your own book that's offensive enough for everyone.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thanksgiving in Washington, DC

Take a look at my photos from my Thanksgiving vacation in Washington, DC.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Business Is a Trip

Here's a entry I wrote back in August but for some reason never posted

I went on my first business trip a couple weeks ago. It was nice. I got out of the office (Well, I got out of one and went to another.), I got to wear casual clothes, I got to move around a bit (We sorted through and moved two hundred-some boxes of files.), and I got to stay in an expensive (by my standards) hotel for a few nights. All in all, it wasn't a bad experience. So, I'm actually looking forward to the copious amounts business traveling I will be doing in the next few months. [Author's Note: Now, a few months later, I look forward to sleeping in my own bed for a few days in a row.]

This talk about my job reminds me that I haven't mentioned on this blog what it is exactly that I do (nor have I mentioned it in person to some of you). So, here's a little bit about my job:

I work at a the headquarters of a large law firm in downtown Kansas City, one of the biggest in KC, in fact. No, I'm not a lawyer. (If I could turn a B.A. in English into a five-year degree, think how long it would take me to get a law degree!) I work in the Records Department. My title is 'Records Analyst' which isn't a job description at all and means just about nothing.

What I 'analyze' is the firm's record management system (RMS, if you're hip to the lingo) -- the software we use to track records, the policies and procedures we've made to govern record use, creation, and disposition according to the law, and the staff that handles records daily.

Further than just analyzing the system, I also perform quality control. I help test and update the software we use to make sure it is doing what we want it to. I try to field questions from both Record and legal staff on how to properly handle records. I find and repair lost or inaccurate data.

In addition, I teach new staff what the Records Department does, how the RMS functions, and how to use the software. I am also supposed to be developing and rewriting the existing educational material, but, what with my other duties and traveling to the satellite offices, I've found very little time to work on that.

An odd caveat about my job, though, is that I work with one of my once-and-present roommates. It is strange riding to work, sharing a cubicle wall, having lunch, being in meetings, riding home, eating dinner, and watching movies, all with him. We spend more time with each other than any two humans should. But we've managed to not hate each other, yet. [Well, maybe just a little bit of hate.]

Overall, it's an interesting job. It keeps me busier that my previous job, and is much more thought-provoking than the job I had before that. Hopefully, I'll keep this job longer than current record of six months. [Well, it's been six months now, and I haven't quit.] I think it will be much easier, though. The duties I have are varied, from mundane data entry to helping identify and solve system-wide problems. There is always something to keep me occupied. [And there is always something to keep me annoyed.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Source of Evil

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.
--Joseph Conrad

Monday, November 12, 2007

Take What You Deserve

What people are given and what they deserve is grossly disproportional.

What people deserve and what they have is roughly equivalent.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Screw Starving Children

I wish there was a charity that I could donate money to to prevent Diane Keaton from making any more movies. If we all contributed, we could see the end of her estrogen-enduced, weepy vag-fests in our lifetime.

Sometimes I imagine that the only thing keeping Ms. Keaton moving around and talking are her ovaries. I'm not sure what keeps her career alive, though.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


There was apparently some hullabaloo about a recent post by new blogger-friend, Robb Olson. I was asked to weigh in on the topic, so I wrote this all-too-long response.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What to Read

If you've ever found yourself at a loss for what to read next, you should join Goodreads. You can use it to track all the books you want to read and all of them you've read. And, if they join, you can also peruse your friends' lists of books they've read, along with their ratings and reviews, to help you decide whether or not to read that old classic that you've always been meaning to read or discover a new book that you've never heard of.

I suppose, if you were clever, you could also look through a friend's list of books marked "to read" to get good ideas of what to get him as a gift, say for Christmas or maybe his birthday next year or maybe just because he's a good friend.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sad Admission

I love whole milk. It is obviously the most superior of milks. I think 2% doesn't have enough of a milk taste, and skim milk might as well be water with white food coloring. And soy milk? Don't get me started on this lactose-lacking, faux-milk wannabe!

I find no shame is proselytizing for whole milk, and I ignore those detractors who claim that I "might as well be drinking cream." All other milks just won't cut it; they will not sate my milky appetite.

However, I was just reminded how much I like cereal with soy milk. The Magster is lactose-intolerant and chugs soy milk like it was Gatorade, so that's all she has available. I usually scoff at this mockery of milkiness. But poured over my cereal it is quite delicious.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

KC Renaissance Festival 2007

I uploaded pictures from this year's Renaissance Festival. Of note are these photos:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wise Words from a Wise Man

If you're going to waste your time, at least jack off.
--Jaysix Usaustin

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wrestling Is Fake

I watched several episodes of A Haunting the other day with The Magster. Each episode of the show is a re-enactment of a "real" haunting, interspersed with interviews of the people that experienced it. I watched an episode about a family whose house was a portal to the netherworld. Another episode was about a couple struggling to keep their marriage together while living in a haunted house.

It was all very interesting to me, but The Magster seemed a little confounded by my enjoyment of the show. I'm sure this is for one or more of several reasons:

  • She hates scary stories, scary movies, scary pictures, scary thoughts, and the scary faces I make at her.
  • I often make fun of her infuriatingly horrible taste in television as she watches America's Next Model, so she wanted revenge.
  • I, as a person who scoffs at any conclusion not made by deductive reasoning or by using the scientific method, contrarily lap up these improbable stories of the fantastic.

I am to spooky tales of the supernatural the equivalent of what WWE fans are to wrastlin. No professional wrestling fan (over the age of 7) actually believes the combatants are truly fighting; they don't have to believe it's true to enjoy it. They enjoy it because they like the storylines, the machismo, the occasional scantily-clad woman, and the stylized violence.

Similarly, I enjoy watching pseudo-documentaries on the paranormal, not because I particularly believe that they're true, accurate interpretations of unusual goings-on, but rather because I enjoy being creeped out by the possibility of them being true.

I also enjoy stories about aliens and bigfoot. I think the probability of them existing is minimal, but I enjoy the stories anyway because it's fun to believe them, even just for a little while. And, seriously, wouldn't it be sweet to see a ghost bigfoot from outer space?

Anyway, if you don't believe in spirits and such, watch this convincing ghostly video, and see if it doesn't change you're mind.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Never Wear a Brown Belt with a Black Bible

I think the Bible Belt should be renamed something like the Cravat of the Willfully Ignorant.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI: That's Not a Dunce Cap

This Christian fundamentalist seems to actually have some sense!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Accidentally Artistic

In addition to pictures of Mel's wedding, I've also uploaded some random pictures from the last two months. I tried to get artistic with some of them. And by that I mean that I'm taking undo credit because some of my snapshots didn't turn out nearly as cluttered and haphazard as my pictures usually do. So, here are the rare gems:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Stellar Wedding

I finally uploaded all of my photos from Matt and Mel's (now Mrs. StellarTaylor) wedding.

You can see me in action as a bridseman, check out some crazy dancing, hotel partying, and the coolest wedding cake topper ever.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Erin Esurance

Apparently, I'm not the only one with an usual (and somewhat disturbing) crush on Erin Esurance, the animated, pink-haired spy slash spokeswoman for Esurance.

Also, it is interesting to hear about how Erin was created and what she has to do with GLBT issues (Scroll down about a quarter of the way to read the article.) straight from the mouth of her creator, Kristin Brewe.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Indecisive Vs Apathetic

One should not confuse indecision with apathy. An indecisive person is unable to make decisions because they are incapable, or perhaps becuase they are unwilling. An apathetic person is able to make decisions, but he just doesn't fucking want to, so get off my god damn back already, you harpy!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Month That Wasn't There

September was eaten up by a too-long, nigh unproductive business trip, procrastination, and good old friends' weddings (not that I'm complaining about that last one). I started on several posts and I even wrote a new part of Superhero, but I never got around to publishing any of it.

That's sad for September, but good for October, I guess. I was told recently that I don't post frequently or consistently enough, so I'm going to try to post at least a few times a week next month. Also, I'm going to try to continue my serial story, but I think I'm going to finish writing all of the few remaining parts before I start publishing them, so I don't lose interest in writing it again.

Good things (or, more accurately, not-that-bad things) should be coming in October.

Friday, August 31, 2007

No Returns Policy

Here is an interesting article about what your money is paying for (or not paying for, as the case may be) in Iraq.

I hope you kept your receipt.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Nameless parses speech:
"are you..." -- am I existing?
how do I find out?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


If I go bald, will someone please buy me a Pillowig?

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Nameless is programmed
to decipher the boy's words.
what is it saying?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Textbooks Are Too Expensive

If there comes to be a growing trend of college professors refusing to makes students buy textbooks and textbook companies find themselves in financial trouble because people caught onto their scam, will someone let them know that I've already solved their problem for them? Thanks

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


this small creatures makes
noises like other creatures,
but i hear meaning.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Meaning of It All Some of It

I just read the book The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist, a collection of three speaches made in 1963 by physicist Richard Feynman. In his speaches, Feynman not only discusses the nature of science, but also opines about religion, morality, politics, and other various topics. Here are some memorable quotes:

"Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order maintain that what they said was true."
"Science makes, indeed, an impact on many ideas associated with religion, but I do not believe it affects, in any very strong way, the moral conduct and ethical views."
"No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated."
"This is in the attitude of mind of the populace, that they have to have an answer and that a man who gives an answer is better than a man who gives no answer, when the real fact of the matter is, in most cases, it is the other way around.... It's all genereated, maybe, by the fact that the attitude of the populace is to try to find the answer instead of trying to find a man who has a way of getting at the answer."

Friday, August 17, 2007


Nameless is surprised
to hear meaning shrouded in
noises -- words, language.

Monday, August 13, 2007


"are you a robot?"
the boy asks the automaton.
it turns to the boy.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Business Is a Trip

I went on my first business trip a couple weeks ago. It was nice. I got out of the office (Well, I got out of one and went to another.), I got to wear casual clothes, I got to move around a bit (We sorted through and moved two hundred-some boxes of files.), and I got to stay in an expensive (by my standards) hotel for a few nights. All in all, it wasn't a bad experience. So, I'm actually looking forward to the copious business traveling I will be doing in the next few months.

This talk about my job reminds me that I haven't mentioned what I do on this blog (nor have I mentioned it in person to some of you). So, here's a little bit about my job:

I work at a the headquarters of a large law firm in downtown Kansas City, one of the biggest in KC, in fact. No, I'm not a lawyer. (If I could turn a B.A. in English into a five-year degree, think how long it would take me to get a law degree!) I work in the Records Department. My title is 'Records Analyst' which isn't a job description at all and means just about nothing.

What I 'analyze' is the firm's record management system (RMS, if you're hip to the lingo) -- the software we use to track records, the policies and procedures we've made to govern record use, creation, and disposition according to the law, and the staff that handle records daily.

Further than just analyzing the system, I also maintain quality control. I help test and update the sotware we use to make sure it is doing what we want it to. I try to field questions from both Record and Legal staff on how to properly handle records. I find and repair lost or inaccurate data.

In addition, I teach new staff what the Records Department does, how the RMS functions, and how to use the software. I am also supposed to be developing new and rewriting the existing educational material, but, what with my other duties and traveling to the satellite offices, I've found very little time to work on that.

An odd caveat about my job, though, is that I work with one of my once-and-present roommates. It is strange riding to work, sharing a cubicle wall, having lunch, being in meetings, riding home, eating dinner, and watching movies, all with him. We spend more time with each other than any two humans should. But we've managed to not hate each other, yet.

Overall, it's an interesting job. It keeps me busier that my previous job, and is much more thought-provoking than the job I had before that. Hopefully, I'll keep this job longer than current record of six months. I think it will be much easier, though. The duties I have are varied, from mundane data entry to helping identify and solve system-wide problems. There is always something to keep me occupied.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Executive Order

President Bush made an executive order on July 17 that scares me just a bit. It gives the Secretary of Treasury the authority to take away the property of anyone who is seen as threat to the Iraqi "liberation." It seems as though it could be used as justification for punishing protestors of the Iraq war, intimidating Congress into continuing to fund the murder of Americans and Iraqis, and even preventing the impeachment of the president and the vice president -- all of which could be seen as "undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq."

The ironic thing is, the person who issued the order seems to be one of those most responsible for committing "acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of ... undermining efforts ... to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Warm Gooshy Feelings

I want to make Steven Dutch and honorary McBastard because of his mini essay Three Chick Flicks and Their Unintended Message.

In it he summarizes and criticizes three movies, a music video, and the entire genre of chick flicks in general by pointing out the double-standard between men and woman in regards to adultery. "It would be hard to make a film glorifying a man who left a loyal wife for someone with fewer wrinkles. On the other hand, films aimed at women regularly glorify women who cheat on a loyal husband because her emotional needs are unfulfilled." In fact, the latter is the subject of every Lifetime Network original movie that I have ever had the misfortune of watching. Some women apparently eat that shit up like it was a bag of Dove chocalates. Dutch then sums up the premise of all chick flick, Oxygen Network, Oprah-approved tripe: "The underlying premise seems to be that physical attraction is shallow but emotional needs are deeper and more legitimate." In fact, this is not only what chick movies tell us, but it is also the sentiment of popular psychology.

"Sorry, I reject this premise completely." There is not need to continue, Mr. Dutch. Please continue. "The quest for emotional satisfaction is every bit as superficial and shallow as the quest for big breasts, and a lot more dishonest. Or perhaps I should say that the kind of emotional satisfaction people pursue is superficial and shallow. In all the examples [of chick flicks given], emotional satisfaction is defined as warm gooshy feelings. None of the women find emotional satisfaction by, say, working at a women's shelter or volunteering for the Peace Corps. The equivalent behavior among men is easy to define. Nobody ever pretended a desire for big breasts represented anything profound. Contrary to popular psychology, this is not a society where people are out of touch with their feelings. This society wallows in feelings. If anything, what most people in this society need is precisely to get out of touch with their feelings for a while."

He goes on from there to apply his assertions not only to movies but also to society on the whole. The last part of his essay is a bit confusing, though, until you realize that this is just one of his many essays on pseudoscience in our modern culture. Overall, it is a refreshing read for anyone who has been accused of 'showing too little emotion.'

Saturday, July 21, 2007


a boy discovers 
Nameless pondering a leaf
next to his swing set.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Don't Hire Me

I hope that the recent trend of employers investigating job candidates online is replaced by employers actually analyzing facets of potential employees that pertain to work. I think it is much more important for an employer to find out whether the person they are interviewing has good interpersonal and communication skills than it is to peruse their social networking site profiles or judge them based on their credit score.

Finding out what a person reads, what they do in their spare time, and how they express themselves regarding topics of interest -- be it politics, education, art, history, etc. -- would seem to me to be much more useful information than the plethora movie quotes and "Hey, I fucked your mom!" comments left by friends on the profile pages of social networking sites. There seems to be several pitfalls with judging the character of potential employees based on their online presence.

An employer might find posts or pictures suggesting that a job candidate has participated in some illegal hijinks, casual drug use, and overindulgence in alcohol. But how does one does one distinguish these probably true admissions from failingly humorous allusions of bigotry or hopefully false claims of violence? It is a fact that this information has been published to public forum, the Internet. But it hasn't been published in the journalistic or literary sense that most people are used to. This type of content has not been reviewed. Rarely has it been edited. And it does not claim to stand up to the same ethical or professional standards that traditional publishing does. Truth is often mixed in with falsehood. Exaggeration is accepted, sarcasm expected. How can an employer expect to parse all this information fairly?

Also, many people adopt an online persona when publishing information to the Internet. They may portray themselves differently in cyberspace than they would in meatspace. Perhaps they might act how they wish they were. Or maybe they act how they are afraid of becoming. The Internet can allow them the freedom to act in different ways, ways that are drastically different from how they would ever portray themselves "in real life."

Lastly, what if an employer strikes the candidate from the list due to having googled that potential employee and finding several results with links to websites that are offensive or frightening? The employer may be glad that he caught this wacko early in the interview process, but what if the offending sites belonged to another person by the same name as the candidate? The potential employee would actually have done nothing wrong in the eyes of the employer; his only crime would be having the same name as a pervert or bigot.

The adage goes "Don't believe everything you read." This is doubly true for things read on the Internet. Employers need to find new, more useful ways of finding out the relevant information about their future employees.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Nameless contemplates
the extent of his body.
a voice interrupts.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Despite what they want you to believe, it appears that it may actually be unhealthy for women to babble on incessantly about their daily woes and trivial tribulations, as they are often wont to do. For more information, please read the short article by Bryan C. Daniels: "Girls who complain about their problems at greater risk of developing anxiety and depression."

Women, for your health, for your sanity, for your own good (and the good of mankind), please shut up already!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Photoshop Effect

Suppose I was examining two beautiful photographs. I would admire their color, use of space, detail, focus, etc. However, if I discovered that one of the photos had been photoshopped (Excuse me, I meant "had been enhanced using Adobe Photoshop software."), I would scrutinize that photo differently, probably more harshly, than the untouched photo. Even if I found the modified photo more beautiful, I might not find it as appealing as its unmodified cousin. This is the "photoshop effect."

The same holds true for judging other things: Athletes who use performance enhancing drugs, movies that utilize computer generated special effects, people who receive cosmetic surgery, etc. All of these I judge more harshly because of the photoshop effect.

For me, part of an subject's (art, performance, sport) value is not only it's aesthetic, but also the process by which this aesthetic was achieved. I suspect this does not hold true for everyone; some people seem impressed by anything pretty or shiny, regardless of how it was produced. This is not to say that I don't appreciate pretty, shiny things. I enjoy cool CG fight scenes in movies, and boy do I appreciate a nice set of fake boobs. But knowing that the aesthetic that these present could not be achieved without aid reduces the holistic value of them in my mind.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kiss the Cook

I was recently wondering why humans cook their food. It seems like something so basic, but, at the same time, curious. Humans are, as far as I know, the only animals that prepare their food by cutting it and applying heat. When did this trend start? And for what reason? I came up with some ideas -- perhaps ancient man discovered that cooking some foods reduced the chances of him getting sick from eating foods that had been kept for some time, or perhaps because it simply tasted better -- but I was never really satisfied with these suppositions.

Jake Young of Pure Pedantry reports on an in interesting hypothesis that cooking allowed for an increase in human brain size. Cooking appears to be a form of pre-digestion, making eating more efficient by reducing the amount of energy it takes to process the food we eat. If a food is already chopped or mashed up, that means less chewing. If a food is heated or boiled, that means that its proteins and enzymes have already begun to break down -- less stomach churning.

Even if it weren't more energy efficient, I'd still want my food to be cooked. Nothing beats a good grilled steak and mashed potatoes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bumper Sticker

I was driving down the highway, minding my own business, when I checked my rear view mirror. To my surprise, I found a pair of eyes staring back at me. The eyes themselves didn't surprise me, nor did the fact that they stared at me intently. Rather, their proximity is what left me startled. The last time I'd checked there was no one in my back seat.

The eyes were almost close enough that I could have counted the individual rods and cones. Yet, these peepers were owned by someone in a separate vehicle. The vehicle behind me. Right fucking behind me.

I'm not the kind of guy that would put a bumper sticker on his car, but driving in Kansas City for the past nine months has made me want one that says If you can read this, you're too close.

Actually, I'd want something with little more oomph: If you can read this, get off my ass! or Why don't you check my prostate while you're back there?

Or maybe I could try reasoning with tailgating bumper-fuckers with something like I'm not afraid to wreck my Pontiac. How much do you like that Lincoln?

Anyway, I once took up thinking of bumper stickers that I wouldn't mind seeing on the road on my drive to work (way back, when I had to commute to Kansas). Here are some that I remember with a few more recent additions:

  • I'm not a crazy woman driver. I'm from Johnson County.
  • My other car is a bigger piece of shit.
  • My child is an honor student, but I'm still and idiot.
  • If this car is driving straight, the driver is having a seizure. Please assist.
  • Kansas: We don't hate black people ... just as long as they live in Missouri.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

More Me, Less Josh

The Magster's dad slipped up and actually called me by my name today. For the past six months he's been calling me Josh.

I guess I'm moving up in the world. It's too bad that means Josh is moving down.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wedding Count

I went to another wedding last weekend. That's number three for this year. I've got two more lined up in a couple months. Five total. That beats last year's record of four weddings. And this year, all the weddings have been my friends, none have been The Magsters.

So, if you really want me to go for the gusto, friends, go ahead, get married, and invite me to have free food and drinks with you. I seriously won't mind.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Several people have asked me how my recent trip to Mexico was. In short, it was great.

I stayed at an all-inclusive beach resort called Melia Cozumel. I was a little wary at first, wondering just how all-inclusive the resort actually was. As it turned out, the only money I ended up spending money on at the hotel (besides tipping the bartenders) was a snorkeling tour and a four-wheel trek through the jungle to see Mayan ruins. Both of these were well worth the money. There were all sorts of interesting fish and coral on the snorkeling tour. And it was cool to drive the four-wheelers through the jungle looking at Mayan caves and ruins. The ocean was beautiful, the weather was great, and the people were friendly. The Magster and I took some good pictures of everything, but again, The Magster has yet to get a Flickr account. So, if you want to see those pictures, you'll just have to bug her yourself.

So, if you're looking to go to a tropical location, Cozumel is definitely my recommendation. And don't be scared of the term "all-inclusive." If you find a resort like Melia, it really is a deal.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

US Bank

I recently went on a trip out of the country. I used some services of my bank, US Bank, that I have not previously used. I am usually pleased with the overall service US Bank gives me – I appreciate the overdraft protection credit account they gave me (and the increase of the credit line after using the service for a year); I was able to easily set up and manage my accounts online; and I have usually been treated well at the several branches I have visited – however, recently some things have irked me about US Bank.

In order to secure the money I would take with me on my trip, I decided to get some travelers checks. When I looked for more information about travelers checks on US Bank’s website, I could only find reference to the U.S. Bank® Visa TravelMoney® Card. It was touted as a save “an alternative to cash or travelers checks,” so, being of the paperless money generation, I decided to get one instead of outmoded travelers checks.

The description page mentions that for a nominal fee you can load a TravelMoney card with funds from one of your US Bank accounts. They also mention how you can add more funds to the card, up to three times before it expires. What they don’t mention, though, is that for no amount of money can you put that money back into your account. That is, unless you go to an ATM, withdraw the money, walk into the branch and ask to have the cash put back into your account. The process is a bit of a roundabout with no real reason why. This is not really that big of deal, but if these cards are “the smart, convenient and safe way to carry your travel funds” (emphasis mine), then I should be able to, like I can with a travelers check, go to the counter of my bank, sign the checks, and ask the teller to deposit the amount into my account.

Furthermore, when considering getting the TravelMoney card, I noticed that there is the option of getting up to two secondary cards to give “a travel companion, or keep one in a safe place, for use if your primary card is lost or stolen.” But when I asked about this, I was told that I could receive only one card. I am not sure why this discrepancy between what is stated on their website and what is offered in their branches, but this takes much of the safety and convenience out of getting the card. If I can have only one card, then I must wait (Who knows how long? Days? Weeks? My vacation would have been over by then.) to have the card replaced if it is lost or stolen. In the meantime, I could have been stranded somewhere without any means of payment.

Another issue I had was not being able to exchange my pesos back into US dollars. I went to two separate branches (The teller at the first one looked confused and pointed me in the direction of their main Kansas City branch.) and was told first that I could not exchange foreign currency, then told that I could but they would have to mail it off, it would take three weeks to be exchanged, they couldn’t change coins, and I had to have a minimum equivalent of $200 to be considered. I was OK with not being able to exchange the coins (Who wants to mess with changing 5 pesos to $0.50?), but why should I be prohibited from exchanging 750 pesos into nearly $75.00? The explanation I got was “that’s just the way they do it.” Well, thanks for all the help. I had no trouble pulling money (in pesos) out of my account (in US dollars). Shouldn’t it stand to reason that I should be able to do the exact same thing only backwards just as easily?

I realize that these are pretty minor grievances compared to the general contentment I have with my overall banking experience at US Bank. Still, little things add up. And if I’m entrusting my money to their business, shouldn’t I expect US Bank to be reasonable, honest, and competent?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


crabby Zach 3
Originally uploaded by mr mcbastard.

I just got back from my three day vacation in Cozumel, Mexico (More details on that later). Check out my pictures from the trip.

I took more photos than these, but I used The Magster's camera. She has been talking about getting a Flickr account, though. So, if she does, I'll post a link to her pictures from the trip, too.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My-Size House

I think I would really enjoy living in one of Jay Shafer's tiny houses. I think I would like the coziness of the place. Maybe I'm a claustrophiliac.

Also, I don't really need too much room, because I don't have all that much stuff. And I don't really want more stuff. If I have a lot of space, sometimes I get to thinking that I need more stuff to fill it up. Then, I get stuff that I don't need to clutter up my space. I'd rather just forego all of that and opt for less space.

While I think I would also enjoy living in the middle of a field. I think I would have a problem if I couldn't regularly access the internet. It's hard to get cable out in the country, and I'm sure there are very few wifi transmitters pointing to remote fields several miles away. So, maybe a small house in someone's large back yard would be better.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Although it is probably just a form letter, I received a reply to my email to my local senator regarding Missouri Sex Education. It is as follows:

Dear Mr. Garwood:

Thank you so much for your e-mail about women's health issues. I truly appreciate the involvement and help of supporters.

As your mail requested, I do oppose HB 1055. In fact, I stood on the floor last week at length to point out a very similar bill's deficiencies and lack of solution.

Few things are as important to me as women's health, factual sex education and protecting reproductive rights. I hope you will also take a look at another bill I sponsored - SB 514 offering coverage for women who wish to get the vaccine against HPV (the leading cause of cervical cancer). web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=17408. I am thrilled to announce that it passed committee unamimously. I am hopeful that this bill will come before the full Senate soon.

My dedication to this fight is unwavering and I truly appreciate your letter of support. Please continue to stay involved and in touch.

Very best regards,

Jolie L. Justus
Senator, District 10
Room 328, Capitol Building
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: 573-751-2788
FAX: 573-751-9776

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Missouri Sex Education

A new bill, HCS HB 1055, was just approved by the Missouri House of Representatives yesterday. There hasn't been much news coverage of this bill, and surprisingly little opinion, so I thought I'd throw my two cents on the topic into the vast void that is the interwebtubes and hopefully make at least a couple more people aware of this bill.

The short description of HCS HB 1055 states that the bill "changes the laws regarding sexual education instruction in public schools and establishes public awareness and services for alternatives to abortion programs." That seems innocuous enough. Change is good right? But further inspection of the bill reveals some not-so-desirable changes

The actual text of bill states that a sex education course should, among other things, "(3) Present students with the latest medically factual information regarding both the possible side effects and health benefits of all forms of contraception, including the success and failure rates for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; or shall present students with information on contraceptives and pregnancy in a manner consistent with the provisions of the federal abstinence education law, 42 U.S.C. Section 710;" (emphasis theirs). Really, the only word in that statement that bothers me is the "or." This leaves it up to school administrators and school boards whether the students in their charge will be presented with all the facts about safe sex and adolescent sexuality gathered by decades of medical research and thousands of medical professionals, OR if they'll simply be told, "Don't fuck each other, OK?" That seems like a pretty important "or" to me.

This optionally educational or irresponsible sex education is similar to teaching a gun safety course in which the instructor can either give the pupil a loaded weapon and tell him not to use it, or give the pupil and loaded weapon and tell him how to engage the safety, how to remove the ammunition, how to carefully store the gun, how to clean it safely, etc. The former seems ludicrous, but that is essentially what we are doing to Missouri students. We put them in small rooms for hours at a time, week after week, year after year, with peers their own age and with similar developing hormone levels. These kids are ticking time bombs of lust, powder kegs dangerously close open flame. And the solution HCS HB 1055 proposes is not to douse them with the knowledge of STDs (or STIs, or whatever they're calling them these days) or diffusing them with safe sex practices, but to scold these volatile kids, "How dare for thinking of exploding!"

HCS HB 1055 also states, "7. No school district or charter school, or its personnel or agents, shall provide abortion services, or permit a person or entity to offer, sponsor, or furnish in any manner any course materials or instruction relating to human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases to its students if such person or entity is a provider of abortion services" (emphasis theirs). This is, of course, to prevent those lewd sex-mongers from sneaking into our students' classrooms and whispering into children's ears, "Sex.... Sex.... Don't worry about the consequences; we've got abortions for that! Just have sex! Sex...."

This is just some of the language of the bill that I found a bit disturbing. I advise everyone to read all of HCS HB 1055 for themselves (and read the summary, too). If you agree with me (and some other people) and some of the points I have made and you want to help change this bill or stop it from becoming Missouri law, I recommend you go to the Planned Parenthood Take Action page and send a letter to your local senator condemning the bill. If you don't agree with some of the points I've made and you want to make sure this bill does pass through the Missouri senate, well, I'm not sure what you can do. (Write your senator, too, I guess.) But either way, let me know what you think about HCS HB 1055 and its possible effects on Missouri students.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Invisible Bigfoot?

This Invisible Bigfoot? post on Cryptomundo (Don't ask me how I found it.) is the wackiest shit I have read it a while. I only wish that the author had intended it to be the farcical fiction that it turned out to be. But with a pitiful grin I accept that the author probably believes every pathetically humorous word.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Promises, Promises

Last week I made some blogging promises that I didn't keep. I didn't blog as often as I said I would, and about the topics that I wanted to. So, I suppose I broke my promise. I'm not too broken up about it, though. Are you?

The War

The soldiers do not want to fight. The generals think it is pointless. The leaders may be doing more harm than good, and the people often most affected are people just like you and me.

No, I'm not talking about the war in Iraq. I'm talking about a war much more close to home, one that we've been losing since we started it. I'm talking about the War on Drugs.

Drugs are dangerous. I won't deny that. But are people so irresponsible that they have to have a babysitter government tell them, "You don't know where that's been. Don't stick that in your mouth or you'll get a spanking!"

I propose that we stop this silly prohibition on drugs. We should stop going after petty drug dealers, and instead hold big drug cartels accountable. Make drugs legal, but regulate them like alcohol, nicotine, or prescription drugs. Instead of losing millions of dollars sending police officers to their deaths and keeping petty drug dealers locked up, the government could make money on drug taxes and inspection fees. I doubt the mass hysteria and anarchy – as little old church ladies imagine when they think of a nation in which "dangerous" substances are legal but controlled, and where personal responsibility reigns – would actually occur. People who would want to do drugs would probably do them. People who didn't wouldn't. No riots. No drugged-out zombie invasion. Just people doing what they've always done, only now they're paying taxes on it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


is everything
that exists a part of me,
or vice versa?


does my influence
permeate all existance?
do i have an end?

The Secret. The Lie. Same Differene

Though I have not read it, watched it, or been told it by a giggly twelve-year-old girl, I'm guessing The Secret is probably the biggest New Age, pseudo-spiritual, mind-enema to hit the best sellerslist since L. Ron Hubbard last shit on a pile of paper and called it a book. As I understand it, the titular secret is the knowledge of the "Law of Attraction," some all-powerful force that binds the things people desire to the people who desire them. This law is not something as plain as gravity, mind you. In fact, it's a law that science can't even explain. How it even became a law is anyone's guess, but a definite law of the universe it is.

Apparently, by recognizing this law and using the power of positive thinking, a person can get anything they want: a new car, a wife, a cheese grater, anything! You could probably even hold your breath for an hour or make yourself taller or cure yourself of cancer just by hoping that nasty ol' tumor will go away. All this, of course, is a giant lie. Sorry, wishes can't cure cancer.

While I'm sure there are benefits to positive thinking (having a more cheerful disposition, getting a new perspective, decreasing stress levels, etc.), I don't think that's what the phrase implies. Blindly believing some book that tells you there is a magic wishing well inside your head is not positive thinking. That's not thinking at all.

I think the main point of positive thinking is the last half, the thinking part. The power of positive thinking comes into play when a person actually uses their brain to analyze a situation. You want something? So think about it. Focus on it for a while. Find out about it. Ask yourself why you want it. Figure out the best ways to get it. Imagine what it would be like to have it. Consider the differences between having it and not having it. All this positive thinking will make you more prepared to get what you want than idle wishing.

But I suppose it's much harder to sell a book that promotes analytical thinking than it is to sell one that tells people that all they need is to think happy thoughts, sprinkle on some fairy dust, and then they can fly, they can fly, they can fly!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


It was late for a visitor, but, nevertheless, Thomas answered the door. Miranda stood at the doorway smiling. He half-heartedly smiled back and invited her into his apartment. "I just came over to see how you're doing," she said. "You seemed pretty upset earlier today."

"Yeah, well, I guess I was," he replied. He walked over to the couch and plopped down. On the coffee table in front of him there was a glass of ice and a bottle of whiskey. Thomas filled the glass halfway. He stood up and walked to his kitchen saying, "Do you want a drink?" along the way.

Miranda declined and sat down on the couch waiting for Thomas to return. "Do you want to talk about anything?" she asked.

Thomas strolled out of the kitchen. "Like what?"

"Well, you haven't said much in the past few days. And today you seemed upset about something."

Thomas shrugged.

"The other night, the woman with the long arm... You... I mean, it must..."

Thomas waited for a complete sentence.

"You killed her. I mean, it was an accident, but you killed her. That's got to be tough to deal with. You don't want to talk about it?"

Thomas was nonchalant as he took a sip from his glass. He stared at the corner of the room for a moment. "It wasn't an accident."


"It wasn't an accident. I meant to kill her."

"It was just the heat of the moment," Miranda reassured him. "You were just protecting me, protecting us."

"There was that. But also, I didn't want to just stop her. I wanted to kill her," Thomas said matter-of-factly. He looked at Miranda. Her eyebrows furled. She looked confused. "She would have killed us or someone else if given the chance. I felt bad about it at the time, and for a little while after, but I don't feel like I should regret it anymore. I killed her."

Miranda was not prepared to comfort someone who did not feel remorseful. She did feel sorry for Thomas, though. It showed on her face.

But Thomas resented her pity. "And I don't feel bad about what I did tonight," slipped out, perhaps because of the alcohol swirling through his veins.

"What did you do?"

"I got rid of a real evil that has been plaguing New City." Miranda waited for more facts. "I got rid of a crime boss and a murderer. I killed Harry "The Hammer" Kwan!" Thomas spilled some of his drink in his excitement.

"You killed him?" Miranda asked in disbelief. Thomas nodded. "But why?"

"Because he was a crime boss and a murderer," Thomas repeated.

Miranda stood up. "But you can't just go around killing people!"

"Why not? He did."

"But that's what makes us different for them. We stop crimes; we don't commit them," Miranda said.

"But how many crimes did I stop by committing just one?"

"You can't kill whoever you want, whenever you feel like it," Miranda said. She looked as thought she might cry. "It's just wrong."

Thomas shrugged and looked away. Miranda felt her chest tighten and her throat swell up. Her eyes burned. She was upset with Thomas's indifference. And disappointed.

The room was silent for a few moments. Then Miranda said, "I'm going to go." Thomas stood and turned to see her to the door, but she was already there, leaving.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Love Is Dental Hygiene

The legend goes that the toothbrush was not invented until the 1800's, many years after the widespread use of toothpaste. This is probably not true. I'm sure many toothbrush-like instruments and several toothpaste-ish concoctions were around millenia before someone decided to patent them. The fact is, though, that toothpaste and the toothbrush came about long after the need for keeping one's teeth clean was realized.

Nobody can accurately know when humans began to keep their teeth clean. I surmise it was around the time that we began to keep our hair tidy and gnaw our fingernails off. But whenever it happened, people began washing their teeth because, if they scraped gunk off the enamel or picked chunks out from between the molars or rinsed out their mouth, more of their teeth lasted longer and they were less prone to mouth infections. And people having more teeth and less disease later in life meant that they could eat more, and thus, they themselves would last longer. This is dental hygiene, but it wasn't called that then.

Fast forward many, many years later to the "invention" of the toothbrush. Here was a time when tooth care was made nearly obsolete by the miracles of the emerging field of dentistry. If someone found themselves lacking teeth, they could have a pair of dentures made and fitted. But original teeth were still valued, as well they should be, and the risk of loosing teeth was probably the same as it was many years before.

The toothbrush was "invented" not to advance tooth care, but to catch up to all the extra damage that was being done to human teeth by the increasingly corrosive and germ-attracting things people were putting in their mouths and eating. Civilization had allowed for humans to have easier access to more corrosive foods that could potentially cause more damage to their teeth. In order for a person to make their teeth last as long as they had previously, they had to take extra care of them. The toothbrush had become a necessity.

Then, sometime in the following century, it became not only necessary to keep all of your teeth, but also to keep all of your teeth looking good. Dental hygiene, as a term, was born.

But dental hygiene did not end there. Soon, it became not only necessary to have all of your teeth, but also to have all of your teeth be perfect. You had to keep them polished white as bleached bone to be considered to have good dental hygiene.

More recently, though, dental hygiene has given way to dental perfection. You must have perfectly aligned, spaced, shined, and white teeth in order to be considered to have good dental hygiene. The teeth you were born with are no longer good enough. You must straighten your teeth with retainers and braces and dye them unnatural shades of white. It is purely manufactured perfection, as fake as a porcelain white cap. This perfection means nothing, and the ideal exists only because people say it should. There is little practical advantage to having perfectly white, straight teeth, but if not striving for that goal means being ridiculed or shunned, most people opt to fit in.

There is and has always been a thing that, when applied to a relationship, makes it last better and longer. This is Love, but might not always be called that.

As civilization developed, society allowed for more caustic things to be applied to relationships: money, jobs, lifestyles, etc. A new form of bond was "invented." Love, as a term, was born.

More recently, though, Love has come to mean something inaccurately perfect, something fake and contrived. A relationship can be made to look better by being straightened and rearranged. This is what is now called Love. Love exists to the extent it does for its own sake, because people say it should. "All you need is love." "True love." "...but the greatest of these is love." "The greatest thing you'll ever learn / Is to love and be loved in return."

Love, now, is a fabrication. It has become something separate altogether from a relationship, something magical and mysterious and more desirable than the relationships it once enhanced. People now look for Love rather than a partner. It no longer matters how long the relationship lasts or how effective it is, just as long as it has the appearance of being perfect. Love, as it now defined, is a thin, brittle veneer covering a decaying tooth.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Hammer

Despite Thomas’s unpressed slacks and ineptly tied tie, the host (who more resembled a bouncer) had let him in. This was most likely due to the restaurant’s current lack of patronage. The near absence of customers was not because of the restaurant itself, but because few people, besides the two well dressed elderly couples near the back, saw fit to visit upscale restaurants at four o’clock. In fact, the restaurant had been just opening and gearing up for that evening’s business.

For hours Thomas had sat at the bar, ordering only as many rum and cokes in that course of time as to keep the bartender happy. Customers started to trickle in as the evening wore on. The dining area quickly filled up with wealthy and important-looking patrons.

Thomas made idle conversation with the bartender from time to time and had struck up an interesting dialog about the current state of the country with a man who had sat next to him for a while. For the most part, though, he stared into his glass and thought about what he’d said earlier that day: "Instead of wasting our time waiting for some ethereal evil shadow to fall over New City, or wasting our powers on stopping misdemeanors, we should be getting at the root of crime. We should be going after drug lords and crime bosses, the real evil in this city?" He waited.

Just as Thomas was starting to get a little buzzed and a little impatient, Harold Kwan, the owner of the establishment, entered the dining area and began mingling with some of the guests of his restaurant. Thomas took notice.

Even he has a cooler name than I do, Thomas thought. Harry "The Hammer" Kwan was not only a socialite and restaurant owner, but also a supposed drug runner and an alleged murderer. He had been arrested on several charges several different times, but nothing had stuck, and each time only one of his lackies had ended up being tried and imprisoned. After so much trouble with the law, Harry decided to "go straight," as he had told one tabloid a couple years ago, right before opening his restaurant. But few people believed his sudden turn to decent citizenship, least of all the local police and the FBI, who hand kept him under constant surveillance ever since. Thomas did not believe him either.

Thomas watched Harry from across the room. Harry smiled as he stepped a way from a table of two – someone who was possibly the channel 5 weather man and a young woman that Thomas at first guessed was the weather man's daughter, then, from the look of the kiss they gave each other, decided it was more likely his trophy wife or his mistress. Harry stopped at another table of two a few feet away and jovially slapped the man on back as he greeted them, an overweight, well dressed couple grazing on two small salads. Two men followed close behind Harry. They resembled the host of the restaurant in stature and demeanor, but were dressed as waiters. Thomas gazed on intently.

Suddenly, the woman sitting at the table yelped and pointed at her plate. Harry was shocked and immediately slid around the table to inspect her plate, but could find nothing wrong. The woman loudly insisted that something was wrong with her dish. Noticing that a few curious eyes from other tables were straying toward the woman and not wanting to cause a scene, Harry sternly instructed one of the waiters to take away the madame's salad and quickly bring a replacement. The waiter left in a hurry.

Thomas smiled as he watched Harry "The Hammer" apologize profusely to the couple. The man seemed happy and a little apologetic himself, but the woman continued to act indignant. Harry asked them something, perhaps what he could get for them as an apology. The two deliberated for a moment. The remaining waiter stood by patiently.

Without warning, the waiter's face changed from being calm to creased with pain. He grabbed at his head with one hand and his chest with the other. He doubled over and let out an anguished groan. Everyone at the surrounding tables looked on in confusion. Harry put his hand on the man's back and asked him something. The waiter suddenly stood straight up. He looked around himself, frightened. His eyes darted from face to face, looking for something familiar or friendly, but he found no one who understood what he was seeing. His eyes fell on Harry and he took a few scared steps backward.

Harry noticed that the strange actions of his waiter had caught the attention of nearly everyone in the room. He turned around and raised his hands to get everyone's attention. In a voice loud enough for Thomas to hear across the room, Harry said, "Please, stay calm everyone. I think Mikey here is just having a panic attack." Harry turned back around to see Mikey pulling a gun from his jacket pocket and pulling the trigger.

The back of Harry's head blew out across several tables of patrons. The accompanying gunshot was followed immediately by a chorus of screams. People scattered. Some tried to run for the exits, others ducked under their tables. The waiter who was returning with a replacement salad dove over a table and tackled Mikey to the ground, wrestling the gun from his hand.

Thomas finished his rum and coke and set his glass down on the bar. He meandered out of the restaurant, a little tipsy and a bit content.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


I haven’t been posting regularly recently. Further, I have't been posting my serial story like I promised I would. And I appreciate those who have called me out on it (Thank you, The Magster and Pancake Wrangler). It helps me to know that I am actually being held accountable for my promises.

I haven’t been particularly busy lately, but I just haven’t felt like writing. It’s the apathetics’ version of writers’ block. So, I’m going to try to jumpstart my inspiration with a solid week of blogging. From tomorrow to next Saturday, I promise I will post at least once every day, or my name isn’t Cynical McBastard (which it isn’t). I want to post at least four Superhero updates (to make up for those I’ve been missing) and a couple discussion topics Justin and I have explored recently.

In the meantime, here are some topics that I missed blogging about:

  • It was my 24th birthday a couple weeks ago. I’m too young to say I’m getting old, but I’m too old to say I’m young.
  • I went to my first wedding of the year a few weeks ago. I’ve already got three more lined up, one of which I’ll be in (i.e., the Stellar + Matt wedding extravaganza). I just need to be invited to one more wedding to break last year’s record of four weddings attended.
  • I interviewed for a new job. It sounds like it will have some to do with technical/instructional writing, but for the most part be a jack of all trades. The interesting part is that I would be working with Justin (or “under” him I should say).
  • I went to the Royals opening day game on Monday. I had a great time sitting out in the parking lot, drinking beer, and eating burgers. And the game wasn’t bad either. The sun was spitting out carcinogenic rays, the weather was calm and beautiful, and the pretty girls were out in force – it was the perfect day for baseball. Plus, the Royals actually won, so that day might actually be classified as a miracle.
  • I started working out again. I was just tired of getting winded walking up a few flights of stairs and, in general, feeling like a slug. I haven’t exercised in over a year, and by the amount of huffing and puffing and sweating I do after a quick thirty minute workout, it’s pretty evident. I’m not aiming to lose weight or build huge muscles. I just want to stop feeling listless and lazy. And to not sigh or grunt when I bend over to pick something up.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"I think we should take it easy for a couple weeks, lay low. That woman has been front-page news for the past two days, and every tabloid in town is talking about freaks and masked madmen running amok in the city," Alex said. "And we should give ourselves some time to heal," he added, noticing just how big the bruise on Miranda's face had become. He wondered how her other injuries – a cracked rib, sprained wrist, the bruise across her back, and lesion on her head – were healing. Miranda was smiling, though, as she usually did. She lounged in a leather chair in Alex's living room, sipping a glass of vegetable juice like it was a shot of whiskey. The oversized chair fit her like a small couch. She rested her head on one cushioned leather arm, and her legs bobbed and swung aimlessly as she let them dangle over the side of the other arm. Miranda looked up from her V8 and was embarrassed to see Alex eying the unsightly green and brown mark on her cheek.

Alex was somewhat ashamed, too, that he'd come away with only a lump on his head and a concussion. Then he looked over to Thomas, ostensibly inspecting a bust of Socrates, but most obviously preoccupied with his thoughts.

Alex resented Thomas a bit, but he could not quite determine why. Perhaps it was because Thomas had used his power to decisively end the conflict, the fight with the long-armed woman, when he had previously only proven able to distract and confused criminals, while Alex himself had been helpless and unhelpfully unconscious. Or perhaps it was because of the odd mood that Thomas had been in since that night. Or maybe it was because Thomas had come through the whole ordeal unscathed. Alex felt the lump on the back of his skull. He doesn't have a mark on his body, he thought, not even a scratch.

"I feel that something big is about to happen, or maybe it already is happening," Alex said as he stood up. Thomas could tell that Alex was going into lecture mode. Miranda sat up slowly, holding her side, and continued to sip her juice. "First we had the 'New City Devil' kill a convenience store clerk, and now we have the 'Long-Arm Lady' attacking random people on the street. Something connects these two. Something or someone is behind these villains."

Thomas cringed at Alex's use of the word 'villains.' "They were probably just down-on-their-luck freaks high on meth." Miranda looked over at Thomas, surprised that he was talking. He had not said much in the past day. Thomas looked at Alex's stern face. "It is just a coincidence," he mumbled in conclusion.

"Nothing's a coincidence," Alex said. "These aren't isolated incidents. I can feel it." Miranda nodded as if she felt it, too. Thomas rolled his eyes. More superhero voodoo nonsense, he thought.

"There's something much bigger going on here. We just can't see it, yet. We need to wait until it shows itself again."

"Wait?" Thomas spoke up again. "Wait for what?" Alex was about to answer, but Thomas kept speaking, "I'm tired of waiting. We sit on rooftops and wait for what? For small-time robbers and would-be muggers?" Thomas looked to Miranda for support. There was compassion in her eyes, ever present as it was, but she offered no reinforcement. He looked back at Alex. "You're always saying that we're superheroes, right? So, shouldn't we be going after supervillians?"

Alex said, "We just got our butts kicked by a supervillain. Don't you think we could use some practice before whatever evil is coming gets here?"

"Spare me your super intuition power. There's no evidence and no reason to even believe that there is any connection between the crazy woman we fought the other night and that freaky Devil guy." Alex waited for Thomas to finish. His frustration grew. Thomas continued, "Instead of wasting our time waiting for some ethereal evil shadow to fall over New City, or wasting our powers on stopping misdemeanors, we should be getting at the root of crime. We should be going after drug lords and crime bosses, the real evil in this city?"

"I understand your zeal, but jumping right into the big leagues is dangerous. Some of us already put more than we can afford on the line as it is," Alex said.

"You're scared," Thomas said matter-of-factly. "You're scared to actually do something. You're scared to get your hands dirty."

"Thomas," Miranda said, trying to stand up fast. She winced and held her side.

"You're darn right I'm scared," Alex said taking a step toward Thomas. "When we come back with bruises and broken bones from one encounter with one person, you can bet I'm going to be scared. But I guess you wouldn't know anything about getting hurt, would you?"

"Guys," Miranda said.

"I did what I could. And at least I got the job done. I killed her before she killed you." There was a brief pause. This was the first time since that night that Thomas or anyone had mentioned the long-armed woman's gruesome death. "Maybe I should have let her work you over a little longer?"

"All right! Just stop it," Miranda commanded. Both men looked over at her. She was not smiling.

Thomas huffed, "I'm going home." He turned and pulled a cigarette out of his pocket as he walked. He lit it while he was still inside Alex's apartment. He knew Alex disapproved of smoking anything except expensive cigars.

Alex ignored the effrontery and tried to regain an air of authority by calling to Thomas as he walked away, "We all need some rest and some time to think. We'll meet up in a week and discuss the direction we each want the group to follow."

"Yeah right," Thomas said under his breath as he stepped through the apartment door.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about identity recently, how it's formed, what it's made of. It seems that one's identity is a patchwork of self-assessment, societal labels, and scientific jargon. It all comes together to describe a person, but one's identity is never really who they are. They are more, much more than a bundle of ideas and words. Who I am is more than a demographic and a statistic.

But this does not mean that the labels that make up our identities are without value. Knowing how I am defined -- by myself and by others -- could be very useful for discovering who I am, why you am who I am, and how I got that way. Thus, I have tried to map out my identity along some major categories:

Category Identity Evidence Comments
sex male unambiguous male genitalia, male hormones, and masculine body/facial structure By “unambiguous” I mean readily identifiable and of adequate proportion and reasonable placement. And no, I don’t want to hear any dissenting opinions.
gender man view men as equals and opponents, objectify women, strive for self-reliance, am prone to violence, suppress emotional responses, prefer to communicate in terms of logical reasoning, view sex as power This one was a hard one, and I’m not sure I completely got it. Gender, as I’ve tried to define it here, is a construct of society. I tried to ask myself what traits I posses, positive or negative, that identify someone as a “man” in modern American.
sexual orientation non-deviant heterosexual perform sexual acts solely with and desire only opposite-sex sex partners I added the "non-deviant" with some reservations. By "deviant" I do not mean to say that what others may choose to do is bad or wrong. "Non-deviant," in this case, is a reference to the fact that I do not participate in any non-heterosexual activities. There are some people who engage in some homosexual acts, but are predominantly (morally, mentally, physically, or whatever the cause) heterosexual -- these I would consider to be "deviant" heterosexuals. Likewise, there are those who are homosexual who may, for whatever reason, perform heterosexual acts: deviant homosexuals. I'm not sure what the middle ground would be.
sexuality straight am uncomfortable with personal physical intimacy with same-sex/gender, refuse same-sex/gender sexual advances, approach only opposite sex/gender for sexual acts This differs from "sexual orientation," in my mind, in that "sexual orientation" is what a person desires and "sexuality" is what a person actually practices.
race Caucasian am descended solely from European Caucasians This is true as far as I know.
heritage white was brought up in a light-skinned family that claimed no inter-racial ancestors, think of people as white unless otherwise noted as "black," "Asian," etc. I had trouble with this one. My evidence seems forced.
class status middle-class had my essential needs taken care of (and them some) while growing up, have a sustainable sustainable lifestyle, do not have an overwhelming amount of debt, have a post-high school education Although I don't know exactly what demarcates the different classes, I think it's fairly easy to identify them.
religion non-affiliated do not attend any religious service, do not appreciate circular logic and self-aggrandizement often associated with religion I almost wrote "post-Christian" for this one. By this I would have meant that I still appreciate the mythology and literature of Christianity, but do not necessarily believe that any of it is true or particularly relevant to my or any other modern life.
spiritual belief agnostic believe that there is some purpose to my life and human life in general, do not know or particularly care to know the source or scope of this purpose "Agnostic" means "without knowing." For me, agnosticism is not only not knowing what greater power may or may not exist, but also being content in not knowing. Atheism is too adamant for my tastes.
political party affiliation Libertarian oppose the recent fusing of Republican party with the religious right, find many Democratic viewpoints too socialistic, oppose overreaching government involvement in my personal and business life and the lives of others I've never voted Libertarian, nor am I registered. I would have very recently aligned myself with the Democratic party, but some recent political reading has led me to realize that I would like our nation to pursue the tenets of the Libertarian party platform: less government, more personal responsibility.
political ideology conservative believe that government money should be collected in equal shares and should only be spent on services that benefit or can be enjoyed by every citizen, would prefer less government to the point of anarchy rather than more government to the point of socialism I recently told someone, much to their chagrin, that I am more closely an Anarchist than an espouser of a republic or a democracy. If a representative government is equally likely to slide into either an all-governing socialism or free-for-all anarchy, I'll choose anarchy.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Alex heard quick footfalls echo through the quiet night. Someone was running. What are they running from? Alex wondered. Or what are they running to? He jogged to the opposite edge of the building and looked each way down the sparsely lit street below him, but the source of the sound had faded into the darkness. Alex saw a man slowly walking in his direction carrying some sort of duffel bag. In the other direction down the street, he saw two moving figures at the limit of his vision. They were prostitutes. He’d talked with them before, letting them know that he did not approve of their choice of careers, but if they ever needed any help, to yell for him. They both had laughed and one had said, “Hey, Superguy, for fifty bucks I’ll let you look at my bat cave.”

Alex listened. He could not hear the running footsteps any more. A car slowly meandered across an intersection some blocks away. A figure stumbled out of a doorway in a building across the street. It wobbled for a moment then quickly descended the stoop stairway. The figure had long hair and an odd shape to its body. It spotted the man with the duffel bag and began to run toward him. It screamed something in a woman’s voice.

The man with the duffel bag turned to see the woman fast approaching. He wasn’t sure whether she was coming for him or running past. He looked around the dark and empty street to see what else might be provoking this woman. He turned to run just as the woman reached him. She tackled him. Her arms flew up and down striking him repeatedly as he cowered in fear and confusion underneath her.

Alex pressed his finger to his temple, activating the communicator in his mask. “Fire Ant, Confusio – eh, Mind Bender – action in the street.” He stood up and waved his hand to the two other superheroes a couple rooftop corners away. “One-on-one attack, one block over. Meet at my position on street-level.” He pointed down to the street three stories below. The other two nodded and began their descent down a rickety fire escape. Alex, using a high-tension line and a clip from his belt, repelled down the side of his building and within moments was joined by his two cohorts in crime fighting. They advanced on the attack in progress.

The man with the duffel back clutched it loosely and did not move. Unconscious, dead, or playing dead? Miranda thought as they came within yards of the attack. The attacker still sat on top of her victim but had ceased hitting him. She gripped him by the collar and asked him repeatedly, “Who are you? Where is he? What did he do to me?” Occasionally she would scream unintelligibly. No one in the surrounding buildings turned on their lights or poked their heads out of their windows. The whores down the road had taken off, lest the cops come around to break up the fight.

As they approached the violent woman, she suddenly turned to face the superheroes. Her hair was mussed, her eyes wide, and her face was flushed. She jumped up and rushed toward them, flailing her arms. She was nearly as tall as Alex, but seemed much lighter and lankier, though her frame was concealed by her long trench coat. She looked like a hunchback. One shoulder gently sloped down; the other was bulbous and disproportionately large. The arm of that shoulder was thick, stiff, and ended in a stub rather than a hand. Alex was confident he could subdue this crazed, deformed woman.

While Miranda veered around the attacker, checking on her victim, Alex met the wild-eyed woman and grabbed at her arms, but she quickly had him backpedaling. Her slender frame had belied her strength (or, more accurately, her ferocity). Alex struggled to restrain her, trying to gently tell her, “Calm down.” She didn’t hear him or she didn’t care, and quickly forced Alex up against the nearest apartment building. “Do something!” he shouted over to Thomas.

"I am!" Thomas shouted back. He looked desperate and panicked. "I think she's too hopped up on drugs or something for me to get through!"

"He's still conscious," Miranda said, still leaning over the man with the duffel bag. She instructed him to crawl to safety and then dashed to help Alex.

Miranda reached up on the taller woman and grabbed an arm and her coat collar. She yanked the hysterical woman back and sent her flying into the street. The woman immediately bounded back up and screamed, roared actually, at the trio. She yelled, quite unintelligibly, "Why are you protecting him? Where did he go?" The three superheroes were barely able to understand her insane-sounding questions. They stared her down and stood their ground.

The woman screamed again. With much ado, she began to gyrate her stubby arm and hunched shoulder. Then suddenly, the sleeve of her trench coat became shredded and an arm as long as the woman was tall whipped out from inside. Miranda ducked as a large hand flew toward her and grazed her head. Thomas was stunned. "What the crap!" he managed to mutter.

Alex took advantage of the long, slow arc of woman's impossibly long arm. He vaulted over Miranda and dove at the long-armed woman. He tackled her to the ground and slapped on a full nelson. Undaunted, she reached behind her back with her long arm and gripped Alex's head like a grapefruit with her over-sized hand. Alex grunted as she squeezed his skull and pulled, stretching his neck. She rolled over and slammed his head into the ground as she did so. Dazed, Alex loosened his grip. The long-arm woman broke free.

"I'm going to kill him!" the long-armed woman screamed, perhaps regarding Alex, perhaps regarding her long-gone would-be killer. Before the crazed woman could stand, Miranda grabbed her long arm tightly. The small woman pulled hard on the arm, yanking the taller woman off her feet. Miranda then swung the woman around in a semicircle and released her. She sailed across the other half of the street and over the sidewalk, landing four feet from Thomas's feet. Not knowing what to do, Thomas lunged at her. She swatted him in midair with her large palm. He fell to the ground some feet away and rolled several more.

Miranda advanced toward the enraged woman who was just getting up. The much smaller woman with arms of reasonable length, did not anticipate her obvious disadvantage in reach. Miranda was met with an incredibly powerful sock to the midsection. Even through her body armor, Miranda's midsection caved to the blow. She doubled over and sank to her knees, trying to regain her breath.

The long-armed woman was about to strike again, but her large fist was caught by both of Alex's hands. The two, the superhero and his villain, stood regarding one another for a moment. There was a disturbing twinkle in the woman's eye, something manic and disoriented. She was frothing at the mouth and breathing heavily. Alex wanted to say something to her, to try to understand her, to try to sympathize with her. She flung her arm, with him still holding it, over her head. He was sent head first into the building behind her. He crumpled to the ground.

Miranda was breathing now, deep breaths, trying to catch up on the oxygen she had missed out on. A large hand grabbed her side, its fingers nearly encompassing her waist. Miranda yelped with her new found breath. The long-armed woman lifted the small girl off her feet, then slammed her to the hard concrete on her back.

The young girl woman was limp for a moment, then came back to consciousness just as the long-armed woman began raining down quick jabs with fists large and small. Miranda tried weakly to fend off her attacker. The sharp blows alternated between her head and her midsection. Miranda curled into the fetal position and covered her head with her hands to protect herself. Several more painful blows struck her back and her side. A large hand wrapped around Miranda's ankles and she found herself being dragged down the street. "What do you know? What did he do to me?" the long-armed woman asked feverishly. The long-armed woman stopped and lifted the small girl off the ground upside-down. Miranda opened her eyes. Her head swam and her vision was blurred. "Why won't you answer me?"

The woman raised Miranda higher and seemed about to smash her to the ground once again, when someone shouted, "Stop it!"

The woman dropped Miranda, and the superheroine landed painfully on her shoulder. She looked up to see Thomas standing before the woman, their eyes on the same level and with an intense look. The woman reached for Thomas with her large hand. She stopped halfway, and her hand began to shake. Then her arm. Then her whole body. With her small hand, she touched her face, as if to see whether it was still there. Thomas breathed heavily. He looked as though he was in a trance.

A trickle of blood crept out of each of the tall woman's nostrils. She tried to wipe it away with her small hand, but smeared it across her cheek. She still trembled. Her arm still reached for Thomas. She began to whimper.

The long-armed woman's hand slid down her face and felt around her neck. She lifted her chin but never broke eye contact with Thomas. She felt her throat. She positioned her fingers. They dug into her neck. She grabbed her trachea and began to pull it out of her body. She gurgled as she crushed her windpipe. Blood began to dribble down her neck and chest and stain her trench coat. Her large hand slowly stopped futilely reaching for Thomas and encircled her other arm's wrist. She yanked and came up with a handful of her own gore.

Miranda watched the long-armed woman collapse to the ground. Despite the pain in her back and head, she forced herself up onto her hands and knees and surveyed the area. The man with the duffel bag had crawled many yards away. He had stopped moving. So, too, had Alex. He looked like he was asleep, sprawled out like a bum next to an apartment building. She saw his chest move up and down and was relieved. She looked up at Thomas who hadn't moved. He was staring into nothing, through where the long-armed woman's eyes had been before she had collapsed. Miranda looked down at the woman, a heap in a pool of blood. She heard a pathetic, last gurgle come from the woman's gaping neck hole "What did you do, Thomas?" It was not accusatory. It was not curious.

Thomas shivered. He felt like an overinflated balloon yearning for someone to pop him. He slowly looked down at the woman, now dead. He realized he hadn't been breathing for a while and sucked in the cool, dark air.

"What did you do?" Miranda repeated. She did not know why she said it; she didn't want to know the answer. But she could think of nothing else to say to him at the moment. Miranda sat back on her haunches. She wanted to get up, to give Thomas a hug, a reassurance. She wanted to be with him in his kitchen eating scrambled eggs and bacon, pretending not to see him steal glances at her. She wanted to be where they'd first met and he'd smiled down at her as she sat on the sidewalk, startled by his disappearing act. She wanted to take him anywhere besides here and now, where he stood looking down at the body of the first person he had ever killed.

He blinked a few times and stared down at the woman on the ground with unsure eyes. Then he nodded, as if he had agreed upon something. He looked over at Miranda. "I killed her," Thomas said, answering her question. For a brief moment, Miranda thought she saw a smile begin to spread across his face.

Circa Now