Monday, October 29, 2007

Are You Regular?

I got caught up in one of those Chamber of Commerce boosterism articles in the local paper yesterday. It was about how the geographic and population center of Austin had moved considerably north and west from the original Downtown location of 6th and Congress. None of this was surprising, given the intense sprawl my lovely little Blue Town has experienced over the last decade or so.

The article also talked a lot about the revitalization of downtown and the goal of getting 25,000 residents there by 2010.

Then they quoted the cranky motherfucker.

“I’m a regular citizen. I only go downtown every six months or so.”

I guess what really struck me about this was his use of the word “regular.” As if people who shop and eat and play downtown are somehow odd or irregular. Granted, our slogan here is “Keep Austin Weird,” but it got me thinking.

I would bet you that most people in America think of themselves as “regular” citizens. And they probably feel that they are relatively centrist or moderate in their viewpoints. All those scary right-wingers (and some of the left-wingers) really believe that they are fighting for the “everyman” against the fringes or “special interests.”

I wish there were some sort of actual chart where you could find dead center and plot how you believe and where that places you in the continuum of left to right. I bet most people would be shocked at their positioning, having long believed that their views were very mainstream. I bet we’d find that the far right and far left truly are the lunatic fringe, with far too much influence on the rest of us due to their vocal nature.

But I guess what pissed me off the most was that subtext that anything different from “regular” means “bad.” And we are in a dangerous place in our country’s history, where we seem to be unable to embrace our differences, be they political, racial, sexual, or religious.

I don’t know. I just find these regular folk a bit odd.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Look! A Smart!

I had the most pleasant surprise yesterday. I was sitting at one of Austin's many institutions of dining (If you know what "never far from 12th and Lamar" means, you'll know I was essentially dumpster diving) having a less than delicious repast. I had a table in a sunny window. I was doing a little writing. But I was surrounded by four very persistent flies. And my waiter was essentially MIA. Not that I really wanted him to spend much time at my table. While very cute, my waiter was a walking cliche from the seventies, who kept making that clicking noise at me and pointing his finger and thumb in that fake gun gesture. It felt like a young Wink Martindale had invaded my space.

I swear I even saw him wink once as he clicked. That made it sort of hard to keep my food down.

Then I saw it. A SMART car. Those cool little two-seaters that are all over Europe, but not scheduled to arrive on our shores until next year. Then another drove past. Then another. It was almost like seeing a UFO (sorry Heather) in that I wasn't really sure I'd seen what I thought I'd seen. But this was midday and no hallucinogens were involved, so I smiled and shrugged and muttered, "cool!" under my breath.

Then they came around again. The same parade, sporadically placed, turning the same corner.

Well, I had to get me some of this. I pulled out some cash and threw it at Wink before he could click at me again (I'm not particularly cheap, but DAMN I hated paying 10 bucks for a shitty club sandwich and a water) and dashed out to my car.

I only had to wait a couple of minutes before they came around again and I was off, hot on the trail of the SMARTs. Moments later I emerged onto a parking lot FULL of SMART promotional banners and a giant semi with smart cars all over it. They were actually offering test drives. I had to. What a fun distraction!

The line was longer than I'd anticipated, but the people watching was really fun. NOT AT ALL the demographic I would have expected. Big butch lesbians. Tiny older asian lady. Retired couple. I think I was the youngest person there. And I'm closer to sunset than sunrise.

The sales guy looked like Vern Yip from HGTV. I kept wanting to say, "You look like Vern Yip from HGTV." Then I thought, "What if it actually IS Vern Yip from HGTV and he lost his job and now he's having to travel the country hawking SMART cars and he broke down and started crying right now and I didn't get to take my test drive."

So I said nothing.

And then, it was my turn. A cute little Passion Cabriolet (Seriously, people, could there BE a gayer name for a car?). I dutifully took the wheel and off we went. I was surprised at the stability of the car. I was thinking it would ride like a golf cart, but it felt like a solid ride. I would be nervous as hell on a freeway, but for in town it could be cool.

Soon enough, the ride was over. Just like Disneyland. They dropped you off right in front of a bunch of surveys. I passed. I didn't want to spoil my SMART car high by answering a bunch of questions.

But it was the highlight of my day. SMART is cool.

PS If you live in Austin, they're doing these test drives today and tomorrow, as well. In the Book People parking lot. Go.

The Pilot Is On Our Side

I have stumbled across a column on that I think you might like. It's called "Ask the Pilot" and it is authored by Patrick Smith, an actual pilot. I have seen his column before, but the most recent installment had me chuckling, so I thought I'd share with you.

Having spent quite a few hours on planes and in airports, I find his work to be insightful and funny. I also think the shit that people write in and ask him is the dumbest stuff ever.

Check it out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Get Down, Girl. Go 'Head Get Down.

I know, I know, models are an easy target. But they’re just so . . . visible.

I, along with 999,999 other people with too much time on their hands, watched the You Tube video (also on today) of Model Sarah Welch falling through a hole in the catwalk at the Shadang show at LA Fashion Week.

It wasn’t a foot or a leg. Missy DROPPED through the floor, as if a trapdoor had opened. Fortunately she wasn’t hurt. But this hole only looked about as big around as one of my thighs. Only a model could have made it through. I don’t think she even touched the sides. Models everywhere are purging this morning, asking themselves the hard question, “Would I have been able to fall through that hole without any part of me touching the sides? I HATE her.”

Welch was quoted as saying “It is just a really funny mishap. And I hope they're enjoying watching it just as much as I am."

Well that's no fun. You can't really make fun of people who are willing to laugh at themselves. But you know, having a sandwich now and again could prevent such mishaps in the future, I bet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cashing Checks and Balances

Money can be a huge stressor on any relationship. But I think maybe it’s time for a divorce. Do you hear me Congress? That Bush is no good for you. He lies about how much he needs for his supposed hobby. Then he comes back to you with new amounts. “Hey, uh, do you think I could get another $46 Billion?” He's spending our money like it was his parents.

Seriously. Dump him.

President Bush is asking for an additional $46 BILLION on top of the $147 BILLION he already asked for to fund the war in 08. The Pentagon is spending $2 BILLION per WEEK on the war. If the new requests are approved, the overall cost of the war will top $650 Billion dollars. And we’re borrowing the money so Bush doesn’t have to raise taxes. Well guess what? We’re still going to have to pay that bill. But it will probably be some responsible Democrat who bites the bullet, effectively ending his or her political career because we Americans are convinced that their “high” taxes are supporting lazy, poor people. In fact, they're supporting wealthy Republicans and a bunch of Iraqis.

Sorry people, but that’s WAY more obscene to me than a blow job. I mean, to my way of thinking, Bush is giving it to ALL of us up the ass.

Meanwhile, an independent investigative panel has found that the State Department can’t account for most of the $1.2 Billion it has spent with DynCorp, who were contracted to provide training to Iraqi police.

That’s just perfect. Where’s the outrage? All the Republicans running for President are committed to continuing this type of policy, running around trying to out-conservative each other. And some of them are STILL trying to tag the DEMS with the old “tax and spend liberal” label.

Hey, I have an idea! Why don’t we tax everyone who is FOR the war. That way, since you believe in it so much, you can help foot the bill. Because I would MUCH rather my tax dollars stay right here at home and help AMERICANS.

I bet you would see HUGE anti-war sentiment if that happened. It's easy to be hawkish with someone else's money.

Monday, October 22, 2007

If Only You Believed Like I Believe

A few weeks back, USA Today published the results of a poll “measuring attitudes toward freedom of religion, speech and the press.” I was absolutely flabbergasted by the stupidity of my fellow Americans. Here are some delicious samples:

55% of respondents believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. (It doesn’t). 75% of those identifying themselves as “evangelical” or “Republican” (there’s a difference?) held that view. And about HALF of Democrats and Independents do.

Don’t say WTF just yet. Hold it. It’ll feel better when you let it out in a second.

58% believed that teachers should be allowed to lead prayers in public schools.

43% think public schools should be allowed to have live nativity scenes WITH CHRISTIAN MUSIC. Having accidentally heard some Christian music, I’m not sure which of these aspects I find more distasteful. A live baby Jesus or some God Jovi (Bon Jesus?) praise singer with a mullet. Or a live baby Jesus with mullet.

50% think teachers should be able to use the Bible as a “FACTUAL text in history class.” 80% think it should be used to teach “literature.”

56% think freedom of religion should apply to all groups. That means 44% DON’T!! I would personally exclude the Baptists and anyone who speaks in tongues.

34% believe the press has too much freedom.

60% believe the media doesn’t try to report without bias (I didn't realize that many people watched FOX).

The best quote? Rick Green of WallBuilders (aren’t walls used to separate?), an “advocacy group that believes the nation was built on Christian principles,” said of the Constitution, “I would call it a Christian document, just like the Declaration of Independence.”

All together now, “WTF?!?!?!?!?” See. Didn’t it feel better to wait?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Would You Like to Stupid Size That?

Traveling through American airports always provides great fodder for my incredulity. Although why I can still manage incredulity in the face of all I’ve witnessed . . . I dunno.

So, I’m in the DFW airport, fresh off one delayed flight, awaiting another delayed flight. I realized that I would probably be better off eating airport food than waiting until who-knew-when-I’d-get-home.

A Wendy’s salad sounded like the least dangerous option. As I approached the window, a fifty-ish woman set her bags down at one of the two small cafĂ© tables near the line. We were equidistant from the end of the line, perhaps 4 feet, when Missy decides it’s a race and literally breaks into a trot to “beat” me to the back of the line.

Moments later, she has reached the front and it’s go time! Staring up at the board of numbered combos available, she says, “I’ll have the #8.”

Wendy’s: What would you like to drink with that?

Missy (testily): I don’t want ANYTHING to drink. I just want the sandwich.

Wendy’s: Uh . . . it’s a combo.

Missy: I just want the SANDWICH.

Wendy’s: Okay, so you don’t want the #8 combo, you just want the spicy chicken sandwich?

Missy (practically exasperated): That’s right.

Wendy’s: Anything else?

Missy (still clueless to the concept): I’d like a #5 . . .

Wendy’s: Combo?

Missy: JUST the sandwich!!!!

Wendy’s: No problem. So a spicy chicken sandwich and a bacon double cheeseburger. Your total comes to . . .

Missy: Can I get fries with that?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

We Didn’t Elect HER!

Okay, I want each of my readers to take this blog to every person who has ever said about Hillary, “We didn’t elect HER president!” Usually with little sprays of spittle flying from their mouths.

Why the fuck was Laura Bush the author of an editorial in the Wall Street Journal yesterday? And on the Myanmar junta and the threat of U.S. sanctions, no less.

Ladies Home Journal, I could understand.

But was the Bush administration really using the First Lady as their voice on this issue?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have ill will towards Mrs. Bush. She seems like a perfectly nice chain smoking librarian to me. But Laura Bush has STEADFASTLY avoided the public eye and, according to my sources, been strongly reluctant to be drawn into any sort of issue management at the White House. So now she’s the spokesmodel on MYANMAR?

Maybe she was having coffee and a KOOL Lite at a friend’s house in Georgetown and happened to see the signs in front of the Myanmar consul’s house begging for US intervention. You know, she thought, I could write an editorial in the WSJ and really have an impact here.

Cuz I’m pretty fuckin’ sure the Myanmar junta keeps their WSJ subscription up to date.

Now we all know Laura is the smarter half of that couple. And truth be told, I would actually be much happier with her as President.

But seriously, WTF?

Think Daddy Footed the Tow Bill?

I live in the middle of Austin on a wonderful little arc of a street that connects two major thoroughfares. Across the street is a wonderful city-owned tennis center. On the corner is a big frat house. The tennis center parking lot and the frat house parking lot are directly across the street from each other.

So for anyone who follows college football (or UT sports) knows, last weekend was the big Texas-OU game in Dallas. And the frat boys chartered three big buses to take them and their “dates” (WHY do sorority girls always bring their own pillows?) to the big game. We watched as sorority girl after sorority girl and fraternity boy after fraternity boy parked their expensive cars in the tennis center parking lot and got on the bus to go away for the weekend.

Off go the buses! Hook ‘em horns!

Fast forward to Saturday morning and the tennis center staff arrives to open the facility, only to find a parking lot full of cars. The same cars that were there when they left the night before. Cue the armada of tow trucks.

So, Sunday night, I hear the rumble of buses and run to my beloved like a four-year-old on Christmas morning who thought he had just heard reindeer footfall on the roof. “THE BUSES ARE BACK! THE BUSES ARE BACK!”

We both grabbed our beverages and headed outside to watch the drama unfold.

Now, we all know I’m evil, but I derived such joy at watching stupid person after stupid person disembark and begin wondering where oh where their cars had gone. Understand, Texas lost the game, these kids were almost certainly hungover and tired. And now they had no transportation. Brilliant!

My favorite was the girl who wandered up and down the parking lot, looking HORRIBLY confused, her wheeled suitcase and well-used pillow trailing behind her. It was as if she knew she was stupid and just kept thinking, “I’m SURE I parked it here. It’s got to be here somewhere! Maybe the bus let us off in a different place! Think, Missy, THINK! OW!”

Gradually it dawned on them that all of their cars had been towed.

So for the last two days the fraternity has posted pledges outside with a large handpainted sign that says, “Fraternity Parking ONLY.” Yeah. That’ll teach those tennis people a lesson. Especially since NO ONE ever parks in the frat lot but the frat boys.

Not to mention the fact that they are not seeking retribution for something THEY did wrong. Now THAT’S Bush’s America.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Daddy's Little Girl

I saw this commercial last night and it just hit me in all wrong ways. It was for Playskool’s Rose Petal Cottage, a little lightweight fabric, foldout playhouse for little girls (and aspiring homos). It had all the requisite stereotypical girl things . . . a stove, an oven, a tea set . . . but what absolutely flipped my lid was when the little girl opened her play washing machine and said, “time to do the laundry!”

Excuse me, what year is it again? I half expected there to be a carton of cigarettes in the “freezer” and a little faux martini shaker. It was so offensive it could have been satire, but it wasn’t.

I think little girls and boys should play at whatever they like. If they want to play house, knock it out! No problem. But the laundry thing just reeked of misogynistic bullshit. Who owns Playskool? The Baptists?

It was creepy, creepy, creepy and really pissed me off.

Playskool. Even a little woman’s place is in the home.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Moon Over Denial

So Senator Wide Stance (R-Minneapolis Airport) has decided to stay in the Senate and “clear (his) good name” before the Ethics Committee, eh? Republicans are fuming. Democrats are peeing all over the stalls in glee. Male Senate pages and interns are wearing extra pairs of underpants and going to the House side to use the bathroom.

This is what is called DEEP denial. In this case accompanied by DEEP shit. It’s sad to say, but I actually kind of understand what the Senator is doing. If he misplays even one card now, the whole house comes tumbling down. He’s committed to the lie. To the denial. He’s NOT gay, y’all. He swears.

Funny. Reminds me of the news today on Marion Jones. She so vehemently denied she was doping that she sued one of her accusers for something like $25 million. Today, “Oops. My bad. That needle I stuck in myself DID make me run faster, jump higher and party . . . all . . . night . . . long (all niiiiiiight! All niiiiight!)

Someday, Senator—and probably sooner than you can imagine—your tangled web will not be able to bear your weight. In the meantime, let me clue you into something. The vast majority of Americans absolutely believe you were trying to knock off a little porcelain nookie. So, basically, who are you lying to?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

She'll Do ANYTHING For Publicity

I swear this is a copy and paste. Headline for a USA Today section.

Lifeline Live
Hanson brother in hospital; Britney granted visitation

I don't think that means what you think it means.

Is One of Those Capitol Hill?

According to the AP, Ohio State Rep Matthew Barrett shared a little more than planned with a group of high schoolers. While giving a slide presentation on how a bill gets passed, an image of a topless woman popped up, her rotundas in clear view.

(Funny, I don’t remember the areola as part of the legislative process. Is it near the filibuster?)

Rep. Barrett immediately yanked out his memory stick (insert cheap joke here) and turned it over to school administrators. Fifteen minutes later, a sweaty and slightly-out-of-breath principal confirmed that there was, in fact, a catalog of nude images on the stick.

“I have no idea where these came from,” said Barrett (a Democrat, by the way.) He said the memory stick had been a gift from a legislative liaison.

Uh huh. Right.

I’m voting wifey doesn’t let him keep porn on the home computer.

As you might imagine, the incident was met with “snickers.” Uh . . . yeah. They’re HIGH SCHOOLERS! What were you expecting, righteous indignation?

While not reported, I’m sure at least one boy said, “Hey, it’s your mom, dude!” Several others left class holding their books awkwardly in front of them.

Maybe he should have stuck to “I’m just a bill . . . sittin’ here on Capitol Hill.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

God Save the (Homecoming) Queen!

I always love how stories like this rustle high school feathers. Last Saturday, University City (Missouri) High School crowned a senior boy it’s Homecoming Queen. Now before you cheer this little step forward in gender identity, you should know—it was all a prank. Aaron Zaggy (LOVE that name. I’ve had many a tipsy night where I thought my name was Aaron Zaggy) entered the contest and was elected by his peers.

Needless to say, the school was wracked by sobs and wails,punctuated with “um,” “like,” and “sha!”

Brittany McNairy also ran for Homecoming Queen (of COURSE you did, Brittany.) She wanted to preside over “Our Night in the Limelight.” (Ahhhh, the high school homecoming and prom themes. I really want to write a book about that someday.) "I was mad," said Brittany. "A lot of girls were mad."

Well said, hon. At least for a girl named after a spaniel.

Other comments ranged from “It’s soooooo unfair,” to “but . . . he’s a boy,” to “that is soooo gay—I mean . . . I don’t mean that in a same-sex way, although it is kind of a same sex—oh, never mind. It’s just lame, okay?!”

I’m sure there’s a new rule being drafted as we speak, with vehement dissent from the drama and art teachers.

School officials were more circumspect. “This situation also presents a life lesson of sorts by demonstrating the importance of voting and knowing that one’s actions at the ballot box can have a lasting impact,” read the statement from the board. “This is why we end up with fucktards like George W. Bush as president, you ignorant, privileged little bastards.”

This story brought back memories of my own small-town homecoming. While I was neither King nor Queen (budding, but not quite yet), I WAS the escort of the Homecoming Queen. What makes that interesting was that I was not her first choice. That would have been her husband.

That’s right. The 17 year-old homecoming queen of Diboll, TX in 1979 was MARRIED. And our school wouldn’t allow her husband to escort her. Why, you ask?


Apparently no one thought it at all odd that a 17-year old was married (for a couple of years already). But God forbid her husband attend a rival school.

And we wonder how come these kids are so fucking stupid.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Belief vs. Truth

I was watching a clip from The View a couple of weeks ago. The one where they kept asking Sherri Shepard if she believed the earth was flat. She kept responding “I don’t know.”

At the moment, I was, like, ‘What the fuck do you mean, ‘you don’t know?’ You DO know. We ALL know. It’s proven. Not a conjecture. We’re not relying on word back from the Pinta. Astronauts have orbited the earth. We have photos. WE KNOW it’s round.

So, why would someone who is presumably relatively well-educated (although being on TV certainly doesn’t equate to being educated) say such a ridiculously stupid thing?

In a word: Faith.

The View conversation came after Shepard said she didn’t “believe in evolution, period.” As I’ve discussed in this forum before, you can’t NOT believe in evolution. We know things evolve. Many people don’t believe in the theory of evolution as it pertains to the rise of man and I get that these are separate things.

I get that faith requires a willing suspension of disbelief, much like a good movie. The difference is, you get to walk out of the movie.

But this serves to highlight a very dangerous trend playing out across our country. What do we do when our beliefs are contradicted by science? Tradition would hold that we holler “Eureka!” or in the parlance of contemporary corporate American, have an “aha!” moment. (I tend to have more “wtf?” moments, but I digress).

Or, we’re Amish and think that electricity is the Devil’s breath.

But so many people (okay, mostly right wing Christians) bury their heads in the sand (aka “their asses”) and say “I don’t believe it.” Not believing it doesn’t make it untrue. It’s proven.

I believed in Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny (which, while I’m on the subject—what a great way for the Christians to recognize the crucifixion and resurrection of the son of God—a giant bunny who hides eggs. That’s not even a metaphor for anything. Why hasn’t anyone cried blasphemy on that shit?) But eventually, I was informed that these entities were necessary figments that were useful in manipulating children and selling lots of products. (And also, has anyone ever looked into collusion by Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy? Seems an oddly convenient pairing. Eat the candy! Rot the teeth!)

But face it America, never has it been more apt: The Truth Shall Set You Free.

Maybe we need a Truth Fairy.