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The tone on this blog has gotten too serious, lately. I aim to put a stop to that. In under 24 hours, my last post on Swine Flu sky-rocketed to the most viewed post in the history of this site. This is an effort to curtail this trend, and to reaffirm that I have no serious purpose here.
So nu: Boob dishonesty.
I find it a little hypocritical whenever a girl criticizes another girl for installing breast implants, while she herself has an inch of foam in each cup.
I know it’s not the same thing. But it’s close enough to false advertising to grind my gears. Those men who can’t recognize a padded bra when they see one—and these are fewer than you’d expect—will only be in for a disappointment once they unhook that pusher-upper.
Still, asking a woman to feel confident about her boobs is about as reasonable as asking a man to feel confident about his dick. But as some will attest, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, and if I wanted to be suffocated by two hunters in a hammock, I’d have worn camo. So come on, girls! Great boobs come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
If I had any female readers, I’m sure a shitstorm would gather over my head because of this commentary. In anticipation of such an anomaly, I’ll say this:
Boys, if feeling a little deprived, stuff your dick into a hollowed-out squash and cram it in your pants. The girls will just love that.
I was watching a news report on the Swine Influenza a couple nights ago. The news anchor—or personality (I guess)—Rachel Maddow gave China, Russia and Australia the “missing-the-point award” for placing a hold on the sale and import of pork products. She smirked and announced that, of course, sausage and bacon weren’t the culprit, and you’d only be at risk if you cuddled up with an infected pig.
Hey you medieval communists in Russia and China—hain’tchu ever heard of dem dere scientifix?
….or maybe their leaders aren’t the fools she hopes they are.
First, the ban isn’t a wholesale one—Just on pork from certain US states and Mexico. Even so, you might ask, wouldn’t it simply promote fear and ignorance, as US officials proclaim?
In this information-pumped society, I don’t know if Americans can truly appreciate what it must be like to live in Russia or China. In China, for example, you are only permitted to read state-approved literature. In other words, a Google search turns up far less than an American one does. I am sure there are many Chinese who know you can’t get swine flu from eating pork, but I am also sure there are many millions of Chinese who don’t know that.
Before we label the bans as commie balderdash, let’s examine if there is a strategy. Now, I haven’t spoken with their heads of state, so I could be totally talking out of my ass. But I suspect the ban has everything to do with preventing mass hysteria among their citizenry. It’s the same reasoning behind the Mexican government handing out surgeon masks, which will do little, if anything, to prevent the spread of the disease.
Imagine: You just went through the SARS debacle a few years ago. You know there is this potential pandemic. You have heard the disease is called “swine flu,” but you don’t know how its communicated. And you just ate princess pork at Fei Long’s Barbecue. Shit balls.
Wouldn’t you want to keep that fear from arising in people?
Of course, the US wants to discourage such policies in these countries, because the bans could “trigger serious trade disputes.”
I guess that would just be one more thing out of the US’s hands. (Funny how we hate to feel like we can’t control it all.)
I think this Rachel Maddow is missing the point. She should read Montaigne’s essay, “On the Force of Imagination.”
I see very few men at the Salvation Army store in my hometown. The ones I do see usually have something absurd draped over their arm—say a retro red vinyl jacket or a pair of chartreuse and seasick-green checked pants—and it amuses me. Obviously, these boys are dressing up for some costume party. Or maybe they want to be subversive, but usually they just look like dorks.
Anyway, this isn’t for them.
This is for the men who shop at Salvation Army for much of their serious wardrobe. Whether it’s biz-cazh, cazh-cazh, or formal wear, here is your guide to the exciting world of thrifting.
It can take a long time to sift through all the shirts, but stick with it. You can usually find something good, because there are countless sexually repressed men in this country who are very sensitive about a shirt’s color or pattern.
If it’s an Oxford or other button-up you’re after, check the buttons. Give them a quick tug and make sure they’re all there. Unless you are good with a needle and thread, or you know a good woman who likes doing that sort of work, abandon any shirt with a button disability. It will only let you down.
Also, check for sweat stains along the pits and collar, as well as cigarette burn holes and other discolorations. Mind you, the sweat stains might be absent, but the shirt can still smell funky. So be brave and stick your nose up in there to make sure. If you can’t bleach the shirt, you will never be rid of the smell. The same admonition applies to sport jackets and suits.
Sweaters appear in abundance and many are still in good shape. You will just have to ask yourself why that sweater was ditched, because, reader, I can never instill in you good taste. Wool sweaters, especially merino, tend to pucker down by the waist, and many at S.A. suffer from this malady.
For my money, the Salvation Army is the best place to find vintage clothing, and especially t-shirts. Consequently, I avoid “vintage stores,” which often try to sell me a Cheap Trick t-shirt for $75. I also avoid fake vintage. For instance:
The price? $50.00 for a new vintage Red Wing t-shirt at NHL.com.
Cf. the $2.00 real vintage Red Wing t-shirt my friend found for me at S.A:
The search for pants challenges the thrifter far more than the search for shirts does. Good jeans, for instance, are extremely rare (unless you like 40-inch-waist bellbottoms). I’m not saying don’t look; just don’t get your hopes up. I think most men wear out their good pairs of jeans, and their wives feel bad about dumping them on thrift stores. Consequently, I buy my jeans new.
On the other hand, searching the khaki and slack racks can lead to great buys. My true inseam is only 27 inches long. I don’t know if that is long or short for my height (5’6″), but it is damn near impossible to find slacks with less than a 30 inch inseam in a typical retailer. Not so at the Salvation Army. All manner of altered and tailored slacks are available. You just have to try on a few pairs to get lucky, and in my experience, you make your own luck. And reader, you should always try it on.
Write that down: Always try it on.
I am fundamentally opposed to ties. Still, sometimes I have to wear one just like any other schmuck. It astounds me how quickly ties go out of style, and nothing reveals this more than a look at Salvo’s tie selection. Last year’s “power ties” are at their last pit stop before the dump, and that’s how it should stay. Don’t be fooled.
That said, you can often find a traditional red, blue or black tie lurking unnoticed at the back of the tie racks. If the tie looks nice still—and don’t count on this happening very often—you will have found a useful, formal tie that will look good for a long time.
Bring cash, unless you know your local store takes credit/debit cards.
Don’t be in a hurry. You won’t ever find anything good that way.
If you do happen to be in a hurry, then always get behind the youngest customer at the check out. The older ones will haggle over a quarter.
And whatever you do, don’t let something go if you really want it. You might not believe it, but I’ve had folks try to take stuff out of my cart or off my arm, claiming they had found it first and that I stole it. Don’t let them bully you, stiff-arm you, or otherwise inspire you with fear if you don’t give them what you rightfully found. Just tell them “tough tiddy” and be off. Or go tell the manager.
Recently, I fell prey to a colon cleanse scam. This isn’t the first thing I’d want to admit to, but this blog is pseudonymous, so I’ll spin a yarn.
Now there are plenty of resources—most obviously a Google search—which would have revealed Bromalite pills to be a scam. But in the headrush of an impulse buy, I suppose even the best of us can be shortsighted. And I ain’t the best of us.
Many have complained about this company. Still, one more blog post detailing the fraud will only better the consumer world. So here’s the story:
I was reading the Free Press, when I noticed an ad for a colon cleanse “review board.” This board studied the effects of many cleansing products on the market and rated them, scientifically. I clicked on the ad and arrived at their site. In their own words:
“Our firm is a watch dog group in the health products industry located in Michigan.”
Oh, I thought, in Michigan. I live in Michigan… go on, I said with my mouse.
On their webpage, there were three products rated. I chose the second one, Bromalite, and clicked on it, taking me to their page.
If I paid only five bucks for shipping and handling, they would rush me a free trial of Bromalite, which guarantees to push fifteen pounds of waste out of you in three days.
So I gave them my debit card number.
Great fool was I.
Now. Before you buy this crap, consider what I have found:
I only found out about this after they sent me the second bottle, whereupon I drove straight to my credit union to cancel my card.
There, I found that I could contest these sorts of things. Visa would deal with the company and replace the money in my account until they judged that the company’s withdrawal as unlawful. The lady in account services showed me that Bromalite had tried to withdraw $69.95 the day I ordered their product. That is not what they said they would do. Rather, they would bill me the full cost only after my twelve-day free trial period had ended.
Their first try didn’t work. Only the $5.00 I agreed to pay went through. However, I found that they had successfully withdrawn $69.95 not once but twice on later dates. This was also in violation of their own terms that stated they would wait 30 days to bill you again.
If Bromalite had stuck to the arrangement, I might not have any legal rights to my money. The contract certainly stipulates so. But they got greedy.
All is still in the subjunctive as I await Visa’s judgment. In the meantime, I have looked into the whole racket.
The colon review board is merely a deceptive advertisement. Nothing of the sort exists and certainly not in Michigan. Doubtless, your IP address dictates where the make-believe watchdog organization exists.
Additionally, the three, reviewed and ostensibly separate brands all operate on the same basic swindle. The logos of CNN, Fox News, and other “as-seen-ons” litter each website. Of course, the ads never tell you at what time or on what program their products were featured; and if you’ve watched enough late night television, you will have seen all manner of ludicrous shit pedaled.
On top of all that, I’m pretty sure the pills don’t even work. At any rate, I’m afraid to take them. They sit on my dresser as a small monument to my own gullibility.
But “The large print giveth and the small print taketh away,” to quote the good Mr. Waits.
More on small print…
Lately, I have been sweating a lot, so I decided to try a different antiperspirant. At the store, suddenly “clinical strength” antiperspirant is available to the prescription-less masses. (Oh boy, oh boy)
The Old Spice clinical strength comes in a cardboard box, unlike regular sticks, and each unit costs $8.00. The boxes could hold four sticks of regular deodorant, but the product itself weighs only 1.7 oz.
The active ingredient in the “clinical strength” is Aluminum Zirconium Tetrahyrdrex Gly 20% (anhydrous).
As I soon discovered, it’s the same damn ingredient as any in antiperspirant. In fact, Arm and Hammer makes a pleasant smelling antiperspirant containing that ingredient at a 19% mixture, weighing 2.8 oz., and priced at $2.18. All it lacked was a large sexy box.
Don’t fall for this clinical strength fandangle. Just stick with your regular stick.
“Even the swap meets around here are getting corrupt.”
Reader, if I cast New York City in a bad light, I apologize. Perhaps under different circumstances, I might have left with a better opinion of the place.
In addition to thinking shysters ran the place—which is true—I felt necessitous for good food, fresh air, and above all else, good sleep.
My gracious hosts owned a dachshund. I kept my trap shut, but I felt like calling the little bitch a bunch of names.
I know, I know: I am merely displacing my anger on an innocent animal, who had nothing to do with the meddling balderdash responsible for its breeding. Perhaps I should direct my ire onto those who would breed such a dog—a breed that evolution would have thrown on the proverbial scrap pile. Why would you breed a dog just to course badgers? Indeed, badgers are a noble and docile species, unless incited, and only desired for their pelts or their ability to amuse man’s baser appetites.
(Though I am told they are eaten in Russia and China—which is all well and good—but I’d much rather eat ground dachshund than filet of badger.)
Now, I don’t have a problem with a dog that barks. It is a desirable quality to a point. However, any time someone entered the apartment complex where I stayed, the dog caused a considerable rumpus. It was very difficult to sleep, despite the roar of the fan that was there to drown out the rest of the city’s babel.
Moreover, the dog was incapable of pissing or shitting on its training paper. Perhaps that is an exaggeration. But the reality was worse: the dog could hit the mark sometimes, which gave me a hope for its training that would soon be dashed by a steaming log beneath my cot or a puddle of piss by my overnight bag.
Perhaps I misjudge the beast, though. In spite of my latent hostility, I did befriend her and I even gave her a nickname, “baby sauce,” much to the pleasure of her owner.
Her owner told me (and this is a bad paraphrasing, mind you) that her dachshund was first attracted to her boyfriend’s dominating nature, but recently, the animal was taking refuge in their mutual womanhood. I chuckled at her good-natured, albeit slightly barbed, anthropomorphism. After all, I am always delighted to meet a woman with some intellectual teeth.
That said, I know her boyfriend a little better than she does. For instance, I remember another diminutive dog—a shitzu, to be exact—that caused his heart to melt despite his machoism.
As did mine, at times, at that alarm clock of a dachshund.
If I did my paperwork correctly, I should receive a small tax rebate this year of $335. Which is not enough to get back at the City of New York, who still have 417 of my dollars. But it is nice.
In my hometown, five hundred people gathered outside the courthouse yesterday to protest the so-called “Axis of Taxes,” which is composed of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Clever signs read “Here comes Congress. Hide your wallet,” “Obama: Commander and Thief,” and “Let me spend my own money.”
I had no idea that these Tea Parties were happening until they had already happened, which is why I would be a terrible reporter. My friend and co-worker organized the protest here, and while I love her dearly, I’m afraid this Tea Party idea is a little late.
My folks, who are good Republicans, are awash with anxiety over Obama’s budget. “We’re going down the path to socialism,” my dad says and adds, “And we’re gonna have inflation.” And on he rants, discrediting everything from global warming to medicare.
My fifth grade students, most of whom belong to conservative Christian households, have even told me that Barack Obama is the antichrist. Which tells me that their parents actually believe that: The sense of apocalyptic doom. The devastation.
But I must ask, why now? Why do these so-called conservatives wait until now to protest government spending in such an organized fashion? They were happy to look the other way the last eight years, while Bush Jr. ratcheted up government spending more than any president since Lyndon Baines Johnson. And yesterday, they were more than happy to ignore Bush’s hand in this year’s deficit spending.
But very few conservatives I’ve spoken to know where Bush’s last fiscal budget topped out at. He put forward a 3.1 trillion dollar budget just over a year ago (cf. Obama’s 3.6 trillion this year). Did my parents bat a fucking eyelash? Did anyone in my ultra-conservative hometown?
That budget also assumed that we’d be out of Iraq by 2009.
No. The basic premise for most Republicans, especially the ones who voted for Bush, is this: Bush is against abortion and homosexuality, therefore, he can do no wrong.
(even though did little—nothing, to be exact—to curtail either practice)
Before we assume Obama is the antichrist, let us consider where that budget money is going. Granted, Obama is going to have to appropriate nearly a trillion dollars of military spending that Bush failed to take into account last year. That aside, Obama is increasing spending on college scholarships, medicare, and energy. All those things are, in my opinion, more admirable than the deficit spending in which Bush engaged. Perhaps ill-advised, but still admirable.
Contrast that to where most of Bush’s budget increases went.
Open-ended WAR—and on two fronts! Faced with the daunting task of reforming medicare and fixing the social security debacle, Bush decided to get Americans mind off of problems at home and turn them to nation building (or re-building, as it happens, for as von Clauswitz wrote, “In war the result is never final.”).
Blowing shit up—evidently, that’s where Republicans want their tax dollars to go. Plenty of them will admit it, too. It is as if Republicans keep asking, “How many Arabs do we have to kill, so I can pay my heating bill?” And the parents of my fifth graders have their children expecting apocalypse, that fire and brimstone will rain down any minute, and that we’ll find the dreaded 666 stamped indelible on Barack’s black ass.
Sheer folly, I say.
So now Obama is going to spend more money. But this year’s budget is strapped with plenty of Bush spending as well, such as the $700b bailout under Bush’s watch that came only half a year ago.
I’m a good Libertarian, so I really don’t like any increases in spending. But Republicans need to face the fact that their party and its leaders have been far from the beacon of limited government that they so often claim they are. And in basic principal, Obama’s budget and deficit spending are merely a continuation of the deficit spending of the Bush era.
As long as Republican voters remain ignorant of their own party’s frivolousness, the budget will never be balanced. And who the hell likes taxes? Do Republicans think that they are the only ones who hate them?
In closing, I would like to say that I would rather have 60% of my income redistributed to the poor, instead of 10% of it sent to the United States military. As it stands, I’ll gladly take my tax rebate.
For further reading:
I have a gripe with beauticians, or barbers, or haircut ladies—call them what you will—who lie to me about my balding. “It’s just that you have really fine hair,” they say.
Bullshit, I say. I’m balding. Try to hide it, please (without making it look like I’m trying to hide it). But don’t lie to me.
There are women I’ve met, who insist balding doesn’t matter to them. Perhaps it is an absurd notion to them that I might want my hair around for a reason besides its ability to attract women. But maybe, just maybe, I miss having a head of hair. Maybe I want some shelter from the sun. Or maybe I’m just tried of picking hair out of my drain cover.
I try to take solace in the few bald white guys whom people think are cool. Hunter S. Thompson. David Beckham. But then I get bogged down. Jason Alexander. Art Garfunkle. This guy:
(So it could be worse, I admit.)
During my last haircut, I made some comment that things were really going south on top of my head. She sighed and said, “Well, you just do with what you have.” She’d heard it all before. It was nice to get an honest response, though. I gave her as big a tip as I could afford.
Something different, but related….
This post started as a top five gripes post, but I couldn’t think of a fifth. Here are the other three.
Ostensibly automatic doors that say, “in case of emergency push to open,” but don’t open automatically, forcing you to stand in front of it, pondering the embarrassment of tripping an alarm, until you gather the courage and sense to open it yourself.
When sugar free and fat free mean flavor free (which is always).
Neckties. If you so much as spill anything short of water on one, it’s done. If you coil it around your hand, and a thread catches on a burr or callus on your hand, it’s done. If you bought a trendy color, by next season, it’s done and looks as fashionably viable as Depends undergarments.
If you receive a parking ticket in New York City, my advice to you, reader, is either to pay it or never to return with that car. If you should return with that car, I suggest you get used to the idea of coughing up
$300 $417 and wasting a couple days of your visit retrieving it after it has been towed.
My debacle started two Februaries ago, during my first visit to NYC, when I received a ticket for obstructing a street sweeper.
I didn’t pay it.
I thought, what’re you gonna do about it, Department of Traffic? I have scruples, and you all are a bunch of assholes.
The letters the DoT sent me were all shock and awe, but I never received a call from a collection agency, and my credit score didn’t suffer. But there was still an outstanding warrant on my car.
When I returned this year, I received an identical ticket. Only this time, they ticketed me for obstructing a street sweeper on the other side of the same road. It was also written up during a torrential rain shower. (They do send a cop by regardless of whether the street sweeper comes.) I had hoped that the NYPD’s left hand wouldn’t know what its right was doing. But as soon as the ticket ran through their system, they towed my car.
Instead of recounting the whole banal story of the retrieval of my car, here is a map.
One part of the saga is worth mentioning, however. At Manhattan’s Tow Central, where I paid the $185 wrecker fee, I encountered a man on the brink. He was clearly a New Yorker and he was livid. Rightly so. I was too.
I shouldn’t even fucking be here, he shouted. He paced around, hammering on the plexiglass cashier windows. I wanna see the fuckin manager! and so on.
Finally, when it was my turn to turn in my paperwork, he announced to all present that he was going to hold up the line until the manager saw him. Ain’t nobody gon’ get served, he asserted.
I turned to the man behind me, who looked like Beat Takeshi. He looked on stoically as the livid man beat on the windows. Then I looked at the room full of people trying to pick up their towed cars. Nobody was going to do anything, so
I tapped on the livid man’s shoulder and said, move it along.
Do you think we’re happy?
Do you think you’re the only one getting fucked?
He didn’t acknowledge me, but he did move out of line. He kept yelling, though. I turned to Beat Takeshi and said something like, “honey is sweeter than gall.”
His lips curved upward slightly into what might have been a smile, but he said nothing, and no, we don’t all smile in the same language.
I thought I had recited some mystic Japanese proverb. As it turns out, it was a self-evident conflation of a Hebrew proverb and Shakespeare.
I took my own words to heart and smiled at the woman behind the window. Why take it out on her, I thought—Just because I’m having a shitty day, doesn’t mean she has to have one too. So I said good afternoon in my friendliest, southernest accent. She smiled back at me and waived the $20 overnight storage fee (oh boy, oh boy, free parking!).
But enough about all that….
Most of my trip was pretty good, though. Here are some shout-outs and recommendations:
I drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of sausages at Lederhosen Biergarten
I drank a little more at Vol de Nuit.
I went to the Terra Blues Bar twice, and the music was hot.
I ate magnificent fries (I recommend the parmesan peppercorn sauce) at Pommes Frites
I met a badass bartender at The Thirsty Scholar
I wrangled with an octopus at Seoul Garden
And I scarfed a Big Az burger and drained a 25 oz Fosters (the cheapest meal I ate there, incidentally) in the time it took me to ride the ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island.
But there’s more griping to be done….
The people I met in NYC were friendly enough, but my blood is a little too hot to live there. Emerging from the subway, there is nothing so stupefying as seeing still more people and more high rises. Nothing, that is, except for the costs: A pack of smokes is ten bucks, parking costs anywhere from a dollar/hour to $8.75/half-hour (plus tax), and it costs $8 to $20—depending on which direction you enter—just to drive into the goddamn place. And if you want to go to the bathroom, you have to buy something. (Although reader, I recommend public urination if you have such conveniences.)
For the whole trip I kept wondering what would possess so many people to live on top of each other. And with so few public restrooms. I still don’t know why, but I have noticed a collective romanticizing over New York City. Not from the people living there, necessarily, but from all the star-eyed college girls I knew who hated small towns and places supposedly devoid of culture. Of course, slap a few pictures of James Joyce and an Andy Wharhol up in a small town pub, and you’ve got your average bar in Manhattan: The Dead Author’s Pub or the I’m Famous for What Again? Tavern.
But you cannot go anywhere there and not see people. I kept walking around Central Park last Sunday trying to find my own little sanctuary. There was none. People swarmed everywhere as ants around puke. And in my opinion, people are only good up to a point. After that, I want some peace.
I do like a few things about the place. For one, most people just want to be left the fuck alone. The anonymity of the place, the sheer improbability of running into the same folks twice, has its own comforts. And that’s admirable, I suppose, if not inevitable.
And because I don’t know how else to conclude this little bitch session, here’s Edward Abbey:
At what distance should good neighbors build their houses? Let it be determined by the community’s mode of travel: If by foot, four miles; if by horseback, eight miles; if by motorcar, twenty-four miles; if by airplane, ninety-six miles.”
A Finnish woman in my hometown has asked me to tutor her in Latin, or more specifically, to help her brush up on the Latin she already knows. She knows another four languages, which means I ought to be learning from her. Nevertheless, she told me that she would be considered quite provincial if she didn’t have a firm grasp on this so-called dead language.
Anyway, I didn’t believe her at first. But I looked into it. Apparently, there is a Finnish news program (YLE news) that broadcasts (and podcasts) a weekly world news report in classical Latin. Read about it in lingua Angelorum hic.
Here is an excerpt from one of their news reports, followed by my best shot at translating:
03.04.2009, klo 09.46
Praesidens Barack Obama hac septimana iter in Europam suscepit, ut cum aliis moderatoribus mundi de rebus maximi momenti colloqueretur. Obama apud Europaeos multum gratia valet, quam ob rem exspectatio eius videndi magna erat. Primum quidem Londinium volavit, ubi die Iovis conventus oeconomicus internationalis habebatur. Deinde in Germaniam transiit, ut anniversarium sexagesimum consociationis militaris NATO celebraret. Die Dominico autem Pragae summus conventus Unionis Europaeae et Civitatum Americae Unitarum instituetur, in quo cum de securitate energiae tum de mutatione climatica agetur.
This week, President Barack Obama made a trip (journeyed) to Europe, so he might converse with the other moderators (leaders) of the world concerning things of greatest importance. At the place of the Europeans (In Europe), Obama greatly expresses(ed) thanks, on account of which thing (affair) there was great expectation for his visiting. Indeed(?), he flew first to London, where an international economic convention was being held on the day of Jove (Thursday). Then, he passed (flew) over to Germany, so that he might celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the(ir?) NATO military consociation. Furthermore, on the Day of Dominic (?), The highest convention (summit) of the EU and the USA will be instituted? (held) at Prague, where the discussion will be carried on concerning the security of energy and then the climate change.
On an endnote, Finnish is one of the craziest, most atypical languages I have ever seen. There is a stupefying number of cases for each noun. Thank you, Wiktionary.