Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ennui

I has it.

Got Wood?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Take The Quiz

With the advent of on-line media supplanting print media, or so we're told by mass media, and the coming, if not already arrived, supremacy of the iPad (full disclosure: I don't own one), it seems that we can expect flag-sized newsprint editions and glossy magazine volumes to soon disappear from the face of the earth. At least it may mean fewer trips to the recycling center. In the meantime, there's no shortage of this presumably now-antique form of communication. If one has doubts, a few long minutes at a WalMart checkout should serve to change minds.

I have here a 220 page issue of the March 2011 Cosmopolitan. You may be wondering why a guy has an issue of Cosmo open on his lap. Well, I read the articles, okay? What puzzles and frightens me is this concluding question: is this what women think about all day while guys are fantasizing about pimping their Volvos into monster trucks? If so, we're in more trouble than I thought.

Cosmopolitan Magazine, for those who have lived strictly in a monastery since birth, is a collection of advertising, sex and beauty tips and sex tips for the beautiful. It's also famous for its quizzes, where ladies can test any aspect of their existence, from the level of their ability to conquer the elusive orgasm to some other thing about orgasms. The March issue has a quiz on, you guessed it, sex. Here's an interesting question: "You're about to indulge in a steamy solo session, so you reach for . . .", followed by four brash choices, but I there's really no reason to go past letter A, "Your clitoris or breasts or both - no reason to wait." Exactly. Good enough for me. However, I'm not a woman, at least, I don't think I am, and the purpose of the test is to suss out what kind of sexual deviant you actually are. Enough A answers, and your "pleasure MO" is "tactile," a column of information goes on to tell the compliant, test-taking female reader who would probably otherwise be having sex, as far as I can tell from the magazine, that she has a particular "go-to style" and that there is a way to trigger a "bigger O," though why a large zero would be beneficial is a mystery to me. There's even a handy and colorful graphic depicting the ideal, or maybe only, sexual position, tastefully done in two-tone color-coded silhouette complete with a slim, pony-tailed girl and pec-bearing dude. I somehow doubt that the peak of the Bell Curve of Cosmo readers, who are mostly American, after all, would bear similar profiles.

My favourite article this month is "25 Ways To Go Naked . . . Without Freezing Your Butt Off." I wonder how many editorial meetings it took to get that ellipsis to stay in there. Yes, I like nakedness and I indeed dislike freezing, so this must be the place to gather some tips: let's see . . ..  "Try These With Your Guy" - Number 6 tells the reader to use warming lube during sex. Okay, that seems like a no-brainer. Warmth. Lubrication. Works. Number 9 suggests a sleeping bag and summer movies: clever and romantic. But Number 12, involving turning up the heat in the car and having a romp, sounds downright deadly. Should we not be in a private place, lest a serial killer put me and my "man" at the top of the 11 O'Clock News? If we're in the garage, how long before the CO poisoning kicks in? No less deadly, and likely a favorite of members of the SS, is Number 8, "Bake a pie together in a hot 400 degree oven." You know what, I guess I'll keep my clothes on for now.

I dunno. Maybe Cosmo describes what women really want out of life - makeup and orgasms. It's a bit reductionist, but okay, everybody needs a hobby. What bothers me is the arc of induction into womanhood that Cosmo and magazines like it describe. Starting with Teen Magazine, then Seventeen and graduating to Cosmopolitan, it seems almost as if it's a movie plot where a subversive Manchurian Candidate / Stepford Wives evil empire of a government, or secret social Star Chamber prep our womyn for their future "place" in society and, with sufficient indoctrination, they will like it and long to be better at it.With a seventeen-year-old daughter myself, I worry about the focus that pop media is still trying to bring to the forefront of impressionable and later, jaded, minds. That of a focus on being able, willing and ready to breed and to be objectified and to finally be put to pasture as well-trained cougars since there is no media for the non-egg producing set, unless you include Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and Reader's Digest.

Maybe it's a good thing that Cosmo and its ilk will pass into obscurity or, at least, not be all up in the face, to paraphrase the slang, dog. Perhaps the identities, sexual and otherwise, of our vaunted special boys and girls can develop on their own, without the pressure of guidebooks to what they should want and need, courtesy of some mega publisher. Perhaps, in the case of the individuality of people in general, perhaps there's no app for that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lies, Liars and the Search For Something Good

Wow. That sounds like the title of a best-seller. Actually, there's a scholarly and somewhat overlooked book called "On Bullsh*t" (asterisk added so my blog doesn't get yanked) by Princeton professor Harry Frankfurt. In this philosophic essay, he reviews the evolution and meaning of the term and the effect of bullsh*t on the perception of reality. Rather than turn this into a review of the book, why not get yourself a copy and read it - I'm sure one can be had on eBay or Amazon for a couple of bucks. I found the book very interesting because Dr. Frankfurt expounded on a knowledge-state that is very apparent in our modern society and it expands on some specific points in Ayers' The Problem of Knowledge, which I would also recommend if you're a philosopher, I guess. Frankfurt makes the point, or floats the theory, that a preponderance of bullsh*t eventually washes out the basis of what we understand to be true until even simple truths are no longer self-evident.

There are certainly some apparently good reasons to not be entirely truthful. As children, many are taught to not necessarily disclose each and every thought to the point of the precocious four-year-old being chided for observing in a guileless way, perhaps, that old Mr. Jones is pretty fat, for instance. So, we're taught that deception in the form of non-disclosure and omission is sometimes the right thing to do. Left undiscovered, such a pattern of lies may become a convenient form of leverage or otherwise turned to a less-than-honest purpose and certainly a way to avoid responsibility.

But what about the circumstance where, say, a loved one meets their end, the State Troopers arrive and promptly announce that little Timmy fell headfirst into the woodchipper and gosh what a mess and then the machine must have gotten jammed because it was stopped when they found him with only his legs sticking straight up like some kind of V-is-for-victory sign and funny, but no one heard his screams. That would probably not go over very well with whomever was unfortunate enough to have answered the door. Or the infamous "do these pants make me look fat" question that every married man dreads and so universal is the sentiment that innumerable television commercials have centered around just that topic.

It's a fine line to walk, indeed. Self-editing is a subtle skill started at home and honed in the schoolyard. And that skill is something diplomats, lawyers, used car salesmen and successful lovers all have in common - know when to hold 'em and know when to lay the cards out on the table.

Of course, the latter option is more difficult. It means that the revelator has to be ready to own, and possibly own up to, the likely unfavourable feedback upon delivery of said revelation. It's much easier, and probably less likely to result in bodily harm, to simply hold back the fact that Carla really shouldn't be wearing fitted Capris or to share only that Timmy is gone, all, oh, okay, mostly gone.

Confession is apparently good for the soul. The Catholics even have a method by which a compromise is effected where the Sinner can be absolved for less heinous crimes by a Deitistic Intermediary, in private, all on the QT. Jews (and I am half of one) don't even bother - just tote 'em up and neatly dispose of them with the L*rd directly, once a year, wholesale, no middlegod involved.

What about complex confessions that could have been avoided by being honest from the beginning? Ah, well, the more complex the fib, the higher the price to pay - it's only fair. But perhaps the ultimate price is that of devoted Stoicism, where nothing is confessed and instead, the interests of those who might be hurt are preserved, possibly at an emotional price, but at a discount, let us say, over the full-tilt blather. In other words, if there is something to say, it had better be worth the pain for all involved and not simply be a matter of principle, otherwise, the hurt is doubled. Or worse.

Speaking for myself, I admit I have many sins to confess, none major except for those I regret. But what would my motivation be to "come clean?" I would probably feel better, at least after recovery from my coma that the beat-down would produce, but in that case, I'd only be helping myself. So, I guess I'm punishing myself, being responsible and prudent by keeping my big mouth shut. Oh, there's a line, of course, but I would only cross it if there was a clear benefit to the recipient of my well-salted tale.

Even here, there is a compromise. Everyone wants something. I want peace for myself, but no longer at the expense of others. I am hoping that this will make me somewhat less misanthropic, meaning that I'm willing to set aside my self as priority so that those who gave their care and abidance to me should not have to pay for that generosity.

Yep, Carla, those jeans are lookin' pret-ty good, if I do say so myself. Yow! Nice. I'm a liar, but I'm your liar. Ain't that sweet?

Two Jews Walk Into A Bar

During the hotter part of 2010, in my post titled Mystery Solved, Sort Of, I posited a number of earworm-type issues that had haunted me for years. Two were solved, basically, but this one

"Two Jews walk into a bar . . ."

as the beginning of a joke that I never could complete has finally been solved.

"OW!"

That's hilarious. And just proves that I'm brilliant because I can recognise genius. So there.

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter

Sometimes when we touch, it all becomes too much, or however that insipid big-hair, pastel-jogging-suit, pet-rock, polyester-leg-warmer-era song goes.

I like to watch. I like to watch all the time, to see people who can't see me watching them . . . no, wait, officer, I mean that I like to watch movies.

Blockbuster used to be The Joint to load up on features and loadza oldies and even when they were out of the latest JCVD straight-to-video mega-action thing, there was still a reason to go. Sort of like going to the Public Library except without the thinking part. But, it seems to me, that in the age of cable, the internet, RedBox and NetFlix, Blockbuster has become somewhat irrelevant. Fine - not much of a market for pomade, either, but to make one's own company irrelevant by pretending to own the Behemoth Genome is really, really stupid. Frankly, I could care less, but my time is MINE, gatdammit, and ain't nobody gonna waste my time.

Okay: I rented two movies. I admit it. It was just for old times sake. It didn't mean anything. You gotta believe me - just a moment of weakness. I returned them dutifully, on-time. Sometime that afternoon, I got an e-mail as a reminder that I had these two movies out. But, wait. Is the Alzheimer's getting worse? No: I'm sure I returned them, slipped them into the little slot an' everything. Buts here's this e-mail, loaded with marketing offers. So, what is this? Did they not get the movies? Mind you, when one rents, one can only do so by credit or debit card and Blockbuster's credit card terminal screen is custom-programmed with two pages (I kid you not) of Terms and Conditions to which you must click in the affirmative in order to complete the transaction. I'm not sure that this isn't a basis for a class-action suit on the basis of tying, but I diverge. In the Terms, you, the renter, hereinafter to be called the Idiot Who Really Wanted To See That Movie About That Thing With That Guy, agrees that Blockbuster will charge your card for the current rental and will retain the right to, without prior notice to IWRWTSTMATTWTG, charge the Dickens out of that card for any and all future costs of that rental, and I paraphrase. Well, I wanted the stupid movies, so I clicked 'Sell Soul" and the clerk smiled, thanked the register and turned away to put the discs on the Relay Table. Don't make me explain this. I wanted the stupid movies, went out of my way to go back to the stupid store and put the stupid discs in the stupid slot and then, I got the stupid, annoying e-mail.

Hence, in revenge, I wrote the following to Blockbuster, once I finally waded through their array of irritating far-more-expensive-with-less-options-than-anyone-else offers and arrived at their "Customer Questions" area, or whatever it was:

Dear Blockbuster;

I received an e-mail from you that indicated that I had a rental outstanding. This is very confusing since I returned the items shown. How can that be? I tried to research the information on your site, but many links seemed to be "branded", like "Blockbuster Premier" and so forth, rather than informational, like "Questions About Your Returns," so I just gave up. Also, why does it cost so much more to rent from Blockbuster than from RedBox? I picked up two movies you didn't have in your store at one of the many RedBox kiosks in my area and it only cost me $1.50 a night for a BD versus your rather uncompetitive $4.99 for a 3-day BD rental for which I now am not even sure has been properly logged into your store. On the other hand, when I returned the RedBox discs, I immediately received a confirming e-mail that those items had been returned. Even NetFlix confirms receipt and does NOT send annoying "Rental Reminder" e-mails that are, I suspect in the case of Blockbuster, marketing opportunities Trojan-horsed in a wrapper of faux helpfulness that is actually, because of the disconnection with the reality of where your proffered goods are in respect to your customer, annoying.

With fond regards,

Your Irritated Customer

I don't expect I'll get any kind of a real answer. I couldn't even submit the question until I agreed that a list of links with entirely unrelated questions, like, "What if my disc doesn't play?" - good job, computer-parser. What I'll probably get is some kind of confirmation e-mail that tells me that they've received my question and don't dare write back because the e-mail address they'd used to send me that e-mail is, well, unattended. In other words, don't call us and we won't call you.

That's fine. Really, it's fine. I don't need Blockbuster. But I might if customer service was a priority. A bit of advice - if you're the last player on the field, you can own the field if the crowd is pleased with your game. If not . . . Marco . . . Polo!

Bitch-ass punks. Where my remote at?

Side note: The very next person that responds with some lengthy exposition to a question of mine and begins said soliloquy with the now oft-used starter, "So, . . .," as if they had already described some preamble at length and are now continuing a thought based on the foregoing, shall receive from me a fork in the eye, so to speak. F*cking stop it, really. Just stop. Don't start a paragraph with "So." Don't do it. Just don't. I'm serious. Stop.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Here: I Give You The Himalayas

C'mon . . . let's watch this together . . . snuggle close . . . that's right . . . I'm yer lama and your my mama . . check it, one tahme . . .


Watch the full episode. See more Nature.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chiller

It's been freezing in the outside world 'round these parts. I managed to venture forth in some of the worst weather because, because . . . I don't know why. I guess I wanted to, okay?

Look at this dangler:

And this footprint of a mechanical Sasquatch:



Cool, huh? Little blue houses for you and me. Well, me, anyway.

Help Not Wanted

Just for fun, during a moment of frozen immobility, I logged into my favourite job board account just for fun. I know that may sound odd, but here's what I looked for:





Surprising, considering what positions I've seen in business and how many of them seemed to fit this job title, even if not formally. Looks like all the spots are filled.