Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Good morning, gentle readers. I've been gone (as if there were anyone who was really aware of that!) because I made a mistake: when I came back to AF&PP at the beginning of the year, I got too fired up too soon, and tried to post something every day. Free advice from your favorite bullshitter--uh, I mean blogger: do not try to come roaring out of the gate when you're entering posts after a long layoff. You will burn out. But then, you can tell I'm pretty much toast anyway, can't you? No wonder you all stop by for breakfast every day.

First up, some very good news: my sister Sharon is now out of the hospital after collapsing last Thursday with what seems to have been a heart attack. I'm just guessing that because I know that her heart itself has sustained damage, but not to the point that it--and she--cannot recover with time, proper diet and exercise. I also know that she'd stopped taking medication she'd been prescribed for her thyroid gland, which is also in very bad shape, and that caused her bad cholesterol to skyrocket to a level of nearly 4oo; and given the fact that she is a little thing--barely five feet and probably no more than 100 pounds--well, I'm just glad she's alive right now. I've mentioned in a previous post that I have a personal Martha Stewart anecdote. The reason I did so is because it involves Sharon, and it should provide plenty of insight to her character. You see, Sharon is a long time employee at a KMart in South Carolina, and of course KMart has a deal to sell all things Martha Stewart. So the corporate bigwigs at KMart sponsored a contest between all their nationwide stores, and the winner of the competition was to get a personal vist from Martha herself! Guess whose store earned that blessing? Anyway, the big day arrived and so did Martha. Everything was probably fine and dandy until Martha snapped at Sharon--I believe these are the exact words--"Hey, you--get me some coffee!" How I wish I could have been there to see Martha's face when my sister Sharon--whom we sometimes refer to as "The Short Tornado"--snapped right back, "My name ain't 'Hey You'--and the coffee's over there!" How she remained employed, I'll never know. But I'm proud of her anyway. I just hope that once Martha is out, she doesn't come seeking revenge. You know how those criminals are once they're out of the lockup...and who knows what kinds of tricks she's learned in prison?

Next up: yesterday was Valentine's Day. I've spent much of the past 4 days sending ecards and VDay wishes to a lot of people. Okay, so they were all female people. They're all very nice ladies who I chat with online, and it only seemed polite to let them know I appreciate their talking to me at all. And no, they aren't some kind of harem; I've never met most of them personally, and don't expect to. Not that I wouldn't; they're all terrific. It's just that I'm in the early stages of terminal bachelorhood, and I don't know of any woman who'd want someone like that. I'm not saying that can't change, either; but I'd rather be the best of the rest of one lady's life than for her to be the best three weeks or months or whatever of mine, so long as she isn't named Teresa and she's not from Nashville. (Those of you who automaticaly assume that's a real person in my past should go to my archive, specifically the month of March last year. That way I don't have to explain the reference.) I don't know of anyone I could be that for, at this time. Anyway, most if not all of my chat friends have been given a lot of grief by ex-husbands or boyfriends, and I don't care to add to it, though I am glad they trust me enough to talk to me, and for that I went to the trouble to wish them all a happy VDay. 'Nuff said. It would be nice, though, if the day hadn't been co-opted and commercialized by corporations whose only interest is in using an otherwise harmless holiday tradition to bleed money from us in every possible way.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Good morning, gentle readers. I've taken the few days off; my last post--which I ended with the blinding revelation that in my humble opinion 94% of all leaders are of ka-ka caliber (as if that was something we didn't already know)--seemed to take a lot more out of my brain cell that I'd expected it to. You missed me. Don't lie. You go to HELL for lyin' just like ya do for stealin'!

So what's wrong with most leaders? Well, what is a leader in the first place? In my humble opinion, the answer to that question is not 'one who leads.' Not anymore. You see, in this day and age too many people want to be some kind of leader, and not really because they want to lead anyone anywhere. I said I'd start with the politcians in a previous post, and politicians are the first group listed in that great quote, after all. First off, this isn't to suggest that politics, in and of itself, is a bad thing. Robert A. Heinlein, in his juvie SF novel Podkayne of Mars, explained to us through one of the characters in the book why politics in and of itself isn't a bad thing: it's a way we found to avoid war. Unfortunately, most politcians have not read Heinlein. To them, politics is a means to an end, and usually the end is not to make the world run smoother, or to avoid war, but to gain whatever they happen to want, whether it's a heavier bank account, social or authoritative status, to push an agenda (whether that agenda is personal, or the agenda of whoever helped them get into their lofty positions, or both), or just because they're somebody's friend or relative. You'll notice that I say it's usually only one of those things, because in my humble opinion most politicians don't see past the ends of their noses, so only one unworthy motive is enough. 'Nuff said.

A confession: I'm typing this about two weeks after the last post. After what I entered above, I hit the proverbial brick wall. It seemed there was more to say than I already had, other than what seemed to be the obvious, but couldn't figure out for the life of me what. I think I have the answer to that now: The kinds of leaders I am specifically talking about are those whose decisions affect the largest number of people. The two men who represented opposite sides of the coin in the most recent election fall into this category. It really does not matter how often they claim to represent the people, because the only time they ever really face the people comes once every 2-4 years, depending on when it's reelection time. Otherwise the only place you're going to see or hear from them is through one kind of news outlet or another. What, you think they've got time for us? They're busy men doing important things...but I could ring the changes on that theme forever and two days without saying anything that didn't seem to be stating the obvious over and over again, and I still have three--not two!--categories of unnecessary charge-takers to tackle here. Next up: Bless me, Father, for I am about to sin...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Good evening, gentle readers. Because this post has been stretching out over several days from its jumping off point--the second inauguration of a second-rate ex-oilman--and the last 2-3 posts really are parts of a larger post--I'm finally getting around to entering some evening posts. That's right, folks, now you get a double dose of me daily! Sorry to spoil your appetites, but then you've been meaning to take those extra pounds off before spring, haven't you? Gotta be slim, trim, and sexy before those we break out those swimsuits, right? No, don't thank me, I know how grateful you are. No, really, it is gratitude you're feeling...it only seems like severe nausea.

And now for some news that some of you may be mildly disappointed to hear. I may never get to satisfy those of you have waited through endless days and weeks and months to read the long-awaited post in which I vent my spleen on my current place of indentured servitude and its owner. Good thing I've never posted a picture of me on this thing; some of you would be after me with torches and pitchforks in a heartbeat. But today I took the afternoon off from the Mausoleum to apply at a new place much closer to AF&PP, for starters; if it pays better and I'm the one who gets the job, I'm gone just in time to avoid having to unload the preseason orders of AC units, furnaces, and coils. I'll send my bosshole a sympathy card if I ever have any sympathy for him. I'll be giving up my annual one-week spring vacation but after 18 years of working for a man who doesn't give a shit about the business he's in, just the money he makes from it, I'll consider it a small price to pay to get out of a doomed enterprise. Geez, now that I've offered that little appetizer I may have no choice but to serve the entire banquet anyway. Although the Spanish do say, "Revenge is a dish best served cold."
I have gone back over this morning's post and found a mistake. Alert the media. I was talking about Martha Stewart being used as a PR scapegoat by the FTA. I hope nobody scratched their heads over that, much. I was pressed for time and couldn't remember the initials of the correct government enforcement agency. It might have helped if I'd remembered the correct goverment enforcement agency in the first place, don't ya think? I was thinking Federal Trade Administration--I'm not sure there is a government agency with those letters--but it was really the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission. They were the witchhunters who pursued that wicked, evil, insider trading Martha Stewart in an effort to make it look as if they're really on the job. Sorry, folks, but it happens. I don't really like to get the info too far wrong, but it isn't as if I'm trying to report things, just say what I think the best way I know how, which means I don't get it completely right, because I really don't know that much. But ya gotta admit, I can sound like I talk a good game, at least. Let's all just hope the SEC doesn't think so. They might not take kindly to my suggestion that they haven't acted in the best public interest by making an example of a homemaker-turned-CEO.
Now where was I? Oh, yeah, that wonderful quote:
"Religious leaders, politicians, and the military could never stand the idea of the human race becoming a success, because they would then become unnecessary."
I'll start with the politicians first, because I started this whole series of posts with What-Me-Worry's Inauguration Part Duhh, but I think I want to reword it just a tad before that:
"Religious leaders, politicians, corporate executives, and the military could never stand to see the human race becoming a success, because they would then become unnecssary."
That's not the entire reworking, just yet. As I said in my last post, I consider this to be a corollary of Sturgeon's Law: 94% of everything is shit. This law was coined by a writer named Theodore Sturgeon, and the reason you've never heard of him is because he was largely restricted to one genre for most of his life: science fiction. SF is Big Bizniz now, but for most of the time Sturgeon was alive it was a publishing ghetto. Only Heinlein and Asimov commanded any real money back then, but anyone who's decently read in old-school SF knows that Sturgeon was their equal. (An aside: When Heinlein and Asimov passed away, we saw headlines and extensive articles detailing their careers and acheivements. When Theodore Sturgeon died, I opened my paper one day and saw a one-paragraph squib titled: Writer Dies. I think the only thing more tragic than that may be that Fritz Leiber--another great writer doomed to the SF/fantasy genre his whole life--didn't even get that much, at least not that I ever saw.) I'm bringing Sturgeon up for another reason: I'm going to be making reference to his last, posthumously published novel, Godbody, before this is done. But back to the quote. In my humble opinion, it can be reworked much more:
"94% of all the leaders in the world could never stand the idea of the human race becoming a success, because they would then become unnecessry."
In other words: 94% of all leaders are shit. Feces. Dung. Offal. Poop. Doo-doo.
Stay tuned, gentle readers. No, I said readers that time, not leaders!

Good morning, gentle readers. After yesterday's blockbuster revelation that I don't vote, perhaps one or two of you (if there's more than one or two of you) wonder, "Where does this nimrod get off expressing his political opinions?" Aside from the fact that the theme of this blog is "Random thoughts and occasional half-baked quasi-opinions," in every sense of the terms 'half-baked' and 'quasi', not voting doesn't mean I don't think about such things. I do. I also choose to think that by not voting, I was saying exactly what I think about both candidates; that is, I couldn't care less about either one. (And getting back to yesterday's post for a second: I was talking about why I think there had been so much voter apathy in recent years, but now I'm gonna change that just a little bit. It does seem to me that there might be one or two other folks who are of the opinion that not casting a ballot speaks just as loudly in its own way as lining up for the little booth does. Perhaps it's not apathy, but cynicism?) More on those two in a moment. And while I was never impressed for one minute by anyone's political ads, I was just as unimpressed by the constant 'public service announcements' in which A-list celebrities from all walks of the entertainment industry urged us to 'vote our conscience'; that just made voting look to me like some kind of fashionable thing to do, not an important part of the electoral process. Never got around to seeing Fahrenheit 9/11, either. Mom died when it was in the theaters. 'Nuff said.

About our candidates. You'll notice I haven't said anything at all about Kerry up to this point, but haven't missed a chance to express my dislike for his opposite number--the Big Zero. This is because the issue of who was going to be elected was never really in doubt. I don't think this because Pubis II had another scam like Florida in 2000 ready just in case; I think this because I've seen Democrats on CNN admitting they bungled the entire campaign in the first place, and enumerating the ways they did it. I'm not going into all that, I promise. I'm just saying that while Kerry had many of the bigger states sewn up, he kind of gave a lot of the smaller states a pass; and all the pseudo-Texan he was up against had to do was go to those smaller states and act like he really does believe in God, which was ultimately what put him over the top. Ohio, in my humble opinion, was just additional copy for the press. But no, I don't like our Chief Executive. It's not a personal thing, he just makes it easy. This isn't saying I have any more regard for Kerry. You see, to me both of them are just politicians, and not very good ones, either. I don't have much use for any politicians ever since I read the following quote:

"Politicians, religious leaders, and the military could never stand the idea of the human race becoming a success, because they would then become unnecessary."

I wish I could remember the name of the writer who set those words down, but I don't. But when I first read it, it hit home for me like few things do. It's so obvious. It's really a corollary of Sturgeon's Law, which is: 94% of everything is shit. Exept this was written before the late (and tragically forgotten,except by a few of us) Theodore Sturgeon was old enough to write himself. I'd add one more group to that list: people in high corporate positions, of the Enron/Worldcom stripe. No, I don't add Martha Stewart to that crowd, she was strictly a PR exercise for the FTA. Speaking of Martha, I have a wonderful anecdote to relate some time, about a run-in my sister Sharon had with her. You're gonna love it, I promise; but now time is pressing, the brain cell is getting just a tad warm, and I have a day job to go to. And so I must say, like Pat Morita does to Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid: Come back tomorrow. We are nowhere near the light of this tunnel. Assuming it's a tunnel and not a coalmine just about to collapse.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Okay, gentle readers, I'm back. Sorry about that little mishap. I wasn't finished with my previous post yet, so naturally I hit the wrong button and inflicted it on you, incomplete. Now where was I?

Oh yes, the second inauguration of the man who can't pronounce NEW-klee-ur.

About that status quo, by which I mean the societal structure of the Beltway. We saw a lot of people protesting the Misspeaker of the White House, and clashing with those who were there because they think he cares about doing anything in the Oval Office other than playing war games with real people. If anything, the status quo was mildly amused by that, because it told them something they already know, which is that the country is divided in the worst way possible: at our level, too many people don't want to see the other side. People who hate the whacky Bush think those who support him are ignoring a lot of facts about him, his past, and his administration; and those in favor of letting the Shrub continue to flourish think his critics are a a pack of unpatriotic liberals who should just shut up because nobody wants to hear their whining. What neither tribe seems to realize is that the status quo couldn't care less about how any of them really feels; it's just about business as usual regardless of whether we have a donkey or an elephant residing in the biggest cage of the big zoo. Understand I'm not suggesting any kind of conspiracy, here...that's just the way it is.

Look, it's like this: since World War II we've either had a Republican or a Democratic administration, and over the course of 60 years, the R's and the D's have developed an arrangement, not just in D.C. but across our entire country; in every state, laws have been set up that make it damn near impossible to run for office if you're not one or the other (and even if you do get on a ballot of any kind, just try convincing anybody you're worth voting for if nobody's ever heard of you or the party you represent; my friend Jay Manifold tried it, running for the 5th Congressional District seat many years ago for the Libertarian party, and for his trouble started getting copies of a very unwanted racist newsletter called The Thunderbolt; some pinhead out there took something Jay said entirely out of context during his one brief appearance on local TV) (the what party?) , and so at the highest level we get what is essentially a one-party system with two faces; one side runs things for a while, and then after eight years we're allowed to get tired of the one and replace it with the other. This is what has led to voter apathy in so many other Presidential elections, up until last year; at our level of society, folks don't see the point. This of course is all just my humble opinion...and it's also why I haven't voted since...well...1984?

Damn...when I started this post, I hadn't realized just how far I was going to go with this. There's a lot more here, and I haven't left a scratch this particular Ayers Rock yet; but my brain cell is just too close to overload to go into it here and now. Yeah, you gotta come back tomorrow for more. Assuming you've been here at all, of course.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Good morning, gentle readers. One of the nice things about AF&PP, as far as I'm concerned, is that it allows me to say what I think without worry of getting the kinds of email I'd be most likely to get if a) anyone actually read a post like this one, b) the kinds of people who'd be most likely to be offended by what I'm going to be saying here won't be able to vent their rage on me, c) I don't need to be told I'm an idiot who doesn't know what he's talking about by any pinhead who'd not only waste his/her time to read me but waste even more time telling me what they think of me in the least polite way they can say it (although most of it would amount to "F*CK YOU!" "You're an idiot!" "I hope you burn in HELL FOREVER!" "What kind of an American are you?" and the like), as if I needed them to tell me something I don't already know, d) I get more than enough spam from other sources as it is. All apologies to anyone out there who does read this drivel and enjoy it. I'd like to be able to hear from folks who have kind things to say, but unfortunately those who do not are in the majority, in my humble opinion, and I don't believe I have enough years left on this Earth to attempt surfing the very large tidal effect-sized amount of electronic vitriol I'd get hit with to seek them out. 'Nuff said.

All of which leads to the other topic I've been meaning to talk about the last couple of days. I took a shot at it on Saturday morning but lost the original opening sequence and decided to work on it later. Yesterday morning I started it again and this time managed to save the draft right the first time. In the process I finally figured something out: for some reason, I work better with a deadline--in this case having to break it off to go to my place of less-than-gainful employment, which is another piece of unfinished business I look forward to (he said, revealing his venom-dripping fangs in a hideous grin). Otherwise, I'm just gonna spin my wheels in here.
But this is something that I want to deal with before it gets too much farther along, because current events are just that, and while this happened last week I want to put in my worthless two cents before it gets too much farther behind.

I'm referring, of course, to our Chief Executive's second inauguration.

Does anyone know just why it took four days of political ceremony to get it done with? I'm sure I don't. You'd think that if Pubis II was really serious about showing leadership, he have said "Okay, election's done with, we've got work to do here. Never mind all that crap, Rehnquist, just swear me in so we can get busy!" But no, instead we got tons of unnecessary pomp and circuses, because there's a certain way things are done there in the Beltway, and to fail to pay lip service to that status quo is a sure way to step on a lot of politcally sensitve toes.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Good morning, gentle readers. This past week the Royals concluded a 3-day minicamp at their spring training complex in Surprise, Arizona. (Don't you think that Surprise is a rather peculiar name for a town? Or maybe that's just me.) Twenty-plus pitchers and a number of position players spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday going through workouts and being evaluated by manager Tony Pena and his coaching staff, in order to get a better idea of how this year's squad is going to shape up.

I won't bore those of you who don't come here (as if there really were any such thing as somebody coming here to read me, ha ha) with the details as this is not a sports column and any of you who care to know what's going with my beloved Royals (not that there are many, for which I am secretly delighted) from any one of hundreds of sources, www.kcroyals.com not the least of those. The point is simply this: the end of baseball's off-season is in sight and this time around, dammit, I'm going to be paying my team all the attention I never gave it here last year. Of course, last year was their second 100-loss season in the last three, with the wonderful '03 season sandwiched in between. Yeah, yeah, so they only finished third that year, but they led their division for most of that season before finally running out of gas in September; and they were fun to watch again for the first time in a very long time. But they tanked before the All-Star break last season and traded away the best center fielder in the major leagues--Carlos Beltran--for promising young players who were considered serious major league prospects; and all the damn losing just made it impossible to enjoy writing about my hometown team.

(Also, I never did give our other local ballclub, the Kansas City T-Bones, much attention in spite of the fact that they were a winning team. I look to reverse that error this season, as well.)

But this is a new year, and I, while I'll never be the kind of sports fan who eats, breathes, and sleeps sports 24-7, am still enough of one for whom hope springs eternal; and I believe that this year is going to be another year like '03, only better, because once again everyone thinks of us as an overhyped Triple-A ballclub, fit only to be a league doormat; and I believe that while everyone else writes off last season as a lost season, my Royals were quietly bringing together the final pieces of the nucleus of a team that is going to bring R-E-S-P-E-C-T back to Kansas City, and keep it here for years to come. It's time for Nosotros Creemos, Part 2!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Good morning, gentle readers...it's great to be here with all of you...again...uh, what's with all of you? Standing in a half-circle, arms crossed, lips pursed, eyebrows raised...okay, look, I apologize for being gone so long. Now if you would just take your seats...? WHAT?

Oh, okay, I get what's with the stare..."You did it again, didn't you?"

All right, you Spanish Inquistioners, I confess...some time after I stopped posting here I drifted back into chat, and recently did myself some damage. In effect, I tore some scar tissue off an old wound in myself, although it's nowhere near as bad as the original self-infliction. I'm slightly less naive than I was 19 years ago. So I'm here in hopes that returning to AF&PP will have a therapeutic effect. (An aside, to some of the people who may read this: Yeah, I know I told you I was okay, but for some reason when I told you I was taking a break from chat you reacted with such alarm--and concern for me, which you didn't know was undeserved, but bless your hearts anyway--that I found myself fudging just a bit to calm your worries. I apologize deeply to each and every one of you for that.) I won't go into details, because that would just keep pouring the proverbial lemon juice on the paper cut--anyone who can correctly guess what movie starring Billy Crystal I ripped that reference from wins a gold star next to hers/his name for the day!--and past experience has taught me that the best cure for this kind of minor hurt is to let Time wrap around it, until it's cocooned once again. Also, while I frequently admit my idiocy--what can you expect, I only got the one brain cell here!--this is my goddam blog and I can choose which idiocies to admit to in it. And that's all the culpa you get from mea.

Speaking of pain. I was lying awake this morning and my thoughts turned to what is going to turn out to be one hell---for me, that is--of a post. Mom. I am more clear about how to go about it; but I still found myself brimming with tears. I am going to do it with dry eyes, not weepy ones. I'll explain why when that post comes.

And it's still great to be back. Now stop with the Spanish Inquisition thing, would ya?

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