8/31/2007

A blogger question, then another Chautauqua.

Before I begin today’s Chautauqua, I’d like to ask my readers: Is there anyway to quickly and easily link somebody? I encounter new readers from time to time. I visit their blogs and find them charming. I’d like a function in which I click on their blog, and some computer algorithm puts their hotlink in my template HTML code and links them to my blog automatically. Perhaps there’s a blogging utility or something. Wouldn’t that be great? Anyway, let me know.

Today’s Chautauqua is about corporations. The poor things, corporations have no friends anymore. Everybody's down on Corporate America. Scourge of the earth -- these big, greedy corporations. They can do no right. Hell, corporations couldn’t make friends with Senator Larry Craig if they were in a neighboring stall.

Bunk that, I say! I look at my life and realize that corporations are to thank for everything I've got. They built my house (then financed it for me at a reasonable rate). Then they stocked my house with goodies like microwaves, ice-making refrigerators and MacIntosh ‘puters. Corporations manufactured my car and provide the fuel to make it go. They put the digital watch around my wrist and the clothes on my back (which reminds me to give a shout-out to Corporate America’s factory workers: thanks little Indonesian dudes, for sewing my Hanes Boxer-Briefs. Don’t spend those 48 cents all in one place. By the way, next time leave a little more room in the crotch).

Perhaps most importantly, corporations distill my favorite adult beverages. Granted, Corporate America also employs me, which is mostly why I need adult beverages. It’s all very yin-yang. One must stand in awe of how much quality corporations add to our lives. Without them, the world would be a collection of co-op grocers chock full of hippies wanting 5 bucks for box of “organic, whole-grain” rice cakes – now with 30% more hemp.

Everybody wants corporations crushed. Tax them. Regulate them. Restrict them. Make them “give back.” Force them to play fair. Make them pay “livable” wages. What are those, anyway? I’ve never made a wage I can comfortably live on. And yet I’m still alive.

I say we leave corporations alone. We all know the fable about the goose that laid golden eggs. I want corporations to remain free. I want them drunk and running around a field, naked, scoring with other intoxicated, indiscriminate corporations – all the while making little baby “love-corporations.” Lollapalooza for the Fortune 500. That's what I want!

8/24/2007

Oh, Captain. My captain.

A couple years ago I read a book called “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” What a great read. I don’t read much, but when I do, a good book can take possession of me. It makes a permanent dent in my conscience, so that I’m forever changed and I perceive the world differently. ZMM is one of those books.

ZMM casts a father and son embarking on a cross-country motorcycle trip. As the farther narrates the trip to the reader, he occasionally detours onto brief philosophical discussions, which he calls Chautauquas. Often an element of the trip (the weather, a tourist attraction, a landmark) -- or a feature of the motorcycle itself (the engine or transmission, for example) -- serves as a metaphor for the pending philosophical discussion. It’s cool. Great authorship.

That’s how I envision my Neo-Snoop Bloggy Blog. Every post is a new Chautauqua. And what would really be swell is if readers would comment on the Chautauqua, add their thoughts and insights, and that these contributions might give rise to a new Chautauqua. Jeez. I’m sounding like one of those 1960s hippies I despise.

We’ll see how things work out.

Today’s Chautauqua is about fishing. Specifically, we’ll discuss deep sea fishing off the coast of San Diego, which I had occasion to do earlier this week.

Four other fellows and I drove to San Diego where a chartered boat awaited us. We embarked on a 12-hour, deep sea fishing excursion that would bring us into Mexican waters. I didn’t know this ahead of time. I spent half the trip silently praying Los Federales wouldn’t pull up in a watercraft with a .50-cal machine gun: “Senior. Senior! Los pescados son demasiados grandes para continuar. Nos da mucho dinero ahorita, o van a la carcel ustedes.” No joke, folks. I was frightened. Beforehand, we took a vote whether to go into deep waters or to stay shallow. I voted deep. Little did I know that meant vamos a Mexico. We even had to purchase Mexican fishing licenses and sign documentation for Customs. I would have recanted my vote, but that would have made me the douche bag of the group. I’d rather take my chances in a Mexican prison.

Scene: 3 hours by boat, south of Dana Point, San Diego. Mexican waters, off the coast of Coronado Island. 7 AM. Overcast. Warm sun. Calm ocean.

On the surface, 5 guys stood on the back of a boat, holding their rods, indulging in the great pastime of fishing. I felt guilty sticking my hook through the nasal cartilage of a live sardine, but the boys are all doing it, so it’s time to man-up. Fun and relaxation are the ostensible goals. But beneath the surface, something sinister lurks. This is what I’d like to investigate in today’s Chautauqua. Beneath the surface, a huge psychological battle is raging. The fight is among friends. The battle has two fronts: 1) Who’s the sorry SOB who gets seasick? And, 2) Who’s the sorry SOB who catches no fish?

That’s what’s on everybody’s mind. I assume that much. It was on my mind. My inner-voice was screaming to me, don’t be that sorry SOB. Anybody but you.

Of course I wanted to see my friends have a good time. I wanted all of us to spend the day pulling monster fish onto the boat -- just as long as I was in the upper-echelon of fisherman. I wanted the first catch, the biggest catch, the most catches; and of course I wanted to watch one or more of my friends double over the side of the boat, puking from motion sickness, so that I might aggravate his infirmity by shoving a handful of fish guts under his nose. We’re obligated to weed out the weakest among the herd.

Sure enough, a friend snagged the first catch. Then, a second catch. Lucky bastard. Then another friend caught one. And then, a third friend. Damn them all! Lucky bastards. Only one friend and I had no catches on the day. An hour passed. Those with catches leveled barbs at us. So easy to be a wiseass when you have a catch in the boat. The pressure mounted. I waxed anxious and contemptuous. What a stupid pastime, anyway – standing on a boat, dizzy from the hot sun and the incessant waves, waiting for my line to spin so that I can count one-thousand, two-thousand, three-thousand, and then click-lock the reel and start winding in the poor bastard of a fish, whose only crime was acting to squelch the pangs of hunger. Why did I spend my precious time and money on such a silly endeavor? What does it matter anyway? I could be back on shore right now doing something fun in air-conditioned comfort instead off...

Bzzzzzzz went my line. My heart pounded. My hands trembled. My mind recounted the captain’s counsel from earlier: This is how yellow tail fishing works. Your line goes from 0 to 60, and there’s no in-between. Let him run. Count. Then click the lever. Don’t jerk. Nice and smooth, like a ballet. He’ll try anything to bump you off of him. He’ll break you off at the bottom, or go under the boat. Stay with it…

The reel was still whirling. Three seconds had passed. Click. Yank. Bend. My line had a hold of something. Something big. Definitely a yellow tail, or even better. Perhaps a marlin or a shark. Get the cameras ready and call the record books. Damn! I love fishing.

I spent several minutes fighting the fish. I had to run halfway around the boat and back again. I loved this. The other guys’ fishes practically jumped in the boat. I had to fight mine. Nothing easy about this catch; I was earning it. Then I saw the fish’s color. “Color!” I shouted, which was the cue for the captain to ready the hook and snag the fish from the water. Pray let your thrust be true, Captain. If this fish doesn’t make it into the boat, I’ll never hear the end of it. I’ll be the guy who let one get away. I might even be the guy who didn’t catch any. Death by drowning first!

Please fish, don’t break free now. Please Captain, hook this fish. If I get this one in the boat, I can relax and enjoy the rest of the trip.

Stick. Fling. Thump. My fish lay in the boat. “Whoa. It’s a slug,” exclaimed the Captain. It was indeed a slug. The biggest catch so far, and the most cantankerous, too. What a spectacle I made as I dueled with this fish around the boat for 5 minutes! Suck on that, fellas! I caught myself a slug.

I’ll spare the readers the details of our entire excursion. I’d like to close this Chautauqua by observing how fishing can illustrate human nature, human disposition. Isn’t it just like life? How unfortunate that luck should play such a huge role in our experience – and on the estimate we pass upon ourselves. Five guys, all with the same bait, the same rods, the same lack of fishing experience, in the same waters, and yet we put so much stock into which sardine a fish decides to bite. What did that fish’s choice say about any of us? Nothing. It was as random as the weather, or a celebrity drunk-driving jail sentence.

Everybody on the boat understood the blind luck behind fishing, yet each of us claimed efficacy when luck smiled on us. Even as they reeled their fishes in, I cussed my friends for their blind luck and arrogance. And even as I reeled my own, I marveled at my prowess as a fisherman. What a peculiar prism the ego makes as we peer through it and into our world.

8/23/2007

Boob jobs and other metamorphoses

Breast implants are the cubic zirconium of the cosmetic world. They look great – often better than the real thing. But once you discover they’re fake, they lose their luster. Even small, imperfect diamonds are preferable to giant, glaring cubic zirconium. Such is the Tao of ta-tas.

Speaking of breast augmentation, I’m considering a change myself. For about 3 years, I’ve been posting bullet-marked quips and impish essays on my blog. I’ve driven down I-10 uttering nonsense into my little voice recorder, and then sifting through the rubbish while at my keyboard, often with a drink in hand, polishing it into what is hopefully something vaguely amusing or funny. It’s been fun. I’ve loved it. But it’s time for a change. I want my blog to take a more personal, biographical tack. The truth is, I’ve often longed to share an experience or contemplate one of life’s vicissitudes on my blog. Or just check in, as one might do in a diary. After all, the word “blog” derives from webLOG. I’ve hitherto stifled the urge because it would have cramped my blog’s style.

Consequently, my blog has been like a big set of fake hooters: they look great when you first see them from across the room. You’re intrigued. They capture your attention and draw you closer. They’re cute and whatnot. Sometimes they’re downright vulgar and offensive, depending on the size and packaging. But ultimately, you get this nagging feeling that you’re being duped; you’re not getting the real deal. Fake. What, you wonder, are the real ones like underneath all that silicon?

So that’s that. I’m changing my style. I’m too old to have a style, now that I think about it, unless that style is cranky.

I hope you’ll continue to visit. In fact, I hope we all become even closer.

By the way, my name is Rich.

8/16/2007

More bullet-ins

*I’ve never seen a ghost, but I’ve met many others who have. Other people see ghosts all the time. Strangely, the ghost never appears in the shower or the ladies’ locker room, which is where I’d hang out should I wax ethereal. Anyway, I used to believe there were no such things as ghosts. But now that I’ve met so many ghost-seers, I’m beginning to think it’s just me. I’m so terribly uninteresting and boring, they don’t bother to visit. How poor must your self-esteem be to long for a poltergeist haunting? Welcome to my world.

*If substances aggravating allergies are called “allergens,” and substances causing carcinomas are called “carcinogens,” then why aren’t foods that make you fart called “flatulegens?”

*Colleges are wasting time and resources by teaching stupid-shit classes. Here are some college classes I’d like to see offered: Sarcasm 101, Mastering Road Rage, Advanced Crockpot Cooking, Your Penis and You (for men), and for women: Men, Behind the Bullshit.

*If I ever get a job as a courtroom bailiff, I’ll make a habit of placing bang-caps under the judge’s gavel. That prank will never get old. Sure, occasionally the judge will hold me in contempt, but it’ll be worth it to see a courtroom full of people duck and cover.

*How come Indians never win the archery competition at the Olympics?

*My wife originally objected to the idea of mounting a mirror over our bed. But then I explained to her that it was a funhouse mirror. As long as we position correctly, her ass looks the size of a grapefruit and my junk appears bigger than a summer sausage. Everybody wins!

*Innovative idea #72: Why don’t they install the garbage disposal underneath the dishwasher? Then you wouldn’t have to scrape.

*Do you think there’s a filthy rich person out there with such a warped sense of majesty that he’s hired a personal ass-wiper? If I ever come into big money, I might hire one. But you can bet I’ll pay him well. Plus I’ll arrange a swell benefits package including disability insurance, what in case he develops carpal-tunnel syndrome.

8/10/2007

Bullet-ins

*Forgetting my cell phone, I had the opportunity to use a relic of the 20th century called a phone booth. These crude devices require the user to insert coins prior each call. How primitive. I felt out of place without my mood ring and leisure suit. I tried to send a text message and instead called some poor bastard in Bangkok, China. Sorry for waking you, Mr. Chang. And no, your wife doesn’t have an American boyfriend. Mr. Chang began cussing me in his native tongue; however, he broke into English long enough to say, “You get I-Phone righ-now, round-eye douche bag.”

*When you’re born, are you zero years old? I think so. At least until you’re one month old, you’re zero. That’s pretty cool.


*I’ve noticed something by watching old movies: nobody wore sunglasses until the early 1950’s. I guess it took until mid-century to perfect the art of tinting. Even pilots didn’t have shades in the olden days. Tom Cruise is lucky Top Gun was made in the Eighties. Otherwise, he’d have looked like a putz. Tom owes his entire career to sunglasses. Want to know the difference between Maverick and Goose? Cool Shades. That’s it. You forget your shades, you’re getting rocketed into the canopy and dying mid-movie. Hollywood’s a cruel place.

*I hate cars with curb feelers. I think it’s because I dislike cats. Curb feelers are whiskers for cars.

*China is manufacturing a car that gets 130 miles to the gallon. Pop the hood and you’ll see a little Chinese guy with a pyramid hat thingy, riding a unicycle. That was just a joke; no such car. But seriously, if gas gets any more expensive I’m going to import a Chinaman who runs while towing a carriage with those two sticks. Every eighty miles or so I’ll toss him a carton of fried rice and some egg drop soup. Yo, Bruce, there’s a wanton in it for you if you can beat rush hour.

*Question for skydivers: if you deploy your parachute when you’re upside down, do you plunge to the earth that much faster? Same for pilots. If the wings make you go up, and you turn your plane upside down, shouldn’t you plummet to the ground?

*People wonder how I can afford to eat out so often. I wonder how they can’t. The food is free. You might think this is gross, but don’t knock it until you try it. Eat other people’s food. See, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but most people don’t finish their plates. Often, there’s a side dish or two they didn’t even touch. They just leave the food sitting there. And it’s perfectly good food. Finger-foods are the best; they haven’t been touched! A casual walk through a restaurant will fetch an adroit man like myself a 7-course meal. Sometimes I’ll let the hostess seat me. I’ll request a doggie bag, collect what looks good, toss in a complimentary loaf of bread, and leave. Other time, I’ll dine in. Often, while I’m eating my bounty, I scan the restaurant for a fussy-eater, some little kid pouting about having to eat. When he leaves, I swoop in like a bird of prey. Last week I scored an entire helping of mac-n-cheese of this brat who was holding out for an ice cream sundae. His loss is my gain. Often I need a doggie bag because I can’t finish everything I find. Sure, some restaurateurs frown on this practice. Consequently, I’m not welcome in most Denny’s in my state of residence. But Waffle House isn’t wise to me yet.

*Speaking of restaurants, I once ate at a place where an electric train would deliver your food. True story. You’d sit at the bar. The waitress took your order. Then an electric train would cruise by, stopping with boxcars filled with your food. The train would wait for you to eat and then take your dirty dish back to the kitchen. Ain’t that the cutest little thing? I imagine they had little electric trains in the back that washed the dishes. They drove them through a little dishwashing machine. Little electric trains chopping vegetables and whatnot, wearing hair nets. Also, they didn’t have a restroom in the restaurant that I could see, so I put my “caboose” over the track, dropped a deuce in my boxcar and sent it on its way. All aboard! I miss that place. The closest you get to an electric train nowadays is a snotty waitress with track marks on her arms.

*When I was young we played cops and robbers. And we all fought to be the cops. Years later, kids wanted to be robbers. Nowadays, kids want to be pimps. Witness the progression of delinquency.

8/03/2007

Women love jerks?

Men often suspect that women love jerks. First, they see a few lovely women pursuing jerks. This baffles them. Then they see it time and time again. How peculiar, men think. As the years go by and they observe even more of the same, they grow ever more frustrated. It can’t just be coincidence. After years of “field research” in which they observe the same phenomenon, they propose a theory: Women secretly love jerks who treat them like dirt. Upon making this discovery, nice guys throw their hands up in disgust (presumably after removing them from their penises) and declare that nice guys don’t stand a chance.

I believe these men are jumping to conclusions. Women hounding jerks only to have their hearts broken and re-broken by the same brutes are anecdotal and by no means suggest that all women want a bad boy. These jerks have a secret: they’re really nice guys, too.

The problem with the women-love-jerks theory is that it’s an incomplete theory. Jerk-loving is merely part of a deeper, more complex motivation driving women to certain kinds of men. The truth is, one must be a saint and a scoundrel to attract women. At any given time, any given woman might crave a nice guy or a jerk. They want both, preferably in the same man. This is what women mean when they claim to “want it all.” So cultivate both your sainthood and your jerkdom. You’ll need them both to stand a chance.

For example, buy a girl something thoughtful and romantic for her birthday. Here’s a choice example: Hand pick her favorite chocolates from a chocolateer, and also, buy her some lingerie. What girl wouldn’t melt for gifts like these? Her favorite chocolates have a personal touch and hint that she’s sweet. The lingerie shows how sexy you find her. Chocolate and lingerie – classic combo.

But you can’t stop there. You’ve only got the nice guy part of the equation covered. You have counterbalance the gesture with a tactical blow of cruelty. So, after giving her the chocolates and lingerie, remind her that eating the chocolates is a bad idea because at the rate she’s gaining weight, she won’t be able to fit into her other gift!

That’s a classic left jab-right cross combo. Here’s another doozie. Tell the girl you’ve got tickets for two to a live show. She’ll beam with excitement. Then, when date night arrives, surprise her by bringing her to one of Michael Vick’s dogfights. Front row, sweetheart! We’re rooting for that mean-looking motherfucker with the gold fang. Rip his throat out, Fido!

A biting quip often helps contrast your nice-guy image and makes you interesting just when she’s getting bored with your sweetness. I hate to toot my own horn, but I’ve used the quip with great success. In fact, hurtful quips are my specialty. I still remember my first. I was walking to school with my girlfriend. She was carrying my backpack, as I was on crutches at the time (I told her it was an old Viet Nam injury; she ate it up. I think I worked in saving the life of a young, Vietnamese child or some shit). Anyway, at one point, she apologized for being a smartass. I shot back, “Well, it can’t be too smart.” “Why is that?” she asked. I replied, “It obviously doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘exercise.’” LBB, 15; girlfriend, love.

You’d think she’d take great offense to this insensitive and hurtful remark. Just the opposite! She loved it -- not at the time, of course. If memory serves, she physically assaulted me. But later that day, she had a gleam in her eye. She couldn’t get enough of ole LBB. And I learned something: You have to be cruel to be kind. Also, it helps if the girl feels sorry for you. I was a helpless little gimp with a broken leg. Those crutches paid dividends. My entire senior year was ass-n-tits soup! What on account of I was so pathetic and all. To you single fellas out there, I encourage you to facture a femur or shin bone. Ass-n-tits soup.

I hope the above discussion brings clarity to the women-love-jerks myth. Although there’s a particle of truth to it, it neglects the importance of being a nice guy from time to time. Use this bit of wisdom to your advantage, fellas. Nurture your sainthood and jerkdom. Now go break a leg!