Sunday, July 18, 2010

The TEA Party

The so-called Tax Enough Already party has just expelled its leader for apparently calling the NAACP a racist organization.

I'll give you a few minutes to let the irony of that statement sink in.

These Tea Party folks really, really hate it when the government takes their money and uses it for frivolous things as paying people their social security benefits, keeping the country's infrastructure intact, making sure the armed forces are paid, and cleaning up the mess created by a massive underwater oil spill. Of course, they have no problem when these things happen under a Republican administration. Or when said administration spends billions it can't afford to invade, conquer, and occupy another country.

To the members of the Tea Party, let me say this: You are a bunch of useless hypocrites. You are all a bunch of fat white racist twits who not only can't stand that a Democrat resides in the White House, but that he is also black.

To the Southern Tea party members: The South lost the war. Get over it. Someone always loses a war. If you don't want that someone to be you, then you shouldn't start wars in the first place. And yes, you DID start it. Check the history books. The Southern states seceded, and they fired on Fort Sumter first, which is the battle that started the civil war.

To the Northern Tea party members: Your ancestors are spinning in their graves. They fought and died to free an entire class of people being held in soul-destroying servitude. And now, a century and a half later, when one of their descendants holds the highest office in the land, you associate yourselves with people who are no better than those who once wore white robes and pointy hats and burned churches in the name of God! How can you possibly be proud of that?!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is This the Definition of Irony?

Think about it for a second: A picture of a Polaroid camera taken with the very instrument that basically made it obsolete--the digital camera phone.

By the way? $10 for a camera that no one can use because hardly anyone can find film for it any more. Maybe if they paid me $10, I might take it off their hands.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Drain it Out

The three regular readers of this blog know that I recently spent a week on vacation in the beautiful state of Hawai'i. And in the course of that visit I took a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, where I found the name of a deceased sailor who had the same initials as mine.

For those of you that have never visited the memorial (I will assume that's everyone) you should know that a tiny trickle of oil still leaks from the remains of the ship constantly. It's considered to be the tears of the dead, or possibly the ashes of the fallen,

But I recently saw a documentary about the sunken ship. And it seems that the small oil leak from the sunken fuel oil bunker has the potential to become something much worse. It seems that after nearly 70 years of lying sunken in 70 feet of salt water and 20 feet of mud, there is the possibility that this leaking oil can become a deluge.

I know that there is considerable reluctance to desecrate the underwater tomb of 1177 dead sailors, but let me say this: I really don't think they will mind if we sink a hose into their tomb and try to prevent a major biological disaster.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Harvey Pekar (October 8th, 1939-July 12th, 2010)

Those apparently in the know in the world of underground comics are mourning the death of Harvey Pekar. If you have no idea who I'm talking about, I'm not surprised. He was the author of the underground comic book series American Splendor.

This series was unique in that it did not feature an heroic crime fighter or an avenging vigilante of some sort. No, it simply featured Harvey. Being, well, Harvey. Every day. It was his life as he knew it. What made it interesting was that this guy had a life that was, shall we say, less than interesting. He lived alone. He worked as a file clerk at a V.A. hospital. He collected Jazz records. He got mad at people. A LOT.

But people were eating this comic up. Maybe it was because they were sardonically funny. Maybe it was just because people liked to read them and think to themselves, "Hey, my life may be bad, but at least I'm better off than that guy.

But these comics made Harvey's life better. He met his future wife because she was a fan. He appeared on David Letterman many times (until he got tired of being Letterman's punching bag and told him off on national TV). And then, a few years ago, an HBO movie was made about his life.

Now, HBO doesn't make very much that's bad (Although I really didn't get the point of Entourage. Seriously. It's a series about an actor and his three hanger-on friends who go around Hollyweird trying to get laid all the time. And they made a series about this?!)

But I digress. HBO usually makes quality films, is what I'm saying. And I'd been wanting to see this film ever since I read this review a few years ago.

(By the way, he's not really naked. Trust me when I say you should be thankful for that)

So I resolved that the first time I found the film in the library I would check it out. So I did a couple of years ago. And I took it home and didn't watch it. I do that a lot. Mostly because I'm usually too busy watching my West Wing DVD's.

But this past Saturday, I found it again. It might have been fate trying to tell me something. So I checked it out, and took it home where it would probably not be watched again.

But then I read today about Harvey's death. So the first thing I did when I got home was watch the movie.

It's brilliant. Paul Giamatti plays Harvey spot on. And the way you know this is that the real Harvey Pekar narrates the film. And even acts in it a little. And most of the film's scenes were taken from Harvey's comic books, and since they are basically about his life, any movie taken from these books can't help but be pretty accurate.

But perhaps what makes the movie even more poignant now is the fact that I knew as I was watching it that the person being portrayed is now dead. At one point in the movie, while undergoing treatments for cancer, Harvey asks his wife if, since he is a guy who writes about himself (I'm paraphrasing) in a comic book, when he dies, will his character go on living, or will he just fade away?

I have never read any of the American Splendor comic books. And, since I'm sure that with Pekar's death the price of back issues will inflate exponentially, I probably never will.

But I salute you Harvey Pekar. Somehow you managed to take a dull and meaningless life and turn it into something better simply by doing the one thing you were apparently very good at: Telling people about your life.

You are my idol.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The First of 2 Envelopes

I've been pondering lately the current Administration's efforts to dig this country out of the mess it was left in by the previous administration and congress. Most of these efforts have been partially effective at best. And with the Gulf oil spill only making matters worse, this Administration may never accomplish a tenth of what it hoped to accomplish.

I am reminded of a story I was once told about a new Russian premier. I'm sure the story isn't true, and I don't remember exactly how it went, but here is the gist:

The premier of the Russian government resigned in disgrace after his country suffered a major crisis. On his first day on the job, the newly appointed premier walked into his new office. On his cleaned off desk, he found 2 envelopes left for him by his predecessor. On one of them was written, "Open this envelope the first time something goes horribly wrong. The second envelope said "open this envelope the second time something goes horribly wrong.

So, not too long after he took office, something went horribly wrong. The premier opened the envelope. In it was a single piece of paper on which was written, "blame it all on me". The premier followed the advice. And he thanked his lucky stars that the man who came before him had been so smart.

A few months later, something else went horribly wrong. The premier opened the second envelope, hoping to find another way out. In the envelope was a second piece of paper. On it was written simply, "Time for you to prepare two envelopes.

I don't know how much longer Obama can keep reading the piece of paper from the first envelope.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It'll Never Happen Again

I was flipping through the pictures I downloaded from my camera phone and I came across this little number:

So why did I happen to snap a picture of an envelope sitting on the edge of a box, you may ask? Well, Chester, I'll tell you.

The reason I took that picture is this: The box it's sitting on is an empty paper box I keep near my desk for recyclables. On this particular occasion, I happened to flip that empty envelope towards the box. And--I swear to Almighty God this is true--That's where it landed. Perfectly balanced, on the edge, with nothing on either side holding it up (it's hard to tell from the picture I admit, but there's nothing inside the box supporting it, I promise). That box is nothing more than a standard paper box, with sides 3 millimeters thick, if that.

So, I snapped a picture. If I could have shot a video of that envelope as it landed there, I would have done that too.

I don't know what course of events conspired to control the flight of that envelope so that it landed perfectly balanced on the edge of an open box. It's a shot I could never make again in a million tries. It's a shot Larry Bird couldn't make in a million tries. Go ahead--try it some time. Take a standard empty #10 envelope, seal it shut, cut the top open with a letter opener, and flip it about 5 feet through the air and try to get it to land perfectly flat on the edge of an open paper box. Then try it again a hundred more times.

You'll never do it.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I am Dying

Well THAT got your attention, didn't it?!

Seriously, though, I think I am slowly boiling to death in the liquefied remains of my own organs.

It is REALLY hot here.

The daytime temperature is in the upper nineties. The humidity is above 60%. Mix this and stir and you get a heat index of over 100 degrees. Walk more than 2 blocks outside in this weather and you can't help but feel like you've just taken a shower in hot, dirty, smelly water.

You'd think after more than 30 years living here, I'd be used to it by now. But every year seems to get hotter, wetter, and more unlivable.

This may be a product of global warming. This may be a product of getting older. This may be a product of random summer weather fluctuations. It may be a combination of all these factors, plus a few more that I haven't thought of.

What's the solution? Where do we move to? The only state of the union that I've ever visited that has a consistent climate is Arizona. That state has 5 days of rain per year, and the rest of the time it experiences constant desert temperatures. Not my cup of tea. Plus I might get deported to Sweden after getting stopped for speeding and not being able to produce proper citizenship documents.

What? Too soon? Before you complain, Arizona, you deserve all the bad jokes you have coming your way. I'm not the first. I DEFINITELY won't be the last.

Monday, July 05, 2010

It's Finally Happened

So, I've finally gone and done it.

You see, I needed a new cellphone. My old flip phone broke, and in order to get a new one, I needed to stick with Verizon, a company I hate. Note: There is no cellphone company I don't hate. Just to be clear.

And, as I approached the phone sales kiosk, I had in my pocket a coupon for $130 off of an LG Ally.

(By the way, to get that picture here, I needed to photograph it with my regular digital camera, download it to my computer, and upload it to this post. The phone has a great camera on it. Its only limitation is that it can't take a picture of itself. With all the advances in technology, no one has ever been able to invent a camera that can take a picture of itself. Probably because there's not a big demand for it.)

So I bought it. With the coupon, it was free. It's the internet service that costs $30 a month. On top of the phone service.

In addition, this phone has the ability to find out where I am at all times.

This phone has done a lot for me. I can pick up NPR on the phone and listen live. I can type in any song title and hear it in seconds. I can get addicted to Sudoku--wait, that's not a good thing.

Seriously. Do not get involved with Sudoku. You'll never be able to stop.

But I am now officially watched by Big Brother. Willingly. God help me.

Edit: Oh. Have you seen those new Droid commercials? The ones that feature a human eye frantically trying to follow dozens of images, before finally becoming a robotic eye?

How far off can it be?