Friday, March 31, 2006

All Those People You Knew Were the Actors 

Will's Diatribe on Why MySpace.com Scares the Fucking Hell Out of Him

I've thought about it and thought about it, but I always come back to: It makes people look like items on a Greek restaurant menu. You know the kind I'm talking about -- so gigantic you can't see around it. Laminated with that heavy plastic. And each page has those bright, color pictures . . . . and so many items. There are like four versions of a tuna melt throughout the entire menu.

1. It's picture-based. Anything steeped in visuals puts me on edge.
2. One can have "friends". There is a latent feel of "Who's popular, who's not." to the whole site.
3. The comments -- and this is almost to a tee -- are brief, known banter. Often meaningless.
4. One can search by high school, college, etc. THIS IS NOT A POSITIVE. To be able to instantly find out that several dozen people you once knew are still alive and annoying is unhealthy and disturbing.
5. One can assign reasons (like "looking for serious relationship") for being on the site. So whenever anyone sees this person's site, they know: "Yep, he's here to get laid." Or: "Yep, she's hunting for a ring."
6. Everyone seems to feel forced to sum up their life in four sentences. "I graduated with a degree in psychology. I love my job most of the time :). I like to go out on weekends. I'm just trying to live the best way I know how." Those sentences -- give or take a few words and some phrasing -- is on 713,491 MySpace sites. Goddamnit, people, there are more words in the language.

Add all these reasons up, and, to this casual observer, the site is responsible for converting human beings into vending machine items. Down with MySpace. Down with it.

It's Cold but not that Deep, Cause Your Legs Grow 

Why is it always that the most un-fun people are in charge of activities meant to be fun?

This happens all the time. Probably every CCD or church youth instructor thought of themselves as infinitely fun and exciting (as well as being a life-changing force in the lives of kids who just want to go back to bed) when in reality, they are embarrassing themselves. I see this same thing happen in the office too. All the sudden someone wants to have some "fun".

And they always announce it that way, too. As if -- to engage in pleasurable behaviour, one must know beforehand that it will be fun. Just in case they didn't already know. And there are always a lot of rules and nonsense involved, aren't there? Lot of fun, rules are, aren't they? Yeah, rules just emanate fun. Let's add more rules to everything.

But what can you do but go on?

I've been saying that a lot lately. It breaks it all down, I guess. Just, go on. I say that to my dog when I want him to move. Go on. Not leave, not scram, not get the hell out of here (well....sometimes). Just go on.

I try not to quote a lot of movies anymore. It's old, click-y, and for the most part bores me. But there are two or three phrases I let out. One is from Vacation, after Chevy has embarrased his wife in front of the entire hotel by swimming with Christie Brinkley. It's not what he says that I like -- it's how he says it: "She's ugly." This is how he describes Christie, in an effort to win his wife back. And he says it in this -- "Honey, don't be CRAZY." -- tone. So that's what I say all the time to my wife (not that I've hopped in any pools with Christie) when she knows I know she knows I'm bullshitting her.

But other than that one and maybe a couple others, I just stick with the simple phrases now. It's a world of cliches, so I'm gravitating to what is simple, clear, direct and not cliched. This is part of why I'm trying to not be apart of any planning activity in general, much less a fun activity. I make no bones about it. I am not fun. I watch these television shows where the fake reality people date, and they're always dancing or jumping off buildings or ice skating or rollerblading or boating or something grand and fabulous. And I don't do any of those things -- more importantly, I don't want to. So I've found it's best to just avoid all this nonsense.

And this is why it is great to be an adult.

Because there is no one forcing you to try something you don't want to try. You can receive peer pressure -- but at this point in my life, I just don't care. I could have a stadium full of people shouting at me. I would smile. Probably blush. But it wouldn't matter. If I'm going to do something, it's because I make the call. That freedom to be simple is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Where you want this killing done? 

I am against Chinese food. All the people in the world: stop asking me if I want to eat Chinese food. Stop it, already. All the time you ask me to eat the Chinese food. I am sick of it. It is heavy, syrupy, covered with breading and always comes with way too much white rice. Why do they give away so much rice? Once could eat for a week, just the rice any Chinese restaurant gives away with one lunch meal. It's ridiculous.

I will come back to Chinese food. I will. Sometime. Hopefully a long time from now. Because while I did like it, for now I'm done with it.

Maybe it's not only that I'm asked to order Chinese food 3,642 times per week, although -- I grant you -- that may be part of it. I think another important deciding factor in my disgust is the OVERWHELMING ZEAL people have when they mention Chinese food.

See, it's never: "Want some Chinese food?"


And that gets a little annoying after a while. Kind of like the karaoke people. Maybe the karaoke people are all big fans of Chinese food. Whoah.

Well, after such remarkable deductive work as that, it must be bedtime.

Best Picture Ever Posted on a Work Classifieds 

No matter how many times I look at it, I laugh. And I always wonder: was it deliberate?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My Heart Stopped Pumping But My Blood is Still Alive 

I bought a book on logic recently. I wish the whole world would read it.

We've got this parks crunch around Milwaukee. Basically, there's no money to fund the parks. There are a lot of parks. So the county executive wants to put coffee shops in the parks, with the hanger being that they would fund some of the upkeep. Well, of course the do-gooder liberals from my neighborhood (I tell you I'm fucking surrounded by these people) are all in a huff about corporate America taking over their parks. I bet all my reproductive organs that if a coffeeshop went into the park pavilion by my house that these same whining bastards would be first in line for a latte.

I need to make more money. I don't make awful money. But I need more of it. I know that my saying that is nothing new in the pantheon of experience of the American worker. Nevertheless, I again repeat the obvious: more money = better.

Who the hell is buying satellite radio now? Don't all these people know that THERE'S FREE RADIO! Also, given the rate of technology right now, isn't everything going to be on the web anyway? Yet somebody gives Howard Stern 500 billion dollars. That guy. That doofus gets 500 billion. Me, I'm just trying to pay a water bill.

Here are all the words my co-workers and I decided were bullshit today: deconvert, pre-heat, pre-schedule, basically anything with the prefix "pre".

Scared more people on my run today. High school kids skipping class. They recovered pretty well, though.

On his terrific Honeycomb CD, Frank Black is wearing a shirt that I own. It's kind of exciting and meaningless all at once. He must shop at Kohls. I'm pretty sure he's an XL, though. I'm an L. So we're not twins or anything.

I've been playing a lot of cowbell recently.

I guess the key is recognizing what one has. For example, in my previous life, it was very hard for me to understand women, even though I communicate better with them. Damn them. I particularly remember one drunken experience in which some beautiful woman was head-over-heals for some big, tall BALD guy. I could not get over this (partially because of drunkenness). It made no sense to me that I could be beaten out (and really, I didn't even register a blip on her meter) by a dumb-looking, boring, BALD guy. I kept saying it, over and over: a fucking BALD guy! A BALD guy! How can I move on when a chick is more interested in a big, stupid BALD guy instead of me? That was a difficult period. Actually, I still don't think I accept that one.

I hate general statements about men, women, people, the world, etc. Which is why I love coming upon one that seems worthy of stating (because there are so few). Thus, the world generally breaks down into people who incorporate "whatnot" into their vocabulary, and people who do not. I was one who became attracted to whatnot. This simple, easy word seemed to add so much to conversation. People say it and others nod, as if to agree, "Of course! Whatnot! That means it happens in other instances. Brilliant!" But then Strunk, White, and my educational background woke up and shouted out: Meaningless! All these people are saying NOTHING! Whatnot! Fucking nothing!

I know, I'm in a really profane mood tonight. This is one of those posts in which my mother will later say to me, "Willy, I had a chance to read your blog. Very unnecessary, all that swearing. I really don't like it."

"It's allright Ma, I'm only bleeding."

Speaking of which, I have made the unfortunate, and in my eyes, cop-out, decision to remove my name from my profile. This is in response to being too easily Googled by people I work with. I don't really like to answer more questions than I have to.

I'm looking for more live music. I wrote a poem the other day, first one in ages.

I had a very matter-of-fact discussion about child rape and mastitis this week. That's one you don't see coming.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Times I Can't Talk 

"You think you cleared them out?"

"I don't see how not."

"Then it's time to get started."


"I want you here on time. With your book. Get all your reading done. No bullshit."


"This ain't no reading group."

"Yeah, yeah. I might end up with nothing to say."

"So come with nothing to say and then say something."


"No 'huh'. Just come and get it out."

"There's no one left to meet anymore. Even if I have something to bring in, it's just me showing up to the bar with a fucking art display getting weird looks."


"Easy for you to judge."

"Tomorrow at quarter to one."

"We could end up sitting there against the horizon, all picaresque and competent, full of Americana-style wistfulness and empty pages."

"Not empty."

You're So Novel 

Since this site is so easily Googled, I can't say a few things I'd like to. But I will just say that one of the most frustrating realities of working is what I call corporate injustice -- when good people are fired for no good reason. There's a bit of that going on right now, and it bothers the absolute hell out of me. I know it's only temporary, and after a few weeks, this will all be forgotten, but that's another aspect of all this that is so maddening -- it's a cold world, the working world, in which all these great relationships can be ended in an instant, and everyone is forced to keep showing up, meet the new people, act as if nothing's changed, and greet the management that is responsible for this with the usual glowing smile. The worst is those fake emails that get sent out -- pursuing other opportunities, please join me in wishing, thank her for all her contributions, etc, etc.

Snakes with catch phrases.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Battered Days 

Years later, the family would recall the days in which their son began walking as the time in which his clumsiness caused them to be accused of child abuse.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Desert Island Song 

A favorite question for many is "If you could choose one record/book/etc. to keep you company while stuck on a desert island, what would it be?"

I wouldn't need a whole album. And let's change the question a bit. Let's get rid of the desert island. Let's say I die and go to hell.

If I die and go to hell, and am allowed to have just one wish fulfilled in hell, as I tiptoe through the baking-hot corridors, sharpening devil horns and wistfully glancing toward the happy souls in heaven, I would like to listen to Neil Young's "T-Bone" for all of eternity. I think that would make me happy. No. I know it would make me happy.

It's nine minutes and thirteen seconds of bliss. For your enjoyment and understanding, I present the song's lyrics, in their entirety:

Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain't got no T-Bone
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
No T-Bone
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain't got no T-Bone
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone
Ain't got no T-Bone

He really lays it all out there for the listener, doesn't he? The glass is half-full. The glass is half-empty. Bam!

In college, we used to use this song as a party-closer -- a song designed to get the stragglers the hell out of our house. It didn't work. Oh, sure, we'd get strange looks and rolled eyes when people heard the lyrics. Some drunk girl would laugh about mashed potatoes. But then everybody sort of settled into the groove of the song. It just soared along in the background, propelling the mood rather than stifling it. We could have put the song on permanent repeat, and people would have stayed -- I'm convinced, actually, that the crowd would have increased.

In fact, if I could do college over again, I would have a "T-Bone-Only" party. No other music. Just "T-Bone". Over and over, for hours.

At first it would start out with people laughing at the song. There would undoubtedly be some over-made-up pretty girls and pretty boys bitching about the song selection. But eventually their claims would fade away. Close listeners would catch on to the beginning beat of the song -- that great two-beat emphasis in which bass, guitar, drums and claps play at once. And as the song gained strength, they would hear how that two-beat battle cry simplified into one dynamic snare beat -- everything coming back to Ralph Molina's snare. And as people became ensnared in their conversations, they would probably forget how after a while, even that one, magnificent beat degraded into a beautiful mush of lead guitar. Long-time fans would acknowledge it is not Neil's best playing. No notes really stand out from each other. There are no catchy repeated lines like in "Southern Man". No hooks like in "Down by the River" or "Cowgirl in the Sand". And in that sense of modesty -- perhaps after hearing a couple dozen plays -- the audience would understand that the song's parts elevate the whole. Soon alcohol would spur spirited discussions of whether the song is positive or negative -- who is on the mashed potatoes side? Who believes it is T-Bone? After all, Neil did name it T-Bone. And he sings "ain't got no T-Bone" as often as he sings "got mashed potatoes". Eventually the party would break into ranks and a great chant would begin in unison with the song, one side screaming: "got mashed potatoes" and the other: "ain't got no T-Bone". Then after a while, someone would get smart and order take-out and we would all eat mashed potatoes and T-Bone to really see what it is like to have a cake and eat it too.

That's how I think it would go anyway.

But I'd be happy to settle for the song in hell. After all, I've been playing it at work. I prefer at least three consecutive listens. And with each listen, I up the volume a little bit more so that by the end of my shift, I can't even hear the phone ringing or the person behind me asking a question. They have to tap me on the shoulder. Then I get in my car and turn on AM radio, and if no one is saying anything to go with the bright lights of downtown Milwaukee, I get the iPod going - the ride home supports approximately two listens. And if I hit the lights right and get home faster, there's no shame while sitting in the car as the song plays out -- bobbing my head...got mashed potatoes...no T-Bone.

Right now it's past three in the morning. But as I've been at the computer, the fifth run of "T-Bone" just began. I don't really have anything going on right now. I could turn off the music and go downstairs to bed. But what would be the point when I could do that, say, eight minutes from now? After all, it's already begun. I can't just leave the rest of that song out there, incomplete.

Now that I think about this, maybe it's time for a site overhaul. Instead of One of Ours, maybe, "Got Mashed Potatoes". Or should it be, "Ain't Got no T-Bone"? That, Hamlet, is the real question. And in the next few minutes, I'm just going to sit here, slowly sip down the rest of my beer, and ponder it.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Men and Women 

"You're telling me that women only have five days in the whole month in which they can become pregnant? Five?"

"Yes! High school health class. What school did you go to?"

"That's crap. So some high school girl who didn't go to health class -- she can go and have sex 25 or 26 days out of the whole month with no protection -- maybe even two or three times a day -- and if she's lucky, or just plans right, she won't get pregnant?"

"That's human biology. I don't know what planet you came from."

"Put some money on that human biology of yours?"

"That women only get pregnant when they're ovulating?"

"That whole 'five days out of the month' thing, yeah."

"Sure. How 'bout five bucks?"

"Make it ten."

"Sure. Ten bucks."

"OK, now prove it."


"Prove it."

"Prove it?"

"Prove that women can only get pregnant five days a month. Right now."


"Yeah, you know what I mean."

"I am not having sex just to-"

"Then how are we to know?! That would be an impartial-"

"No! Forget it!"

"Fine. Then you owe me ten bucks."


"I say X. You say Y. You refuse to partake in the proof-seeking session to verify X or Y, so-"

"I am not having sex just to prove an argument. Plus, you want me to risk getting pregnant just to prove an arugument?"

"HA! So you DO concede that one can get pregnant more than 5 days a month! Ten dollars! I want my ten dollars!"

"You're not getting it."

"You renege!"

"I don't! This is stupid."

"Yes. Ten dollar's worth of stupid. Pay up."

"You're being ridiculous."

"I'm putting this on the blog!"

"You are not putting that on the blog."

"Oh, yes I am, Ms. I Owe My Husband $10."

"If you put that on your blog, I'm telling your whole family that you cry during sex."

"And then you kill me, right?"


"She said that during a dinner party. A few weeks later he was dead. She killed him, right?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Desperate Housewives. That's the show where she tells the dinner party her husband cries during sex. Jesus, you don't even know what TV shows you're ripping off!"


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