Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Rule #1

I'll admit I'm completely copping "New Rules" from snarkmeister Bill Maher. I can't believe I'm actually ripping off this dude; I prefer the lighthearted snark of Jon Stewart. Sadly, I'm inspired to create a new rule, not thumb my nose at broadcast news, so Bill Maher it is.

But I digress...

Here's the new rule: Hitler may NOT be used to justify actions or philosophies. Hitler may ONLY be used in introductory philosophy courses as the go-to example of evil.

What's the inspiration for this new rule? When I tuned in to Elliot in the Morning today, the Class was chatting about crystal meth (I mean, who doesn't, right?). Anyway, I didn't catch the whole convo, but a chica called to share that she uses ice occasionally. People who become addicted, she says, are using it poorly. Then the caller insisted that it was possible to use it occasionally with no ill effects. To undergird her argument, she dropped the H-bomb: "I mean, Hitler used to give it to his soldiers!"

Now, I'm not saying that she had a rock solid position at any point in the call. But I'm pretty sure that as soon as you toss in Hitler to substantiate your point, you've defenestrated your proposition. No one, I repeat no one, with a rational mind is going to say, "Well, that Hitler was a successful dude. So, if he believed crystal meth was safe, then I'm going to give it a try."


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Newlyweds No Longer

This is silly. This is really, really silly. I am actually disappointed that Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey are splitting up after three years of marriage. Whatever the reason -- creepy Papa Joe Simpson, crazy work schedules, inequality in success -- I thought they were going to stick it out. He seems like such a nice, normal guy. And she seemed like someone who wanted the nice and the normal to balance out the crazy professional life she's had since she was a tween.

I wanted the tabloids to be wrong. I wanted to imagine that Nick and Jessica snuggled under an afghan in their McMansion in California, nibbled ice cream and giggled about how wrong the National Enquirer, Star Magazine, InTouch Weekly, OK! Magazine, People, Us Weekly, Hello! Magazine, and a kajillion other rags were.

Why did I invest time whipping up this little fantasy for two people I don't know? I wanted this to be the case because now I feel culpable and not a little dirty that the fishbowl into which the public interest put these two kids directly contributed to the dissolution of their marriage. Each week, headlines screamed that he was overly involved in the floor show at a bachelor party, and that she tumbled a skateboarding manchild while filming a Razzies bound white trash fest. And while I didn't often fork over my hard-earned coin for the weeklies, I regularly checked out their websites for the latest in celebrigossip.

Maybe they would've eventually split up, but I can't help but think maybe if the scrutiny hadn't been so intense, maybe if so many people didn't stand to make a buck on 60-point headlines trumpeting an impending Simpson/Lachey divorce, they woulda had more time to work on their relationship.

Yick. I'm all Lady MacBeth with newsprint stains. Check ya later; I gotta see if I can wash it off.

Mea Culpa

Just wanted to start out with an apology for the crock of boredom I've unleashed of late. Daycare drop-offs? Lip balm? LISTS?! The first rule of writing is to make it interesting. Well, actually, the first rule of writing is spell check. You can claim artistic license with poor grammar, but bad spelling...well, that just makes you look like a dummy who doesn't know how to push the F7 key. But the SECOND rule is to make it interesting.

We'll see if I aptly applied either of these rules to my writing. I entered a writing contest sponsored by White Lie Early Season chardonnay. The results aren't posted 'til December 16 (or shortly thereafter), so I have to bide my time (and bite my nails) while I wait it out. Even if I didn't win, place, or show, I'm glad I entered. At least my gooberish gibberish will be in the periphery of an author I respect and read.

Now, onto (hopefully) more interesting posts...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Eye of the Storm

I can't see straight. That's partially because of my stigmatism (hooray for getting my eyes examined this Saturday). But it's also due to my nutty social calendar. Check it:

- October 28-30: Visiting sundry in-laws in North Carolina;
- November 18-20: Alumni weekend events at G'town; hosting in-laws who were gracious enough to look after the Boy while I was occupied with said events;
- November 24-27: Hosting sister-in-law for Thanksgiving;
- December 3: Hosting birthday party for college roomate;
- December 4: Attending cousin's baby shower;
- December 8: Former office holiday party;
- December 10: Something I can't remember;
- December 11: Best friend's baby's christening;
- December 23-30: Visiting in-laws in Cleveland;
- January 7: College roomate's daughter's 1st birthday in New Jersey.

Phew. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pucker Up

I can't think of anything more distracting than a dude who liberally and frequently applies lip balm. Ooh, except a dude who liberally and frequently applies fruit flavored lip balm. I dunno...I realize that the desire to live an unchapped existence is equal opportunity, but I feel like it's not all that manly to coat one's lips with soothing ointments.

Right of Way, Right Away

After I dropped of the Boy at daycare this morning I meandered out of Daycare Lady's neighborhood, absorbing the scenery as I went. It's officially autumn in Laurel, with golds and oranges and reds dripping down from the dense trees in the area. I had a cushion of a few minutes courtesy of the Boy's speed in getting into his coat and gloves this morning, so I wasn't in any hurry. But after a few minutes idling behind Minivan at a stop sign, I wondered why it hadn't departed.

Daycare Lady doesn't live in a heavily trafficked area, so finding a window into the one semi-busy road is no big trick. Yet the Minivan rested there, righteously beeping at the four cars that happened by within about 90 seconds. Then it hit me: Minivan thought we were resting at a three-way stop.

Luckily, I was turning right so I was able to get around the left-bound Minivan. I don't know why I found this so funny. Maybe it's because someone who was able to pass the tests to procure a driver's license in the first place shoulda figured out by car #2 that s/he was at a regular old sidestreet stop sign, and that folks on the bigger street had the right of way.

Remember what I said about Minivans, kids?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Killing Me Tweakily...

Everyone knows that caffeine's not good for you, but it's not like it can kill you. Oh, wait, apparently it can. EnergyFiend.com has a death-by-caffeine calculator on its site. All of my favorite caffeinated drinks are on there (seriously, it's like a Who's Who). Here's how much I'd have to drink of my hit parade to do myself in:

- Coke: 331.21 cans
- Coffee: 104.76 cups
- Dr. Pepper: 274.66 cans
- Mountain Dew: 204.75 cans
- Rockstar: 75.08 cans
- Starbucks Grande Caffe Mocha: 160.88 cups

The site doesn't detail the span of time in which you'd need to chug all of this caffeiney goodness in order to commit liquid hari-kari, but I've gotta assume it would need to happen over a short period of time. Not that I have any designs on an exit strategy like this, but if I did, I think the caffeine headache I'd have by Mocha #10 would stop me.

I Will Rochambeau You!

Anyone familiar with the Mecha-Streisand episode of South Park won't be able to take the issues reported within this article seriously. Ah, how today's low culture appropriates the high brow inventions of yesteryear...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"My Name is Earl"...from Maryland?

"My Name is Earl" is set in Maryland! It has to be! The Executive Producer, Greg Garcia, is an alumnus of Frostburg State University which is in...Frostburg, Maryland. One of the supporting characters' names is "Crab Man," so I should have been tipped off to its existence in a fictionalized mid-Atlantic town. But the clinchers came during this past week's episode: at one point, Earl finds out that Randy ran away to Hagerstown (I won't spoil the ep by explaining why). And at the end of the episode, Earl said he caught up with the state fair's carnies (or would that be fairies?) just outside of Cumberland.

Why am I excited about this, you wonder? After all, the characters who have been featured on the show so far aren't exactly model citizens. They're the best we've gotten in recent memory, though. Let's take a look at other shows that have been based in Maryland, shall we? We've got The Wire, The Corner, and Homicide: Life on the Street. All of those shows are about drugs, poverty, and murder. Nice.

Well, there was Young Americans, but that Dawson's Creek spin-off only made nine episdes and was set in New England. So I don't count it.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to more indicators to reveal where exactly "Earl" is supposed to exist in the Old Line State. If I had to guess today, I'd put it in Frederick. Anyone care to place a wager?

Charm City Isn't Good Enough?

So, Baltimore is apparently shopping for a new moniker. Baltimore has gone down this route before. Several times. Go here to see the tawdry history of failed nicknames, and the negative ones the city's earned courtesy of its drug trade.

Unless a nickname organically develops, though, like New Orleans' "The Big Easy" or New York's "The Big Apple," or even Chicago's "The Windy City," it's just not going to stick. Remember when Seinfeld's George Costanza wanted everyone to call him T-Bone? Well, I feel like my hometown is George Costanza in this scenario. And does anyone ever want to be George Costanza?

Let people figure out what they want to call Baltimore. Anything else is just kinda desperate.

Since everyone else is doing it, here are my suggestions:

"The Big Humid"
"Not Washington, DC"
"Birthplace of the Anthem"

Vote for your favorite today! Mine's "Sugartown," 'cause it's a big part of Baltimore's commercial history. And think of the slogans you can develop around it..."Live the sweet life in Sugartown."

Where's my $500,000?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Transition Period Between Adulthood and...Older Adulthood

Sometimes I think the whole pregnancy-and-childbirth experience flipped my physical degeneration switch. Could be a coincidence, but didn't the Celestine Prophecy teach us that there's no such thing as coincidence? Alright, I'll concede that I'm twisting the philsophical hoo-ha featured in James Redfield's thin-on-plot, thick-on-lecture opus to underscore my point.

But there's some evidence that there's a weird hormonal cocktail circulatin' through my system. I mean, I shouldn't have to buy wrinkle-fighting cream and acne cream. If I've got enough oil sitting on the surface of my face to warrant a couple of Dallas style derricks, why do I ALSO need to invest in soothing elixirs designed to eliminate unflattering lines?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The City of Love?

Cheez whiz, what's happening in Paris these days? And I thought Oprah's entourage was making up that junk about North African "trouble." Don't accuse me of perpetuating racism. These are just the only two stories about North Africans in Paris to crop up in the Washington Post in recent memory. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to connect dots, even if there aren't any dots to connect.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Last weekend, I was visiting my in-laws in North Carolina. Courtesy of six extra hands chasing after the Boy, I actually had time to read the paper and enjoy a really lovely cup of coffee. Let's take a moment to cherish that memory. Ahhh...hot coffee. It's delicacy I don't often have.

Anyway, the paper in question is Asheville Citizen-Times. On the front page of its Faith section (yep, that's right, Faith section), was an article all about Halloween pagan traditions. Now, I'm not going to touch on how an Appalachian newspaper is covering decidely different religious holidays than the overtly Catholic papers in my home diocese of Baltimore, or the overtly agnostic papers of my adopted DC suburb. I mean, not only was it kinda weird to see a Faith section in the first place, but it was overwhelmingly weird to see a blackrobed Wiccan priestess in full color.

I've always had an affiinity for Wiccan tradition since it ties to ancient Celtic heritage. The governing rule of Wicca, "If it harm none, do what ye will," is pretty much the Golden Rule in disguise. So the basic tenets of Wicca, like Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., never really went against my Catholic grain. And, let's face it: an awful lot of the more secular Christian traditions (Christmas trees, Easter eggs, etc.) are rooted in pagan rituals.

But I didn't start this post to dissect the interweaving of faiths.

One of the nuggets of the article is the origin of costuming oneself on Halloween. Basically, it was a pagan ritual designed to highlight ways you want to improve yourself. For example, if you want to work harder in school, you might dress up as a graduate. Or if you want to be more brave, you might dress up like a lion.


I'm not saying that I believe this is true. But I can't help feeling a little Pascal's Wager-ish about it. For the past two years, we've dressed the Boy up as the Incredible Hulk. Let me reiterate: we've dressed a baby, and now a toddler, as a creature that is prone to fits of uncontrollable rage. Which involves hitting (Check). And yelling (Check). And splitting his pants (Check).

Maybe this little Wiccan thingamajig has some real mojo to it, eh?