Friday, February 5, 2010

I'm very, very confused by all this

I love the way the politi-tainment community has gone into free-fall.

First there was the thing where Bill O’Reilly said something nice about Michelle Obama as a First Lady and got pasted by a conservative commentator for being a suck up. Then O’Reilly fired back that the woman laying into him was a lock-step, radical conservative automaton and the whole reason that the Republican party was going to Las Vegas in a hand basket (I may be paraphrasing there).

Then there was the near love-in between Jon Stewart and O’Reilly earlier this week. Okay, it wasn’t like Stewart frenched Glenn Beck or anything (which I think comes just before the opening of the 7th Seal in the Book of Revelation). But it was almost like they kinda liked each other or something. Weird.

And before I could wrap my brain around that bit of surreal life, then Sarah Palin, Rahm Emmanuel and Rush Limbaugh get into a three-way. And Limbaugh is defending Rahm Emmanuel! What the fuqua, people?

I don’t know. Maybe it is the Apocalypse. Maybe Jon Stewart is putting on a good coat of ChapStick right now. To quote Peter Venkman: “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!”

Down in Poo-Poo Park

Do you want to know why we don’t have nice things in Dallas? This is why.

In December, they opened a lovely new park near my office in downtown. And it’s truly lovely, in many ways. There are green spaces, reclaimed art decorations, natural materials, solar powered lights, student friendly study spaces, a kids entertainment area and, at some point, a cafĂ©. Like a real city and everything. Oh, and a doggy play area.

You see where I’m going with this? I can tell you do.

Less than two months in, and the doggy play area is covered in doggy crap. Right in front of the sign that asks that you pretty please clean up after your own animal, which has a convenient, yet obviously not convenient enough, receptacle for little love muffins from dear poochy.

I love dogs. You love dogs. Actually, I only like dogs. But really, I get that other people LOVE their dogs. But the stuff that you feed your dog doesn’t smell all that good before they eat it. It does not improve after a trip through the dark recesses of their digestive tracks. And don’t you think that you, who love your animals, are better equipped to pick up the damn dog crap than I who only just likes the beasts?

So, slowly but surely, the puppy tootsie rolls are piling up in the park that belongs to all of us. Unsightly on a cold day. Not improved with the warm, damp days of spring. And just as surely, the deposits are making their way into the pedestrian areas. Thanks. Really. We appreciate your sharing.

As I say, I only like dogs. I don’t love one enough to pick up doggy poop. My solution is to NOT OWN A DOG. There are other ways to go about it though. Pooper scoopers of every size, shape and price range. (And frankly, if you own a dog, and live in downtown close enough to walk in that park, price is obviously not a factor for you.) Sure it’s gross. But that’s not my problem. But your dog’s crap on the sidewalk, and wafting through the air, is my problem. And it shouldn’t be.

Actually, it’s everybody’s problem. Because in order for Dallas to be a nice place to live, we need places like this park that add life and breath to our common spaces. Places to chill out. Places to play Frisbee. Places to walk off a bad meeting. But if the city can point to this example, “Well, we tried to make a nice park, but you let your dog crap all over it”, then even our tiniest steps towards a warm and inviting city will be crushed.

You live in a urban area and don't have a yard. Cool. Happy to share the park. Love to see you and your dog. You're adorable, really. But be a responsible pet owner, you twit. Pick up the damn dog shit. You’re going to ruin it for everybody.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

wobble wobble wobble

Well, I thought I’d share with you something that I’ve discovered.

I was really dissatisfied with my office chair. The dang thing is (like most real office chairs) expensive as hell, relatively cool looking due to webbing and swoopy shape, and only slightly more comfortable than sitting in an iron maiden (bogus, Ted). My hips were killing me. I had to add extra padding to get any back support. And, annoying at least to me, the seat doesn’t tilt forward or backward to relieve pressure on your hips and thighs. Not a pleasant place to spend 8+ hours a day.

I was looking for alternatives. Given the previously noted high price of office chairs, and the corporate need for conformity, I wasn’t likely to get away with just buying my own and carting it to the office. So I was going to have to think outside the box. I started thinking about those balance balls. I had heard they were good for posture and concentration (some kinesthetic thing they use for kids with ADD), both things I could stand improving. But after reading reviews on Amazon, I figured out that in an actual office setting (moving from keyboard to phone to file drawer, getting up frequently, long stretched of not getting up frequently), the ball was not optimal. Plus, anything different is a cause for comment in an office. I just don’t need that action.

But while I was looking around, I discovered the balance training disc. It’s used for a lot of exercises. But what I was interested in was that you can put it in your regular chair to give you a balance ball lite experience. The one I got was $17 and included the pump, and had super saver shipping available.

So far I’m just pretty darned happy with what I’m calling my wobble seat. It looks like a giant, blue whoopee cushion. And basically, it can help you to force yourself to sit straighter. And it works your abs in the process. Yes, I said it. My abs are definitely tighter. If it’s possible to exercise while sitting on your ass (a personal dream of mine), then this is it. Okay, I’m not some Women’s Health magazine, washboard tummied, cover model. But things have definitely firmed up. And I’m thinking as a result, I’ve taken some stress off my back because my stomach muscles are taking more of the load. Always a good thing.

It takes some getting used to. My butt would get sore after a few hours on the wobble seat for the first few weeks. But now I use it all day most work days without even thinking about it. And if you get one, make sure you get one that has the hedgehog looking nubbly side. It looks a little like you’re getting a little too friendly with your cushion. But I’ve discovered that it is much less squeaky than the smooth side. If you know what I mean (see whoopee cushion comment . . .).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bringing a whole new meaning to the word "ripped"

Okay, this story about Rip Torn is just funny. Not that alcoholism is funny. Torn’s a drunk. But he’s a colorful drunk. And really, somebody should be finding his antics funny because I’m sure his nearest and dearest, including police departments across New England, are failing to see the humor at this point.

But I’ve gotta say, it’s time for old Rip to look into a sober companion. Not necessarily somebody who keeps him on the straight and narrow after he’s gotten sober. Whether he decides to dry out is a personal decision. But if he doesn’t decide to start that journey of a thousand miles that begins with twelve steps, he really needs somebody who will stay sober with him while he gets drunk. Cause, obviously, he doesn’t make good decisions while he’s plastered. Well, who does? But he really seems to be hovering down there at the low end of the bell curve. A bank? Really? You didn’t think a local rap was good enough? You had to go federal?

He doesn’t need a drinking buddy, he needs a non-drinking buddy who will keep an eagle eye on him while he’s drinking. Somebody who will take the car keys, hide the loaded guns, and at least comb his hair before his next mug shot. Sheesh.

Flakey First Impressions

I’ve noticed that there are things where my perception and the reality are soooo far off. And even though I’m totally aware of the reality, the first impression sticks, and I can’t shake it. Completely in spite of any evidence to the contrary, I operate under that initial assumption.

For instance, the first right ups I saw for Madeleine Peyroux made her sound like the second coming of Peggy Lee. I was totally stoked. Bought the CD. Felt completely betrayed. Blech. She’s like a dime store Norah Jones, with Diana Krall pretensions. Sings everything in the key of G (ee, I find your voice really annoying). But for some reason, I remember the Peggy Lee bit, and forget the G part. So I’ll tune into some music show on purpose because I see her name, or buy some song off of iTunes, and be all excited. Whooo, this’ll be great! Then it’s not. And I remember. Oh, right. Can’t stand her. Try to remember that next time, Julie.

On the other end of the spectrum is Dax Shepherd. I think I hate him. I avoid movies that he’s in. Maybe it’s the Punked association. Or maybe he just looks like someone who is in bad movies. Then when I actually accidentally see something he’s done, it’s like, “Oh, he’s not half as stupid as he looks.” In fact, he was the only one who made Employee of the Month remotely bearable. And he was surprisingly effective in a sort of butch part in Zathura. I know these facts to be true. But still, if I saw him on a cast list of a movie today, I can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t automatically strike it off my list. I’ve cut him far less slack than Keanu Reeves. And lord know that guy owes me a ton of cash.

Obviously, I’ve got a glitch in my software. Something in the MEDb (Mental Entertainment Database). Though obviously, I’m not always wrong. Anything with Kim Cattrall will definitely suck. Or she will be the sucky link in an otherwise entertaining chain.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You're a big boy. Use your words.

Okay, I'm just a little more sensitive that normal - not that I'm not always tetchy about this - but the Valentines commercial are already about to drive me around the bend. Not good.

Perhaps it's lag from the holidays. I'm still itchy from the Lexus commercial - "The first time you give someone a Lexus. . . " The first time?? Say what? There would be a second time? There would be a first time? Really? Santa's bag ain't that big, baby.


Now it's "Nothing says "I love you" like roses," "Nothing says "I love you" like a diamond," "Nothing says "I love you" like your very own sparkly pony." Bleh bleh bleh.

You know what says "I love you"?

I love you. You can say it . . . with words. Maybe with a smoochy thrown in. Maybe a little hanky-spanky. But really, opening up your pumpkin pie hole and letting the words come out pretty much gets the job done.

To the manners born

I’ve been thinking a lot about manners again. Both because I’ve seen heartwarming displays of courtesy, and truly appalling, were-you-raised-in-a-barn shenanigans.

I get that a lot of the old rules don’t apply any more. The thing about a gentleman escorting a lady on a sidewalk should be closest to the wall because if someone throws a chamber pot, he should be the one to take the dousing. Outdated, yes? One, because we now have equality, and that means we all get an equal chance to be besmirched. Just because he’s a fella doesn’t mean he has to take crap. And, two, I can’t remember the last time I dumped a chamber pot out a window.

But we tossed the etiquette baby out with the modern bath water. Just because some of the old rules were broken doesn’t mean that we just don’t need rules any more. Manners are what keep us from annoying the hell out of each other. Sure, we’re more casual as a society these days. But even the loosest association needs some boundaries to work.

But if we’re going to all agree to rules, it would seem like we’d need to agree on principle to some guiding philosophy. Something that is a minimum standard, and if the rule of etiquette doesn’t follow those guiding principles, then it’s probably some made up non-sense that somebody is trying to get over on you. [Like that “the wedding present should be equal to the amount the wedding host spent to entertain you” BS. If you don’t like the couple well enough to get them a gift from the heart (regardless of cost, or lack thereof) that expresses your delight that they are forming a life together, don’t go to the wedding. Even if they have an open bar.]

I think three basic principles should be:

Practicality: There should be some practical purpose. Like RSVPs. They don’t exist to annoy people. They exist to make sure that the host buys enough hot dogs and buns for the barbecue. Or that the host doesn’t end up eating leftover hot dogs for 3 weeks.

Respect: There are just some people who should be afforded more respect. Give up your seat on the bus to old people (they’ve put in their time), pregnant people (they are letting their body be used as a condo in order to continue the species) and, I’ll go ahead and say it, active military personnel (yes, they’re in good condition and have no problems standing; that’s not the point). You may have others you’d add. And while we’re at it, people who are being shown respect should just be dignified about it. None of this, “Are you saying I’m old?” business. A sign of respect is a compliment, not an insult. Take your due, gracefully.

Avoiding unpleasantness: Okay, that one is a little harder to define. Let me give an example. You get to the door first. There is someone a few feet behind you. You hold the door for them. Not because they aren’t strong enough to hold the door. Because it is REALLY FREAKING UNPLEASANT to have a door slam in your face. And unless you’re walking into a Medieval fort, it’s highly unlikely that the “big, strong man” is going to have to be the one opening the door. Any of us can do it. And any of us can hold the door an extra few seconds to help someone else. I help you avoid unpleasantness, you help me. See how easy that is? Also applies for toilet seats. Why should the rim be put down? Because, if I don’t notice that the seat isn’t there, it is REALLY FREAKING UNPLEASANT to get the cold, wet surprise. And if we go by the principle, many of the unpleasant bumps of the day will be avoided. What is the result? Less pissed off people. I think that would make for a nicer world.

So maybe we don’t need an elaborate, written code. Maybe if we view our actions through a few guiding principles, it would be enough to get us through this nutty ol’ life. And these 3 are just a shot in the dark. Maybe if we talked about it as a society, we’d come up with better principles. Mainly it would just seem to be common sense. But how do we know what we have in common if we don’t talk about it? Something so simple. We talk about how rude people are. But we don’t talk about how to fix it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I beg your pardon, young man.

So, we were talking last night at the Girls dinner. What do you call a younger man who pursues older women? Interesting question, really. The term “cougar” can be seen as either empowered and gyno-positive, in that we’re evening up the May-December stats with a little December-May, or it can be seen as derogatory and predatory. Especially seeing as most older woman/younger man relationships are closer to September or October than December. It takes much less of an age difference to be remarked upon when the woman is older.

But there are younger men out there who actually do chase older women. No seduction necessary, Mrs. Robinson. And there just doesn’t seem to be a term for them. The “cub” term implies some little helpless fella. And there’s nothing equivalent to “gold-digger” if he’s looking for a sugar mama. Not that the term would need to necessarily have negative connotations. But this world seems to love slapping labels on people, and this is one category that just seems to be un-labeled. And from what I've seen, it may be under the radar, but it definitely does happen.

The “cub” term seems to be borrowed from the boys. The bears have had cubs for quite awhile. And of course, there’s always the “twinks”, bless they’re hearts. But what seems so easy for gay men to define, just gets blows all expectations in a hetero relationship. Why would a younger man look for an older woman? And even though the answer is much the same as when a younger woman looks at older men (money, experience, self-knowledge, fun), it still seems that it’s a phenomenon like UFOs. Nobody believes it until they see it for themselves.

But where do you go? Call them Harolds? (as in “and Maude”) Pepe Le Pew? (Always chasing that poor kitty.) Jim Fowler? (Okay, that’s a really obscure reference, but for my peeps who watched Wild Kingdom as kids, Jim was the poor guy who had to go chase after animals like bobcats and cougars while Marlin Perkins was safe back in the studio doing voice-overs. “Watch out, Jim!” Good times.) Or maybe, if we’re going to reach back in the vault, how about Spanky or Alfalfa? Seems like they always had a crush on Miss Crabtree back in the day on the Little Rascals.

So what do you guys have? Anybody heard of any better ones?

TIME: Quotes of the Day