Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Idiocy: A Phone Call in Six Acts


Phone: Ring! Ring!

Me: Good morning, Company I Work For, this is Josie, how can I help you?

Lady: Hi, I need the name and contact info for my heating contractor?

Me: Ah, okay, did you go through the HEAT Loan program?

My brain: ...because otherwise how the hell do you think I would know this information? *pause* Did she say she needed his name???

Lady: Well, I sent in a rebate form and he had to put his name and address on it so I thought you would have it because the rebate came from you.

Me: Okay, well let me put you on hold and try to find the file. Hang on.

Lady: Thanks.


Me: Hey, where do the rebate forms go after they get processed?

K: Umm...I'm not sure actually, ask Tom what happens to them.

Me: Hey Tom, where do the rebate forms go after they get processed? For instance, the ones from March?

Tom: Ah...Utility One in C's drawer, Utility Two in the yellow folder on my desk. *wanders off*

Me: *rifles through the papers on Tom's desk, all of the forms there are too recent. Return to office*


Phone: Ring! Ring!

Me: Good morning, Company I Work For, this is Josie, how may I help you?

Lady: Hi I was on the phone with someone and she said she was going to find my rebate form with my contractor's info because I need to contact him and I was on hold and then it went to voicemail and I don't know who I was talking to but I was on hold because she was finding my form and then it went to voicemail and

Me (now pissed because not only is she wasting my time with a stupid request but she also can't be fucked to remember my name which she heard when I picked up and then again on voicemail): YEAH OKAY, I am going to need to take your number and call you back because there are a lot of rebate forms to go through.

Lady: Oh okay. You can call me at (617)555-1212. Will this be soon?

Me: As soon as possible. Like I said, there are a lot of forms to go through.

Lady: Oh okay well thanks bye *click*

Me: *melt phone with my eyeballs and mindbullets*


Me: Okay, how about ones from March?

My brain: Like I said last time when you ignored that piece of info.

Tom: *pulls out some files from C's drawer* Okay here it is.

Act V

Phone: Boop boop boop...ring! Ring!

Lady: Hello?

Me: Hi there, is this Liz?

Lady: Well *inexplicable mumble* yeah.

Me: This is Josie calling you back fom CSG with your contractor info?

Lady: Oh okay! Let me get a pen. *futzes around for 10 minutes collecting a pen*

Me: Okay, the name is Blah Blahman, and his business phone is (774)867-5309.

Lady: you have his address?

Me: Yes, it's 1234 Blah Street in West Roxbury.

Lady: Thanks! That was fast actually.

Me: Yeah no problem. Bye.

Lady: Bye.


Phone: SMASH!

Me: *quits job, hides under bed*


What kind of fucking moron pays someone MULTIPLE THOUSANDS of dollars AND allows them into their home to install a heating system which they rely on to make their home liveable and then doesn't retain an INVOICE, much less ANY RECOLLECTION OF THE MAN'S NAME, PHONE NUMBER OR ADDRESS?


Monday, April 23, 2007

You Roundeyes Really Know How To Have Fun.

While I no longer have my Redhead In Crime residing with me and thus on hand to appraise things for Event of Legend status, there are some that can clearly be identified without painstaking review. This weekend? Was one of them.

Friday night was the kickoff, when I planned to go with the Lumberjack to a Tragically Hip concert at the Avalon. Important Fact! The Avalon is on Landsdowne Street in Boston, on the other side of which is Fenway Park, home of a certain major league baseball team you may have heard of. I was going to leave work, catch the T in to South Station, and sub it into the Avalon, where I would meet the Lumberjack. We would then link arms and skip merrily into the club to watch some good ole Canadian rock.

What actually happened was somewhat different.

I got at call from the Lumberjack around 2pm, where I learned that he had inexplicably not purchased tickets as planned and thus was "hoping the scalpers were good to us." Important Fact! Boston has gotten increasingly bitchy about ticket scalpers, particularly around Fenway Park. Maybe it's just me, as it so often is, but when I am going to a concert in a major city that I have to use a PASSPORT TO GET TO (The Lumberjack is from Ontario), I make damn sure that I get TICKETS. I went into that fugue state I get when confronted with actions that defy logic, and we decided to just meet at the Avalon at 6:40 as planned (oh, and by the way, said concert was at 7pm) and we'd see how things went. I promptly sent the following email to Speed:

Okay so [The Lumberjack] just called me with the “game plan.”

He did not buy TICKETS so his theory is to try and find SCALPERS which I personally think he is on DRUGS to even consider what with being RIGHT NEAR FENWAY and Boston’s MASSIVE crackdown on scalping and also considering the Tragically Hip are a rando (though sold out) Canadian band. So I am meeting him by the box office at 6:40 ish and maybe we’ll get in, maybe we won’t…WHO EFFING KNOWS!

Are all Canadians like this? Oh and he was also driving around with [The Psycho Queen] so I could hear her in the background all “well do you guys want to meet at my house” because she is a DELUSIONAL PSYCHOPATH.

If you need me I’ll be weeping under my desk. which he replied with a Craigslist link for Tragically Hip tickets. He is kind of extra super awesome, no? So I connected with a nice guy named John whose wife (the bigger Hip fan of the pair) had gotten pneumonia and thus could not go...he even sold the tix to us at cost, rather than actual scalping. Thank you, John and John's wife! Hope the pneumonia clears up!

So at 5, I peeled out of the parking lot and headed to Framingham Station, where I sat in my car methodically removing all valuables from plain view because...Framingham. Framingham is in that weird limbo that Worcester was in for a long time where so many residents work outside of the city that they don't particularly care about spiffing up the place. It's probably not as skeevy as it LOOKS, but blah blah blah Broken Window Theory and also the T parking lot is sketch. I walked up the platform and asked if the inbound side was the one I was on, which no one seemed to know. Turns out that all the trains were running on the outbound tracks, which required an invigorating sprint up the stairs and over the skywalk to make the train which was about to leave for Boston by the time this info was established. I hate you, the T. I made it on, had a seat, called Speed to say hi (he was driving a vanload of Boosters to Manchester for the Sharks' second playoff game) and got all excited because I found a book left on the seat. Did I mention that I forgot to bring several important items, including but not limited to a coat (luckily not necessary in the end, but it definitely could have been), iPod headphones, and a book? I settled down for the ride into South Station with said book, and waited for the conductor to come and bilk me for whatever they're charging these days.

Unfortunately, the book was Manhunt by Janet Evanovich, which...well, looking at the cover actually does defy the cliche saying and tells you EXACTLY the kind of tripe you're in for, is my point. Have you ever come across something that makes you wicked angry and kind of pissed about being a woman and thus running the risk of someone EVER thinking you could be like a character in a book, TV show or movie? The plot is that this woman who is a hardcore Wall Street person sells her condo and moves to Alaska to live in a (sight unseen) cabin and run a (sight unseen) hardware store. How quirky! A woman! Running a BUSINESS! That deals in BOY STUFF! So needless to say the woman turns out to be completely inept and borderline retarded (and I do not say this in an insulting way like children occasionally do - I mean actually mentally challeneged) despite being a successful exec in New York, and gets rescued/helped by a studly rich man who happens to fall madly in love with her. OH and PS, she went to Alaska in part because the male-to female ratio was higher, thus providing a good opportunity to find a husband. BECAUSE NO WOMAN IS COMPLETE WITHOUT A MAN. I didn't finish the book, needless to say, but it was enough to make me vomit anyway. Who buys this dreck? STOP ENCOURAGING PEOPLE WHO DISGUISE THEIR OPINION THAT WOMEN ARE HELPLESS AND STUPID BY PRETENDING THEIR FEMALE CHARACTERS ARE EMPOWERED AND AWESOME EXCEEEEEPT FOR THAT ONE THING THAT'S CRUCIAL TO SURVIVAL, FOR WHICH THEY NEED A MAN TO RESCUE THEM. Oops, I just puked in my lung again. Fuckers.

So anyway, I arrived in South Station and proceeded out to Summer Street to meet John the Ticket Guy. I also started regretting not wearing my "This Is Not A Drug Deal" shirt, since we then stood by his car and exchanged goods for money. I bopped back inside and had my first experience with the Charlie Ticket which I loved because above all I believe that the DC Metro, though underfunded and routinely unable to handle the volume of traffic required, has the best faregate system of any subway I have been on, keeping the dithering segregated to the farecard machines and away from the turnstiles, allowing you to avoid the dithering and get to work on time. Good job Boston! Got to Park Street no problem...and then was the unwilling recipient of a reality check in the form of roughly eight billion Red Sox fans milling around the platform and occasionally sprinting for arriving trains. Important Fact! The Red Sox played the Yankees on Friday, ALSO at 7pm. After missing two - TWO! - trains, I finally got pissy and kicked my way onto a train. Once the doors had closed and I was able to take stock of my surroundings, I realized that I was sandwiched next to four guys who were ALSO going to The Hip. Thus I made T friends, who I then provided guidance to en route to the Avalon once we'd gotten off at Kenmore. I proceeded to wend my way through the street, crossing to travel through the least number of Sox fans, with the Canadians in tow, occasionally saying to each other, "no, keep following her, she knows." Never have I felt so knowledgeable. Got to the concert, where needless to say car-borne the Lumberjack was also late, so I chatted with T Friend Frank who had forgotten his ID and was debating whether to go back and get it. The show was all ages, but there was planned drinking afterwards, so that was a bummer. Found the Lumberjack, went in, and of course the door guy didn't even blink at his Canadian passport because the ENTIRE POPULATION OF CANADA attended this show. In all seriousness I say this. Dead center of Boston, Canadian flags being waved everywhere.

Great show, although we were surrounded by:

1. A chick who would NOT SHUT UP. Now, this being a concert, who cares, it's not like you won't be able to hear. But she just exuded Obnoxious Sorority Girl and frankly if I was her boyfriend I would have punched her in the face.

2. A man-mountain and his short friend who stood stock-still with their arms folded the entire show, until the man-mountain vanished.

3. A 50ish/60ish man who not only knew all the words to the songs but also had DANCE ROUTINES involving singing into an imaginary microphone, thumping his chest, and pointing repeatedly at the stage. He also occasionally looked over at me like "FANTASTIC, NO?" with a hint of "I cannot rule out the idea of becoming a serial killer" over the top.

4. Someone who was crouching down more or less into the Lumberjack's butt to spark up some weed.

We wandered out into the night, and the Lumberjack stopped to buy a hot dog and contemplate whether or not he could wander into Fenway Park during a Yankees game, for which I had no other response but to just kind of go "well, do whatever you want, but good luck with that muscular security individual." He decided against the original plan. We then embarked on the Great Car Finding Mission. The Lumberjack had apparently forgotten to note which of the eight hundred chain-link fence enclosed parking lots he had parked in, so we had a great time wandering the streets, hoping he would remember and discovering that he had lost his ticket in the process. TEN POINTS FOR THE LUMBERJACK. We had gotten out of the concert maybe 20 minutes before the game ended, so we easily could have beaten the Fenway traffic. This is what actually happened.

Lumberjack: I don't think this is it.

Josie: *wets herself*

Lumberjack (in reference to the previously "not it" lot): Okay I think this is it, actually.

Josie: You don't understand what fresh hell we've now officially entered, do you?

Get in the car, get stuck in traffic ENDLESSLY, finally escape, get to Framingham, check car for theft, drive back to Holden, crash like a mofo. Speed comes in a short while later, we recap our evenings("Concert good, Lumberjack's homing device broken, Fenway Park the devil"/"Fucking Sharks, fucking Manchester fans."), we crash. If any of you plan to drive in a major US city with the Lumberjack, be forewarned - he is not an aggressive driver. There were several conversations where I would say "you need to get over in that lane," in response to which, the Lumberjack would do nothing evident but presumably start THINKING about getting over, while the exit only lane/roadblock/whatever loomed ever closer, FINALLY put on his blinker, and then be passed by eight cars because he didn't want to just gun it and butt in line like everyone else in the US does because they are aggressive assholes. This is both good and bad - good that there is no aggression, bad that aggression is REQUIRED to survive.

In the morning, the Lumberjack rolled up from the basement around noon, and we got ready to depart for New York. Long story short, the same passive driving techniques occurred, we talked about hockey, and arrived at the hotel roughly nine minutes before the planned departure. Luckily both of us are quick change artists and had no issue with this, with the exception of the Lumberjack mysteriously not having a belt. The Marine to the rescue! Problem solved, and we all (all in this case = me, Lumberjack, the Marine, Diamond Lil, Belle, Hidden, Method and Doppelganger) went down to the lobby to meet the Lass and proceed to Ninja. While we waited, I got updated on the comprehensive drunkenness of the night before. I'm so proud of those fuckers.

The Lass arrived, and we snagged a couple cabs. The cab I was in had the heat on, so when we got there, we had all sweated off 14 pounds and water gushed out of the cab when we opened the door. THANKS, HEATED TAXI. PS - IT'S FUCKING SPRING. Belle felt a little under the weather from the cab ride, and I went to go get cash from the ATM, next to which was a bottle of wine and a bag from TIFFANY'S, which I stupidly turned over to the bank people rather than having the bestest vacation ever. The other went in while I got cash, so I took the elevator down by myself, where I was met by a leaping ninja yelling "HAI" before welcoming me to Ninja. He offered to take me the long way or the short way...I picked the long way, assuming the short way would mean more dense populations of leaping ninjas, so I was taken through a dark passageway with the leaping ninja...leaping occasionally and HAIing. Oh, and PS I was also in 3.5 inch heels. Dude keeps going "watch your step, HAI." Trust me, my black-clad friend...there is no instance in which I could simultaneously be wearing 3.5 inch heels and NOT watching my step. Hai.

Got to the cool room we were seated in - all rock on the walls and wooden beams. We got ambushed by one more ninja before our AWESOME waiter ("My ninja name is....Robert. I know it's not what you were expecting, but I'm from Texas, so.") arrived and took drink orders. I tried two drinks - the Rin martini which had all kinds of fantastic fruity product in it, and the Toh champagne and lychee cocktail. Both were fab. The Lass ordered a bottle of white wine for herself, which I believe is what lead to Ninja Robert's immortal line, "you roundeyes really know how to have fun." Heee, race humor! Soon, the food started arriving, beginning with this fantastic presentation of seafood and fruit on ti leaves. It was called Batto Jutsu and was made up of scallops and salmon along with edamame, grapefruit, tomato and cucumber, with this amazing light sauce over all of it. The food and ti leaves were placed on a small circular dish, which in turn was on top of a hollowed out grapefruit with a short sword through it. We were told to pull the knife out, at which point, fog began pouring out of the grapefruit! It was very cool, and with our crowd it is extremely significant that we were even more impressed by the flavor of the food than the fog trick.

Almost everyone got the Batto Jutsu to start, but from here on I'll describe my food since clearly that's the part I know about. However, everyone's food did look amazing, so you're safe presuming everyone else was just as psyched about their meal. The second course was a round of sushi, with spicy tuna rolls and a Korean barbeque roll. Both were fantastic - just enough spicy to be interesting without overwhelming. The Korean BBQ roll was really good - cooked steak with a perfect marinade. I tend to be kind of a sushi purist (raw stuff on top of rice) so trying such a great "new" item was a terrific surprise. The third course was the Ninja Crab Cake, which was beautifully presented, with a light dusting of (I think) wasabi powder across the plate and a sprig of assorted greens coming out of the top of the round crab cake. The flavor was wonderful - the menu says it was made up of snow crab, whitefish, shallot and green paprika, served with chili mayonaise and wasabi tartar. It was a bit of a challenge with chopsticks, but well worth the battle. The fourth (and main) course was a magnificent T-bone steak with a wasabi sauce and sides of onion tempura and potatoes gratin. It was immaculately cooked, and easily the size of my head. The wasabi sauce was more a sophisticated brown gravy with a hint of wasabi, keeping it from being too overwhelming, as wasabi is wont to be. Really delicious.

We had a brief interlude with a ninja magician, who was six foot six and introduced himself as the world's tallest ninja. He was very funny and did a couple very cool tricks...having people bend forks in his hands, and assorted card guessing games. Very engaging, and a great way to pass the time between dinner and dessert. I had the rose chocolate for dessert, which was a layered chocolate dessert with a mango sorbet and fresh fruit on the side and came with a pink rose in a little teeny vase (which also emitted fog). A good number of people ordered it, and the general consensus was that it was good...until the bottom layer, which was a fairly bitter chocolate which didn't do much for us. The rest was great though, so it evened out.

Out we stumbled into the blinding non-daylight of the outdoors, and proceeded onwards to...a street corner, where Method and The Lass discussed, in quickly escalating tones, where we would go to commence the barhopping. Let me explain something to you about Method...I adore him. However, his superpower is basically being obnoxious in a variety of ways. The particular route he chose for this event was to sort of pretend that while he wasn't deaf, per se, he just had no comprehension. It's sort of like when you call Dell customer support and you know the person is LISTENING, but the response you get makes no sense since they have mainly learned how to figure out what useless information to regurgitate at you in response to the words you present to them, rather than actually understanding ENGLISH and thus being able to apply deductive reasoning to the problem. So we're on a street corner, whatever slight buzzes we've accumulated wearing off steadily, with The Lass sounding like she's about to stab Method in the head, and Meth pretending to not understand the English language. Oh. Em. Gee. We finally opted to hail some cabs, send the still-sickly Belle to the hotel to recouperate and hopefully return semi-soon to meet up with us, and head on to the thick of the bars.

We wandered a little bit until happening upon a pirate themed bar that I understand was called Iggy's, where we lurked at the bar until a booth became available and we swooped in like a horde of locusts. We hung for a while, enjoying the people watching and the drunkening, until we decided to boogie on to the next joint. A place that has belly dancers had been discussed EXTENSIVELY in the planning stages, so I presume that we headed that have to understand that most of the time I was just following people around and happily observing the world around me, as I am wont to do, so the actual game plan was often beyond my concern. So we wound up in front of Tut's, the place that had the belly dancers, and then....decided it was time for another round of bickering? I am still not clear on what happened...what I do know is that The Lass started calling someone on the Batphone (which connects her, apparently, to every human being in NYC as necessary) to see if the belly dancers were on that night, but then people started talking about where to go next? And it was confusing? And maybe I should pay better attention? So anyway, this went on a LITTLE too long for me, so I finally wound up yelling "DOES THIS PLACE THAT WE ARE STANDING IN FRONT OF SELL ALCOHOL?" and upon receiving confirmation that it did, headed in to see what I could find.

What we found was sketchy awesomeness. The place was decked out in an Egyptian theme, which was a plus for me given my burning desire to go back to Egypt someday. I went up to the bar in an attempt to order drinks, only to be told that the bartender would send over a waitress to take our order. Fine. Unfortunately, the waitress in question was barely sentient...for real, I have met actual boulders with more operational grey matter than this woman. First bad sign? She was wearing a finger wave. Apparently white people still occasionally have those. When did this happen? I know I don't always pay attention to things like "my surroundings" or "where my wallet is" but I do pay attention to fashion, and I did not receive the memo declaring finger waves having come back into style within the last, oh I don't know, FIFTY YEARS. She also just was not picking up one iota of what we were putting down...concepts like "I just want to pay in cash, not open a tab?" Completely escaping her grasp. And then capturing her and tying her down in the manner of Lilliputians in Gulliver's Travels. What a dumbass.

It also took roughly thirteen years to get from ordering to the drinks arriving on our table, which...look it takes the military an average concept-to-production time of twelve years for FIGTHER JETS, is what I'm saying. We all could have had new jets. How you rank drinks and jets on the desire scale is your own business. Hidden also ordered up a hookah, and after about a quarter-century (two jets!) that arrived, and we met an individual who we'd only seen in passing. For those of you not familiar with hookahs, you put hot little coals in a receptacle on top, which makes the whole thing go, basically. The individual who was monitoring the hot coal situation and thus carrying around what looked like a long ladle full of hot coals was a gentleman WEARING A FEZ. And NOT SPEAKING ENGLISH. Quite a nice guy, though, in the end. Lots of head bobbing and occasional spastic dancing. Good on ya, crazy fez guy...keep on declining to learn communications skills.

At one point, the belly dancer emerged, and the whole place more or less went into a stupor. This woman was INCREDIBLE...I mean, you have the basic reaction to a gorgeous woman with just insane long curly hair and a fantastic body coming out in a belly dancing outfit done up in red and gold with lots of SPARKLY and everything, and then there was the dancing...oh my lord. She was just endlessly talented...started out with a traditional song that had been mixed so it slowly got more techno/trance-y, and just rocked every single second of it. I am being 100% honest when I tell you that everyone in the place wanted to have sex with her. She was just spectacular, and I am so sorry that I did not find out her name, because I would love to be able to mention it here and have one more opportunity for her to pop up on google for people to realize that they MUST get to wherever she is performing. Fantastic.

We'd been shedding folks as we went along - Diamond Lil and the Doppelganger had also headed back to the hotel before we went into Tut's, and eventually The Marine, The Lumberjack and I decided it was time to boogie, The Marine in particular having acquitted himself EXTREMELY well in the drinking skills competition. As we stood and discussed the departure with The Lass, The Lumberjack awesomely fell off his chair for NO REASON...what was so great is that everyone had enough of a buzz on that that college thing happened where someone comes into the room, falls down and smashes a coffee table, but instead of reacting in a positive manner, everyone just stares for a second or completely ignores the table smasher, then continues about their business? Yeah, that happened. So we headed out, leaving The Lass, Method and Hidden to party on into the night, and spent roughly three days trying to hail a goddamn cab. We finally found a totally sketch individual who took us back for something insane like $30 which was great, and then proceeded to not understand where the hell our hotel was despite the GIANT GLOWING SIGN, so I just had him drop us off in front of the strip club nearby and we walked the block or so to the hotel. Along the way, The Marine performed the suavest vomit-spackling of a wall I have ever witnessed, whereby he gave us the "oh, hang on a sec" finger and then continued walking, occasionally turning his head and body away from his shoes and speeyacking along the wall. Along the way, I attempted to keep The Lumberjack from wandering over towards The Marine, telling him "okay, I don't want him to puke on you" to which he replied "I'm trying to keep him from puking on you," at which point I may have threatened to cut him. I'm not sure.

In any case, we got back to the room, where I slept with The Marine and Diamond Lil, and the Lumberjack hopped in with Belle and Doppelganger, where he proceeded to snuggle/molest/confuse them both for most of the night. I got up in the morning when my internal alarm clock hit 7a, threw on an uncomplicated and thus ideal wrap dress, and went down to the lobby to hang out and read a bit. I called Greyhound to check the schedule, since for some reason The Lumberjack declined to have the three second conversation that would have determined who I drove home with ("Are you going home in a direction that would not be obnoxious to drop me off by?" "No." "Alternate transport it is!"), so I decided if I wanted to make it home for the indoor football, I would need to take matters into my own hands. I went up and said bye to everyone, then hopped a cab outside to Port Authority, where I had a beer, a delicious, life-giving bagel, and a gingerale, then hopped a bus home, during which trip another passenger took her whining/crying kid into the bathroom, emitted a variety of loud smacking sounds, and then came out with the child crying even louder, now with a shrieking feature. Good thing he got spanked, you know? What with it quieting him right down. Oh right.

Damn good weekend, my friends.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Oh, We're Having THIS Discussion. Again.

So the Virginia Tech Shooter watched Oldboy. And emulated it.

You know, we really should do something about these horrible films with so much violence. Maybe a ratings system, which gave a loose set of standards by which parents could deem movies appropriate or not. Actually, you know what, that's not'd really need to add some more layering to it. Oh, I know. Maybe if you created a magical system where there was a letter rating PLUS a short blurb saying, violence, scary images, etc. That would be great. And maybe you could tap the power of the internet somehow? And people could write reviews when they saw the movie so you knew not to take your 9 year old to Grindhouse. I mean, you have to get this info out there, since there's no movie info printed in the newspaper and radio and TV never discuss movies.


If this turns into another bullshit "examination" about how video games and movies and whatever the hell else "make" people violent, I am going to be the one turning violent, because it's just such sheer lunacy. Here's the deal. I have also seen Oldboy. I even thought it was a badass movie. I thought it was well done although incredibly, deeply fucked up. You will note that I have not shot anyone, much less multiple people, nor do I have any desire to do so, NOR did I somehow feel an uptick in that motivation following my viewing of that movie.

I also have Marilyn Manson on my iPod.

I also have read extensively about the Dahmer gang, the Manson family, the Holocaust and a variety of other unsavory topics.

I not only am okay with Eminem's music, but I also think he's one of the most talented artists out there.

I watch violent sports like hockey and football.

And yet, somehow, I have managed to avoid killing or maiming people, as well as somehow not becoming a misogynistic bigot. Astounding! Give me a medal.

I have ranted a lot about personal responsiblity and the current dissolution thereof, and it just breaks my heart to watch this crap going on. To me, America has always had this image of being so fiercely self-sufficient and independent, and to see it degraded to finger-pointing whiny scapegoatism is just...gross. And scary. Music, TV and movies are not what turn kids and young adults violent. Shitty parenting and a lack of social structure does. I'm not saying that kids should be able to watch everything, nor am I saying that kids don't imitate what they see because clearly they do. To keep them from progressing into a state where they can justify taking out real violence and carry it out, you have to step up.

You hear this, Parents of America? YOU HAVE TO STEP UP.

You have to not buy the toy that comes with eight hundred teeny weapons. You have to tell your kids they can't watch 24 on TV. You have to tell them they can't go see Oldboy. You have to reprimand them when they kick adults or hit their siblings or fight at school. But the real magic isn't just saying it - it's enforcing it. You have to ground them and you have to take away their driving priviledges and you have to block the channels on TV. You need to put your foot down and LEAVE it there. And yeah, you have to do your homework. You have to KNOW what movies are on the No List and know who your kids are hanging out with. You have to pay attention to the TV shows the kids watch and keep tabs on their school work.

When did this become so horrifyingly rare? I remember being totally astounded when Columbine happened and the fingers all whipped around to...Marilyn Manson? How surreal was that? "Well he talks about all this bad stuff in his music and the kids LISTENED TO IT and bought it wholesale." Okay? You may not know this about Marilyn Manson, but you will do yourself a great service if you catch a documentary or TV show about censorship or something like that in which he is may be best to just close your eyes while he talks, so you don't need to deal with the cognitive dissonance and the effort required to stop looking at how effing odd he looks to listen to his words. I think we all know how I feel about grammar and proper speech and oratory and how there should be more of all of those things, and this all whirls around and spits out the result of my not using certain words lightly - one of those words is eloquent and I happily apply it to Mr. Manson here. He is an incredibly self-aware, erudite, eloquent man, with great insight into the maelstrom that is the Parental Advisory media world. He is fascinating. In any case, to think that simply listening to music with unsavory concepts or watching violent films and TV could cause people to turn violent when before their souls were comprised exclusively of puppies and sunshine is such amazingly escapist CRAP I have a hard time believing that ANYONE, much less many people, could ever offer up the concept with a straight face. And yet I saw it with my own eyes. Insane.

As Scarlett pointed out, it's unlikely that the VT shootings will stir up as much "Media = The Devil" nutbarism as Columbine since the shooter was so clearly unwell. There are other issues at hand here...the gun arguments have fired up, which is both good and bad. Good = people noticing that there are massive issues with gun policy in the US; bad = no one seeming to notice that enforcement and the lack of a cohesive, nationwide effective base system of gun laws are the actual problem. Rip out all the gun laws, form a national base level, and then let the states make stricter rules as they feel necessary. Although of course, this will never happen, because it would require a lot of work and resisting a lot of pressure from some very rich and very loudly annoying people on the part of Congress.

Side note: Whenever I say "Congress" what I actually mean "Congress minus Jim McGovern and a couple other people." I am pretty sure that if Jim McGovern was allowed to run amok for a season or two he would completely reform the government, solve world hunger, and have all the world's races and religions dancing in merry circles of harmonious adoration for each other. That's just how he rolls.

What a sad, icky way for America to be. Won't it be great when everyone sacks up and gets some work done?

Monday, April 2, 2007

Out with the Old, In with the New

A while back, we were on one of our semi-frequent cleaning binges - for some reason, we're unable to just clean gradually...the house gets to a point where it could be declared a disaster area, and then we blitz it on a Sunday or something...I don't know why this happens - Speed found some old negatives (jesus, do I need to explain negatives? I'm going to assume I don' it if you don't know, and for the love of God, don't tell me you had to, I'm not ready for that kind of technological saturation) in the cabinet above the stove, which he "developed" with the superhardcore scanner he has. Turns out the pictures are of our house before it was renovated! Very cool. From the look of them, we're thinking that the guy we bought the house from purchased the house after the original owner passed away, and that he took these photos soon after taking possession of the house. I would think that whoever was selling the house would clean all the stuff out of it, but then again, who knows. So without further ado, here are our house's baby pictures!

This is the outside of our house, circa October 2005. Since then the following things have happened - that godforsaken barrel has been violently relocated to the backyard, the jungly area on the left has been torn down and now only the large oak tree remains, the two trees in the front right have been removed, the garden in the middle has been turned into a garden (as opposed to a chipmunk playground) and the gardens immediately in front of the house now consist of two rhododendrons, two evergreens, and an azalea. We also have the most wonderful wisteria tree in the world in the middle garden.
This is a picture of the house that Speed found from the town assessor somehow. I don't even knnow what to say about this, really. The only thing I do actually like more than the current set up is how the windows on the sides of the left hand/breezeway door go all the way down, whereas now they stop at hip height or so. I will also refer to this as the first exhibit in the case for making everything in the world green, which appears to be an argument that the previous owner was EXTREMELY dedicated to.
This is our bathroom. I hate this tile with my entire soul. I refer to it as "Miami Dolphins green marble" and it's this heinous plastic tile that is original to the (circa 1954) house. We recently ripped it off and will be refinishing it...painting, not tiling, since the shower is tiled and has a sliding glass door, so there's really no need for tile on the walls. This pic is an October 2005 one but I can guarantee that the only thing that changed in this stupid bathroom of grossness since 1954 was POSSIBLY the curtain.
This is our yellow this October 2005 pic, we were using it as an office, but now it is our bedroom. We reasoned that we would just be sleeping in the bedroom, but spending more waking hours in the office, so we picked the larger yellow room for the office. Maybe three months later we were claustrophobic in the blue room, switched the two with much ado and swearing, and never looked back.
And here's the old version. This is really the only place you can put a's a bit airplane hangarish. This is basically the reverse of the October 2005 one - in this one you're looking at the door, in the yellow one, you're standing IN the door taking the pic. Note the GROSS door jamb - apparently the original owner really sank into a depression when his wife died (as you would) and spent his days mainly drinking and smoking in the house. This provided a nice sheen of tobacco smoke all over the house. More on this phenomenon when we talk about the blue room.
Here you can see the windows...note that the curtain is fully double the size of the windows. The windows in our bedroom and office are the only thing besides the ugly bathroom that I would change about the house - they are right for the style of the house, but they are very short , where I would prefer full size windows. Maybe someday we'll get around to changing them.
This is the wall that Speed's chair would be facing in the October '05 pic above. Again with the nasty once-white-now-tobacco-colored trim on the window, and the long curtains.
This is the blue room, formerly the bedroom (we must have been nuts) and now the office. You can see the short windows a little better here. This pic was taken when I was painting the ceiling - the entire room, including ceiling, was blue, and the ceiling fan was a P-51 nosecone (the guy we bought it from was a Reservist, so we assume that's how the P-51 came to be). The blue of it all was was one of those things where your senses are being smacked around but you also can't figure out why. After painting the ceiling, I took a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and scrubbed the dribs and drabs and pencil marks around the edge...and discovered that the actual paint had been two to three full shades lighter. I then scrubbed the entire room, and it was vastly improved. This is one of the timeline issues - the Reservist definitely did NOT seem like the smoking type, and it would seem to be the fault of the original owner that the tobacco stains would be there...and yet the blue is clearly post-renovation. Hard to tell.
This is a good frame of reference, because we're basically standing in the same place to take the picture. Note the GROSS windowshade. Any questions on how good for your health smoking is?
Interesting fact! These bureaus are IDENTICAL to one that Dad had in his office in our house growing up. He actually had the shorter one with the mirror to me to take to DC, and while the bureau has moved on to a better place (the back facing was perpetually falling out, leading to profanity and aggravation), I still have the mirror, and it is hanging over our bed in the yellow bedroom.
This is the new kitchen, and in this pic you can see one of my favorite features of the kitchen (second only to the flatttop stove top)...see over the sink that there is undercabinet lighting? I love the nice homey feel it gives the kitchen. It rocks.
This is pretty much the outside of the house, writ small and indoors. Oh. Em. Gee. This is just so problematic. The ivy wallpaper, the heinous linoleum faux tile...just...saints preserve us, you know? As you can see, the Reservist really went to town on this one...he moved the stove almost exactly opposite to where this old, janky one is, and then put in the FAB new counter, which extends past the wall (on the left) and turns into a table. AND got rid of the linoleum and put in real tile.
This is the living room, which has also evolved beyond what you see here. The blah white curtains were ousted for some green and white sheers that hang on a dark wood pole - MUCH better. There is a major light issue in this room, so having the sheers instead of that ninety-pound-per-square-inch brocaded crap is a great improvement. You can see the beautiful refinishing job that the Reservist did on the floors - he was apparently VERY handy.
Hey look! It's effing GREEN again! I actually do like the little mural thing on the wall, but it's just all so 1970s, isn't it? I particularly enjoy that even the BASEBOARD has been painted green. These people had to be stopped.
This...well okay. A while ago, Mom and Dad found some old pictures of when they moved into our house in 1983. And they'd been living in this townhouse in Gettysburg that was MAYBE five feet wide, okay, so their college kid furniture hadn't really been forced to evolve? So there are all these pictures before they bought a lot of Big Kid furniture where you've got this loveseat and couch that are literally bouncing around in the living room, on top of an area rug that is MAYBE 5 feet by 8 in this giant room, and you can practically hear the echoing through time and space via this picture? That's what this reminds me of. My favorite thing is maybe the supremely undersized picture on the wall. Note that they covered up the beautiful floors with carpet...that was a WIERD PHASE, all you people who signed on to it. Okay? WEIRD.
This is probably the most dramatic difference. The great room was what sold the house for us - the openness, the hgh ceiling, the way all the living space really flowed together...yeah, not how the orginal owners rolled, apparently. The door on the right leading into the kitchen is no longer there (our dishwasher is there now), and you can see on the left the wall with a window in it. The great room was an add-on, so that wall would originally have been an exterior wall and the window would have looked out into the backyard. I will say right now that the removal of that interior-nee-exterior wall was the best thing this house ever had done for it.
...because now it looks like this. So great, no? Great flow through the living room (where this pic is being taken from) into the great room.
Here we have more...these pics were taken during a family visit. You can really see here how we'd been in the house about three minutes when the pics were taken, what with all the furniture having been thrown in the vague direction of where it was going to go and the use of the litterbox as a decorative accent.
While this pic highlights why we bought the house (we later bought wood blinds that PERFECTLY matched the wood in the room - we really lucked out, and a vertical blind for the slider), the best thing about this picture is how Flyboy (orange cat) clearly wants to fight Hillary and Emma (black and white dogs outside, who belong to Mom and Dad), who are eighteen times his size. Props to Scarlett for noticing that one. Aaaaand the old great room. You can see the exterior-turned-interior wall better here...the window is CLEARLY an exterior window and framing, and the location of the bench and hat/coat stand really make it easy to see the past life of the wall.
This door is actually where the SLIDER is now...several million negative points for the architect of the project. "Let's make this beautiful, airy, window-ridden addition...and complete it with a boring wooden door!" Also note the louvered windows, which were moved to the breezeway when the Reservist redid the windows in this room for the big, open ones we have now.
More great room...note the hardcore air conditioner, which we love, especially Speed, a.k.a. "Mr. Siberia." It's got a compressor out back and everything. Good stuff. You can see the same a/c unit in the picture with Mormor and Speed standing in front of the door above.
More great room, and more totally disgusting tobacco stains, this time on the curtains.

I'll be sure to take some more recent pictures sometime soon!