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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Later, after the family had left, I heard that my cousin’s retired boyfriend had two daughters.

“How old are they?” I asked.

“One of them is seventeen, the other is like twelve.”

“Seventeen? So if meathead and my cousin get married, she’ll have a stepdaughter who’s two years younger than her?”

“Looks that way.”

“Well, I guess there are advantages to that. They can hang out together and do things . . . like shop for fake IDs.”

My cousin, who is nineteen, is dating a retired forty-year-old. She’s a cute and petite girl with a skewed sense of what relationships are like (her mother has been four times), and a rural upbringing. The latter characteristic brings about a lot of situations in which the phrases y’all and fixin’ to are said in a heavy Southern twang. Conversely, he is a meathead who seems to have fallen into some money and has no neck.

For Christmas, her retired boyfriend bought my cousin a Ford Explorer. When he brought over the car, my cousin began jumping up and down screaming, giggling, and clapping her hands.

“I got a good one! I got a good one!” she enthused. Her mother hugged her, smiling.

“Ford Explorers aren’t that great,” I remarked to my sister, who was standing nearby. “Besides, I think it’s used.”

“I don’t think she’s talking about the car,” my sister replied. “She’s saying she got a good boyfriend.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

If I had heard about this before we ate Christmas dinner, I would've avoided the ham altogether.

And I thought the turducken was a great idea.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Seems reasonable

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith has an unusual bedfellow in the Supreme Court fight over her late husband's fortune: the Bush administration.

The administration's top Supreme Court lawyer filed arguments on Smith's behalf and wants to take part when the case is argued before the justices.

Smith, a television reality star and native Texan, plans to attend the court argument.

She is trying to collect millions of dollars from the estate of J. Howard Marshall II, the oil tycoon she married in 1994 when he was 89 and she was a 26-year-old topless dancer in Houston. Marshall died in 1995.

Like Marshall, President Bush was a Texas oil man. Both attended Yale. Both held government positions in Washington.

There are differences. Marshall had a penchant for strippers, and the court record before the justices is one of poverty, greed, sex and family rivalry.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Save me some ham, you sons of bitches.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Last night at work, a young guy came in to pick up a to go order. The guy who took the order over the phone came out and told him that it would be ready in just a moment, after he finished boxing it up.

As I was putting in an order, the manager came out and handed me my check.

"You're about to see the exciting and high-finance world of how much servers get paid," I told the guy.

"You don't get paid much?"

"Well, let's see." I opened the check. It said $32.14, which is really high. But then I remembered that I had only been claiming like three dollars every night. "$32.14," I said, showing him.

"Why is it so low? Do you get paid mostly in tips?"

"We get paid exclusively in tips. We're paid $2.13 an hour, which is the lowest amount that a restaurant can legally pay you in Texas. It's pretty standard, I guess."

"Oh wow, I didn't know that."

Then the server who took his to go order came out with his food. The guy took the food, handed him his credit card, scribbled something down on the receipt, and then left.

The server grabbed the receipt off the counter, and entering it into the computer, noticed something.

"That fucker didn't tip me," he said.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I was having an online conversation with SI.

"Find me a boyfriend," she typed.

"Jim Lehrer could be your boyfriend," I replied.

"Who?"

"Jim Lehrer." I repeated it boldly, so she could hear.

"You're an idiot," SI replied.

"At least I know who my next boyfriend is going to be."
"My friend's mom has a scooter because she has MS," SI told me. "I drove it around yesterday."

"Is it called an MSobile?"
I was grocery shopping the othe day when I was approached by Santa Claus. He walked past me, waved, and suddenly stopped. He started talking and waving his arms around.

"Huh?" I asked, taking off my headphones.

"Is that an iPod?" he repeated. I could tell that he had a real beard.

"Oh, yes it is," I answered.

"My son really wants one of those," he said.

"Your son?" I asked, "Santa Claus Junior?"

"Ha ha," he laughed, "How much do they go for?"

"They're free for Santa, right? You just get the elves to make them."

"Seriously."

"This one was $400."

"Jesus."

"I know."

"Well, merry Christmas."

"You too."

Monday, December 19, 2005

From "The Best Year of My Life" by Paul Theroux:
The worst year of my life, I used to moan, but as time passed I grew to know it, for all its struggle, as a great year. This whole plot--the beginning, the middle, the end--had been lived before by others, but I had to live through it myself to understand it, to know that my agony can be analgesic, that the memory of pain can itself be a painkiller. That year made the rest of my life easier.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

When I’m trying to pick music to listen to before I get into the car, I look across all of my CDs, and try to think of what I’d like to hear. Usually, after a few seconds, I find myself thinking ‘I don’t want to listen to any of this crap.’ To some people, this might seem funny, because I own somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 CDs. I have an idea about why this is.

People who collect things all share the obsession to always want more, different, and newer varieties of the thing they collect. In Haruki Murakami’s short story Tony Takitani (which was recently turned into a movie), a man named Tony Takitani marries a woman who is obsessed with clothes. She goes shopping every day, and fills an entire room with racks and racks of designer clothes. The shopping begins to stress Tony’s budget, so he asks that she cut back on spending. She tries, but when she wanders through her wardrobe of designer clothes that she’s worn only once or twice before, she finds herself disgusted with all of them, and is tortured by not having the freedom to go buy more.

Conversely, I don’t have a lot of clothes. I usually wear jeans (one of four or five pair that I have) and a polo-style shirt, almost every day. I never find myself torn with indecision about what to wear, or feel upset that I don’t have more. I’ve got the basics, and I use them diversely.

To put the whole thing in perspective, I’m aware that I don’t need CDs any more than Tony’s wife needs an entire roomful of designer clothes. I know that people in the world live off of a whole lot less than I do and are just as happy. But when I think about all the album that I don’t have . . . when I read about new releases and classic must-haves . . . I have to restrain myself from running to the record store.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I must know . . . did the Dinosaur Comics guy write this comic expressly for Ben?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I think it's really funny when people make claims that are very obviously unresearched and untrue.

For example:

"It's really my fault that he hits me. I know better than to bother him while the game's on."

"I more creative when I'm high."

"I'm going to stop taking these pills the doctor prescribed; they're not doing anything anyway." (This one is more effective when the person is either not taking the pills correctly, or taking them with other drugs.)

"I drive better when I'm drunk."

"Whether or not it needed to happen, I'm still convinced it needed to happen." (This one is more effective if you're the president and you're trying to defend a war that has gone terribly wrong.)

"We live in a geocentric universe."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Somehow I really hurt my foot, and I've been confined to pushing myself around my apartment in my fantastic desk chair.

I loved the chair before, but sometimes it takes something like mysteriously hurting your foot to make you re-appreciate the uses it can offer. Like really comfortable makeshift wheelchair.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Two girls came in to eat at the restaurant last night, and sat in my section. I'd waited on two or three times before, and they were nice, so I was glad when they sat down in my section again.

I was kind of busy, but still made a little time to talk to them and joke around. When they left, I noticed that one of them had left her number written down on the bill--but no name.

One of the other waiters was talking to the girls while they ate, so I asked him if he knew them.

"Yeah, I went to high school with them."

"Oh, because one of them left me her number, I wondered if you knew which one it was." I showed him the number.

"Oh, yeah," he said, looking at it. "That's the one in the red. Are you going to call her?" He laughed.

"Why, is she crazy or something?"

"No, it's just that she's still in high school."

"Oh--hm."

"You should try to sub at their school, and then see her there, and then call her," said my manager, overhearing us. "If it worked out, it'd be like three fantasies fulfilled with one phone call."

The lesson is: girls whose number you actually want never give it to you without you having asked for it first.
"Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and walk across the street to buy a popsicle," I told JA.

"In the middle of the night?"

"Yeah, they're really good."

"Huh. I don't think I've ever gotten up in the middle of the night because I wanted something."

"Really?"

"Yeah, not even like, vagina."

"These popcicles are really good. How about a vaginacicle?"

"No."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Modern World

The modern world is killing Charles Darwin.

There was a time, 10,000 years ago, before the Fertile Crescent, before agriculture, before civilization, in which if a person wasn’t smart enough to find his own food and avoid leopard attacks, he would be killed, and his genes would not propagate. Hunter-Gatherers sustained themselves by, well, hunting and gathering food. They were also able to maintain life by living in small, closely-knit communities that cared for each other and provided a safety net.

In present day society though, our safety net is provided by civilization. We don’t really need family or friends to care for us (even if we do prefer it). We get our food from the grocery store, or restaurants, or, if we can’t provide for ourselves, we dumpster-dive, or eat at a homeless shelter, or ask for a handout.

This is, of course, a more humane way of living, and we should be grateful that the standard of life for humanity has risen since the days of cave-painting. But there is one negative found within this giant safety net: the genetically inferior still get the chance to procreate.1

Nowadays, even the stupidest and most physically inept can survive in the world, and find someone who’s willing to have their children. Of course we read things like “The Darwin Awards” about people who have killed themselves by eating peanut butter off the barrel of a revolver or something, but these aren't the norm, and appear to have gone out of their way to avoid the structure that has been put in place to stop their unnecessary demise.

Take, for example, Sean. Sean was a guy I used to work with at a popular chain restaurant in college. At 21 years old, he was our longest-serving busboy, and seemed to relish his position. Sean was a well-meaning guy—usually upbeat and positive, but very obviously unable to make decisions on his own, lacked judgment, and always making the only mistakes that one could possibly make in his job that consisted pretty much of wiping off tables. He often wore leather chaps over his jeans, as he rode a motorcycle. I promise you, he wasn’t retarded.

On Sean’s 21st birthday, the gang took him out on the town for his first legal drink. Sean, being who he was, was already a very heavy drinker, and was constantly bragging about how much he was able to imbibe.

“Man, I got wasted last night,” he might say. “I drank a case and a half of Coors Light.” He would pause, checking to see if you were impressed.

“That seems dangerous,” I noted once.

“And after that I drank half a bottle of Crown.”

“Awesome!” That’s when he would look for the high-five.

As a joke, on that birthday, someone bought him five shots of silver tequila. Well, actually, that’s not true. They bought him one shot of silver tequila and four shots of water. They lined up the water first, and the tequila at the end. Finally, they called Sean over to knock the shots off. Eager for attention and to prove how much he could drink, Sean knocked back each of the shots, one at a time, letting out little yelps after each shot. He earned a round of applause and the respect that he had always yearned for from his colleagues. Later, he put his leather chaps back on and drove home.

“I can’t believe he’s not dead,” was a comment that seemed to follow Sean around. It was usually spoken immediately after he’d left the conversation.

“I mean, that guy,” Lan said to me once, “I just can’t believe that he hasn’t swallowed his tongue or something yet. It just seems like he would’ve killed himself somehow by now. I can’t believe he’s not dead.”

One busy weekend evening, Sean came in for a meal, accompanied with a statuesque young black woman with exotically-braided hair. He smiled slyly when people gawked at him and his date as they waited for their table. His table at the restaurant that he worked at as a busboy. They sat down for their meal, and a crowd gathered at the other end of the restaurant where we could all scratch our heads in wonder.

When people see the Trump with a supermodel, nobody who knows who he is wonders how he got her. When that octogenarian married Anna Nicole Smith a few years ago, the situation was pretty clear. But this? This out-of-shape busboy who shouldn’t eat without a bib (but still, I promise, isn’t retarded)? How much money did he have to save up to for her to agree to this?

“I met her on the internet,” Sean boasted to us later. “We’re going out again on Tuesday.”

I blame society.

1It’s important to note here that this essay isn’t about people with birth defects, diseases, or mental retardation. Those people were around pre-civilization as well, and today, just as back then, they don’t get laid that often.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Smoke Off

There's a new essay in the "Politics" section on the smoking ban in the city of Austin.

Spare Change

A few years ago, a friend of mine was walking down the drag with three hundred dollars in her wallet--a birthday gift from her grandmother for shopping purposes. She passed a bum, who asked for for some change. She didn't have any change, and she didn't have any bills, and in a fit of generosity, she gave the bum $100.

'I have lots of money, and he has nothing,' she thought to herself. 'I'll probably forget that hundred dollars in a month or two, but he'll always appreciate this.'

The bum was overjoyed.

"Thank you so much!" he said. "Oh God bless you, you are so generous."

My friend, feeling great about herself, continued to walk along the drag, and finished her shopping.

The next day, she came back to the drag--one of the items she bought was the wrong size, and she needed to exchange it. Since bums usually pick their corners, it wasn't a surprise that she ran into the same guy on her way to the store.

"Excuse me miss, do you have some spare change?" he asked.

She looked at him, waiting for a sign of recognition. None came.

"I'm sorry, I don't have any more money," she told him.

The bum was disgusted. "Fuck you, you fuckin' bitch. I know you have money. Girls like you always have money. Stupid bitch."

My friend was horrified. She quickly walked away and began crying as she paced her way to the store.

The moral here is clear: If you ever see a bum on the drag who asks you for money, punch him in the damned nose.
Well, it took me two years, but I got 1000 Myspace profile views. A female friend had this to say in response:

"haha 2 months and im at 1610. hahahahahahaha"

The truth that this illustrates is that Myspace is basically a tool for shitty bands to pester you with, and for girls to feel good about themselves. I mean, I would spend a lot more time on it if I were getting propositioned by hot girls on the hour.

A lot of guys have already noticed the inequality amongst guys/girls on Myspace. From Joey Honey's Myspace blog:

Ok, so I go to the MySpace search thing.

I set in all my search criterion, Straight, Single, Women, Catholic, 23~31 years old, 20 miles proximity, not a moron, not a fatty, and click search: 64 profiles matching. Cool.

As an expiriment, I change "Women" to "Men". "Let's see who I'm competing against..."

253 profiles.

Crap.

Well, I'm a 98th percentile kinda guy, so, there's really only 5.06 guys I'm competing against.

But, then again, I want a 98th percentile kinda girl, meaning that us 5.06 guys are vying for the attention of 1.28 girls.

5.06-1.28 = 3.78

So, 3.78 of you dudes are going to be stuck out, y'all might want to consider widening your search parameters. Why wouldn't you date a fat girl, are you shallow or something?


The conlcusion I've come to is that I'm far too good-looking to be meeting girls online.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Austin American-Statesman reported today that the Rolling Stones concert at the Toyota Center in Houston was an overall success. I couldn’t help remembering a conversation I had about latter-day Stones performances with a friend of mine earlier this year.

I began the conversation by mentioning to him Lan’s idea of artists not being important unless they're creating good art, using an off-the-cuff example of the Rolling Stones.

“Take the Stones, for example. They’re a great band, one of my all-time favorites. But their work today really isn’t important or meaningful.”

He didn't seem to necessarily understand the point, but disagreed with the example, especially when I said they probably should have broken up twenty-five years ago.

"My dad saw them a couple of years ago, and he said they really rocked."

Whether or not they rocked is unimportant to this issue (although according to the same Statesman article, and several first-hand witnesses I’ve heard from, this is true).

“That’s not the point,” I said, “but what do people look for when they see the Stones live? They want to hear "Brown Sugar", "Tumbling Dice", "Street Fighting Man", and all the other well-known Stones standards. They certainly aren't hoping for something off of Steel Wheels or anything else released after 1978.”

“. . . [T]he tunes from this year’s album “A Bigger Bang” are not among the best,” the Statesman article said, “and the crowd, thrilled at everything else, was polite enough to feign interest in “Oh No, Not You Again,” “Rain Fall Down,” “Rough Justice” and Richards’ rambling vocal turn on “Infamy” and “Slipping Away.”

The live performance of a band doesn't have anything to do with their relevance or place in music. Mick and Keith will probably go on touring until one of them dies or gets a stroke or something, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're creating new fans or doing anything but trying to make money by putting out new albums. And it certainly doesn’t mean anything they’re doing now is important.

There's a review of Of Montreal's Sunlandic Twins in the "Music" section.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

For those of you that use Roadrunner Review as a link to this blog, or for your extreme reading pleasure, it's finally back up again.

And now that the LSAT is out of the way (for awhile), I'll probably update it more now!