Driving through the foothills at nighttime, I saw a cone of pink light cascading from a street light.  The light mixed with the fog to make a pink, ethereal soup. It was beautiful.  Later, as my car wound through the hills, I spotted a blackened hillside peppered with house lamps. As I gazed left, I saw the city skyline.  Everywhere I looked was incandescent beauty.  The electrified earth glimmering within the basin of the black desert hypnotized me.  It was exhilarating.  And then I thought of the irony of the environmental movement that damns what I saw.   Without land development, electricity, technology, mining, fossil fuels and the like, the terrain would be black, cold and inhospitable.  Why can't environmentalists appreciate beauty in man-made things?

I'll catch my dog lying in darkness.  I flip the switch and the lights brighten the room.  Suddenly, my once-blind dog now has the miracle of sight.  But it doesn't surprise her or delight her.  It doesn't even faze her.   I've given her an extra sense – the most important one at that – and she just looks at me, wags her tail, and goes back to sleep.   Shouldn't she be in awe of her newly found sight?  I'm amazed at a dog's lack of capacity for wonder.   Hey, Fido!   A miracle just took place.  Aren't you curious how it happened?

The recession has had a less-than-positive effect on me – particularly as a shopper.  When I walk into a store or a restaurant, I've got the attitude that I should be received as royalty, worshiped as a god.   I'm that rare breed of cash-paying customer.  I walked into a Best Buy after reading they're teetering on bankruptcy.   In I walk – a customer with a wallet full of cash.  Suddenly I become Julius Caesar.  Fetch me plasma TVs and laptop computers, royal subjects.  Kneel before me, Geek Squad dude.   Everybody rejoice!  Your benevolent king has arrived.  Cast rose pedals before my feet and make way for my procession down the DVD aisle.

A poem in two lines:

She claims that it's mine, and it scares the heck out of me.

But her threats are benign; I've had a vasectomy.

Buttramification:  the study of the consequences of chronic anal sex.

The best thing about being a procrastinating masturbator is, you're always looking forward to what cums later.

Obama lovers:  How's the transition from “Yes we can” and “Hope and Change” to “Things are horrible and they'll likely get worse” going for you?  Let me tell you what the New York Times isn't reporting: it gets much worse.  And it will stay that way long after blaming Bush is a plausible excuse.

The “natural living” advocates have just release their latest brainchild: the reusable toilet wipe.  Why stop there?  Let's do the environment one better and stop wiping our asses altogether.  Wiping is so anthropocentric.   Let's let whatever residue be, just like the animals do.  Maybe we can learn to lick ourselves clean like a dog – perhaps in some fruity, San Francisco yoga class.

Now that gas is $1.70 per gallon, are they going to rename the Smart Car?  How about the “Short-sighted, Novelty-chasing, Dumb-ass Car?”  That thing is so small, if you cut a fart, your ears would pop.


Infomercials and me

I'm a sucker for the late night infomercial.  I never learn.  Maybe it's because I'm more suggestible at night, when they broadcast.  By then my mind is fatigued, intoxicated and incapable of critical thought (like an Obama voter).  I tend to accept things at face value. I yell to the television, “That's the most ingenious invention ever!  How have I survived this long without it?”  This is why I have a cupboard full of useless crap.

Recently I bought this vegetable chopper.  Maybe you saw the infomercial.  You place the vegetable underneath the device.  Then you repeatedly punch the crap out of it, activating a reciprocal blade.  Each time you punch, the blade slices into the vegetable, twists, and retracts.  After a series of punches, you have a neatly diced pile of vegetable in the bottom compartment.  Behold – a delicious salsa in 9 seconds!

Not quite.  The problem is, the chopper almost chops the vegetables.  The vegetable's skin remains intact, so that you wind up with a tapestry of chopped vegetable matter.  But all is not lost.  All you have to do now is place the semi-chopped vegetables in a blender or food processor to finish the job – you know, the food processor you hoped not to need anymore once you bought the chopper!

That's the problem with infomercials: it's not a lie; it's just the best-possible-scenario.  It's like a girl's picture on MySpace or those dating websites.  Yeah, it's her.  But she's not really that hot, dude.  It's just a really flattering picture – a miraculous coincidence of clothing, lighting, coloring, point-of-view, concealment, and dumb luck, captured in an instant on film.

Still, those infomercials move some product!  They work because they exploit the one vice common to mankind: wishful thinking.  We want to believe.  We want to believe there's a $20 device that will solve all our cooking needs, trim our waistlines, organize our clothing closets, replace a cupboard full of utensils, illuminate our homes, provide home security, repair old shoes, clothes and furniture, bond any material quickly and easily, and pay for itself many times over.  Buy our product now – it defies the laws of physics... and your sense of reason!

Lately I've been tuning in to watch the infomercial for the Shamwow, a miraculous new chamois.  Life is full of unwanted liquids.  Enter the Shamwow.  It's a magical towel that vacuums fluids and retains them (incidentally, why don't they make contraceptives out of Shamwow?) until you hold it over a sink and ring it out, at which time it spills its contents.  Miraculous!  I'm sure it works every bit as good as the pitchman says.  Have you seen this pitchman, by the way?  How about that hairdo?  I wonder how much styling gel the Shamwow would suck off that pitchman's head if he applied it to his scalp and punched it a couple of times, like he does on the simulated carpet spill.  Come on, Vince.  Sell me on this thing.  Pull that Shamwow over your head and start punching, you Jersey tweaker!

That's another infomercial necessity – the pitchman with the quirky mannerisms and cool accent.  See, if it were just a normal guy, you'd watch for moment and then say to yourself, “This guy's full of shit.”  But if the guy has a cool accent and acts really excited, he becomes Honest Abe.  Ah, he's from Australia and he's hopped up on crank.  A guy like that would never steer me wrong!

Infomercials try to rush your purchase.  But you must call now...  They don't want you wasting any time thinking about it (like global warming initiatives and federal “stimulus” bills).  It's ironic, considering they expect you to spend 30 minutes watching the damn infomercial.  Now that they've made the pitch, you don't have a second to spare.  On the contrary, pitchman.  I just wasted 3 hours of my life watching infomercials on zero-down real estate investing, food processors and shammies.  I've got all the time in the world.  Plus, time-management isn't my strong suit.

I'll let you know how the Shamwow works out.  UPS is rush-delivering 8 of them to my house.  I can't wait to spill something!


Bread and Whine

When I'm in a restaurant, I ride an emotional roller coaster.  It's the complimentary bread.  Nothing evokes more excitement and, at times, more anxiety than the bread.  I might drop 25 bucks on an entrĂ©e and I don't give a damn about it.  They can bring it next Tuesday.  I don't mind.  Maybe it will taste great. Maybe it'll disappoint.  Perhaps the portion will be too small or overcooked.  Hell, I don't care if the waiter serves it up ice cold, on fire, or marinated in shards of glass.  Just keep the free bread coming.

Why doesn't bread and butter taste as good at home?  What's so special about restaurant bread and butter?  Where do they get that lightly whipped sweet butter?  It's as if Venus supplied the milk from her divine teats.  Ambrosia!  Can I buy this magical butter somewhere?  Maybe they import it from Cuba.  It must surely be contraband for all the pleasure whipped inside of it.

Maybe you're like me.  The bread-eating becomes a game.  How many free rolls can I eat without spoiling my meal?  Answer, who cares?  I'm going to keep eating bread until the food arrives.   I'm going to crap a dough ball tomorrow, but it will have been worth it.

The worst thing is when the waiter forgets the bread.  That's an emergency on the order of Hurricane Katrina and a baby-down-a-well, combined.  Damn that waiter.  Well, I should give him an extra minute or two.  Hey, maybe he's waiting for a fresh loaf to pop out of the oven just for me!  Then the waiter resurface from the kitchen.  No bread.  That son-of-a-bitch. Is he smoking dope in the back alley?  He thinks he can screw me out of my complimentary bread and still get a tip?  Ah, go easy on him, LBB.  He probably just forgot.

Another minute will pass.  By this time I've already ordered. Still no goddamn bread.  I'm becoming irrational.  I'm thinking about pulling the fire alarm or brandishing a pistol or calling in a bomb threat – anything to get the ball rolling.  I plopped out a ton of dough for this meal.  I want the bread I have coming to me.

How about when you're dining with 5 or so other people, and the waiter brings out a basket with 4 rolls.  What kind of sick, ancient Roman arena contest is this?  A shortage of rolls can turn perfectly civilized people into gladiators with steak knives.

The table goes quiet as everyone makes a mental bread roll count via their peripheral vision.  A showdown is pending.  Bill, this bread basket ain't big enough for the both of us.

My mental gears start wheeling.  Well, I hope Jim ate before he came because he's not getting my roll!...  Damn that Sharon.  Five minutes ago she was boring us to tears with her Atkins diet speech and now she grabs a roll?  What happened to your low-carb miracle diet, Sharon?  I hope that pig splits her dress.

On the outside, I play it cool.  I drop a line like: “Oh, there's bread.  Maybe I'll have a piece.  Then again, I don't want to spoil my appetite.”  God, I hate myself.  What a phony bastard I am.  A real man would take the last roll, but I'm emasculated by years of politeness programming and social mores.

Larry has an interesting approach.  He grabs the last bread roll.  And just as I'm about to give him a steak knife tracheotomy, he begins carving it.  Evidently, he's cutting off a piece for himself, and leaving the remainder for the more patient and polite among us.  Good work, Larry...  Wait a minute!  Larry cuts himself a piece, but it's way more than his share.  He clearly exceeded a fair portion of the last roll.  You son-of-a-bitch.  So that's your game.  I hope you choke on it, Larry.  And if you go for the remaining piece of that roll later, you'll be dislodging my salad fork from your metacarpals.

Dammit people, this bread is for all of us!

We could use another basket of bread, if it's not too much trouble,” Sharon tells the waiter.  Sharon, I could kiss you on your obnoxious, low-carb-eating mouth.  You got the waiter to bring more bread!  All is right with the world.  After all, since I haven't touched a roll, etiquette dictates that I have dibs on the next basket.  Suck on it, dinner companions!  I'll be able to score at least 2 rolls without drawing fire from the others.  After all, aren't I the saint to waited until everyone else got some bread?  When the next basket of bread arrives, I've got free reign.  Carte blanche!  Hold your tongues, dinner friends.  Let he without sin cast the first roll.  Ah, by the time I'm done with my rolls, the main course will have arrived and I won't give a darn about a stinkin' basket of bread.  Viva bread!  Viva Life!  Viva Las Vegas!