Friday, November 13, 2009

Five More Thoughts - More Shtick! Ed.

I've heard that we need more shtick around here, and I figure I can share this thing where I ramble along five times longer about exactly as much nothing, kind of like if Seinfeld was verbose, unfunny, and had no audience. Since I don't really go in for topical news, I limit myself to extremes of scope, blathering about poorly-illustrated big-picture stuff, or else going after the trivial and banal (mostly about myself). Is there any doubt about which is more satisfying?

Also, I'm not genealogically qualified to use this many Yiddish-isms. Oy, the chutzpah. It's probably because I learned to read from a stack of old MADs.

1. "Seduced, shaggy Samson snored..."
I never really intended to become a shrill, embittered liberal, especially considering that my political views haven't really changed at all. We can trace this development to any number of things--studying too much how ideologies relate to practice, reading too many other cynical types, or suffering the continued indignity of working for a living--but the real answer is more insidiously obvious, staring right me. I grew a ponytail.

It took about a year and a half, and I still couldn't tell you why I did it at this age. It wasn't really laziness, and certainly not vanity. Maybe it was just cheaper than a Corvette.

A dreadful, ratty tangle of a thing. Let down, it looked like a Troy Polamalu style forehead-and-curls, although my wife thought "pro wrestler" was a better description of the wet, stringy strands (minus, of course, either sort of beefcake). My daughter thought I looked just like Slash, from Guns-n-Roses, which is actually why I kept it as long as Halloween. (I'm going to let y'all use your own imaginations as to my actual appearance.) Pulling it back allowed me to go to work.

If you're a professional nerd, then slacking on your appearance can actually be a keen career strategy, way to generate the illusion of competence. Who would you trust to think up an innovative techie solution on your behalf: the impeccable smug little douchebag in an immaculate suit, or the slovenly ponytailed grad-student-looking guy with the pens in his stained shirt pocket and old sneakers on his feet? I mean, really! As my hair proceeded through its Einstein and its Newton phases, lucrative contracts came forth like manna on my heretofore parched horizon. Speaking confidence grew, and the reports and marketing pitches grew more successful. There was even a result or two, if you can believe that.

I cut it yesterday, not as short as it's been all my life, but I think enough to save the shower plumbing. I declined to go all-in, for fear of losing my powers. I can stretch it into a tight nub if my career flounders again, or if I discover I'm insufficiently shrill.

I wonder what would have happened if I grew a Lenin goatee.

2. News you can use.
Hey, speaking of pecs, and what children can be led to believe, probably the funniest thing I ever taught my daughter was about chest anatomy. "Hi Grandma!" "Hi M--" "You have boobs!" "Um…" "Girls have boobs and boys have pectoral muscles!"

I was so proud. Only two or three years old, and she'd really game the reaction of adults with that line, always knew how to deliver it for a laugh. Ten years later, her personality is pretty much the same, witty and sincere and off-the-wall. She's awesome.

3. They Live!
So I've been watching the remake of V, less because it's good, and more out of some remembered appreciation of a halfway decent miniseries (not to mention a young boy's crush on a badass hottie alien commander, which hasn't warped me at all, no sir). The new version seems to have taken for granted the menace and conflicting sympathies that the old version took time to build up, but that's not the real problem. You could tell that the series was fucked as soon as they introduced the nerds.

There are very attractive, well-adjusted science fiction nerds, don't get me wrong, but I've got to tell you--even if he has the correspondingly unlikely hot FBI agent for a mom--there's no way that kid has spent any time reading books and watching Star Trek. He's got that smirky disarming grin honed to such an art form that it's impossible to imagine he's ever had to escape into his imagination or to waste time doing things like "thinking." The lucky bastard smiles like he's had the world on a string since he was ten. I could see him trying to score with the alien for the novelty, but I'm not just buying the sincere infatuation.

See, the Visitors have good reasons to look attractive, given that they have a desire to seduce the human population into subservience, with their smooth talk and gentle expressions. We can see how boys who've grown up jerking off to Milla Jovovich might gravitate needily to sexy ETs. And presuming those are well-integrated Terminator-style skin suits, complete with human-like nerves and veins and a limited set of plumbing, we can see how the aliens could sustain certain needs and desires with respect to the other species. It's also not inconceivable that they're just total interstellar pervs. But standards of attraction are pretty arbitrary, and I don't see why the aliens would be drawn to the same late-aughts American-style good looks that they're forced to inhabit for the purposes of conquest.
I'm not saying they'd prefer prettyboy's dorky fat friend (who is the show's only slightly convincing normal) but rather, they're lizards under there, and it stands to reason that they'd go in for humanity's more reptilian specimens (pictured). Failing that, I could see them being intrigued by our more scaly, well-preserved members. Lizard aliens chasing around wizened old grannies? Breaking the hearts of lonely psoriatics all over again? Now that would be great television.

4. "Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes…"
If V teaches anything, it's that you should be suspicious of authority, especially when they have something to gain from your complacency. Where is this better illustrated than highway police?

There's some actual service they provide, deterring reckless behavior and directing traffic around an accident, but these things are occasional. The real purpose of the highway patrol is revenue generation, to write enough tickets to keep these punitive fuckers in jackboots and donuts. Did you ever wonder why the streets get so thick with cops at the end of every quarter? When I was in D.C., they had just made a big deal about installing red light cameras (cutting out the middleman, a perfect cash spigot). If no human being is around to see you roll through a red light, then what exactly is wrong with rolling through a red light?

The traffic police could keep their emergency response function without being such colossal assholes. Yeah, we all know what it's like to be pulled over, but even the nature of their presence is dickish. Drivers naturally cower before police cruisers. They'll shrink as far as they can into the shoulder and freeze, even when the cop is going the other way, as they wait respectfully for Johnny Law to mosey on by. And no motorist alive will pass a cop on the highway. In fact, when a statie is spotted by drivers, the usual response is to slow down to 40 or so, and try to act nonchalant, as if the police are that dumb. (I feel it's respectful to drive past them at normal legal speeds.) Police presence can confuse drivers enough to make them less safe. Last week, I had one of these assholes parked on the median across from the entrance ramp, doing not a goddamn thing but causing misery. Drivers coming up the freeway were jamming on their brakes to feign innocence, and the ramp was stalled well up onto the connecting highway. I'm surprised it didn't cause an accident right there, and I'm sure that the subtle effects of road rage trickled on down the line. That police officer caused drivers to shout at each other, yell at their kids, have an extra drink when they got home. Preserving public order, my ass.

5. Insecurity Suite.
I pay six dollars a month for security software for my provider. What I need to keep secure are, I suppose, my ten or so yearly credit card purchases, and my blogger and email passwords. I'd like to keep the photo archives and checkbook register free from mischief too, but we back those up every once in a while. I think if my parents or the four other people in our address book got an email from us asking their checking account number, they'd probably call us about it. I don't know if the security service is keeping those things safe, really. Like most users, I'm taking my chances under half-informed faith.

I will say this, however. The primary service that the security suite provides is gumming up the hamster wheel in there. Inevitably, the program that freezes my computer when it starts up is the one called "Security Communication Facilitator." If it is doing such an obviously abysmal job of facilitating communications, I don't really expect much from its security services!

Of course, Microsoft is the undisputed king of useless services. I'm typing this out in Word right now, and I've already been gifted with automatic ellipses (no matter how many times I change the settings in autotype…), automatic whole-document formatting on the italicized headings (who could possibly want that?), and that fucking autosave that sits idle for the long minutes I think, but suddenly sparks to life the second I touch a goddamn key. And for god's sake, do not paste formatted text!. I copied it from another program, you assholes, but I intend it to look like this document I'm putting together. There's a special category in hell for the simp who dreamed up the PowerPoint bulleted auto-presentation, and for the innumerate retard who set the defaults on Excel's charts, with their signature awfulness for any kind of data presentation.

One thing I've learned as a blogger, is that it's a lot of work to keep things going at any kind of volume. It's why this form works best for people attuned to current events, or with a fine ear for minutiae and clever or funny gimmicks. It occurs to me that there is more than enough material in the annoying quirks and features that one accommodates in the day-to-day operation of human-designed electronics that a cranky person could obsess over, one bug at a time.

Just throwing it out there, if anyone wants readers, but doesn't want to go through the trouble of thinking up things to write about. You could get rich quick. Or alternatively, if such a blog exists, I think I'd like to read and champion it.


artandsoul said...

You are sublime! Really! Ponytail or no -- I don't know what I'd do without your blog.

Well, I'd probably write. Yes, I would (hopefully) spend some of this time in front of my computer putting MY thoughts into the keyboard, rather than laughing, reading, laughing some more and then feeling completely intimidated.


Oh, and is that the same daughter who is the awesome poet? Because I bet she's written some stuff too... probably because she does not read your blog over and over, and try to work her way through all your book reviews.


I think I'm going to have to give up something on the Internet. So, Procrastination may just have to wait.

Keifus said...

It's the same girl. (She's the comedian; the other is more naturally a dramatist.) I'm trying to get a "family newspaper" edition out for thanksgiving, but it's hard to get 'em really motivated.

Thanks for the kind words. I feel like that a lot too (and please, please tell me you weren't referring to this crap with that comment!), and I don't know what to make of any of it. I find that the writing exercise has enhanced whatever manic-depressive tendencies I already had.

twif said...

once my hair starts getting long enough to pull back, i tend to cut it. can never get past the point where pulling it back still doesn't keep it out of my eyes.

Keifus said...

The wet mop on my back was unpleasant too.

Hmmm, I'm pretty sure my geek cred theory holds for computer guys too. It probably doesn't revolve around the hair, though.

artandsoul said...

Keifus, I like everything you write... what is so great is that it is always pertinent, well spoken, and well your writing grabs me somewhere between my sense of humor and my intellect and makes them shake hands!

Keifus said...

Yowza. Thanks, Cindy.

hipparchia said...

the ponytail, it could be worse.

i occasionally let my mom cut mine off to shoulder length, but paying a professional to keep it looking good at a shorter length costs way too much. i have rebellious locks -- thick, coarse, crinkly, lots of cowlicks. it takes someone who knows what they're doing, and those people don't come cheap [rightly so].

i am ridiculously cheap, and money is tight these days anyway, but i was still ridiculously happy to see that the guy who used to cut my hair 20 years ago has reopened his shop near where i live. humans are NOT rational.

One thing I've learned as a blogger, is that it's a lot of work to keep things going at any kind of volume.

isn't that the truth. and we don't even get paid for it. there's something wrong with picture. [help! i've got a blog and i can't shut up!]

Keifus said...

It's nice to see you hipp. I swear I've started my homework project (really! one down and like twelve to go, including Ulysses).

I don't think unruly locks is consistent with the Coulter look (hmmm, are you part of the lizard cabal controlling the country?), but it seems more your thing.

If I got paid for this, it'd seem like work, and then I wouldn't want to do it anymore.