Wednesday, July 30, 2008

You Can't Blame a Compass for Pointing North

I got into the elevator today with a guy who went a little heavy on the Axe Body Wash, and just like Proust’s madeleine; dude’s stench took me back ten days into the past; to Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. I was waiting for my flight back to Jacksonville when a young guy drenched in some type of new millennium musk sat down next to me and started eating a Big Mac. I love Big Macs. They’re fat gram for fat gram my favorite fast food burger, but the smell of the Big Mac mixed with the smell of Arctic Blast, or whatever the hell it was taking years off my life, almost made me return my venti-raspberry-cafĂ© Americano to sender. Big Macs don’t smell like anything else. It’s a combination of Clearasil, cheap beef, and broken dreams, but I like it. It shouldn’t be mixed with any non-trans fat based smells (i.e. French fries and supplementary burgers), especially synthetic perfumes marketed to under twenty-five males. I don’t judge these knuckleheads. I not only used to be one; I loved being one. I can’t rule out the possibility that the mellifluous tones of Drakkar Noir are what landed me my wife. I know the effects that a chick wearing perfume had on me from about 1984 thru 1991. MJ usually wore Anais Anais. When I see it in department stores I always stop. It takes me back. I remember the days of getting out of a tangerine 1972 Super Beetle with my three best buddies. I rocked the Drakkar Noir. I had a buddy who rocked the Obsession, one that rocked the Polo, and one that rocked Eternity. And we didn’t spray, delay, and walk away. We had a more Flashdance approach to cologne application. If nasal fatigue was able to set in then we weren’t wearing enough. Thank God no one ever threw a match at us.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Bible Says I Can Kill You - Deuteronomy 21:20-21


LJ: You wanted to get in the chair. So I let you get in the chair, and now that you’re in the chair you’re mad?

MJ: Are you honestly trying to use logic on a toddler?

I can’t help it. I come by it honestly. I’ve turned into my dad. For as long as I can remember I was warned about the ramifications and consequences of my actions, and I can remember pretty far back. I remember hearing about my unmitigated gall in the apartment we lived in on Twinbrook Parkway in Rockville, Maryland. We moved when I was six. LMJ has this to look forward to, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. There are lectures in her future – endless, rambling, circular lectures – to which she had best pay attention or I will be forced to start over (a chill just ran down my sister’s spine). I doubt she’ll hear about Ronald Reagan as much as I did but I don’t make any promises. I don’t want this. She certainly doesn’t want this, but it’s the circle of life. Unfortunately for LMJ, her father is also a sci-fi geek. And this brings us to the subject of this piece: How do Vulcans deal with their babies? Vulcans aren’t naturally emotionless. They work at suppressing their emotions in the pursuit of pure logic. Their emotions are much more intense than humans. Something has to give. On the one hand, it’s illogical to expect logic to be persuasive to a toddler. On the other hand, a child’s constant flights of fancy must be subdued if the child is expected to be part of a logical society. When and where does the Vulcan begin? Is it intense discipline on baby’s fourth birthday? Is it cultural, and baby gradually learns to mimic mama’s and papa’s behavior? Or is it possibly religious and baby is fed some ridiculous illogical nonsense that she believes because her mind doesn’t have the logical dexterity not to? Illogic as logic – fascinating.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Mind Tends to Wander

The other day I was in BabyGap with my family when I heard a guy with a Hispanic accent with a lisp. He wasn’t speaking with a Spanish (Castillian) accent; he had a lisp. This got me to thinking about speech impediments in other languages. What are they? Can a native French speaker have a lisp? While there is the “s” sound in French – s’il vous plait for example – there is no th sound. Zees is why zhey replace ze “th” with “z” or “s” now zat I sink about it. They’ve never heard the sound so after a point in childhood they’re unable to make it, BUT if a native French speaker has an orthodontic condition that would create a lisp in English will they naturally, spontaneously be able to make the “th” sound even though they’ve never heard it? Or is a French lisp something completely different? Could a speech impediment in one language be an advantage in speaking another? Timothy Zahn has a minor sub-plot in his Star Wars book Heir to the Empire that deals with this. Princess Leia has difficulty understanding Chewbacca because the Wookie language is highly dependent on harmonics. When she goes to the Wookie homeworld she can understand the diplomat she’s dealing with much better than she can Chewbacca. So she flat out asks Chewie, “What the f*&k, Chewie? You been a stutterin’ f#$kin’ pr!*k this whole f*^kin’time?” Well, that’s if Joe Pesci was playing Princess Leia (see title of post). Chewbacca doesn’t have the speech impediment. The diplomat does. It just happens to be an impediment that makes it easier for humans to decipher what’s being said. It’s an interesting idea and I wonder if there are actual Earth languages where this phenomenon might take place - a speech impediment in one's native language being an advantage in speaking another.

This reminds me of the Japanese exchange student I worked with in college. He was barely conversational in English so he had absolutely no chance in all of hockey sticks of saying my name intelligibly. He wound up calling me by my last name. He was a nice guy

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chips 'n Dips

I ran race number five for 2008 Friday. It was the Celebration 5k in honor of the Declaration of Independence. I showed my patriotism by training Wednesday and Thursday then running the race Friday. My legs are sore, my feet hurt, and I need some new shoes. However, JG and EG were nice enough to by me my own Champions chip. It’s a chip that tracks when I start a race and when I finish a race. The races rent them to runners that don’t have their own for $2, and since I’m cheap (I didn’t want to drop the money on a chip…) and I’m lazy (…because I’m not running enough races for it to be cost effective). My chip was delivered in the envelope pictured above. The G’s are two of the nicest people in the world so they were most likely just being generous, but they could have been embarrassed being associated with someone who drops his rented chip into the bait bucket with the rest of the part-timers and cheapskates. It’s like having dinner at The Russian Tea Room and someone in your party ordering Busch in a can while the rest of the party is enjoying Dom Perignon. I even called JG a half hour before the race to ask her if my chip was supposed to come with a Velcro strap to fasten to my shoe – how gauche? JG, with no hint of condescension, explained that I should thread my shoe laces through the chip. I had the chip on roughly 30 minutes – the time it took me to finish the race – before I was looking down my nose at the riffraff taking off their rented chips. Just because I’m cheap doesn’t mean I’m not a snob. I live in Riverside (not Avondale). I attend am a member of St. John’s Cathedral. I have an office in the Modis building. And I have my own Champions chip.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Briefcase Full of Butts

Damned Drug Addicts

Smoking cigarettes used to be cool – Nat King Cole, Humphrey Bogart, early Bond Sean Connery. But now it’s just sad, especially for smokers under 50 years old, and there is no reason to smoke if it isn’t cool. Now I see no difference between a crackhead huddled in a corner firing up that rock and a smoker huddled in a corner designated off campus smoking kiosk firing up that butt. There are people in my building that get on the elevator with their cigarette and lighter already out. I work on the 29th floor. Sometimes I want to “Christmas tree” the elevator buttons because poking drug addicts with a stick is funny. It’s sad because smokers don’t even like being smokers anymore, but they’re addicted to nicotine so they’re stuck. They all complain that they need to quit but they can’t. Even the shame of doing the “Smoker’s walk” across the street to stand in hundred degree weather so they can smoke crappy cigarettes and accelerate their slow, painful deaths can’t motivate them to quit. I smoked socially for about three or four years, long enough to learn to distinguish between good cigarettes and bad. I never understood cheap or light cigarettes – hell, I didn’t understand filters. Smoking is a vice. The goal is to ingest a drug and enjoy doing it. Why do people smoke light cigarettes when they cost the same as full flavor cigarettes, and study after study shows THEY’RE JUST AS DANGEROUS. They don’t reduce the risks of any of the diseases associated with tobacco use. They don’t make your breath or clothes stink less. All they do is harsh your nicotine buzz. Why do people smoke cheap cigarettes? Is it a wino’s mentality, “I don’t care what it is just give me my fix”? I started out on short Camels and moved on to Lucky Strikes because they were “quality” products and they were the coolest. They were the brands of the Rat Pack and longshoremen. Can you imagine if Bogart was smoking Marlboro Ultra-Light 100’s in Casablanca? No, you can’t because you know that Bogey wasn’t a bitch. If Bogey had been smoking Benson & Hedges in Casablanca, the Axis powers would have won WWII in reality and we’d all be speaking German. But that was then, when a man’s cigarette brand said something about him. Now they just say I’m a bum, I’m a teenager, or I’m European, no matter the brand. Bruce Willis is the line of demarcation. He’s the last cool smoker. When John Travolta smokes he looks gay. When Brad Pitt smokes he looks gay. When Tom Cruise is in a movie he looks gay. Bruce Willis is it, and the last movie he looked cool smoking in was The Last Boy Scout, which came out in 1991.

It’s over, no more smoking. When I walk my baby girl past the hospital, and we see – and smell – the smokers it’s pathetic. They don’t even talk to each other anymore. They just stand in the heat and humidity wallowing in their self-hatred. How does someone work at a hospital in 2008 and still smoke? I would have a completely different take if cigarette smokers had the attitude of cigar smokers. If they celebrated their suicide like Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, cigarettes would still be cool.