Monday, July 31, 2006

Broken Logic of the Male Psyche

"We pursue that which retreats from us."

Donal Logue said that in the Tao of Steve and I believe he was paraphrasing Heidegger. Essentially, people want what they cannot have. It's a basic observation and we've all seen examples of it a thousand times before. However there are men of a certain ilk (whose modus operandi maaaaaaay be discerned from reading this blog from time to time) who will take this philosophy, actually it's not a philosophy I guess but rather a theory of behavior, to its illogical conclusion.

To wit; let's say that on one particular day a guy runs into someone he hasn't seen in a long while. Maybe they hooked up in the past and it didn't go much beyond that but for some reason she decided to get in touch with him again (out of the blue). It's pretty obvious what is happening but he's a little wary, not completely interested. "Why not," you ask, "it's a Sure Thing." Well, let's move forward and see.

Now let's say that on another day this particular guy runs into another young lady from his past. In her case, they went out a few times, he was into her, but he was inexplicably (although hardly unexpectedly) shown the door. So when the two see one another at a social engagement hosted by a mutual friend there is awkwardness on his part but they feign a genuine-ish interest in each's recent goings on, yet all the while he is thinking to himself, "Goddamn she looks good. How did I fuck this up?"

Two women. Pick one. (OK, in reality there are many many options here but for the purposes of this particular "fictional scenario", the choice is binary. One or the other.) Logic would dictate that he play the percentages. Between someone who would have you and someone who would not, you go with the Sure Thing. Right? With the alternative being your old buddy Harry Palmer, why be alone? Well friends, it unfortunately does not work that way because "we pursue that which retreats from us." So instead of spending some time reconnecting with a very nice girl who is obviously into him, our subject will instead choose to sulk a bit and pine away for the one that got away. Or as one friend might eloquently put it, "think himself out of getting laid." Perhaps.

There is no moral or greater lesson to this little exercise other than this one point, hard-to-get actually works. I'll probably lose my Man Card for saying this but ladies if you are into a guy and you want him to come after you, there's a very strong chance that if you make yourself unavailable to him the sky is the limit when it comes to what he will do to have you. Sound stupid, pathetic, and fucked up to you? It is. Welcome.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday 8-Track

Songs about women.

Weezer - "Susanne" - Mallrats Soundtrack
The perfect girl next door. This may be the only Rivers Cuomo song, about a girl, that isn't bitter, jaded, or fetishistic.

Stevie Wonder - "I Was Made To Love Her" - I Was Made To Love Her
Dig that James Jameson bass groove.

Ben Folds Five - "Kate" - Whatever and Ever Amen
The ultimate indie/hipster chick. She's got 100 dude friends all of whom are secretly in love with her. We all know her, we've all crushed on her.

The Wrens - "She Sends Kisses" - The Meadowlands
Long-distance never works.

Guns 'N Roses - "Rocket Queen" - Appetite For Destruction
This song is pretty fucked up, but damn it rocks. The first half is all balls and porn swagger but then after the break it becomes a sincere sentiment of thanks and concern. It must be half-Izzy and half-Axl.

Matthew Sweet - "Evangeline" - Girlfriend
Lyrically there's nothing too remarkable about this tune but Richard Lloyd's guitar work (of Television fame) is fantastic. Just the right amount of skrunk.

Josh Rouse - "Carolina" - Nashville
Great, great hook. Rouse is a master of upbeat melodies paired with sad lyrics...but this one has a happy ending.

Pernice Brothers - "Working Girls" - The World Won't End
The other reigning king of mopey lyrics and killer hooks, Joe Pernice tells the story of depressed office girl (think Pam/Dawn from The Office). This is probably my favorite song by this band with an all-time great lyric: "...contemplating suicide or a graduate degree..."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why You Should Love My Favorite Band

I'm sure it's not very far off from when this blog offcially becomes "J Pimps The Wrens 24-7" but until that day let me give you one more reason to LOVE this band.

Ever wonder what it would be like to see your favorite badass indie rock band play a song in your home using your instruments? Now you know. (And dig that awesome auxillary percussion.)

The Wrens will be at the Cat in October. Be there, be there, be there.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Two Steps Back

Yet another reason why libertarians will always be considered a part of the lunatic fringe.

It's a shame that Jefferson's eloquence died with him.

The Clear or the Cream?

Being exiled from Sunday's celebrity status, I found myself back in the cheap seats last night as the Nats continued their winning streak despite two homeruns from Ray Durham (Ray Durham!) in back to back at-bats. Attendance was about 8,000 above average for a Tuesday night with all of those additional seats of course being filled by those wanting to catch a glimpse of dubious history; Barry Bonds. To be honest, he didn't look that big from all the way up in 406.

I did have to smile last night as I took in all of the disrespect that Bonds was shown from the radical defensive shift when he was at the plate (Zimmerman shifted to cover short leaving the left side of the infield wide open), to the "Hank Don't Cheat" banner in the stands, to the "boo's" that rained down on him the entire night. Call me cold, but it is hard to muster up any pity for a despicable millionaire superstar. But I was surprised that during all of that, there was a noticeable number of fans who were loudly applauding Bonds during his at-bats.

Now I have been called a contrarian before -- a very fair accusation -- so I understand the desire to go against prevailing opinion and always take the counterargument. But to get behind someone like Bonds, that is just beyond me. In a game where a player's legacy is absolutely relative to those that came before him, the evidence is overwhelming (damningly so) that he has spent the last half of his career tipping the scales in order to cheat history. While guys like Ruth, Cobb, and Rose may have been of equally questionable character, their performance on the field was legit and strictly a result of their effort and god-given ability. On the other hand Bonds has chosen to stand on the shoulders of giants, or so I believe, in order to the acheive the same level of greatness.

In sports there is gamesmanship and there is cheating and what I believe Bonds is guilty of is outright cheating. To stand in his presence and cheer him on while he lamely struggles in his last seasons to dupe history is just plain sad. I hope those people's cars got broken into out in the lot so they can feel just as robbed as those of us forced to watch Barry build a cult of personality to himself.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hangin' With The Washington Press Corps

The life of a broadcast media personality must be pretty sweet. Via Six Degrees of Acquaintances (more like two in this particular case), I found myself lucky enough to be sitting in James Carville's seats at the Nats game yesterday. Next to us were Tim Russert's empty seats which I'm told go unused quite a bit because Tim, being a hardcore seamhead, doesn't enjoy being chatted up by people while he's trying to concentrate on the game. And two rows over, Mr. Bob Schieffer was taking in the Nats' series-sweeping win on Sunday. Not a bad life at all for these guys. Oh, did I mention that their seats are directly behind the Nats' dugout?

Now as a ticket plan holder all the way up in Section 406 with the plebs, I am familiar with the lottery process for season tickets and multi-game plans. How good friends Russert and Carville managed to "win" the eight best seats in the stadium right next to one another in their respective lottery bids is quite the stroke of luck, but I am certainly not complaining. The person in our group who scored the tickets used to work with Mr. Carville and by all accounts he is an extremely gracious and friendly individual. (Hell, I got to sit in his incredible seats for free so he is OK in my book.) And at least the tickets are actually owned by guys who are baseball fans as opposed to disinterested status-seeking local celebrities.

But the real thrill of yesterday was that being so close to the action gave me license to act like a kid again. I got to beg for the third-out ball every time the Nats came back into the dugout (one of which Nick Johnson gave me and I eventually gave to some kids a few rows back...I wish I'd kept it), watched Frank Robinson angrily mumble to himself while walking back from the plate after complaining about an excessively long pitching change, got a little too excited when Screech the mascot hung out in front of us, and made a fool of myself singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" on the Jumbotron. A pretty good day for a 29-year-old with a severe case of arrested development.

I think that as I am confronted with "real life" issues like career moves, housing decisions, and potential batchelor permanence more and more, I turn to regressive behavior such as binge-drinking, dressing like a UVA frat boy during a vineyard tour (truth), and appealing for game balls and free ice cream at the ballpark as a defense mechanism. Shit, if this keeps up I'll be living in my old room at my parents' house by year's end.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday 8-Track

Here's an adrenalin-shot playlist for the weekend:
  • The Cure - "Why Can't I Be You?" - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
  • Stars - "Ageless Beauty" - Set Yourself On Fire
  • Husker Du - "I Apologize" - New Day Rising
  • Urge Overkill - "Sister Havana" - Saturation
  • Jeff Buckley - "Eternal Life" (live) - Mystery White Boy
  • Teenage Fanclub - "Star Sign" - Bandwagonesque
  • Sunny Day Real Estate - "Seven" - Diary
  • Jimmy Eat World - "Bleed American" - Bleed American


Clerkin' Part Deux

...(back to the lecture at hand)

Don't you hate it when work gets in the way of blogging? Anyway, the "Guaranteed" promotion. At some point the suits at the 'Buster decided that they needed a way to move more of the movies residing in The Core (the shelves in the middle of the store where the "old" movies are kept) so they came up with a promotion whereby any customer unsatisfied with his or her rental may get another rental for free. How naively they underestimated the guile of the public. On two separate occasions I was forced to restrain myself from dropkicking a customer when they came into the store unsatisfied and lookign for a free movie. The first didn't care for Groundhog Day because, as he described it with a straight face, the movie was "too repetitive." I guess he didn't read the box. The second, a woman I almost punched in the face, returned Star Wars for a free rental because it was "unrealistic." And she was deadly serious.

Meandering my way to the point of these two posts; it was all of these experiences that set me up for one of those film viewing experiences that remain forever etched in one's memory. The first time this occured was while living overseas, my dad brought home a copy of Star Wars that somebody on base had dubbed. This was around 1982 and I had no idea what was about to happen to me. It certainly had a huge impact and my most vivid memory of that day was rewinding the film after it ended and watching it again. Anyway, a similar experience occured in 1995 when I was working at the 'Buster and one of my coworkers suggested I check out this odd little film, Clerks.

I almost shit myself several times while watching it in the store during closing. Everything about this film screamed "This is my life!" (Excluding all of the deviant behavior, of course.) But the daily grind of a Joe Job, riffing with your friends on the most inane topics, searching for clever ways to amuse yourself and kill the clock, all of it came across as brilliant yet completely relateable. From then on, my days at the 'Buster were never the same. My name tag was changed to read "Randal" and I found myself sneering at customers instead of helping them with their stupid movie questions. Every single night I closed the store, for years, it was a mandate that Clerks would be played on the video screens. I would even go so far as to keep track of how many copies we had in the store so that when we got down to the last copy I would stash it behind the counter and tell customers "Sorry, guess we're all out."

Given all that, I am super-psyched that Clerks II is finally out today. I know in some way it has to be a disappointment. The sequel is never better than the original (except for maybe Godfather II, Aliens, and Empire). Especially so when it is a film that is so iconic (depending upon your perspective) and strongly associated with your life experiences. Even still though, this is a chance to return to those halcyon days of clerkin', goofing off, and not worrying about tomorrow or the next day. I can't wait.

My days as a "Clerk"

In my senior year of high school I decided to get out of the food services industry (making pies at Little Ceasar's) and elevate my stature in the community by taking a job at one of the local Blockbusters. Little did I know that over ten years later I would still fondly look back upon that gig as one of the best jobs I ever had. As a pretty enthusiastic film fan, especially the sort that were re-run over and over on the Turner networks, working at a generic neighborhood chain video store was the ideal assignment.

Since jobs like that had (and still do have) a high turnover rate, over the 3-4 years that I worked there during summer and winter breaks I was able to acheive a certain status among the staff and clientele. While out on the mean streets of the N-O-V-A I was pretty pathetic, within my little video kingdom I was royalty. And as such, my cohorts and I were afforded the opportunity to run our little shenanigans like trading free rentals for feasts at Boston Market (then Boston Chicken), tossing loitering kids out of the store for no reason, or showing our favored customers what to buy at the Radio Shack next door in order to "illegally" dub the videos they rented.

Of course with all of that grifting and authoritarianism there were also the moments of transcendant lunacy courtesy of the good people of the North Point community. There was the blizzard in which parents would drag their kids on sleds for blocks (uphill!) to get to the shopping center in order to rent movies and then bitch a week later about their late fees, bemoaning what heartless bastards we were for expecting them to return videos on time in such conditions. Also there was the homemade porno that was accidentally returned in a rental box (come on, what's a video store career without one of those incidents). But the one that really put me over the top, and the spiraling point of this trip down memory lane, was our "Guaranteed to Love It" promotion.

...(to be continued)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

(B)ull (S)hit, (M)ore (S)hit, (P)iled (h)igher (D)eeper

Let's not break an arm patting ourselves on the back, but it appears that Arlington is the best educated city in America. Which is an especially noteable feat since we're actually a county conataining no incorporated districts so I guess we're more like a pseudo-city. Yeah, that works. The pseudo-city of Arlington.

The yardstick for "best educated city" is the percentage of residents who hold an advanced/graduate degree so I would like to congratulate myself for doing my part to elevate the status of our little 'burg. Of course none of this means anything because I have encountered so many Arlingtonians with so very little class it makes me wonder what 7, 8, or 9 years of higher education is actually teaching people. It would be nice if the concept of a "classical education" were brought back into the mainstream. But I digress.

What's most interesting about this useless little statistic is that it means I am living in the zipcode best suited to servicing my fetish for intelligent, hyper-educated women in attractive eyewear. Score.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Point of Exposition

I think I may have unfairly maligned the idea of buying a home in the outlying areas during my running commmentary on the unreal estate market in the region. I have several coupled friends who have made home purchases in exurbia and I believe it is working out well for all of them. They are happy with their homes, their situations, and the fact that they now have a stake in something.

I guess the point I was trying to make earlier is that for someone in my situation (chronically single and with a social life dependent upon immediate "interior" Metro access), settling outside of the beltway would be akin to casting myself out an island. My friends have the benefit of being in the process of making a Home. They're starting a life all their own and the rewards of that can afford them the ability to sacrifice certain things I currently find important. But as for me, I'm just looking for a place to rest my head without any of those other benefits.

Apologies to any of my friends I may have unknowingly insulted.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I'll keep that in mind

Lamenting my housing woes to my dad on the phone today, his reponse was:

"Hey, at least you don't have to unpack your CD's now."

Then he tried to talk me into buying something in Sterling again. Thanks, pop.


The most unsettling part about the news that my building will eventually be bought and leveled is that I thought I had found an actual home rather than just a place to rent. One of the residents has been living in this building for over 20 years and while I didn't suspect I would stay that long, I did believe I would be living here until the "next significant phase" in my life began. With that plan now going up in smoke I have to reassess. Obviously I have to move, but to where?

The only way to really protect myself from getting kicked out of yet another property ripe for redevelopment is to buy which, shockingly, my parents insist is the sensible thing for me to do. Great. I'd love to buy. Does anyone have an extra $1k lying around each month that they'd like to get rid of? Because it is going to cost an arm and a leg to buy anything either in Arlington or the District. And if I do buy I'm sorry, but I'm going to buy a place where I want to live. I grew up in Herndon and yeah I could probably find something affordable out that way in western Fairfax or parts of Loudoun but I don't want to. I refuse to retreat back to exurbia. So, since buying is a non-option my living choices have narrowed:

Find another place in Courthouse
I really think this is the best neighborhood in North Arlington in which to live. It's walkable, it's a metro stop, 50, 66, 395, 110, and the GW are all immediately accessible, it's (relatively) quiet, and it's close enough to walk to Clarendon but far enough to avoid the chaos down there. Unfortunately everyone else has figured this out and that's why developers are tripping over themselves to snatch up every available piece of real estate. There are buildings in the neighborhood similar to mine into which I could move but they have to be just as vulnerable, if not more, to high-rise aspirations. If I moved and got kicked out again I might just have to kill myself.

Move back up the road to Ballston or Clarendon
Clarendon is so tough to live in right now. With all of the condos and towncenter-type communities shooting up in that little area there are very few affordable properties left and the people living in them are not about to leave anytime soon. Ballston is almost as bad in terms of availability but it is much less livable than Clarendon or Courthouse. With the new Westin Hotel and the office parks being built around the mall Ballston is starting to look more and more like Rosslyn every day. There are still some strong single-family home neighborhoods but each of those homes is being flipped into a McMansion (a fact of which I am keenly aware).

Take the leap across the river
It has been suggested on several occasions that I move into the District and I must admit that it is an idea I have entertained for a long time. I really would like to become a DC resident but there are two major prohibitive factors keeping me out. First, I work all the way out in Ashburn. While I hope to be amending that problem soon, my commute from Arlington is long enough as it is and I live near 66. Moving deep into Northwest or down around the Hill/Eastern Market would add at least 20 to 30 minutes to the drive. This commute, plus various social obligations in Virginia and Maryland, make my extremely car dependent and I don't relish the idea of cruising around for a parking spot every night when I get home. Secondly, any 1BR place I could afford is going to be tiny. Already at my current residence, which I find to be plenty roomy, I have forsaken any sort of kitchen/dining table in order to have a place to store various guitars and amplifiers. Moving into the city, I wouldn't want to now have to give up a couch or bed in order to accomplish the same feat. But even with all of that I may still give the city a whirl...

Pull up stakes
I don't want to leave the area. My family is here, my friends are here, my band is here, my career has a lot of mobility here, and it is home to me. But the difficulties of finding a stable place to live in a "fun" neighborhood are getting tiresome. If I am going to continue to put up with headaches like this I might as well do so with a change of scenery. San Diego? A friend is moving back from there but has held on to the house he owns there. I could definitely get a good job out there, potentially rent his place, and ease my way into his circle of friends he left behind. If this Arlington (or DC) thing doesn't work out, I just may have to pull the cord.

Monday, July 17, 2006

City at Night

As of tonight, my new favorite walking around DC song is "Ageless Beauty" by Stars. Fantastic.

And if you find yourself standing halfway between the Capitol and the Washington Monument just after sunset when this song comes on look north, look south, and then dare anyone to talk shit about our town.

Arlington Redevelopment Strikes Again

Only seven weeks after being forced to move from my single-family house in Ballston so the owners could turn it into a McMansion, I will once again be on the hunt for affordable housing in North Arlington. Yesterday afternoon the owner of my building stopped by to ask if he could renegotiate my lease such that it would terminate at the end of next April. The reason; every single building and house on my block, except for the 14-unit garden apartment in which I reside, has been purchased by a developer and he is feeling the pressure to sell. Anyone care to guess what will soon stand in their place? You got it, a high-rise building full of million-dollar condominiums. Fuck.

I really thought I had dodged all of this property-flipping by moving down to Courthouse and finding a building that has had a single owner for over twenty years. The property is gorgeously maintained, we have a resident superintendant, and many of the residents have lived in the building for at least ten years. But none of that could withstand the ridiculous amount of money that is being thrown at the property owner. And it is hard to blame the guy (he was practically in tears as he explained to me what has been going on with the ensuing development) who very much wants to stay in the housing business and sees an oppotunity to take the money and buy a building that will be at least somewhat safe from future development predators.

I am not upset so much as I am confused and exasperated. I studied economics at that hotbed of libertarian free market thought, GMU, so I am pro-development and understand the law of supply-and-demand. But what I fail to see is from where the demand for this type of development is coming. The direct demand is obvious; developers are competing for post-war houses and rental properties clustered together near metro stops along the Orange line (East Falls Church, Ballston, VA Square, Clarendon, and Courthouse). As far as the current owners are concerned, all they see is large holdiong companies bidding to make obscene offers on properties they have controlled for 30+ years. What I don't get is who is driving the demand for these developers to come in and build high-end condos.

Across from my building are two identical high rises each full of condos that probably start at around $800k. At the end of my street are two smaller condo complexes all in the million-dollar price range. Several blocks up in Clarendon there have been a rash of condos and townhomes that have shot up, all of them catering to upper middle class incomes. And just down the way on Lee Highway, the Lyon Estates condo complex is finishing up and advertising prices "from" $800k and up. So now in the middle of all this some development group thinks that there is a market need to level my entire block and put in more expensive condominiums. Who is buying all of these condos? The target demo seems to be single people or childless couples who apparently have no problem affording a $3000/mo. mortgage (while still having money left over to pay $300 a month in condo fees and purchase a $30k parking stall). Are there really that many people in the metro area who fit this profile, because North Arlington isn't the only place where this is happening.

What's really wild is that I should be their target demo. I'm (relatively) young, wish to live in a developed urban area, have a good job with a salary that probably puts me toward the upper income percentile for persons my age, and yet there is no way in hell I could afford to buy into one of these new developments. Who the hell else is out there with so much disposable income that it makes good business sense to plow under what's left of the "old neighborhoods" in Arlington? Somebody please tell me.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Confession

Two days ago, for g-d knows why, I downloaded a bunch of Bryan Adams songs onto my mp3 player...and I have been rockin' the shit out of them.

What can I say? 18 'Til I Die!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Voice over Data

Text messaging; a tempting but potentially dangerous cellular feature. I've at times been guilty of being emboldened by the emotional distance it creates and transmitted some ill-advised messages to various parties. But these instances usually occurred late at night/early in the morning and were in every case, alcohol-fueled. I can however proudly admit that I have never asked anyone out via text message...which is exactly what a buddy of mine did last night. Why?

In his defense, I think he is uber-intimidated by this young lady he recently met. Apparently she is very driven, Harvard-educated, probably Type A and because he is not these things, I think he's already written her off as incompatible. He just met her this past weekend and they seemed to hit it off and made plans to get in touch about a golf date this weekend (a mutual interest). So when he told me that instead of calling her last night he texted her, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed.

No surprise that he has not heard back yet. I mean, put yourself in her shoes. What would you do if you met someone, gave this person your number, and he/she got in touch with you via a 3-sentence text message? (Jesus, I hope it wasn't written in Abbreviated Text; "how r u?") I lack a lot of stones when it comes to approaching women but even I know that texting some girl is a surefire way to come off as noncommittal, uninterested, or even worse, soft. Boo.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Five Fake Albums

I love this game.

12 Tales of Faith, Love, & Healing - allegorical R&B concept album about R. Kelley's quest to redeem his soul

A Pestilence of Riches - anti-globalization themed hardcore on a major record label

Light, Colour, And A Handshake From God - overly fussy Canadian indie pop produced by a collective of six different Candian indie pop bands

Modern Miracle No-Man - shoegazing Brit-pop circa 1993

High In My Saddle, Low In My Boots - Toby Keith/Montgomery Gentry/whatever/CMT schlock

And Your Bird Will Sing

A few days ago it occurred to me that I have never read a book by a female writer. There were of course the Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary books I read when I was a kid, the Song of Solomon assignment in high school, and all of those Sarah Vowell books but none of those really count. Prepubescent reading choices are kind of a wash, anything you were "forced" to read in high school doesn't count, and Sarah Vowell is really one of the guys anyway. So practically speaking I had never bought or read a piece of femal-penned literature...until yesterday.

I came to this realization while reading up on one of my favorite authors, Nick Hornby (who quite often gets name-dropped here). In response to a question regarding who he reads or is influenced by, he said that one of his favorite writers is Lorrie Moore. Maybe it has to do with my literary ignorance or some male bias but I was a bit surprised that he would mention a female author. It didn't occur to me that someone who writes with such a specifically male voice, about the male condition (particularly as to its being affected by the female condition), would find inspiration in an opposite sphere. Although it just now occurs to me that the main character and first-person narrator of How To Be Good is female so maybe I've just not read deep enough into Mr. Hornby's prose. Whatever. The point being that I came to this realization and therefore went out and bought Lorrie Moore's collection of short stories, Birds of America.

After reading the first story last night I think I may know why I haven't read much female literature up to this point; I don't understand women. For all of the unsolicited dating advice I have proffered friends over the years, whatever it is I think I know about women has really just been cobbled together from my recall of romantic comedies and third-person anecdotes. Reading the voice of one of Moore's characters for twenty or so pages I kept stopping to ask, "What? Why the hell would she say that? Is she crazy? Are all women this nuts?" I think I have unconsciously chosen writers over the years who's characters I can easily escape into. There are aspects of "Rob Freeman" and "Will Lightman" with which I absolutely identify so reading about them required very little effort. Playing a guessing game with Ms. Moore's characters however, is something I'm not used to.

Anyway, I plan on finishing Birds of America and hopefully moving on to one of her earlier works after that. Perhaps I'll actually learn something rather than rehashing the same old internal shit I do time and again with the "guy writers" to which I am normally drawn.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I have wasted my entire adult life

I know that the Seaver kids went to Dewey High in Growing Pains.
I know that Screech's "real" name is Samuel Powers.
I know that the creepy guy on all of the Iron Maiden album covers is "Eddie."
I know that "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left Right, BA, Start" is the greatest game cheat code of all time.

Having spent my formative years sexless and in front of the television, I have acquired a vast wealth of utterly useless knowledge. So much in fact that I am at times prone to spitting out these frightening little factoids in mid conversation just to make room in my brain for other bits of irrelevant minutae. Once I vacated college and semi-casually entered the professional world, it became seemingly clear to me that I wasn't going to get very far on my "informal education" and should rather concentrate on facts more germane to my career. I therefore began surpressing details like the three main "Cassetticons" Soundwave would eject in battle (Rumble, Ravage, and Laserbeak) and instead focused on recalling classroom facts such as the current draw of a cascaded two-stage MOSFET Class-A amplifier. This was my idea of maturing.

And to be quite honest, over the last six years it has not gone very well. While I am somehow barely able to function at work (remembering very little of the material I slaved over at school), I can still recite the entire Princess Bride screenplay without taking a breath. Perhaps I have some faulty synapses but for whatever reason my brain seems much more capable of retaining useless versus useful information. This used to bother me until the advent of two very significant things.

Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture

I was a pretty good Trivial Pursuit Genus "X" player, but when the Pop Culture edition was released I finally discovered something I could really dominate. Whip this thing out at a party and I will now have an outlet for all of the crap that has been squatting in the back of my brain for over twenty years. I will crush the casual player in this game and I will look like the complete tool that I am in the process but goddammit, for the fleetingest of moments I will be a winner.

World Series of Pop Culture

I watched the premiere of this show last night and got every single question right. And that was while half-asleep with a belly full of pizza. The construct of the show is terrible (in and of itself not very entertaining) but if you, pathetically like me, are interested in challenging your pop culture wits then this is indeed the show for you. I can't believe I didn't get in on the casting call for this. The winners get $250k. For wasting their lives on television and pulp media!

That's what really drives me nuts. I've been wasting my time trying to get book smart when all this time I had all of the knowledge I would ever need. I know how to drive a car, bathe myself, program a DVR, and can detail the COBRA chain-of-command. What more is there? If I had the wherewithal to get on this show I could be one-third of $250k richer (the show features three person teams). Hell, I might needn't have even gone to college. Or grad school for that matter! That's seven years I'll never get back.

It's quite the startling revelation when one comes to the realization that all of life's necessary knowledge can be unconsciously acquired whilst channel-surfing.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Confessions of a Bar Crawl Attendee

I don't know why I continue to attend these stupid things. As the summer builds up and the hours confined to an office become more and more maddening, trolling from midtown pub to midtown pub in search of $2 Bud Lights and even cheaper women seems like a really good idea. And in some respects it is but of course the next day is the same old shit; body fatigue, irritable bowels, shame, pourous recall, and unanswered questions regarding how long this type of behavior can be maintained.

For my coupled and otherwise betrothed friends these types of event have become somewhat of a spectacle. It's really an opportunity to relive the old glory days and watch the desperately unattached and wildly uninhibited of us do something stupid. In high school chemistry we got to drop various Alaki metals into a vat of water and watch them react. The farther down the Periodic Table (the heavier the element), the bigger the explosion. Literally. That's what the Midtown Liberty Bar Crawl makes me think of...Rubidium blowing up a tub full of water.

It's amazing that with a lot of booze, loud music, confined spaces, and greenhouse temperatures one's preferences in women will always drastically change. For some reason (alright, one very specific reason) all of the thoughtful dating criteria you've shared with your friends over the years and the high-minded qualities you look for will fly out the window and end up pancaked on the street. What you're only left able to process on one of these debauched nights out is the following: what is she wearing, how much is she drinking, does she look like a party girl, and do I have an in? Essentially the opposite of everything you have ever said in regards to the ideal mate.

Now, I certainly harbor no delusions about what the intent of a bar crawl is. I would never want to meet someone I wanted to date at an event like that because I would more than likely be so drunk that the image of me projected is the amusing, boisterous, yet slightly obnoxious, and wholly unsustainable version of myself that makes cameo appearances from time-to-time. He is the kind of guy that likes to hook up on bar crawls and I would therefore prefer to see him squashed into oblivion. A little harmless no strings fun every now and then is a healthy thing but I can't help but feel ashamed of myself for entertaining conversation topics such as kickball, what a slut/bitch so-and-so is, how awesome it is being an intern on the Hill, or any other number of vapid subjects all in the hopes of discovering what color thong she is wearing. On any other occasion these are the kinds of women I would immediately roll my eyes at and walk away from yet on one or two particluar nights I become the worst imitation of myself.

As always there is an ironic overtone to all of this. It's nights out like these when it becomes how obvious both you and your coupled friends suffer from Grass Is Greener Syndrome.

"Man, I miss this."
"Jesus, this is getting old."

Where is the happy middle?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Capitol Fourth

Well I survived one of the dumber ventures I have ever embarked upon and managed to live through Monday to enjoy yesterday's July 4th celebrations. While much of the first half of the day was spent reposing myself on the couch, I did manage to make it out to a BBQ once the thunderstorms had passed.

One of the other great things about living in this area is the Capitol Fourth celebration. I have only gone down to the Mall once to watch the fireworks display (and I never ever will do it again) but living in Arlington, you don't have to. There are so many "well elevated" neighborhoods in town that in many cases you can simply walk out your door to see the big show. Which is exactly what we did last night.

Summertime, beer, friends, fireworks...not a bad life to lead.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tee Time

Well, the Babs Invitational is only a few hours away. For the uninitiated, the Babs is a golf tournament started by some friends many many years ago in honor of nothing. The object of the tournament is to not black out before the 18th hole and maybe play a little golf along the way. I have never participated in the past (in large part because I don't really play golf) but today my cherry will be popped. Like some new fish, the veterans are trying to terrify me with stories of unconsciousness, debauchery, and criminaly activity in years past. Greeeaaaat.

This year marks a special occasion for the Babs as it conincides with the Midtown Liberty Bar Crawl. The organizing geniuses have therefore decreed that the Babs will be followed up by full-on participation in said bar crawl. This is absolutely ridiculous. I'm 9 months away from turning 30 and today have decided to take off from work in order to traindodge a serious case of alcohol poisoning. Maybe that's why, much to my family's uncomprehending dismay, I'm still single?

Although, me thinks [me] doth protest too much. I am looking forward to a little childish reckless abandon. The longer I can hold on to my fleeting youth, the better. See you on the links.