Saturday, December 07, 2002

Vocabulary question: What is the opposite of 'anonymous'?

There's a new project underway--a project to make Sour Bob famous.

I cautioned him, of course, to consider whether he is altruistic and self-sacrificing enough to handle fame.

While doing so it occurred to me that there is the possibility of anonymous fame. But what then is the opposite of anonymity? Is there a word for this? There must be.

The divine Babs achieved fame but in the process also lost her anonymity.

However, anonymous fame might not be such a terrible thing. If it leads to acclaim and money...but then it would never serve the true purpose of fame. So what is anonymous fame for? Well, even those who remain anonymous do die. But somehow I think it must be in a different category.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Don’t understand: Why Must I Be Doomed?

One’s joys are just so very, very fragile…

Life frightens me. My view is: It can only go downhill.

So what is most terrifying at the moment is that nothing bad is happening to me. It’s like the Clinton years. Yes, we all complained but was anything really horrible happening to us? Only irksome little things. Things we could forget about the next day.

This is how my life is now: Nothing terrible is happening to me, nothing terrible is happening to the people I love. I’m happy, my family is so well, my beloved is well, everyone connected to me is doing well. For some reason my car—whose death was foretold many months ago—just doesn’t break down. For some reason everyone I meet is fairly kind to me. I’m in love. I haven’t had a pimple in weeks. I smoke and smoke, sleep one hour a night, live on pastrami and still my skin stays fresh as a daisy.

And that scares me. I’ve gotten comfortable. Well, no not entirely. Naturally, I think “Wow. Nothing horrible is happening. That means when something horrible does happen it’s going to be all the more horrible.”

Oh, I’m really scared now! Why did I even bring this up?

Ay, mi. Why can’t I simply be grateful for this moment, this hiatus, these years of comfort? (In fact, that’s why it’s hard to get anything done right now. The years of comfort…I’m just enjoying them by doing virtually nothing productive.)

Well, I am grateful. Except for that niggling realization: Bad things are going to happen. Bad things are going to happen to me. Isn’t there some way out? Isn’t there some way to avoid death, loss, grief, illness, tragedy, mishap, failure, disappointment, betrayal, virtually everything unfortunate?

It is not my own death I fear. Death will allow me to cheat both the consequences and the creditors.

Here are some of the trivial thing people say that make me want to choke them:

Without the bad, you couldn’t enjoy the good.

Think of all the people who are so much worse off than you.

Don’t complain.

Enjoy the moment.

It’s all part of some big plan.

It all works out in the end.

You are the most neurotically anxious person I’ve ever met.

Well, I can’t think of any more. But there are literally hundreds of these optimistic little sayings that one should never, ever repeat around me when I'm holding a sharp object. Why oh why are people so annoying? Don’t they understand? Death is bad…loss is bad…suffering is bad…humiliation is bad…estrangement is bad…disappointment is bad…cruelty is bad…violence is bad…injustice is bad…And it is inevitable that it’s going to happen to you.

There is no bright side, you deluded fools!

I always thought that by never doing the things I was supposed to do (like now) and always doing the things I am not supposed to do while always realizing I will face consequences later, I was preparing myself for death. A laggard’s Tibetan Book of the Dead as it were. The fact that I am always on the edge of utter failure due to the passage of time makes me see the ticking clock for what it is…always there…always ticking…always leading to my eventual doom.

But it didn’t work this way. Since what I fear is that I won’t die soon enough. I may actually live a long life, full of discomfort at the least and intolerable agony at the worst.

I’ve managed to forestall doom, to dodge doom, to get an extension on doom. And so I think: Can’t I do this indefinitely? Why must doom ever come?

Doom, doom, go away…come again another day. No, just stay away.

God, I’m tempting fate just by writing this. Please fate. Don’t get me. This time. I’ll be good, I promise.

Indian bureaucrats ruined my life

Sacajewea coin says 'the presidents ruined my life'

Stofa ruined my life

Furniture ruined my life

Piercing ruined my life

A housing development ruined my life

Email ruined my life

Arboriculture ruined my life

A chiropractor ruined my life

Baseball ruined my life

Child support laws ruined my life

Jedi ruined my life

Marijuana ruined my life

The Boy Scouts of America ruined my life

Nintendo ruined my life

Buffalo ruined my life

Machiavelli ruined my life

Pauly Shore ruined my life

Pepsi ruined my life

The internet ruined my life

Nice people ruined my life

When Harry Met Sally ruined my life

Thursday, December 05, 2002

You guys will never believe this!

Saddam Hussein is a really, really nice guy!

I just met him! Last night. See, I was at my favorite local wine and cheese store in the parking lot…I bought my favorite cabernet, a baguette and a hunk of manchego. When I came out, I saw this guy in the parking lot smoking a cigar standing next to an SUV.

No way! I thought to myself…that’s Saddam Hussein!

So I went up to him and said: Are you Saddam Hussein?

He looked really nervous at first. But I have a kind and trustworthy face and so he saw I bore him no ill will. He coughed nervously, looked down and furtively whispered, “yes.”

“It’s not safe to talk here. If you wish to talk, please get in the car.”

Well…I was a bit nervous to get in the car! With a international criminal and an evil dictator no less. But I looked at his eyes. They were so sad, so gentle. So I decided to take a chance. I was just so curious…how did he get into the country?

We drove for a bit and turned into a comfortable upper-middle class neighborhood full of older homes.

“This is my house. For the time being.” Saddam said.

I expected the house to be really ostentatious—mock ups of French regency, lots of rococo gold shit…but no! It was really tastefully decorated. 1950’s Danish, lots of light, warm cream colors, beige rug. He even had an Eames chair.

Saddam's living room

He gave me a cigar and sighed wistfully. “Ah, I am sorry it is not Cuban, Miel. But you know it is illegal to smoke Cuban cigars. So we can only smoke Dominican. Dominican were always allowed because Trujillo was never the fool that Castro is and did not defy the United States. That Trujillo! Now he was a dictator’s dictator!” A melancholy smile crossed his face. “The stories I could tell.”

He offered me a brandy…and then we began to talk, really talk heart-to-heart.

“So Saddam, tell me how you got into the country.”

“Well, Miel it really wasn’t all that difficult when you have help. I managed to get an Egyptian passport. This got me into France. Ah, it was so hard to leave Paris! But I got a French passport and came here. I had to shave off my mustache but as you see, it has grown back.

Oh, and the CIA helped a little bit too.”

“But Saddam! Why did you come here? Your death is the thing the U.S. wants more than anything. The CIA helped you? But why? I don’t understand?”

“Ah, Miel. It is very complex. I know what they say about me. That I am a heartless dictator who cares nothing about the people, who thirsts only for blood. But I am a man too, a man with a heart. There is nothing I want more than the happiness and comfort of my people. This is why I came here. I do not wish to die. America is the safest place for me right now. I spoke with your wise president, Mr. George Bush…”

“Saddam! You spoke to Bush? Bush sent you here?!”

“Yes, you see…all I have wanted is to help the Iraqi people. To bring them comfort and security. Everything I have done is for this and this alone. Yet, it has been very difficult. All along I have worked with America—well, with the Republicans—to ensure that all the resources of the United States could be brought to my people. The Bushes, the Republicans…they too love the Iraqi people. Things spiraled out of control. Yet, they have promised me that they will rebuild Iraq. Still, politically, they cannot do so without the idea that they are invading to stop me from destroying the region.

I was going to build a pretend to make a bomb. Many times I have pretended to have very dangerous weapons in the hope that they will invade and rebuild. I tried to make that baby formula factory look like a chemical weapons factory. But I forgot to tell all the people who worked there not to spill the beans and the story got out.”

“I don’t understand, Saddam. Wouldn’t invasion be a terrible thing? Wouldn’t many people die? Don’t you care about sovereignty?”

“It seems that way. But an invasion is a terrible thing only in the short term. Look at Germany! They were bombed into the ground. But look at the prosperity, the democracy, the delicious snack foods, the many entertaining movies, the technology. This is what I want for Iraq. I have been unable to make this dream come true. But the Americans have promised: ‘If you make it appear that you are like Hitler (who truly was very, very bad) then we will invade Iraq and turn it into the next West Germany. We would help you without war, but congress would never allow us to spend the money doing this unless we completely destroy the country first.’

What could I do, Miel? How could I turn down an offer like that? What could possibly be better for the beautiful people of my holy motherland?”

“You mean Bush, Rumsfeld, all those guys who seem so heartless? They only care to help the people of Iraq? Why would they care about the people of Iraq?”

“Actually, they care for all the peoples of the world. But Iraq is the country they are most in a position to help. You see, politically it is an impossibility to simply go in and give great money to the country, rebuild the economy, open the doors to democracy, send wise economic and political advisors to guide the country on the road to prosperity and democracy. You must bomb them and destroy them completely first. My country, Iraq, is the country it is most appropriate to destroy at the moment because we appear to be the most evil. Yet, when the finish altering Iraq for the better they will perhaps turn to another nation. And this is the way that the world can be transformed for the better. Perhaps it will take 5 years, perhaps longer…but soon every nation in the world will be prosperous and secure and democratic. Just as your own country is.”

Then Saddam grew tired. I was tired too. My head was reeling from all the information he had given me. It has turned my political views upside down, and I do not know what to think or what to do.

“Saddam, I believe I must leave. I cannot process this information all at once. It has changed my view of everything.”

“Yes, Miel. I am sorry I cannot drive you home. Please let me pay for your cab. You see, I have taken brandy and I do not believe it is morally correct to drive while intoxicated.”

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Oh, and The Honeymooners! Oh, that one was just torture. I would cry for hours.

I'm a very sensitive girl...

Sometimes when I read The Onion and they make fun of the 'pathetic people' that we are supposed to laugh at, it makes me cry instead.

Seriously. This story made me cry. I'm not sure I can read The Onion anymore. Especially when I only sleep 45 minutes the night before, but maybe never. The "Jean Teasdale" column makes me want to cry, too.

Damnit! I don't want to laugh at sad and lonely people...Someone who is sad, lonely and has a terrible job--This never makes me laugh. Can someone talk to those people? I like stories like this:

New Crispy Snack Cracker Relieves Crushing Pain of Modern Life

Russia's Closest Friends Ready To Try Military Intervention

Sniffing Glue Effective in Treatment of Adolescent Boredom

Study Reveals: Babies Are Stupid

Doctors Find New Way To Prolong Meaningless Existence

I had the same problem in Bowling With Columbine. I laughed and laughed until Michael Moore was mean to Charlton Heston. Then I just felt so sad. (I know...I usually say junk I don't mean but this is pathetically true...) Michael Moore always does that...He does something funny--even making fun of snooty rich people is OK...Then he does something mean--like making fun of people who develop this mental illness in Israel where they believe they are a Biblical figure.

As a child I could never stand to watch "I Love Lucy" or "Gilligan's Island" because Lucy and Gilligan were always getting into trouble. Especially Lucy. I just couldn't stand it when she did something dumb and Ricky yelled at her or she looked so foolish.

Yes, I'm a very sensitive girl I guess.
I promised Kid that I would post my adolescent poetry if he posted his.

And he did! Go check it out.

So here's a poem I wrote dedicated to my '69 Chevy Malibu ( dad just sold it because I don't have the money to repair this is very fitting)

Oh shit! Can't find that poem...but here's a funny one I found...

Dear Customer,

We hope you will enjoy this product
Thank you for buying this product
We hope this product will bring you joy
We know it’s not always easy
We know that the world is going to hell in a handbasket
Thank you purchasing this product
For optimum performance and safety, please read these instructions carefully
If you don’t do this, we aren’t responsible for what might happen
Responsibility is a funny thing
It floats around and attaches itself to the most unlikely objects
You never know where it’s going until it gets there
We’re hoping this product will help
We made this product especially for you
We’ve been following your life from day one
It’s been slow, but there’ve been a few interesting bits
There have been times it’s been hard not to jump in with advice
We know this product won’t be enough
But don’t take it for granted

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Please read this! Please?

Henry Kissinger's Secret Life
The Beforetime

My husband refuses to read my blog. Can you believe it? One time I showed it to him and he didn’t laugh. I said: “But don’t you think it’s funny?” And he said “Well, isn’t it just like our regular life? You tell me that that fantasy all the time."

Maybe he does read it and he just says he doesn’t? Here’s how I’ll test him: “Hey baby, for Valentine’s Day we’ll go to Vegas and I’ll buy you that lap dance I promised you last year!”

Now…I’ll just sit back and wait…That’s an easy way to find out if he ever does read this.

But I guess I don’t blame him. After all, it is just like our regular life. We like to make shit up all the time and I guess the shit I make up here just isn’t all that novel.

One of my favorite things that he made up is called “The Beforetime”

See, we realized (wow…even before the Republicans won the Senate and we were going to have a war in Iraq and everything…we’re so prescient) that we are headed to a 1984-ish totalitarian situation without the 1940’s retro charm of Orwell’s 1984.

So we like to pretend that we are talking to our future offspring about ‘the beforetime…’

E.g., “Mommy, Poppy was it true that in the beforetime we did not have to wear the threneb?" [thought-reading neck brace]

“Sí mi’ja…In the beforetime they did not give you the shocks for saying nasty things about the great leaders and the president. So be a good girl and do not say unkind things about our great president and his very feminine and uncontroversial wife.”
(El chico and I want to make sure our children are completely fluent in Spanglish. We plan to speak Spanglish to them at home.)

“Mommy and Poppy I have heard that in the beforetime little children such as me could go to school because the government paid for the school. We did not have to work to make the soft leather briefcases for the great and sacred CEOs but could spend the day learning to read and write instead.”

“Ah, my daughter. It is much better that you do not know how to read and write. And school was very, very boring.”

“But in the beforetime did we have to eat always at McDonalds? Was it not permitted to cook your food at home?”

“Yes, my sweet child. But cooking is very time-consuming and the McDonald’s food was found to be the most nutritious allowing us to labor many hours far into the night. (Pero tenemos que hablar in voces más bajas porque ellos pueden oírnos…)

Aiyeee!!!!! I have been shocked by the thraneb! I forgot that we are not allowed to speak Spanish!!!

Forgive me great leader! Aaaaayyyy!!!!”

The Washington Times is published by the Moonies...but still...It's the aftertime, already?

Things I Don’t Understand: Why Is Going Around Naked In Public Illegal?

It all just seems so strange. I don’t especially wish to go around naked or to see others naked. I suppose there are reasons we’d prefer not to. But I can’t believe it’s actually illegal! I mean—it’s just going around naked after all. No big deal. We’ve all seen naked people. Naked people are everywhere. But try going naked to the grocery store or even to the local convenience market. (OK—There was ‘naked guy.’ Now him I understand.)

And it’s illegal to have sex in public too. But why? It’s not like we’d want to do it everywhere. It’s not like—if we made it legal…everyone would just be having sex everywhere. People would probably still be shy and it would probably be pretty much the same way it is now. Except occasionally, there’d be people having sex—it would be sorta like…having conversations on cell phones is now. At first it would be shocking and then we’d just get used to it. “I had to stand up in the train on the way home. There would have been more room if there weren’t a couple of people having sex in there.” Or: “I almost hit some people in the aisle of the grocery store.” “Oh, were people having sex while waiting in line at the grocery store again? I hate that! It’s so hard to get your cart down the aisle sometimes.”

I think most people would be considerate though. They probably wouldn’t block public throughfares and such.

What’s the big deal? Sex in public! So what? I mean, it’s 2003. You’d think people would be over that whole ‘sex’ thing by now.

I just don’t understand: Have we made no progress at all? Like—you can swim in your underwear at the local public pool without getting arrested. But everyone will stare and get uncomfortable. And try going bowling or to the post office in your underwear! Underwear upsets people...That’s how bad it is. Have we gotten nowhere? Really.

The other day I was talking to my husband on the cell phone and I was kind of tired and I can really sleep anywhere. I said “Honey, do you think it would be OK if I took a nap here on the sidewalk?” And he said “No, you better not do that. It will freak people out.” “Well what about in these people’s front yard?” And he said “No, they’ll have you arrested.” Can you believe it? Arrested for falling asleep!

So I had to walk the whole way home in that groggy state.

Of course, sleeping in public places is something people do. Apparently you can get away with it on occasion. I think more people need to just defy these silly laws and customs and eventually people will realize they really aren’t necessary in the least.

Oh but then there’s something even crazier—Smoking pot is also illegal! That one is really hard to believe. Yes, isn’t that even more crazy? I mean it’s this little plant that you smoke and it makes you sort of stupid and you giggle and eat more than you planned to. And that’s all it does. And just try telling your boss that you smoke pot the first thing in the morning and see what he says. In this day and age, what is wrong with everyone? I mean, honestly.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Those Star Wars Movies Are Just So Unrealistic!

Like The Phantom Menace. You know what really got me in that one? The slavery was just so disorganized! What kind of self-respecting society based on slave labor would let its slaves run around free like that? Oh yeah, right. You're a slave but you get to race flying contraptions in your spare time? Sure.

And you know the whole socio-economic system in Star Wars is highly suspect. Really. We're supposed to root for this moribund aristocracy? Is that all the choices we're given? Aristocracy v. Totalitarianism? (And where was the ideology in this Totalitarian state? As far as I can tell the only difference is that the bad guys wear black.)

And frankly, I find it hard to believe that in such a highly developed technological society there would be no alternative to that namby-pamby senate...

What about direct action? Activism? Labor organizing? Where are the Marxists? The populists? What kind of 'rebels' were they? Did they decide things by consensus? No! Just more hierarchical thinking.

And why is everyone so apparently agrarian. Where does all this astounding technology come from? Planets are either totally bucolic and unspoiled wilderness or some kind of extra-terrestrial Nebraska.

Oh, and the stereotypes of Jawas are so offensive...Sure, make the proletarians seem scheming and petit bourgeois instead of representing them as the alienated slave class they truly are.

The unquestionable orthodox nature of Jedi knighthood? Don't get me started on that one! That was the thing that really blew the whole series for me in the end.

Now...Lord of the Rings....That was really plausible. I buy that an artisan-peasant laboring class can produce Elithril and magic wands. One of a kind stuff, ya know. Not like space ships. Space ships require mass production.

Death Star To Open Day Care Center

Things I don’t understand: What Are Famous People For?

I guess Vanity Fair is out there…somewhere. I haven’t read it in years. I remember the last time I read it was during the early ‘90s. The thing that amazed me the most about it was the way that they could glorify virtually anything…as long as it was a characteristic of someone who was famous. If your parents owned a gas station, that was glamorous. If you had gone insane, that was glamorous. If you spent Saturday night at home popping your zits and watching info-mercials that was both charming and glamorous. But only if you were famous.

I didn’t read many magazines like this for quite some time but since I’ve been going to a swankier gym lately I’ve been reading magazines about celebrities and watching TV shows about them (sometimes at virtually the same time!)

My recent intake of Entertainment Tonight and People Magazine has left me very puzzled: I don’t understand why anyone would allow himself to become famous. Have you ever lived in a small town? Everyone knows everyone and worst of all--everyone knows you. It’s awful. You have to give a fake name at the sandwich shop to avoid having them call out your real name loudly and alerting others to your presence.

What about a small liberal arts college? Remember how people you’d never even met had already ‘heard about you’? Creepy. And your attempts to avoid attention by hiding in the library stacks eating candy bars rather than going to that dining hall where you would have been accosted by dozens of acquaintances only attracted further attention, did it not? (The more you try to hide, the more people want to bug you.)

Being famous is even worse than this. Much worse.

So even though we are obscure it is easy to imagine that being famous is like a horrible nightmare where everywhere you go and everything you do, people are spying on you every second. (It’s probably true that most of what people believe about you is false—but isn’t that even more horrible?)

It makes me feel better that most famous people are also rich. They never have to answer the phone or reply to email. (Not only that—they have assistants to return the phone call!) They don’t have to ride in crowded planes where annoying seatmates reach out their grubby hands, offering you sweaty packages of unopened peanuts as a gesture of friendship.

Yet it can’t be only to avoid answering phone calls and sitting next to sweaty people that one becomes famous as there are other ways to become rich without the torment of fame.

Wondering why anyone would subject himself to such a reduced existence, I’ve begun to imagine that celebrities must be making a kind of tremendous sacrifice for us. Why do they put themselves in this terrible position? Is it altruism? A heroic act of generosity? A noble sacrifice for the good of humankind?

The only problem with this line of reasoning is that it seems like celebrities don’t really do anything for us at all. Their misery and suffering is all in vain. So why do they make this dreadful sacrifice?

I think it can’t be the case that people would go to such lengths to achieve something that was simply pointless. Only an act of great moral courage could inspire such striving, such dedication. This truth of this is borne out by the level of admiration many people have for celebrities. I think that famous people must serve some function—some noble and heroic purpose. Are they really all for nothing? Is there really no point to the truly astounding amount of resources poured by our culture into the maintenance of fame?

What Famous People Are For

Hypothesis #1: As we stumble through life in a dim awareness of what we are supposed to do with ourselves, celebrities seem to know what to do with themselves. They seem to do everything right. In the stark terror of absolute freedom, we are deeply, deeply reassured by the thought that there is someone out there doing everything right (even if they do everything right by definition in virtue of their celebrity-hood).

Hypothesis # 1A: Celebrities don’t have to suffer the consequences of their actions. They get to be immune to the ordinary proclivities of life. It gives us pleasure and comfort to imagine that someone is immune to traffic jams, still spoken well of by those whose lives he has destroyed and whose hearts he has broken, has bodyguards to protect him from common crime, is above the law, what have you.

Hypothesis #2: To sell us things. Very important things that we might fail to purchase without their urging. Things we only believe we don’t need but upon acquiring them find that our lives were much poorer without them.

Hypothesis #3 (from el chico): They’re all archetypes—like the archetypes in Greek plays or myths. They play out a never-ending but often didactic drama. There are too many people in the world to keep track of. They give us a focal point to imagine what it is to be human.

Hypothesis #4: To populate our fantasies and to inspire us to higher levels of personal hygiene. It’s true that looking upon the faces of the famous and beautiful can be calming and aesthetically pleasing. The beauty of some borders on the sublime. Like the mythic heroes of old they are there to inspire us to greater heights of aesthetic achievement.

But this is the explanation I think is ultimately closest to the truth…The True Purpose Of Famous People is: Celebrities are there to teach us about transience, the decay of the body and the inevitable death that awaits us all. They are living documents to the ravages of time. In fact, the more odd things they do to themselves to slow the aging process, the more effective is the lesson when the end finally comes.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

this used to be a picture of a lizard...a beautiful picture...